HL Deb 13 May 1974 vol 351 cc753-84

3.42 p.m.

Second Reading debate resumed.


My Lords, after that very sober Statement I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Newall, for introducing this measure which, however imperfect it may be, in my view is long overdue. I have no doubt that the constructive criticism which has been levelled at it will be considered in Committee, and in particular the point which was raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, about whether we would be well advised, in a measure of this kind, to give Scotland her own Council. In an age of leisure, with greater growth in holiday-time fast approaching, we shall perhaps depend on horses for leisure as we have never depended on them before. As the noble Lord said, television has made show jumping and three-day eventing extremely popular with a very much bigger and wider circle than ever before. It is important to emphasise in these circumstances that the horse is certainly not a machine. I have no doubt that in racing, breeding and perhaps in even more expensive pursuits, there is probably a plentiful supply of well-qualified farriers but, as has been said this afternoon about ponies and hacking, I think that without a doubt there are many non-qualified shoesmiths operating at present. It has been rightly stated that bad shoeing can ruin an animal and, as the noble Lord said, "No foot, no horse." So qualification and training, and I think subsidies as well, are essential if the Bill is to be really effective.

There is not the slightest doubt that with the great current increase in the number of horses and ponies throughout the United Kingdom a good deal of foot trouble occurs which is perhaps not even noticed until it gets really bad. I do not mean the sort of trouble that Arkle had, or in the tragic circumstances to-day which necessitated Princess Anne's horse being destroyed. I mean trouble due to hard grounds as well as bad shoeing; and also, in many of the gymkhanas, which are so heavily populated by competitors, trouble caused by overriding. What I am not sure about is the amount of cold shoeing going on at present. The days when a horse was taken to a forge seem in many cases to have disappeared; to-day farriers are mobile and journey from stable to stable to carry out what is called cold shoeing. Whether that method is as effective as forge shoeing as we knew it, I am not sure. But I emphasise the tremendous problems caused through hard grounds. Thousands of new and young riders are coming into the sport to-day, particularly with the Foxhunter Competition which takes place in the summer when the ground is extremely hard. As a result, you get the problem of shoeing faults as well as overriding, when the horse often goes lame. The animal can only indicate his problems by limping.

My Lords, certainly in the summer, I should like all horses competing to be inspected in the collecting rings, as they are at the present time in three-day eventing. I should like also the British Horse Society and B.S.J.S. to stipulate that peating or ploughing of the landing side of jumps should be undertaken in the summer to save horses from the impact of hard ground. May I ask whether, under Part unqualified farriers will be permitted to continue to operate? Does that ban anyone—an assistant or anybody else—shoeing a horse under the provisions of Part II? I am told that many are doing so to-day in conditions which are rather similar to "lumping". They go around with a conveyance, without having had proper experience; they shoe a horse, which may have pedalitis, sideburn or serious foot trouble, and give imperfect shoeing.

I would further ask: who will set the standard for training and for examination? Who is to supervise? Many Bills in this House have dealt with the export of horses and cattle and so on, and many of them have failed in operation because of lack of supervision. Who will supervise that the necessary requirements are being carried out? Why, too, should Northern Ireland be exempted from the Bill? Northern Ireland has many horses. There must be some reason for that exemption. Perhaps the noble Lord can tell us the reason when he replies. As the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, said, owner-shoeing is exempted. The owner may think that that is all right, that it is his own affair. But what about the horse? Should we allow owners to shoe their own horses?

This is a worthwhile Bill, my Lords, and we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Newall, for introducing it. I hope we shall be able to amend it in Committee. I trust that it will get a Second Reading here and in another place.

3.50 p.m.


My Lords, my intended short intervention is motivated by the desire to add one more voice to the many others which have supported this Bill, and to congratulate my noble friend Lord Newall on introducing it. He has explained it carefully and has advanced it persuasively. He also mentioned that it was the Farriers Company which promoted it, and we are glad to know that the noble Lord, Lord Hill of Luton, is a member of that company. I suspect that Lord Newall is a member also. It is interesting to any noble Lord (and there are many in your Lordships' House) passionately interested in the livery guild system of the City of London. The Farriers Company is not one of the wealthy companies, but it is a company which carries great responsibility, and that is displayed by this Bill which they have sponsored. It may interest your Lordships to know that I took the trouble, being also a liveryman, to look up the book of words about it, and I was interested to find that originally the farriers and blacksmiths were associated. A blacksmith was a gunmaker and a clockmaker, but later a farrier became a shoesmith. It also refers to a horse leech or primitive veterinary surgeon, and records that the ordinances for the regulation of the craft (approved, as my noble friend has said, in 1356) required all members to advise all those who shall seek counsel of them as well in the purchase of horses as in their cure". There are many Members of your Lordships' House who have commanded mounted regiments, though a smaller number, perhaps, who, before 1914, served with mounted regiments on active service. Incidentally, if I may be pardoned for saying so, I suspect there are still fewer who, as members of a mounted regiment, can remember being inspected by Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, the hero of the South African War. But we are reminded that before 1914 there were about 80 mounted regiments, and that that accounted for a good deal in the matter of farriery; and in those days, of course, every village had its local village smithy—a happy place of local meeting which had no difficulty in attracting apprentices. It is interesting that this Bill has been promoted by a livery company. I think it is unusual that any particular livery company should promote a Bill almost entirely associated with its own activities.

The Bill has the support of all the leading national organisations associated with the horse, and I am asked to mention that, among others, the British Driving Society, which is gathering members so rapidly, gives it their support. We know that, with the support this Bill has received on its Second Reading there is not likely to be much opposition in this House. The clauses of the Bill themselves have been explained by my noble friend. Where amendment is necessary, it will occur in Committee stage. Among the Members of this House who have given it their blessing we heard the noble Lord, Lord Margadale, who all his life has been associated with every aspect of horse use, but with additional authority as a steward of the Jockey Club.

In the Explanatory Memorandum it mentions prevention of cruelty to horses. It seems not improper to refer to the widely-felt concern as to the treatment of ponies in many riding establishments in this country. I think it was our late distiguished colleague Lord Silkin who, speaking from the Socialist Benches, piloted a Bill which was particularly concerned with the protection of ponies. I find that a great number of people in the country think that the policing and inspection under that measure is inadequate and that there is much cruelty, overwork and underfeeding; and, of course, as all Members of the House know, it is most difficult to ensure that the inspection which is demanded is effectively carried out. It seems appropriate that this matter should be raised at this stage.

