§ SIR GEORGE GREY
, in rising to move that the Cattle Diseases Act be considered in Committee, with the view of asking for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the law relating to contagious or infectious diseases in cattle or other animals, said: Sir, the object of the Bill which I have given notice that I shall ask leave to introduce is one which, in the terms of the Speech from the Throne, "deeply affects the interests of the people of this country;" and when I speak of the interests of the people of this country, I do not mean the interests of one class or another, but of the interests of the whole community. That virulent distemper which has appeared within the last few months in this country affects, no doubt, primarily and immediately the agricultural interest, in so far as they are the producers of that great supply of food with which the country is furnished. But it is quite obvious that the supply of food [intimately concerns the interests in the future of the great consuming population of the country. It cannot, therefore, 356 be a matter of surprise that a great change of public opinion has very recently taken place in the estimate formed of the danger arising from the spread of this disorder. The steady progress of the cattle plague, the extensive ravages which it has committed in a great many counties and districts, although there are still a considerable number either absolutely free from the disease or very slightly affected by it—notwithstanding that, the progress, I say, made by the disease, and its extensive ravages, amounting almost to the desolation of certain parts of the country, form a sufficient cause for that alarm which now exists, and for that desire which has been evinced within a short period that the most stringent measures, compatible with a due consideration of the interests of all the parties concerned, might be taken in order to check, if possible, the progress of the disorder. As I have stated, on this subject opinion has been greatly changed, and that within a very limited period—I do not say even within the last few weeks, but since the week preceding the meeting of Parliament. If we look back to the public meetings held in agricultural counties with reference to this disease, only two months ago, or even less, we shall find the tone of expression very different from that with which we have recently become familiar. We shall find, indeed, that in many places a strong desire was expressed that Government should take the entire management of this matter into their own hands; should lay down all the rules and regulations which they conceived to be conducive to the check of the disease; and that they should by officers of their own, taking away the responsibility from the local authorities, undertake the execution of those measures which every one now desires to see put in force. But if we look at the suggestions emanating from these meetings or from any public bodies, we shall find in them very little of that unanimity of opinion with respect to the measures to be taken which, to a great extent, has been arrived at within the last fortnight. Take, for instance, the case of slaughter. The Government, in the exercise of the powers vested in them by law—that is, the Members of the Privy Council whose names are attached to the Orders on the subject, and who acted on the responsibility of the Government generally—the Government, from a very early period, doubted the probability of any effectual check being given to the disease by means of cure. 357 They thought it their duty, therefore, to authorize, as the moat effectual means of repression, the slaughter of the diseased animals by inspectors appointed by the local authorities acting under the authority-derived from Orders in Council—the Privy Council deriving their authority from an Act of Parliament—in order to prevent the possibility of the disease being propagated by keeping the affected animals alive. But it will, I am sure, be in the recollection of the House and of those who have attended to the subject—and who is there among us who has not had his attention called to it from its extreme importance?—that the power thus given produced the greatest dissatisfaction throughout the country; that the strongest remonstrances were addressed to Government against that power of slaughter, and that throughout the press there was universal objection to adopt what was called a barbarous mode of extinction of this disease by means of the poleaxe, derogatory, it was said, to our veterinary skill and science, and unbecoming a civilized people, who ought, at all events, to try whether some mode of cure might not be discovered. For three months that Order of the Privy Council was in force, from about the 23rd of August to the third week in November. The Order was then not absolutely withdrawn, but it was modified to this extent—the power given to slaughter animals simply because they were affected by the disease was taken away, and it was limited to those cases in which the isolation of infected animals had been ordered and the order had been neglected or violated. Evidently the owner could not complain if, having neglected those orders, the animals were destroyed as a penalty for the violation of those Orders. It will be remembered that the Royal Commission reported against the power of slaughter. At that time the Royal Agricultural Society, I believe, entirely concurred in the opinion that that power ought not to be continued. Deputations, both from the Royal Agricultural Society and from the Farmers' Club, were received at the Privy Council Office, and I think both—I am certain that one—of those deputations expressed its entire concurrence in the limitation which was placed at that time on the power of slaughter, in deference to public opinion and to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. In speaking of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, I do not wish to be understood to say that they expressed an 358 absolute opinion that slaughter was not the most effectual means of checking the disease; but they stated that, though it might have been effective at the early period of the disorder, they doubted its efficacy at a time when it had attained the head which it then had, and they thought it impossible to retain the power without giving compensation to the owners of the cattle slaughtered, and compensation from the public Treasury they deemed wholly impossible. Under those circumstances that Order was withdrawn, and I only allude to it now to show that there has been a very great change of opinion among those whose authority ought to have weight with this House.
