HL Deb 21 March 1972 vol 329 cc634-68

4.50 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. In doing so may I say that I have no vested interest to declare other than perhaps that I am following the tradition of a very distant ancestor: Noah. In moving the Second Reading of the Bill I do not think I can do better than by quoting from the prospectus inviting certain people to start the Zoological Society of London in 1825: Rome at the period of her greatest splendour, brought savage monsters from every quarter of the world then known, to be shown in their amphitheatres, to destroy or be destroyed as spectacles of wonder to her citizens. It would well become Britain to offer a very different series of exhibitions to the population of her metropolis, animals brought from every part of the world … as objects of scientific research not of vulgar admiration, pointing out the comparative anatomy, the habits of life and methods of multiplying races of animals. That is a rather significant statement, my Lords. The most famous of all zoos then was founded 150 years ago not just to satisfy the idle curiosity of its visitors but to educate them and to encourage scientists to learn more about the animals in the society's menagerie. Most people think that to capture animals in the wild and subject them to the strains involved in that, and in transport to some collection in a far away country, can be justified only if such results are obtained, and that merely to exhibit them as spectacles of wonder is not enough.

The London Zoo was followed by other zoos founded by scientific societies; in Bristol in 1836, in Edinburgh in 1860, and then by a few started by public companies and private individuals as commercial enterprises for private gain. The number increased very slowly. By 1914 there were six; by 1945 there were 14; but since the war the number has increased enormously. Exhibitions of wild animals have become big money and by 1971 there were about a hundred zoos; 20 of them run by non-profit-making bodies, like societies and municipalities, and some 90 commercial ventures.

In some of these zoos the administration is admirable, the animals well cared for and the objectives similar to those which inspired the founders of the London Zoo. In some, however, the conditions are deplorable; the animals are neglected, in many cases not perhaps from deliberate callousness but from lack of the necessary knowledge. In some zoos the animals are looked upon as being expendable, bought at the beginning of the summer, housed in buildings in which they could not survive the winter when the zoo closes, or partially closes. The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare inspected 72 zoos in 1970–71. They classified 13 as poor to bad; 33 as fair to good and only 26 as very good. A special investigation by the Sunday Times reported a sloth bear in an undrained enclosure, a gibbon in a cage too small for it, a lion cage facing on to a deer enclosure, so that both species were constantly under stress, goats in a paddock littered with broken glass and cages full of rotting food.

This proliferation of zoos is not only a British phenomenon. It is world-wide, and has resulted in increasing pressure on the populations of wild animals. All over the world animals have been captured in increasing numbers for the pet trade and for zoos. In some cases—for example, the great apes—this has brought some species to the verge of extinction. To capture a young gorilla or orangutan the mother must be killed. About three out of four young apes so captured die before they reach the zoo or research institute which is their final destination. Thus four mothers and three young apes will die so that one can be sold. The more reputable zoos realise this and increasingly are keeping their animals in viable breeding groups and trying to build up strains of exotic animals who will breed readily in captivity and reduce the pressure on wild populations.

A good zoo will pride itself on the fact that most of its animals have lived long in that zoo, breeding regularly. Only the more disreputable ones will buy a succession of animals for exhibition only. Unfortunately there are a good many which do. About eight years ago a group of the more reputable zoos, realising that a bad zoo in which the animals were obviously neglected could bring all zoos into disrepute, founded a Federation, admission to which was obtained only after a team of inspectors had been satis- fied that an applicant zoo reached the necessary high standards—standards very similar to those set out in Clause 5(2) of the Bill now before your Lordships. The Federation was neither a trade protection society nor a closed shop. It was founded not to further the interests of its members against rival zoos or Government interference, but to raise the standards of all zoos for the benefit of the animals in their care. Membership is of course voluntary, and the only benefit it brings is the cachet of having passed the test. About one-third of all British zoos belong to the Federation. A few have tried but have failed. The remainder, some of which are well run, have remained outside and there is no control over the standards of these two second groups.

As I have said, my Lords, there are too many bad zoos, and there is too much unnecessary animal suffering. I regret to say that the industry as a whole has failed to put its own house in order, so it should be, and must be, done by legislation. Experience among zoos has shown that it is not possible to define physical standards in the way of the size of the cage, ventilation, temperature, humidity, rations and so on, which will inevitably result in satisfactory conditions for various species of animals. The only method by which such conditions can be ensured for exotic animals in zoos, as with domestic animals on farms, is inspection. A good stockman will rear healthy stock in difficult conditions; a poor one, as your Lordships will undoubtedly know, will fail with all the physical conditions in his favour, and inspection by an experienced stock owner will tell him whether the stockman is good or bad.

The principle on which this Bill is based, therefore, is that only zoos which are found on inspection to reach the appropriate standards will be allowed to make a charge for admission, though provision is made for a period of apprenticeship. A Zoological Gardens Council is to be set up under Clause 1 and is to establish two registers: The register of Approved Zoological Gardens and a probationary register. Under Clause 3, every zoo which is in existence on the appointed day will be entitled to be placed on the probationary register for three years, before the end of which time it will have to satisfy the Council, after inspection under Clause 5, that it has attained the standards necessary to qualify it for entry on the "Approved" register. In my view, three years should be long enough for any zoo which is capable of reaching the required standards to do so. In the same way, any new zoo started in the future will on application (assuming, of course, that the Bill is passed) be put on the probationary register for one year and will have to qualify for recognition on the "Approved" register before that year has elapsed. Once the Bill is in operation proprietors of new zoos will know the standards on which the Council insists, and should quickly qualify for admission to the register of Approved Zoos.

Clause 7 obliges the Council to inspect all zoos on the register of Approved Zoological Gardens at intervals of not more than five years, to make certain that satisfactory standards are being maintained. A zoo which has allowed its standards to fall will be put on the probationary register for one year, which should give ample time to raise standards once again to those which would enable it to become an approved zoo after re-inspection. Clause 9 provides for appeal to the courts by the proprietor of any zoo against a decision of the Council; and Clause 8 gives the owner the right to demand another inspection either before or after an appeal to the courts. Clause 10 provides that people who have been disqualified under other Acts from keeping animals for offences against them should similarly be disqualified from keeping them in zoos. The remaining clauses are concerned with various administrative matters, definitions and the like.

My Lords, the constitution of the Council is set out in the Schedule and follows precedents set by other similar registering bodies. It provides for four members nominated by the Minister, four by the appropriate professional institution—in this case, the Federation of Zoological Gardens; two by veterinary surgeons, and one by a society concerned with the conservation of animals in the wild. The membership of the Federation is to be restricted under the Schedule to zoos which are on the register of Approved Zoological Gardens, and every zoo will be entitled as of right to membership of the Federation. Once this Bill is passed, therefore, the Federation will be an electoral college of all approved zoos, which need meet only once in three years to nominate the four members to represent approved zoos on the statutory Zoological Gardens Council. Like many another voluntary body, its pioneering work of raising zoo standards will have been taken over by a statutory one.

