§ 73. Mr. BETTERTON
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the recent conviction at Nottingham of two men, who were described in the Police Court us officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, for cruelty in connection with the slaughter of infected animals, when one of these men went in amongst the herd with a poleaxe and wounded a heifer above the eye, which subsequently escaped to an adjoining farm and was eventually shot; is ho aware that the same man then fired at four beasts with a shot-gun loaded with No. 6 shot, which then took refuge in the Trent, while another beast, which 1342 had been wounded and an eye blown out, swam across the river, where it was left all night before being despatched, and that the time occupied in the slaughter of 20 animals was from a Friday morning to a Saturday night; whether these men are still in the employment of the Ministry; and whether he will cause instructions to be issued by the Board specifying and limiting the methods of slaughter, and directing that only competent persons be employed, in order to ensure that similar barbarities may be avoided in the future?
The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen)
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on the 1st instant to the hon. Member for Kincardine and Western. The statements in the second part of the question differ from the information I have received and, in view of the public interest in this case, I propose to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a full report on the matter by one of the Ministry's senior inspectors. The two men who were convicted are no longer in the employ of the Ministry, but I would point out that the butcher concerned has been employed on several previous occasions by the Ministry and, with this exception, has always carried out his work in a competent manner. I need hardly add that I greatly regret the occurrence, but it must be remembered that the Ministry was called upon to deal with a most serious outbreak, which at one time threatened to become epidemic right through the country, and was only stopped by the exercise of very drastic powers. Notwithstanding the difficulties involved, this and one other are the only cases brought to my notice in which the slaughtering was not carried out in a thoroughly humane manner.
§ Mr. BETTERTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that in future only the humane killer will be used?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
If my hon. Friend refers to the answer I have given, he will see that in all cases in this outbreak we have insisted on the use of humane killers, and no less than 300 of these have been provided. In these cases the humane killer was used until such time as these animals stampeded.
§ Following is the Report referred to: