HL Deb 12 July 1963 vol 251 cc1600-21

2.55 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Mansfield.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:

Unlawful weapons, etc.

3.—(1) Subject to sections 10 and 11 of this Act, if any person— (c) uses for the purpose of injuring or killing or taking any deer— (i) any firearm or ammunition mentioned in Schedule 2 to this Act; he shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) Subject to the next following subsection, if any person—

  1. (a) discharges any firearm, or projects any missile, from any mechanically propelled vehicle at any deer; or
  2. (b) uses any mechanically propelled vehicle for the purpose of driving deer;
he shall be guilty of an offence.

LORD CROOK moved, in subsection (1), after paragraph (c) to insert: (d) uses, for the purpose of killing any deer, any knife or similar instrument, without humane pre-stunning of the animal;".

The noble Lord said: I would remind those of your Lordships who were present at Second Reading that, when commenting upon the original presentation of this Bill, I said that deer are still classified in this country as vermin and are not protected by the Protection of Animals Act, 1911. One of the number of reasons that caused me to say that was the most recent decision reached by the magistrates at Minehead in Somerset—a decision of five magistrates holding it to be a completely legal act that the throat of a stag should be slit in public.

The episode relating to the prosecution took place last August when an Exmoor stag, which had been pursued for some time, was chased through a little village at Timberscombe into the main street; and in that street, as one would expect, was traffic. The stag slipped, fell and was pinned under a van. Two men dragged it out by the antlers and across the crowded street and into a yard by the village hall, dragging it in full view of not only adults but little children on holiday. Once it was in the yard of the village hall, first its throat was cut; then it was disembowelled; then its heart was cut out; then a bloodstained package was taken to the shopkeeper who had control of the yard: the shopkeeper who said at the time of the prosecution that he was completely taken aback.

He was completely taken aback, as I should have been, because he had no idea that these completely pagan rites were still carried out in this country by people who call themselves sportsmen. If a juvenile delinquent did this to a dog or a cat, and was subsequently brought in front of me, or any others of your Lordships who are members of magistrates' benches we should see that he was put back as being in need of restraint, or probably for a psychiatric report. Said the prosecuting counsel in this case, Surely it cannot be the law in this country in 1963 that you can get hold of any wild animal and despatch it in any way you like". He went on: It means that a crowd of Teddy boys can go out with a flick knife and do the same thing to any deer. My only comment on that observation of prosecuting counsel is that the difference is that the Teddy boys would never pretend that they were taking part in sport. So the case was decided by five magistrates—no protection for the deer under the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, because they were vermin.

Those of us who feel strongly on matters of this kind were delighted to learn that at last there was a Bill to be brought before this House which would do something to protect deer—so we were told. Here it is: but there is nothing in it about the thing I am talking about. That is why I move an Amendment to try to secure that, if these bloodthirsty rites must go on, there should be pre-stunning before they happen. A veterinary surgeon who gave evidence in the case to which I have referred had this to say in his principal evidence. I should say that this particular creature would be suffering both mentally and physically. Asked, in examination in court, whether he would have tried to despatch a stag in this way, he said, "I would not "—and he explained why. He said: Had I done so, I would have been open to serious disciplinary charges from my governing body, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. He then deposed that the decent thing to do would have been to take it to a place of safety and to release it. But he said: Since the object of this hunt is to kill, then it should have been killed with the humane killer. That is the sole purpose of this modest Amendment. I do not ask those who want to take part in these pagan blood rituals to give up their pagan sport; I ask only that the victims of it shall be stunned first. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 22, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord Crook.)


Whilst I have every sympathy with this Amendment, I think that it might cause difficulties—certainly, I know that it would in Scotland, because we are not always 100 per cent. accurate when we shoot a deer, and it is therefore possible for a deer to be almost dead and, in order to put it out of its misery as quickly as possible, the normal practice, as one does not carry around a humane killer, is to put a knife through its jugular vein—at least, I think it is the jugular vein; at any rate, through the throat. This has been found to be the most effective and the quickest way of putting out of its agony a mortally wounded deer. I was wondering, therefore, whether the noble Lord could not somehow make this Amendment apply only to deer which had been hunted with hounds, and not to apply to deer which had been shot with a rifle.


