HC Deb 12 April 1948 vol 449 cc614-5
52 and 70. Mr. Anthony Greenwood

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) what steps he took, before asking a county agricultural committee to advise on the allocation of petrol for purposes of stag-hunting and fox-hunting, to ascertain how many members of the committee are subscribers to, or members of, any hunts in the area which might be affected;

(2) whether he is now in a position to announce any changes in the conditions which must be fulfilled before his Department recommends the allocation of petrol for purposes of blood sports.

Mr. T. Williams

Agricultural executive committees do not wait for me to ask them to advise in this matter. Requests for advice are made direct to them by the regional petroleum officer. The committees' advice relates to local agricultural conditions as they affect the hunt and I can rely on the impartiality of all members of the committees. I have no reason to alter the arrangements.

Mr. Greenwood

If my right hon. Friend believes that he can rely on the impartiality of these committees, is he prepared to consider evidence that many members of the Somerset County Agricultural Executive Committee are members of or subscribers to either the Somerset and Devon Staghounds or the Quantock Staghounds?

Mr. Williams

I would not be a bit surprised, but the existing agricultural executive committee is only following the lead given by its predecessor which operated as the agricultural executive committee from 1939 to 1947.

Mr. Greenwood

Does not my right hon. Friend think it is a breach of British tradition that a man should be allowed to be the judge in his own case?