Now, the main points upon which representations have been lately addressed to the Government, and by bodies entitled to the greatest consideration, are these—I Compulsory slaughter, with compensation; 2 Absolute or qualified prohibition of the removal of cattle throughout Great Britain; 3 Isolation of suspected animals, and disinfection of infected premises; and 4 Regulations as to cattle brought by sea. There are, of course, many minor matters upon which it may be necessary to legislate, and to which the Orders of the Privy Council relate, and which those bodies hold to be of great importance; but these were the four principal points in their recommendations.
Now, let me call attention to what these recommendations are. I have had, as you may suppose, passing through my hands a great mass of correspondence both with public bodies and individuals on this subject; and I have had, during the last few days, the great advantage of receiving deputations of gentlemen who have come to state their views, and who have, I believe, been actuated by a sincere desire to assist in the solution of a question which they admitted was one of great difficulty. I now tender to them my thanks for the opinions which they have expressed to the Government, for the results of their own experience which they have communicated, and for the readiness with which they underwent a sort of cross-examination, which was resorted to in order that the Government, for its own information, might elicit with the greatest accuracy the opinions which they entertained. And, first, I will advert to the resolutions passed on the 7th of the present month—five days ago—by the Royal Agricultural Society. I may say that these resolutions were not formally brought to 359 me by a deputation; but, having been informed that members of the Agricultural Society had a meeting on that day, and had come to some resolutions, I requested that they, if there was no objection, would place the resolutions in my hands. That request was complied with—I think on the 9th. They have only this day been formally presented to the Government, but they have been in my hands for several days. With respect to slaughter, the Royal Agricultural Society, after adverting to the great evils of the cattle plague, and the insufficient measures hitherto adopted, state—That no method of dealing with the cattle plague at the present time will be of any avail unless it provides for—1 The immediate slaughter and burial at least six feet deep of all cattle suffering from the disease, making compensation to the owners in such mode and to such extent as shall be considered advisable.About the same time—on the 8th of the present month—what was termed a conference of gentlemen connected with a large number of counties in England, and with some parts of Scotland, was held at St. James' Hall, where this subject was fully discussed. Previously to the meeting of that conference, the gentlemen by whom I believe it was convened wrote to me to know whether on the 9th of the present month, the day after the conference, it would be convenient for me to receive a deputation who would state the result of their deliberations. I was very glad to have the opportunity. They came, and were received by the President of the Council and myself, and they placed in our hands a series of resolutions which had been agreed to at the meeting. The third of their resolutions, relating to the slaughter of diseased animals, was—That the immediate destruction of all plague stricken animals and those in direct contact with them, and the complete isolation and official watching and control of all animals that have been within the influence of contagion, ought by Act of Parliament to be provided for.Another resolution passed at the conference was the following:—That the partial remuneration of the owners of animals affected by those measures be provided by Act of Parliament.It will be observed that the resolutions passed by the Royal Agricultural Society and those adopted at the conference are identical, save in one particular. While the conference held that not only the animals suffering from disease, but also such animals as have been in contact with them ought to be slaughtered, it is the opinion 360 of the Royal Agricultural Society that only the animals actually affected by the disease ought to be destroyed.
