HL Deb 26 May 1966 vol 274 cc1512-29

4.55 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.—(Lord Champion.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD AILWYN in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

The Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

1.—(l) For the purpose of managing the affairs of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons there shall continue to be a Council of the College consisting (subject to any Order in Council under section 21 of this Act) of the following persons, that is to say—

  1. (a) twenty persons (hereafter in this Act referred to as "elected members of the Council") elected from among themselves by members of the College residing outside the Republic of Ireland;
  2. (b) four persons appointed by the Privy Council;
  3. (c) for each university in the United Kingdom for which a recognition order is in force, two persons appointed by that university of whom at least one shall be a member of the College.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved, in subsection (1)(a), to leave out "twenty" and insert "twenty-four". The noble Lord said: On the Second Reading of this Bill I threatened to deploy a considerable weight and extent of argument, and I was going to mobilise my batteries and bombard the noble Lord severely and at some length. As I look around me to-night, I am not sure that it is necessary for me to do so in order to convince noble Lords that this Amendment is worth while. In any case, I have heard tell that the reaction of the noble Lord may be favourable, and that it would be wasting the time of noble Lords if I were to dwell too long on this Amendment.

So I think it will suffice if I simply say that the purpose of this Amendment is to increase the number of members elected to the governing body of the veterinary surgeons' profession in this country—the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons—from 20 to 24. I should say, also, that this is an Amendment which is desired by the British Veterinary Association and supported by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 11, leave out ("twenty") and insert ("twenty-four").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


I should like to associate myself with what the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has said. I do not want to take up your Lordships' time, beyond saying that when I spoke in the Second Reading debate I made some animadversions about the appointed members. I wish to say now that in referring to those appointed members I did not mean members appointed by the Privy Council, but members appointed by others. I should further like to say that, since speaking then, I have had conversation with one of those other appointed members, who thought that my restriction of some of them was by no means inappropriate.


When I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, I began to think that there must have been a leak, but not a very serious one. I gather that he already knows that I am about to do what it says at the bottom of my note, where there is a word which I always like to see at the bottom of my note—"Accept ". I am pleased to tell your Lordships that the Minister has agreed that the number of elected members on the Council of the Royal College should be increased from 20 to 24. In accepting the Amendment which the noble Lord has moved, I am bound to congratulate him and other noble Lords on their persistence and advocacy on behalf of those who were desirous of securing this Amendment.


May I just express to the noble Lord my thanks, and the thanks of my noble friend, not only for accepting this Amendment but for the great care which he has taken both in this House and elsewhere to listen to the arguments, and, I suspect also, to press the Amendment which we have moved. We are extremely grateful to him. He has been working very much overtime to-day, and I am glad that we have not added to his labours on this occasion. May I also say that, as this Bill has been pretty fully discussed at an earlier stage, it is not my intention to discuss it clause by clause, although I intend to say a word on one of the Schedules.


I should like to say just a word in order to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, on this Amendment. I listened to him speaking on this matter in the earlier stages, I think in the last Parliament, and he also spoke on the Second Reading. This is obviously a desirable Amendment to make and I believe it is entirely due to him that it has been made. We should be very grateful to him for pressing it. I am also grateful to the Government for accepting it in the way they have. I came here specially to support him in case he needed support, but he obviously does not.

I want to say a final word. I should like to make it quite clear that, when I pressed the other day for the Regulations which we discussed earlier to come on at an early stage, that was not in any way because I was unaware of the very great importance of this Bill, or indeed of the veterinary profession. I simply wanted a matter of vital, world consequence to come on at the beginning of Business. The Government have obviously done the right thing, and we have almost completed all the Business which we intended to do. I just wanted to say that, because the noble Earl the Leader of the House said that the veterinary profession and this Bill were very important. I quite agree with that, and I do not in any way want to be thought not to be holding that opinion myself. I know this profession very well I have had a long association with it. I know what a wonderful job its members do, very often in extremely difficult circumstances, and what a high degree of skill they exhibit.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 2 to 26 agreed to.

