HC Deb 29 April 1958 vol 587 cc267-88
Mr. Godber

I beg to move, in page 17, line 37, at the end to insert: (b) in subsection (5), after the word "operation" there shall be inserted the words "within their area". We have now come to the Second Schedule, which relates to matters that we are seeking to clarify, ready for consolidation. Section (3) of the 1933 Act deals with the licensing of slaughtermen and provides that they shall not work without a licence granted by the local authority. Section 3 (5) provides that any local authority may suspend the operation of a licence within its area. Any local authority can suspend a licence, but the authority that granted it can revoke it where it is satisfied that the licensee is no longer a proper person to hold the licence.

The purpose of the Amendment is so to augment the wording as to make it clear that suspension applies only to the area of the local authority concerned. That is held to be the intention of the present subsection (5), and I think that it is appropriate, when planning this consolidation, to put the matter beyond doubt.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Willey

I beg to move, in page 17, to leave out lines 40 to 50.

We discussed this matter in Standing Committee, and perhaps I should first call attention to the fact that we are now dealing with minor Amendments to pave the way to consolidation. Here there are two separate provisions for the charges that local authorities may make for services. The Government are seeking to repeal that provision which allows specified charges to be made by the local authority according to its own discretion, whereas, in the other case, the local authority has, ultimately, to obtain Ministerial consent.

The Parliamentary Secretary has been good enough to seek the advice of the association concerned. He may think that he has satisfied that body, but my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle), who is, at present, in Strasbourg, has handed me correspondence from which it appears that the National Association of British Market Authorities is not satisfied. It feels that the Minister is insisting on interfering with its discretion, and that that is an out-dated and unnecessary attitude. I do not know how well informed the Parliamentary Secretary is, but, in view of that, I think that he or the right hon. Gentleman should accept the burden of meeting the authorities further. Unless those authorities agree, I do not think that we should take such a step to their prejudice. After all, it is common ground that we are merely seeking to facilitate consolidation. In those circumstances, we should not prejudice the authorities concerned. At present, they feel that they are being prejudiced.

Mr. Darling

I beg formally to second the Amendment.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Godber

This subject was raised by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle) virtually at the end of our discussions in Committee, and I promised to see if there was any point of substance in it that I should attempt to meet. As the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) has said, I wrote to the association concerned. As I have heard nothing from that association, I assumed that it was satisfied. It is only from what the hon. Gentleman has just said that I understand it is not satisfied. I am rather surprised that the association did not apprise me of that fact, though I quite understand.

I looked at this point rather carefully to see whether it was valid, and I think there must be some misunderstanding in relation to it. While the powers taken under Section 73 of the Food and Drugs Act are more extensive than those under the 1933 Act, they do not impose any real burden on local authorities in this respect. It certainly does not mean that local authorities have to seek approval before they can take action on their charges. They are certainly asked to submit details to the Minister, but they are not asked in any way to get prior approval. There is, therefore, no question of their being held up or inconvenienced at all.

I really cannot see that there is any sound argument against our taking this course. As I mentioned on an earlier Amendment, the whole of the Second Schedule relates to matters that we are trying to tidy up for consultation. From comments made in Standing Committee by hon. Members opposite, I am sure that they are in favour of consolidation and simplification. That was the theme running through a number of speeches to which I had the pleasure of listening. I therefore felt sure that they would be with me in thinking that it is right and proper to consolidate and simplify wherever possible.

Here I do not think that any case has been made out against the line that we are proposing to take. While I am anxious to be co-operative, I would need to be given some clear indication why we should not take this action. I set it out in detail in the letter that I sent to the National Association of British Market Authorities, and, as I say, as I heard no more from the association, I assumed that it was satisfied. I do not think it would be appropriate for me to go into it in great detail for it is a small point, but if it has any further views to put forward we shall, naturally, look at them. However, at the moment I do not feel there is any justification in withholding this provision, which, I believe, will simplify matters and will not have the effect of inhibiting local authorities. It is for that reason that I feel that I could not accept the Amendment.

Mr. Willey

I gather that the Parliamentary Secretary is willing to satisfy himself that the National Association of British Market Authorities is not dissatisfied, and that if it is dissatisfied he will look at this matter again. On that assurance I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave withdrawn.

Mr. Willey

I beg to move, in page 18, to leave out lines 10 to 13.

I move this Amendment for the same reason as the last. We are here dealing with provisions to pave the way for consolidation. It would appear, on the face of it, that these lines go rather farther than that, and I invite the Parliamentary Secretary to give us an explanation.

Mr. Darling

I beg to second the Amendment.

Mr. Godber

This is quite a small point, though it is a matter we did not discuss in Committee. This paragraph (b), which the Amendment would leave out, is a drafting Amendment to facilitate consolidation. It expresses quite simply and clarifies the intention of Section 7 of the Slaughter of Animals Act, 1933, as amended by Section 6 of the Slaughter of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1954. Section 7 of the 1933 Act empowered medical officers of health and sanitary inspectors to enter slaughterhouses and knackers' yards for the purposes of enforcing the provisions of the Act and made it an offence to refuse them entry or obstruct them.

Section 6 of the 1954 Act extended the powers of entry to veterinary surgeons employed by local authorities and officers of the Minister, and it also extended the duties of enforcement to cover regulations made under the Act. The extension of the offence of obstruction, although part of the purport of this Section 6 of the 1954 Act, was in less specific terms, and by this paragraph 3 (b) of this Second Schedule we try to remove any doubt which may exist. I assure the House that it does not alter in any way the present effect of the law.

For that reason, I would ask the hon. Member to see fit to withdraw his Amendment.

Mr. Willey

I always welcome simple language, and if I can accept the Parliamentary Secretary's assurance that this does not alter the law, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave withdrawn.

Mr. Godber

I beg to move, in page 19, line 18, at the end to insert: 10. In subsection (5) of section three, for the words "revoke or suspend the operation of such a" there shall be substituted the words "revoke any such licence granted by them or suspend the operation within their district of any such". This part of the Second Schedule amends the Slaughter of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1954, in preparation for consolidation. Section 3 of that Act deals with further aspects of the licensing of slaughtermen, which is, of course, a function of local authorities. The principal provisions are contained in Section 3 of the 1933 Act. The same point arises here as with the Amendment we agreed a few moments ago, in page 17, line 37, and the purpose of this Amendment is to make it quite clear that a local authority may revoke entirely a licence granted by it, or otherwise suspend the operation of the licence within its district.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Willey

I beg to move in page 19, to leave out lines 19 to 21.

I can rely on the unfailing courtesy of the Parliamentary Secretary to explain why these lines appear.

Mr Darling

I beg to second the Amendment.

Mr. Godber

I will endeavour to oblige the hon. Member as well as I can. I had some sympathy with him in putting down this Amendment to delete these words, because they do read rather oddly and one gets a little tied up between the "ones"—the repetition of the words subsection (1) and Section 1. It is rather confusing.

The Slaughter of Animals Act, 1933, contained provisions whereby certain types of animals could be exempted from the general requirements of Section 1 (1) that all animals to which the Act applied should be instantaneously slaughtered or instantaneously stunned. Then the 1954 Act came and Section 4 (1) abolished this provision by extending the requirement to all animals. Section 7 (1) of the Bill re-enacts Section 1 (1) of the 1933 Act. We rewrite it into the Bill. I know that that will gladden the heart of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), who has strong feelings about legislation by reference. Here, we have done exactly what he wanted—strangely enough, before he asked us to do it. He should be grateful to us for that. Subsection 4 (1) of the 1954 Act is, therefore, no longer necessary, and that is why it is repealed by this paragraph of the Second Schedule to this Bill.

Mr. Willey

I am obliged to the Parliamentary Secretary. I will study in HANSARD, at leisure, the explanation that he has given. Meanwhile, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.27 p.m.

Mr. John Hare

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

This Measure has had, to put it mildly, a rather bumpy crossing through the Standing Committee, but I hope we have now come to smoother waters. During the Second Reading hon. Members opposite said they intended to try to strengthen the Bill in Committee. We have, I hope, succeeded in meeting them upon a few points, but on others we have not been able to agree, because, although I honestly think our aims are the same, there is a basic difference of approach between the two sides of the House.

All of us on both sides want to see better and more hygienic slaughterhouses. Where we part company with the hon. Members opposite is about the methods to adopt to achieve that aim. They believe that that aim can be achieved only by restricting the number of slaughterhouses by arbitrary direction from the centre. We, on the other hand, believe that the right way to achieve the aim is to lay down strict standards for slaughterhouses and then leave it to the industry—and, of course, in saying the industry I include the local authorities as well as the trade—to provide slaughterhouses of the right type where they are needed. We reckon that in that way we shall get rid of the old, unsatisfactory premises and achieve the common aim of moderate concentration, which unites us on both sides, without the drawbacks which often seem to occur through too much central planning.