I have had an opportunity of hearing and considering certain suggestions that have been made and which probably we shall have to consider, some of which suggestions have been incorporated in this particular Bill. As your Lordships will remember, I asked for leave to introduce a Bill—the original Bill—and was given that leave; but since then some of these proposals made by various organisations and people concerned have been incorporated into this, the No. 2 Bill. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Janner.)

5.5 p.m.


My Lords, it is with some trepidation that I rise to add a few words to your Lordships on this Bill. I am well aware of your Lordships' kindness to those speaking for the first time in your Lordships' House. First, I must declare my interest, in that I have the honour of being on the Council of the North of England Zoo at Chester, which is one of the largest, most modern and successful in the country. I am no scientist or zoologist, but just one of the "locals" and extremely interested in the future of our zoo. We are a charitable trust. We have over a million visitors a year and we make a respectable profit, which is of course ploughed back.

I would say straightaway that I think this is a very good Bill, one which one might say has been produced just in time, when there is such a proliferation of small commercial zoos, quite unsupervised in some cases, springing up all over the country, and even dying down again. I and my Council agree with all the points in this Bill, with one reservation concerning a matter which I hope may be amended at a later date. We are a scientific, educational provincial zoo and have done much remarkable work in the breeding and preservation of many rare species, such as the chimpanzee and orang-outang which breed regularly with us. I am rather worried that the Zoo Federation, who would have the right to nominate four representatives to the Council of Zoos, may, through some mischance, find that the large, scientific and educational zoos are not adequately represented on the Council: in fact, they would be overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. I feel that this could be disastrous, to say nothing of discouraging.

We did in fact belong to the Federation of Zoos, although we are not now members, and we had their inspectors round to Chester Zoo. There was one criticism: that there were cobwebs in the Elephant House. Would it be possible for the noble Lord, Lord Janner, to consider this point: that all types of zoos should be represented on the Council, the large, non-profit-making scientific ones, the small ones, most probably commercial, the bird farms and the safari parks? I will not go into detail at this point. My Lords, many years ago my tutor at school wrote on one of my essays: "Too much padding, Tollemache." That is an admonition I should not like to have repeated to-day; but I would once again thank your Lordships for your courteous reception of my remarks.

5.8 p.m.


My Lords, the question of the control of zoological gardens was first raised in your Lordships' House some two years ago by the late Lord Mansfield. He urged the Government of the day to set up a Committee to investigate the conditions existing in many collections of exotic animals and to report on what legislation was necessary to ensure the proper standards of general and veterinary care, and also to advise whether some form of licensing of zoos was required. He was unsuccessful in his representations. We should therefore be all the more grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Janner, who has not allowed the matter to rest but seeks in this Bill to introduce a system of licensing and inspection of zoological gardens, zoological parks and any collection of animals to which the public are admitted on payment.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Tollemache —whom I should like to congratulate on his maiden speech—I, too, find this a wholly admirable Bill. I hope that Lord Janner's proposals will find support and that the system of control they represent will result not only in an improvement in standards of animal husbandry in the zoos in this country—the number of which, as has been pointed out, is multiplying very fast—but also in a better understanding of the responsibilities and the role of zoos in the public and the zoological scene. In introducing the Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Janner, referred to the foundation of the Zoological Society of London in 1825. He referred to words of Sir Humphry Davy, then President of the Royal Society, on why a zoo should be formed in London. In discussing this subject it is difficult to avoid reference to the work of the Zoological Society. As the present honorary secretary of the Society, which is an educational charity and with which I have been connected for over forty years, I speak with an intimate knowledge of its affairs, its aims and responsibilities.

My Lords, in declaring my interest may I say that—as the Oxford Dictionary reveals—the word "zoo" was coined as a popular abbreviation by which to refer to the Zoological Gardens in Regents Park. To-day, however, the word is used to denote any collection of captive animals regardless of the purpose for which the collection is maintained, or of its standards, its character or its size. In some ways it is unfortunate that this one word can be used to describe so many types of collections, from small, temporary, badly-housed collections—often better described as "roadside menageries"—to valuable and representative collections which over many years have played an important part in the advancement of our knowledge of the animal kingdom and of animal physiology.

Under the licensing system proposed in this Bill an inspecting team will pay attention to the minimum requirements, as set out in Clause 5, and to which the noble Lord, Lord Janner, has drawn our attention, which the public are entitled to expect of every zoo. These refer first to standards of animal husbandry and veterinary care. These are basic to good management. But I should like to see this clause considerably strengthened by the inclusion of a requirement that the inspectors should report on the adequacy of the health records, birth records and post-mortem records kept by each zoo. It is impossible to assess standards of veterinary care and animal welfare without such documentation. Veterinary officers are trained to deal mainly with domesticated animals, and only those who have specialised, as fortunately some have, in exotic animals, would have the necessary experience to deal with exotic animals. Records of births, deaths and longevity in captivity could reveal more than an inspection lasting only a relatively short time. Such records are vital as a basis of a considered judgment.

The training of staff is another aspect which, to date, has been sadly neglected. At the present moment there are widely varying standards of keeper education and training, or no standards at all. This is an important matter. The staff of a zoo—and by that I mean professional staff as well as keepers—have to know that they are concerned with the well-being not only of their animal charges but also of the public who go to see them. Accidents have been all too frequent, and few people realise that some animals can transmit some highly dangerous diseases to man, unless special precautions are taken.

The inspectors will also be expected to assess the arrangements made in each establishment to further the education of the visitors. Zoos may generally be regarded as "an educational tool in a recreational setting", but they should never be allowed to exist only to cater for the amusement of the public. This provision in the Bill recognises that the day has long since passed when it was legitimate to exhibit animals solely as a means of entertainment. Part of the profits that zoos make should therefore be allocated for educational purposes. I very much welcome the emphasis which the Bill puts on this issue. Only a very few zoos, and mainly the larger zoos which have existed for many years, take education at all seriously.

The final requirement in Clause 5—that animals should, so far as is possible, be kept in viable breeding groups—is a reflection of the growing public concern with the problem of the conservation of wildlife. Properly managed zoos with sound breeding programmes help the cause of wildlife conservation, but breeding success depends on scientific animal husbandry. A zoo which is unwilling to set aside resources to allow for the right standards of animal husbandry should not be allowed to exist.

The Zoological Society of London, with its collections at the London Zoo and Whipsnade Park, has always accepted far greater responsibilities than those set out in the Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord Janner, has reminded us the Society was founded by Royal Charter as a scientific society. This remains its prime purpose. For the 150 years of its existence it has systematically studied animal diseases and animal physiology, and to this end has continuously carried out research on the material which the day-to-day care of a collection of exotic animals naturally provides. These systematic studies are essential in establishing the highest standards of care for any captive animals. As the noble Lord, Lord Janner, implied, in the same way as sound farming practice is dependent on the work of the research organisations which inquire into the physiology of livestock, so too is the maintenance of exotic species in captivity necessarily dependent on the kind of research which can be undertaken in those zoos which are prepared to set aside the necessary resources.

