asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what steps he has taken to satisfy himself that animals in transit on British Railways are provided with water in accordance with the Diseases of Animals Act, 1950, and Transit of Animals Orders;
(2) if his attention had been drawn to the circumstances in which 100 cattle stampeded, because of thirst, when being driven from Newark Station to the market on Friday 28th October; and if he will take immediate steps to satisfy himself that water is available for farm animals at every railway station at which they are habitually loaded or unloaded.
The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. W. M. F. Vane):
Railway authorities are required to provide water at all stations habitually used for loading and unloading animals, and I understand that water was available at Newark Station on the occasion to which my hon. Friend refers.
It is of the greatest importance for the health and comfort of animals that water should be offered and we are telling our veterinary officers to keep a closer watch on this. Under the Diseases of Animals Act this is the responsibility of the consignor and of the person in charge of the animals.
Is my hon. Friend aware that in fact the troughs have been removed from this station, and that the only watering facilities available were two shallow narrow buckets? These cattle were loaded on to the train at 1 p.m. on the 24th and off-loaded at 5 p.m. on the 25th. They were without water for at least 28 hours. Does my hon. Friend realise that the watering conditions at Newark were just not available to ensure that these animals could be watered in a reasonable time if it had been so desired?
I know that the animals had been on the train for a long time, but the information which my hon. Friend has given does not exactly accord with the information that I have been given. It is, of course, intolerable to deny animals water in a way that amounts to cruelty, but local authorities are responsible for the enforcement of these regulations and I understand that investigations are taking place in this case.