§ 2.46 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
My Lords, I am not certain that I should not start by apologising for asking your Lordships to give a Second Reading to a Bill that would add a number of regulations to an already overcrowded list of laws and regulations which have to be obeyed, and one more Committee, one more cog in an administrative machine which is already overburdened. On the other hand, I think that we 1001 should all wish to prevent unnecessary cruelty being inflicted on man or beast, and what this Bill does is to provide that some unnecessary cruelty should not be perpetuated.
It is a curious thing about the British nation that few things arouse more anger and more disgust than cruelty to animals. Indeed, we seem to be more exercised about cruelty to animals than we are about cruelty to men. I have one or two rather sophisticated friends who are foreigners and who are only too apt to point out to me that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 'was founded in 1824, but it was not until 1884, 60 years later, that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was founded. I suppose that there are few of us who at one time or another have not lost our tempers and made a scene when we have seen some deliberate cruelty being inflicted upon a dog or horse. It is part and parcel of our life in this country that unnecessary cruelty to animals should be resisted.
As its Title indicates, this Bill deals with poisons. Few people who poison animals are deliberately inflicting cruelty. The animal which takes poison dies out of sight and out of mind, and its sufferings are not seen; but they are none the less sufferings, for all that. The general law relating to cruelty to animals, as your Lordships will know, protects only domestic animals and animals which are captive—that is to say, animals which have been tamed sufficiently to be of use to man, or animals which are in captivity or otherwise under restraint. It is already an offence, under the appropriate Act, to cause suffering to such animals, and the administering of poison is one of the things which is certain to cause suffering to animals, although the killing of domestic animals by veterinary surgeons, say, by poison, is excluded as being for a reasonable cause.
Wild animals, on the other hand, are not protected by the Cruelty to Animals Act, although it is an offence to lay down poison except for rats, mice and other small vermin. The position, therefore, is that domestic or captive animals may be deliberately killed by poison, if that is thought the most efficacious method, but it is illegal to lay down poison for any other wild animal than rats, mice and small vermin.
1002 Your Lordships may remember that some ten years ago, following discussions in another place on the ethics of fox-hunting and stag-hunting a Committee was set up to inquire into practices or activities which might involve cruelty to wild animals. Among the practices which that Committee had to investigate was the laying down of poison. The Committee came to the conclusion that in many cases the practice of laying down a poison for wild animals caused considerable unnecessary cruelty, and in their Report, published in 1951, included among their recommendations the following:Steps should be taken to confer upon an appropriate Minister, or Ministers, power to make regulations authorising or prohibiting the use of particular poisons for killing wild animals.Another recommendation was:Before this power is exercised the use of particular poisons and the degree of suffering involved should be carefully examined by a committee of experts.All this Bill does is to implement those recommendations of that Committee, eleven years after the Report was published. Clause 2 sets up the appropriate committee. Clause 3 gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations, and the penalty for infringement is set out in Clause 1.
Some of the poisons in general use are exceedingly cruel, and I do not desire to harrow your Lordships with descriptions of their effect, because they make unpleasant reading. However, your Lordships might like the scientific opinion on some of them. One of the commonest poisons used for the destruction of rats and the like is red squill. Although to-day there are less cruel and more effective poisons available, it is still used. The Bureau of Animal Population of the University of Oxford, most of whose staff were engaged on pest destruction during the recent war, lately published a booklet on rats and mice in which they say that red squill is a very cruel poison. It states:Red squill is a very cruel poison—death only supervenes after several days.Some of your Lordships may read Shopper's Guide: it is not a very scientific publication, on the face of it, but the producers do consult scientists of 1003 repute. A recent issue dealing with poisons for rats and mice says:Red squill is perhaps the cruellest of poisons. A rat may be in agony continuously for up to five days.That is a poison which I think anybody knowing anything about it will admit need no longer be used, and yet there is at present no way of preventing its use. That is another of my arguments. There is a poison known to cause much suffering, and one for which there are adequate alternatives, inflicting much less suffering; yet it is still used because no machinery exists to prevent its use. The alternatives themselves are comparatively recent discoveries, and they, too, inflict a certain amount of suffering on the animals which take them. Other new poisons are constantly being discovered or invented. I contend that there should be some machinery to keep all these things constantly under review.