But the research which the Zoological Society of London has undertaken has gone far beyond this. Ever since its foundation 150 years ago a significant part of our knowledge of comparative anatomy, comparative pathology and animal physiology has been based on work undertaken by the staff of the London Zoo and by visiting scientists. The work at two of our research institutes, the ownership of one of the best zoological libraries in the world, the publication of important scientific journals and bibliographies—of which our most recent additon, the International Zoo Year Book, has become over the past 10 years the standard work on zoos for the whole world—are an essential part of the activities of the society.

The Society is one of the few institutions in the world, and certainly the only zoo in this country, which has accepted these responsibilities as an essential justification for keeping wild animals in captivity. The Bill does not seek to impose corresponding responsibilities on all zoos. One would not expect every zoo to shoulder the burden and cost of the clinical and physiological research, and of publishing, which the Zoological Society of London undertakes. The Bill merely seeks to ensure that the principles of good zoo management are achieved in every zoo. It is unfortunate that the majority of zoos are totally unconcerned with research. Much valuable material is now simply thrown away by zoos. This is a point which should not be lost sight of. I would suggest that at some point we should consider whether it should not be mandatory for those zoos which do not undertake scientific research to cooperate with zoos which do.

In my view the provisions of this Bill will have an important effect in generating a sense of responsibility, as well as of raising the standards of every zoo. Unless we can ensure high standards of animal care, and be certain that zoos are not concerned merely with public entertainment, it seems to me that the public will soon believe that there is little justification for keeping animals in captivity.

A heavy responsibility will rest with the Council as constituted in Part 1 of the Schedule. It will need to be sufficiently clear in its purpose to ensure that standards are consistently maintained. Some further thought may be necessary on the question of its constitution, as the noble Lord, Lord Tollemache, indicated. I find it somewhat illogical that although the education of the visiting public is laid down as one of the criteria by which to assess the quality of zoos, no firm provision is being made in the present Bill to include among the members of the Council a single professional zoologist. Only those zoologists who care know about the ways in which zoos can be of value to zoology. There is every reason why they should be represented on the Council.

My Lords, I have mentioned the unique role of the Zoological Society of London in the world of zoos. It is our national society, it is responsible to the public for the custody of our national collections of exotic animals, and it has led the way—and I am proud to say this—not only in Great Britain but in the entire world, in scientific research into non-domesticated species of animals, and in setting high standards of zoo management. Over the years its work and experience in the clinical and pathological aspects of animal husbandry and animal breeding have helped all zoos. I hope that its voice will be heard in the deliberations of the proposed Council.

In the long term it is in the interests of all zoos to submit to inspection and to achieve the minimum standards proposed in the Bill. As I have indicated, the confidence of the informed public needs to be built up so that they know that zoos are prepared to commit their resources to the improvement of the conditions in which they maintain their charges, and to purposes which would enable them to play their part in the educational field and in the urgent problem of the conservation of wildlife.

5.20 p.m.


My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Janner, on bringing forward this Bill and the noble Lord, Lord Tollemache, on an excellent maiden speech. I can assure your Lordships that this Bill has the support of the Council for Nature, which as your Lordships will know, represents twelve national voluntary natural history and conservation societies, and over 350 similar local societies—that is to say the Council embodies some 170,000 experts and keen naturalists. The Bill has a strong conservation aspect, as well as a humanitarian one, and it is on the conservation aspect that I want particularly to speak.

The noble Lord, Lord Janner, referred to some animals being found to be expendable. I am advised that certain roadside zoos are reputed to destroy the animals at the end of the season because it is cheaper to buy new ones next season than to feed those all through the winter. When one realises that for every animal in the zoo perhaps four to six are captured and die, we must indeed welcome the reference in Clause 5 to the viable breeding groups, if this Bill becomes law. The ideal to aim at—and this Bill helps in it—is that the zoos of the world should stock themselves, so far as possible, from animals which they have bred themselves. This is possible through interchange, through swapping; and this is being done in quite a big way. I should like to give your Lordships one example of an endangered species: the white-eared pheasant. Some years ago I was in the Jersey Zoo and they were breeding from a pair of white-eared pheasants. They had a few chicks, and the fellow showing me round said, "That is half the world's population." To-day there are 35 white-eared pheasants, separated in six different zoos in six different countries; and they represent 75 per cent. of the world population. We have there an endangered species saved, and an opportunity that would not otherwise exist for children and future generations to see the white-eared pheasant.

Another, somewhat similar, example is to be found in India. I am told that there are about 200 Indian lions left in the world; there are no Indian lions outside India. The Fauna Preservation Society have purchased a breeding pair. With the help of Air India they have paid for a man to go to India to make a cage for the lions. It is not easy; there are not many people who can make a cage for lions. Air India are paying the fares back, and there in Jersey, for the first time outside India, we shall have a breeding pair, and perhaps future generations will be able to see the Indian lion which would otherwise disappear. Your Lordships will be interested to know (I know that Lord Zuckerman is aware of this), that there is to be in May, at the Jersey Zoo, run by the Wildlife Preservation Trust and the Fauna Preservation Society, the first ever conference of zoologists from all over the world on breeding in zoos of threatened species. This is a step in the right direction. This Bill is in tune with the times.

To turn to the Bill itself, I agree with Lord Zuckerman in expressing, not doubt but a few feelings about Clause 5. The success of this Bill will lie in whether the Council have teeth to bite if that proves to be necessary; whether they have powers, and perhaps duties, given to them. I am not sure that I am right about duties, but perhaps there should be laid down duties about hygiene, avoidance of cruelty, public safety, not only for the public visiting the zoo but also, as Lord Zuckerman will know, to combat the danger of rabies when animals escape from a zoo, and certainly for the conservation of species. I am doubtful about duties, but I am certain of one power that should be included in this clause, and that is a power to the Council to add, if necessary, to the qualifications that are set out in paragraphs (a) to (e). They ought to have power to find something else that has to be done and laid down. I am not sure whether paragraph 7, in Part II of the Schedule, makes that sufficiently clear.

I have some very minor queries. For instance, in Clause 9 there is the reference to a right of appeal to the magistrates' court. I am not sure whether my English friends would like the idea of an appeal to the magistrates' court, but I am quite certain that my Scottish friends would prefer that well-tried institution, the sheriff court. Then Clauses 11 and 12 I deal with the charging of admission money. This is important because the Council, quite rightly, will get a percentage of those charges. Now that there is no entertainment tax, and since not every zoo has a turnstile or automatic ticket machine, it might be useful to consider giving the Council power to approve the method of charging, so that the Council could be quite sure they were getting their fair share of the money that came in.

Reference has been made to the constitution of the Council. I have taken part in enough proceedings on different Bills to know that this is going to be a very difficult point to settle. I have only one point to make. There are to be four members nominated by the Minister and four by the industry, and there are two veterinary surgeons and a member of the F.P.S. Would it be sensible that the outside members, the two veterinary surgeons and the member of the F.P.S. should have to be approved by the Minister, in order to be quite certain there was freedom from any vested interests? That is all I have to say, my Lords. I support the Bill very much, and I again thank the noble Lord, Lord Janner, for bringing it in.

5.27 p.m.


