asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to a hunting incident, on the 9th instant, when a stag was chased through West Wycombe across a railway line into the main street of High Wycombe, and subsequently captured by the aid of a police patrol car and handed back to the hunt; and whether he is prepared to consider introducing legislation that will make all such acts of cruelty illegal?
I have obtained a report from the Chief Constable of High Wycombe, which states that on 9th February two constables were on motor patrol on the main London to Oxford road and, at a point about 1½ miles from West Wycombe, overtook a stag running along the centre of the road. No hounds or huntsmen were to be seen. The stag entered the garden of a house, jumped through the fence and then through a second fence on to the railway line. It travelled towards High Wycombe along the railway line for some 500 yards and, on reaching the railway goods yard, returned to the main road. Apparently confused by the volume of traffic at this point, the stag jumped a fence and landed in the adjoining stream where the water is about 18 inches deep. Having crossed the stream, it found its way into the back garden of one of a row of houses bordering the stream and entered a shed, where it was secured. The animal was in a nervous state and bleeding from both forelegs. After an interval of about an hour, six persons arrived with a box van, into which the animal was loaded. The hon. Member will, therefore, see that the constables were not taking part in hunting the animal at all.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that I was not suggesting in any way that the constables were responsible for hunting the animal, but that the Berks and Bucks staghounds were the hunt? I was asking whether the right hon. Gentleman will consider introducing legislation to prevent in future occurrences such as this, which outrage the feelings of all decent people?
I have stated the facts, as it was my duty to do, fully and impartially, and everybody can form his own opinion on them. I am afraid I cannot take upon myself to add to the crowded programme of Government legislation.
Will the Home Secretary be so kind as to suggest to certain hon. Members sitting behind him the impropriety of laughing at the idea of a bleeding animal?