§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill proposes to amend the Pet Animals Act of 1951 in one particular only. The 1951 Act regulated the sale of pet animals. Its main purpose was to do with the licensing of pet shops, laying down proper conditions for keeping and caring for animals on sale in pet shops. It provided for inspectors to see that these conditions were complied with, the inspectors being officers of the local authorities. Another provision was that pets were not to be sold to children under 12 years of age.
The section of the 1951 Act which I propose to change relates to the sale of pet animals in streets or public places. The Act of 1951 made it an offence to sell pets in the street or any public place except from a stall or barrow and by a person who had been granted a licence to do so by the local authority. My Bill seeks to revoke street trading altogether. I want to remove the trade in pets from stalls or barrows in streets or public places from the licensing provisions of the 1951 Act.
I want to stress that this Bill does not affect pet shops or anything else in the 1951 Act except that. While there are probably other provisions in the principal Act in need of attention, I am deliberately confining this Bill to one reform only. It is pressing and I think that it should come first. I must also keep in mind that if your Lordships see fit to pass this Bill it has still to find a place in the business of the House of Commons. Before it can become law it must of course pass through both Houses. I have referred previously to the curious situation in which your Lordships' House always finds a place for a Bill which comes up from the House of Commons, but the House of Commons do not always find a place for Bills which go from the House of Lords. I wish to 874 make the task of sympathetic Members of another place easier by confining this Bill to this one clause.
Moreover, there is another good reason why I am doing this. It is that the pet shop proprietors have now formed a pet trade association. They have their own channels of approach and recommendation to the Home Office on matters which concern them; so they prefer that I should not extend the scope of this amending Bill any further than I have done, in order to leave them free to pursue their concerns through channels which are open to them. They are neutral on this Bill because some of their members are stall-holders as well as pet shop proprietors.
I do not wish to detain your Lordships for too long, but I think the history of this legislation will be of interest, especially when Governments say, as they often do, that they have no intention of introducing legislation to bring about some reform or other. It does not mean they are not interested, but that they are probably willing to let a Private Member do it. The original Act of 1951 was a Private Member's Bill. It was the work of Sir Ronald Russell, who was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Wembley, South. He tried first to introduce this Bill to regulate the sale of pets in 1949, but failed through lack of time; but in 1951 he was successful and his Bill was passed in June 1951. It became operative from April 1952.
It is interesting to note that the Bill, when introduced into another place, was moved by the late Sir Ronald Russell and was supported by our colleague in this House, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, by the noble Lord, Lord Pargiter, and by the noble Lord, Lord Reigate. No fewer than eight members of the Standing Committee which dealt with that Bill in another place are now Members of your Lordships' House. I think it is interesting, as I say, to recall their part in formulating a Bill which has done so much good over the last 30 years. I notice the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, is in her place; she was one of the supporters. Others were the noble Viscountess, Lady Davidson, the noble Baroness, Lady White, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, and the noble Lords, Lord Holderness, Lord Boyle, Lord Pargiter, and Lord Cooper of Stockton Heath.
By 1969 Sir Ronald Russell was of the opinion that his Bill of 1951 did not in this respect go far enough, and he introduced an amending Bill which, unfortunately, made no progress in another place through lack of time. This Bill which is now before your Lordships' House is exactly the same Bill as the one Sir Ronald Russell sought to introduce in another place in 1969. There is, therefore, nothing very hasty about what it is proposed to do. Sir Ronald became badly disabled in his last Parliament, 1970–74, and he died in 1974: otherwise I am sure that this Bill would have come from another place to your Lordships' House on his initiative. Anyway, it falls to me to introduce the Bill almost by proxy.
Now for the merits of the matter. I want to preface my remarks on them by reflecting on the change in public attitudes towards animal protection and welfare during the 30 years since 1951. Public interest and concern for all animal life has increased enormously during that time. What was acceptable in 1951 may not be acceptable today. Since then we have had 875 legislation on standards in boarding establishments and kennels; we have had legislation for the protection of birds; we have before the House at the present time a Bill for the protection of laboratory animals—the first to be passed by either House on this subject for a hundred years. Other Bills on animal welfare are coming forward. Political parties are now pledged to bring about reforms in this field. The present Government are probably more committed to improving the conditions for animal protection and welfare than any previous Government at any time; and that is to their credit.
