§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they can now make a statement of their intentions in respect of the case of Air-India v. Wiggins (July 1980) relating to injury or unnecessary suffering caused to animals in transit to this country by acts done to them before arrival in this country.
The Government have carefully considered the implications of the House of Lords ruling in this case, and has concluded that there is no justification for amending existing legislation. In order to establish a basis on which prosecutions could be brought in relation to suffering undergone by animals on foreign aircraft prior to arrival within our territory, it would be necessary to extend the application of the relevant legislation to such aircraft outside our territory. This would be contrary to the general principle of international law that states do not claim criminal jurisdiction over activites taking place outside their territory on foreign vessels or aircraft. The United Kingdom consistently supports this principle and opposes attempts by other states to punish British subjects for doing, in our jurisdiction, what is lawful here.
We are not aware that since the Air-India incident in 1975 there have been any further cases where extraterritorial jurisdiction would have enabled a prosecution to proceed which could not otherwise have done so. The House of Lords decision showed that the prosecution in the Air-India case would have succeeded had the prosecuting authority identified the surviving animals and proceeded in relation to the suffering they had undergone after entering our jurisdiction. In the circumstances we do not consider that it would be right to legislate in a way which would not be in our wider interest.