HC Deb 08 May 1964 vol 694 cc1652-69

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Captain Orr

The Bill will come into operation at the end of two months after it has been passed. Is this an arbitrary date or is it based on some calculations of an abstruse kind as to whether, for example, it is necessary for people to stock up with anaesthetics?

I repeat the point which I made, perhaps improperly and out of order, on Clause 1. The fact that the Bill will not extend to Northern Ireland should not be taken as indicating that we are in any way less civilised and humane there. Our farmers are amongst the most humane and civilised beings in the world, and I am certain that what happens here will be noted there and taken into account.

Mr. Burden

The period of two months is reckoned to provide sufficient time for the farmers and other interested parties to be informed of the provisions of the Bill and how it will affect them.

1.45 p.m.

Dr. Alan Glyn

I agree with what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) has said. There is a practical point which I want to raise, and I do not expect my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) to answer off the cuff because it is a rather wide subject. Will the Bill mean a very large expansion in the amount of anaesthetics required? Will the commercial trade be able to absorb it?

I also imagine that the Bill will apply to Scotland, since subsection (1) provides for the citing of the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Acts, 1912 to 1964. I hope that the Bill may eventually be extended to Northern Ireland.

Is my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham satisfied with the period of two months? Will the pharmaceutical trade be able not only to have sufficient stocks in hand but have them available to farmers in the various areas within that time?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

The quantities to be used are of a minimal amount in these operations. As far as I am aware there is no difficulty about the level of supplies being available. The two months' period brings us to the autumn, which is the right time of year for the farming community. I welcome what has been said about Northern Ireland. I am sure that they will follow our proceedings over there with great care and will not be backward in coming forward to do the same thing.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

1.50 p.m.

Mr. Burden

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

Only when one has, as a Member of the House, taken particular interest in animal welfare does one become really conscious of the amount of time given here to matters concerning animals. A great deal of this time, of course, is on Fridays. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) suggested, an impression might be created in the mind of those who pay particular attention to what occurs in the House on Fridays that we devote a good deal more thought to animals than to children. Of course, so much of our legislation affecting the welfare of children comes in Government time, and Fridays give almost the only opportunity which private Members can take to press the cause of animals. The two causes are, to a great extent, synonymous. If a people has great care and understanding for animals, children do not in any way suffer as a result.

This is the second Bill to come before the House today dealing with the welfare of animals. I was a Member of the Standing Committee which considered the Riding Establishments Bill. I had no opportunity on its Third Reading, because I was thinking about my own business, to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, South (Sir. J. Lucas). I wish now to add my congratulations to him for the work which he did in getting the Riding Establishments Bill through the House. I make no apology whatever for hoping that this Bill, too, will have its Third Reading today.

It has been a great privilege to take over the piloting of the Bill from another place, where it was introduced by Lord Dowding. I have merely followed Lord Dowding in the efforts which I have made to ensure that his Bill passes through the stages which our legislation has to follow. I think that Dowding is, perhaps, less well known outside the House of Commons for his love of animals than for the very great service which he rendered to Britain and the free world daring the dark days of the Battle of Britain, at which time, may I say, although he was known as Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, he was also very affectionately, but not to his face, know as "Stuffy" Dowding. Many of us who are associated with him in Parliament know of the passionate interest which he has always taken in the welfare of animals, and hon. Members on both sides will, I know, join me in congratulating him on the satisfactory progress of this very important Measure which he introduced in another place.

This is, of course, an amending Bill. It amends the Protection of Animals (Anaesthetics) Act, 1954, which followed the Animals (Anaesthetics) Act, 1919. The 1919 Act contained a Schedule listing the operations in which sometimes general and sometimes either general or local anaesthetics had to be used. The British Veterinary Association considered that, because new operations and new techniques of anaesthesia were constantly being devised, it was impracticable to schedule for any length of time all the various surgical operations for which anaesthetics were required. Accordingly, the Association sponsored the Protection of Animals (Anaesthetics) Bill, in 1953. This Bill was introduced in another place by Lord Stamp and received its Second Reading on 27th October of that year, but, unfortunately, it lapsed at the end of the Session. In 1954, a new Bill was introduced in this House by Lady Davidson, and this Bill became the Protection of Animals (Anaesthetics) Act, 1954 which is the subject of amending legislation today.

