HL Deb 10 April 1974 vol 350 cc1331-4

8.10 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3ª.—(Lord Janner.)


My Lords, I hope your Lordships will allow me to use this opportunity to correct a slight mistake that I made during the Second Reading debate on this Bill in the last Parliament, and I apologise to the noble Lord for rising at this time. As a Fellow of the Zoological Society, the Secretary asked me whether I would take this opportunity to put the matter right, and this is what I hope to do now. During the debate on Second Reading, I stated that the London Zoo had received a subsidy of £2 million in the course of the last two or three years. I was incorrect in giving that figure. The London Zoo has received a grant of £650,000. They also had a loan of £250,000, repayment of which has been waived, and they have also been promised £700,000. I only hope that that promise will be carried out.

That is all I have to say, except to express the hope, now that this Bill is leaving your Lordships' House and going to another place, that the sponsors will try to consult the owners of zoological gardens as to the Bill's contents and its progress, because in the past I feel there has been too little consultation of this kind.

May I also say that I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, said during the Committee stage: that zoology is the science of life. I am rather disappointed in this Bill because, as the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, said, its object, first and foremost, is the promotion of the wellbeing of the animals in captivity—but the only animals protected by this Bill are those in zoological gardens open to the public—and of course there are many other private zoological gardens which are not open to the public. Many private individuals have exotic animals in captivity, and therefore I would hope that the law might ultimately embrace all those animals. If that does not happen this Bill, certainly as regards animals, is illogical.


My Lords, if I may, I should like very briefly to say something that I had intended to say at Committee stage regarding an Amendment which we had expected to be moved by the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard. However, the Committee stage ended rather quickly, and I should like now to take this opportunity of making the point which I had originally intended to make earlier.

During the Second Reading debate, I said that the attitude of the Government to the principle of the Bill was one of neutrality but that we were content to leave it to your Lordships' House to decide whether it should proceed. That remains the position to-day. If, as seems to be the case, it is your Lordships' wish that the Bill should pass, the Government are content that this should be so. However, perhaps I may be allowed to mention one or two points to which I drew attention on Second Reading. I tried then to illustrate the fact that the Bill imposes a very tight timetable for doing all the things that need to be done between the Bill's enactment and the appointed day, 12 months later, when the provisions will become fully operative.

My noble friend Lord Janner, in replying to the Second Reading debate, told us that he was confident that if the Bill became law zoos would be content to pay the fees required of them. This, however, was not quite the point that was troubling me then and it is for that reason I have intervened this evening. My concern is not so much that zoos will be unwilling to pay the fees, but as to whether, within the time limit imposed by the Bill, it will have been possible for the Council to have been appointed, to recruit its staff and to set up the necessary registers and administrative structure so that it is ready to receive the fees and to make the necessary registrations before the appointed day. If, through any unforeseen circumstances and no fault of its own it has failed to do so, the inevitable effect of Clause 3(1) of the Bill, as I understand it, will be that after the appointed day no zoo would be able to charge an entrance fee.

It is that matter with which the Government are mainly concerned. Perhaps the sponsors may wish to reflect on this and consider whether it would be appropriate, if the Bill makes progress in another place, to explore the possibility of including some provision which would allow greater flexibility in determining the appointed day, rather than to leave it as now specified in Clause 13, as being 12 months after the Bill has passed. I hope that suggestion will prove helpful.


My Lords, may I say at once that we were very anxious all the way through to see that those who were connected with Government offices should have every opportunity of going very carefully into the proposals made. While I appreciate the point raised by my noble friend, which will certainly be given consideration, the important thing is that time has been going on. For years we have been prevented from bringing this Bill to fruition, and really it is a little too much to ask of the sponsors that they should continue to allow very much further time for the Bill to become an Act. Ample opportunity has been given throughout, and Members of both Houses know exactly what is in the Bill. These matters have been before this House three times; and they were brought before the other House on one occasion. Therefore, I hope that we shall have every assistance in getting the Bill through as speedily at possible. I shall certainly give consideration to the point made by my noble friend and I hope we shall be assisted to get the Bill through speedily so that the animals may be protected. I am sure that would be the wish of anyone who is honestly concerned about the matter.

On Question, Bill read 3ª, and passed, and sent to the Commons.