I am afraid that compromise has not been possible, but we have tried to meet what I think was the quite justifiable criticism, that the drafting of the Bill made it somewhat difficult for the ordinary person to understand what was involved. We have made a number of Amendments which, I hope, will enable him who in Committee was always described as that admirable character the diligent slaughterman, when reading the Bill, to follow its provisions a little more easily. I speak with some feeling about this. Having come into the matter more or less in the middle of the proceedings I found some of the provisions very complicated. But I think I can say that during the Committee and Report stage discussions we simplified the Bill, and that is to the good.

There are one or two other issues on which I wish briefly to comment. The first is meat inspection. During the Committee stage hon. Members on both sides expressed great concern about the need for more and better inspection of meat in slaughterhouses I share that concern. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and I are anxious, as soon as is practicable, to require that all meat be inspected. None of us can be content while perhaps as much as one-fifth—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not think that there is anything in the Bill about the inspection of meat.

Mr. Hare

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to make the point as far as I did.

In Clause 9, some help is given towards the subject which I am out of order in mentioning, in that grants are introduced to assist certain local authorities with their meat inspection at a cost of about £100,000 a year.

I move from that rather dangerous subject to say something about the provisions in Clause 7 relating to humane slaughtering. On present information it is clear that to anæsthetise pigs with carbon dioxide will probably be more humane than the present techniques. We shall prepare our regulations with care, consulting all the interested organisations including the animal welfare societies.

Finally, a word about the construction regulations. They were published in draft last August after preliminary consultations with all concerned. There have been criticisms about them, but I do not complain of that. In fact, we published them well ahead so that they should be criticised before they came before the House. I shall try to meet the criticisms wherever I can. We are also pressing on with regulations about hygienic precautions in slaughterhouses.

I believe that what has been laid down in this Bill will be effective in achieving our common aims. I know that the provisions do not please everyone. Of necessity, there has had to be compromise between many conflicting interests. There is a long history of legislation concerning slaughterhouses. Both the present arrangement and those included in this Bill are complex, but I believe that the framework we have now set up is adapted to present-day requirements in the meat industry, and in that belief I commend the Bill to the House.

7.34 p.m.

Mr. Willey

We are reaching the end of this Bill's journey through the House. I am sure all my right hon. and hon. Friends join with me in regretting that, despite the attention we have paid to this Measure, it still remains badly constructed and ill-conceived. Despite our best endeavours to improve the Bill, all we can say is that it is more intelligible now than when we began to discuss it. However, the Bill remains difficult to understand and it is a severe disappointment to all those who believe that we could radically improve conditions in slaughterhouses.

I acquit the Minister, for the right hon. Gentleman joined us too late. I pay tribute again to the Parliamentary Secretary who was in charge of the Bill unaided throughout the Committee proceedings. Those who advocate that our Parliamentary institutions suffer from a lack of vigour might pay regard to the unfailing courtesy and patience of the Parliamentary Secretary and the indefatigable efforts of my hon. Friends to improve the Bill. Certainly, there is plenty of life and vigour in Parliament; it is a pity that we could not get a greater response from the Government.

As we have said before, the Bill falls into three parts. It provides for more humanitarian methods of slaughter. In that regard it is little more than declaratory, but, in so far as it is more than declaratory, we welcome it. The Bill deals also with health, safety and welfare in slaughterhouses and applies the Factories Act to them. In that respect it is purely declaratory, because we were overtaken by a decision of the Court of Appeal and all the Bill now does is to recognise the decision of the court. Nonetheless, we appreciate that it was the intention of the Government to apply the Factories Act to slaughterhouses, and we welcome the fact that they endeavoured to do that in one Clause. We hope this will be a good precedent for other Government Departments to extend the scope of the Factories Act. While we call attention to the fact that this part of the Bill is purely declaratory, we recognise the good intention of the Government. But it means, particularly as our Amendments were not accepted, that this part of the Bill merely states the present law.

We regret that, although this part has been rewritten and made more intelligible, it becomes more offensive the more intelligible it is. This, despite the good intentions of the right hon. Gentleman, is an abandonment of the policy of moderate concentration. I will say no more about the paradise for bureaucrats which it creates and the reports which will pass to and fro, but I repeat that, in essence, the Bill is an abandonment of the policy of moderate concentration. This is most unfortunate, because there was an understanding on both sides of the House that we should pursue such a policy, a bold and vigorous policy, to end what is, after all, a national disgrace.