Clause 27:


27.—(1) In this Act, except so far as the context otherwise requires.— animals" includes birds and reptiles;

5.1 p.m.

LORD BALERNO moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "includes birds and reptiles" and insert "excludes invertebrates". The noble Lord said: Though they are not mentioned by name, this Amendment deals with fish. It is a simple little Amendment, and I should like to elaborate somewhat on the reasons why fish should be included in this Bill, along with reptiles and birds. One reason is the increase that we can expect, in the not-so-distant future, in fish farming.

Fish farming is at present being pushed forward very strongly by the White Fish Authority and by the fish scientists at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. There was an extremely interesting article in the Sunday Times of May 1 last which used the significant title, 'Battery' fish grow twice as fast. This refers to the first experimental battery (using the same word as is used for keeping poultry under close conditions) of plaice and soles. Experiments are going on, largely in conjunction with the heated water that comes from the nuclear power stations both in Carmarthen, in Wales, and Hunterston, in Scotland. In that article the writer states that if this work progresses as it can be anticipated to progress, fish in an acre of ponds are the source of more good quality protein than the cattle or sheep on an acre of good agricultural land. That is what we may be coming to, and that is what I would ask your Lordships to bear in mind when listening to what I have to say now.

At the present moment, this is a State enterprise—the White Fish Authority, or the Government themselves—but there is no reason why it should not be private enterprise. It was to private enterprise that I was referring when I spoke during the Committee stage and the Second Reading when this Bill was before your Lordships' House in the last Parliament. From that I received quite a fan mail from people, private persons, interested in setting up fish farms as they are set up already in other countries. A certain number of masterful mothers inquired if this was a good prospect for their sons. The point I want to make about these private enterprise fish farms is that if they are badly run they will constitute a positive danger to human health. Fish raised under such congested conditions, with disease getting in them, could constitute a positive danger to human health. In this way, it was no exaggeration for the writer of the article in the Sunday Times to refer to them as "battery" fish. They will need examination just as much as the battery poultry are getting at the present time, and it is only the veterinary profession that will be able to make the necessary technical intervention which is envisaged in the Brambell Report.

There is another point about fish development to which I should like to draw the Committee's attention, and that is the question of pet shops. Some pet shops are excellently run, but not all; and it may be necessary at some time in the not-too-distant future to set limits on the activities of those who are responsible for running such places. Only a veterinary service, a Government service or private veterinary surgeons, could possibly cope with these problems, as well. By including fish in this Bill—and I say this with all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Champion, and to what he said when the Bill was previously before your Lordships' House—you would in no way inhibit the work of the fish scientists. With great respect to the fish scientists of the White Fish Authority, who have done some remarkable work in the five or six years that they have been properly constituted, I should like to reassure them, after 50 years' experience of working as a scientist alongside the veterinary profession, that I cannot see that there is any overlap or prevention of their work.

I should like to quote one or two instances. The first is the work that was done by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Orr, who sits on the Cross Benches, more than 50 years ago from the Rowett Research Institute, in Aberdeen. To have rickets in animals is now a matter of no account, and is easy to get over. The fundamental work done on rickets, which is a disease in animals, was done by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Orr, as a young man holding no veterinary qualifications whatever, at the Rowett Research Institute, in Aberdeen. He not only diagnosed the disease but produced a cure for it; and he and his assistants in the Institute, who were not veterinary surgeons, advised farmers about the treatment of their animals.

The same sort of thing has happened again in quite recent times. Just a year or two ago, there was a bad disease—a disease more or less unknown in this country—which suddenly appeared in Yorkshire. The answer to it was quickly produced, again by the Rowett Research Institute. It was a case of copper poisoning in pigs. It was the first case of copper poisoning in this country, and if it had not been for the pre-vision of the Agricultural Research Council in allowing a scientist of the Rowett Research Institute to study copper poisoning in pigs, we should not have been able to get on to the job of dealing with it and to devise a treatment for the farmer to use. There is no difficulty in the way of any scientist getting inside a problem and tackling it.

