Zuckerman Archive: Committee of Inquiry on Rabies

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1187 SZ/CIR
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      4 boxes; 16 files; three linear feet

Scope and Content

The correspondence file (SZ/CIR/2) opens with a minute from Solly Zuckerman to the Prime Minister (Edward Heath), 4 March 1970, stressing the seriousness of rabies, and supporting the imposition of a ban on the import of cats and dogs from all countries in which the disease is endemic and regardless of whatever quarantine regulations were imposed. Correspondence from 1973 (with Ronald Waterhouse) concerns the passage of the Rabies Bill through Parliament.

Files SZ/CIR/3-4 contain statistical data, reports, and extracts from the scientific literature, many of the papers featuring the name of Martin Kaplan.

Files SZ/CIR/6-7 refer to the two overseas visits. The first visit of these was to Geneva, Berne and Tubingen, 29 May 1970 - 3 June 1970, and the second to France, Denmark and the Netherlands, 27 September 1970 - 1 October 1970. The papers relating to the second visit consist of a folder headed Rage containing copies of a number of French publications on rabies.

Files SZ/CIR/9-13 relate to the work of the specialist sub-committees and working groups.

File CIR/15 contains drafts and published texts of the Interim and Final Reports, together with press-releases announcing their publication.

File SZ/CIR/16 contains articles and press reports, for the most part photocopied, relating to the Inquiry and its reports, and to rabies generally. It also includes a short memorandum from the Committee's secretariat referring to the popular television drama series Doomwatch, an episode of which featured a human death from rabies. The secretariat reported that when any of the programmes in this series has touched on Ministry [of Agriculture] subjects they have been of a fairly [superimposed on 'very'] high standard.

Administrative / Biographical History

In July 1969 a dog recently imported into Britain from India died of rabies while in quarantine; in October another dog died of rabies 10 days after release from quarantine, and in November a second quarantined dog died of the disease. At the end of February 1970 a fourth imported dog died, the second to succumb to the disease after release from quarantine. Until this time there had been no recorded incidents in Britain of deaths of animals out of quarantine since 1922. The fact that two of the four dogs had been at liberty after becoming infected and in contact with other animals during that time caused considerable public disquiet.

The seriousness of the situation was made clear to the Prime Minister by his Chief Scientific Adviser, Solly Zuckerman, in the immediate aftermath of the death of the second unquarantined animal. Anti-rabies regulations were tightened, an import ban on dogs and cats imposed, and a Committee of Enquiry was set up by the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Scotland under the Chairmanship of Ronald Waterhouse, QC. Solly Zuckerman was invited to be a member of the Committee. The Committee held its first meeting on 1 April 1970, and its last on 4 May 1971.

The Committee considered statistics, reports, and the scientific literature relating to rabies, made two overseas visits, and set up a number of specialist sub-committees and working groups.

An Interim Report was published in August 1970 (Cmnd 4457), and a Final Report in June 1971 (Cmnd 4696).


  • SZ/CIR/1 Minutes, 1970-71
  • SZ/CIR/2 Correspondence, 1970-71, 1973
  • SZ/CIR/3 Documents CIR/1 - CIR/58, 1871-1971 [in two sub-files]
  • SZ/CIR/4 Written Evidence - documents CIR/WE, 1970
  • SZ/CIR/5 Miscellaneous unnumbered documents, 1969-1970
  • SZ/CIR/6 First visit abroad, 1970
  • SZ/CIR/7 Second visit abroad, 1970 [in two sub-files]
  • SZ/CIR/8 Import policy, 1970
  • SZ/CIR/9 Sub-Committee on the Design of Quarantine Kennels and Carriers, 1970
  • SZ/CIR/10 Sub-Committee on Wildlife, 1970
  • SZ/CIR/11 Bats, 1954-1970
  • SZ/CIR/12 Foxes, 1960-1970
  • SZ/CIR/13 Sub-Committee on Zoos and Exotic Animals, 1970
  • SZ/CIR/14 Interim report, 1970
  • SZ/CIR/15 Final report, 1971 [in six sub-files]
  • SZ/CIR/16 Press-cuttings, 1970-1971

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Conditions Governing Use

Please refer to the fonds-level description for GB 1187 SZ.