You, Mr. Speaker, have pointed out to the Minister that we cannot deal with what is not in the Bill, but I call the attention of the House to the fact that the provisions relating to meat inspection will not provide for the comprehensive and complete inspection of meat. This is a grave disappointment to everyone interested in public hygiene. Although the Bill provides for some control over conditions in slaughterhouses, it will not provide for the ending of Sunday slaughtering. We make no apology for having spent a long time during the Committee stage discussions in calling the attention of the Government to this important aspect of the state of our slaughterhouses—no adequate provision for meat inspection, and insufficient control over the conditions of slaughtering.

On Report, we discussed and readily agreed to the Government's proposal, made at that very late stage, that in future slaughterhouses will not be part of private dwellinghouses, but we really must regret that the Government do not intend to use their powers to end the national disgrace that we still have slaughterhouses that are part of and attached to private dwellinghouses.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the regulations. We were greatly obliged to the Government for informing us in advance of the draft regulations but we have had no sign from the Government that they intend to improve those regulations. It was one of the very rare occasions in which we suffered under the Closure when we were discussing the improvement of those regulations. I looked forward to the right hon. Gentleman's giving us an assurance when he spoke on the Third Reading that the Government would reconsider those regulations in the light of the criticisms to which they had been subjected. I expected from him an undertaking that the regulations would be drastically improved. Unless they are, the Bill will be a trap. It will creat the impression that something effective will be done to improve slaughterhouse conditions but it will make very little contribution towards that end.

With these serious, severe and bitter disappointments before us, we have now to consider what our action towards the Bill should be. The effective part of the Bill now remains only Part I, which affects the powers of the Government to provide for regulations. We have failed to persuade the Government to improve that part of the Bill. We are convinced, now that the Government have not even shown any intention of improving the regulations, that they are sacrificing entirely the objective of moderate concentration, which was accepted by everyone who had any knowledge of slaughterhouse conditions as the only way in which we could remove the national disgrace and scandal. We shall have no alternative but to vote against the Bill.

7.42 p.m.

Mr. Darling

During the course of the long and protracted Committee stage I ventured the opinion several times that this was a bad and futile Bill because it would not carry out, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) has said, the intentions that have been expressed by both sides of the House about the need to improve slaughterhouse facilities.

We are, I think, the only Western European country, and the only advanced country in the world, that tolerates the appalling filthy little slaughterhouses that still exist here, the number of which is increasing and will continue to increase, despite the passing of the Bill. The regulations, which are the kernel of the Bill, we cannot discuss, because they are not part of the Bill but are to be issued under the Bill. They will not improve the situation. The little slaughterhouses will continue, and more of them will come into existence; and the meat trade, which is, in many cases, a standing disgrace, will continue in its present form. The regulations will not improve things.

I tried to show the Committee, by measuring slaughterhouses and indicating just what the regulations would do, that the regulations would not put these filthy little places out of existence. They will be a standing disgrace to us, and the Bill will do nothing to get rid of them. What is worse, it will make it extremely difficult for local authorities and for good, orderly bodies like the Fatstock Marketing Corporation, to build modern abattoirs. We shall not have the modern factory abattoirs that the country needs for the proper organisation of its meat trade and to guarantee 100 per cent. meat inspection. We shall continue these 4,000, 5,000, 6,000—or whatever the number may be—filthy little slaughterhouses that no one with a real interest in public health wants to see continued. The obstacles that will be placed by the Bill in the way of a proper organisation of the meat trade will condemn the Bill completely.

For these reasons. I am very pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North has said that we ought to register our protest against this bad and futile Bill by voting against its Third Reading.

7.45 p.m.

Dr. Stross

I, too, would have been disappointed if my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) had not avowed our intention to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill. It is not customary, after a Second Reading has been given without any serious criticisms, to find, on Third Reading, that those who have scrutinised and examined the Bill feel, on this side of the House, at any rate, that they must reject the Bill because it is bad.

We found that this Bill was a bad Bill when we examined it. I think it was the Parliamentary Secretary who told us, when he complained about protests, that two Parliamentary records had been broken on the Bill. He said that its 14 Clauses and two Schedules had occupied 24 sittings and that about 1,200 columns of our discussions were recorded. He gave us a comparison with the Agriculture Bill, which had 111 Clauses and 13 Schedules and took 25 sittings, only one more than ours. That comparison tends to show that we did look at the Bill carefully.