My Lords, I too should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Janner on his Bill, which has the additional merit that it has brought the noble Lord, Lord Tollemache, to his feet for the first time in this House. It is particularly easy for me to congratulate him on his maiden speech, because I agree with everything that he said. I hope that we shall hear him often, and I hope that I shall as often be able to agree with him.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, I must begin by declaring an interest, not alas!—any more than in his case—a commercial interest. I wish that I had a commercial stake in this growing industry, in which the public, year by year, take a greater interest. It is simply as an independent chairman that I come into the picture. I am, and am happy to be, the Chairman of the Federation of Zoos, which is referred to in the Schedule to the Bill, and about which therefore it seemed to me I should give your Lordships some account. My noble friend Lord Janner explained the genesis of this body. The difficulty it encountered from the very beginning was the deep suspicion of the commercial zoos that the older-established society zoos, such as London, Bristol, Chester and Edinburgh, disapproved of them—as indeed, to some extent, I think they did—and would put obstacles in the way of their development. I feel that this suspicion was mainly unfounded, but whether correct or not, it was there; and it made the task of the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, who was the first Chairman of this organisation, in getting the original Federation together extremely difficult. Eventually he hammered out a constitution which was acceptable to the original 11 subscribers, and the Federation was duly formed. Its membership grew to 25 in 1967, and at present it is 35. I should like to repeat some figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Janner. In 1960 there were about 30 zoos in the whole of England; in 1967 there were 72, and we reckon to-day that there are at least 96. That gives some idea of the meteoric rise of this particular industry in this country.

As has been suggested by my noble friend, the idea in forming a Federation was to persuade the members to insist on high standards of animal husbandry and public safety, and to enforce these on themselves voluntarily by a system of regular inspections based on mutually agreed standards. One would have thought this a reasonable scheme, but it was not reasonable enough for the zoo industry. Zoo-keepers tend to be rugged individualists, to be touchy of any criticism, to regard their own practices as good and their colleagues' practices as very largely bad—in fact, to behave as we have always been led to believe that artists behave. Toscanini, for example, never in his life heard Sir Thomas Beecham conduct, though they were exact contemporaries, and Sir Thomas Beecham referred to Toscanini as "that bandmaster". I think we must admit that the atmosphere in the zoo world has been highly artistic. But in a sense these people are artists: they are artists at handling animals, which they have to be to do their job; and they are artists at exhibiting them. In many zoos, the gardens are as fine a sight as the collections themselves. I only wish, as independent chairman, that I were as much an artist at handling them as they are in handling their animals. The technique seems to be much the same, but I have still a lot to learn.

The upshot was that while no safari parks joined the Federation, nearly every large zoo in the country at that time did and so did a fair number of smaller zoos. Thus, the Federation has something over a third of all zoos as members, but a much higher proportion of the business taken on the turnover if you exclude the safari parks. It went on with its business of inspecting and drawing up standards, and by the time it fell into my hands, if I may so put it, it was ticking over fairly nicely. But at least half the industry was outside. Therefore, I began at once to see whether we could not accommodate the dissentients. I tried to woo back into the fold Chester, which is a splendid zoo but had left us some years previously for reasons which have never been clear to me, and I think I made some progress. I tried to persuade some of the safari parks that they ought to come in. Again I made some progress, though I did not succeed in bringing any of this to finality.

Then came the First Reading of the Bill, which concentrated most wonderfully the minds of the outsiders. They immediately formed an Association which now includes most zoos and safari parks which are not our members, and indeed one or two who are. Their original aim, I think, was to oppose the Bill; but the atmosphere changed and, to my great pleasure, I was able to arrange a meeting with their new chairman, Mr. Robinson, to discuss whether we could not work together. I found what I had expected, that there was no particular objection to the Bill as such but the strongest objection to the position held by the Federation under the Schedule by which it was to nominate four zoo members to the Council. I said I was ready to examine any proposal by which we could include this newly-formed Association in the voting, but I was sure that the sponsors of the Bill would not accept for a vote anybody who had not accepted and passed inspection. Mr. Robinson then told me, to my surprise and pleasure, that his Association had decided to adopt a system of inspection. Then I said, "There is no obstacle to our working together". I am happy to say that we are now in the process of setting up a joint working party to examine how we can combine our talents, and I hope that by the Committee stage I shall be able to present your Lordships with the general approval of a united industry. I have undertaken to the new Association with which we are negotiating that if an agreement, which I am confident we can come to, takes a form which does not exactly fit the words in Part I of the Schedule, then I will move an Amendment in Committee. I hope my noble friend Lord Danner will be able to say, in his closing speech, that in principle he will be willing to accept such an Amendment.

This happy outcome which is so nearly achieved means, in effect, that virtually the whole industry will welcome the Bill and will confine its comments to trying to improve rather than oppose it. The members of the Federation, together with the members of the new Association and with the additional support of Chester Zoo, which we shall be glad to hear about to-day, represent between them in terms of annual attendances—and these figures are estimates—something like 19 million out of an estimated 20 million of the total people who go to zoos in this country. Therefore, very largely the industry as a whole is represented. There are something over 20 zoos not in either association. Most of them are small, some of them specialised, and many of them I think will come in without any particular difficulty.

If I may just finish the story of the Federation, as my noble friend pointed out, under the Bill every zoo that passes inspection and gets its name on to the "Approved" register will have the right to join the Federation, and no zoo which fails to make the grade will be able to remain in it. So it will become virtually a roster of approved zoos with only one function, to act as electors of the four members of the Council. The main function of the Federation to-day is inspection, which is expensive and difficult and controversial. This will be taken over by the new Council; so the Federation, as it stands, will simply become the electoral college, though, as my noble friend (if I may call him that) Lord Zuckerman pointed out, there is an enormous need for a combined drive on training, and it may well be that if the members agree there may be a function for the Federation in that way.

I should like to say a word or two about the zoos which this Bill concerns. Here I will speak not only for members of my own Federation but also, with his permission, for Mr. Robinson's members. Society's attitude to animals has changed for the better in recent years, but we must not forget that it has always been ambivalent. The people who have loved animals most have often been their most ferocious hunters, their most ruthless exterminators; though to be fair we must admit that those who hunt for money are a much greater danger to animal life than those who hunt for fun. Even the naturalist kills for science's sake, or at least for the sake of curiosity. That most observant countryman, Gilbert White, never walked round the environs of Selborne without a gun under his arm, and if he could not identify a bird he shot it to make sure. I must read a short passage from his Natural History which I came across the other night: In the middle of February I discovered, in my tall hedges, a little bird that raised my curiosity; it was of that yellow-green colour that belongs to the salicaria kind … appearing most like the largest willow-wren. It hung sometimes with its back downwards, but never continuing one moment in the same place. I shot at it, but it was so desultory that I missed my aim. I think that attitudes are changing, because Gilbert White was a marvellous man, but if the first naturalist of the country to-day were to shoot little birds to see what they were, we should probably feel that was a pity. If we can concentrate the hunting instinct on to vermin, and sublimate the rest into photography and bird-watching, there will probably be some wild life left on this planet in a hundred years' time.