It is a curious commentary on the state of the law, my Lords, that a research worker wishing to use red squill to kill laboratory animals would have to get a licence from the Home Office, and that licence would be refused, because too much suffering would be caused by doing it. Yet any one of us can buy this poison over the counter in any town in England and use it widespread to kill rats, mice and other small vermin.
Another poison, strychnine, is used to kill moles and seals among wild animals; and it is used, to a certain extent, to kill such creatures as dogs and cats which have to be destroyed because they are sick or old. The Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals made particular reference to strychnine, which causes a great deal of suffering, and one of their recommendations was that the advisory committee which they urged should be set up should make an investigation into this particular poison and decide whether its continued use should be allowed. As long ago as 1937 a committee was appointed by the British Veterinary Association to investigate the whole problem of the euthanasia of small domestic animals. They reported that strychnine poisoning was known to cause excrutiating pain in men; that it appeared to have the same effect upon animals, and they strongly deprecated its use. One could quote scientific and 1004 other opinion on the extreme cruelty involved on the extensive use of strychnine as a killer.
Bills similar to this one have been introduced before in another place, and they included clauses providing that strychnine should no longer be used. I am not myself satisfied that for some purposes there is a suitable alternative to strychnine. In any case, I feel that it is not proper to forbid its use in an Act of Parliament, but that one should follow the recommendations of the Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals and appoint a committee to investigate this particular poison and see whether a suitable alternative could be found. I say that having seen the results of its use. Some time ago I had to have an old dog destroyed, and I allowed strychnine to be used because I was told it caused instantaneous death and no pain. That most certainly was not true. Again I do not wish to harrow your Lordships with a description of what happened, because I prefer to forget it.
My Lords, there is not one of us who is not moved by the suffering of a dog, a horse or some animal of that nature; but the reactions of most of us to animal suffering are, I think, full of inconsistencies, and certainly the Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals afforded abundant proof of that. They had a mass of evidence about cruelty to animals, such as deer, foxes and rabbits, which are beautiful and attractive creatures. They had practically no evidence about rats, which fill most people with a feeling of disgust, although, as they put it, rats are intelligent animals and probably suffer a good deal more pain than some of the other animals which attract more sentimental interest.
I must confess that I am as inconsistent as any man in my outlook of what are called usually the lower animals. I shoot; I fish, and I have been a master of hounds. I know that vermin must be destroyed if agriculture and forestry are to prosper, and, indeed, for public health reasons as well. I suppose that thousands or tens of thousands of rats, mice and other small vermin have been shot, trapped, poisoned or otherwise killed on my land. I do not think it is ethically wrong for man to kill animals for food, to protect his craps, or even for sport. But I do think it is wrong 1005 that he should cause unnecessary suffering in so doing, and this Bill is designed to prevent some unnecessary suffering. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Cranbrook.)
§ 3.2 p.m.
§ LORD DOUGLAS OF BARLOCH
My Lords, I should like to support the noble Earl who has presented this Bill to the House in a speech which I think was extremely moderate and well-balanced. It is now more than ten years ago since the Committee which investigated this question reported, and it seems to me to be time that something was done upon its recommendations, which were unanimous, and which I think took account of all the factors involved. I do not want to argue whether there is a difference of kind or degree in the infliction of suffering upon animals as compared with man, but I think that most people in this country regard the wanton and unnecessary infliction of cruelty upon animals as repugnant and unethical. That is not to say that it may not be economically necessary to destroy wild animals, or other animals for that matter. But I am sure that none of us would like to see unnecessary suffering caused in the process.
So far as I am concerned, I am not going to assert that there are many cases in which suffering is want only and deliberately inflicted; but in many cases I have no doubt that it is done quite unwittingly. Poisons which have these distressing results are sold freely and recommended for the purpose of destroying certain kinds of animals. They are no doubt bought in good faith by many people who do not appreciate what is involved. All this Bill proposes to do is to set up machinery for a proper scientific investigation of the effect of poisons which may be used for these purposes, and to eliminate those which cause unnecessary suffering. That is the recommendation which the Committee made in 1951, and I cannot imagine that there is any sound objection against putting that recommendation upon our Statute Book.