In conclusion, my Lords, it is interesting that this Bill should have been introduced by my noble friend Lord Newall. There is not frequently a connection between flying and equitation but, still, it is interesting that he, the son of a distinguished Marshal of the Air, should be introducing a Bill of this character. If I may be pardoned one minute, I remember an air officer who was appointed to command at Cranwell, and who had previously been a cavalry officer, saying that the best way to train effective fighter pilots was to get them accustomed to equitation; and, on assuming command, he promptly detailed two of his officers to attend the cavalry school at Weedon. This Bill is timely, it is appropriate, and it is sponsored by the Farriers Company, with all their authority. I strongly support it.

3.58 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, wish to add my voice to those which have supported this Bill, and to express my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Newall, for introducing what is a very timely and welcome measure. We live in an age of great resurgence of interest in the horse. The horse population and the pony population is increasing very greatly, but there never has been a time, I think, when so many of those horses or ponies have belonged to or been managed by people with very little experience. This means that those who are responsible for ensuring that their horses are shod are, on the whole more than in the past, in the power of the expert who will do the job. I think that is important, and that is one very good reason why the Bill is exceptionally timely. In a very humble way, I have been interested in horses for, I suppose, half-a-century, and for the last 18 years I have been responsible for seeing that horses were shod. I have no horror stories to tell about this. I am among the fortunate few who have had a very happy relationship with one of the most skilled master farriers in the country. During that time I have seen the skill passed down from father to son, and not only to the son hut, through apprenticeship, to an impressive range of young men who have gone through training. I have taken some interest in this aspect of the matter and it seems that very few of them have dropped out. You get the odd lad who drops out because the work is too hard—and it must not be forgotten that it is extremely hard work—or because he finds that he just does not get on with horses. All of us who have had something to do with horses know that there are such people, and perhaps they are wise to turn to other spheres.

One of the difficulties in recent years in getting the right sort of lad to become an apprentice and start training has been that it is not always very obvious what he will get out of it in terms of earning a livelihood. He goes through an arduous four years' strict training and sees alongside him—at any rate, in many parts of the country—men with little or no skill who are earning just as good a living or perhaps rather better. It is surely high time that we saw to it that those who can be induced to train for this very necessary trade should at least be given the satisfaction of knowing that, at the end of the day, they have a skill which is special, and that others who do not have it will not be allowed to do the work.

Lastly, my Lords, although this Bill may need some amendment, I hope we shall try to keep it as simple as possible. I confess that I am a little concerned by the suggestion which the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, made, that there might be gradations of qualification and that a man might be qualified to do a simple shoeing on a simple straightforward foot but not to do remedial work. The trouble is that if a man is qualified to do the simple shoeing, how is he to know that the foot before him is one which needs something more than he can give? We probably need to insist that our apprentices should go through the full training and should know all aspects of the work. I admit that trimming may be something that should be dealt with separately from shoeing, since most of us who have dealt with horses over the years have sometimes found ourselves doing some trimming of a horse that was out at grass, and which obviously ought not to be left without some tidying up of the foot being done. As regards owners doing shoeing, I should have thought that most owners were the last people to undertake a job which they knew they could not do satisfactorily, risking cruelty or damage to their own horse. However, this is a matter on which there may be other views. My Lords, I welcome this Bill and I hope that it will have a Second Reading.

4.5 p.m.


My Lords, with others I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Newall, on this Bill. I certainly think that it is a very good Bill and is long overdue. Like one other noble Lord, I was surprised that this Bill had not been through the House before. I hope that it goes through with as much speed as possible, because even when it has been passed it will still take some time to bring its object to fruition. I think all noble Lords who have spoken have come from differing areas and have had differing experience. The area from which I come—the centre of the South, including the New Forest in which I have had an interest as official verderer and from which I have just retired—is filled with old farriers and many children's ponies. Many of the children's ponies arrive in homes more or less as pets. The parents are very willing, the children are very kind to the ponies, but the ignorance is terrible. Quite frequently, they do not appreciate that if you own a horse or a pony it will cost a certain amount of money to keep. They say, "Yes, we have a paddock", or "We can turn it out in the forest" "and so on, and they feel that the matter can begin and end there. But, of course, it does not. As has been mentioned, the horse has four feet and they have to be looked after.

There are as many kind, but also ignorant neighbours. There are the do-it-yourself chaps who buy their shoes by the sack in varying sizes and hope that a shoe will fit a pony's hoof. Of course it is only luck if it does, and the few ageing vets in this large area spend a great deal of their time putting right the injured feet of these ponies. I was talking to a farrier only yesterday. He has an apprentice who has nearly completed his training at that wonderful place the Hereford Technical College, which I believe has the only farrier's course in the United Kingdom, which is well supported by the Farriers' Company, and he has learned a lot from it. I asked this skilled farrier if he would take on another apprenticeship when his present lad left him to set up on his own. He said, "I do not think so, because there are so many do-it-yourself, so-called smiths in the area that it is not very encouraging for a young man to spend four years in training and then not be absolutely certain of getting a fair livelihood." It is essential that this Bill should go through in order to stop cruelty to the ponies and horses, and to encourage young chaps to come in to train and be registered as proper farriers. The rest of the Bill has been covered by other noble Lords, and I merely wish to say that I support the Bill in the strongest way.

4.9 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, must add my voice in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Newall, on introducing this Bill, but perhaps I may be forgiven if I pour a little cold water on the project by recalling some facts. My noble friend Field-Marshal Lord Harding has apologised because he had to leave the debate, and I mention his name with permission. He was my predecessor as Chairman of the Horserace Betting Levy Board, and when he took on that job and was charged, in conjunction with his colleagues, with the statutory responsibility of disbursing the levy, he found that the number of farriers undergoing training under the Worshipful Company's scheme in 1962 was five. When I assumed Office in 1967 the total number of apprentices entering the scheme for the whole of the United Kingdom during that year was one. The job, therefore, was not that of registration, but of training.

