§ 4.24 p.m.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. I am happy to see that the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, is in his place. He was kind enough to write to me and say that there was some doubt whether he would be able to come, but I am happy to see that he is here, particularly because I want to comment on some things about which he wrote to me. Your Lordships will remember that at Committee stage the noble Earl cast some doubt on whether the calves that the R.S.P.C.A. inspectors saw being slaughtered at Putte were really the British calves that they had seen at Zeebrugge, and he went further 336 in the letter that he wrote to me this month, saying:In a progress report sent to the Ministry before Mr. Brown published his report it was quite clearly stated that the slaughter of British calves was over by 8.30 a.m.Perhaps the noble Earl will make it clear when he speaks, who made that statement and what foundation can be given for it. He also says:Incidentally I have confirmed with Mr. Michael Burrows that he was not the owner of the calves in question, either before or after slaughter.Some interesting things have happened since the Committee stage, my Lords. I have been speaking over the telephone to Mr. Philip Brown, who is the deputy chief veterinary officer of the R.S.P.C.A. and who was one of the two R.S.P.C.A. officers who made this inspection at Zeebrugge. He wrote to me stating the case very clearly, and with your Lordships' permission I should like to quote at some length from his letter because it throws a good deal of light on this situation. He says:You asked me to elaborate on certain matters appertaining to the veal calves which we followed from Zeebrugge in Belgium to the slaughterhouse in Putte in October, 1970. You will appreciate that there was much detail which was not included in this report which we tried to keep as concise as possible.The owner of these calves was a Mr. Burrows.I pause there, my Lords, just to say that when I asked him whether he could give any concise proof of that he said that he merely asked who the owner was and was told it was Mr. Burrows, which is a rather odd coincidence if Mr. Burrows was not in fact the owner.
The letter continues:He"—that is to say, Mr. Burrows—was not present at Zeebrugge, but his partner or manager, Mr. Chubb, was there and we had a long talk with him. He told us that the calves would be slaughtered at Putte and the abattoir was a frightful place compared to English—British—standards. In fact he was glad to have us go to Putte for us to see for ourselves the conditions in which the cattle would be slaughtered, as he told us he was very unhappy about the situation there.About two miles short of Putte, on our way to the slaughterhouse, we saw the lorry driver returning from the abattoir and when we arrived at the place of slaughter, we asked to see the calves from England.337 From England, my Lords—I emphasise that.These were readily shown to us by the foreman who explained that some of them had already been killed"—"some" of them had already been killed—and the rest were awaiting slaughter. We examined both those dead and alive and identified them positively as those we had seen in Zeebrugge the night before. The calf with the blind eye, mentioned in the report, had not yet been killed.My Lords, I do not think I need go any further with that letter, but it seems to prove beyond doubt that the British calves had not been killed when Mr. Brown and his partner arrived there. They were still being killed, and the method employed was as he described it.
I asked about Mr. Burrows. I asked whether Mr. Brown knew anything about Mr. Burrows, and I was informed that apparently he has been responsible for some large shipments of calves to the Canaries and is preparing one to Greece, neither country, of course, being a signatory of the Balfour assurances; but of course those can easily be got round, as I shall show in a moment, merely by stating that the animals are for further fattening. That is one of the things I want to complain of about the Balfour assurances. They are completely useless, even if they were observed, because no body has as yet defined what "further fattening" is; it may be only a matter of two or three days—who knows? You keep the calf for two or three days and you say it is being further fattened and then you slaughter it, perfectly legally, in the country in which it has arrived and by what methods you choose. Therefore, my Lords, the Balfour assurances are really worse than useless.
I have also a letter from my noble friend Lord Denham which he wrote to Mrs. Spooner, who is chairman of an animal society interested in this matter. I should like to quote one or two things from that letter. He said:I am sorry that you so totally discount the worth of the Balfour Assurances because as you will appreciate, these have been given by the Governments of the countries concerned to Her Majesty's Government, and we must assume that a Government would not enter into an agreement it was unable or unwilling to implement.Well, one must assume that unfortunately it has been proved that the assurances 338 are not implemented. In any case, as I have pointed out, it is perfectly easy to evade them by merely keeping the stock for a matter of two days. Further on my noble friend says:As I said in the House, occasional lapses occur anywhere, not only abroad but also in this country, but I do not think that they should be taken as indicative of the general standard of treatment accorded to animals whether here or elsewhere.My Lords, I must ask my noble friend to take off his Departmental dark glasses and to look facts in the face. This is not a matter of just one or two incidents, one or two failures to observe the assurances; they are happening everywhere. And the mere fact that the people of those countries take them completely for granted is surely a proof of that; there is no objection to it whatsoever. Incidentally, it would also be a very odd coincidence if the parties who had visited slaughterhouses abroad had happened purely by chance to arrive on those one or two occasions where they were not being observed. That, I am afraid, is an argument which just does not hold water. Therefore, I sincerely hope that my noble friend will not press that argument. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a. —(Lord Somers.)
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ THE EARL. OF SHANNON
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Somers, for reading extracts from my letters. I wonder whether he would mind if I read an extract from his. He says:Was the English owner a certain Mr. Michael Burrows? I have had a suggestion (not from Mr. Brown) that it might be.Yet he quoted Mr. Brown's report as the source of his information. We can pull each other's letters apart, we can niggle over this miserable Putte Report. But the Putte Report is not really the basis of this Bill, or at least I hope it is not; if it is we are all wasting our time. My opinion of the Putte Report is this. I have listened in my lifetime to many, many old soldiers stories and I believe I can recognise another one even if it happens to be told to me by a civilian. The only question we have not had answered over this Putte Report is this. Why, having gone to all the trouble to go there and see this particular thing, at the critical moment when they knew what was happening they disappeared for 339 four and a half hours? Four and a half hours later these inspectors arrive. They say, surprise, surprise, "We saw it". Other people who were there say quite categorically that they stayed there; they followed the animals right through and it was all over by 8.30. I draw my conclusion and the noble Lord, Lord Somers, draws his. I think that is the end of that Putte Report.
My Lords, I really must ask you whether you wish to allow this Bill to proceed. I agree that your Lordships' House gave it a Second Reading, but when one reads the Second Reading debate one sees that there are calls for amendment at Committee stage, and yet here we are at Third Reading faced with exactly the same Bill, unamended, unaltered, as it was when we had it at First Reading. Is that decision really so binding now?
I object to this Bill for two reasons. The first is that it is so full of loopholes that it is actually damaging to its stated objects. Secondly, I believe it to be an impossible piece of nonsense anyway. If I may go back to the first point, great play has been made of the exception contained in the Bill about animals exported for exhibition or breeding. I quote the proposer's statement on Second Reading:This Bill will prevent the ex port of animals to the Continent for slaughter, whether that slaughter be immediate or postponed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25/11/71, col. 1171.]Whether or not the noble Lord was right in drawing that conclusion from the Bill, which presumably he had arranged to be drafted, I do not know. But assuming that he is right, that all animals are eventually destined for postponed slaughter, how long is the postponement allowed? How long do they have to be exhibited before they can be slaughtered—10 minutes on a railway siding? The whole thing does not make sense.
