HC Deb 15 March 1920 vol 126 cc1843-4W
Lieut.-Col. MURRAY

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture whether the veterinary inspectors of the Board have power, under the Exportation of Horses Act, 1914, and the Horses (Importation and Transit) Order of 1913, to order the slaughter of horses presented for inspection and found to be in such a physical condition that it is cruel to keep them alive, or to be permanently incapable of being worked without suffering, and also to serve a notice on individuals and, when practicable, on railway companies forbidding the carrying by rail of horses which cannot be conveyed without suffering; if so, whether the power in either of these respects was exercised with regard to the 525 horses rejected by the inspectors at ports during November, December, and January, and in how many instances of each kind; and, if it was not so exercised, whether, in view of the cruelty involved in this traffic in living animals, including their conveyance to and from the places of inspection before and after rejection, he will give directions for the powers in question to be rigidly enforced and so discourage the purchase by dealers of unfit animals which should be humanely destroyed in this country without any delay?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. Five hundred and twenty-five horses were rejected during the months of November, December and January by the Ministry's port veterinary inspectors. Of this number eighty-five were slaughtered. No notices were issued by the Ministry's inspectors under the Horses (Importation and Transit) Order of 1913, but the fact that a horse has been rejected on examination for shipment docs not necessarily imply that the animal is unfit to be conveyed by railway without suffering. The reason for rejection in many cases may be purely a temporary one, which can be remedied by treatment or rest. The Horses (Importation and Transit) Order of 1913 is required to be executed and enforced by the local authorities concerned, and the attention of the police has been drawn to the desirability of keeping observation on stations from which horses are railed to ports. It is hoped that as the provisions of the Exportation of Horses Act of 1914 become better known, the number of animals unfit to be travelled will steadily diminish.

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