The 1954 Act replaced the 1919 Act and, instead of listing operations which must be performed under anaesthetic, it provided that all operations on animals—except those listed for exemption in the First Schedule—which interfered with sensitive tissue or bone structure should be carried out under anaesthetic. This was the central intention in that Act.

In reply to a Question by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) on 2nd July, 1962, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said that he was in touch with the veterinary profession on the subject of the possible Amendment of the 1954 Act. I am very sorry that the hon. Lady could not be with us today, and I am sure that she will be interested to know that the Bill has made such good progress.

Soon after this promise by the Minister, an ad hoc committee of the British Veterinary Association reviewed the 1954 Act and recommended certain alterations. It recommended that the castration of the male dog, cat, horse, ass or mule should always be carried out under anaesthetic, that the castration of the bull, male sheep, goat or pig should always be carried out under anaesthetic if the animal was more than two months old, that the dehorning of cattle by any method in which actual physical severance of the horn occurs should be done under anaesthetic, and that the disbudding of calves by actual cautery or incision should be carried out under anaesthetic. The Association recommended also that the rubber ring method for the castration of male animals or for the docking of lambs' tails should be permitted only if applied during the first week of the animal's life.

A petition was presented to Mr. Speaker in July last asking for amendments to the 1954 Act. Later that month, in another place, in reply to a question by Lord Dowding, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture said that it was intended to introduce legislation to amend the Act.

I was greatly pleased by the remarks made about the part I have played in this matter, a very minor part, I admit, compared with that of Lord Dowding, but I feel that the House should realise how singularly self-effacing the Ministry has been in its help in bringing the Bill forward. It would have been quite impossible to have brought it forward without the wholehearted support and approval of the Ministry, and this is the right and proper place in which to express thanks and to pay a tribute to my right hon. Friend the Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary and the back-room boys at the Ministry of Agriculture, who have done a great deal to make possible this practical expression of the intention which they announced in the House and in another place.

It is true that not all the proposals made by the British Veterinary Association have been agreed, but it has been possible to go a long way towards what they asked. Cats, dogs, horses, asses and mules may be castrated only if anaesthetised in accordance with the Association's proposals. The Association recommended that a bull or male sheep should not be castrated without anaesthetic after the age of two months. It was not found possible to go all the way with the Association in this respect for reasons which we explained when debating the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Dudley Smith (Brentford and Chiswick)

My hon. Friend is well-known as experienced in this subject. Could he say which group of animals is most used for experiments of this kind?

Mr. Burden

It is not a question of experiments. It is a question of practical farming. These are suggestions which have been made by veterinary and other authorities; they point out that carrying out these operations without an anaesthetic beyond these ages is likely to bring unnecessary suffering to the animals. In this country we must try to accept the bounty which is given to us—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)

Order. I would prefer the hon. Member to address me rather than to turn his back on me.

Mr. Burden

I am sorry, Sir. Robert.

We should take from them with the least suffering the bounty which has been given to us by animals.

In respect of the bull and male sheep it was not possible to go all the way with the Association because of certain difficulties with the farming industry, but a compromise was reached and the age has been reduced from 12 months to three months. I think that the House will agree that this is a considerable and necessary improvement. In respect of goats and pigs it was found possible to go all the way with the recommendations made by the British Veterinary Association. For goats and pigs it will be illegal to castrate without an anaesthetic after the age of two months. This is a considerable improvement; under the old Act it was seven months for pigs and three months for goats.

The Bill also makes it illegal to dehorn cattle by any method until actual physical severance occurs unless the animal is under the influence of an anaesthetic. I make the important point that this operation has customarily been carried out by a veterinary surgeon, and it is probable that its performance without an anaesthetic constitutes an offence at present, but the Bill makes it unequivocally clear that after its passing it will be an offence to carry out this operation unless the animal is anaesthetised. This, again, is in accordance with a recommendation of the British Veterinary Association. The Bill will make illegal the disbudding of calves except by actual cautery or incision other than by chemical cauterisation applied within the first week of life. This exception is against the advice of the British Veterinary Association but restricting its use to the animal's first week of life is a very great advance.

