HC Deb 14 July 1960 vol 626 cc1575-6
12. Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that doubt exists whether the introduction of bullfighting into this country is prohibited under existing law; and if he will introduce legislation making explicit such prohibition.

34. Mr. Thorpe

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, for the avoidance of doubt, he will introduce legislation forbidding the practice of bullfighting in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Vosper

No, Sir; bullfighting is already clearly prohibited by the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, and the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act, 1912.

Mrs. Butler

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that very many people believe that bullfighting is a cruel and degrading spectacle and are concerned about the number of clubs which have been formed to promote bullfighting in this country? Since, in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, the law is not clear on this point and since it is much easier to stop these things starting than to intervene when they are established, will he give an assurance that he will take the powers necessary to prohibit bullfighting if it is found that there are loopholes in the present law which permit it to be started?

Mr. Vosper

If the hon. Lady will examine Section 1 of the 1911 Act she will find that it is very comprehensive, but I give the assurance that if there is any loophole—I believe that there is no loophole—steps will be taken to stop it.

Mr. Thorpe

Is the right hon. Member aware that his reply will come as a relief to many people in this country who would be averse to the introduction of this barbaric sport? Is he further aware that clubs have been formed in an attempt to get round the law? Will he assure us that he will enforce the provisions of the Act, and will he also consider whether the present penalties are sufficiently stringent? They are, at present, only £25 and/or three months' imprisonment.

Mr. Vosper

I am not quite certain whether it is for my right hon. Friend to enforce the Act, but I will give the assurance that I will examine the question. I am aware that clubs have been formed and they have taken legal advice on the matter, but my legal advice is that there is no loophole in the present law.