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Cruelty To Animals (Committee)

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 19 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is yet in a position to announce the terms of reference of the committee to be set up to inquire into practices which may involve cruelty to animals.

Yes, Sir. The terms of reference will be as follow:

  • (1) to inquire into practices or activities which may involve cruelty to British wild mammals, whether at large or in captivity, including anything occurring in the pursuit or capture of such animals for purposes of sport or food, or done to control their numbers or to destroy them, but excluding anything done in the course of an experiment lawfully performed under any Act of Parliament, or lawfully done in the exercise of statutory powers of control or destruction, and anything occurring in the course of the destruction, or preparation for destruction, for food for mankind, of any such animal which is in captivity; and
  • (2) to make recommendations as to such legislative measures as may seem to them desirable in relation to the practices and activities into which they have enquired.
  • I am glad to announce that Mr. John Scott Henderson, K.C., has accepted the invitation of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself to be Chairman of the Committee. I regret that I am not yet in a position to announce the names of the other members of the Committee.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that his important and satisfactory answer will give great pleasure to all lovers of animals, who will hope that it will lead to the establishment of a code of humanitarian practice in this country which will be the admiration of the world?

    May I also say that I hope the right hon. Gentleman realises that this point of view is shared by hon. Members in all sections of the House who desire to see the abolition of cruelty to animals? May I also ask whether there is any question of the right hon. Gentleman extending the terms of reference to cover other than mammals?

    Is it too late to reinforce the penultimate part of my right hon. Friend's Question, and ask that the terms of reference should be altered, even now, to include all animals and not merely wild animals?

    No, this matter arose I think on a quite specific issue that had been raised in the House. It is desirable that some decision should be reached at a reasonably early date, and to widen the terms of reference will prevent that being done.

    While finding the terms of reference generally satisfactory, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether, among those exclusions, he includes animals brought to this country for experimental purposes—for war purposes?

    Does the word "British" cover Great Britain, the whole of the United Kingdom, the British Colonies also, or what?

    It covers that part of the country which is subject to the jurisdiction of this House.

    May I ask the Secretary of State if the term "wild animals" would include the tame carted stag? May I have an answer?