For myself, I have advised farmers on the inherent defects in farm livestock. I have sometimes told them about their bulldog calves without ever referring to a veterinary surgeon—and I have never once been criticised for so doing. If I did see their own veterinary surgeon I explained the situation to him. The same goes for poultry research. The Poultry Institute in Edinburgh is continually giving advice on the diagnosis and treatment of disease in poultry, not by any means necessarily through the veterinary profession, and never once have I heard any criticism from the veterinary profession that the scientists were treading on their toes. This sort of thing has been going on for about fifty years. I am sorry that I cannot give an example of the scientists giving advice on the diseases of reptiles, which are included in the Bill.

Science knows no boundaries, and no Act of Parliament can possibly de-limit what a scientist may or may not do. Nor can it de-limit precisely what a veterinary surgeon can do. The inclusion of fish in this Bill would in no way affect the scientists who are not veterinary surgeons from treating fish anywhere in the United Kingdom or in the seas around this Island. I assure the Committee that there is no "take-over bid" by the veterinary profession of a piece of work which the scientists have done so well and which the veterinary profession recognises to be quite outstanding. The fish research work which has been done by scientists in this country in the last five or six years is becoming the envy of the world.

The noble Lord, Lord Champion, rightly stated that this Bill does not delimit the power of the veterinary surgeons; it sets a limit to what the ordinary person may do with animals. But if fish are excluded, what will happen? Anyone will be able to start up as an expert on fish. We shall get fish doctors just as, in the old days, we had the cow doctors. Yet the whole purpose of the predecessor of this Bill, and of the Bill itself, is to prevent those old cow doctors from exploiting their ignorance on the farmers.

In dealing with the matter of animals our fathers were wiser in their generation than we are at the present time. The Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 very subtly—and it is not until you get faced with this particular problem that you realise how subtle were our fathers in this matter—said that that Act of 1876 should not apply to invertebrate animals, which is another way of saying that it applies to all mammals save man, to all kinds of birds, to reptiles and to fish. The Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1912 specifically included birds, fish or reptiles, the three of them going in together with the mammals; that is to say, with all vertebrates save man. That is precisely what the present Amendment is designed to do. I hope I have been able to persuade the Committee that this is quite an important point. If I have not been able to persuade the Committee, then in five years, or, anyway, within twenty-five years, there will be another Bill before your Lordships' House to include fish—so why not make a tidy job of it now? I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 40, leave out ("includes birds and reptiles") and insert ("excludes invertebrates").—(Lord Balerno.)


May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, whether he has ascertained from the veterinary profession that they are prepared to take on the care of fish?—because, personally, I have never heard of a "vet" who has ever had anything to do with fish.


Except to eat them.


Apart from eating them, I have never heard of a "vet" who has anything to do with fish. "Vets" are not instructed in fish; at least, I do not think so. I have some fisheries and when I have had occasion to ask for advice I have always applied to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries who have excellent fish scientists. I should have thought that if this Amendment were accepted it would then exclude the owner of a fishery from applying to the Ministry for advice. What is the point of having fish scientists if the "vets" are going to take on fish? I have not studied the question, but it strikes me as rather odd to ask the "vets" to deal with fish.


Before the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, rises I should like to say that for forty years I have regarded myself as an authority on fish—and I am. I would only say that in principle I would welcome the advent of the fish doctors which the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, seemed to dread so much. I think fish want a good deal of doctoring. When they disappear, we want people to find out why they have disappeared and to where. We have had a lot of trouble in the North Sea in the last three or four years in the matter of herrings. I think the noble Lord's Amendment should be rejected.


