HC Deb 16 April 1866 vol 182 cc1359-61

said, that he had a few nights ago undertaken to answer a question which had been put to him by the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. DuCane), as to whether his attention had been called to a Report which had appeared in The Times of the 13th instant, with respect to some diseased cattle which were said to have been smuggled into two farms belonging to Earl Granville and Colonel P. Talbot—not Lord Talbot, as the Report stated. He had not seen the statement until a few minutes before the question was put to him, and was unable to say whether it was correct, but he had promised to inquire into the matter, and he had since done so. The statement was as follows:— Mr. F. H. N. Glossop, in moving for a rate of 1d. in the pound to meet the compensation required under the Cattle Plague Act, said, he regretted to have to state that in this county the cattle plague was increasing, and that great ravages of the disease had occurred in consequence of the introduction of diseased Dutch cattle by the ship Mars. These cattle were landed at Blackwall, and driven through the metropolis to the extreme verge of the county of Middlesex. These cattle had been smuggled in by the agents of Lord Granville and Lord Talbot. A hole having been made in a hedge they made their way into other farms. These cattle had died, and the worst of the matter was that this loss would fall upon the ratepayers. The committee had ordered prosecutions, but it was feared that the only persons who would be convicted would be the drovers, and not the persons who employed them, who were morally responsible. Now the magistrate whose statement the hon. Gentleman had adopted was mistaken in supposing that proceedings could be taken only against the drovers. Informations were, in fact, laid against both Earl Granville and Colonel Talbot, and he had been informed that the case against the former had that day been heard before the bench of magistrates at Edgware; that it was proved that Earl Granville had left the management of the farm to his bailiff, but that since the cattle plague had broken out he had frequently, by word of mouth and in writing, desired him to be careful in observing all the provisions of the law. The bailiff was informed by the cow dealer whom Earl Granville always employed that he could deliver him some cows, having obtained the necessary licences. The dealer obtained a licence from Sir Richard Mayne to take Borne cows which had been certified to be free from disease to his own farm, which was within the metropolitan district. The dealer drove them to Earl Granville's quarantine farm, which was just beyond the district, and put them in a shed, where the bailiff subsequently inspected them. The bench of magistrates, after hearing the evidence, unanimously dismissed the case as against Earl Granville, and with regard to the dealer and the bailiff they expressed an opinion that they had unwittingly broken the law. The beasts, though it was very doubtful whether they had the disease, were killed by order of the inspector, and he was informed that there was no ground whatever for supposing that there was any communication of the disease to any other animals. With regard to Colonel Talbot, the case had not been concluded at the time when the information he had received left Edgware; but Colonel Talbot had himself published a statement on the subject in the newspapers, and he believed there was no doubt that the animals taken to his farm were taken there without his knowledge or direction, and merely on speculation. As he could not legally remove them, they were all killed, and no other animals could have been infected by them. The licence given by Sir Richard Mayne in each case was upon a certificate by Professor Simonds, who had inspected the animals on the part of the Customs, that they were free from disease. In the first case the licence was valid, as the dealer's farm was within the metropolitan district. In Colonel Talbot's case the licence was waste paper so far as it included his farm, which was just beyond the district, but directions had been given with a view to prevent any mistake as to the boundary line in any future case. All these cattle were killed, and he was informed that it was impossible that any other animals could have caught the infection from them.