HC Deb 30 April 1969 vol 782 cc1417-8
17. Mr. Hunt

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will initiate discussions with the major fur importing and producing countries with a view to making trade in baby seal fur illegal.

Mr. Dell

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind allegations in the Press about cruelty in the methods of killing used in the Canadian seal hunt. I would refer him to the answer that I gave on 12th February to the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles). It remains our view, after careful consideration of the evidence, that direct controls of the sort operated by the Canadian Government provide the most effective means of preventing cruelty.—[Vol. 777, c. 312.]

Mr. Hunt

As the Minister appears to take the view that there is little cruelty, may I ask him whether he has had an opportunity of studying the evidence of Dr. Elizabeth Simpson, of Cambridge University, reporting that one out of three baby seals was still alive when skinned? Is he further aware that there is a widespread feeling of revulsion in the country at this annual massacre of baby seals off the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland? Why will not the Government give a lead in putting an end to this barbarism and brutality?

Mr. Dell

I am well aware of the concern that exists. I share the concern expressed at the possibility of cruelty. I have not studied the evidence to which the hon. Member referred but if he will send it to me, or give me an exact reference, I shall certainly study it. I have, however, studied the other evidence, which appears to contradict the evidence that he has mentioned. Indeed, there is a dispute whether it is possible to skin a seal that is still alive. I am well aware of the concern expressed, but we have made a serious study of the evidence.