HC Deb 16 April 1959 vol 603 cc1121-2
17. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will inquire into the conditions under which monkeys imported into Great Britain are kept pending dispatch to laboratories engaged in the production of vaccines.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

My right hon. Friend has no reason to think that conditions are not satisfactory. It is an offence under the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, to cause, or permit to be caused, any unnecessary suffering to a domestic or captive animal by ill-treating or neglecting it; and 1 am sure that those responsible for enforcing the Act will at once investigate any such allegation.

Mr. Lipton

Is the hon. Lady aware that distressing accounts have appeared showing a very heavy death rate suffered by these monkeys when they are sent from London Airport to monkey farms? Will she examine a case in which 927 animals died in the period of three months at one of these places? If those circumstances are verified, will she see that necessary action is taken to avoid this needless suffering in what is a large traffic?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

The hon. Member refers to a large traffic, but he will be aware of the incalculable value of these animals in the vaccines produced. I can assure him that these farms have been visited both by the police and the R.S.P.C.A. and that no grounds have been found for the institution of proceedings. I understand the monkeys are well looked after in good, hygienic conditions and are visited three times a week by a qualified veterinary surgeon. It is, however, not unnatural, in view of the change from a tropical climate, that there are a certain number of deaths.