HC Deb 16 May 1972 vol 837 cc218-9
4. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has studied the representations made to him by the hon. Member for Nuneaton about the working of the Animals Act in relation to the responsibility for the custody of animals in abattoirs; and what reply he has sent.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Peter Mills)

Yes, Sir, but I cannot add to the reply given to the hon. Member by my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General on 1st May.

Mr. Huckfield

Does the Minister intend to do nothing about this? Is he not ashamed of the state of affairs whereby an old lady chased by a bullock nearly four years ago has as yet received not a penny compensation? All she has received is a solicitor's bill. Is he not aware that the law is severely deficient, because in such cases responsibility is not accepted by the abattoir, the farmer, or the transporter? Are we to have a continuation of this state of affairs, under which people can be severely injured and receive no compensation—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Some brevity in supplementary questions, please.

Mr. Mills

I have every sympathy with the hon. Gentleman in this case. It was a very distressing case, but the difficulty is one of proof rather than of a defect in the law.

Mr. R. W. Elliott

Does my hon. Friend recall the case of Mr. Murray of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, about which I have told him? Mr. Murray suffered a similar accident in similar circumstances and will never walk upright again—and will not receive one penny compensation. Surely there is a grave deficiency in the law?

Mr. Mills

I remember the case to which my hon. Friend refers. Strange as it may seem, I had a similar case in my own family, so I have considerable sympathy, but the difficulty is one of proof rather than of a defect in the law.