HC Deb 01 May 1972 vol 836 cc28-9
35. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Attorney-General whether, in the light of the representations made by the lion. Member for Nuneaton, he will institute an inquiry into the state of the law relating to responsibility for the escape of animals from abattoirs and for damage and injury sustained by members of the public caused by such animals.

The Attorney-General

No, Sir. The law relating to liability for damage done by animals was examined by the Law Commission whose recommendations, published in 1967, were implemented in the Animals Act last year.

Liability for harm resulting from escape from an abattoir must be covered by the general rules.

Mr. Huckfield

Does not the Attorney-General understand that in many cases it is difficult to prove negligence on the part of some of the parties involved? Consequently some members of the public who may have suffered may go entirely without compensation. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree to look at this again, because it is a very important question?

The Attorney-General

I appreciate the point which the hon. Gentleman is raising. I know of the case on which he has had correspondence with my noble Friend. In that case, the difficulty is one of proof rather than of any defect in the law. This whole matter was discussed during the consideration of the Animals Bill last year, and I cannot hold out to the hon. Gentleman any proposals to alter that law.

Sir Elwyn Jones

Has there been any improvement in the provision of reasonable care for the custody of animals since the passing of the Animals Act, which was intended to make things much safer for the public?

The Attorney-General

I can only say that I hope there has been. I have no reason to suppose that there has not been.