HL Deb 29 July 1952 vol 178 cc383-4

2.46 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows.

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they can make a statement about the efficiency of the improved model of the humane rabbit trap, and how it compares with the gin-trap.]


My Lords, I am glad to say that further tests in England and Wales have confirmed the usefulness of the new Sawyer trap and that it looks as if it will meet the requirements of efficient and humane catching of rabbits. We are therefore proposing, through the Ministry's contract service, to bring this new trap into use under everyday conditions. This will require a substantial replacement by the Sawyer trap of the gin-traps at present used for this service. I understand that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will arrange at the same time for thorough trials of the new trap in Scotland. Meanwhile, arrangements for manufacture on a commercial scale are proceeding. I think it will be agreed that this marks an important stage in the very desirable substitution of a humane trap for the gin-trap.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his reply, which will give the utmost satisfaction to all who have been aware for a long time of the atrocious cruelty of the gin-trap. May I also congratulate the noble Lord and his Department on the long and patient effort which has led up to this successful discovery of a substitute for the gin-trap? I should like, if I may, to put to him three further questions. First, can he give any idea of the comparative costs of the humane and the gin-trap? Second, can he say how soon the humane trap will be available in quantities for purchase in shops? And, finally, can he say whether it is possible to arrange for a specimen of the humane trap to be placed on the premises of the Palace of Westminster for inspection by Members of either House of Parliament?


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for what he has said. As regards cost, these new traps have not yet been put into production, so it is rather difficult to say exactly what the cost will be. However, we hope that it will be comparable to that of the gin-trap. With regard to the availability of the trap, we are, as I say, replacing our traps with these new Sawyers, which we hope to have finished by Christmas. There will be a few on sale before then, but not until after Christmas will there be any quantity on sale in the shops. I will see what I can do about the noble Earl's last question, whether we can have someone demonstrating a trap here for your Lordships' benefit.


My Lords, in agreeing with the noble Earl that this news will be most welcome, may I ask the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, if, when this trap is in production, he will be in a position to welcome the reintroduction of a Bill to abolish the gin-trap?


My Lords, I think my noble friend is setting a trap for me. I was asked whether or not I could make a statement about the efficiency of the humane rabbit trap—and nothing more. We had better wait and see how the new trap gets along under the conditions we are imposing upon it in working for our new contract service before we think about legislation.