I do not think this is quite as amusing a subject as it appears at first. I was associated with this matter some years ago when I was chairman of the Colonial Research Council and also of the Colonial Agricultural, Animal Health and Forestry Council. We had the problem of fisheries very much in mind, because in many parts of what was then the Empire but which now mainly consist of independent under-developed territories, there is a great shortage of protein. In Africa, for example, it has been held that where cannibalism was very prevalent it was largely owing to the fact that there was no protein available. Because of the tsetse fly, the cattle and other animals of that kind could not live. Therefore the people, in order to get protein, became cannibals; and there is something in that. It was a difficulty in those territories.

At considerable expense we investigated the whole question of fisheries. We bought a vessel and sent it out to the tropical seas; and we found, curiously enough—and I must say it was a complete surprise to me—that, unlike the Northern waters to which the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, referred where the herring and other fish are in such an abundance (though occasionally not quite in such an abundance as he or I would desire), in tropical waters fish are scarce. I thought myself that the opposite would be true and that fish would prefer to live in warm water rather than cold water. But that was not the case. Apparently it was something to do with the plankton on the surface; they cannot get the nutrition in tropical waters.

We then turned our attention to domestic fisheries in Equatorial and tropical territories. I remember myself visiting a very large artificial fishery in Malaya which was set up in order to provide for the people the protein of which there is such a shortage in the tropical and equatorial countries. We went to a lot of trouble and employed one of the fish scientists to whom the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, referred, to deal with the question. We took a lot of trouble over it and in the end, with considerable difficulty, we found that there was a future for this type of project, the inland fishery. Whether the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, is right that this should come under the veterinary profession I am not qualified to say. I do not know. I think he has made a case and I shall he interested to hear the answer by the Government. I want only to make the point that this is a matter of considerable importance in many parts of the world, and it might be of considerable importance to this country, in view of the very large population which we now seem to be getting. It is increasing the whole time, and there will be a demand for protein here as well as in other parts of the world. So I would say that this is an important problem and I, for one, shall be very interested to hear the reply from the Government.


I wondered why the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, when he set about his no doubt excellent objective of including fish within this Bill, did so, not by an Amendment saying "includes fish" but by one which says "excludes invertebrates". I should have thought that would include certain fish and exclude others. The salmon is, I take it, a vertebrate and would be included in the Bill; the oyster is an invertebrate and would be excluded, but if there is any fish which could be a serious hazard to human health I should have thought it was the oyster. Would it not be better to do this by a straightforward Amendment to say that "Animals' includes fish"?

5.23 p.m.


I am afraid that I cannot give the same welcome to this Amendment as I gave to the one which was previously moved, despite the great persuasiveness of the noble Lord. This House always amazes me. No matter what we talk about, there is always an expert. I did not expect to find in the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, an expert in fish; nevertheless we have one, and that is one of the things which makes me think that this House should remain in existence for a quite a time yet.

As the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, told us, the object of the Amendment is to include fish in the definition of animals. As I told the noble Lord previously, I was a little doubtful about the way in which he had framed the Amendment, and the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, also was doubtful. As I understand it, we might have veterinary surgeons dealing with a vertebrate, which man happens to be. This would be a pity, and I should think that it would be quite wrong. We should get the medical profession at our throats if we did anything of this sort. We simply must not do it. I realise that the noble Lord has fish in mind, but nothing I say in connection with this Amendment must be taken as in any way denigrating the work being done in connection with fish farming and increasing the amount of protein which is necessary, particularly in countries where the inhabitants are near to starvation, as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore.

I must first make clear that the definition of "animals" forms part of the definition of veterinary surgery. At present, veterinary surgery is loosely defined in Section 2 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1881 as "the art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine." But since the Act of 1948 became law it has been an offence for unqualified persons to practise veterinary surgery unless specially exempted. A more detailed definition has been included in the Bill, following representations from the Royal College that the existing definition has caused difficulty in instituting proceedings in cases of alleged unqualified practice. This is the key point—unqualified practice. Whatever living beings are included in the definition of animals, they become the exclusive (I stress the word "exclusive") province of the veterinary surgeon. Anyone else practising what amounts to veterinary surgery under this Bill in relation to such animals could be held to be guilty of unqualified practice. That is our objective. We are saying what people other than veterinary surgeons must not do; we are not saying what veterinary surgeons must do.