In Gilbert White's time bear-baiting and cock-fighting were current entertainments, but they would not be tolerated for a moment to-day even if they were legal. In the same way, the British love of circuses has waned; people have begun to think, in my opinion rightly, that anthropomorphic imitations are an indignity to the animal performing them, and that the beauty of wild life is best enjoyed in surroundings as near as possible to the natural ones. The concept of the zoological collection is changing. Crowded cages representing all examples of genus are being replaced by spacious enclosures giving plenty of room for natural movement to a limited sample only. Free flying "walk-through" aviaries are replacing cages. Whipsnade, which the London Zoo opened in 1931, shows its animals in flocks and herds in large open enclosures. Then in 1966 Mr. Chipperfield, with 300 years of circus behind him, recognised the change in the public mood and invented the drive-through safari park, which adapts the vistas of Whipsnade to the proliferation of the motor car in our modern world. Longleat was the first; now there are seven safari parks and more on the way.

The bird garden is another element in our zoos. Bird enthusiasts who have made private collections out of love for their subject and have found the public wanting to visit them, have responded and expanded, and we now have no fewer than 23 established and flourishing bird gardens in these Islands, many of them in the most beautiful natural surroundings. I suppose we should all prefer to see animals in full freedom in their natural environment, but this is in general quite outside the means of ordinary people. I think that the keeping of birds and beasts and exhibiting them to the public has come to stay—after all, in one way or another it has been going on ever since Babylonian times—and we need not try to stop it. But we certainly have a duty to see that it is properly done.

There are three reasons for doing this, two of which we have been given already. The noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, explained the scientific necessity, and the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, explained the conservation necessity. There is a third reason, which is that the people want it, and that is a reason not to be despised. I have the honour to sit on your Lordship' Select Committee on Sport and Leisure, and we receive increasing evidence of the determination of the public to drive out at weekends and holiday periods with their families to see something. The enormous success and the very large attendances at the zoos shows that they are filling a need and are filling it to the public satisfaction. But the more certain we are about this, the more essential it is that we should have proper control and should enforce the very highest standards of public safety and animal welfare. Anybody who cannot afford to do the job properly must be prevented from doing it at all. The Council which we visualise setting up under this Bill must insist on the highest standards, must give some period of grace to get up to those standards and must then eliminate ruthlessly those that fail. I think I speak for the whole industry when I say that it is solidly in support of these objectives.

5.42 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Janner, on introducing this Bill. I personally think that this Bill, or some Bill very like it, is overdue and very necessary for the future. I should also like to add my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Tollemache on his admirable maiden speech, which was so forceful, so concise and so short. I sincerely hope that from now on we shall often hear the noble Lord's words of wisdom in this House.

Before I come on to the Bill, I should like to take up one or two matters raised by the noble Lord who has just spoken. He said, quite rightly, that we are all to-day far more civilised than were the Victorians who, though some might be great naturalists, wanted to shoot everything.


My Lords, I said before Queen Victoria.


My Lords, I thought the noble Lord was talking about the Victorians. But I should like to point out to the noble Lord that there are some wild animals and birds in this country that have to be shot and culled; for instance, the old stag and the barren, old toothless hind. Then there are grouse, which are a crop. The average age of the grouse is only about 18 months and certainly not more than two years. If the grouse is not shot he is going to die anyway; and he will die a far more unpleasant death than if he is shot. But I will not dwell on that subject.

The idea behind this Bill is very good, provided that the aim is the proper management of animals in zoological gardens and the protection of the public who enter such gardens. Perhaps I ought first to declare an interest, though I am rather confused as to what interest I should declare because I do not really know the legal definition of a "zoo". I certainly have exotic animals, although they are not in cages but are in very big enclosures and can breed perfectly freely. I also have a considerable number of exotic waterfowl and birds. I do not suppose that what I have can really be called a zoological garden. The public can see some of these animals, but they cannot see them all the time because the elk, for instance, are in a very large area and may be out of sight of the public. I have no dangerous animals, apart from bull elk which can be very dangerous. I am not quite sure whether I ought to declare an interest, but I have told your Lordships what the position is.

The noble Lord who spoke last mentioned a fear which I have had slightly, though I am sure it is quite unfounded. I think the fear he mentioned was that small zoos might be frightened that one of the reasons why the Zoological Federation have sponsored this Bill is the commercial reason that they are worried that the great growth of smaller zoos will take away some of their gate money. I do not agree with this idea, and it is only what some owners of small zoos have said to me. I am sure that it is unfounded, but I wanted to mention that fear. What surprises me is that private zoos which are not open to the public are not included in this Bill. It may be that the sponsors of this Bill are quite satisfied that existing animal legislation—and we have a great deal of it—protects animals in private zoos which are not open to the public. I myself rather doubt that, however, and I should have liked to see such zoos included in this Bill.

May I run very shortly through the Bill in order to make a few points? Clause 3 deals with the register of approved zoological gardens. I think it would be a good idea to enter, as well as the names of the owners, the name of the manager or the professional in charge of the zoo, because some owners of zoos probably know very little about their animals. Therefore I think that the name of the manager ought to be known and registered. Coming to Clause 6, I should like to say something about paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1). When zoological gardens are open to the public for charitable purposes or for the purpose of any public exhibition or competition, they ought surely to be inspected. I cannot understand this omission and I should have thought that the local vet and a Ministry official ought to inspect such places. They would then lodge a statement with the local authority or with the police saying whether or not the opening was allowed. I agree that that would certainly entail more work, but it is surely necessary.

In regard to Clause 7(1), I should have thought that if a zoological garden changed hands a new inspection ought to be made within six months. I know that many of these points are Committee points, but I thought (though it may sound conceited to say so) that if I brought them out on Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Janner, might take them into consideration. On Clause 9—and I believe that another noble Lord brought up this point—I cannot really see how a local magistrate can give a ruling whether or not a zoological garden ought to be entered on the register after appeal. I suppose he will be able to hear expert witnesses, but I should have thought that some better arrangement ought to be made regarding that matter, though I must confess that I do not know what arrangement.

May I turn to Clause 12 and the question of payment to the Council—and this is very important. I think there may be some difficulty here. To take my personal position, I have some exotic animals and birds, but the public come into my grounds in the summer on five days a week and pay an inclusive charge. That charge is not just for seeing the animals; it is for all sorts of other attractions, such as the very beautiful gardens, the interesting architecture and various other things. Therefore, if the payment to the Council is to be calculated on the number of people who pay to enter the zoological gardens, how are you going to divide the amount in the case of those places—and there are such places—where the animals are only (shall we say?) a side attraction of the main place? I think we shall get into some difficulty there. I should have preferred the scale of charges for payment to the Council to be, laid down according to the size of the zoological establishment, based on the number and type of animals and on the number of staff employed. I should have thought that that was really fairer.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Viscount realises that any such suggestion as his last one would be totally opposed by those charitable organisations and scientific institutions such as the Zoological Society of London, which maintains a bigger staff than probably most of the zoo staffs in this country put together. We have a staff of over 500, and we have over seven veterinary people. Also, as the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, has indicated, we have beautiful gardens, too; and some of our buildings have been acclaimed as the best in the country.