Almost every speaker to-day has underlined the fact that this is a belated Bill. If the Bill had been introduced before, it would really have been a case of your Lordships' bleeding hearts running away with your bloody heads, because there were no farriers to do the job! I began my acquaintanceship with horses at the age of 11, driving a milk-cart before and after school, and when I went to the Levy Board I got in touch with the Worshipful Company, and a very happy relationship followed. What we had to do was to provide some money. Up to 1967 the annual grant had been £2,000, and I persuaded my colleagues to double that figure and make it £4,000 and enter into a vigorous training policy. I am very happy to say that whereas in 1967 there was only one entrant and the total number under training was 16, to-day there are nearly 100. The accent therefore must be on training and the big question mark about this Bill is whether it is a step forward or whether, by going perhaps prematurely for a policy of registration, we may be imposing a superstructure on the present scheme which it cannot bear. There is now a sound educational training scheme, brought about solely through the public spirit of the Worshipful Company, but it may not be able to bear a policy of registration on top.

May I say—without any bitterness, but referring to one or two scars which have not quite healed, arising during my time as Chairman of the Levy Board—that the one source from which I received no help was the Jockey Club. They were quite oblivious to the problem and had done nothing about it. I am still interested in racing, mainly from an academic point of view but not quite—I picked a couple of winners on Saturday, I am happy to say—but leaving that aside, if this Bill goes through, I should like to ask somebody for information. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Margadale, will be able to tell me because I heard him referred to as a Jockey Club Steward—the news has travelled fast. The information I should like to have is what is to happen to the head lad who, after a lifetime in a racing stable, knows as much about the game as the horses do suddenly finds a horse's shoe is pinching, and although he has not gone through a farrier's course tries to do something about it. He is liable to a fine of £50. This is what happens when what I have described as bleeding hearts run away with bloody heads. This needs to be looked at with very great care.

I shall not vote against this Bill, and indeed shall do my best in Committee to try to remedy any deficiencies that may exist. The noble Lord, Lord Granville of Eye, referred to the extension of interest in horse riding. This is true. Not the least pleasing activity in which I found myself engaged was helping handicapped children, who became new beings when astride a horse. I am happy to say that, as a result of the work of my Board in connection with the acquisition of Epsom and the amalgamation of Epsom and Walton Downs, 6,000 acres have been opened up for a thousand years for old and young alike. Many of those who regard the riding of a horse as the prerogative of a social class adequately represented by your Lordships, are now riding horses, although at one time they would never have dreamed of doing so, and I am very happy about that.

I must mention one fundamental point which has not so far been mentioned. Why is the Home Office dealing with this Bill? It has gone all around the Home Office and has landed up in the section which deals with cruelty. The training of farriers is being dealt with in a branch of the Home Office which knows absolutely nothing at all about the subject. Why? It is because about a decade ago the decision was taken—presumably by a Conservative Administration—that the horse is no longer an economic animal. That being so, the Ministry of Agriculture would of course have nothing at all to do with horses. How many times have I knocked at the door to try to persuade the Ministry of Agriculture to do something about diseases which afflict horses and to get more research done! Not a penny was given for research. They even got rid of the National Stud and it disappeared from the Vote of the Ministry.

I claim no special knowledge, but I am interested in the subject and make up for colossal ignorance by doing my homework. I believe that the horse will once again become an economic animal, and so I would say to the Minister when he replies: "Please go back to your masters and ask them why they sent you to reply from that Dispatch Box on a subject on which they have no responsibility and no knowledge". I am sure that the Minister himself may well be interested in the subject but his Department do not seem to be.

Let me now turn to the other side of the House and ask: how many years is it now that the Committee on veterinary science which is presided over by Sir Michael Swann has been sitting? The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, will remember the questioning that went on when he was sitting on this side of the Chamber, as to when Sir Michael Swann was likely to make his report. There is no interest in Government circles in this matter, and the consequences are fairly well-known. I am not a supporter of the Common Market, to put it mildly, but the fact is that veterinary science in Great Britain lags miles behind that in Europe. Why?—it is because they spend money and we do not. Therefore, the quicker that the Swann Committee reports and there is a fundamental examination of veterinary science in this country—and, of course, farriery would be included in that science—the better it will be.

If I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Newall, is on the fringe of a very important subject. I wish the Bill well, but I warn the noble Lord that the provisions concerning registration will have to be looked at with very great care. I hope that the noble Lords, Lord Margadale and Lord Kilmany, will take note and examine some of the objections that there may be over the application of this Bill in the remoter corners of the country, so far as racing is concerned. But it is not only in racing where there may be difficulties. It may be very difficult to enforce this Bill in certain parts of the country. It is one thing to put a measure on the Statute Book, but quite a different problem to enforce it. There may be a great deal of pious hope; there is hardly a word in this Bill with which one can find oneself in a difficulty until one reflects upon it, and then remembers the history.

The debate to-day has made me speak longer, and more vigorously, than I had intended, because there has been great confusion running through this debate—the confusion of will o' the wisp registration, and a tendency to overlook the reality of training. I stand absolutely convinced, as a result of fruitful partnership—and humble partnership, so far as I am concerned—with the Worshipful Company, that their policy of training is right. They have followed a vigorous policy of collecting money and applying it, and having a field officer to see that the standard of training is up to the required level—or, indeed, increasing. That is all to the good. It may well be that the time is not yet right for the registration. I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Newall, to reflect on the fact that although his measure may be completely wise, he may be doing a disservice to the very object that he is seeking to serve by acting too quickly.

4.22 p.m.


My Lords, I found the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, extremely thought-provoking and far ahead of the rather trivial remarks that I propose to mention in this debate. I express the hope, as no doubt many other noble Lords do, that we shall hear further from him when this Bill goes to Committee. He raised numerous and extremely important points which undoubtedly will be considered by the Worshipful Company. First of all, I should like to apologise to your Lordships, and specially to my noble friend Lord Newall for failing to be here at the beginning of the debate because the aeroplane in which I was travelling was late. I should like to confirm what my noble friend Lord Barnby said regarding the gratitude of horselovers for the work of the Worshipful Company, and also to emphasise the importance of the City of London and its contribution to the affairs of the State in almost every way through the different Livery Companies.

I put my name down to speak because I have a Coat of Arms with a Bordure of horse-shoes sable. My name stems from a horse-leech who came in the train of Marie de Guise. Apart from that, I spent some time in a forge when training to be a Sapper Officer, and could shoe a horse hot. I do not say that I could do that to-day, but I would try to shoe one cold. Perhaps I may be permitted to make a wisecrack about this Bill—when reading through it I thought one might describe it as an anti-dumping Bill. That is a technical term connected with farrieries. I remember that we had an extraordinary experience in 1919; we had some hundred absolutely "green" South American horses landed upon us. I can tell your Lordships that trying to shoe a South American horse in a "crush" reminds one of the phrase—if one can paraphrase Kipling—"I learned about horses from them".

