HC Deb 27 July 1961 vol 645 cc594-5
32. Sir B. Janner

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the circumstances in which a large proportion of a consignment of tortoises imported into this country via Newhaven on 19th June arrived in a dead or dying condition; and, in view of this evidence of continuing cruelty, whether he will now consider taking steps to ban or control the importation of tortoises.

Mr. Maudling

My attention has been drawn to the import of tortoises to which the hon. Member refers. I do not consider that it would be appropriate to use powers conferred on the Board of Trade under the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, in the manner he suggests.

Sir B. Janner

Is the President of the Board of Trade aware that when 2.000 tortoises arrived in this country on that occasion 1,000 of them were either dead or dying; that when the crates were opened each crate was a wriggling mass of maggots—{HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."]—yes, I am reading from the report of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—I think it rather important that we should have this information before us. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when some of these animals were lifted from the crates the bones fell out of the shells and others had crushed shells? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there is no action possible against anyone in this country with respect to these matters, and that every animal lover in the country would much prefer to be without tortoises than to have them come in this condition?

Mr. Maudling

My point is that the powers conferred on me are for use for economic purposes and I do not think that they could be used for other purposes.

Mr. Jeger

Is it still intended that these tortoises should be used as the symbol of the Government's economic and financial policy?