It is very much better in deer-stalking to finish off a deer by putting a bullet in its neck, rather than to use a knife.


I am one of the few noble Lords here who have had a certain amount of experience of stag hunting, and I cannot help pointing out that the noble Lord, Lord Crook, has been considerably misinformed over this. I was not present at the incident at Timberscombe, which was undoubtedly regrettable, but I have made inquiries about it and I think the situation was dealt with as expeditiously and as humanely as possible. The stag in question jumped a bank, not seeing the stationary vehicle in the road, swerved in mid-air, slipped up on the tarmac and got underneath the vehicle. In doing so he broke his leg and was dispatched by the handiest means available.

There has been a great deal of misconception over this question of the knife. It has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of humanitarians that death by the knife is practically as instantaneous as with a humane killer. Some people seem to think that all that is happening is that the stag is having his throat cut, and they put it on the level with the inefficient suicide who opens his veins and dies a lingering death. When I was young the knife was the only method, but there were occasions when it was impossible to get in with the knife expeditiously. In consequence, guns and humane killers were introduced, and they are used extremely effectively. But there are also occasions—and I will tell you of one incident—where the knife can be extremely useful to save suffering. When a knife is applied in the right place by the expert—and it is done by the expert—there is a sudden enormous gush of blood as long as my arm, the animal falls to the ground and is dead practically on the spot. I have seen it happen on a number of occasions from quite close by, and I can honestly say that there is virtually no suffering at all.


If I may interrupt my noble friend for a moment, I question very strongly the statement that death is instantaneous and that the animal does not remain conscious for a considerable time.


It depends what is meant by "a considerable time" and any estimate one makes does not greatly affect the question.

The incident which I am going to recite to your Lordships happened on April 15, 1924. We had a hunt over nearly 20 miles of country, and the hunt was petering out, quite close to my home. My father and I had got on the homeward side of what is generally known as a gulley when the stag jumped up close to where we were standing. The hounds got round the stag almost immediately. My father jumped off his horse (it was the eve of his seventieth birthday; that is how I remember the date) went up to the deer, took his pocket-knife out of his waistcoat pocket, applied it in the right place and the stag dropped dead. If he had not had a knife, or if he could not have used it until a humane killer or stunning instrument had arrived, the stag would have been at bay among the hounds for at least ten minutes before anyone else could have got there. I was about 100 yards away at the time, and by the time I got there the stag—with all due respect to the noble Lord, Lord Somers—was dead. That case convinced me that pre-stunning, or the necessity of using a humane killer in preference to anything else, is entirely beside the point.

3.10 p.m.


I will apply myself simply to the technical detail of killing, because I must confess that I am a little ashamed that we are discussing this at all in the twentieth century. It is not my term when I say that so many people in this country regard this not as a sport but as a decadent pastime. I recall that the noble Lord, Lord Somers, initiated a debate last year on the question of pre-stunning of animals in the slaughterhouse. We had a fairly wide discussion, and noble Lords with a great deal of knowledge, and I am sure with knowledge as wide as the noble Earl who has just spoken, spoke on the question of pre-stunning. The feeling in the House was that the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning should be prohibited. Of course, it is prohibited with the exception of those animals which are killed by the Jewish method.

We had a very interesting debate and it was quite clear that the sympathy of the House was with the noble Lord, Lord Somers, whom I supported. But the Leader of the House appealed to the House at the end of the debate, and said that if we went into the Division Lobby and the Motion was passed, it would be regarded by the Jewish population of this country as anti-Semetic. I remind the House of this because on this very point we had a discussion, and I think the feeling of the House was certainly not sympathetic with the point of view just put by the noble Earl.


May I point out to the noble Lord, Lord Crook, and the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, that in paragraph 227 of their Report the Scott Henderson Committee, which was set up by a Socialist Government, said: While we think it is desirable that a humane killer or gun should be used whenever possible, we do not think it would be right to Insist that this should be done in all circumstances. The noble Lord, Lord Crook, gave an instance which had great prominence in the Press. He referred to a stag's throat being cut. But I should point out to your Lordships that, wherever possible, the pack of hounds which hunts wild red deer stag—the Devon and Somerset—always uses the humane killer or the gun. For instance, the Master, the Huntsmen and the Whip all carry humane killers. You also have a mounted follower with a gun, and somebody in a car—sometimes two people in two cars—with guns.

But the trouble is that it sometimes happens—some of your Lordships may have had practical experience of this matter—that it is dangerous, from the point of view of the public, to use a gun. As to the humane killer, that can always be used in a slaughterhouse because the animal is held and is passive. To use a humane killer you must have the animal completely passive, because you must hold the instrument to the head. But if you have a stag at bay it is not necessarily passive, and whereas you can plunge a knife into it and cut the jugular vein extremely quickly if you are expert, it is sometimes very difficult to use a humane killer. You could use it if you got half a dozen strong men—you would probably need more; perhaps eight—to hold the stag, but that is extremely cruel because the animal is panicked by such treatment. So there are instances, as the Scott Henderson Committee pointed out, where it is more humane to use a knife.

I personally would not have mentioned this, but as the noble Baroness, I ady Summerskill, has brought it up I would also point out that throughout this country in licensed slaughterhouses the knife is used, for religious reasons, to kill tens of thousands of cattle and sheep. It is of no interest to the animal being killed whether he is going to be eaten by Mohammedan or Jew. You cannot have it both ways. On humanitarian grounds, I really cannot accept this Amendment. I am quite sure that if the noble Lord, Lord Crook, asks veterinary opinion—perhaps he has already done so—they would tell him that, provided the knife is properly used, the animal loses consciousness in two or three seconds. Of course, it has convulsions, but it is unconscious. It is on humanitarian grounds that I really must resist this Amendment, because, as I have pointed out, there are instances in hunting the wild stag where it is quite impossible to use the humane killer and where it is too dangerous, from the point of view of the public, to use a gun.


If no other Member of the Committee desires to speak, I should certainly like to refer to some of the statements that have been made First of all, may I thank the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, for what in many ways was support for me? We all know—indeed, I said it on Second Reading—that Scotland already has its Act. Scotland is a very different place from the point of view of stag and deer. It has a problem of its own, and that problem is dealt with excellently, so tar as I know, under the present Act. I do not think I could have made the speech I made about carrying humane killers had this been something to do with Scotland, because Scotland has its own, good arrangements.


Could I just interrupt the noble Lord to point out that, although I agree deer stalking is not common in England, it is, in fact, practised, as in Scotland, in certain parts of the Lake District; and presumably they would be covered by this Bill?


Yes, I have no doubt, and there is an Amendment that I shall be moving later on which deals, even it only in an indirect way, with the very different conditions which exist among those who take part in stalking in England. Indeed, I referred during the Second Reading debate to the way in which this has become a new status symbol in the North-West part of England—to go out for eight shillings an hour and take part in dealing with stag. But I do not want to argue about Scotland, and I should like to stop what I want to stop in England. When I said that the noble Duke helped me when he referred to what happens in Scotland, it was because in Scotland they no longer practise the wild kind of hunting by hounds that was referred to by the noble Viscount who was defending the Devon and Somerset Stag Hunt—and let the noble Viscount be clear that he was quite wrong when he said that I was misinformed. As a magistrate myself, I take great care to see that when I quote anything here I am quoting from fact. I was quoting from the report of the proceedings in the magistrates' court at Minehead: so much so that I had carefully prepared what I had to say, and everything I quoted is in my notes marked as a quote, ready to be handed to the Editor of Hansard. So there should be no dubiety about the question of my being misinformed. I could go on to talk about the disgraceful thing that happened in the village of Timberscombe. First of all there was the statement to women, "Get out of the way. We've shot it. What are you worrying about?" Then it was said, "Of course we've got a humane killer nearby. We will be bringing it."

Then I should like to take up the reference which the noble Viscount, who is sponsor of this Bill here has made, that the proper use of a knife is all right. Let us then have a certainty that there will be people capable of using the knife. If the noble Earl who defends the Devon and Somerset Hounds requires it, I have here the brochure, with complete details of every run of theirs over a period of time, showing the complete inability of people to do the job properly, with instances of stags who were not able to be killed. I have the record from witnesses where the only knife available, and which was found after some time, was an old Army clasp knife with which they eventually killed it. I have the record here of a situation where time passed before anyone could find a knife; nobody had bothered to obtain a humane killer or knife. That is the kind of condition in this allegedly civilised country that I am dealing with. I am trying to see that we do have the right conditions here. I am not prepared voluntarily to see this Bill go through in the form in which it is.


I may say that the hunt servants invariably carry a knife and so do a good many of the other people.


No one objects to that statement. I accept it. I am referring to where there were no hunt servants and where the dogs or hounds were doing their bit in chasing and no one was around. I have been there myself. I have wandered towards the Quantocks. I have seen the poor exhausted stag and four hounds dragging themselves across the road with torn legs, not knowing where life was for them also; and we humans were pushing them into it. Some of the things that have been said here completely astonish me. But, the noble Viscount said that if they had not cut its throat it would have been at bay in front of the hounds. Very well; let him follow me. Let him stop the hounds as well as the knives.


Would the noble Lord completely dispute the evidence of the Scott Henderson Committee; because they said, as I pointed out, that the knife is necessary in certain instances?


I would not try to dispute the evidence of any Committee that presented its advice to your Lordships' House. Equally I would not try to dispute things about which I know.


Could I ask the noble Earl who has just sat down, and who mentioned that all the hunt servants had knives, whether they are taught what are the surface markings of the jugular vein? By "surface markings" I mean the course of the vein. Who teaches them this piece of anatomy?

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

3.32 p.m.

LORD CROOK moved, in subsection (2), after paragraph (b) to insert: (c) holds captive, and subsequently liberates, deer of any species and description, for the purpose of hunting with hounds;".

The noble Lord said: I rise to move an Amendment to produce an additional offence, by adding holds captive, and subsequently liberates, deer of any species and description, for the purpose of hunting with hounds.


I could not quite hear the noble Baroness.


It was suggested that the hunt servants all carry knives and that the animal will be despatched quickly. Who teaches the hunt servants the necessary elementary anatomy? Have they knowledge of the surface markings of the jugular vein so that they can despatch the animal? Who instructs them?


There is no officially appointed instructor, but it is not very difficult to acquire that knowledge by observation.


I must tell the noble Earl that medical students take quite a long time to acquire a knowledge of the surface markings of these vessels, and the average medical student is not unintelligent.

3.25 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents 23; Not-Contents, 16.

Airedale, L. Hanworth, V. Rusholme, L.
Attlee, E. Henderson, L. Shepherd, L.
Auckland, L. Huntingdon, E. Silkin, L.
Boston, L. Lindgren, L. [Teller.] Somers, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Mansfield, E. Summerskill, B.
Coutanche, L. Meston, L. Williams, L.
Crook, L. Morrison, L. Wise, L.
Dowding, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Ashton of Hyde, L. Furness, V. Monson, L.
Atholl, D. Lilford, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Clwyd, L. Lothian, M. Swansea, L.
Denham, L. McCorquodale of Newton, L. Twining, L.
Ebbisham, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. [Teller.] Willingdon, M.
Fortescue, E. [Teller.]