The next authorities to which I will refer are the Highland Society, and the Chamber of Agriculture and Scottish Farmers' Club. The Highland Society, the most influential association of the kind in Scotland, has at a recent meeting passed resolutions to the effect that killing the cattle actually diseased, and also those that have come in direct contact with them, was the only mode of extirpating the plague. The Chamber of Agriculture and Scottish Farmers' Club, another most influential association, ha passed resolutions similar to those adopted by the Highland Society, and they have in addition sent a deputation to London, with a printed statement of their opinions, as the great importance of having all animals attacked by the plague destroyed at once. Another authority, and one of a different kind, is the opinion of the Association of Fleshers of Edinburgh. The third resolution, adopted at a general meeting of their body, is—Should the plague break out in a farm, at once kill and bury the animal affected; slaughter, also, all cattle that have been in immediate contact with any beast affected with the plague. Let the inspector in whose sight these operations are conducted make an inventory of the number and value of the remaining cattle. The inventory will afford means of preventing the removal of cattle affected, and may be useful in assessing future compensation if necessary. No cattle ought to be allowed to leave the affected farm alive until the lapse of such time from the last case of plague as may be considered safe.The paper embodying the opinion of the Chamber of Agriculture of Scotland is dated 13th December, but there is not the slightest doubt that they entertain similar opinions now. The agriculturists of several Scottish counties have also endeavoured, by the slaughter of all infected animals, to check the progress of the disease. This has been done, for instance, in Aberdeenshire, where a fund has been raised by voluntary assessment, by means of which all persons whose cattle have been slaughtered in consequence of the resolutions come to by the gentlemen and tenant-farmers of the country, are recompensed, thereby adopting a practice which they thought most conducive to their own interests and those of the public in checking the disease, and showing an example recommended by its success to the rest of the United Kingdom. There 361 can be no doubt whatever that up to this period human skill has devised no method by which it can be asserted with any confidence that the cattle disease can be cured. I do not say that at a future period some means of cure may not be discovered; but what I say is that at present the disease has generally proved incurable, and that, therefore, the only possible course, by the adoption of which we can hope to check this most contagious disease, is the destruction of all animals affected by it. I shall now quote a few authorities with reference to the second question—a question of very great importance—the absolute or qualified prohibition of the removal of cattle throughout the country. The Agricultural Society say in their fifth resolution—That simultaneously with the destruction of diseased cattle the transit of all animals, whether by rail or road, be entirely prohibited, with, "they add," such exceptions only as may absolutely be necessary.The expression of opinion on the part of the Conference at St. James' Hall, is contained in their first resolution. It would seem that the opinion of the meeting differed somewhat from that of the gentleman who proposed the resolution, and that, yielding to that opinion, he altered his resolution from its original form to that in which it now appears—Resolved, that the removal of all live cattle from one place in Great Britain to another over highways, and that the removal of all live cattle by railways through Great Britain, ought to be prohibited for a limited time.In the original resolution, after the word "highways," occurred the words "except in uninfected counties," but these words the proposer had expunged from the resolution at the wish of the meeting. On this point, I understood from the deputation that it meant that in no case should cattle be removed by road or railway, from the Land's End to the northernmost extremity of Scotland, not even in crossing a highway in going from one part of the farm to another. Upon this point the Scotch Chamber of Agriculture differs from the two English authorities I have quoted. They say they do not agree with the proposal made by the majority of the Royal Commissioners, that the butcher should go to the ox instead of the ox coming to the butcher (the necessary consequence, be it remembered, of the absolute prohibition asked for); and they think that such a course ought never to be adopted except in cases of urgent necessity. It is right to add that the gen- 362 tlemen forming the deputation stated to me that, without being in any way authorized to qualify the opinion come to by the body which they represented, their individual opinions had since been, to a certain degree, modified, They accordingly added to the petition from the Chamber of Agriculture and Farmers' Club the following memorandum:—With reference to the question of the removal of healthy cattle for slaughter, the opinion of the Chamber of Agriculture and Scottish Farmers' Club, when assembled in Edinburgh on the 13th of December last, at a special and general meeting called to consider the cattle plague, and upon the resolutions passed at which their petition to Parliament was framed, was that healthy cattle which had not been in direct contact with diseased animals might be allowed, under proper certificate, to be sent to the Metropolitan or other licensed markets, or to slaughterhouses to be