I want to say a few words about the use of the rubber ring, on the use of which the Bill places very close restrictions. It has been stated that the ring can cause considerable pain and that if it is allowed to remain on too long it can cause not only suffering to the animal but danger to health and to life through setting up gangrene. I hope that this restriction on its use to a very early age will mean that before long its use will cease altogether. After all, there will be no need for its use, because if it cannot be fixed in an early stage of life, facilities remain for castrating the animal without anaesthetic up to the age of three months.

I was particularly pleased when my hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Bullard) informed me that he was in favour of the Bill. Hon. Members on both sides of the House know that my hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn is a practical farmer. He has informed me that he has himself carried out this operation on a considerable number of animals and that he is convinced that this legislation is not only desirable but necessary. It may well be that, like most farmers, he has some small points on which we might be at issue on the question of age, but, generally, he has stated his complete acceptance of the intention of the Bill, and it is only the fact that he is otherwise engaged in a manner which has made it impossible for him to be here that has prevented him from attending today to give us his experience as a practical farmer.

I know that the Bill will bring and has brought considerable satisfaction to members of the veterinary profession. It has brought approval from the farming community, although perhaps it would be better to say that it has been greeted by the farming community with a modified rapture. But there has been the complete and absolute acclamation of the animal welfare societies.

In some quarters the farming industry in this country is under a bit of a cloud. Much of this is completely unjustified. I know that intensive methods of farming have thrown a strain on the association between some members of the farming community and some of the people who have the welfare of animals at heart. We have to reach, as in this Clause, a balance on these matters and to accept that with the shrinkage in farming land which is taking place in this country and the tremendous growth in population which is continuing throughout the world, the human race must use the land which it has in the most productive way possible.

It is wrong to imagine that the farming community in general is not greatly concerned at the welfare of animals. Certainly, the Bill and the other Bills which recently have passed through the House show clearly that in representing and sometimes leading public opinion, this House has very much in mind the welfare of animals and will ensure that whatever may be the needs of the farming community and the maintenance of adequate supplies of food, unnecessary cruelty to animals will not be tolerated in either intensive farming or any other methods. I am happy that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has recently announced his intention to establish a high-level committee to consider the welfare of animals which are used in intensive farming to ensure that they do not suffer unnecessary cruelty.

I thank my hon. Friends for the support which they have given me in presenting the Bill. I conclude, as I began, by saying how grateful we are to Lord Dowding for introducing the Bill in another place and giving us the opportunity of discussing it and speeding it on its way to the Statute Book.

2.12 p.m.

Captain Orr

My hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden), in so ably moving the Third Reading of the Bill, properly congratulated Lord Dowding on introducing it in another place. My hon. Friend, however, re- ferred to his own part in the matter as being a minor one. In doing so, he was guilty of the same imprecision of language which the Bill seeks to remove from the 1954 Act. Any hon. Member of this House who takes up a Private Member's Bill plays no minor part. It requires a considerable amount of time, research and study in its preparation and if the Committee stage is protracted it necessitates giving up probably the whole of a number of Fridays to pilot the Bill through this House. That is time which an hon. Member might otherwise spend profitably in his constituency or elsewhere. Consequently, when we congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham upon reaching this stage of the Bill and for the work he has done on it, this is no empty congratulation and we all mean it sincerely.

I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has had to leave us, because I was hoping through him to congratulate his Department also. We are, however, delighted to see that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department is present. That is not entirely inappropriate, since in Northern Ireland it is curious that legislation of this nature is handled by our Ministry of Home Affairs and not by our Ministry of Agriculture.

Mr. Skeet

Why is that?

Captain Orr

I am not entirely sure that if I were to go into the intricacies of that question at this stage of the Bill, you would not rule me out of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, even if reluctantly.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I must tell the hon. Member that that would be so.

Captain Orr

I must, therefore, decline my hon. Friend's invitation. No doubt, an opportunity will arise on another occasion to go into that interesting constitutional question.