It is because the Government appreciate the noble Lord's argument for enlightenment and progress in the scientific field, that we are not including fish. This is the way to ensure not only that veterinary surgeons may treat fish, diagnose disease in fish or give advice about fish, but also that other experts, in particular the various fishery scientists, may do work of this kind. It is true as the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, said, that one could not imagine most sensible veterinary surgeons ever objecting to a scientist working in this sphere. I cannot imagine it, either. But not everyone might look at the Bill, if it became an Act and included the Amendment of the noble Lord, as sensibly as he or some other people might do. Some people might turn nasty about scientists "mucking about" with something which they regarded as their particular province. We must not open the door to this possibility, and that is why we object to the Amendment. It would make the treatment and diagnosis of fish ailments the exclusive preserve of veterinarians, subject to any exceptions in Schedule 3.

I agree with the noble Lord that perhaps in the fullness of time Parliament may consider that the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in fish should be confined to veterinary surgeons, but at present what little is known about this subject is known mainly by fishery scientists who are not qualified in veterinary surgery. With the advent of fish-farming, disease among fish may become a greater problem, and I think that we should leave this matter open so that both fishery scientists and veterinarians may be permitted to work in this field. In short, it would be a mistake for this subject at this stage to be "cabin'd, cribbed, confined".

I would ask the Committee to reject this Amendment, but before doing so, I must refer to the words of the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard. It is, of course, true that courses in elementary zoology at veterinary colleges include the study of fish. But they do not include any specific instruction in the treatment of fish diseases. So that students can be in no specialised position to deal with fish. I should think that if they want to make this their exclusive province, they must do something about getting the subject included in the curricula, so that eventually they may emerge with the sort of qualifications they ought to have, if we are to give them this exclusive right. If the noble Lord will not agree to withdraw the Amendment, I hope that your Lordships will reject it.

5.28 p.m.


I cannot see this becoming a major Party issue, but I should like to pick up some of the points which have been made. The first was made by the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard. In the Second Reading debate a few days ago I specifically stated that, so far as wild animals were concerned, it was usually the scientists who did the work, not veterinary surgeons. The great scientific work in connection with grouse disease, with which no doubt the noble Viscount is well acquainted, has been done by scientists and there are many other instances which could be quoted.

The fact that the veterinary profession is doing nothing at the moment with regard to fish, that members of the profession are receiving, little instruction about fish, does not mean that the study of fish will not become a major factor; and the point I tried to make during the Second Reading debate was that fifty years ago no one thought that the veterinary profession would play a major part in connection with the care of birds. Fifty or sixty years ago, there was prac- tically no instruction in the veterinary schools about birds. Sixty years ago there was about as much instruction about birds and poultry as there is at the present time about fish. So I do not see the logic of that particular argument.

This is not a question of either the veterinary profession or scientists. This problem is so great, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, pointed out, that we must get both the veterinary surgeons and the scientists on to it, each in the field for which they are best equipped. I maintain that, so far as intensive fish farms are concerned, and especially the freshwater fish farms of this country, in the future it will be a job for the veterinary profession. There simply will not be enough fish scientists to go round.


If the noble Lord will forgive me, the mental processes of fish are extremely difficult to comprehend, and there is not the slightest reason to suppose that such comprehension is confined either to the scientists or to the veterinary profession.


The noble Lord has done so much for fish in his life, and he is so well renowned in Scotland for the way in which he has battled for the fish off the coast of Buchan from which he has taken his title, that I hesitate to take issue with him. But I would say that it is equally difficult to comprehend the state of mind of a snake as it is of a fish; and snakes are included for the veterinary profession. Why should there then be the difference?