Like everyone else, I pay tribute to the patience of the Parliamentary Secretary in argument in rejecting our Amendments. I tell him at this stage that I think if he had not been so unfailingly courteous and good-tempered we might have had more turbulent sittings, because we feel very deeply about the matter. We made it clear that a very important principle was involved, namely, the health of the public, and that we felt it our duty to safeguard it. We never heard from the Parliamentary Secretary the real defence against our complaints.

We all agree that the drafting was difficult to follow and that legislation by reference in this way meant that we had to study the Bill with the greatest possible care. Frankly, we did not always know whether our conclusions or our understanding were accurate. The Parliamentary Secretary was able to give us very great assistance. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North, who principally conducted the proceedings for us on this side, was not only a tower of strength; I do not know how he found the time to understand so fully what he was speaking of.

The health of the public was our primary consideration. We shall reject the Bill because the public health has not been defended by it. No improvement has been made. All the things that might have been done, and that we have had an opportunity of doing, have been avoided. The Parliamentary Secretary must not take this criticism personally. In rejecting the Bill on Third Reading and voting against it, we are making a declaration that the country has not heard the end of legislation on this matter and that as soon as possible we hope to bring about something that really will do the job.

I will try not to trespass on the time of the House any more, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but may I say that everybody in Committee tried to ensure that the Bill brought about the slaughter of animals as humanely as possible? But even on this point we were sometimes at variance. We wanted guarantees, but what we got from the Parliamentary Secretary was the opinion that consultation would be enough.

In particular, we find it objectionable that so much must be left to private enterprise in a field in which private enterprise has very little place. Our proposals are accepted by every advanced country, including Scotland. Why must we, in England, be the laughing stock of our Scottish colleagues? Why must it be said of us that when we had an opportunity of putting ourselves in the forefront of the civilised nations we purposely and carefully put ourselves right at the very back? If hon. Members on this side of the House did not take action tonight by rejecting the Bill we should be ashamed of ourselves.

My hon. Friend has spoken of moderate concentration. That was the least we might have expected from the Government, but they have moved away from it. If I may use the word, they have betrayed the whole concept of moderate concentration. We do not believe that the regulations will achieve what the Parliamentary Secretary has said he hopes they will achieve. The Bill in no way safeguards public health; it betrays the concept of moderate concentration, and hands over to private enterprise freedom in a field in which it should have no room. I am sure that we are completely justified in voting for the rejection of the Bill.

7.52 p.m.

Mr. Hayman

The Minister has summed up the difference between the two sides of the House by saying that there is a basic difference of approach. That fact underlies the great length of the Committee proceedings. The Government apparently wanted to improve conditions in slaughterhouses but, for some doctrinaire reason, they have refused to take the necessary fundamental steps.

The Minister said that there was a difference between us on the question of planning, and that is true. We still feel that the Bill will not fulfil basic planning needs if we are to have slaughterhouses worthy of our great nation, because in Clause 1 the Minister divests himself of the power of approving licences for new slaughterhouses. I mention now what I mentioned in Committee, namely, the apt example of the Urban District of St. Just-in-Penwith, in West Cornwall, which is such a small authority that one officer has to be public health inspector, surveyor, and various other things, and the meat in the big slaughterhouse which is exported to the rest of the country goes out uninspected.

The Bill goes no way to improve the position in relation to meat inspection. The Minister admits that 20 per cent. of the meat consumed in this country is not inspected before it is offered for sale. The fact that the Government have not been prepared to restrict the days of operation of slaughterhouses, and have insisted upon a large number of small slaughterhouses, means that they have put a deterrent in the way of recruiting the extra public health inspectors who are essential if the housewife is to be able to rely upon buying inspected meat. The Government rely upon their regulations to improve the condition of slaughterhouses, and in that way to provide for the more adequate inspection of meat, but I am sure that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary knows quite well that they will not prove effective so far as meat inspection is concerned.

On the question of the grants which the Minister is empowered to make in respect of meat for export from the council area where slaughter takes place, I hope that he will be generous towards the small local authorities. If he is not, they will not be able to meet the heavy cost of meat inspection.

The Bill is not worthy of the deep humanitarian instincts of the British people. They expect something more from Parliament in the year 1958. I should like to read an extract from a report of an inquiry into the sewerage, drainage and supply of water of Penzance[...] by a gentleman named G. T. Clark, in 1849. In paragraph 70, referring to public nuisances, he says: These are tolerably numerous. The most considerable are the slaughterhouses, of which there are 14 in the town, of which nine are in one street. Many of these are kept as clean as circumstances will admit; whitewashed, washed down and sanded; but even in these cases, the blood is thrown into the cesspool of the dwelling-house, and the smell is usually most offensive.

