HC Deb 18 February 1924 vol 169 cc1362-3W

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will consider the possibility of amending the Regulations governing the transportation of cattle and horses on railways in order that such animals, and especially calves, may be ensured a proper supply of suitable food and water when they have been in the charge of railway companies for more than 12 hours, and that they be supplied at reasonable intervals after the first 12 hours as long as they are in the charge of railway companies.


I may explain that at present the position is that cattle, sheep and pigs in transit are fed by railway companies when a journey exceeds 24 hours, and the animals are required to be watered at least once when the journey exceeds that period. In the case of horses, asses and mules, railway companies are required by order to feed and water these animals at least once during each period of 24 hours when the journey exceeds that period. The Ministry has investigated this subject on several occasions, and is led to conclude that the present regulations provide all that is practicable at present. The feeding of cattle by railway companies, though usual, is not specifically required by order, but the companies are liable to penalties under the provisions of the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, if they fail to exercise reasonable care and supervision in carrying any animal so as to cause it unnecessary suffering. The Ministry has, however, frequently received protests against the practice of feeding animals in transit. It is urged that animals are generally well fed and watered before being put on rail, so that further 'feeding while on a journey is unnecessary, that animals frequently refuse the food offered them, that re-trucking of animals is necessary which makes for delay and exposes the animals to the risk of infection. Fat stock, again, are not ready for slaughter if they are fed on the journey. The Ministry, there- fore, considers that the issue of an Order on more stringent lines than the present practice would be inexpedient. Similarly with regard to watering. The Ministry has power to reduce to 12 hours the period within which the animals must be watered, but the representations received from stock-owners have usually been in the direction of extending the period rather than reducing it. The Ministry is advised that to adopt the hon. Member's suggestion would so seriously delay the completion of the journey as actually to defeat the object in view, namely, the welfare of the animals in transit. It would entail also increased expenses of carriage which would tend further to make the proposal impracticable.