Public interest obviously has been met and stimulated by more television and newspaper coverage of animal life than ever before. Such people as David Attenborough have made a very big contribution to this. Young people with a passion for change and for a better society frequently express themselves in noisy demonstrations and occasional breaches of the peace. They are impatient with the slow pace of parliamentary business and they complain to me that nothing gets done here—it is all talk; there is no action, only delay and frustration; everything takes too long.
My Lords, it is no good ignoring the young people when trying to gauge public opinion, because they are part of it and they are the people who will count in the years to come. When I was at Club Row last Sunday morning a number of young people were demonstrating there, but it was not for my benefit because they have been demonstrating outside this marketplace every Sunday morning for the last 11 months. It appeared to need a number of police officers there to see that everybody behaved properly, and I thought it probably took more than a little courage on the part of some of the stallholders to be carrying on their business to the din of incessant barracking. That is how it looked to me.
But before condemning these demonstrators—and I am sorry that the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, is not present, because this is his obsession—I think we have at least to be thankful that these young people are never football hooligans or drunken louts at closing time; they are not rapists, muggers, burglars or pickpockets. They are not even pickets, trying to intimidate other people into stopping work. They may do wrong but they are never evil. Call them extremists if you will but, like it or not, they are part of the present climate of opinion on animal welfare—an active, vocal, noisy and even militant part, but they cannot be suppressed.
In this field, as in many others, if moderate leadership bears fruit, extremism can be contained: if it does not, then more militant action follows. It is those who say "No" to demands for moderate change who have to pay the higher price in the end. These young people are sweeping into the animal welfare societies. They are taking them over, and many of them are making heavy personal sacrifices for the work they are doing. I admire them in so much of what they are doing; I only wish I was young so that I could live with them to see it through.
However, I think I ought now to turn to a cool, objective look at the street trade in animals, and at what it is about it that we think justifies the proposals in this Bill. One consideration is: Does this assist 876 responsible pet ownership? There are strong doubts as to whether this form of selling pet animals is conducive to responsible pet ownership. Too many puppies and kittens are bought by children in a passing fancy, or because they fall for the appealing look of an engaging creature whose attractions are irresistible.
But the glamour can wear off, and pets can be a chore and an expense. As they grow up, they lose some of their endearing qualities and may become a bore or a nuisance; and probably the adult members of the family want to get rid of them. There is a danger that these animals may be eventually turned out, rejected, dropped on a motorway—anything. It is amazing what terrible things people will do to animals which they have called their pets.
I think that people, who would buy a pet or acquire one, should be encouraged to go direct to breeders, to licensed pet shops, to the RSPCA or to a reputable animal rescue centres, where a purchaser has a positive and premeditated purpose in mind, and will not buy on impulse or on a wave of sentiment. Sales in open markets tend to be to the passer-by, and the likelihood is that a person who has to enter premises to buy will be a more responsible pet owner.
The next point we have to consider is: what about responsible selling? Responsible selling is not likely to be found in street market trading, and it will not be up to the high standard we expect from licensed pet shops and others who are running bona fide establishments. There are kennels, breeders' premises, voluntary societies and the rest. I ask your Lordships: Would you buy a pet from a stall in the street? If your answer is No, then it is my answer, too. I do not think that this kind of selling should be encouraged.
The main risk, of course, is on health grounds, and it is on that that I have received most complaints. I have had complaints about the pedigree and condition of pets. Many people who acquire pets in this way very frequently find that they have to take them to the vet very shortly afterwards, because they are sickly and probably fatally ill. Vets have been critical of the number of people who have gone to them, having acquired pets in this way, without proper safeguards about the health of the animal they were buying.
There are also complaints—very occasional, I must say—of kittens and puppies being dumped on the rubbish heap at the end of the day. Kittens have been found. I have photographs here of kittens which have been picked up from the rubbish heap in an open market. Last Sunday, when I was at Club Row in Tower Hamlets, a woman came to me with a picture of a collie and asked "Have you seen this dog in this market"? I had not. She was looking for a dog which she had lost and had gone to that market believing—hoping, probably—that she would see it on sale. Some people have bought animals from these market places, not because they wanted an additional pet or were particularly attracted to what they saw, but because they took compassion on an animal which they thought was in a very uncomfortable condition.
