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Horses (Slaughter)

Volume 441: debated on Monday 28 July 1947

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asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the exceptional slaughter of horses throughout this country which is taking place, he will now give the official figure of horses used for agricultural purposes at 30th June, 1947; and whether, as this slaughter is having an adverse effect on horse-breeding, he will take suitable steps to ensure that this slaughtering is curtailed.

The number of horses used for agricultural purposes in England and Wales at 30th June, 1947, is not available, but the number at 4th March, 1947, was 434,000. I have no evidence that the slaughter of horses is having any detrimental effect upon horse-breeding in this country, and therefore, I do not propose to take any special steps to ensure that it is curtailed.

As the right hon. Gentleman has not the figures I have asked for, how can he tell what has been going on during the last few months? Surely, the Ministry ought to have a check to ensure that horses are being maintained, as they are of such great value to agriculture?

The hon. Member must know that the Ministry asked for returns only on specified dates. Apparently the hon. Member wants us to have weekly returns.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that experts say that there are something like 700 racehorses which will never win a race even if they compete with cart horses? Will he ask these horse slaughterers, and other gamblers and speculators, to turn their attention to these animals instead of to cobs and van horses?