My Lords, I take the noble Lord's point. I have no doubt he is right. I was just making the point, and I will not pursue it. Several noble Lords have spoken about the educational side of zoological gardens. Personally, I provide nature trails for children. There are thousands of school children whom we have escorted round nature trails, telling them about plants and birds and that kind of thing. It would be a great pity if zoological gardens were to look only upon the strictly commercial side, the exhibition of animals solely for the enjoyment of the public. I rather dislike that: it smacks of the Roman circuses. I am all for the breeding side and for the educational side. In the Schedule, I hope that one of the four persons who will be nominated by the Federation of Zoological Gardens under paragraph 1(b) of Part I will represent the smaller zoos. I hope it will not be a monopoly, the big zoos only. Having said that, my Lords, I should like to give a very warm welcome to the Bill. I trust it will have a speedy passage through this House, and an untroubled one.

5.56 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, has already declared my interest as having been his predecessor as Chairman of the Zoo Federation. I am also a member of the Council of the London Zoo; so I have now made my position quite clear. I am also a neighbour of the noble Lord, Lord Tollemache, and I should like to congratulate him on his maiden speech. I hope that, even if he comes here only for debates connected with zoos and the conservation of Nature, he will come more often because he will be exceedingly helpful to those of us who are keen on those sides of life.

My Lords, I think one of the interesting things to-day is that, save for one or two remarks made by the noble Viscount, Lord Massercene and Ferrard (they were more Committee stage points, I think, than Second Reading points; and I should like to deal with them in a moment because I have had experience of them), there has been more or less unanimity among your Lordships—and not only among your Lordships, but in the reports by your Lordships of the general opinion of people in the zoo world—that a Bill of this nature is necessary and desirable. I can add to that a letter which I have received from the British Veterinary Association, who also support this Bill very strongly indeed. They support, too, the point made by the noble Lord Lord Zuckerman. They would like to see added to Clause 5 some reference to a requirement that records should be kept of all the animals going in or out of the zoo, whether by purchase, sale, birth or death.

Another of the interesting points in the debate this afternoon has been that all of us—and I include myself—accept the fact that zoos, if properly run, are a useful and desirable part of our life. The noble Lord, Lord Craigton, referred to the pressure which zoos exert on wild stocks of animals, and how that pressure could be reduced—indeed, should be reduced, and must be reduced—by the building up of breeding stocks in zoos. But I wonder whether your Lordships appreciate the extent of the trade in animals that goes on, the number of animals that come into this country, not only going to zoos but also going into general trade and, in some cases, for research. I was for a number of years Chairman of the Advisory Committee set up under the Animal (Restriction of Importation) Act of 1964, which advised the Government on the importation of rare animals. The Act was so drawn up that we had also to take cognisance of animals in the same category or order that were not rare.

If your Lordships read the Report of that Committee you will find that, on average, between 200,000 and 300,000 tortoises are imported into this country every year. That has been going on for a great number of years, and if the vast majority of those tortoises did not die England would be stuffed with tortoises from top to bottom. It would be like the population pessimists tell us about: there would be one tortoise per square foot of ground, and there would not be room for men to stand; it would be far worse than any population explosion. There are 10,000 monkeys imported into this country every year—a large number of them, of course, for research in the form of testing vaccines and the like; but a large number go to zoos, and until recently many went into the trade and into private houses. Nothing is more unsuitable in a private house than a monkey. One could go on. The trade is very large and the pressures are very great. All responsible zoos know this, and all responsible zoos are going to try to do their best in breeding up animals. But, by and large, I accept the fact that this importation is useful; that zoos are useful.

The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, referred to Gilbert White. Our tastes must run in parallel. I was looking at something by Gilbert White the other day, and I found out that when visiting a neighbour's collection of animals in 1770 he noticed that the only exotic birds there were hard-billed birds. He deduced that they came because they found it fairly easy to feed on the journey back and therefore only hard-billed birds reached this country. It is a good thing that zoo keepers and the like have now learned how to feed soft-billed birds, and have even been able to import humming birds and keep them alive for long periods so as to be able to educate the public in what they are looking at. In the early days of dolphinaria the casualty rate was very high and "Dolly the Dolphin" which we all admired was probably "Dolly" No. 2, or 3, 4 or 5; the public did not know that Nos. 1 to 4 had gone the way of all flesh all too quickly. But dolphinaria have now learned how to keep dolphins in captivity reasonably well. It is useful that we have now discovered that dolphins are born tail first, because if they were born head first and there was a prolonged and difficult labour they would be drowned before they got to the surface. All these little lessons that we learn are taught us by zoos and by menageries; and, properly managed, they are good things.

Although we are worried by the trade in animals, this can be a useful thing, too. Properly managed, it brings hard currency to some of the developing countries. To-day, one sees in South Africa that the parks are so well managed they have a surplus of rhinoceros. The Committee of which I was Chairman was expressly set up to control the importation of such animals. They now have a surplus of white rhinoceros in the parks of South Africa and one can let them come into this country with a clear conscience because no harm is done to the wild stock; although I think that anybody who takes wild rhinoceros from any other part of Africa ought to be ashamed of himself. That is the good point of zoos. The good points are very good, but there can be very bad points if the zoos are not properly controlled.

The same Committee controlling the import of animals decided that rare animals should come in only if they were going into breeding units but not if they were to come in one by one for exhibition as curiosities. We had to satisfy ourselves that the people proposing to take these animals into breeding units were capable of looking after them, and we had our private inspection. In quite a number of cases we found that the conditions under which the animals were kept were deplorable—not so deplorable that the ordinary law of cruelty to animals would come into operation, but because the people concerned did not have any idea of the fundamental welfare of animals. I found a word the other day, anthropophuistic which means having the sentiments of animals, and is the corresponding thing about one's mind to "anthro- pomorphic" to one's body—not one's body, but an animal's body. We must avoid attributing to animals the same sentiments as we do ourselves feel. But anybody who looks after animals with imagination (and most zoo keepers have imagination) is fond of animals.

From what Lord Donaldson said I am certain that all good zoo people will come together because they all have the same objectives in the end. At the back of their minds they feel that if animals are so well kept that they are able to find a suitable mate and to breed, then they are being looked after properly. Do not forget that animals differ from mankind in this respect. Mankind will go on breeding in the worst slums in the world; animals will not go on breeding unless the conditions in which they are kept are satisfactory. I believe therefore that with this Bill we can build up a really good series of zoos in this country. I believe the zoos themselves really want it and I believe the population really wants it. I think the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, must accept that if he is going to keep exotic animals in a park or a house to which he admits people and is making money by exhibiting exotic animals, he must be prepared to face up to having to pay a contribution towards the inspection. But may I console him by drawing attention to the last paragraph of Clause 12. If his zoo is, like Midshipman Easy's nursemaid's baby, a very small one, the costs will be levied according to the size of the zoo. I think that ample provision has been made to meet the case where the zoo is only a small part of an enterprise by that phrase in the clause.