I am afraid that the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, took me up wrongly when I was talking about fish doctors. I was not using that expression as one of approbrium. It was the old cow doctor who was completely unqualified and had no education on the subject. The fish doctor, which I think he took to mean the fish scientist, is absolutely essential for the salt water fish. I do not think the veterinary profession would for a moment desire to take over any of that work. It is a most important job to understand the vagaries and the minds of fish. I think the noble Lord would agree that it is probably rather more difficult to understand fish than to understand human beings.

The noble Lord, Lord Airedale, asked what was going to happen to the oyster. That question had occurred to me. There are all sorts of shellfish, which are eaten by humans and there is also danger here. But I was arguing on the fact that the line has to be drawn somewhere; that as our forefathers excluded the oyster from the vivisection laws, and as this was confirmed in the subsequent animal legislation, it was established that zoologically an oyster is not a fish at all. I think it comes under something quite different—a mollusc, I believe, though it is a long time since I was versed in zoology. Therefore, although oysters can be a positive danger to humanity, I do not think that they would be any greater danger to humanity than a fish concentrated in the freshwater ponds, brought up under great congestion, particularly if the water going into those ponds was not as clean as it could be. In other words, fish grown under those conditions could conceivably carry diseases bad for the human, just as the oysters do—and probably the same diseases. But that is pathology, and I am not fully up in it.

The noble Lord, Lord Champion, questioned whether, if we took my definition of excluding invertebrates, we might include man. The answer to that is, No; because the definition specifically states animals. By using the word "animals" we exclude man; and excluding vertebrates takes away half of the animal kingdom. Therefore, it would not make the definition include man. The point made by the noble Lord, Lord Champion, about unqualified practice of the scientist, would mean, if taken to its logical conclusion, that all those animal scientists—and there are a great number of them—who are at present working on ruminants, on quadrupeds and birds, and the few who are working on reptiles, and who are not veterinary surgeons, are guilty of unqualified practice. But that just is not so regarded, and has not been so regarded for fifty years.

As I have said, at the present time there is as little training in the veterinary profession for reptiles as there is for fish. Therefore, the logic of including reptiles and excluding fish is rather difficult to follow. But, as I see no great enthusiasm to support me, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 27 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Provisions as to the Council]:

5.36 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved, in paragraph 1(2), to leave out "Five" and insert Subject to the provisions of this Schedule, six".

The noble Lord said: I think it would be for the convenience of your Lordships if we discussed Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 5 together. These are minor Amendments, and possibly I should not have moved them if I had not been teased at an earlier stage for not having put down a consequential Amendment to the Amendment that has been accepted in Clause 1. Amendment No. 3 is a consequential Amendment. The term of office is described in sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 1 to be four years for an elected member, and it follows, therefore, if you have 24 members instead of 20, that six must retire annually instead of five. That, however, gives rise to certain complications about election.

The second Amendment would give power for the rules for election to be changed from time to time. It is not entirely clear whether it is necessary to confer this power. I am aware of the Interpretation Act, but I recall clearly that when I was at the Scottish Office we had a similar case where there was no power to amend the scheme which had been made for elections and the like, and, that being so, we were advised at that time that this power should be taken. I put this down in case the same would apply here.

The third Amendment is merely an indication (I apologise for these Amendments; they are all my own work, but I do not take any great pride in them) of how the job should be done, so far as elections are concerned. It obviously causes a bit of what the French call décollage if you have to change from a system of electing five a year to a system of electing six a year. This is a suggested method of doing it. The method suggested is: At the first, second, third and fourth elections to be held after the passing of this Act the five elected members of the Council who have been such members for the longest time without re-election shall retire in each year, and, in addition, in the second, third and fourth aforesaid elections one of the members elected at the first aforesaid elections, to be chosen by lot, shall retire". The intention is quite clear. Whether this is the best way of doing it, whether you should choose a member to retire each year by lot, or whether he should be the one who receives the smallest number of votes progressively, I do not know. All I can say is that it was much easier to draft the Amendment to say "by lot", and that is why I put it in that way.

