§ LORD LAMBOURNE had given Notice to ask His Majesty's Government if they are aware that Mr. Cochran refused to allow the R.S.P.C.A. inspectors to examine the horses in the rodeo show when being saddled or unsaddled or to examine the saddles or girths; whether in view of the statement in the Press that the performances 395 are to be repeated in the Coliseum they will use their influence to induce Mr. Cochran to allow either the police or the R.S.P.C.A. inspectors to make a proper examination.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Lambourne, I beg to ask the Question which stands in his name.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, in order to answer this Question it is not necessary for me to repeat the general statement of policy in regard to this matter which the Lord President of the Council laid down on, I think, June 4. What I think is needed is a definite statement of the facts as the Government see them and how the Government intend to deal with them. The Question refers to action by the police or by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and your Lordships will therefore realise at once that the answer must divide itself into two heads.
The police have certain definite legal powers, but the society have none. The police have no legal powers to go on private property—that is in this case, to insist on going behind the scenes—in order to see the saddling and girthing of the horses. They have, however, very definite powers. They can, if they think fit, make an arrest without warrant, and they can also at the same time take away the animals in question and deposit them in safe keeping. They have not used these powers, but they have used others. They have issued summonses against the promoters of this performance. At the present moment the case has not been decided and the matter is therefore sub judice. The Home Secretary is, however, satisfied that the powers he possesses at present are fully sufficient to deal with the matter and he docs not feel inclined to ask a favour of Mr. Cochran against whom the police have already issued summonses.
Now with regard to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Those of us who have sympathy with their ideals cannot help but regret that they prejudiced their position at the beginning of this unfortunate affair. At the beginning Mr. Cochran gave them leave to send their inspectors behind the scenes, but before they had an opportunity 396 of taking advantage of this concession they attacked the promoters of the performance in the public Press. Therefore. Mr. Cochran withdrew the consent—an act, if I may say so, speaking personally, even more regrettable than the action of the society in making the attack. The Home Secretary does not, however, feel that he is in a position to interfere in a matter which concerns solely these two parties, the society and the promoters. He feels very strongly, however, that the promoters would be extremely unwise were they to continue in their policy of refusing to have the society's inspectors behind the scenes, and he hopes very much that they will reconsider their policy. It is only natural that, if they do not, the public will draw their own conclusions and will feel that, after all, there is something to hide. Your Lordships will realise that the matter is further complicated because the society brought out summonses and took this matter to the Courts, where then-case was dismissed.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
We may all have our personal views on that matter, but your Lordships will realise, from the point of view of the Government, that they must proceed with caution, that decision having been given. The Government, however, can give an assurance that they will continue to watch this matter very closely, as they have already done at Wembley. They cannot be accused of having acted with negligence in view of the fact that the police have already taken action, and they feel that they can take no further action, at any rate, at the present moment, although they can give your Lordships an assurance that they will keep a very close watch on the matter.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
My Lords, the House must, I am sure, be aware that the noble Earl has not really answered the Question that has been put. The question as to whether or not the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 397 have been well or ill-advised in taking proceedings in respect of these performances at Wembley is not the Question that has been asked at all. The Question which the noble Lord has asked is, presumably, a very definite one: Has there been a refusal on the part of Mr. Cochran to permit the inspection of horses that are saddled for the purposes of the entertainment? So far as I can understand the noble Earl's reply, the answer to that is, "Yes," and, so far as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is concerned, he states that a permission wan given which apparently was never exercised and has since been with drawn.
With regard to the police, I am not quite sure that I understand the position. The noble Earl says that the police are taking proceedings, and that therefore we cannot speak about that which has taken place. Am I to understand that he has taken proceedings with regard to the saddling of these horses? Is that the subject matter of the action? What are the proceedings that are being taken? At the moment I have heard of none, but the noble Earl said that proceedings have been taken and, apparently, that, in consequence, the police cannot ask a favour, and have no right to go without permission. I am bound to say that it seem to me that this result is extremely unsatisfactory. I have not the least idea whether these horses are properly saddled or ill-saddled, nor has this Question anything to do with that. The only thing the Question asks is whether there has been a refusal to permit inspection and if so, whether the Government will use its influence to secure that this inspection can be made if this exhibition is going to be extended and held elsewhere. I should have liked to hear a definite answer to that question.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I think my answer was very definite. I said that the society had been refused and that they had had the concession cancelled, but that at the same time the police were taking action on their own.