Another point is that dealers frequent open markets much more frequently than they go into pet shops. Some of them are known to be supplying research laboratories, and the sooner we stop research laboratories from going out into the streets, here and there, to get their animals, and require them to get them 877 from bona fide breeding establishments, the better.
I have a letter from an RSPCA superintendent, who has given me an account of what he thinks is wrong with an open market such as Club Row. He mentions that that,area is perhaps one of the principal outlets in the country for illegal trade in wild birds ".He also says:It is suspected that pet stealers dispose of their ill-gotten gains at the market to innocent members of the public".He said that at that time last year when he wrote the society had two pending prosecutions against those responsible. He said:Traders sell or attempt to sell puppies and kittens at too early an age".They should, of course, have been weaned, but there is no strict condition as to how that is to be determined. He went on:Some licensed traders occasionally trade in exotic animals, including fox cubs".But they are perfectly entitled to do that. The superintendent continued:The market creates a serious problem in relation to contagious feline and canine diseases, i.e. distemper, hard pad and enteritis. As I am sure you will appreciate, at the time of the sale an animal may appear to bewell, but it soon becomes sickly.
The Evening Standard of 17th November disclosed a new danger in connection with open markets; that is, in the certification of vaccination. It published the name and the photograph of a vet who was signing blank forms of certificates of vaccination. This vet said "The animals were examined all right. There is no doubt about that. But I could not spend all Saturday afternoon, when I wanted to look at a football match on television, filling in the details. So I signed the forms, handed them over to the dealers and they had to put in the details".
Part of the difficulty is that on Saturday all this trade builds up for the Sunday morning, and we can understand the problems of the concentration of work on a Saturday, in order to open a stall on the Sunday morning. The period of vigilance is a very difficult one. It is too short to see all that is going on. I think that the Evening Standard and the Star newspapers have done a public service in drawing attention to much that they have seen in this and other market places.
I now come to the next heading of our examination of this problem: the conditions in open markets. As I said, I went to Club Row last Sunday. It is primitive and scruffy. It was a fine Sunday morning with little wind, though rather cold. But what if there had been a blizzard, a high wind or pouring rain? There were plastic covers to the stalls, blankets hung at the side and Calor gas heaters looking rather dangerous amid so much straw. It was not a very pleasant sight.
The conditons in these markets are the responsibility of the local authority. They lay down the conditions and it is their responsibility to enforce them. But the RSPCA superintendent complains that, owing to the laxity of oversight of the conditions, it falls to the RSPCA to do it for them. There is an officer of the RSPCA on duty at that market all the time. I do not see why the voluntary societies should 878 undertake a job which is proper to the local authorities or to the police.
I did not like what I saw, but I cannot say that in those conditions I saw anything which made me feel deeply angry. Nevertheless, I came away fully convinced that a street market is no place to sell pets. It is a relic of the 19th century, when shops were few and markets flourished. But it will not do today. The risks, under all the heads that I have mentioned, are too great. Living animals are not merchandise. They are flesh and blood and have feelings and emotions.
I have to ask noble Lords whether in all the circumstances they feel that this is a Bill to stop the sale of animals in open market places. The question we have to ask is whether we are justified in ending altogether this trade and having done with it. My answer to that question is, Yes. Quite apart from public opinion, I think our own attitude towards animals should enable us to reach a judgment. I have not received a single letter saying that these markets should be kept open: not one. I have seen scores of letters, and the evidence with them, in which the writers complain bitterly about the conditions they have seen. The RSPCA strongly support the Bill and the British Veterinary Association warmly welcome it. Both are sources of respectable support.
Finally, would the total ban on this trade cause unjustified loss of freedom and income to those who trade in open markets? Are we justified in interfering, or are we content merely to doll it up? I think we are justified in ending the trade. Since 1951 the pet shop business has grown enormously. So far as animals are concerned, street markets are a thing of the past. They are probably on the way out. In Club Row there are 35 licensed sites for stalls to sell animals, but last Sunday only five were being used. Not more than seven or eight appeared to be in pretty frequent use. Some of these stallholders already have pet shops. Some of them claim to be breeders. I do not think they require that kind of retail outlet.