I understand that this Bill is supported by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is a body of the highest standing and most sensible 1006 in its outlook upon these questions. I believe that a question has been raised about making express provision in the constitution of the Advisory Committee for the representation of people who are interested in agriculture and forestry. That is a matter which no doubt the House can, if necessary, consider in Committee. But I sincerely hope that the House will agree to give a Second Reading to the Bill which the noble Earl has so excellently proposed.
§ 3.7 p.m.
My Lords, I am sorry to strike a note of caution in this debate. I do so for this reason. Some time ago I was brought into real connection with rats. It is one thing to have a few rats in your house and to try this, that and the other method of getting rid of them. That is difficult enough, as most of us know. But at one time in my life I was living next to a neighbour who had a large number of pigs. I have seen rats moving in thousands every night, and I do not think anybody who has not seen that can have any conception of what it means. It was impossible to leave any foodstuffs about, and one's corn in one's stacks was greatly consumed. It is very difficult to get rid of rats. After all, the country has recognised that, because it has appointed a ratcatcher—I think he is called a "rodent officer"—tor every county. But he is not penalised if there are rats found in the county; he merely comes along and gives advice, and it does not much matter to him whether it is successful or not.
When you are making war upon rats, there is one thing which you learn by experience, and that is that whatever means you employ for getting rid of rats, in a very short time they are wise to them and you have to shift your ground and try another means. I am bound to say that I have found strychnine to be far the best at first attempt. But I think it would be a very unwise thing to prevent men from preserving themselves from rats by any means by which they could do it, because, as my noble friend Lord Cranbrook said, the rat is a wise animal and highly intelligent, and there may come a time—and I should not be in the least surprised if it did—when it will be a question of whether man or 1007 rats shall survive. I think that if rats multiply to that extent it might become a very difficult problem. As it is, they cause an enormous amount of damage every year, and I should be very sorry to see your Lordships adopt a Bill which might set difficulties in the way of men whose business and whose existence depend upon their keeping down the rat population.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ LORD BURDEN
My Lords, I think it would be a mistake to assume that those of us who are supporting this Bill have any desire that the rat population should be increased, or that we are in any way opposed to the proper extermination of the rat population. All this Bill is trying to do, as was emphasised by the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, and by my noble friend Lord Douglas of Barloch, is to avoid unnecessary suffering, so far as the extermination of rats is concerned, though as we are not likely to get the Pied Piper of Hamelin to deal with the rat problem, the killing by some kind of poison must go on.
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord, as he is answering me? Will he perhaps, in the course of his speech, mention any single poison that is always, and continuously, effective against the rat population, because I have never found such a poison?
§ LORD BURDEN
I wanted only to make quite clear that this Bill is based upon recommendations made some ten or eleven years ago by a very powerful Committee which studied this problem in all its aspects and I should like, if the House will permit me, to read just a short extract from their Report. It says:We think it is very desirable that some authority should be responsible for the controlling of poisons for the destruction of wild animals and that as new poisons are continually being invented the competent authority should have the power to make regulations authorising and prohibiting the use and control of poisons. This would enable the list of approved poisons to be kept under review so that some which had previously been authorised could be prohibited and the use of more suitable new poisons authorised instead. In this way the use of poisons which are not effective with the minimum amount of suffering could be prevented.1008 The Report went on:It will obviously be desirable for who ever exercises these powers to be advised by a panel of experts.May I just conclude by saying that that extract and the Bill itself show no sentimental desire to maintain or increase the rat population but only to assist the necessary work of reducing, if not minimising, the menace in the best possible manner without undue suffering.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, one question? How does he reconcile his humane speech with fox hunting?
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, asked for the name of a rat poison which is continuously effective. I can tell him one which, so far as I know, has been continuously effective for ten years if properly used. It must be applied properly by somebody who knows what he is doing and must be continually applied. The answer, although I will not give the trade name, is warfarin, which is the basis of all that type of rat bait.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ LORD DOWDING
My Lords, I want to go on record as supporting this Bill and shall vote for it if it comes to a Division. But I want to invite attention to another aspect of the subject which has not hither to been mentioned in this debate; that is to say, the esoteric side. It is the question: why Should animals be poisoned at all? Is there no alternative?