This covers the scandal of carted deer, to which I referred on the Second Reading debate. When I then referred to the matter, the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, who is in charge of the Bill, was good enough to say that there is only one hunt remaining. He made it clear that the Mid-Kent Hunt carted deer has ceased. That hunt took one deer for each day's hunt, transferring it in a miniature horsebox. Cruel though the Mid-Kent Hunt procedure was, in my view, it was mild compared with the only one that still remains in this country today, that of the Norwich Stag Hunt.

In that one small hunt, deer bred at Winfarthing are carted in crates and then released to be hunted with hounds. The object of this form of deer hunting—they use hinds, and they also use castrated stags, because they have no antlers—is to recapture the hunted animal when it can run no further so that it can be used again and again. They recrate it, and they then take it off to be kept again in captivity until they choose to hunt it another day. It will be hunted repeatedly in rota with other deer, unless it is so fortunate as to come to grief in the chase and be killed by accident, or until it becomes too chronically overwrought to give what is called "good sport". What do I mean by "overwrought"? Just what was meant by the master of the carted stag hunt when interviewed by an inspector from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals about the deer in question. Said the master: When they have been hunted a few times they get so nervous that they will run into anyone or any place.

May I keep your Lordships for two minutes to tell you how, if you had the chance, you would see this kind of proceeding carried on? You take two deer, and you put each of them into a separate crate—crush them into two narrow crates. The two narrow crates are then put on to a trailer drawn by a motor vehicle. The hounds are allowed to sniff round the crate and get the scent. The stag is then released. The terrified and bewildered creature then makes off. Along come the hounds and all these people who demean the word "sportsmen", and away they go. You may ask what happens to the empty crate and the other full crate. They are both on the trailer behind the car. They are driven round the country lanes. The driver has only one charge upon him, and that is that he is to keep as near as he can to the hunt, never mind what bad lanes he has to go down, because he has a part to play in this valiant sport. He has to be near in case the deer which has been released comes to grief, or is unable to run any more from sheer exhaustion. If the sportsmen still feel that they have not had enough, they will expect him to be there to crate the terrified, exhausted animal, and release the other, after he has been smelled for his scent, so that the rest of the day's sport may go on.

I have gone to the trouble of getting an eye-witness's account of this. The eye-witness said: When the car, coming the other way, had to be passed in narrow lanes, the trailer was drawn up roadside banks and across the gulleys in them, the crate with the deer in it rocking to and fro, and on one occasion, rising from the trailer and landing on it again with a sickening thud. The persons who followed on our behalf on this occasion were able to climb on the trailer and have a look. On this occasion the sportsmen had cornered the deer in a pond. Soaking wet and exhausted, it was dragged out and put into the empty crate; and out of the other crate came the other deer, also wet and exhausted, not through being in a pond, but through the terror and exhaustion which it had suffered on the trailer. In that state it, in turn, took its part to be a central figure in Englishmen's sport.

My Lords, what kind of people are these? I understand that some farmers are banning the hunt from their land, some because of cruelty and others because of damage resulting to crops. I could not care which ground it was your Lordships accepted to-day—whether you want to safeguard the agriculture of Britain or whether, like me, you want to stop the most un-English sport ever permitted. I only ask you to agree to this Amendment, because I deny the right of 100 people in the Norwich area to run staghounds that sully the good name of Britain and British sportsmanship. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 28, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord Crook.)

3.40 p.m.


I have sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Crook, because he is obviously moved by kindness. Of course, kindness is a noble motive, a noble sentiment. But I rather think that the noble Lord has obtained his experience of carted stag hunting from some of cur Sunday newspapers. I would point out to the noble Lord that these carted deer, being wild animals that have become domesticated, come under the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, Section 1(3)(b), and it is an offence to hunt them if the provisions of that section are not fulfilled. That Act is quite a strong one.