My Lords, this market exists whether we like it or not; it is nothing to do with us, and it will be filled whether we like it or not; it will be filled either with animals from elsewhere or, on account of these loopholes, with British animals, most probably via Ireland. This trade will be taken away. The noble Lord, Lord Somers, challenged me. He said that after exhaustive inquiries he could not find a single case of British exporters 340 who accompanied their animals abroad. I have been able to find only two cases in one company where it was not so. But obviously we make our exhaustive inquiries in different directions. But this trade will be taken away from these reputable companies, these companies with a lot of experience and prestige; that will be lost. If this Bill were ever to become a Statute I think it would be thoroughly retrogressive and very shortsighted.
There have been many arguments—I will not delay your Lordships with answering all of them—about passing this Bill in its various stages. We have had the argument of the under-employed slaughterhouses. I have made inquiries about this, and I find that some of the slaughterhouses are under-employed on geographical grounds; but mainly I find that these municipal slaughterhouses are under-employed for one very good reason; that their rates are too expensive and hence they are a drain on the rates. I think this is answered by one commercial company which has built its own slaughterhouse, not too far away from a municipal one which is under-employed, and with lower rates it is working very well. So it cannot be a geographical reason for that slaughterhouse. It is not the export of animals that is causing the under-employment. That is good emotional stuff, good emotional argument at this time, but it just does not apply to this Bill. It is not the export that is causing the under-employment of our municipal slaughterhouses.
We talk about carcase export, frozen meat. Straightaway that is to devalue your product. If we like devaluing our product, all right, but it is not a very good idea. Another one is about our old cast cows. We do not eat them here, but on the Continent they find a ready market. I understand that this is due to the difference in eating habits and the vastly greater amount of processed meat in the form of sausages, and things like that, which are eaten on the Continent and not here. There is a market for them there and no market for them here. I understand that most of our exports of live animals now are for fattening. This is very good for our breeders here. Through this Continental demand there is a higher price paid for these animals than normally would be 341 paid for their use for fattening here. Also, there is very little indeed of high quality fat cattle exported from this country straight for slaughter.
This Bill has a simple emotional theory behind it: that if animals are slaughtered here Balfour assurances are enforced up to the hilt, and if they are taken abroad they are not at all. It is a good theory, but is that really the case? I said at the Committee stage to your Lordships that the R.S.P.C.A., in its current broadsheet, carries information about religious ritual slaughter being carried on in this country. Is that within the Balfour assurances? What about this 100 kilometres? I have been looking into that. We gnash our teeth when we hear that animals are taken more than 100 kilometres on the Continent; but it is quite customary to take animals in this country for slaughter from Anglesey to the Eastern Counties, and nothing is thought of it. Really, where does this emotional theory lie that here it is all right and there it is all wrong?
My second main reason for opposing this Bill is that it is impossible to enforce. I presume, and I hope, that the noble Lord, Lord Denham, will speak again. I do not wish to anticipate anything he says, but I can only repeat what he has already said. He has twice said that he considers—and his Department, who are intimately concerned with this question have said this—that this Bill is not only impracticable but that it is almost impossible to operate. Yet still there has been no amendment or any detailed explanation, in spite of an appeal from the Government Front Bench, of how the Minister is expected to operate the Bill. There was a precedent quoted of a vastly simpler system of valuation, I think under the Ponies Bill; but here again, the noble Lord, Lord Denham, pointed out that the overlapping value brackets, and the tremendous complexity of them, made such a thing in this Bill completely impossible. We are still devoid of any detailed explanation from the proposers of this Bill of exactly how they mean it to operate. Because I did not understand it—and apparently I am not alone; the Ministry of Agriculture do not understand it either—I did not attempt to amend the value clause in this Bill. But 342 because I had failed to try to make an Amendment to that clause I noticed that one or two, I suspect, supporters of this Bill were trying to address questions to me during the Committee stage as to how the Bill was to be operated. I do not know.
I have given your Lordships plenty of reasons why I think that the Bill should not proceed. But now it is only right that you should say to me, "Well, what should we do? What do you think? Try your hand." All right, I will. It would appear—and I will go no further than that—that shortly this country is to join the European Economic Community. Of course this will be a godsend to the poor Minister of Agriculture, sitting at his desk trying to think how on earth he is going to operate this Bill should it become law, because he will be pleased to see that it will be utterly and completely superseded by the regulations of the Common Agricultural Policy in the European Economic Community. We are pledged to support of these, and this Bill will not possibly fit in with what they are likely to do, because already they have laid the groundwork for complete, free interchange of animals between all countries. They are not yet fully implemented, but this is well on the way. This Bill notwithstanding, willy-nilly we will have a free interchange of animals.
Let us try to drop this insular attitude that these Continentals can do what they like to their own animals, but they are not going to do it to animals with British passports. As I said at the Committee stage, animal welfare is not divisible; it does not matter what passports they have. You cannot sacrifice other animals just to protect your own with British passports. Therefore, let us see where the trouble lies. I believe that what the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and I, and I am sure all of us, want to see is not this sacrificing of other animals in favour of our own, but to do something positive about ensuring that Continental slaughterhouses are improved both on the grounds of humanity and hygiene. This is the real crux; not whether it is British animals or other animals. I think this is a most important point. This Bill strikes me as too parochial, too petty, too small; it merely says, "Sacrifice the rest, and let us keep the British ones all right".
343 If the Bill is passed and becomes law then we shall have seriously damaged our chances of doing something for the real cause, and we shall have squandered everything on some little red herring. The strength of our representatives on the Commission which will make these regulations will lie in the fact that they represent a major participant in the international trade of animals which are exported for breeding, fattening, as well as slaughter. If they use our strength and prestige in this market, with our reputable companies behind them, I am sure they will be able to force through proper regulations such as we would like to see covering Continental slaughterhouses. But why cut the ground from under their feet with this Bill? If you do, the moment they start speaking in that Commission you can be absolutely certain that someone will give them a dry little smile and say, "Why did you bale out of it?"
Our companies have a fine record. There is one small example of this which I should like to draw to your attention. Two companies—one British, one French—were invited to make a trial shipment of animals by air to see who would collect a large foreign Government contract. The British company chartered the same aircraft as their foreign competitor. They fitted it out to take 220 animals. The foreign competitor fitted theirs out to take 380-odd animals, although it was going on a longer journey. The British company obtained the contract even though it was for a higher price, because their animals arrived at the destination in good condition, and not one of them had died. The other company had over 10 per cent. fatalities.
That is where our strength lies; not in baling out and disengaging ourselves. Such prestige and expertise as we have built up is now coming to our credit and standing us in good stead, and it will stand our representatives on that Commission in good stead, too. But, again, how weak and feeble will be their influence if they have had the ground taken from under their feet by the defeatist disengagement policy which this Bill seeks to pursue! No, my Lords. I heartily appreciate the motives of the noble Lord, Lord Somers, in moving this Bill, and of his supporters, but their efforts could be used to far greater effect in implementing 344 the recommendations I have made than in trying to destroy the one good position that we have for trying to force our standards on other people. We should actually be destroying that position for a very problematical—certainly temporary—benefit for those animals with British passports.
In conclusion, I think that this Bill is pointless, unnecessary and actually damaging to what we all want to see. The Government have twice explained—and if they have changed their opinion I shall withdraw wholeheartedly what I have said—how impossible this Bill is to operate, and we have since had no attempt to improve it or to explain its operation. I hardly think that any of your Lordships present in the dignity of your Lordships' House would like to see yourselves being made responsible for uttering a nonsense; but if this Bill is allowed to proceed I am afraid that that is what you will be doing.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HANWORTH
My Lords, with all due respect to the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, who has just spoken, I must say that I feel his opinions against this Bill are rather stronger than the arguments which he has put forward. His main arguments are probably two. First of all, he feels that the Channel is, after all, a very small gap indeed and that one can see equally well what is going on both on the other side and in the United Kingdom. But I think we all know that at present, at any rate, the Channel still represents a very great distance, with the different Governments and so on. So I would dismiss that argument. His next argument, which is much more interesting, is that if we go into the E.E.C. and become part of the Community we may then be able to do something to improve the matters with which we are dissatisfied. I am afraid that I do not accept that that argument against the Bill is a very strong one either, because there will be a great many matters of importance to be attended to if we join the Community, and this will be only a small one. Furthermore, on the whole, I do not believe that nations are very willing to be told that their slaughterhouses are not over-satisfactory and are not as good as ours. It will take a good long time before we can get to a position where we are able to exert our influence 345 in a constructive way. My conclusion, therefore, would be the reverse of that of the noble Earl, Lord Shannon. We should do something about this matter now and should show our concern, which would automatically mean that this was something which must be looked at fairly soon. Therefore, if we are going into the Common Market, it is all the more important that we should do something now.
The noble Earl's next major point is that the Bill is a poor one. Let us face the facts, my Lords. We know that for various reasons, which I can probably guess, the Government have not been in favour of this Bill. Therefore, nobody has tried to amend it. But if we look back to the Second Reading debate, which I attended, we shall recall that the body of feeling in the House that this Bill should go through was very strong indeed, in spite of the fact that the Minister advised us that it should not be given a Second Reading. If the Government had insisted, they would have been very badly defeated indeed. So what has been done, my Lords?—precisely nothing. As we do not have commercial interests against this Bill we should seize our opportunity. From time to time, when an opportunity arises, we should show that we are concerned about animal welfare and should try to do something about it. I certainly do not believe that this Bill could not be made into something worth while. It may have to be changed, but it could be changed in another place. I believe that this House ought to show that it feels that here is something which is important and about which something should be done, and this Bill must have a Third Reading.
§ 4.56 p.m.
My Lords, I am afraid that the noble Lord who has just spoken is over-optimistic about what the Bill could do. I am not going to enter into the argument between the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, and the noble Lord, Lord Somers, as to which inspector saw what. We all accept that there are abuses, and very bad ones, and we are all anxious that they should be stopped. But although the Bill of the noble Lord is so well-intentioned, it is not going to do what he hopes. Let us, first, take the matter of the values of the animals. Very few of your Lordships heard the speech 346 of the noble Lord, Lord Denham, on Second Reading, when he explained how difficult it would be to operate this part of the Bill, and no doubt he will tell your Lordships again. I did not hear his speech, but I read the report of it and discussed it with auctioneers and valuers, and I came to the conclusion that there are not enough valuers to do the valuations required by the Bill. That seems to be a fairly strong argument against the present provisions, and nobody has made any attempt to amend them.
Secondly, there is the question of what would happen to our present exports. So far as I can see, all that would happen is that the exports would go through Ireland, as they do now to countries such as those in North Africa which do not recognise the Balfour assurances, or to the Continent, and nobody would pay the least attention to any regulations. All that would happen is that the cattle would have a rather longer journey than they have now. This would also mean that our very valuable store trade with Ireland, which amounts to something like 750,000 head of store cattle a year coming into this country to be fattened, would dry up because the cattle would gradually find some other outlet. Those are two reasons which really defeat the Bill from the start.
I sympathise very much with all the sentiments of the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and I certainly would not go so far as the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, in his strictures on the Bill. I think it is a most worthy Bill, but it simply will not work, even if one accepts the desire behind it. Those are two reasons why I think it will not work and why it would be damaging to the big trade of store cattle coming into this country. It would also damage the quite legitimate and fair and reasonable trade of cattle going out of this country for slaughter. I agree with the noble Earl that the right way to approach this matter is to try to make the weight of our feeling about the care of animals in transit and for slaughter acceptable on the Continent where their standards are not so high as ours, rather than agree to this Bill, which would have the reverse effect.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, I had the opportunity during Second Reading and at the Committee stage to support the 347 noble Lord, Lord Somers, in the proceedings on this Bill, and so far as I can see there is not a great deal left to be said. In fact, the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, I think, has made the speech which I intended to make, and it is not necessary to repeat it. I would only point out that on Second Reading this House made up its mind, after quite a long discussion, that this was a valuable thing to do; and it came to that conclusion on two grounds. The first was that the House was completely satisfied that the present position leaves a great deal to be desired so far as the export of cattle to the Continent is concerned; that, on the humanitarian side of it, their treatment of animals was not in line with the traditions of this country. Therefore, on those grounds it was thought by your Lordships to he a very good thing that this Bill should proceed, at least to the other place.
The second ground was the economic argument. I have always held the view—and held it very strongly, even when my Party were in Government and were not prepared to listen to a Bill of this kind—that it was completely wrong that cattle which had been heavily subsidised by the British taxpayer should eventually find their way to the Continent of Europe, while we as a country were compelled to import other meat from various parts of the world. To me, this has always been a crazy way to conduct our food trade, and I believe that is so to-day. I believe that we as a House ought to accept this point very clearly, and to say, "We want our own cattle and our own sheep in this country, because we know they are the best". In that way, I believe we should be encouraging this particular section of the agricultural industry.