licensed for the purpose, and that no animal so sent should ever be removed alive from the police boundaries of the said licensed markets or slaughterhouses. The deputation believe that this is at present the opinion of the great majority of the practical farmers of Scotland. Since coming to London the deputation has had repeated interviews with the feeders and breeders of the midland counties, who maintain that the transit of live cattle without exception should be stopped for a limited time. The chief arguments in support of this are—1. That so long as live animals are allowed to be sent at all the risk from evasion of the regulations is great; 2. That disinfectant measures in connection with railway trucks, Ac, cannot altogether be trusted to, and that no complete security can be afforded without the entire stoppage of transit for a time. The deputation is disposed now to think that more weight ought to be given to these arguments than has hitherto been done in Scotland. The deputation, on their part, think that all danger will not be avoided even were this course adopted, as slaughtering in general on the farms in Scotland will be carried out by the employment of butchers and material from the towns, who may be the means of carrying infection along with them. No doubt there is considerable difference between England and Scotland in the arrangement of farms and public highways, which last are more numerous, and in general intersect the land much more in England than in Scotland—thus exposing the English stockowner to greater hazard from the movement of cattle than the Scotch stockowner. But it is extremely desirable that any restrictive measure with regard to transit should apply to the whole of Great Britain without exception, as such would be more likely to be successful. The deputation have stated these views to the members of the conference, but did not consider it necessary to move an amendment to the resolution themselves, although they voted for the amendment moved by Mr. Snow, and seconded by Mr. Duncan (Scotland)—'That healthy fat cattle, under proper restrictions, be allowed to go to market for immediate slaughter.'With regard to the prohibition of fairs and markets, I need not specially refer to that 363 at present, because it is necessarily involved in the prohibition of removal. It is quite obvious that, if Parliament should decide that for a limited period the country must submit to the inconvenience of a strict prohibition of all removal of cattle from one place to another, no cattle fair or market could be held within that time.
The next point, in respect to which opinions have been expressed, I need not trouble the House with for a moment, because it only affects the steps to be taken for the cleansing and disinfecting of places where there has been disease, and for adopting precautions for preventing such places spreading the disease, upon which all are agreed. Very strict regulations are enforced by Order of the Privy Council on that subject, and we also propose that the Bill should contain regulations with reference to it.
The next point is one of considerable importance. It relates to cattle brought by sea into Great Britain. When we speak of cattle brought by sea into Great Britain, the House must remember we are speaking not of the importation of foreign cattle alone, as is generally understood, but of the introduction by sea of cattle from any place whatever, including Ireland, on which we are dependent for a very considerable portion of our supply. Therefore, when it is asked that cattle brought into this country by sea should be dealt with in a peculiar way, the communications made to the Government, or the resolutions expressing an opinion touching that subject, cannot be considered as relating exclusively to foreign cattle, but as embracing all cattle whatsoever coming by sea into the ports of Great Britain. But as, I am happy to say, Ireland at present is free from the disease, the restrictions proposed by this Bill will not apply to cattle imported from that country. The Royal Agricultural Society, in their sixth resolution on this question, recommend—That during the existence of the cattle plague, all imported cattle, sheep, or swine shall be slaughtered forthwith at the port where they are landed; and their hides, skins, and offal disinfected there.The resolution passed at the conference held in St. James' Hall on this point was, "That all imported cattle be prohibited moving inland." I need not trouble the House with extracts from the statement embodying the views of the Scotch Agricultural Society, but I may say that they seem to doubt the possibility of this absolute 364 prohibition of removal being effected immediately. I understand them to desire that it should be adopted if possible, but they intimate that if it should be found impracticable at the present moment, they think it would be expedient that imported animals should not go from place to place throughout the country, but that they should be allowed only to go to one market for the purpose of being slaughtered. There is another point to which I wish to advert before I state the proposals of the Government, and that is the agency by which it is proposed that this measure should be carried into effect. The resolutions of some of the bodies to which I have referred are silent on this head; but the Scotch agricultural body express their opinion fully on this subject, and suggest what appears to me to be a very sensible and judicious mode of enforcing by local agency whatever regulations may be made. The Royal Agricultural Society asks that the Government should bring before Parliament a Bill directing and empowering quarter sessions to assemble immediately in order to carry out such regulations.