I would also point out that in carted deer hunting the deer are in a field, beside the kennels, and kept just like cows. The hounds are often taken out for exercise through the deer. The hounds pay no attention to the deer, and the deer pay no attention to the hounds. I have seen a deer brought to a meet and taken out of his deer-cart or horse-box, and as, I suppose, he did not feel like a hunt, he just grazed and would nor go lolloping away. It was his off-day, or he was bored or something, and so was just taken home again. The hounds and the deer really appear to come to an understanding about this business. The deer does not run until he is utterly exhausted, but will go and stand in a pond or in a field, and the hounds never touch him; they know the game too well. Then a deer-cart comes along and the stag or hind goes into it and back home.


May I take it from the noble Lord that he believes the deer understands the purpose for which it is being bred?


The deer, living beside the hounds, gets so used to them that he does not get panic-stricken. You can see that for yourself.


Is the noble Lord really persisting in that amazing statement he made at Second Reading that deer actually get to like it?


I did not say that he likes it.


The noble Lord is on record as saying that.


He enjoys having a nice feed at the end of it. But, as I say, he sometimes will not run at all; and he then goes home and, presumably, does not get a feed.

I personally do not agree with carted stag hunting, but not for the same reasons as the noble Lord, Lord Crook. I do not think it is cruel. The object of this Bill is to prevent the indiscriminate shooting, killing and maiming of deer and I have seen people authorised by a State Department, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, next to my estate in Scotland embark on what I would consider extremely ruthless killing of deer. However, that is beside the point. If the noble Lord wishes to stop carted deer-hunting—and, as I pointed out on Second Reading, there is now only one pack, and that will probably come to an end on its own accord—surely the proper procedure would be for him to bring in a Bill for this purpose, because I do not see that it comes under this Bill. This Bill has nothing to do with hunting.


May I suggest that the noble Lord refers to the Long Title of the Bill which includes the words … to restrict the use of vehicles in connection with the killing and taking of deer;". I should have thought that the Amendment clearly came within the Long Title of the Bill.


In the case of carted stag-hunting, the deer is not killed. You are not capturing a wild animal; you have a semi-domesticated animal, and it comes under the Protection of Animals Act, 1911. If I may quote the Scott Henderson Report again, it says, at paragraph 239: We are not satisfied from the evidence which we have received that there is a sufficient degree of cruelty in this sport to justify legislation to prohibit it. I personally do not think this form of hunting serves any useful purpose. If you want a gallop you can get just as much fun from having a drag, so I personally do not agree with it—but not on the ground of cruelty; I do not say it is cruel compared to snaring deer, wounding them or killing hinds in calf. You cannot compare it with that. Therefore I am resisting this Amendment because I do not think it ought to be brought up in this Bill.


On listening to the noble Lord, at least it is a little comforting to know that perhaps he has been shamed this afternoon into saying he does not agree with this, and he has said (and Hansard will prove it to-morrow) that he could have as much fun—fun!—in galloping after a drag. I am very glad to hear that, and I hope he will use the power he has in the circles in which he moves in order that this decadent pastime should be banned. I must confess I find it very difficult to understand why men and women in privileged positions should engage in a pastime which is debasing for all those concerned.

The last Amendment was successful but there were those who went into the Not-Content Lobby—and I can understand this point—because they said to themselves, "Here is a deer which is injured, and perhaps the quickest way, after all, is to take out a knife and try to despatch it". And they opposed our Amendment when we asked for humane killing because they thought it was more practical to despatch it. This is entirely different. This is premeditated cruelty. On the last Amendment there was cruelty which was committed during, as the apologists say, the heat of the moment. This is absolutely premeditated. Deer are put into a cart and then released for the benefit, not of the sportsman, but of the killers, to chase and kill. The noble Viscount comes to this House and says, "But what a compensation these deer have! They are given a good meal at the end of it". If these deer really enjoy it, why do they run at such a rate, desperate to try to save themselves from the hounds? Why do they not slow down a bit?


They do not always run, as I pointed out; they frequently will not run at all. They do not run at a desperate rate, they just canter. I personally do not engage in this form of hunting. But the deer do not run at a desperate rate.