In spite of everything that has been said by the noble Earl—and we heard the same arguments from him at an earlier stage of the Bill, at which time he himself did not feel that his case was strong enough to take us to a Division on his Amendment—I believe that this subject has been threshed out thoroughly in your Lordships' House during the various stages of the Bill. I therefore appeal, particularly on humanitarian grounds, that we should say to the Continent, and to the world: "We are deeply 348 concerned about the wellbeing of animals, and this is our gesture at this moment towards that belief". I hope that we shall agree to give this Bill a Third Reading, to show that your Lordships desire that point of view to be thoroughly expressed.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, if I may take the noble Lord up on one point, he said he thought it was quite crazy that we should export calves born of cattle on which the farmer had perhaps received a subsidy. It is not crazy at all: it is very good trade. As I explained before, the reason is that you get a better price for livestock on the hoof than if you export it dead; and, getting that better price, you can then import into this country some more meat at a cheaper price. It is a favourable balance of trade; that is the reason. If you are not to export anything on which you get a subsidy, what about all the corn we export? I used to export quite a lot of barley to the Continent, and some even went to Poland. Of course, we get a subsidy on that. With due respect, the noble Lord's argument on that point is not sound. With regard to the Bill itself, I should just like to say that I wholeheartedly support the noble Lord, Lord Somers, in his motives—they are very fine motives—but the Bill is not really practical. We are presumably joining the E.E.C., and there will be a good deal of legislation involved. It would be crazy to legislate on this matter now.
The only other thing I would say is that it would appear that, from the humane angle, what the noble Lord is really saying is that English livestock feel more or are more sensitive than foreign livestock. If we stop this trade, the slaughterhouses abroad to which our animals are now sent will be filled by other animals from other countries, and they are going to feel just as much. I must not go into stories, but it rather reminds me of what a Spanish girl said to me once at a bull-fight. She said to me. "What do you think of the bull-fight?" I said, "It is probably a great spectacle, but I think it is cruel—extremely cruel. Apart from being cruel to the bulls, I think it is cruel to the horses". She said, "You don't understand; they are not thoroughbreds, they are only old hacks".
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
My Lords, I do not want to follow the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, on the question of what he said to the Spanish girl and what the Spanish girl said to him. Nor do I want to be quite so ferocious as the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, was in making his speech half an hour ago. I should like to say this to the noble Earl, however. He said that this Bill really needs amendment. So I say: Then why has he not put down Amendments to make it workable? I know that he did put down an Amendment at the Committee stage; but after it had been debated, after it had been slaughtered from various parts of the Committee, he withdrew it without a Division. The noble Viscount also suggested that perhaps we were being a little hypocritical in saying that we wanted to concern ourselves with the welfare of those animals which had British passports but were ignoring completely the fate of the others. The answer simply is that we have no control over these French bulls and Spanish bullocks, but we have control over those which have been born and reared in England; and it is those particular animals, those which have been bred on British farms, to which we want to give our protection.
The noble Lord, Lord Henley, suggests, as I believe did the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, that this is one of those matters that we could leave to the European Economic Community, and that we should have a little regulation brought before the Community and adopted by all those quarrelsome nations who hardly seem able to agree upon any matter concerning the Common Agricultural Policy. Then what should we have? We should have 2,001 regulations to talk about, debate and consider, instead of the 2,000 that we have now. The noble Earl, Lord Shannon, also said to us at the Committee stage that the Bill was too full of loopholes to be effective. If that be so, what have those people to fear who are at present indulging in this traffic? Nothing at all if the Bill is not going to be effective. But the bulk of the opposition has been rather from the other point of view: that it would kill this particular trade. All I would say is that the noble Earl cannot have it both ways. I believe that the Bill, if it becomes 350 law, will be effective; I believe it deserves to be effective, and I believe that it deserves to be passed by this House.
We have had ample evidence during the various stages of this Bill about the cruelty to which these animals are subjected, not in any sadistic way, but merely because of the bare fact that they have to travel these long distances; that they are sometimes conveyed in ships which are not seaworthy—and if anybody challenges me on that I would say that one of the ships went down with an enormous number of animals aboard—and that they are sometimes loaded into two-tier wagons to be carted either on this side of the water or on the other side of the water. They sometimes go for very long distances by road and rail: in the individual cases found by the Balfour Committee which investigated the matter some of them went as far as Bordeaux and others as far as Africa. There is ample evidence, too, even if we forget for a moment the particular examples which the noble Earl challenged, about inhumane methods of slaughtering that are practised in many cases—I will not say all—on the Continent. We have no control over these animals when once the buyer from the Continent has bought them from the Englishman who has bred them; so that the way they are loaded on the ship will frequently be at the dictates of the foreign buyer and not under the instruction and supervision of the very high-minded British breeders of the stock. As I said at an earlier stage, if we want to have this traffic with the Continent we should kill the animals here; for we now have a much-improved system of refrigerated vehicles with which to transport the carcases to the Continent.
We have been told that if we pass this Bill we shall be cutting off our noses to spite our faces and that there is a prospect of great and growing trade in the export of these kind of animals when we enter the E.E.C. We are told that the prices at which we should sell them would be tempting to foreign purchasers. That seems to indicate that we can breed our beef and mutton more cheaply than they can on the Continent—but that is quite another argument. If we look at another aspect of 'the economic case we find that at the moment we are exporting about £5 million worth of these 351 animals a year, and the total will go up if the trade is allowed to continue. On the other hand, we import about £250 million worth of meat from various countries in the world. Why cannot we keep that meat here, instead of sending it to the Continent, and thus reduce our imports from other countries accordingly, and at the same time give the British housewife a better quality of home-produced meat than the foreign, imported meat which she has to accept at the moment? The argument has been used time and time again that many of our slaughterhouses are at present underemployed. This would provide an opportunity to employ them fully and to enable our various chemical and other industries to get some of the by-products produced in slaughterhouses.
I believe that, not only on economic grounds but on humanitarian grounds as well, we ought to support this Bill. I was very much impressed during the Committee stage when the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, a former Minister of Agriculture, wholeheartedly gave it his support. Had he produced a case against the Bill, his argument would have merited very careful consideration. But he came out wholeheartedly in favour of it; and so do I. I hope that your Lordships will give this Bill a Third Reading.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
Before the noble Lords sits down, may I correct one figure in his speech? He valued the livestock export trade at £5 million. It is, in fact, £20 million.