Now, Sir, before I state the provisions of the measure I am about to propose, I will first state what is its principle—a principle to which I hope the House may be disposed to assent. It is that we should lay down by law certain general rules applicable to the whole country, from which no local authority should be empowered to depart. Next, that we should make use of the local authorities throughout the country for the purpose of enforcing these rules and others that may be made under the powers which I am about to mention; and, thirdly, that we should give the local authorities a discretion as to regulations to provide effectual means for dealing with this matter, according to the varying circumstances of the different parts of the country of which circumstances those local authorities possess a knowledge which the Government cannot possibly possess, and which the Government could not acquire even if it sent agents of its own into the country. We must depend, if we would grapple effectually with this evil, upon the zealous, cordial, and intelligent co-operation of the local authorities throughout the kingdom. First, then; we propose that the local authorities shall give effect to the provisions of the Bill, and shall consist, as now in England, of the quarter sessions for counties, and in boroughs of the mayors 365 and town councils; while in Scotland they will be the body of magistrates who manage the affairs of the Scotch counties very much in the same manner as is done by the quarter sessions in England, modified, however, in accordance with Scotch opinion, and a suggestion which we think a sound one, which will be embodied in a clause prepared by the Lord Advocate. It is proposed to make it imperative on those local authorities, having appointed officers to give effect to the regulations to cause to be slaughtered all infected animals within their districts. On this point we do not propose to allow them to exercise any discretion at all, but we require them directly, through their own officers, to cause every animal ascertained to be infected with this disease to be slaughtered. With regard to animals not actually infected with the disease, but which have been in contact with others that are infected, or in such contiguity with them as to raise the presumption that they may probably be attacked by the disease, and be the means of conveying it to other animals, we do not propose to make it imperative on the local authorities that they should be slaughtered, but, taking a middle course between the recommendations of the Royal Agricultural Society and that of the conference at St. James' Hall, we propose that power should be given to the local authorities, acting upon the special circumstances of each case and according to the probability of the infection being spread, to direct that animals of that class also shall be slaughtered. We propose, likewise, to adopt a recommendation which I believe has been unanimously made—namely, that the principle of compensation for the animals so slaughtered, whether belonging to one or the other of these two categories, should be admitted. But we propose to adopt a difference in the amount of compensation given in respect of animals ordered to be slaughtered when infected, as the disease must materially affect their value, and that given in respect of animals not infected, but only slaughtered by order of the local authorities to prevent the possibility of contagion. It is proposed that the rate of compensation should in the first case not exceed two-thirds of the value of the animal, provision being made by which the local authorities may ascertain the value, and that in no instance should the amount of compensation exceed £20. In the second case, we take the same scale as has been adopted in Aberdeenshire with respect to healthy 366 cattle—namely, that the compensation shall not exceed three-fourths of the value of the animal, or a maximum sum of £25. As to the fund from which the compensation money shall be derived, I pass that point by for the present. I may state that we make it compulsory on the local authorities by officers of their own to require all animals, either slaughtered by their order or dying of the disease, to be buried with certain precautions stated in the Bill, and with any others superadded to prevent the spread of contagion, and likewise to require the places in which such animals have been kept to be disinfected, and no fresh beasts to be taken there until such places have been declared to be free from risk.