I should like to take him up a little on the same Committee point which he raised about private zoos which make no charge for admission. Basically, the difficulty there is that you define a zoo as a place where exotic animals are kept; but if I go abroad and bring back a tortoise and treat it well, then I am keeping an exotic animal within any definition you may make of a zoo; and it would be fantastic for me to be inspected. To draw the line by the number of animals you keep is also difficult. I think the line which the noble Lord, Lord Janner, has drawn, of making a payment for entry, is the only thing that could be done at the moment; although later it might be possible to include other places where exotic animals are kept and where no charge is made for entry. We are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Janner, for bringing forward this Bill. We all wish it well, and I personally support it as strongly as I can.


My Lords, there can scarcely have been a Private Member's Bill which has received more persuasive and informed support than that given to this Bill this afternoon. I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Janner on introducing the Bill, and also to add my congratulations to those already offered to the noble Lord, Lord Tollemache, for a speech which combined brevity and authority in such delightful proportions. We appear to be dealing with one of the consequential problems of the affluent society and this Bill seems to be the right way of setting about it. I hope very much that we shall agree that the Bill should go forward to a Committee stage where it can be given a closer examination; and I think that that is all that is required from me.


My Lords, I thought, until a moment ago, that the contribution made by the noble Lord, Lord Tollemache, would be the shortest in this debate, but I am not sure that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, has not run him very close. I should like from this Box to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Tollemache, on his maiden speech. He chose, I thought wisely, a subject on which he has expert knowledge and I can assure him that the whole House will look forward to hearing him on many other subjects in the future.

This is a Private Member's Bill and I should like to say at the outset that the attitude of the Government towards it is one of neutrality. There are a number of considerations in the minds of noble Lords and of Members in another place when Private Members start on the long, hard road towards the Statute Book. There are a number of questions in the back of our minds: What is the abuse that is complained of? What is the extent of the abuse? Are there any existing branches of the law—Statute law or Common Law—which bear on the subject and, if so, in what respect are they inadequate?

The conditions in zoos—not all zoos, but a number of them—and the standards of animal welfare are, I think, the aspects of this subject which have dominated the debate. But, as we were reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, one of the difficulties in discussing the subject is that "zoos" covers such a very wide range of institutions, ranging from the London Zoo, a great historic and scientific institution run on charitable lines for educational purposes, through to the newer establishments usually run by commercial enterprises such as Wildlife Collection and safari parks. If I may say so, in a debate like this I think we must take care not to look down on this latter category. In recent years millions of people have obtained pleasure, including myself and my family recently, from visiting safari parks. The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, put this very well in the context of the Select Committee on Sport and Leisure when he said that they fulfil a need which the public has expressed and they are doing so successfully. But whatever the nature of the establishment, we are all agreed on one thing, that the animals should be properly cared for and humanely treated. And here I think it appropriate to refer fairly briefly to some provisions of the existing law.

In the Home Office, we are aware of three aspects of the subject. The first of these, which has been debated to-day, and the two others, all concern the public: people make representations, write letters and come and talk to officials and Ministers about them. They are, first, the welfare of animals; secondly, the danger to the public and, thirdly, the issues of public nuisance. I should like to say something, quite shortly, under each of these three headings.

As regards the welfare of animals in zoos, just as domestic animals are afforded protection against cruelty and neglect under the Protection of Animals Act 1911, so are all captive animals. The Act applies to both categories and makes it an offence to cause or permit to be caused any unnecessary suffering to any domestic animal or any captive animal by anything that is done, or by anything that is neglected to be done. Any person or any society may initiate proceedings under the Act in respect of any circumstances where there is reason to believe that unnecessary suffering has been or is being caused. Or they may report the matter to the police who will then decide whether or not to prosecute in the light of the facts of the case. I may mention that specific complaints about the maltreatment or neglect of zoo animals are extremely rare and, when investigated, have seldom been substantiated.

Next my Lords, may I say a word or two about the question of the possible danger to the public from animals in zoos or in other collections. I have made some inquiries, and I understand that there are very few specific instances of potentially dangerous wild animals being insecurely housed which have come to the notice of the Home Office; and injury to members of the public by wild animals is, fortunately, an infrequent occurrence. Attacks by zoo animals on the visiting public are even more rare. The occasional case which does, unfortunately, occur almost always results from the person concerned ignoring the safety precautions provided by the management of the zoo, and experience, alas! suggests that folly of this sort cannot be prevented by legislation.

A person who keeps potentially dangerous wild animals has a responsibility to keep them secure and under proper control. If such an animal causes injury to a third party, the owner is strictly liable for damages. This liability formerly rested on Common Law but it has recently been established as a statutory liability under the Animals Act which your Lordships passed in the last Session. This liability undoubtedly constitutes a strong deterrent against the keeping of potentially dangerous wild animals under conditions of inadequate security. A person who permits wild animals to be a danger to the public may also face criminal charges. Noble Lords may remember the recent case of a puma which was chained to the bumper of a car, not in a zoo but on a trading estate, and which mauled a child. Criminal charges were brought in that case and the prosecution was successful.

My Lords, the third category which should perhaps be in our minds when considering this subject is not one which much concerns zoo keepers, but it does concern the public, especially those who may be bothered for some reason or other by the proximity of a zoo. Here the complaints which are made—there are not many of them and I would not wish to put this out of proportion—are complaints about offence and annoyance being caused to nearby residents mainly by obnoxious smells and noises associated with zoos. Here again there is a provision in the existing law to deal with this sort of problem. Section 92 of the Public Health Act 1936 provides that, any animal kept in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance" may be held to be a statutory nuisance by the local authority. If the nuisance is not abated, the local authority have the power to initiate proceedings against the offender. As regards noise, many local authorities have made by-laws under the Local Government Act 1933 for the suppression of a nuisance under which it is an offence for a person to keep on his premises any noisy animal which causes a serious nuisance to nearby residents. Under the provision of the by-laws, a notice alleging nuisance may be served on the person responsible, provided that it is signed by at least three householders living within hearing of the animal. If after the expiration of two weeks from the service of the notice the nuisance continues, proceedings may be taken against the person responsible.

My Lords, having listened to the arguments in the debate to-day, I think that the House has been remarkably of one mind, as the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, commented. I have, I think, two doubts remaining in my mind which I should like to mention now to the noble Lord, Lord Janner. One has already been commented on and treated quite fully by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge. The first of the doubts can be put in the form of a question: has the science or technique of management, whatever we call it, reached a stage when standards of care, attendance and safety—because all of those are covered in the Bill—can be enforced by law and made subject to an appeal in the magistrates' courts? Arising out of this: is the appeals procedure in the Bill really appropriate? First, there would be the increase of work in the magistrates' courts, and one would have to ask whether appeals of this sort should have priority in the demands made on the time of magistrates, overworked as they are. Secondly, and perhaps more important, an appeal on these lines would involve the magistrates' courts in reviewing what are in effect discretionary decisions taken by a special council on what would be primarily administrative grounds. I should have some doubts as to whether or not this is an appropriate form of appeal: I put it no stronger than that to the noble Lord, Lord Janner. If the Bill reaches its further stages, this is a matter on which perhaps we might have some consultation, and we might want to take advice from my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor as well.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down he might consider that there is already in the Riding Establishments Act and, so far as I can recollect, the Pets Act, the same sort of discretion which leads to exactly the same sort of appeal.