Although I am not qualified to-day to comply will the very proper requirements included in this Bill, I am qualified to give it my total support. I realise, as your Lordships will have realised on having heard the speeches—particularly that of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg—that there is a good deal further to go before we achieve what horse lovers wish to achieve in this connection. I have been connected with horses since the first war, but the only animal I possess to-day, and which is covered by Clause 18, is a donkey, and the grandchildren love it! I regard myself as qualified to attend to its feet as its owner.

Joking apart, this point about an owner being permitted to shoe his own horse is one which I hope will be very carefully debated in Committee. Anybody who knows anything about horses or donkeys knows what irreparable harm can be done and pain caused by careless and bad shoeing. The owner is probably the first person who wishes to take the utmost care that his animal is properly shod. Having mentioned donkeys—and this matter is not covered by the Bill; it is more a matter for the R.S.P.C.A.—many of your Lordships will agree that there is an enormous number of donkeys, many treated as pets, kept in fields or employed on the sands, whose feet are in a deplorable condition. I hope that I can use this debate as a vehicle to press upon the R.S.P.C.A. for more attention to be given to the problems of donkeys in the country, most of them being unshod anyway.

The only other point I wish to make is something which has come out of the debate. I express the hope which the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, put forward most strongly, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Newall did—and the Worshipful Company have this point in their minds—that this Bill, however it ends up, will improve the availability of farriers in the length and breadth of the country. I did not hear the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, but it is clear from what was said that he appreciates probably better than I the problems in Scotland. My Lords, I close by re-emphasising that one of the ultimate objects of this legislation should be that the availability of skilled farriers should be improved in the length and breadth of the country.

4.28 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to say how delighted I am to be taking part in this debate on the Farriers Bill this afternoon. In recent years a number of animal Bills have gone through your Lordships' House. I hope that my noble friend Lord Newall's Bill will also he passed and will protect the farriers and blacksmiths throughout this country. I congratulate my noble friend on introducing this Bill; many of us consider it to be extremely important. Its importance, first of all, is the recognition and the protection of the farrier. The second point deals with cruelty to horses and ponies. Coupling those two together, we do a great service to the farrier and the horse.

To-day, and especially where I live in Wiltshire, there is a large number of horses and ponies. Some ten or twelve years ago I could count one or two within a diameter of a mile around me. To-day there is a phenomenal number of horses and ponies within a two miles diameter of my home, but there is only one blacksmith. Before the war there was a blacksmith to each village; to-day the blacksmith who succeeded his father—and his father is still alive in my village—has to cover an area of 20 or 30 miles, and that includes racehorse stables. He has told me that he can barely cope with the work, and he is extremely frightened of the effects of the work of the new type of blacksmith who is not qualified, but who wanders around the countryside damaging the feet of horses, and causing a great deal of concern. So in that respect, if this Bill produces greater recognition so that there are more recruits to the industry, it will do a great deal of good.

I notice two points in the Bill. Many provisions in the Bill have already been discussed which we can deal with when we come to the Committee stage, but, as I say, I have two points, which I will deal with as briefly as I can. First, if a blacksmith or farrier is trained, so far as I can see he will get only a certificate. I do not know how many of your Lordships ever go into a blacksmith's shop, but those who do will know that it is covered in soot and is dirty, and if a certificate is hung up, even if it is in a frame, it will soon deteriorate. My view is that as soon as a farrier has qualified he ought to have both a certificate and a plaque outside his shop which would give him recognition straight away by anybody passing by. The plaque would also be better protected than the certificate inside which will probably shrivel up with the heat and so on.

It is of course very important to see good shoes, good feet, on a horse. Corning to the House one often sees the lovely Metropolitan Police horses walking along in their shoes. They look absolutely immaculate. I often wonder whether they have been to Lobb's in St. James's Street, to acquire £40 worth of shoe, because they look really good. It is a great art and craft to be able to put a good shoe and keep a tidy foot. It is important for the animal, and if by this Bill we can improve the standard of the blacksmith then I am all for it.

I have looked at one other point and must confess to my noble friend that I am not exactly happy with the Council. Perhaps we could look at that matter during Committee. I notice that there are people who are to be brought on to the Council who would probably not have experience of blacksmiths. It is very easy to call somebody in and to say to him: "Now you are on the Council. This man has been cruel to a horse." If I were called in, I doubt very much whether I should be able to say whether the blacksmith had been cruel or not. I might think so. I should think that a better way is for anyone on the Council to have been through a small course on farriery so that he knows what he is talking about. The Council is having only two qualified farriers and two veterinary surgeons. Very often veterinary surgeons are not the most up-to-date blacksmiths, if I may say so. All those on the Council who are opted in should either have been on a course or be otherwise qualified, as it is important they should know about the subject. My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on pro-clueing this Bill, and I fully support it.

4.33 p.m.


My Lords, I intervene for just a moment or two because I want to support most strongly what has been said by the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, and the noble Lord, Lord Margadale, with regard to the situation in Scotland. I do not live in the Highlands and Islands as Lord Thurso and Lord Margadale do; I live in a very civilised, so-called, part of the country which is called the County of Ayr. I can assure noble Lords in this House that if one can find there a farrier who is willing and able to call whenever you want him one is very lucky indeed.

My interest in this matter arises from the fact that my daughters have from childhood until middle age managed and worked a very considerable stable. They have dealt with not just one or two animals but a good many. Last night they expressed to me their fear that, having at last found a blacksmith who could really shoe a horse without doing it any damage, he might not be allowed to do so in future. I understood from what was said by the noble Lord who introduced the Bill, that people who are knowledgeable and who have worked as farriers over a considerable period of time will still, though they register, be allowed to operate. But it is this shortage which is the fear of many people. Farriers are not there. They may be in some of the counties in England, but they are not there in Scotland, and one has to rely on finding a farrier.

I would draw attention to the criticism made by the noble Lord, Lord Wigg. I agree with every word he said about the dangers there may be in forcing something on the horse-loving people of this country which is not capable of doing the job that is required. I want to support the words which have been spoken by the two noble Lords from the Highlands and Islands and by the noble Lord, Lord Wigg.

4.36 p.m.


