HC Deb 19 October 1971 vol 823 cc533-4
11. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many prosecutions have been instituted under the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1968, regarding unnecessary suffering caused to animals; and in how many such cases a failure to observe the Codes of Recommendation for the Welfare of Liverstock was quoted in evidence.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

One prosecution has been brought under Section 1 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1968. It resulted in a conviction. Failure to observe the Codes of Recommendations was quoted in evidence.

Mr. Whitehead

Does the Minister agree that, in view of the many serious malpractices which the revised Codes of Recommendations are designed to prevent, it is a great pity that only one prosecution has been brought in which the Codes have been quoted in evidence? Would there not be more successful prosecutions if the Codes were mandatory?

Mr. Stodart

I think that we should look at this matter in perspective. Out of 26,000 visits by our veterinary staff in the course of a year, only 74 cases were found involving unnecessary suffering and all were resolved by the advice given. Frankly, I think that that is a better way of getting results than merely saying that we are chalking up prosecutions.

Mr. Rankin

Has the right hon. Gentleman looked at or visited these little hutches in which farm animals are being housed? Does he realise that in the space which they are allowed in these little dens it is impossible for animals to escape suffering? Will he look at the matter himself and not depend on other people for reports?

Mr. Stodart

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I have visited many of these establishments.