§ LORD HIVES
My Lords, I should like more or less to follow the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, and everybody who spoke of the, need for the highest standard of management and humane consideration for animals on the farm, during transport and at slaughter. But this Bill provides nothing towards that. It merely seeks to stop the export of animals for slaughter. It will neither stop the cruelty abroad nor help us even to combat the cruelty we still have here. It is opting out of the problem. I say that we should stay in this trade and use our considerable influence continuously to improve the standards of both sides so that by getting together and learning 352 from one another we may eventually—I say "eventually"—have a whole-carcase trade. I say that our influence is considerable because although the total amount of the trade is not vast—it is about £20 million, as has just been said—it is very important because it is largely a seasonal trade. It fits in exactly with our surplus and their shortage. For a beast of right conformation the difference in price between selling it live and selling it dead is £5 a cwt. The price per cwt. can be as much as £20, or even more; because when the demand is on, the important factor is not the price but getting the live cattle. This shows how important is this trade. I say that we have every right to be listened to in our insistence on high standards of management and maintenance, on all agreements being kept and on a continuing search for improvement.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ BARONESS STOCKS
My Lords, it has been argued against this Bill that it is unenforceable. That must be true. It probably will be evaded in the kind of shoddy racket described by the noble Lord, Lord Somers. Of course it will. But the point is that the present Orders for the protection of animals are evaded all along the line. They are unenforceable. If you look at them and at the facilities there are for enforcing them, you will see that they are unenforceable. It would need an army, a multitude, of inspectors to get them properly enforced. It cannot be done and has not been done. If the Bill is unenforceable so, too, are our present regulations on which our standards of animal welfare rest in respect of this trade.
You might as well in the past have proposed regulating the slave trade by prescribing a certain number of square feet per slave between decks or by prescribing the kind of reception centre that African chiefs should maintain for the slaves that they rounded up for export. It could not be done. The only answer was to abolish slavery. That we did; and in so doing put at risk certain respectable Liverpool shipowners and almost ruined a number of very hard-working British West Indian sugar planters. But we abolished slavery. There was no good economic reason for it; we took a risk. In the same way we abolished the employment of small children in the 353 cotton factories, and we caused a number of good Christian cotton masters to feel that their profit margins were at risk and a number of wage earners to feel that they were being deprived of the necessary earnings of their small children. But we abolished it.
My Lords, in the case of this Bill we are not asking for anything like that. We are certainly asking the Government to do something humanitarian for the welfare of animals and for the satisfaction of our consciences, but also we are putting before them a good economic proposition, a measure that will open up new trade at home and diminish our dependence on importing processed food and processed meat which could probably be produced on this side. This could provide employment for people as in the case of the slaughterhouses and as in the case of the by-products of the slaughter houses. It is not only a humanitarian proposal, but it is a good economic proposition. When you can satisfy righteousness in terms of economics, then you are doing something that is very satisfying: you are doing something which Miss Octavia did when she produced a system of property management which enabled her to consider the human welfare of the tenants and produce at the same time 5 per cent. for the property owners. In fact, what you are doing in this case is to create a co-operation between the great God Mammon and St. Francis of Assisi, and if the two will work together, then you have really done something.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ LORD LOVAT
My Lords, I missed the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill. I should like to speak on this matter as an interested party, having bred and exported cattle all over the world since the war. Perhaps I am the only Member of your Lordships' House who has on more than one occasion travelled his own bulls to the Argentine—I have taken as many as twenty-eight to South America from the Scottish pedigree bull sales. I can assure your Lordships that on these occasions the cattle are a good deal more comfortable than the attendant who takes them there, so I feel that the British love of fair play to animals is superseding the realities of this situation. As the noble Lord, Lord Henley, said, we rely to a large extent on Irish store cattle. Are we going to 354 be dishonest enough to accept them as an alternative to becoming a race of vegetarians? In my opinion, this is quite an absurd Bill to introduce on the eve of entry into the Common Market.
Sentiment I know plays a large part in our handling of animals, and it is often misguided sentiment. Those of your Lordships who go to the fatstock shows, particularly in Smithfield, will remember an extraordinary situation about four years ago when the champion of Smithfield was a very bonny beast, a little Aberdeen Angus heifer without a hair out of place, and a furore arose in the Press suggesting that she was too pretty to be slaughtered. Of course an animal is only sent to the Smithfield Fatstock Show for slaughter. That heifer could never breed—her ovaries were too fat—and yet she was a pet that appealed to the British public. In refusing the export of cattle overseas we are really being too sentimental. It is a necessary procedure, and it has to be carried on in good animal husbandry, good farming and for the future of the cattle trade: it is as important as that to us.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ LORD WOOLLEY
My Lords. I apologise for the fact that I was unable to attend the Second Reading or the Committee stage on this Bill, but I have read the OFFICIAL REPORT with close interest. I congratulate the noble Lord. Lord Somers, on stirring up interest in this important matter. I think he has performed a service in so doing, because I think interest in this needs to be kept constantly on the boil. I do not think we can afford to let this go to sleep. On the other hand, I am quite convinced that if the noble Lord's Bill were passed into law it would defeat its own objective, as has already been said, and it would indeed do a good deal more harm than good. I say that with great respect and after a good deal of thought.
My Lords. I have an interest to declare, in that I have been a livestock farmer all my working life, and still am I am still out early every morning at 7.30 helping to feed the bullocks, come wind, rain or shine. I will not enter into competition with the noble Lord. Lord Lovat. He has taken hulls to the Argentine, but I have brought many thousands of cattle over from Ireland. At any rate, we both have some practical experience. We are 355 both against this Bill, and I do not think either of us would care to be regarded as being inhumane people. People who have spent a lifetime with livestock have a feeling for livestock: they would not be with livestock all their lives if they did not, because they would get sick and weary of them and would find a more profitable and easier job—and I can think of many.
The other interest I have to declare is that I am a member of the Council of the National Farmers' Union, and that organisation is strongly opposed to this legislation. I have known the people who compose the National Farmers' Union for long enough to know full well that they do not lightly take up a strong position on an issue of this kind unless they are satisfied that it is soundly based; and they would not, even though the economic arguments were against their advantage, argue the case on pure economics if they believed that there was a matter of moral principle involved. I assure your Lordships that no more would I knowingly do so. But having looked at this, I am much impressed by the point that the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, made at some length and very forcibly: that by opting out, by leaving the field—and that is what we are going to do; we are going to walk off because we do not approve of the way the game is being played—we are going to withdraw all potential influence to improve it, because we are out of the way; we are not concerned any more; we are not operating. So we can take our little sentiments and prejudices home and hug them to ourselves, so far as other people are concerned. That, I believe, is what is going to happen. I believe that, apart from reducing any degree of unnecessary suffering that there might be (and I personally do not know how great the suffering is; I know from personal experience that the handling of cattle in this country is done in a first-class way, because they are valuable properties, and people are not going to knock them about and devalue them), it would be just bad business.
I believe, my Lords, that the sum total of suffering would not be reduced one whit by this legislation, even if it were practical and feasible administratively. One could not make a great case of this, but I believe that the net result would 356 be to worsen, not to improve the position, and I am sure that that is far from the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and those who sincerely and genuinely support his Bill. I do not believe that it would have the effect that they intend. Therefore I oppose this legislation on humane grounds. The fact that the noble Lord has introduced this Bill—whether introducing it in this form was the best vehicle for achieving this end, I do not know—has stirred things up. The Balfour assurances may not be fully implemented. Nobody is contending that they are; but nobody is contending either that they do not exist and have no sort of significance at all, because the fact that the existence of the Balfour assurances has produced this debate in your Lordships' House is, I think, a matter of great significance in itself. But there will be no Balfour assurances; there will be nothing; the field will be empty if this legislation is passed.
