HC Deb 10 February 1965 vol 706 cc376-8
33. Mr. W. Baxter

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give favourable consideration to extending the period of one week for the rubber-ringed castration of lambs under the Protection of Animals (Anaesthetics) Act, 1964.

Mr. John Mackie

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to a Question by the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) on 3rd February.

Mr. Baxter

I am aware of the reply that was given to the hon. Member for South Angus, but I wonder whether my hon. Friend will further consider this matter. I am not a member of an official organistion to make representations to him, but on behalf of my constituents and as a reasonable Member of Parliament I am now making representations that this question be gone into. I do so for the simple reason that many sheep farmers in Scotland are greatly concerned at this one-week period of lamb castration and they find that when they are bringing in their lambs for the purpose of castration, it does much more harm to the unborn lambs in the sheep that are being brought in than the saving of pain to the lambs which are castrated throughout the week. I would wish my hon. Friend to give further consideration to this matter at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Mackie

My hon. Friend can take it that the Government always considers the opinions of minorities, however small they may be. He must, however, appreciate that we have to look into this matter through the representations given to the British Veterinary Association, whose advice we must take and with whom, I know, there has been consultation by representative bodies in Scotland. I do not know whether the representations have been strong enough when the advice reaches the Association's headquarters, which is the source from which we get it before acting upon it.

Mr. Stodart

Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary aware of the report in one of the farming newspapers at the weekend of the views expressed by Dr. John Watt, secretary of the Scottish branch of the British Veterinary Association and also lecturer in veterinary science at the East of Scotland School of Agriculture, which appeared to lean rather heavily towards the views expressed by the farming community in this matter? Will the hon. Gentleman consider this?

Mr. Mackie

It will certainly be taken into consideration.

Mr. Baxter

May I remind my hon. Friend that there is a great deal to be said from the point of view of a practical man, especially a practical farmer?

Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie

Will the Minister bear in mind the urgency of this matter, because in three months' time this process will be due to be carried out again? The matter is important not only for this reason, but also because people who have tended sheep all their lives are convinced that this is by far the best method to use?

Mr. Mackie

I note what the hon. Member has said.