We are delighted that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department is present at this stage of the Bill. Having listened to the debate, my hon. Friend will have observed the remarkable degree of unanimity upon it. Throughout the Committee stage, not one voice was raised in opposition. I hope that this will be taken as indicating that the House of Commons is deeply concerned, and rightly so, about the way in which the nation treats its animals.

It is a mark of civilised man that he has regard not only for his fellow human beings who may be helpless, but also for the animals for which he is responsible, and that while he thinks it perfectly right and proper to use them for assisting his work, for providing him with food and for other reasons, he understands it as a mark of civilisation that in using them in those ways he should treat them with humanity and fairness.

Those of us who have followed the recent law reports in The Times will have been deeply appalled and disturbed by a case which described the performance of operations of castration upon human beings at Auschwitz during the terrible days of the war. The conscience of the whole of civilised man is, naturally, appalled by this terrible story. At the same time, it is right that while we view with horror and absolute revulsion the possibility of the performance of any such operation upon human beings without anaesthetic, we should view with equal revulsion the possibility—except in cases where it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable that it should be done—of similar operations being performed upon animals without anaesthetic.

I hope that the Bill will not be the end of the story and that the ultimate result of the way in which all civilised people in this community are thinking will be that we see the day when no operation of any kind is performed upon animals without anaesthetic. I hope that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the animal welfare societies, the British Veterinary Association and all the rest—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must not pursue what is not in the Bill. On Third Reading, we can discuss only what is in the Bill.

Captain Orr

I am obliged, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I did not intend to discuss what was not in the Bill. I was trying to suggest that one effect of the Bill, if it gets upon the Statute Book, may be to stimulate persons in respon- sible organisations and in the Ministry to continue their research into this problem.

For example, I hope that not quite as many years will elapse between the amendment of the 1954 Act, which is what today's Bill does, and the next amendment of the law which may be required. I hope that research will continue into questions of the level of pain, and so on, in animals and the proper methods of dealing with them, so that even the exceptions which are scheduled in the Bill may ultimately be swept away also. I hope that practical and workable methods of doing this will be found.

I was interested in the Committee debate, which, I think, you heard in another capacity, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Skeet) ask a question, to which I think he did not have an answer, whether or not there would be in future any subsidy for giving anaesthetics. I think his implication was that as a result of this Bill more anaesthetics would be used, and he wanted to know whether or not there would be any consideration of assisting members of the farming community if it were to be found that a great weight of expense was put upon them as a result of this legislation. That was a proper question, and some time, perhaps today, some representative of the Government will give us an answer. It may be that in future legislation along these lines we may find it necessary to help.

This is an important milestone in our protection of animals legislation generally. Everybody concerned with its promotion ought to be congratulated most heartily. It will do away with a considerable amount of suffering which, it has become more and more apparent with the years, is being caused. It will explicitly do away with certain operations which were held to be possible as minor operations. It will be a useful piece of legislation and I hope that the House will give it a Third Reading with the same unanimity as was apparent during its interesting Committee stage.

2.22 p.m.

Mr. Dudley Smith

I join in welcoming this Bill. I apologise to the House for not being present earlier owing to an outside engagement which took rather longer than I had anticipated.

Sometimes we are criticised as being too much of an animal loving nation, particularly when compared with nations on the Continent, but I am of the opinion that it is a sign of our humanity, and I think it is very important indeed that we should always be conscious of animal welfare. It surely is a fact that there is a great deal of concern that perhaps even today there is too much cruelty to domestic and to farm animals. Judging by one's correspondence as a Member of this House—and I suppose that my case is not untypical—one would imagine that this matter occupies a foremost place in the minds of many constituents. Over the course of a year I get as many letters about animal welfare and cruelty to animals as I do about controversial Measures like that about resale price maintenance.

Therefore, I think it is very important indeed that Members should have an interest in animal welfare, and should see that, whichever Ministry is involved, Ministers are always made aware of the developments taking place. We should make sure that Measures of the past, or amending Measures brought forward, are working and are seen to work. One of the best ways of proceeding in this matter is to see that publicity is given to the efforts which are made to eliminate cruelty to animals and to see that there is accountability for what goes on. I am sure that my hon. Friends the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture will be aware of this point.