My Lords, my name is not on the list of possible starters, so I will be brief. I do not think we need to regard this Bill as one that impinges on Party politics. So as an old foxhunting man with many thousands of very happy hours in the saddle, and a few unhappy hours after hitting the top bar of the fence and diving into a ditch, I want to give my support to this Bill. In these days it behoves every Parliamentarian to be careful about declaring his interests. I have no financial interests to declare but I have a sentimental interest. My grandfather was a village blacksmith in Bedfordshire and many is the time when, as a boy, I used to stand at the forge and watch with awe the sparks rise into the air. My great fear was that one of them some day would burn grandfather's beard. As a special treat I was sometimes allowed to blow the bellows. And by way of completing the historic story, I should mention that just outside the forge door there really was a spreading chestnut tree. Of course, appropriately enough, it was a horse-chestnut.

In these days when the machine is taking over from the man it behoves us to a great degree to try to preserve high craftsmanship where that still exists. We are considering now a relatively small and select body of men—perhaps 1,600 of them. But with the growth in the popularity of horsemanship, under very distinguished leadership let me say, I am sure that more and more farriers will be needed in the years to come. It is absolutely essential that they should be properly trained—I have heard all that the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, has said—and that they should not enter upon their practice until they are properly qualified. This may possibly lead to a small "closed shop", but I do not think that that would be likely to lead to any ideological indignation from other people who might be concerned.

A good horse can be ruined by bad shoeing. There can be cruelty and pain and suffering. Too many nails can be put in a hoof; nails can be too large; there can be incompetent paring of the hooves. Shoes can be slightly too heavy or of not quite the right shape. All these are calculated to do very great harm indeed to the animal. We in this country have a record, which I believe surpasses that of many other countries, for the way we care for our horses and farriery. This of course is an historic craft. In the second century B.C. metal shoes were being used in some parts of the world. True, we had to wait until William the Conqueror came here before we adopted metal shoeing; but all through the Middle Ages the farrier in this country was held in high esteem. That was at a time when many other countries still adhered to the ancient idea of sheathing the hoof of the horse in a sock of straw. Even Japan did not adopt metal shoeing of its horses until just over 100 years ago. I do not know whether we are in advance of Belgium which has a State School of Farriery, with 150 students who have to undergo thorough grounding in theory and practice for two years before they qualify. If I must mention women's lib, there are two women students among those 150.

With the increased use of mechanically propelled vehicles, more and more farriers in this country are going out of business. In the days when I used to keep hunters there were three farriers at blacksmiths' shops within three or four miles of my house and it was quite easy to get a horse properly shod. All those three blacksmiths' shops are now closed. Many blacksmiths have taken to fabricating iron ornaments and furnishings, and in my own county, believe it or not, my Lords, one of them has embarked upon the specialised trade of making chastity belts. Out of fairness to British womanhood, I ought to say that this is largely an export trade.

My Lords, we have in this country a high reputation for kindness to animals, except, perhaps, to foxes, but that is by the way. I feel that that reputation will rise even higher if we give this simple Bill a rapid passing. From what we have heard to-day regarding Scotland, and training, it may well be that some amendments will be necessary in Committee, but I hope that we will not hammer on the anvil too heavily during that Committee stage and that the Bill will not be unduly delayed.

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, my name was not on the list of speakers either, but this has been such an interesting and worthwhile debate that I think I should say how grateful we should be to the noble Lord, Lord Newall, for making it possible for us to talk about it this afternoon. Two things have struck me very forcibly. One is the cross-section of opinion amongst horse lovers across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. The second thing which I found extremely interesting was the experience of cavalry officers and fox-hunting men: that of the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, who was inspected by Lord Roberts as a young man when that great Field Marshal returned from the South African war, right up to the present time when Field Marshal Harding and the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, referred to the lack of farriers.

I can speak as possibly being of the veteran class, but still lucky enough to be the last cavalry officer who went on a course at Weedon in 1939. At that time Weedon, as your Lordships know, was pre-eminent in teaching equitation, horse mastery and horse management and it is probable that we will never see its like again, with the possible exception of the Vittorio Quinta Riding School outside Rome.

Even then, my Lords, the point was made by young subalterns in the Cavalry and in the Yeomanry of the then British order of battle that hot shoeing was becoming a thing of the past. A noble Lord opposite, I think it was Lord Granville, made the point that cold shoeing is becoming increasingly necessary. I feel that it is now of paramount importance. No noble Lord has actually referred to the cost of running a smithy. They are, of course, non-profitable enterprises. Cold shoeing presents fewer difficulties. It does not necessarily have to be done in a blacksmith's shop, because it does not require a forge. Cold shoeing must, I think, be the answer if it is true, as the instigator of this debate has said, that there are now more horses in the United Kingdom than there were thirty years ago. Frankly, I find this hard to believe, but I live in the North of Scotland where horses and riding cannot be compared with England or the Shires. Whether or not horses have increased in number, it is certainly true that farriers are literally on the way out and I feel that money will have to be raised. Not enough stress has been placed upon the cash required to encourage the young apprentice to go into the farrier's trade.

The noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, said a word about the possibility of the Highlands and Islands raising funds, but frankly I do not feel that they are the right people to do it. Surely it is the duty of our horsebreeding societies and the Royal Show in England and the Royal Highland Show in Scotland to make it worth while for young men to come into the business. If I am not raising a red herring, I think we should breed horses with better feet. I can no longer afford to hunt, but I have certain experience in judging horses, particularly in South America, and I would have your Lordships know that horses are chosen on the soundness of their feet before they can come into the show ring in Buenos Aires in the Argentine.

While every breed of horse has its champions, and while every great horse in every country has an international reputation in the way of performance, there can surely have been no finer equine feat than that concerning the two horses that were ridden by a Swiss schoolteacher. They were caught on the Argentine Pampas and ridden across the Andes, over deserts and through forests to New York, and they were ridden barefoot all the way.

4.47 p.m.


My Lords, I want to make two small points which I had expected to have been made by now. For that reason I did not put my name on the list of speakers. To my knowledge, the number of ponies and horses in this country is proliferating enormously, but I have a strong suspicion that the Government, at any rate, do not know how many there are. I have never seen an agricultural form upon which I have had to write down whether there were any horses or ponies grazing on my little bit of property. The noble Lord, Lord Newall, said that the figures varied between something under half a million, as estimated by the farriers, and a million by The Sunday Times. Perhaps the noble Lord has an accurate figure. My point is that if the number is anything like a million, that is a tremendous "plus" credit for British agriculture, because British agriculture is supporting a million more quadrupeds than apparently is the case and is, therefore, much more efficient than people think.

