HC Deb 02 December 1953 vol 521 cc1140-2
20. Sir I. Fraser

asked the Minister of Food if he will make a statement as to the Government's intention with regard to the recommendations given by the committee on the slaughter of horses.

The Minister of Food (Major Lloyd George)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 25th November to my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Sir J. Crowder).

Sir I. Fraser

I have not access to that reply at the moment. Did it indicate any progress?

Major Lloyd George

For my hon. Friend's information, I will quote it briefly. I said that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I were indebted to the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Moyle) for bringing forward the Slaughter of Animals (Amendment) Bill to implement the recommendations of the committee, and that the Government intended to support and facilitate its passage through Parliament.

32. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to prevent the bleeding of horses, by means of an electric pump, in slaughterhouses.

Major Lloyd George

The use of an electric pump is prohibited by the Slaughter of Animals Act, 1933, unless the animal is first rendered insensible to pain. Both that Act and the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, apply to horses.

Mr. Henderson

Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to a recent issue of the "Daily Mirror" reporting a B.B.C. broadcast entitled "Horses Can't Talk," which described this revolting practice in operations taking place in a slaughterhouse not very far from here; and could the Minister say whether it is possible to take any steps to check up on this kind of statement and allegation?

Major Lloyd George

As the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, there is a Private Member's Bill, which has the Government's support, to implement most of the recommendations of the Northumberland Committee. I think that, perhaps, we had better wait until that Bill comes forward. On the specific point raised, I do not think I can do better than quote from this Report itself, which say's: We have made the most diligent inquiries both in the Committee and of individuals, but have found no evidence of the use of an electric pump.

Mr. Henderson

Would not the Minister make inquiries through his Department of the B.B.C. as to what basis they have for making these statements?

Major Lloyd George

I will certanily do that.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Is not the Minister aware of the public uneasiness which has been caused, and cannot he make some statement to allay that uneasiness, either by saying that he is quite satisfied that the practice does not exist, or that he will make diligent inquiries to see that it is stopped?

Major Lloyd George

I think my hon. Friend will appreciate that it was because of public anxiety that the Northumberland Committee was set up. As soon as the Report of the Committee was received, it was accepted with two very minor modifications, by the Government, and, thanks to the co-operation of the hon. Member for Old bury and Hales Owen (Mr. Moyle) and his hon. Friends, we shall be able to get a Bill through Parliament early next year.

Dr. Summer skill

Could the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say how these horses are rendered insensible to pain?

Major Lloyd George

In the ordinary slaughtering practice, horses and other animals are stunned first, and that, in fact, is the law. What we are trying to stop are cases in which stunning does not take place first.

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