I now come to the question of removal of cattle. It is not easy to frame regulations which, with a due regard to all the interests concerned, and different circumstances in the country, we think we can recommend to the House. We have, after much consideration, come to the following resolution:—The principle which we propose to the House with respect to removal from one place to another, is not the principle of an absolute and unqualified prohibition of removal to the extent which I said just now the Government have been asked to adopt throughout the whole of Great Britain—not to impose a certain statutory prohibition of universal application on removal, but to leave it open, subject to this statutory restriction, for the local authorities to make regulations varying according to the varying circumstances of different parts of the country. It is impossible to apply one iron rule to the whole of Great Britain, from the Land's End to the North of Scotland, which would of course be the effect of Parliament's laying an absolute interdict upon all movement of cattle along any high road, even although that high road divided different portions of the same farm, involving also the shutting up every cattle market throughout the kingdom. Why, there are—thank God!—large districts of the country which are yet quite free from the disease; and regulations which may be right and even essential in districts where the disease is rife, or adjoining districts where it rages with virulence, would be an intolerable vexation and an unnecessary interference in counties situated perhaps 100 or even 200 miles away from any centre of infection. Take the case of Cheshire, one of the counties which have been most severely visited by this plague. From the accounts we have 367 received parts of that county have been nearly desolated. But surely you would not have one and the same inflexible rule applied to such counties as Cheshire and counties wholly free from the disease, such, for example, as Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire, Orkney, and others? We have therefore come to the conclusion that this is a course which we could not recommend to the House for its adoption. I have said that this proposal, too, involves the stoppage of every market throughout the country. It involves, in point of fact—to put it in another way—the immediate—for there is no time to be allowed—substitution throughout the whole of Great Britain, in every city, town, and village, of a supply of dead for a supply of live meat. Absolute prohibition implies, also, as a necessary consequence, the slaughter of healthy animals, not with those professional appliances and that professional skill which make the operation, on sanitary grounds, safe, but without the means of effecting that slaughter properly, or of having the carcases duly hung up to dry. This must be the case if it were provided that the animals should be killed on every farm, whether large or small, or on the premises, in which they may be in towns. On this subject I am anxious to read a portion of a letter to which I referred the other night, and which was addressed to me some little time ago by Mr. Henry Thompson, a gentleman well known to many of us for his having sat in this House as representative for the borough of Whit by. He was one of the deputation of the Agricultural Society, to the Privy Council in December, and he urged that very stringent regulations must be made throughout the country with reference to the removal of cattle. In this letter he says—Having been elected Chairman of the Committee appointed to draw up a Report containing suggestions for the regulation of the cattle traffic in the West Riding, and having carried our Report, which was based on the recommendations submitted to Lord Granville and yourself last - month by a deputation from the Royal Agricultural Society, I think you may like to hear briefly the reasons for our decisions, especially as you will be strongly urged to issue a general Order of the Council placing the whole country under one uniform system. In the first place I may mention that, as Chairman of the Cattle Plague Committee of Magistrates, I have placed myself in communication with the mayors of all the corporate towns in the West Riding, and have received numerous letters from them, as well as from secretaries of local agricultural associations, farmers, butchers, &c. As chairman of a railway company permeating a great part of all three Ridings, I 368 have also great facilities for ascertaining the feelings and opinions of all classes on this question, and I have taken some pains to turn those facilities to account. The result of my inquiries is a strong conviction that, notwithstanding the widespread panic which exists, and has in many cases led even sober-minded men like the magistrates of the North Riding to pass very extreme restrictions, the bulk of the thoughtful, business-like men of this county are in favour of the system which we have adopted in the West Riding, and which may be briefly characterized as a system which gives every facility for sending cattle to slaughter both to public markets and to private slaughterhouses, but does not allow them to leave such market town, or butcher's shop, alive. The check which we have applied consists in requiring that a licence should be obtained from one magistrate before the cattle can be moved at all; but it is clearly understood that these licences will be freely granted where there is no reason to suppose that the cattle to be moved are from infected farms. If, instead of such a system as this, the rigidly prohibitive system now in force in the North Riding be adopted, all