HC Deb 18 December 1952 vol 509 cc1623-5
48. Mr. Hastings

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, despite the redistribution of Ministerial functions relating to cruelty connected with horse slaughter, there is continued evidence of the absence of effective or co-ordinated treatment of the problem; whether his attention has been called, in particular, to the arrival at Birkenhead on 19th November of some horses consigned to Bristol which, on veterinary examination, were found to be suffering from old standing and painful lesions rendering them unfit for movement; whether he is aware that the terms of reference of the committee set up by the Minister of Food and the Secretary of State for Scotland prevent any consideration of questions relating to cruelty in the transport of horses to slaughterhouses; and whether he will, therefore, further review the coordination and application of Ministerial functions in this field.

The Prime Minister

The terms of reference of the committee set up by the Minister of Food and the Secretary of State for Scotland refer to cruelty in the slaughter of horses. Cruelty in transit is dealt with by the Minister of Agriculture, and effective Orders exist for preventing unnecessary suffering by horses in transit. The Government have, of course, no control over conditions outside Great Britain.

The horses referred to in the Question were detained on landing and were destroyed, as they were unfit to travel. They came from the Irish Republic, and the attention of the Irish Government has been drawn to this case. I am sure that this will receive due attention in a country where horses are so esteemed.

Mr. Hastings

May I ask the Prime Minister, whose fondness for horses we all so much admire, whether he appreciates the sufferings of these poor wretched beasts, and whether he has seen the bones, which I have here, of one of the horses mentioned in the Question which was suffering from very severe arthritis? Cannot something further be done to prevent this dreadful cruelty?

The Prime Minister

I agree that no opportunity should be lost in stimulating the scrutiny paid to all aspects of horse transit and horse slaughter. We will do our utmost—there is only one view in this House on this subject—by example and by precept to improve present conditions.