I hear the noble Lord, Lord Royle, passing some comment on what I am saying, so I will now deal with something that he said; that is, as regards the subsidy. The noble Lord put forward an economic argument on this point, and I think perhaps the noble Baroness, Lady Stocks, was rather following on the same lines. It is easy to be deceived by that argument. First, as the noble Lord, Lord Royle, knows well, under the old order, when we were operating—and we still are, for the time being, apparently—under this system of guaranteed prices and deficiency payments, the extent of the deficiency payment, and therefore the make-up from the Exchequer, depended upon the level of market price compared with the level of the guaranteed price. Therefore there was the gap, and this had to be made up.
In so far as this addition to the trade helped to keep the market price higher, it reduced the requirement for deficiency payment and subsidy and so reduced the indent upon the taxpayer. Therefore this is an argument that just will not run. Also, I think it would be right to say that the majority of the stock involved has never received a subsidy at all, because most of them have been turnoff fat barren cows. Fat barren cows do not get any subsidy. A great deal of the remainder of the stock has been young stock that has never qualified for 357 subsidy. I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of this has never had any subsidy, so I would simply say that I do not regard this argument as having any real content in it.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord to forgive my interrupting him? Surely the fat sheep tegs in the market have received a subsidy by going through the market? Therefore the noble Lord's argument on that point does not really apply. But I agree with the argument about having the foreign buyers there to keep the price up towards the guarantee.
§ LORD WOOLLEY
My Lords, I take the point made by the noble Lord. I think perhaps he slightly misunderstood me. I said, "the vast majority" and not the whole, because I had in mind that there were the classes of fatstock to which he referred which had drawn a subsidy. I said, however, that it was not an argument that had any real content in it. I believe that to be so. if there is no basis for this legislation on humane grounds—and I am personally convinced and satisfied that there is none—then it is utterly wrong that an imposition should be made upon a section of the community and of the economy that is quite unjustified, because in so far as the farming community is now being exhorted to stand on its own feet and to look to the market for its returns (and this has been the constant cry of the Ministry of Agriculture) then it is utterly wrong that the legislators should at the same time quite unjustifiably hobble the industry in getting the best price it can from the market.
As has already been said by, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, this trade is a very small proportion of the total. Of course it is a very small proportion, but nevertheless it is a significant factor in maintaining the level of prices at glut periods, and the noble Lord, Lord Royle, will know as well as I do, or perhaps even better, just how significant a small change in supply and demand can be in stabilising the market. Therefore I suggest that it would be quite unworthy of your Lordships' House to allow noble sentiments to overrule sound consideration and honest assessment of the situation. Of course we are all attracted to the idea of being on the side 358 of the angels. We want to be on their side: this is natural, and nobody wants to appear to be callous or to feel that they are being callous. My contention is that we certainly will not be on the side of the angels if we support this legislation.
I am not arguing for the Common Market, because I am against entry. That is an aside, and I am not saying what will or will not happen. I do not go along with the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, in his panegyrics of yesterday, but what I do say is that, in or out of the Market, the sensible thing is to go forward and try to ensure that our good influence and our higher standards are brought to bear in this trade to improve the standards and at the same time to maintain a sensible, businesslike approach combined with humanity.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ LORD DONALDSON OF KINGSBRIDGE
My Lords, I think the noble Lord has put forward his arguments with just as much emotion and sentiment as did my noble friend Lady Stocks. I do not want to take very strong sides in this argument; but three arguments were used by the noble Lord, who is an old protagonist of mine in the farming world, which really we cannot allow to pass in this House. He began by saying that he and Lord Lovat are both very decent people and therefore anything they said on this subject should not be disputed. This was unbelievable.
§ LORD WOOLLEY
My Lords, may I just point out that I did not say that it should not be disputed; I merely hoped that it would not be.
LORD DONALDSON or KINGSBRIDGE
My Lords, I think the noble Lord actually could not understand how it could be disputed. Secondly, he said that this Bill was opposed by the one organisation which has a total interest in it; that is, the N.F.U. I have been a member of that admirable organisation for years, but to advance this argument in a serious place towards the end of the evening is something that I f el must be commented on. Thirdly, he said that one thing nobody could criticise was the handling of livestock in this country in transport. Well, my Lords, I can. I am sure the noble Lord has never been 359 to a market: he is concerned with the F.M.C. I suggest that he goes to a country market, sees the cattle being prodded and knocked about, sees what the cattle look like in the pen—I am ashamed every time I go, and I am frightened by it.
I think this is a very difficult matter. I do not know the answer. I have myself made money doing it, and have been uncomfortable about it. But there is one thing we can say with absolute certainty: there is no right whatever to extend known pain-giving activities; and we know that if you heat and prod animals out of lorries and into pens you give pain. Some of this trade is essential. I think it is reasonable to do this with valuable animals exported for breeding: I cannot see any other way of maintaining the general interest. But when it comes to exporting animals for fattening, that is an entirely different point. It requires justification which can only be made economically here. My own view is that if you quickly fatten the animals here and kill them you will have the same market for animals abroad as you have now for animals on the hoof. I could not let the noble Lord's arguments pass without comment.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT DAVIDSON
My Lords, I shall be brief because most of the arguments I was going to put to your Lordships have already been covered much more adequately than I could have covered them myself. I must first declare an interest: I am involved in farming, and in livestock farming of both pedigree and non-pedigree milk cows. From time to time we have exported some of our stock for showing and for breeding purposes. So far as I know, we have not exported any of our stock for any other purposes. No one in his right senses would or could tolerate cruelty to any living animal, and the farming industry of this country, in particular, is wholly opposed to any treatment which leads to suffering or injury. I would submit that the standard of management of livestock in this country is as high as anywhere in the world, and if production is any criterion of content, as I believe it is, this only serves to confirm that we can give a lead to other countries in this respect.
360 My main reason for opposing the Bill stems from this particular point. I believe that we can bring to bear an influence for good in the cause of animal welfare as a whole on an international basis. We are doing so anyway through being a party to the Balfour assurances. We can no doubt do a great deal more, but our influence in this field will not only be diminished but may count for little if this Bill is passed.
There are many other equally compelling arguments for opposing this Bill, which have been stated already. I do not want to touch too closely on the question of economics, for economics by themselves are not always the overriding considerations when the main problem is one of humanity. At the same time they cannot be ignored, particularly in view of what we must assume is our imminent entry into the Common Market. It seems strange, to say the least, that at a time when trade barriers are being pulled down we should be asked to approve trade legislation the effect of which will be, in practical terms, to lead to the erection of a trade barrier. I say "in practical terms", but in fact and in practice what will happen if this Bill becomes law (the noble Lord, Lord Henley, has already mentioned this, but I think it is worth repeating) is that the demand for meat on the hoof will continue and will probably expand in Europe. This will have to come from alternative sources of supply. It may well come from Northern Ireland; it is more than likely that it will come from this country via Northern Ireland. It will be a more painful, longer journey for the livestock involved, leading to worse hardship. On the journey the livestock would be outside the protection of the Balfour assurances.