cattle must be slaughtered at home, and this I am persuaded will greatly tend to spread the infection. There are numerous other objections to the prohibitive code, such as the great additional loss inflicted on farmers by being compelled to sell their cattle at home, and the entire absence of all check on the slaughtering of diseased cattle, and the sale consequently of diseased meat to the public, which are the inevitable results of private slaughtering in detached farmhouses. I have had a case already within five miles of my house in the North Riding, where a butcher from one of the sea-ports slaughtered all the cattle still alive on a farm where more than half of the herd had already died of the plague. The meat was carried to a distance, and if challenged when brought to market for being soft and discoloured the answer would be ready, The animals had to be killed at a farmhouse without any proper conveniences, and where the carcases could not be left to cool, but were obliged to be cut up and carried over bad roads before they had time to stiffen; the meat must consequently be soft and bruised.' I will not occupy your time by discussing the numerous other objections that might be urged, but press as strongly as I can the Objection to killing at home—namely, that butchers will wander from farm to farm in search of cattle, that a perfect army of inspectors could not prevent their occasionally killing diseased cattle, either knowingly, in consequence of their cheapness, or unknowingly being taken in by the almost unlimited power of deception possessed by farmers on their own premises. After killing these animals they will visit other farms and spread the infection far and wide. I trust, therefore, that if Government decide to adopt one uniform system for the whole country they will leave the markets in our great towns open for the sale and slaughter of cattle under reasonable restrictions, enacting, however, that they shall not leave the place alive. The masses in the West Riding are well employed just now at good wages, and working men with money in their pockets will have good beef.This letter is dated the 13th of January; but I have since then been in communication with Mr. Thompson. He was a 369 member of a deputation which waited on me on Friday last, from the West Riding. After that deputation withdrew he came back into the room, and when I told him that I proposed to read the substance of his letter to the House, his answer was that he had not in any way changed the opinion there expressed. I will now, with the permission of the House, refer for a moment to the practice adopted by the different local authorities on this point; and I speak in particular of the local authorities in counties, because I know it is supposed that the inhabitants of towns have a great interest in keeping the markets open. The magistrates at quarter sessions have, by the regulations they have made, in most instances, shown the most earnest desire to take effectual measures to stamp out the disease, but they have in almost all cases allowed the movement of cattle, under certain restrictions, and in some cases have allowed markets to be held in certain places for the sale of fat cattle. What, for example, has been done by the magistrates of the West Riding of Yorkshire, which is not only a great agricultural district, but which also comprises a largo commercial population? They have adopted this system of having open markets in particular towns. They have themselves singled out certain places—such as Huddersfield and a few others, which, not having corporations, are under the jurisdiction of the justices—to which, as possessing all the appliances for slaughtering cattle, they allow fat cattle to go to be there slaughtered. From these towns the meat finds its way into the consumption of the surrounding country, while the evils generated by a system of unskilful slaughter are obviated. Again, the Scotch Chamber of Agriculture have expressed their opinion on the subject, and that opinion is, I believe, approved by Scottish agriculturists generally. [Sir JAMES FERSUSSON: The Highland Society.] The Highland Society may wish for absolute and universal prohibition for a limited time; but, if so, they differ from the Chamber of Agriculture. If that system be adopted what will happen? Liverpool is a great port of entry for Irish cattle, and one effect of the adoption of such a system would be that the whole of those cattle would be slaughtered in Liverpool immediately upon their arrival. I asked one of the deputation which I received the other day if any member of it represented the great manufacturing towns? No such gentleman was present; but a 370 gentleman who attended on behalf of one of the agricultural associations of Lancashire, admitted that there does not exist in Liverpool at the present moment the requisite means for slaughtering animals, with a due regard to the public health and the quality of the meat, to such an extent as to enable it to supply the wants of all those districts which are now supplied by the live meat which passes through it. What we propose, therefore, is as follows, and will be applicable to the whole country. At present no prohibition or restriction exist with respect to the removal of cattle, except where measures are taken by the local authorities. We do not think that is right; we think that every local authority, under the present circumstances of the country, ought to be called upon to take some action, and to carry out certain regulations. We propose, then, in the first place, to adopt a provision which has, I believe, been almost universally adopted by the magistrates at quarter