Mr. Hare

I have only just returned but, even so, I would point out that I was pulled up by Mr. Speaker for daring to speak about meat inspection in far less detail than the hon. Member is now doing.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)

I was wondering how the hon. Member was going to connect this part of his argument with the Bill.

Mr. Hayman

I am hoping to do that very shortly, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The street to which I have referred is 50 yards from the main town thoroughfare of Penzance, which has a population of 22,000, and four slaughterhouses are still there, three being in operation. The Bill will do almost nothing to improve the circumstances there, and the fact that licences are to continue may well deter the local authority from embarking upon an enterprise for a public abattoir, which has been its desire for many years.

7.57 p.m.

Mr. Dye

I never liked the Bill, and the more I have seen and heard of it in Committee and on Report the less I have liked it and the less I think it can be effective in dealing with the slaughter of animals produced for human consumption.

First, we want to know whether the Bill now makes possible the effective inspection of meat and the proper arrangement of our slaughterhouses to enable that to be done. There are still many districts in respect of which the provisions of the Bill will be most ineffective. I view the Bill very largely from the point of view of a producer of stock for slaughter. British farmers are told that they should be more efficient every year, and they are expected to be more efficient to the extent of about £30 million. To what extent will the Bill enable the more efficient handling and preparation of stock for human consumption? Will it bring down the cost? Will it make a better article for the housewife? It will in time, but very gradually, and the cost to the owners of slaughterhouses will be very high.

I do not know whether the Minister has even considered it necessary to estimate the cost of the Bill to the owners of slaughterhouses. That will be very great. I do not know whether the Minister has estimated what the effect will be upon local authorities. Certainly it will be a difficult Bill for small local authorities to administer, and it will be almost ineffective.

On these grounds, I do not like the Bill. I think it is wrongly conceived. I never wanted the system of moderate concentration of slaughterhouses as outlined in the White Paper. That was a guide and a very good guide, but I realised that there were other slaughter- houses that ought to be provided to meet the circumstances in the country. I dislike this Bill because it does not ensure the efficient purpose for which slaughterhouses are to be provided. Therefore, I think it a bad Bill. Sooner or later another Government must bring in a definite policy to be fulfilled and made effective. For that reason, I gladly support my right hon. and hon. Friends and will vote against the Bill. It is a bad Bill, but it could have been a very good Bill.

8.2 p.m.

Mr. Robens

This Bill is a bad Bill. It takes away from local authorities their present control over the opening of slaughterhouses. It enables slaughterhouses to be opened to any extent, provided that the regulations the Minister is to produce are complied with.

The Minister has said he thinks the regulations will be strict. He will forgive me when I say that it is our unanimous opinion that they will not be strict regulations. If it were not that I would be out of order, I should be delighted to take him through the regulations one by one. We do not regard them as strong enough to ensure that the slaughterhouses the country ought to have are to be provided. This Bill will not provide slaughterhouses which would enable the American Army authorities to have their beasts slaughtered in this country for consumption by their troops. That is a shocking thing to have to say, but nevertheless, it is true.

There is a Clause in the Bill which provides for financial aid to local authorities in connection with the inspection of meat. The right hon. Gentleman has said that it will cost about £100,000 a year. The meat will not be adequately inspected under this Bill. The Bill will help some local authorities, but we shall still have a situation in which a very large proportion of meat will go for human consumption without being inspected. Not a single medical officer in the country has not subscribed to the view that it is wrong that any meat which has not been inspected should be made available for sale for public consumption. The Clause which provides for financial assistance for meat inspection does not provide for 100 per cent. inspection of meat for human consumption.

Although I very much doubt it, I hope that sufficient publicity will be given to the doctrinaire attitude of the Government, who feel that it is a splendid idea that for eighteen months anyone may open slaughterhouses under these tinpot regulations which the Minister has provided us in draft. The public ought to be made aware that if we take that fact into consideration, with the paucity of meat inspection provided under the Bill, they are not being protected and will not secure any greater efficiency in the slaughtering of animals.