I am sure we all support the efforts which have been made in this direction by Lord Dowding in another place and my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) whose very assiduous efforts over the years on behalf of animal welfare are well known. He has had the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House, and he deserves it. I welcome this Bill as, I am sure, do the great majority of the people of this nation.

2.24 p.m.

Dr. Alan Glyn

My hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) was very modest when he said that he had contributed little, it is so much harder to pilot someone else's Bill through another place or this place than to start afresh with a Bill of one's own and pilot it through. I think, therefore, that my hon. Friend deserves double congratulations on that score.

He mentioned that the mass of legislation passed as Private Members' Bills concerned animals as distinct from humans. I would remind him, however, that all the adoption laws have been passed during private Members' time. Animal welfare has been given great attention on the last few Fridays, that of wild animals, of animals in riding establishments, and now this Bill. I think it is a great tribute to my hon. Friends that they have put these very humane Bills through this House.

I should be prepared to say to my hon. Friends, and indeed to the veterinary profession, who sat on the ad hoc committee looking into various aspects of the matter, including what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) described as the "level of pain" and the threshold of pain. It is a great tribute to the committee that most of its recommendations have been adopted in this Bill. It is also a tribute to the farming community, which accepted in principle the suggestions and recommendations which were put forward. This Bill is a balance of what is reasonable and what is possible. I would pay particular tribute to those concerned for being able to achieve that balance, and to have got into the Bill most of the recommendations—admittedly, not all—which were put forward by the ad hoc committee.

The result of this Bill will be to reduce a great deal of the unnecessary suffering which has been caused in the past through carrying out operations specified in the Bill. I do not think it is a weakness that we have brought forward this Bill. I think it is a strength, in that we have the courage to admit—and as my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary had in admitting—that there were loopholes and errors in the original legislation. As I said at an earlier stage, no Bill can be comprehensive. It is only as a result of the working of the Act that it has been proved that certainly these operations ought to have been included in the original Measure. Now through this legislation as proposed by Lord Dowding and my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham we shall be able to close those loopholes. The Bill is another step in the direction which shows this country as the leader in Europe—and in fact in the world—in the humane treatment of its animals, whether they be used for pleasure or whether they be used in the normal process of animal husbandry.

There is one phrase which is used which leads me on to a related topic which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham, and that is whether or not this does include that particular aspect of husbandry to which our attention has been drawn recently, that is to say, broiler farming, to which a great deal of publicity—some right, some wrong—has lately been directed. This surely rely is something to be looked into because it is of concern to all those in the broiler industry and all those interested in intensive animal feeding. If I read the Bill correctly, nothing in this Bill affects that aspect of farming and animal husbandry, and even though we should like to see something in that direction we are not yet certain what is to be introduced. I am not sure whether certain other aspects of animal care, concerning many experiments which go on, are covered by these words.

The Bill itself, although it reduces the number of certain physiological or anatomical operations, does not cover other experiments about which many people are extremely worried. Over 4 million a year of these experiments are carried out, of which upon 5,000 are done by Government Departments.

Mr. Burden

I agree that this matter gives great concern to people. The Bill will have no effect on it. However, at the moment a committee is looking into experimentation on animals with a view to making recommendations and, we hope, to reducing the number of experiments considerably.

Dr. Glyn

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I was coming on to that point. I hope that the committee will be able to deal with this matter.

There is a point here which comes within the compass of the Bill. One of the things that we have to deal with—I am grateful that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department is present—is the method of enforcement. I am not entirely clear about this, and the matter should be made clear before we give the Bill a Third Reading. Who is to enforce it? Is it the Ministry of Agriculture or will it be the Home Office inspectors? This is a matter to which attention might be directed. I am sorry to raise this point with my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary, but I am satisfied that she has the answer.

