HL Deb 09 February 1978 vol 388 cc1189-91

4.10 p.m.

Lord WALLACE of COSLANY rose to move, That the draft Slaughter of Poultry Act 1967 Extension Order 1978, laid before the House on 24th January, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the draft order before the House is in fact a straightforward and, I hope noble Lords will agree, desirable extension of the Slaughter of Poultry Act 1967. In presenting it, therefore, there is no need for a lengthy explanation.

The 1967 Act, which applies throughout Great Britain, is concerned with the welfare of poultry at the time of their slaughter for sale for human consumption. It requires stunning prior to slaughter, but permits as alternatives instantaneous slaughter by neckwringing, decapitation or other approved methods. The Act originally applied solely to domestic fowl and turkeys, but in Section 7 provided powers for its application to be extended to other species of birds kept in captivity. My right honourable friends the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State for Scotland now propose to use those powers, subject to Parliamentary approval, to apply the Act to guinea fowl, ducks and geese, the other species commonly kept in captivity for slaughter for sale for human food. In accordance with the policies of successive Governments, the Act, in Section 1(2), provides an exemption for Jewish and Moslem slaughter carried out without the infliction of unnecessary suffering. This exemption will be unaffected by the extension order.

Species other than chickens and turkeys were not included in the original Act because there were technical problems over stunning them by electrical means, but since the Act was brought into operation in 1970 these former problems have been overcome and effective stunning equipment for these other species is already in use in slaughterhouses. The proposed extension of the Act would recognise, therefore, progress in the poultry slaughtering industry and, in doing so, would bring our legislation in line with the requirements of EEC Directive 71/118, as amended, in relation to pre-slaughter stunning. It is proposed that the extension order should take effect on 1st March 1978. The extension of the Act by this proposed order will enable my right honourable friends, at a future date, to provide further, by subordinate legislation and other appropriate consultation, for the humane treatment of guinea fowl, ducks and geese in slaughterhouses, using the powers provided in Section 3 of the Act. Such provision has already been made for domestic fowl and turkeys.

As required by the Act, the laying of this draft order before Parliament was preceded by consultation with a wide range of organisations representative of the interests concerned. There was no expression of dissent. I commend the draft order to your Lordships' House, and beg to move.

Moved, That the draft Slaughter of Poultry Act 1967 Extension Order 1978, laid before the House on 24th January, be approved.—(Lord Wallace of Coslany.)


My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Coslany, for explaining this extension order in such detail. There is only one question I should like to ask the noble Lord, and it is in regard to penalties. Section 1(3) and Section 2 of the 1967 Act allow penalties in the sums of, respectively, £50 and £20 to be imposed. I should like to ask the noble Lord whether, in view of the problem of inflation, any consideration is being given to these sums being updated.


My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord for giving me advance indication that we has going to ask this question. It is true that the penalty prescribed in Section 4(2) of the 1967 Act is £20, and that in 1978 this sum represents a far less financial penalty than at the time the Act was passed. Noble Lords will realise that this provision of the Act cannot be amended by means of subordinate legislation. However, penalties of this kind are reviewed from time to time, and I can assure the noble Lord that this particular penalty will not be overlooked at the appropriate time. Apart from that, it would appear that there is general approval of the order, and I therefore hope your Lordships will agree to it.

On Question, Motion agreed to.