We cannot escape the possibility of hurting somebody if in the interests of the animals themselves we are to make a change. The Government are pledged to follow a reformist path, but so far they do not have a great deal to show. They will soon have to produce something, or their election pledges will not look quite so attractive as they did. This Bill gives them a bit of a boost. On a higher plane, if human beings are striving for the attainment of noble ideals, then we must persevere in promoting an enlightened and compassionate relationship with the animal kingdom in all its diverse forms. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Houghton of Sowerby.)
§ Lord Beaumont of Whitley
My Lords, I rise to give a welcome from these Benches to the Bill. We shall give any support we can to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. The noble Lord has covered the whole field. It will take me, at the very most, only a couple of minutes to endorse what he has said.
In this country there is now a major problem about pets. More and more people are becoming aware of it. More and more people feel that they have a responsibility. It is too easy to buy pets on impulse, too 879 easy to keep them without licences, too easy just to let them loose to roam the countryside, abandoned to do what damage they may, to cause what accidents they may, to die in misery as they may.
The numbers involved are very large. It is estimated that there may be a million dogs at any particular time which are not under complete control or without homes, and that every year probably at least half a million are killed as surplus, abandoned. This is in addition to any which are killed because they are ill or because they are old. These numbers are quite horrifying. It is time that there was a proper look at the problem and a proper reform of the system. I hope that this Government, or a future one, will turn their minds to the problem before it is too late. In the meanwhile, we have a one clause Bill which stands, I hope, some chance of becoming law. It will tackle just one small facet of the problem.
There is no doubt that, despite all the efforts of the RSPCA, there is considerable, mainly minor ill treatment in some of the markets where pets are sold. Nobody in your Lordships' House would like it to continue. The markets tend to be too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. The risks of cross-infection can be very high. They are not subject to the same kind of control as are individual shops. As a result there can be a high incidence of disease. Sometimes there is minor deliberate cruelty, as a result of which animals are left unfed and unwatered in order to reduce fouling which might possibly reduce sales.
There is no good reason why these markets should be retained but there are a number of very strong reasons why they should be done away with. I wish the Bill a very speedy and successful passage through both Houses.
§ 6.37 p.m.
Lord de Clifford
My Lords, I, too, would like to join the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, in welcoming the Bill. It is one which is greatly needed. There are many others, particularly to do with dogs, which are not within sight.
In this market Bill everybody is looking at urban areas. The Bill concentrates upon street markets. I come from what might be termed a deep rural area. There are markets all round us, but not street markets. They are well organised. In those markets, apart from cattle and sheep, you find poultry being sold and also animals which could well be classified as pets. Dogs are sold in those markets.
My wife and I went to the market in Tenbury to sell some geese. What did we discover? We discovered in a wire cage, with nothing under them, three little puppies which could not have been more than seven weeks old. The conditions in which they were being kept were disgusting. It was just a wire cage, with no bottom to it and with about seven strips of straw in it. We could not find the owner or anybody who was prepared to take any responsibility for those puppies, but they were there to be sold by auction. There is another market, not so far away, in which are sold geese, ducks, chickens and guinea fowl. Ferrets, rabbits, goats and other items like that are also sold there.
880 In those markets you find people walking around with very nice puppies and young dogs under their arms. I am not saying that in every one of the markets there is ill-treatment. This Bill, if I have the wording correctly, refers to selling animals in any part of a street or public place or a stall or barrow in a market.
What I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, is, first, where do we draw the dividing line, other than with dogs? What is a pet, and what is not? Some ferrets are kept as pets; some rabbits are kept as pets; some goats are kept as pets. Where do we make the division? When we come to a well organised market and we find such things as I have described to your Lordships, are we in a public place, to which this would apply? At the moment this is not very clear to me.
I am a supporter of the Bill and I am not trying to stop it, but I should like some clarification of this matter because everybody has been looking at the urban areas, where the matter is quite simple; but when we go into the rural areas it is not quite so simple. Perhaps a little later we might clear up these small matters, while not preventing this Bill from going to another place, with all the difficulties which we know are liable to arise.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Lord Peart
My Lords, I think we should all congratulate my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby for introducing this Bill. He has really made his name in the defence of animals and we all wish him well in his campaign. I believe that this small Bill will be an important step forward. I agree with everything that my noble friend said in his speech and I suspect that he also has had a communication from a friend who has given me evidence, picked up by the RSPCA, showing what happens in that part of the market that we have been talking about. They say that the RSPCA have been very concerned about Club Row for many years, and quite rightly. As my noble friend said, many of the animals sold there are sick and diseased. There appears in the report that I have here the words:Contagious feline and canine diseases, such as distemper and enteritis are rife".Many animals are sold with incomplete or false vaccination certifications and pedigree certificates This is really a terrible situation and therefore I think action must be taken.