I am very sorry indeed that the Government did not give us a Bill much more in conformity with the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee and the best advice of medical officers of health and local government. They are the people whose voices ought to have been heard. I am afraid this Bill contains the merest echo of all the things they have said and we have said on their behalf to the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said, we shall have to vote against the Bill. Before we listen to the Parliamentary Secretary winding up this debate, I wish on behalf of my hon. Friends to echo what my hon. Friend said about how much we have appreciated the hon. Gentleman's unfailing courtesy, the patient way in which he has listened to all we have had to say, and the care he has taken so far as he was able to meet the problems we raised. That is said very sincerely because we recognise that he did this task through no fault of his own or of the Minister. For that we on this side of the House are extremely grateful and wish to record our thanks.

I wish to record my personal thanks and those of my colleagues to my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North, who, on our side, has done a magnificent job. As we part with the Bill in such good spirits, I am sorry that we have to vote against it, but I am afraid that must be the case.

8.6 p.m.

Mr. Godber

I am most grateful to the hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) for the way in which he concluded his remarks. I spent many happy hours with him and his hon. Friends in Standing Committee and, as one of my hon. Friends said, after tonight it will seem as if something has gone out of my life, for we have been with this subject for such a long time.

I much appreciate the way in which hon. Members opposite have been so kind to me, especially as I have been saying "No" for the Last four or five months. I have been saying it in different ways and in a different voice, but I have still had to say "No" to them. I also pay tribute to the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) for the pertinacity of his endeavours to get me to change my point of view. I do not propose to go into those various arguments now. That would be wrong; we have had quite sufficient argument on the Bill, and the proof now is in its operation when it becomes law.

I wish to take up only one point. Several hon. Members have referred to the regulations and said that they do not think they will be effective enough in forcing wholly unsatisfactory slaughterhouses to close. Time will tell. I honestly believe that they will achieve the aim which hon. Members on both sides of the House desire. In support of that, I wish to quote what was said by an hon. Member opposite during the Committee stage: One could go right through the draft regulations one by one and prove conclusively that it is quite impossible for them to be carried out in the small slaughterhouses that have already been opened in very large numbers, and in the very many more envisaged to be opened."—[OFFCIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 10th December, 1957; c. 172.] That was said by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle), who has had some knowledge of these matters. It shows that hon. Members opposite are not wholly at one, and on that occasion truth broke out on the Opposition benches.

I must not go into the arguments again as we have debated this at great length, but I believe that when it reaches the Statute Book the Bill will prove a great asset in improving the standards of slaughterhouses. It will impose real obligations on those who own and operate them. I believe that in the long run it will be beneficial from the point of view of hygiene, prevention of cruelty, and the welfare of workers in the industry.

For those reasons, I am very sorry indeed that hon. Members opposite find it necessary to vote against the Bill on Third Reading.

Division No. 101.] AYES [8.11 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Nabarro, G. D. N.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Gurden, Harold Nairn, D. L. S.
Alport, C. J. M. Hall, John (Wyoombe) Neave, Airey
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H. Nicholls, Harmar
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'[...]h)
Arbuthnot, John Harris, Reader (Heston) Oakshott, H. D.
Atkins, H. E. Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Baldwin, A. E. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Osborne, C.
Balniel, Lord Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf d) Page, R. G.
Banks, Col. C. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Barber, Anthony Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Partridge, E.
Barlow, Sir John Henderson, John (Cathcart) Peel, W. J.
Barter, John Hesketh, R. F. Peyton, J. W. W.
Baxter, Sir Beverley Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Beamish, Col. Tufton Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Hirst, Geoffrey Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Bev[...]ns, J. R. (Toxteth) Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n) Pitman, I. J.
Bidgood, J. C. Holland-Martin, C. J. Pitt, Miss E. M.
Bishop, F. P. Hornby, R. P. Powell, J. Enoch
Body, R. F. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Ramsden, J. E.
Boyle, Sir Edward Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Rawlinson, Peter
Braine, B. R. Hulbert, Sir Norman Redmayne, M.
Braithwaite, Sir Alber(Harrow, W.) Hurd, A. R. Remnant, Hon. P.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.) Renton, D. L. M.
Browne, J. Nixon (Cra[...]gton) Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark(E'b'gh, W.) Ridsdale, J. E.
Butcher, Sir Herbert Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R.A.(Saffron Walden) Iremonger, T. L. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Campbell, Sir David Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Roper, Sir Harold
Cary, Sir Robert Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Channon, Sir Henry Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Sharples, R. C.
Chichester-Clark, R. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Shepherd, William
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot Sm[...]thers, Peter (Winchester)
Cooke, Robert Kaberry, D. Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Kerby, Capt. H. B. Spearman, Sir Alexander
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Kerr, Sir Hamilton Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Kershaw, J. A. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Kimball, M. Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Lancaster, col. C. G. Stoddart-Soott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Crowder, Petre(Ruislip—Northwood) Langford-Holt, J. A. Storey, S.
Currie, G. B. H. Leavey, J. A. Studholme, Sir Henry
Dance, J. C. G. Leburn, W. G. Summers, Sir Spencer
Davidson, Viscountess Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Deedes, W. F. Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T, Teeling, W.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Temple, John M.
Doughty, C. J. A. Linstead, Sir H. N. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
du Cann, E. D. L. Llewellyn, D. T. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Duncan, Sir James Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)
Duthie, W. S. Longden, Gilbert Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Ch[...]swick) Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Elliott, R.W.(Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vane, W. M. F.
Farey-Jones, F. W. McAdden, S. J. Vickers, Miss Joan
Finlay, Graeme Macdonald, Sir Peter Wade, D. W.
Fisher, Nigel McKibbin, Alan Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Gammans, Lady McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
Garner-Evans, E. H. McLean, Neil (Inverness) Wall, Patrick
George, J. C. (Pollok) MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Glover, D. Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Webbe, Sir H.
Glyn, Col. Richard H. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Godber, J. B. Markham, Major Sir Frank Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Goodhart, Philip Marlowe, A. A. H. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Gower, H. R. Marshall, Douglas Wood, Hon. R.
Graham, Sir Fergus Mathew, R. Woollam, John Victor
Grant, W. (Woodside) Mawby, R. L. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Green, A. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Mr. Bryan and Mr. Gibson-Watt.
Grimond, J. Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 208, Noes 177.