The noble Viscount almost takes my weapon from me when he says he does not do it. I congratulate him for having the moral courage. It requires more courage of the right sort, moral courage, to denounce this than to get on a horse and chase these defenceless animals. I congratulate him for having the moral courage to stand here and say he does not do it and does not like it and does not think it should be done. I can only say, on this occasion, surely he should not vote against this Amendment but should accept what my noble friend has moved, because this is in the interest of humanity.

3.50 p.m.


I think I should rise at this moment, coming from Norfolk and having always, as a countryman, been interested in rural sports. I hope that noble Lords who are present here to-day will support and pass this Amendment. The noble Viscount who has opposed it at the moment suggested that we might put it into another Bill. But it is appropriate to this particular Bill, and I hope that we shall pass it and so cut out a sport which I believe is not one of which Norfolk folk can be proud. I am glad to hear that there is only one pack of stag hounds in the country. There used to be a pack in Suffolk; but I am glad to say that it has gone.

In case noble Lords may misunderstand my rising to object to this particular sport, I may say that our own foxhounds hunt my own lands at least five or six times a year, and they draw my woods. I do not in any way object to foxhunting, though I do not take any part in it, and I do not take any part in shooting expeditions. But I am bitterly opposed to the actions of the Norwich or Norfolk Stag Hounds. I think I voice Norfolk opinion when I say that. There is a tremendous difference between the staghounds and the foxhounds in Norfolk, and I hope, therefore, that noble Lords who are here this afternoon will accept this Amendment, in order that we may cut this particular so-called sport from our own county and from England as well.


My experience of carted deer hunting is not recent and it is not extensive. I have been out only once and the stag has not come my way. But I am against this Amendment, although I do not feel too strongly about it. From what the noble Lord, Lord Wise, has said, if public opinion in Norfolk is as strong as we are led to believe against the Norwich staghounds, I cannot believe that they will go on for long. However, I do not think the question of cruelty comes into this at all. My own recollection is of some years ago. When I was living near Windsor I was taken over to see the Queen's Buck-hounds. It was a nice summer's day. We drove across Windsor Park. We got to the kennels, and we were told that the hounds were being walked out to exercise. We were asked whether we should like to look at the deer meantime. We went to look at the deer. They did not pay much attention to us, but went on grazing. A few minutes later the gate at the bottom of the paddock opened and the hunt servants walked the hounds in. The hounds paid no attention whatever to the deer. The deer went on feeding at about the distance of the length of this Chamber.

I was rather interested in this, and a few months later I and a friend hired horses and went to the meet of the Queen's Buckhounds at Maidenhead Thicket. The whole show was beautifully turned out. The master was a most magnificent-looking man on a well-bred horse—I think I am right in saying that it was the late Lord Ribblesdale. The deer-cart was produced on some slightly rising ground, the door was opened, the deer got quietly out, walked about 20 yards, sniffed the air, and went away down-wind. He jumped the gate quite neatly, and off he went. He was given about ten or fifteen minutes start, and then we started out. We ran on merrily for a few miles, but, it having been a wet season, those Thames Valley ploughs held the horses and they began to "blow" a bit. I remember that I took one heavy fall over a rail. The stag seemed to take the same view as we did. He took to the road. Then, as he came to traffic, he circumvented it and carried on down the road.

After a mile or two something turned him off the road, and he went into a field where there happened to be a pond. He jumped straight into the pond and stayed there. The hounds came up, did not go near the stag, had a drink out of the pond and lay down. We arrived, we got off our horses, we had our sandwiches; and then, about a quarter of an hour later, along came the deer-cart drawn by two horses. The man got off the box, went to the pond about 20 yards away, and addressed the stag as follows, "Come on, old man". The stag got out of the pond, gave himself a shake and walked, unurged, into the box, where he was given a feed of hay and went off quietly home. We soon followed.