I have been told that if these animals are properly fed, even half a million of them would be eating over half a million tons of oats a year and a million tons of hay. I do not suppose that many of them get many oats. Nevertheless, this unknown quantity of horses and ponies is a tremendous "plus" for British agriculture. I hesitate, among all these horse lovers, to suggest a remedy, but it would be this, that if you need a licence for a dog, why should you not have a licence for a pony or a horse? Then you would know how many there are.

The other point is that the more farriers there are the more blacksmiths there will ultimately be, and there is a very grave shortage of blacksmiths all over the country. My Lords, those are the two small points I want to make.

4.49 p.m.


My Lords, I want to resist the temptation to deal with the many points which have been raised by noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I want to say to my noble friend Lord Wigg that I find myself to a very large extent in agreement with what he has said. But perhaps I may return to that in a moment or two. The only thing that I want to say—perhaps I am deluding myself—is this. I have no master either in a Government Department or in a political Party, and the only master I recognise—at least I hope I am right in saying this—is my conscience.

I hope the noble Lord, Lord Newall, will allow me to congratulate him on not only the lucid but, if I may say so, the persuasive manner in which he has presented this Bill to your Lordships. Although the Bill is not particularly long, I think we must confess that it is complex and our thanks are due to the noble Lord for putting it so succinctly and so clearly. I do not remember a Private Member's Bill being presented—and again I hope he will not think I am being impertinent when I say this—so ably in such a short time.

I can assure the House and the noble Lord that the Government are in complete sympathy with some of the objectives of the Bill. First, the prevention of cruelty to horses which is spelt out in the Long Title of the Bill, is a subject on which I do not think I need to elaborate because I believe it must speak for itself and find general approval among your Lordships. But on the second, the enhancement by various means of the status of the trade of farriery and the reversal in the decline of the number of farriers, perhaps I may be permitted to add some comments on the position as the Government see it. Here again I realise that perhaps I am in danger of being accused of damning the Bill with faint praise. That really is not my intention.

Farriery is one of the craft industries which benefit from the technical, advisory and trade services provided in the rural areas of England and Wales by the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas, and in Scotland, as your Lordships know, by the Small Industries Council for Rural Areas of Scotland. Both these organisations are sponsored by the Development Commission and are financed by grants from the Development Fund. Both agencies are sympathetic towards the desire of the Worshipful Company to improve the standards of craftsmanship and to improve the status of the trade. They have also drawn attention to the increasing concern that is felt in rural areas about the decline in the number of farriers, and on this point I shall, if I may, quote from the Report of the Council for England and Wales in the years 1970 to 1972. Their Report says that: Farriery is becoming an increasing headache in many counties. The rapid growth in interest in riding produces an expanding demand for farriers but in most counties the number of master farriers working full time is declining. Waiting lists for shoeing build up and in many instances customers have to wait for several months. There are many youngsters willing to learn the craft and some master farriers will take on apprentices, but they require considerable incentive, especially in the form of grants from sources such as the Worshipful Company of Farriers. One Kent farrier has taken on several apprentices with grants from this source. Rather more master farriers however are unwilling to accept the responsibility of training. For instance, this is so in Surrey, South Wales and Hampshire. Some farriers are enterprising enough to become itinerant, and portable forges and cold shoeing are becoming the order of the day in Norfolk "— as probably the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers will know— but the overall picture is not a healthy one …". The Worshipful Company of Farriers reported in their brochure that there are still insufficient farriers in many areas. The horse population is given, as the noble Lord said, as being between 400,000 and one million. I can only say that it is our understanding that the view of the Worshipful Company of Farriers is that it is between 400,000 and 500,000, but there is the article which appeared in the Sunday Times quite recently which gives the figure as something like one million. We frankly do not know what the figure is and it is no good my pretending that we do.

To meet their needs there are something like 1,200 shoeing smiths. Many of them are elderly and the number that is thought to be needed at the present moment is in the region of 1,500—and one has to recognise that new apprentices are urgently required. Both the Small Industries Councils in Rural Areas—that is the one in England and Wales and its Scottish equivalent—and the Worshipful Company of Farriers have been tackling the problem with a very real degree of urgency. The increase in the number of horses and the need for them to be properly shod indicates the importance of the work which is already in hand to increase standards in the farriery trade and to recruit apprentices. I do not think I need say any more to show why the second main object of the sponsor of the Bill is viewed most favourably by the Government.

I have indicated that the objectives sought by the noble Lord, Lord Newall, are broadly acceptable to the Government, but I should be less than frank if I did not say that the Government are not altogether persuaded that a Bill is necessary to achieve these objectives, or indeed that legislation is the most effective way of bringing them about. I enter these reservations now, not because the Government are opposed to the underlying purposes of the think this is a matter for your Lordships to decide—but in order that its sponsor and the House should be fully aware of the implications, as the Government see them, of legislating at all on this matter. I would refer the noble Lord, Lord Newall, to what my noble friend Lord Wigg has said on this matter of the need rather to emphasise training as distinct from the need for registration.

If I may be permitted to say so, there are two main areas of doubt. I mention them, but I do not want to stress them, and I suggest that some attention should be given to them. The first is whether it is necessary to erect the elaborate and possibly expensive administrative organisation envisaged in the Bill in order to give horses protection from suffering through being shod by persons without the appropriate competence. The second is whether the erection of this machinery will do anything to encourage recruitment to the trade of farriery. As noble Lords will know, farriery is a trade with a long and distinguished history in this country.

As it has already been touched upon by my noble friend Lord Leatherland, I do not want to give your Lordships what I was proposing to give you; namely, a short history of farriery. It is perfectly true that it came to England from the Continent with William the Conqueror. He himself provided money on the condition that farriers should be provided. There was a Company of Farriers in London as far back as 1674, when Charles II granted it a Royal Charter. I think it is only fair to say that since that period, the Company has a very fine record in this particular sphere, and I think deserves the commendation of everybody interested in this particular subject. It is perhaps a little strange that after this long time, and with this distinguished background, it should suddenly be found necessary to impose by statutory means strict standards upon the trade in order to protect horses from cruel treatment at the hands of incompetent farriers. I do not wish in any way to challenge or even doubt the validity of the evidence of such cases. Noble Lords will recall that a dossier was prepared by the National Master Farriers', Blacksmiths' and Agricultural Engineers' Association. Their comments were given in the Sunday Times on May 5, where it was alleged that horses have suffered severely at the hands of amateur farriers. But I would make the following observations.