Ainsley, J. W. Houghton, Douglas Padley, W. E.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Paget, R. T.
All[...]n, Arthur (Botworth) Hoy, J. H. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Palmer, A. M. F.
Awbery, S. S. Hunter, A. E. Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Bacon, Miss Alice Hynd, H. (Accrington) Parker, J.
Balfour, A. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Parkin, B. T.
Bance, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Paton, John
Benson, Sir George Janner, B. Pearson, A.
Bavan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Jeger, George (Goole) Peart, T. F.
Blackburn, F. Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Hoibn & St. Pncs. S.) Pentland, N.
Boardman, H. Johnson, James (Rugby) Popplewell, E.
Bottomlay, Rt. Hon. A. G. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Prentice, R. E.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Probert, A. R.
Boy a, T. C. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Proctor, W. T.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Rankin, John
Brockway, A. F. Jonas, T. W. (Merioneth) Redhead, E. C.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Kenyon, C. Reeves, J.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Reid, William
Burke, W. A. Lawson, G. M. Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Burton, Miss F. E. Ledger, R. J. Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Carmichael, J. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Champion, A. J. Lindgren, G. S. Ross, William
Chetwynd, G. R. Logan, D. G. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Clunie, J. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Short, E. W.
Coldrick, W. McAlister, Mrs. Mary Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Collick, P. H. (B[...]rkenhead) McCann, J. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Collins, V.J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury) MacCol[...], J. E. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Corbet, Mrs. Freda MacDermot, Niall Sparks, J. A.
Cove, W. G. McGhee, H. G. Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) McGovern, J. Stonehouse, John
Crossman, R. H. S. McInnes, J. Stones, W. (Consett)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) McKay, John (Wallsend) Stross, Dr. Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) McLean, Neil (Inverness) Sylvester, G. O.
Deer, G. McLeavy, Frank Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Delargy, H. J. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Diamond, John MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Mahon, Simon Thornton, E.
Dye, S Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Tomney, F.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddarsfd, E.) Usborne, H. C.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mann, Mrs. Jean Viant, S. P.
Fernyhough, E. Mason, Roy Weitzman, D.
Foot, D. M. Mellish, R. J. West, D. G.
Forman, J. C. Masser, Sir F. Wheeldon, W. E.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mitchison, G. R. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Gibson, C. W. Moody, A. S. Willey, Frederick
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Williams, David (Neath)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Mort, D. L. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Grey, C. F. Moss, R. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Moyle, A. Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Ha[...]l, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Hamilton, W. W. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Winterbottom, Richard
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.) Woodbum, Rt. Hon. A.
Hastings, S. Oliver, G. H. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Hayman, F. H. Oram, A. E. Zilliacus, K.
Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Orbach, M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hobson, C. R. (Keighley) Oswald, T. Mr. J. T. Price and Mr. J. Taylor.
Holman, P. Owen, W. J.
Holmes, Horace
Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.