HC Deb 22 March 1923 vol 161 cc2772-3W

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has considered, or will consider, the desirability of ensuring that the British Consular Representatives in Belgium and Holland shall, from time to time, ascertain by direct observation the treatment of aged horses shipped across to those countries for butchery purposes, so as to afford information to those who in this country hold that even the new Regulations governing this traffic on this side are largely nullified on the other by callous treatment of the animals before they are slaughtered?


Arrangements had already been made for the Consuls-General at Antwerp, Amsterdam and Rotterdam to make inquiries with regard to allegations of cruelty to horses shipped to Holland and Belgium which have been received from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals I would point out, however, that, although I am anxious to prevent any unavoidable suffering to horses exported to the Continent, I have no control over the horses after they leave this country.


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that two horses out of 12, passed fit for work, were landed dead at Amsterdam at the end of a voyage from Leith on the steamer "Roman," 10th to 12th February, whether he can give the House further information as to the qualified attendant who, according to Regulation, travels with each boat to tend the animals properly; and which Government Department takes steps to ensure that such an attendant carries out his duties effectually?


The reply to the first part is in the affirmative. The casualties on the s.s. "Ronan," to which I understand my hon. and gallant Friend to refer, were due to the rough weather which was encountered on the voyage. With regard to the second and third parts it is the duty of the Minister's inspectors to board all ships carrying horses to satisfy themselves that sufficient food and water have been provided for the voyage, and that there is an adequate number of qualified attendants. I may add that on three occasions during the past year the actual voyage was made on the s.s. "Ronan" by members of the Ministry's veterinary staff who reported favourably both on the ship's fittings and on the way the horses were cared for.


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether horses can be shipped from British ports on the production of certificates, if demanded, signed by any veterinary surgeon; whether at the port or inland; and how are permits for shipping horses from British ports obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture?


Horses cannot legally be shipped from ports in Great Britain to the continent of Europe on production of certificates of the character referred to. They must be examined at the port of shipment by veterinary inspectors of the Ministry immediately before embarkation and passed as fit in accordance with the Exportation of Horses Acts. The answer to the first two parts of the question is therefore in the negative. Permits arc issued by the Ministry authorising shipment without veterinary examination only in the case of horses of high value, such as polo ponies and hunters, and then only where the shipment is from one of the west coast ports to a port in Europe south of Bordeaux.