A few years ago I read a book published in America entitled Kinship with All Life. It was a very interesting book. It dealt with a number of different aspects of animal life and the contacts which the author had made with them. I am going to mention only one of those contacts at present, and the story went as follows. This man had gone out to work in the morning and when he came back to lunch he found a stream of ants pouring into his house. When he got inside he found that they were swarming all over his larder and had made all the food there quite uneatable. He had to go out again to get some lunch and came back seething with indignation against these ants. Then he thought to himself, why should he be angry with 1009 these creatures. They were only following their own natural instincts, and he tried to clear his mind of anger against the ants. He talked to them and said how much he admired their industry, their communal spirit, the way they carried out their work and so on. He wished they would see his side of the case, that they had ruined his lunch and that he had had to go out and get food elsewhere, and so on. He asked them if they would leave his house alone in future. Nothing happened that day; they were swarming all over the house just the same. The next day there was not an ant in the place and for months afterwards, for as long as he inhabited that house, there was never an ant in the house although the houses in the neighbourhood suffered as before when there was a plague of ants.
That was a very interesting story but it was in an American book and, of course, not everything which appears in American books is necessarily true. I did not pay much attention to it as there did not seem to be any affirmatory evidence of this very extraordinary story. But then I began to collect some very significant affirmatory evidence, some of which was personal. My wife's mother used to keep chickens in her garden and she suffered in various houses to which she moved from the depredations of rats in the fowl-run. She had a very great dislike, amounting to fear, of rats and mice, and it was not easy for her to clear her mind of anger and prejudice. However, after watching them for some weeks and actually getting to know different individuals her outlook changed and eventually she spoke to the rats in the same sort of terms as this American had spoken to the ants. The effect was immediate. And that occurred in three separate houses at different times. She cleared her fowl-run of rats altogether. There is some affirinatory evidence, but I will add to that and say that we ourselves have cleared our house of mice and of silver fish by similar methods.
To turn to more general confirmatory evidence, in India it is possible to have one's garden cleared of snakes by giving a few rupees to a snake charmer, and in the same way one can secure protection for fruit and vegetables against raids by monkeys and wild pigs. If any of your Lordships can obtain this book. Kinship with All Life, I am sure you will 1010 find it extremely interesting even if you do not derive any other benefit from it. It struck me in this connection that possibly some of your Lordships would care to try these experiments on your own property. At any rate, it costs nothing.
§ 3.20 p.m.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (EARL BATHURST)
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Cranbrook has introduced into your Lordships' House this Bill, which perhaps could be called modest. On the other hand, there is no doubt that, if your Lordships see fit, it will go a considerable way in alleviating the suffering which undoubtedly is caused to animals when they are poisoned. The noble Earl has inspired a debate this afternoon which, as always in your Lordships' House, has produced a host of experts in their particular lines. The noble Earl has given what I think may be called the reasonable man's view; and may I say that it is a very informed view that he has put forward in your Lordship's House. I think this was also echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Burden, when he supported the noble Earl.
My noble friend Lord Cranbrook has ventured into a very difficult technical and scientific field. In such a field there are always experts, and it is my small experience that no two experts ever agree—indeed, we have the noble Earl on one side and the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, from Scotland on another side. So far as the experts are concerned, I cannot understand how an expert came to advise my noble friend to have his dog put down by strychnine; and, if he did, how he could have been advised not to use a sufficient quantity. It is problems of that sort with which we get involved when entering upon this field.
As the noble Earl said, there have been previous Bills with the same aim and object as this Bill. Those Bills have foundered because they mentioned strychnine. My noble friend's Bill does not mention strychnine, and I fancy that it is nearer to receiving the acclamation of both Houses and the countryside as a result of that omission. My noble friend Lord Stone haven mentioned (as I have said, there is always, in every field, an expert 1011 in your Lordships' House and he is certainly one in the chemical field) the new range of poison substances known as warfarin. It may be that in certain cases those poisons will be able to supersede strychnine, but that will be something for the experts to decide.
