HC Deb 12 April 1948 vol 449 cc615-6
54. Mr. Anthony Greenwood

asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps have been taken by the Somerset County Agricultural Committee, under the Deer Order, 1940, to kill deer on the Quantocks in other ways than by hunting them to death with staghounds.

Mr. T. Williams

None, Sir. The nature of the country in the Quantocks is unsuited to stalking and shooting. Snaring is not generally effective and has an added disadvantage in that it drives the deer from their regular runs.

Mr. Greenwood

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his opinion of the suitability of other methods of destruction of these animals is not shared by local residents who are not themselves members of the local staghounds? Is he further aware that so far from there being any effort to enforce this Order, the animals have been preserved for the purpose of hunting?

Mr. Williams

The hon. Member is quite wrong when he refers to my opinion. I have no opinion on the matter.

Colonel Clarke

Is it not a fact that rifles cannot be used because of the nature of the ground and that if shotguns were used, many deer would die after days and weeks of suffering from wounds? Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that the humane killer used by the hunts is a much more merciful way of killing deer?

Mr. Greenwood

Will my right hon. Friend take the view of the pest officer of the Somerset County Council?

Mr. Williams

The agricultural executive committees are largely guided by the pest officers in their areas.

Mr. Somerville Hastings

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, in view of the great need for the preservation of fuel, he will not consider having an inquiry into the best method of getting rid of such vermin?

Mr. Williams

Agricultural executive committees would have no justification whatever for recommending the use of petrol unless it was for the purpose of providing food.

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