There is one more practical point which in my experience would in any case make this Bill as it stands virtually unworkable: the difficulty of fixing a minimum value below which livestock may not be exported. This places on the Department a responsibility which I doubt whether they would be able to carry out. My noble friend Lord Denham explained these difficulties during the Committee stage, and I should like to support the argument that he put forward at that time. Values vary from day to day, from market to market, from one type of animal to another and from 361 age to age. It is extremely difficult to get a fair price below which they are not to be exported. For instance, the price of a great big fat cull cow for slaughter to-day may be higher than that of a pedigree in-calf heifer. One could quote many other examples to illustrate these practical difficulties. In short, while supporting and admiring the motives behind this Bill, I believe that it would in practice do more harm than good. With the greatest respect to my noble friend Lord Somers, I suggest that the practical effects of this Bill would be to penalise those who are innocent without imposing sanctions on those who might be guilty of an offence. It is for these reasons that I feel bound to oppose the Bill.
§ 5.42 p.m.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, the object of this Bill is to try to ensure that cattle in this country get the benefit of the high standards of humane slaughter which we have here. We try to do this through the Balfour assurances. It is pretty widely recognised by the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, that these are not very effective, and that there is fairly strong evidence that they are not being carried out properly. The objection to stopping this trade has been, first, that it would not apply to Ireland. If we have to govern our laws in this country by what happens in Ireland we shall be in considerable difficulty. Secondly, there is the difficulty in valuing these animals. Will there really be much difficulty in telling the difference between cattle intended for slaughter and those intended for breeding and exhibition? There may be marginal cases, but by and large I do not seriously think that that would cause much difficulty. This would not prevent the noble Lord, Lord Lovat, from exporting any of his pedigree cattle to the Argentine, or indeed anywhere else.
One of the objections which I think is a little unreal is that with regard to the European Economic Community. It is argued that if we trade enough in live cattle in Europe they will amend their methods of slaughter. I do not believe that for a minute. Many international organisations have been working in this field, but, frankly, the progress has not been very great. If we were to say that we would not send cattle to Europe then the European countries would realise that 362 we were serious; that we really meant what we said; that we did not think that the standards they maintained in their slaughterhouses were good enough. In any case it would take years to get that over. I am afraid that this will be a matter for the Council of Ministers and for the Commission. I do not think it will come up because of the extent of our trading. It is for that reason that this Bill will be, in my view, a valuable measure, and certainly as workable as a number of others that we pass through this House. If I may say this with respect to my noble friend Lord Shannon, this is not a question of emotion: to me, humane slaughter is a facet of civilisation, and that is why I support this Bill.
§ LORD BURTON
My Lords, l am sure you will be relieved to hear that practically everything I wanted to say has already been said. I should like to pose one question. The noble Lord, Lord Woolley, referred to opting out of the trade. I wonder whether, if there had not been any British animals in the Putte slaughterhouse, the alleged bad conditions there would have been ventilated.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ LORD WISE
My Lords, it is now utterly impossible to avoid being repetitious but I should like to support what the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, has said. I feel that this Bill does not go far enough, since it is obviously impossible for it to do anything at all to improve the conditions in the Continental slaughterhouses. That is the real crux of the problem. If we prohibit the export of live animals to the Continent we shall be in some measure burying our heads in the sand. The demand obviously will be satisfied from elsewhere, and all animals, from wherever they come, must obviously experience the same fear and pain. This Bill can do nothing to improve conditions in these Continental slaughterhouses, which obviously is what we all want to do; indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, said, it could well have the opposite effect.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ LORD DENHAM
My Lords, Her Majesty's Government recognises and shares the real concern for the welfare of animals that prompted my noble friend Lord Somers in introducing this Bill and carrying it through the various stages in this House. This debate has 363 shown that the whole House also shares this concern. Where your Lordships disagree is whether, from the point of view of the welfare of the animals, the Bill is either necessary or a good idea. The case for the Bill rests mainly on allegations of inhuman treatment of animals in foreign countries, particularly at slaughter, in breach of the Balfour assurances. Several of your Lordships have said, if not at this stage of the Bill then at other stages, that the Balfour assurances are worth little or nothing. While there have been many such allegations, and a few which your Lordships have specially mentioned, the evidence in general that animals exported from Great Britain have been cruelly treated is not strong. Your Lordships will recall that I invited details of specific complaints on this score. I did this on Second Reading and repeated it at Committee stage. The noble Baroness, Lady Stocks, said that she would overwhelm me with such examples from her postbags. I have not been so overwhelmed. Since then I have received no complaints from Members of your Lordships' House and only one letter on the subject. This did not mention any specific, individual complaints.
I repeat this invitation to your Lordships: if any noble Lord has and can give me any specific instances, with chapter and verse, where they know that the Balfour assurances have been broken, I personally will see to it that they are fully studied by the Ministry of Agriculture and, if necessary, representations will be made to the countries concerned. But if noble Lords cannot produce these specific instances I hope that they will be careful to moderate their accusations suggesting a breach of agreement—almost a breach of faith—against friendly countries. In the past two years there has been only one specific complaint brought to the Ministry of Agriculture. My noble friend Lord Somers said how odd it was that on the one or two occasions when people had taken the trouble to go and look they had found abuses. I do not know what the second occasion is—it has never been brought to my notice or the notice of the Ministry of Agriculture. So far as I know in the past two years there has been only this one instance.
364 Your Lordships have heard a lot about the Putte slaughterhouse in the debate this afternoon. The matter was investigated with the full co-operation of the Belgian authorities. As a result, this slaughterhouse was removed from the list of those which can deal with our animals, as its distance from the port is greater than that allowed under the Balfour assurances. The need for this action on the part of the Belgian Government has been used to illustrate the inadequacy of the Balfour assurances, but of course it is also an example that the assurances can be made to work and that they are taken seriously by Governments. The Statement on the Putte incident made in another place by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture also emphasised that Belgian law concerning slaughter is no less stringent than ours and that humane slaughter is provided for in a similar way to our own regulations by requiring stunning electrically or by captive bolt pistol or anaesthetising before slaughter.
We all know that there will be lapses under any system of safeguards. Certainly it is no part of the Government policy to condone them. However, I submit that such abuses as have been reported cannot be taken as reflecting a general disregard of their obligations by countries which have given the Balfour assurances. Arguments have been advanced that it would be to our wider advantage, as well as in the interests of animal welfare, to replace the trade in live animals by one in carcase meat. While the Government would like to see the carcase trade increase and the live trade decrease, they would be reluctant to compel the trade to change in this way. At a time when we are seeking to encourage expansion in production it might be unwise to close an existing trade outlet that could be important to us in the future at times of temporary over-supply of our markets. Furthermore, we should have to expect a loss of trade.