The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Dowding, as always, gave us a most interesting and original idea; I appreciate all that he says, and I am one who firmly believes that there is something in these extraordinary powers which some people do possess both over animals and in the human field. Nevertheless, I must ask the noble and gallant Lord this question: if we all set about acquiring the powers which he mentions shall we not merely push all our rats and other tire some vermin and rodents upon some other unfortunate individual who has not these powers?
§ LORD DOWDING
A very pertinent observation, if I may say so. I did not say that, on the last occasion, after my wife's mother had cleared her fowl-run of rats, a neighbour said to her next day, "I can't think what has happened. My garden is suddenly swarming with rats".
I rather see the noble Lord's point of view. There are occasions, I imagine, when it might be most useful to have a friend with the powers of the noble Lord's friend, and perhaps I shall have occasion to get in touch with him some day. I think it is true to say that where a genuine need for a measure of protection has been shown, and where a practicable scheme for implementing it could be devised a measure has reached the Statute Book. My noble friend mentioned some measures, but there are many others.
The Bill has been most ably and persuasively explained by my noble friend, and I do not intend to go again through all its details, as he has already done so. The object is to give my right honourable friend the Home Secretary power to designate certain poisons as cruel poisons if he is satisfied that they are cruel in operation and that suitable alternative methods of destruction are available. The result of such designation would be that any person who used a Poison with intent to kill or injure any animal would commit an offence.
1012 The Bill makes no distinction between wild and domestic animals. It is intended to implement some of the recommendations made by the Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals, which the noble Lord, Lord Douglas of Barloch, mentioned, whose Report was presented to Parliament in 1951. Those recommendations were that steps should be taken to confer upon the appropriate Ministers power to make regulations authorising or prohibiting the use of particular poisons for killing wild animals, and in particular that consideration should be given to the need to use strychnine for poisoning seals and moles.
With regard to wild animals, and the poisoning of wild animals, the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, made an intervention to which it is not really my place to reply, and I have no doubt that my noble friend who introduced the Bill will reply to her. But should the noble Baroness be in any doubt I can assure her that if she came out one day, and I was lucky enough to show her a fox being killed—what a pity she was not out a little while ago, and I could have guaranteed it!—and we were then to go on to break the law and poison a fox by strychnine—or a dog; it comes to the same thing—there would be no doubt, at any rate in my mind, where cruelty lies. But that is digressing. It illustrates a major difficulty over this Report which has been referred to. So I shall deal only with the effect of this Bill in protecting wild animals. The underlying idea is that there should be machinery for ensuring the replacement, as and when adequate alternatives become available, of poisons which cause unnecessary suffering. The noble Viscount, Lord Stone haven, has suggested one. Let me say straight away that this aim is completely in accordance with the policy of Her Majesty's Government.
I will turn now to the existing legislation. First of all, there is the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, which makes it an offence to lay any poison except to kill rats, mice and other small ground vermin. My noble friend has already mentioned this. In practice, in England and Wales the only small ground vermin which are poisoned are rats, mice and moles, and, to a very limited extent, stoats, weasels and voles. Similar provisions exist in the Protection of 1013 Animals (Scotland) Act, 1912. The exception is somewhat wider in that it refers to "vermin and not to" small ground vermin". Under this wider exception it is also the practice in Scotland to poison seals and foxes. Secondly, the Protection of Birds Act, 1954, prohibits the use of poison for killing wild birds except under the licence of the competent Ministers, and I do not think that any such licences have been issued. Thirdly, the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act, 1949, enables the agricultural Ministers to prohibit methods that may be used by persons carrying on business as pest destroyers. The Ministers have not, however, had occasion to use this power in this limited field.
In addition to this restriction on the use of poisons some restriction on the supply of poisons can be applied under the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, 1933—for example, strychnine and sodium fluoracetate (to which I shall refer later as "1080") are subject to these severe restrictions. Apart from limited sale for medicinal and scientific purposes, the retail sale of strychnine is prohibited except to a person producing a certificate from the agricultural departments for the purpose of killing moles or, in Scotland, seals. Similarly, the retail sale of "1080" is prohibited except to a person producing a similar certificate. It is most commonly used for destroying rats in sewers and in ships. That is a difference between the two materials.