This situation is not confined only to Club Row. I understand that similar conditions exist in many parts of the country, so I hope that this Bill will go through, and so again my noble friend will be praised for getting animal welfare forward a stage further. Without further ado T wish him well with this Bill, and I hope we shall all see that it is not impeded.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, with characteristic modesty the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, gave credit to others for the history of previous legislation in this field in the last 30 years or so, but I join with the noble Lord, Lord Peart, in acknowledging that, although on occasion I am in a position where I have to disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, none the less I recognise always the motives of the noble Lord in wishing to help animals; and he is this evening seeking 881 to persuade your Lordships to agree to the Second Reading of this Bill. Having said that, I think it is worth bearing in mind that the sponsor of the 1951 Pet Animals Act, the late Sir Ronald Russell, made three attempts to amend the 1951 Act between the years 1969 and 1974 in another place and there are reasons, which I am going to deploy now, to show why I think there are problems in trying to do this.
This Bill seeks to effect a small but nevertheless significant amendment to the 1951 Act. But, as with many things, it needs to be seen in perspective and, if I may, I should like to say a few words on that particular aspect. Section 1 of the 1951 Act requires any person carrying on a business of selling animals as pets to obtain a licence from the local authority. By virtue of Section 2 the carrying on of such a business in any part of a street or public place is prohibited, except at a stall or barrow in a market. Market traders are therefore permitted, under licence, to sell pet animals. Before issuing a licence, the local authority is required to have regard to a number of matters in the interests of the animals' welfare. These include the need to secure that at all times the animals will be kept in accommodation suitable as respects size, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness; that they will be supplied with suitable food and drink; and that mammals will not be sold at too early an age.
Local authorities are required to attach such conditions to the licences they issue so as to ensure that these objectives are met. And of course they may refuse to issue a licence if they are not satisfied that the conditions will be met. Licences are issued for up to 12 months only and must then be renewed. There are also provisions for inspection, for the penalties of fining and imprisonment and for cancellation of a licence and disqualification of a licence holder. I have ventured to refer to the provisions of the 1951 Act in a little detail because I suggest that in considering its amendment we need to keep fully in mind the mechanism and the checks which Parliament has established to regulate the selling of pet animals, including those sold from stalls or barrows in market places.
I should like to draw attention to two other Acts which are relevant to the welfare of animals in market places. First, the Protection of Animals Act 1911 makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to a domestic or captive animal, whether in a market or elsewhere. Second, it is an offence under the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960 for the owner of a domestic animal to abandon it in circumstances likely to cause it unnecessary suffering. I agree absolutely with what the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, said on this particular aspect of the subject this evening.
I turn now to the Bill and to the reasons which I know have prompted it. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, referred to Club Row, which has been designated a market for the purpose of lawful street trading and is licensed and controlled by the London borough of Tower Hamlets. I believe I am right in saying that there has been an open street market round about that location for several centuries. The situation at Club Row has on a number of occasions given rise to concern. The noble Lord doubted whether it could be possible for the general standards required by the 1951 Act in the interests of animal welfare to be met there when the animals are exposed to the vagaries of the weather.
882 Furthermore, concern has been expressed that Club Row is one of the principal outlets for illegal trafficking in wild birds; that it is a centre for the disposal of stolen pets; that there have been frequent attempts by members of the public to sell or abandon their pets in the market; that the market represents a serious problem in relation to contagious cat and dog diseases, in the way referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Peart; and the unlicensed traders are operating there.
I have made it my business to find out what the view of the police is because the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, very fairly recorded, when he paid his recent visit, that the police were there, and very evidently there. I understand the local police commander believes everything possible is being done by his officers to prevent contravention of the law. There are, however, particular difficulties in enforcing the law in this kind of situation, and I admit that. In addition to a police presence at Club Row, however, RSPCA officers are also in regular attendance.