The purpose of these Amendments is quite clear. I am sure that some Amendments are required here. I am equally sure that the Amendments are not in the proper form, but I move them simply in order to indicate that they are required. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 19, line 10, leave out ("Five") and insert the said words.—(Lord Dramalbyn.)


As the noble Lord has indicated, these Amendments flow from his logical approach to his first Amendment which has been accepted. The first Amendment to Schedule 1 is a necessary consequence of the Amendment to Clause 1, and I am happy to accept it. As the noble Lord spoke to all three Amendments, I thought perhaps I might indicate what my attitude will be to the other two, if he still wishes to move them after what I am going to say. On the second of these Amendments, we agree that some Amendment of this sort is desirable. Indeed, we agree in principle with the noble Lord's Amendment. But I understand that some redrafting may be necessary, particularly as the Schedule as a whole may need some recasting, looking at it as a whole and not in little bits and pieces. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will not move this Amendment when it is called, but I will undertake to make appropriate provision to cover the point at the Report stage.

The noble Lord's third Amendment is another Amendment which is required to deal with the transitional arrangements made necessary by increasing the number of elected members on the Council from 20 to 24. I am sure the noble Lord realises that this is a complex matter. There are various ways of achieving a desired end, and some careful redrafting and recasting of this Schedule will be needed, as I said before. I hope that, when his Amendment is called by the Lord Chairman, the noble Lord will not move it, on the undertaking I will give to him that on Report stage I shall hope to return to it, and perhaps collaborate to some extent with the noble Lord in the preparation of an Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

On Question, Whether Schedule 3 shall stand part of the Bill?


I do not want to raise a debate because of the state of Business, but I should like to raise a point in order to give notice to the noble Lord, and to remind him of something he said on Second Reading. He said: Some criticism has been made of Schedule 3, and in this Bill the Ministers are given power to amend the Schedule by Order, subject to the Affirmative Resolution procedure. After the Dissolution of Parliament discussions were started with interested organisations and these are proceeding. It is improbable that they will be completed in time to enable us to amend the Schedule here, but there will be no delay in introducing an Order amending the Schedule as soon as possible after the Bill receives the Royal Assent and after the completion of these discussions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 274 (No. 13), col. 911; 17/5/66.] May I express the hope that it will be possible to reach a decision in time to have this amendment in the Bill? I think it would be preferable.

May I draw attention to one more point here? On page 23, line 41 of Schedule 3 says: The performance by any person of or over the age of eighteen of any of the following operations"— and the operations which are permitted are specified. What I think the Committee would desire is that those who perform these operations should have been trained to do so. The difficulty is that, unless they have some practice under proper supervision before they are eighteen, there will be a stage after they are eighteen when they are not sufficiently trained to do this kind of operation (as it is called) efficiently and possibly without causing pain. I think there is a point here which needs looking at carefully, to make certain that agricultural apprentices are able to receive training to carry out this task before they actually pass out as apprentices. As the Schedule stands, that is probably not so now. I would ask the noble Lord to have a close look at this to see whether something cannot be done about it.


May I support my noble friend in this matter? There is already a clause in the Bill which allows students of veterinary surgery, under qualified surgeons, to practise things that otherwise only qualified surgeons are allowed to do. This would be applying a lower degree of apprenticeship.


May I also support this point, about which I feel very strongly? I had hoped that possibly the Government might have looked at this point before now. If not, I shall feel it necessary to put down an Amendment on the Report stage.


If it were a matter only for the Government, I think we should not have had Schedule 3 as it stands at the moment. Any alteration must follow careful consultation with everybody concerned. I cannot promise that, before this Bill ends its process through this and the other House, these consultations will be concluded. I said this in my Second Reading speech. However, I will make sure that my right honourable friend is made aware of the points that have been raised by all noble Lords who are interested in this matter, because I agree that bad practice—and have seen some of it myself—can cause tremendous pain and suffering to the animal. That is the only undertaking I can give.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Remaining Schedule agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported, with Amendments.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 6 p.m. for the Royal Commission.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.