My Lords, neither the Home Office, which is the Department responsible for the law relating to the protection of animals from cruelty, nor the two Government agencies involved in the training of farriers, have had hitherto any evidence of cruelty or injury caused to horses by incompetent practitioners. My noble friend Lord Wigg wondered where the Home Office came in so far as this matter was concerned. I think the only reply I can give (and it may not be a satisfactory reply) is that the Bill covers a wide field of interest. I think in particular of rural industries, which have some responsibility for training farriers, cruelty to animals, and various regional interests. I am informed that there is no one Department that has an overriding responsibility for this particular sphere. It is for this reason that the Home Office is handling the Bill in a co-ordinating role—


My Lords, I entirely accept that but the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell has missed the point. Perhaps he wants to miss the point. The responsibility ought to rest with the Ministry of Agriculture. That is the point.


My Lords, it gives rise to the question whether the Ministry of Agriculture recognises the horse as an agricultural animal.


My Lords, I quite agree.


My Lords, the Home Office, which is the Department responsible for the law relating to the cruelty of animals, has had no complaints at all. The shoeing of horses is by its very nature not a trade that can be undertaken profitably by an incompetent person. Causing pain to the horse while shoeing is surely likely to be known. It must create a reaction on the part of the horse, and if bad shoeing lames the animal, surely the blame will be attached to the person who is doing it. In either event, the incompetent man in the circumstances cannot possibly stay in business. In any case, already there exists legislation to protect animals, including horses, from cruelty. The article in the Sunday Times of May 5, to which I have already made reference, mentions cases of amateurs paring the hoof almost down to its quick, and of shoeing animals in such a way that the iron cuts great gashes in the fetlocks when they move. Such cases prima facie seem to fall within the ambit of the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, which makes it an offence, punishable by a fine or a maximum of three months imprisonment, for any person by wantonly or unreasonably doing or omitting to do any act to cause any unnecessary suffering to any animal, or being the owner, permitting any unnecessary suffering to be so caused.

Noble Lords will no doubt have observed that the Bill implicitly recognises the protection of horses afforded by the existing law. If it did not, what is the point of Clause 16(1) which allows a man who is not registered under the Bill to shoe a horse which belongs to him? With great respect, I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Newall, that I think it is necessary to look at Clause 7(4) in addition to the one that I have just mentioned, which presumably will give exemption to a large number of persons by virtue of the fact that they have been shoeing horses for a specified period. I may be wrong in my interpretation, but this is how I understand the situation. I think it is questionable whether Clause 7(4) and Clause 16, subsection 1(b)(vi) should remain in the Bill. If the protection of horses from cruelty was the only objective, then this exception would not have been made. If there are cases of suffering caused to horses by incompetent farriery, those responsible can be brought under existing law before the courts and punished.

My Lords, I should like to turn now to consider whether the Bill is likely to achieve the objective of increasing the number of farriers by enhancing the status of the trade. Of course, this must be a matter of opinion and not of certainty, but the following points I believe can be properly made. As I mentioned earlier, although youngsters can be found to learn the craft, and the various training and apprenticeship schemes are operating to the full, one has to admit they are limited in number and the facilities provided are also limited. It appears, both from evidence available to the Government agencies and from the experience of the Worshipful Company of Farriers, that many master farriers are unwilling to accept the responsibility of training unless they receive considerable financial incentive. I understand the Worshipful Company of Farriers expended in the year 1972–73 nearly £10,000 on grants for apprentices. It is arguable whether financial inducements of this kind may be a more effective form of encouraging recruitment to the trade and for training to high standards than the complex arrangements for registration proposed in the Bill. The Bill allows the Farriers Registration Council to approve courses of training at a school of farriery or other establishments, attendance at which will enable a farrier with the other necessary qualifications laid down in the Bill to become registered, and to practise his trade.

My Lords, as I understand it, at present only two courses have the approval of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. Those are at the Herefordshire Training College and the Royal Army Veterinary Corps Training Centre. It is possible—and I do not want to put it any more strongly than that—that limitations on the number of farriery courses available could work against the improvement of standard generally. On the other hand, competence in the trade does not necessarily come from paper qualifications, or from courses. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Newall, will know that the many handbooks on the trade—and I just give one, Hogg's book, Hammer and Tongs—make it clear that farriery is best taught by close association with the forge and the horse. If the law on the protection of animals provides adequate safeguards against cruelty, which it can and should, it is not altogether certain that the creation—and I use a phrase used by my noble friend Lord Leatherland—of a closed shop, of the type envisaged by this Bill, would necessarily produce more and better trained farriers, or even be in the public interest.

I would mention one final practical point for the noble Lord, Lord Newall, to consider. The Bill creates a very elaborate machinery in the Council with its Investigating and Disciplinary Committees. There will be examinations to be set; there will be courses to be approved. All this will take staff and will need premises and other facilities, and that means, I submit, that a substantial amount of money has to be found. The Bill's Explanatory Memorandum says, somewhat blandly: It is intended that the registration fees will be kept to the minimum necessary to lead to maintenance of control of the trade under the Bill being self-supporting financially". But, my Lords, so far as we know in the end there will only be something like 1,500 farriers. What size of fee will each need to be charged in order to produce an adequate annual revenue to run the kind of Council envisaged with the responsibilities which are quite clearly set out in the Bill? I hope the noble Lord will consider this in detail, since the financial complexities of running a council of this type should not be underestimated. It would, I suggest, be little short of disastrous for the objectives if the cost of running the statutory machine proved to be so high that the fees of registration were a positive discouragement to potential recruits to the trade.

I hope that in saying this—and I realise that in some measure I have been critical—I have said enough to indicate that my comments were intended to be constructive, even if they did not give that impression. The Government certainly wish to see the noble Lord's objective fulfilled, and that there should be an adequate number of skilled farriers to provide a service up to the standard of their ancient trade. Our only doubts are whether legislation is really necessary for this purpose and whether it is the most effective way of achieving what the noble Lord, Lord Newall, so clearly has in mind.