If animal welfare standards generally are to be raised—and this I say particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Leather-land, if he has not already been convinced by the extremely able speech of the noble Lord, Lord Woolley—the best prospect lies in working towards international agreements. We need to be in a 365 position to influence these matters, and a restriction on export of live animals would eliminate a pressure for improved conditions which we already bring to bear through the Balfour assurances. Commendable progress on animal welfare has already been made in the international field by the Council of Europe, and we played our full part. It is by such action that we shall exert an influence to improve animal welfare generally.
I have informed your Lordships that in the Government's view the Bill gives rise to serious practical difficulties. It requires Ministers to prescribe minimum values for cattle, sheep, pigs and goats at levels that would reinforce the prohibition of the export of animals for slaughter or further rearing but would not restrict the export of animals for breeding or exhibition. The noble Lord, Lord Henley, has reminded your Lordships that it would be extremely difficult to set such minimum values, since often there is only a narrow margin, or even an overlap, between the value of animals for slaughter on the Continent and the value of commercial breeding animals in this country. There are further complications. It would be necessary to have minimum values for different breeds and ages of cattle, sheep, goats and swine, and to keep all these values under constant review to take account of changes in the market. My noble friend Lord Selkirk said, "Surely you can tell by looking at it, the difference between an animal that is intended for breeding and an animal intended for slaughter". That may well be, and I am certain that the noble Earl would be able to do that, but how is he going to arrange for the constant review of prices at all stages of the market, all ages of animals, all breeds of animals?
There are serious practical difficulties in the operation of this Bill and I trust your Lordships will not persist in supporting it. The present arrangements for the exporting of animals already provide substantial welfare safeguards and the Government believe that effective domestic transport regulations and internationally agreed arrangements are much more satisfactory. For these reasons, my Lords, the Government would still be reluctant to see the Bill proceed.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, I should like to start by thanking all those noble Lords who have spoken in support of the Bill; and before I go any further I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, that I should most certainly not think of introducing any Bill that was going to bring hardship upon farmers, for whom I have the greatest respect and whose trade I should not like to see suffer in the slightest. I think, however, that that could be overcome. I am not enough of an economist—or a politician, for that matter—to be able to say how; but I think it could be overcome, none the less. I hope that the House will not pay too much attention to the rather violent and. if I may say so without offence. I felt rather insulting speech of the noble Earl, Lord Shannon. He obviously has very strong feelings on this subject and is determined to see this Bill thrown out. But I cannot say that he has produced any evidence, again to-day, that he did not produce before—and that I feel was absolutely, completely false. I hesitate in saving that because, naturally, no noble Lord would give false evidence knowingly, but I am afraid that the noble Earl has been seriously misinformed.
§ THE EARL OF SHANNON
My Lords, as I am under attack. I wonder whether the noble Lord will accept from me that he has not spoken to Mr. Michael Burrows—has he? Has he spoken to Mr. Chubb? He is saying, on the basis of a telephone call with a Mr. Brown, that Mr. Brown understood that Mr. Burrows was the owner. Mr. Burrows has assured me that he is not. Now who has been misinformed?
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, Mr. Brown is the Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and he does not make unguarded statements. I can go only as far as that. I must leave it to your Lordships to choose which statement you would rather believe.
As to the statement by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, about cattle on the hoof from Ireland, there is nothing in the Bill whatsoever to prevent that. There is nothing to prevent them from coming in. It is only going out—
My Lords, the noble Lord perhaps misunderstands what I mean. What I mean is that the store trade in cattle from Ireland would dry up, because there would be other fields for its outlet.
§ LORD SOMERS
Well, that may be, my Lords. And of course I accept the argument, too, that it is quite possible that the Continental buyers will not be willing to accept a carcase trade in place of live cattle. But when one considers the fact that we spend £1¼ million per day on meat and meat preparation imports, surely we could eat our own meat and save quite a considerable amount of that money. We could not provide the whole of it of course; but we certainly should not be at a financial loss.
Several noble Lords have dismissed this Bill as being merely sentimental and parochial. The noble Earl, Lord Shannon, used the latter term, and criticised the fact that it was doing nothing about conditions in the Continental slaughterhouses. My Lords, how can it? We have no power to legislate for foreign countries; no power whatsoever. All we can do is to prevent our own cattle from suffering from the conditions which undoubtedly obtain there. As to the argument that the Bill is based on sentiment, which was also used by the noble Lord, Lord Lovat, my Lords, I have not
§ worked for animal welfare for a good many years now without having come across that argument a good many times. It is a very, very old joke indeed and it does not bear any weight whatsoever. I am not looking at it from a point of view of sentiment, unless of course noble Lords who use that term regard it as sentimental to object to causing suffering to defenceless creatures. In that case, I suppose I am sentimental, because I do object to their suffering.
§ Your Lordships gave this Bill an unopposed Second Reading. Nothing has changed in the Bill since then. It is quite possible that if and when the Bill gets to another pace it will be amended, and I am quite aware of the fact that it may even be thrown out; but a gesture will have been made by your Lordships to show not only the other place but the country at large that we do care about these subjects and that we do not regard them as being just sentimental. They are more than that; they are based on moral principles. Therefore, my Lords, I hope that should it become necessary you will support me in the Lobby.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the Bill shall be now read 3a?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 29; Not-Contents, 61.369
|Airedale, L.||Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Arwyn, L.||Fulton, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Garnsworthy, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Bowden, L.||Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Brockway, L.||Leatherland, L. [Teller]||Somers, L. [Teller.]|
|Chalfont, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs.||Stocks, Bs.|
|Chorley, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Mais, L.||White, Bs.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Phillips, Bs.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Delacourt-Smith, L.||Platt, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Davidson, V.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)|
|Abinger, L.||Denham, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Derwent, L.||Henley, L. [Teller.]|
|Auckland, L.||Drumalbyn, L.||Hives, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Ebbisham, L.||Kinnoull, E.|
|Brecon, L.||Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Lothian, M.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Lovat, L.|
|Burton, L.||Exeter, M.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Falkland, V.||Lytton, E.|
|Collison, L.||Ferrers, E.||Mar and Kellie, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Gowrie, E.||Margadale, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Greenway, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Craigavon, V.||Grenfell, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Mowbray and Stourton, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Northchurch, Bs.||St. Just, L.||Thomas, L.|
|Nunburnholme, L.||Saint Oswald, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Ogmore, L.||Segal, L.||Wakefield of Kendal, L|
|Orr-Ewing, L.||Sempill, Ly.||Wise, L.|
|Rankeillour, L.||Shannon, E. [Teller.]||Woolley, L.|
|Rowallan, L.||Strang, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.