Briefly, then, the animals which may require the further protection are the rats, mice, moles, voles and, in Scotland, seals. The poison mainly used to-day against rats and mice is warfarin, to which I have already referred. This is regarded as relatively humane. The red squill, which my noble friend Lord Cranbrook mentioned, is a poison that is now relatively little used, although it was used widely for the reason that it was comparatively inoffensive to humans and to other animals at the time of the Committee's Report. However, warfarin is not effective against rats in certain circumstances, in particular in the sewers and in ships. In these cases "1080" has to be used. Warfarin is also not effective against moles or seals, so that the supply of strychnine is authorised for these purposes. Incidentally, I am told that rats and mice begin to be immune to war- 1014 farin, but I think that that is only in certain cases. That is one of the problems which Her Majesty's Government must remember when bearing in mind the point mentioned by my noble friend Lord Saltoun. On the other substances which the Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals considered to cause unnecessary suffering, I understand that red squill is now practically never used.
As I have already told your Lordships, Her Majesty's Government's policy is, so far as is practicable, to replace poisons which cause unnecessary suffering. This involves two problems: first, whether aparticular poison does cause suffering—this is a question on which in relation to some substances there is disagreement among the experts; and, secondly, a search for satisfactory alternatives. Once a decision is reached that a particular substance causes suffering and it can be replaced, considerable powers exist to promote the use of the new substance. For example, should satisfactory alternatives to strychnine for the killing of moles become available the Ministry of Agriculture could cease to issue permits for the purchase of strychnine. The real difficulty at present appears to be not so much a lack of powers but a lack of satisfactory alternatives to certain poisons. Indeed, quite apart from the possibility of legal restrictions, it is difficult to believe that anyone would choose to kill animals with a substance which according to authoritative advice was likely to cause suffering, in preference to a more humane method. Human nature being what it is, my noble friend has brought forward his Bill.
It is for your Lordships to decide whether, having regard to the policy being pursued by the Government and to the powers which are already available, additional regulatory powers are really justified—as my noble friend said, another cog in the administrative machine. If your Lordships decide to give this Bill a Second Reading, there are a number of points of detail which will have to be considered in Committee. The two most important are these. First, Clause 2 provides for the appointment of the Animal Poisons Committee to recommend to the Home Secretary what poisons should be designated. This was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord 1015 Douglas of Barloch. On this recommendation of the Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals, my right honourable friends already have, either in their Departments or through the existing advisory committees and services, access to technical advice on this subject, and we believe that the establishment of a new advisory body with such a narrow range of duties is hardly necessary. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Douglas of Barloch, that in fact already on the Poisons Board all the interests are represented, including those of my right honourable friends at the Home Office and, in Scotland, at the Ministries of Health and of Agriculture, and all the medical and other professions concerned. As the noble Lord said, this is a Committee point and we will certainly look at that if it is raised by the noble Lord on Committee.
Secondly, it might add to the usefulness of this Bill to be able to designate a poison subject to certain exceptions. If a satisfactory alternative to strychnine could be found for killing moles yet was not effective against seals, under the Bill as it stands strychnine could not be designated by my right honourable friend; it would be necessary to wait until an alternative had been found for seals as well. This would seem to be bad luck for the moles. As the result of a suitable Amendment it might be desirable to introduce a partial prohibition as soon as the alternative method for the moles had become known. I hope that if this Bill receives a Second Reading the noble Earl will be prepared to consider this point which I have raised and others which may be necessary for his Bill to be workable.
My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, can he tell us whether or not the Government think that this Bill is unnecessary?
My Lords, I think I have indicated quite clearly that it is up to your Lordships and to another place.
My Lords, should we not be entitled to a view from the Home Office, which at least will have to administer the Bill, whether they think it is a Bill which is or is not necessary?
§ 3.40 p.m.
My Lords, I think I can go no further than what I have already said. Quite obviously, if we are interested in the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Burden, my right honourable friend and your Lordships will draw a conclusion. If your Lordships are not interested in that, quite obviously my right honourable friend and others may draw a different conclusion. I hope I have put the case clearly.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS BOROUGH
My Lords, if we are going to have one or two more questions, could we now have the statement that was promised us from the other place?