This raises a matter of considerable importance. Great criticism has been levelled against the Home Office because of the insufficient number of inspectors in this field. If it is that we have to rely on the same inspectors who are responsible for ensuring that experiments on animals are carried out in a proper and fitting manner, there will be great difficulty. It is said—my hon. Friend may agree with me partially—that there has been criticism about the method of enforcement in respect of institutions where experiments on animals are carried out, because there are insufficient inspectors. I should be very sorry if this excellent Bill were to fail because there were insufficient inspectors. I imagine, however, that the inspections carried out under it—this is essentially an animal matter rather than a Home Office matter—will be carried out by inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture, though I think it is difficult to divorce one from the other, both Departments being concerned with the enforcement of humane treatment of animals. I hope that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary will be able to clear up the point.

I reiterate that there has been considerable worry over the experiments carried out on live animals and over whether there are sufficient inspectors and whether sufficient attention has been paid to the conditions under which they operate. I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to assure us that we are in a position to enforce the requirements listed in the Bill in the proper manner.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham and other hon. Members have dealt with the great benefits which will accrue to the animals as a result of the modifications to the 1954 Act which are introduced by the Bill. I join my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South in saying that we are going a long way to eliminate unnecessary pain in animal husbandry. I trust that the farming community will realise that we are the leaders of the world in the treatment of animals for both domestic and other uses, and I hope that they will co-operate fully in recognising that the elimination of pain in animals, classified as in the Bill, will be to the benefit of all concerned and to civilisation in general.

2.35 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Miss Mervyn Pike)

I am very glad to have the opportunity to intervene, although I am not directly responsible in this matter. The responsibility lies with the Ministry of Agriculture. However, in the Home Office we have an overall regard, as it were, for the protection of animals. Therefore, this is a particular pleasure for me, and I hope that the House will regard my presence as an assurance of the interest taken in this matter by the Home Office.

Before I deal with the subject matter of the Bill, I should like to express the regret of my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food that he has had to leave the Chamber. He has a most important engagement elsewhere; otherwise he would have stayed until the conclusion of the debate.

The purpose of the Bill has been amply explained by my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden). It is to prevent suffering in animals. This is close to the hearts of all of us. I speak here as a farmer in my own right and also as a representative of a famous farming constituency. It is a matter of great happiness to all of us that the farming community as a whole has given the Bill the support it has, because it must be pointed out that the Bill adds to some of its many difficulties and problems. However, as I said, this is a matter close to the hearts of all. The 1954 Act was a great step forward. Viscountess Davidson played a very great and important part in it, and it is probably suitable that another woman should again add support to this important Measure.

The Government, as I hope has been made clear, fully support the Bill and are gratified that my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham has been able to obtain the support which he has both in the House and outside. As I have said, as Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department I have a general interest in and responsibility for preventing unnecessary cruelty to animals, and I should like to congratulate all those who have made the Bill possible.

My hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) asked a specific question about the enforcement of the Bill. The enforcement is related in this respect to the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, and it is carried out, as he probably realises, by local authority inspectors and has nothing directly to do with inspection done by the Home Office inspectors of experiments without anæthetics. I hope that clears up the point.

I hope that my presence here and my interest in the Bill assures hon. Members of our determination that the Bill shall be a reality.

Dr. Alan Glyn

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. This is a point which might have arisen if she had not been kind enough to clear it up, because there has been criticism about the number of inspectors to deal with experiments on live animals. If, as she says, it is to be done by the local authorities, it is clear to me—I am sure she will agree with this—that there will be adequate supervision and inspection to carry out the provisions of the Bill.

Miss Pike

I am sure that my hon. Friend can be reassured on that point.

It is some years since the original Act was passed, and much has happened since then, but there has been a growing public consciousness of the need to treat our animals with all possible decency. There has been at the same time an important growth in our knowledge of the effects of pain on animal development, which, again, is of great importance to the farming community.

We recognise that no normal person deliberately inflicts pain on creatures under his control, but I think it is possible—this is something that we have all seen and understood in the past—that people have not perhaps realised how very painful some of these very necessary operations are which are carried out on animals. Nor do I think that the great tributes that the Bill has received in this House will be lost on the community outside. Not only the farming community is interested in this matter. It is of interest to all those people who have a genuine love of animals and genuine determination that our civilisation shall be expressed in these practical terms. I give the Bill my warmest support.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed, without Amendment.