HL Deb 17 November 1976 vol 377 cc1280-1

2.37 p.m.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper, and at the same time to declare an interest in the Society named, one of whose officers I am.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to protect licensees under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 from sabotage and vandalism, with particular reference to the burglary of the Research Defence Society's premises in Marylebone on the night of Saturday, 13th November, and the theft of all their files and documents.

The MINISTER of STATE, HOME OFFICE (Lord Harris of Greenwich)

My Lords, I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, whose responsibility this is, that the police are investigating the burglary and pursuing certain lines of inquiry. It would be wrong for me to say anything further while those inquiries are being made. If any licensee has reason to think that he or the premises where he works are under threat of criminal attack, he should contact his local police.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord the Minister for that reply, could I pursue the matter a little further? Would the noble Lord be prepared to summarise and circulate to licensees the acts of vandalism of the last three years, so that they can judge for themselves what approach they should make to the local police force for the greatest security of their premises?


My Lords, I am aware that there has been an upsurge of criminal acts directed against those involved in all aspects of research on living animals, but I do not think that it is appropriate for us to circulate that list. That is for the Research Defence Society to do provided that that Society regards it as an appropriate course of action.


My Lords, is my noble friend the Minister aware that those of us who are deeply concerned about the operation of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 in no way support or condone these attacks on licensees and their premises? Is my noble friend aware that none of us wishes to pursue our reasonable activities for reform in this matter by giving the slightest support to any activities of this kind?


My Lords, I am grateful for what my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby has said. He is certainly right. Nothing can excuse unlawful acts of this character.


My Lords, so far as it is known, are these acts co-ordinated and organised, or are they sporadic attacks by rather eccentric individuals?


My Lords, I would prefer not to comment on that. Even now this matter is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police, who will look at all the aspects of this matter and will also, no doubt, consider some of the earlier attacks which took place on other premises.


My Lords, can the noble Lord the Minister give an assurance that this matter will be pursued with the utmost recourse to the law?


Yes, my Lords.

A noble Lord

Boil them in oil!