§ 18. Sir GEORGE GREENWOOD
asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that cast Army horses at the front are habitually sold; and whether, in view of the fact that such horses have rendered valuable service to this country, he will consider the desirability of their being painlessly destroyed rather than sold abroad?
§ Mr. FORSTER
It is the case that cast Army horses at the front are sold. Those fit for work and certified by a veterinary surgeon as fit to be exposed for sale are sold locally to farmers. They could not be sold profitably if brought back to England. From the sentimental point of view, I would suggest to my hon. Friend that it is a better fate for a horse, no longer capable of service in the Army, to pass into the hands of our Allies, the French, for agricultural work than to be painlessly 21 destroyed as my hon. Friend suggests. I think it is an undeserved slur to suggest that the farming population of our Ally are not at least as careful of their horses as are our own farmers. Horses unfit for any work must in any case be destroyed, and I can assure my hon. Friend that this is done in the presence of one of our own military officers. These horses could not be brought to this country for destruction. Generally I may say with confidence that both the Director of Remounts and the Director of Veterinary Services in France have always kept prominently before their minds those considerations other than material which, I quite agree arise in connection with the disposal of cast Army horses.
§ Sir G. GREENWOOD
May I point out that the suggestion that the Allies do not know how to treat their horses is not contained in the question, and has the hon. Gentleman not ascertained that these horses are very often sold when they are in quite an unfit condition and exposed to a great deal of suffering, and for the trifle which is obtained for them is it worth while to sell these poor old horses which have done battle for us, rather than to destroy them painlessly by the humane killer?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
As the suggestion that the Allies do not treat their horses properly is not contained in the question, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he does not consider that horses which have fought for us on the battlefield ought to be destroyed painlessly and not exposed to unnecessary suffering?