I did not think that it was a very exciting day's sport but the humanity of it impressed me. As I lay in my bath that evening (I may say that at the time I was a boy at Eton, and I had got somebody to answer for me, so that I could get away) I wondered whether I was not running a greater risk of my skin being injured by the birch of Dr. Lyttelton than the stag had been of having any injury whatsoever. I came to the conclusion that I was probably more frightened than the stag. So much so that I made no effort to go out with the buckhounds again. If your Lordships will bear with me a few moments more, there was a moral to this story. Dr. Lyttelton was a very strong disciplinarian, and wielded the birch as well as he wielded a cricket bat. He had been a friend of my father at Cambridge, and when they met some time afterwards he told my father that he had heard about this occurrence but thought it a bit late to do anything about it. But he said something to my father which I have always remembered: "For effective discipline you have to know when to keep a blind eye". I have remembered that remark all my life and it has been extremely useful to me.


It is a tragedy to me that we have to discuss this Amendment here this afternoon. In spite of the comments of the noble Earl who has just sat down, there is undisputed evidence of cases of cruelty. My noble friend Lord Crook spoke from his own personal experience, and there is undoubtedly independent evidence to support him. We are not dealing with a wild animal. If the deer were wild it would be bad enough that he should be crated, carried to a countryside of which he has no experience and no local knowledge, and then let loose to be hunted. But as the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, has said, we are dealing with domesticated animals, animals that have been brought up to accept other animals and human beings around. But then you take the stag out of his environment, you put him in a crate, you put him in a lorry, you transport him across the country, you let him loose and then animals and people chase him.


You do not take him to a strange country. He is perfectly aware of the country which he is released in, and he generally runs the same line.


My understanding is that he is carted, and in some cases quite some distance. You release him, as I have said, and the animal is hunted. This to me is utterly repugnant. I myself have never been a sympathiser with blood sports. I can, however, see that there may be a case for adopting a method of hunting to get rid of foxes: I can see that there is a case, although frankly I would not accept it. But I cannot see in any respect that there can be a case for the hunting of what is a domesticated animal. I believe that this is utterly repugnant to this House and to this country. It is possible for this Amendment to be included in this Bill, and I would suggest that this afternoon this Committee should insist that it is included.


Could I just ask the noble Viscount one question? I take it that it is of course possible for these hinds to be pregnant?


Quite impossible.


Are they all examined, then, before they are

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


I rise to draw attention to the fact that, in the Division that has just taken place, there voted only 31 Members of your Lordships' House, and that, to my knowledge of what is going to happen, some of my noble friends and some noble Lords on the other side of the House are leaving to catch trains, this being an unusual Friday and already past four o'clock. I

put in? Is there an examination before they are put in the cart? Who decides? Does a veterinary surgeon report on each hind, that it is not pregnant?


I have been informed that a pregnant hind is never hunted.


It is very difficult to tell in the first stages even with a human being. I think that it is quite easy with domestic hinds to include one in the first stage of pregnancy.


No, because the hinds are kept separate from the stags.


I do not think I have anything to reply to. I want to add only one thing. I congratulate the noble Earl on his appetite for the sandwiches, and I invite the Committee to go to a Division.

4.4 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 24; Not-Contents, 7.

Airedale, L. Hanworth, V. Morrison, L.
Auckland, L. Henderson, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Boston, L. Huntingdon, E. Shepherd, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Lilford, L. Silkin, L.
Clwyd, L. Lindgren, L. [Teller.] Somers, L.
Coutanche, L. Mansfield, E. Summerskill, B.
Crook, L. Merthyr, L. Williams, L.
Dowding, L. Meston, L. Wise, L.
Denham, L. Fortescue, E. [Teller.] Massereene and Ferrard, V [Teller.]
Exeter, M. Lothian, M.
Ferrers, E. Swansea, L.

therefore think it only right, in the interests of the Bill, of the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, and of myself, and since I am about to move another Amendment on which I shall want a Division, which I do not think will possibly produce enough Members of your Lordships' House, to suggest that this Committee stage be adjourned.


I agree with what the noble Lord has just said, that this Committee stage ought to be adjourned. I therefore beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved, That the House do now resume.—(Viscount Massereene and Ferrard.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and House resumed accordingly.