The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, was critical in his speech of the Tower Hamlets Borough Council Environmental Health Department, which is immediately responsible for the licensing arrangements. They do, of course, have a central role in this situation. They are fully aware of the situation, and their evident concern has, I understand, prompted the Tower Hamlets Borough Council Environmental Health Department to impose from this month stricter conditions on licensees which they believe will be in line with the recommendations of the British Veterinary Association in their booklet Pet Animals Act 1951: A Guide for Local Authorities.
This, therefore, is the general picture, if I might add to what Lord Houghton has given us at first hand, of the situation at Club Row. It is a situation about which much is known because it has attracted a good deal of attention and criticism. The position at all the other street markets throughout the country which the noble Lord mentioned is of course not so well documented. I acknowledge that the RSPCA consider that at a good number of these there are similar problems. Nevertheless, it is Club Row Market rather than the others which has been the focus of particular criticism.
The solution advocated by the noble Lord in this Bill is to ban the sale of pet animals in all street markets throughout the country and make it an offence. I do not seek to minimise the concern about the welfare of animals at Club Row in particular or at any other street market where there are problems. But it should be recognised that the sort of ban which would be in this Bill if it were to pass into law would be total. It would hit far more than its target. It could put out of business also all those street traders who are properly licensed to sell animals and who are going about their work in accordance with the requirements laid down about the welfare of the animals in their care. In these circumstances, and given that the 1951 Act is aimed at safeguarding the interests of animals sold at market places and that those interests are further safeguarded by the Acts of 1911 and 1960 which I mentioned, some observers might reasonably ask if the drastic solution proposed in this Bill is really necessary.
It is a question which deserves an answer, because 883 we are talking about the welfare of animals. I do not think a wholly convincing answer in support of the Bill has yet been given, and that is the reaon why the Government have no plans to amend the 1951 Act. Nevetheless, this has been a useful debate in drawing attention to the trading of pet animals in street markets. It has given us an opportunity to consider the position specifically in relation to Club Row, but I do want to reiterate that the case for the Bill requires consideration in the light of the overall picture and not merely on the basis of certain particular examples where the situation leaves something to be desired. It is with that attitude that I will be speaking at any other stages which your Lordships may grant to the Bill if there is a Second Reading of it this evening.
Lord de Clifford
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, could he come away from Club Row and all those places? What is the position in the normal regular market? Is that a public place, in a rural market?
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, all the other markets to which the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, referred, and indeed to which the noble Lord, Lord Peart, referred, are subject in the same way as Club Row to the provisions of the 1951 Pet Animals Act and the Acts of 1911 and 1960 which I mentioned.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord the Minister for dealing with this matter in a moderate and quasi-sympathetic way. I will not take up more than a minute or two, because I hope your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading and I shall be very glad at Committee stage to go further into some of the points the noble Lord has raised. In particular, I hold in my hand a copy of the regulations introduced by the Tower Hamlets authority for Club Row as from the beginning of this year. They relate mostly to pet shops, and there are eight pet shops within the precincts of this particular market; it is the pet shops to which these regulations really relate. All the safeguards against fire and other contingencies which are mentioned in these regulations have nothing to do with the conditions in the market place. I can demonstrate that the conditions which inevitably prevail in the market place are really in contravention of the full intentions of the conditions laid down in these new rules—animals on the floor in the streets, with dust and paper; it is a rubbishy place. I believe that open market places and the barrows and stalls in streets, even though licensed, are not suitable places to sell young animals according to the standards of hygiene and of treatment of the present day.
The Protection of Animals Act 1911 deals with cruelty. I am not dealing with cruelty which would form the subject of proceedings or conviction under the 1911 Act. I am talking about ill treatment, discomfort, misery, due to the conditions under which animals are exposed for sale. I fully sympathise with those who are renting stalls in market places to sell animals, but is this a legitimate trade any longer from the point of view of animal welfare? That is the question.
Anyhow, I sincerely hope that your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading. I am quite prepared to undergo fresh questioning on this matter at the 884 Committee stage. I would be quite prepared to offer a longer period of deferment of effective date of the Bill in order to make the transition easier. But, above all, I would sincerely hope that this Bill may go to another place in due course in order that it may he considered there by those who are more closely connected with markets in particular areas and who are anxious to have the opportunity of dealing with this Bill.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.