I wonder whether, before I sit down, your Lordships will allow me to say something about the Scottish situation, because this matter was raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, and it was also mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, who, I was delighted to hear, lives in a civilised part of Scotland; I had always been led to believe that there were no uncivilised parts! It has been suggested that there is need for a separate Scottish Registration Council and that this could be provided for either in the Bill or by having a separate Scottish measure. I think your Lordships would wish to consider very carefully whether it would really be justifiable to have a separate Scottish Bill. If there is general support for the present Bill, it would seem desirable to regard it as one which should apply to Great Britain as a whole. If this view is accepted, then consideration has to be given to whether there should be a Scottish Council, and I am bound to say to the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, that to contemplate a Scottish Council to superintend and control a trade of something like 100 to 150 farriers in Scotland is perhaps going a little too tar. The income from fees, I think, could hardly be significant. It is of some relevance that the State veterinary service is organised on a Great Britain basis and the current code of law on welfare of animals on land used for agriculture is contained in a Great Britain Statute, the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968. I think a better course, in meeting the points made in relation to the application of the Bill to Scotland, would be to include provisions which would ensure Scottish representation on the Registration Council. The noble Lord, Lord Newall, may wish to consider this, by making Amendments to Schedule 1, if the Bill obtains a Second Reading in your Lordships' House.


My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, I wonder whether he would answer a simple question? He referred to a book called Hammer and Tongs and he said the author's name was Hogg. Could he tell us the full christian names of the author, as the lawyers say, for the avoidance of doubt?


My Lords, I am afraid I cannot help my noble friend. All I know is that there is such a book and that the author was named Hogg.

5.17 p.m.


My Lords, obviously, I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I dare say that the Government have been rather surprised by the amount of time it has taken, even though I was probably the shortest speaker. I feel that I should like to reply to every noble Lord who has spoken, but, obviously, that would be impractical, so I hope that those I do not mention will not mind too much.

I should like to deal with one or two points. First, the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, said that the Bill does not deal with remote areas, such as Scotland; and this point was also mentioned by the noble Lords, Lord Strathclyde and Lord Margadale. I must say that I tend to disagree, although there are areas for argument here and this will be further looked into. I believe that the point is already covered, but we will look at it. Many noble Lords raised the question of owners. I think it must be agreed that owners cannot be stopped from shoeing their own horses; it would be stupid to make a law which is not enforceable. I would agree with noble Lords who made the point that an owner is one person who will try extremely hard to keep his horse going.

Trimming is not mentioned in the Bill and we must look at that aspect, although it is something else which will come with the passage of time. I do not think it possible to have a separate qualification for trimming, but I will take legal advice. The noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, also said that there should be two categories for shoeing—one for ordinary feet and one for bad feet. I would submit that ordinary feet can become bad feet through bad shoeing, so it is impossible to differentiate. So far as the Highlands and Islands are concerned, a wonderful picture was conjured up of a great many asses in kilts wandering over heather-clad hills—but, of course, only the quadrupeds. There are many words in the Scottish language which are different, apart from those in this context, but I submit that it would be possible to make them correspond exactly. But I believe that the noble Viscount is not completely supported by the veterinary surgeons in Scotland whose opinions I have sought.

We were most grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, and the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, for telling us about their heraldic problems and about the links with their forefathers. The noble Lord, Lord Margadale, mentioned that he is interested in many aspects of the horse, but those who are interested in these things often come off second-best if they take on a subject like shoeing without certain knowledge. The noble Lord, Lord Granville of Eye, said he had reason to believe that there is a lot of "foot" trouble about. I presumed that he was talking in the equestrian sense and not in the political sense. He also asked about Part II in particular, and I should like to assure him that if registered, people are able to go on shoeing even if they have not passed an examination. This is clearly set out in the Bill. It takes time to get it completely organised, and one cannot do it all at one fell swoop. So far as Northern Ireland is concerned this is being looked at, but I believe that it is perfectly normal to leave Northern Ireland out of a great many Bills of this type. The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, was very kind in his remarks, and I am grateful for his support and historical information. His reference to flying made me think that many people connected with horses had more than a passing knowledge of flying, although it is sometimes rather uncomfortable when they arrive! The noble Earl, Lord Malmesbury, mentioned training establishments. I should like to assure him that there is another one at Melton Mowbray which does a great deal of good work.

The noble Lord, Lord Wigg, made many references to matters about which I know less than he does, but there are 120 apprentices in training and all the new inquiries are going very well, so it looks very hopeful indeed. We all hope that if this Bill becomes law it will encourage grants, and will get publicity and therefore more trainees and apprentices will come to light and put the thing on the road. So far as his reference to a head lad shoeing a horse is concerned, it would be an emergency in that case and perfectly admissible under the Bill. Perhaps I could ask him to use his influence with the Government to talk about different Departments and leave that task to him, because I have no ability to do that. I think that enforcement will come in time. The veterinary surgeons, the R.S.P.C.A., and the owners themselves will do a great deal to make sure that this is enforced as time goes on, but, as I said before, it will not happen overnight. So far as the request of the noble Viscount, Lord Long, for plaques as well as certificates is concerned, we could look into that matter if it is not too expensive. The constitution of the Council is well laid out in the Schedule. I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lovat, for raising the question of finance. I hope that as a result of this debate donations will start pouring in from to-day.

We come now to the final speech of the noble Lord on the Front Bench opposite, who I felt was speaking with a slightly lonely voice, if I may say so, even though he said that he approved of it in principle. It is fairly obvious to most people that if master farriers will not take on apprentices, then something will have to be done about it. It is no good saying that it is not popular; more money must be found. With the increase in horses and ponies it is no good shutting one's eyes to the problem; one has to look at it carefully to see how it can be made to work, and make arrangements for more money to be available. I was a little worried about his estimate of the number of farriers. All the information that I have indicates 1,643 farriers available at the last count in the United Kingdom as a whole, so his reference to approaching 1,500 in the future was a little on the low side.

I suggest that if this Bill becomes law it will enable local grants to be given where they are not able to be given at the moment, or people do not feel that they can be given. The noble Lord talked at some length about the expensive machinery necessary. It should be made absolutely clear that the machinery is already in existence. The Worshipful Company of Farriers, and many other people, are already making examinations and arranging courses. It is all going on now. All we need is more money, more interest, and more farriers. I think that the noble Lord also mentioned the necessity for practical experience, and I could not agree with him more. I shall read his speech carefully, and if there are any points about which I have doubts perhaps I could communicate with him.

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

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