My Lords, that is a most useful comment from the noble Earl, whose expertise in this field we all know. I am putting this point at this stage because I think it is one that ought to be looked at, but, as I say, I do not want to put it too strongly: it may be that there will be some way of overcoming any objections.

The second fact is that the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland represent approximately one-third of the zoos in this country. The remaining two-thirds have an interest, and a legitimate interest, which would be affected by this Bill. Before the noble Lord spoke in the debate to-day I, and in my Department our advisers, wanted to hear more about the attitude of the other two-thirds of the zoos which would be affected. I thought, if I may say so, that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, was most helpful in this respect, because he told us that he has formed a joint Working Party between those zoos who are members of the Federation and those, including, I think he said, safari parks, who are not members and have not applied for membership but who have now formed an association of their own to see whether progress can be made jointly. This seems to us to be a matter of considerable importance. Any regulatory council that is formed should be authoritative and should also be capable of commanding the confidence of the zoos whose premises would be open to regulation and inspection.

Another point, perhaps a small one, which was touched on by my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard and which I can perhaps leave to the noble Lord to deal with at the conclusion of the debate, is the question of financing. The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, used the words (I wrote them down, and I hope I quote him correctly) that "inspection is expensive, difficult and controversial", and he seemed rather pleased that the Federation of which he is the chairman might be relieved of that responsibility. It would be taken over on a larger and more systematic scale by the Council which the Bill proposes should be established. That Council would be financed by the member-zoos themselves. This would be a costly business, and we think that perhaps there is room for further thought and discussion on how the Federation would be financed. I leave these thoughts with the mover of the Bill.


My Lords, the noble Lord referred to the "Federation". I think he meant to say "Council".


I am grateful to the noble Lord for correcting me on that point. It is easy to slip into confusion between the Federation, which I know is the moving spirit behind the Bill, and the Council which the Bill would set up. If the Bill makes progress in your Lordships' House, I hope the noble Lord who has moved the Second Reading will give some consideration to these points, as well as to the other points made in the course of the debate. Meanwhile, as I have said, the Government's attitude towards the Bill is one of neutrality.


My Lords, before the noble Lord concludes, may I put one question to him relating to the provisions which exist in current legislation? The noble Lord referred to the fact that the public can bring actions, or at any rate can point a finger in the case of great cruelty. He then referred to damage and nuisance. When he was speaking, I gained the impression that when he referred to his second category of damage he was talking about members of the public being savaged or bitten by animals. Do the existing laws apply to the transmission from a captive animal, an exotic animal, to a member of the public some virus which might cause his death?


My Lords, that is the sort of question which Ministers speaking on a Private Member's Bill hope they will never have to face without notice. I have not got the answer to give the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman. I think I had better take expert advice in finding out what the position is, and I will let the noble Lord know.

6.27 p.m.


My Lords, first of all, I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Tollemache, for the excellent speech that he made: it was concise, it was very much to the point, and it was a speech which naturally anybody promoting a Bill of this kind would want to take into the fullest consideration. I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken, but perhaps with a little doubt about the last speech that was made, because I had hoped that the attitude of the Government would have been one of benevolent neutrality. I hope to be able to persuade the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, to accept that as being a legitimate approach. Perhaps the noble Lord will consider that point between now and the next stage of the Bill, if it proceeds further.

There is a necessity for the Bill. It is no good saying that there are other Acts which cover various points. The very fact that all who are concerned in a responsible way with the control of zoological gardens and having them properly inspected, not only dealing with the interests of the animals but with the interests of the public, agree that there is a necessity for an Act that will deal with the matters that we have brought forward this afternoon. I would repeat that otherwise a responsible body like the Universities Federation of Animal Welfare would not have dreamt of making statements, as they have in their report, to the effect that when they inspected the various zoological gardens there were only 12 which they found were very good, 20 were good to fair, and 12 were bad. Here is a responsible body which has made a statement indicating that all is not as good as the noble Lord has more or less indicated. That shows quite clearly that something has to be done apart from the existing legislation.

The various bodies who have been considering this matter—and they are the people who are responsible and who want to see zoological gardens properly run—with all their experience, have come to the conclusion, as we have heard to-day from all noble Lords who have spoken, that the principle of this Bill is right, apart from any minor matters which have been raised and which will be dealt with at later stages if the Bill receives its Second Reading to-day. Therefore I appeal to the Government to reconsider their decision. Those of us who are connected with the law know that there are many Acts which are honoured in the breach rather than the observance, and it is obvious from what the noble Lord has said that even if the Acts may be—he does not say that they are in fact—sufficient to cover the bad zoos and to prevent their remaining bad, they have not done so thus far, and I believe that further legislation is necessary.

With regard to Private Members' Bills, if noble Lords will forgive my saying so, I have handled a large number of them and have dealt with opposition from time to time, but the conclusion has eventually been reached that Private Members can do something which is of great importance. I think it is extremely important, with the Government having all these heavy responsibilities on their shoulders and having to deal with all the difficulties confronting them, that they should say to Private Members, "You are the people we want now to deal with matters which are not quite as vast as the problems which we, as the Government, have to deal with but which are essential to the public interest". This is one such matter which I think is worthy of immediate consideration. So long as there are zoos being carried on under bad conditions, I think it should be the privilege and pleasure of the Government to say to anyone who is prepared to sponsor a Bill of merit, "Please go on with this: this matter needs immediate attention". I hope that we shall not be impeded in any way in the further steps which must be taken to make this Bill an Act.

I think that perhaps at this late hour the House will not wish me to go into details on all the points that have been raised: they are really matters which can be discussed at the Committee Stage. I believed, and still believe, that the Federation which has been in existence for some years should have the opportunity of nominating four people to the Council. This is a reasonable proposal in the light of the experience they have. Even if it is only 30 per cent. or so of the zoo owners who have hitherto joined, at least 30 per cent. have been prepared to pay the necessary fees for inspection and to undergo the supervision suggested in this present Bill. Referring to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, there are negotiations proceeding now regarding other zoos and the organisation they have set up. If a suitable agreement can be reached which will not affect the interests of the Bill itself and will demand of the people concerned that they should be prepared to accept the imposition on zoos of conditions of this nature, I have no doubt that we shall all be prepared to accept their proposals and suggestions about an agreement. But that is a matter with which we shall be dealing between now and the Committee stage.

There is one issue regarding the proposal that these matters should be dealt with, on appeal, by magistrates. I do not think they will mind: and I think they are the appropriate people to deal with them. Even if there are only a few cases, this Bill, when it becomes an Act, will cause the cases to be even fewer. The matter of the sheriff courts has been left out, but there is no intention of being discourteous to the Scottish courts, and this point will be dealt with. With these remarks, I hope that your Lordships will accept this Bill.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.