§ 46. Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that 1,656 horses and ponies employed in mines were destroyed by the National Coal Board when brought up because of unfitness or old age in 1949; that 1,415 were destroyed in 1950; that these are apart from those destroyed as a result of accidents underground; what supervision by Government inspectors exists of the way in which these horses and ponies are slaughtered by the Board above ground; whether he will arrange this matter to be considered by the inquiry into the Rosebery Report recently announced by him; and whether the question of the provision of homes of rest for industrially-employed horses may also be included in the terms of reference of the inquiry.
§ The Minister of Fuel and Power (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)
I have been asked to reply.
Pit ponies when no longer fit for work in the mines are, in accordance with the Coal Mines Act, either placed in reputable rest homes or humanely destroyed. There is no power under the Act for an inspector to supervise such destruction, but the National Coal Board arrange for it to be done on their premises by a competent person and under supervision by their officials. I understand that a statement will be made on Thursday about the review of the Rosebery Report.
§ Mr. Freeman
In view of the fact that these young ponies are taken down the mines at a very young age and are there for 12 or 15 years without the light of day and amidst the dirt, darkness and heat, does the right hon. Gentleman not think they deserve some special consideration, rather than going to the knackers' yards as, in effect, they do now?
§ Mr. Lloyd
The Regulations under the Coal Mines Act were reviewed and brought up to date in 1949 after a very careful review by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), who consulted the Pit Ponies' Protection Society, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the National Equine Defence League, who agreed.