sessions—that no cattle shall, for a limited time, be removed along the highway by night throughout Great Britain. We are told that there have been evasions of the regulations as to removal, and the only way to avoid that is to make removal by night penal. We also propose to enact a general prohibition against moving cattle at all, either along the highway or by railway, except by virtue of licences to be granted by the local authorities, and under general rules calculated to insure safety against the propagation of infection. That system is already in operation through the agency of courts of quarter sessions in counties, and has worked extremely well. The course adopted in some counties is, that if a farmer proposes to move his cattle he must apply to a magistrate, who only gives his licence on the production of a declaration signed by the owner of the animals proposed to be removed, and also by two farmers whose rental shall not be less than £200 each, certifying that they have within a limited period—two or three days—inspected the animals and the premises in which they are kept; that the cattle are perfectly healthy; that no disease exists at or within a certain distance of the place from and to which it is proposed to remove them, or within a certain distance from the line of the route along which they are to be moved. The cattle under the licence can only be moved along that line of route, and the person in charge of them is bound to pro- 371 duce the licence to any proper authority demanding the same. If he removes the cattle by any other route, or fails to produce the licence, he is treated as if he had none. We purpose to adopt the principle of these regulations. Great inconvenience has been produced by the state of the law with regard to the violation of these Orders. The Act of Parliament under which Orders of the Privy Council are made impose a penalty of £20 upon those who violate them, but the only mode of enforcing the Orders is by summoning the offenders, in order that they be dealt with according to law. Cases, however, have arisen in which persons who have been found driving cattle along the highways have refused to give their names, and the police being unable to follow them in all cases to their place of destination they have escaped, although there could be no doubt they were violating the Orders in Council. We propose to give power to arrest persons who are found violating the law and to take them before the nearest magistrate. The cattle, too, may be detained, and the magistrate may order them to be destroyed without any claim for compensation. We trust that by this summary power we shall better enforce obedience to the law. We further propose to give certain statutory powers to the district authorities to declare by public notice any place in which the disease exists to be an infected place; but when that district is declared to be infected no discretion as to the rules to be enforced will be permitted—there is to be no ingress or egress of cattle, hides, manure, and certain other articles which might carry infection to other places, until such place has been declared by the same local authorities to be free from disease. As to all other places, we propose to continue the power of the local authorities to prohibit the introduction of cattle subject, of course, to the general regulations applicable to the whole country.
I now come to the question of fairs and markets. If the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) should raise the question of absolute prohibition, it will be easy to do so at the end of the clause referring to this subject. If that should be adopted no markets would be held. Assuming, however, that the scheme we propose with qualified prohibition will be adopted by the House, I will state the course we propose to take in regard to fairs and markets. All fairs and markets 372 of lean and store cattle for a limited time are to be absolutely prohibited. [An hon. MEMBER: Everywhere?] Yes, throughout Great Britain. [An hon. MEMBER: In the metropolis?] The Metropolitan Market is already closed against store cattle, and has been so for some months. The proposed enactment will have little practical operation, because I believe there is not a market in the country for lean and store cattle which is not closed by the action of the local authorities. The only markets at present open are those for the sale of fat cattle. We also propose in this case that the local authorities shall act in the first instance, and that no market for fat cattle for immediate slaughter shall be held without the licence of the local authorities. One condition we propose as indispensable, that fat cattle brought to any market shall not be allowed, whether sold or not, to leave the place alive within which the market is held or to which it belongs. We propose, in fact, that there shall be only one removal. The cattle are to be marked on entering the market, and whether they are sold or not, they will be detained until they are killed. This Order is now in force in the Metropolitan Cattle Market. The number of animals sent to the Metropolitan Market is very much diminished, and we are satisfied that this Order may be safely made in the metropolis as well as elsewhere. We propose that it shall be put in force as to the metropolis within the limits of the Metropolitan Board of Works, that being the area over which, if a corporation existed, its jurisdiction would probably extend. An Order was made last week that no cattle should be removed from the metropolis alive, and the effect of this provision will be that, whether the animals are sold or not, they can only be removed to the slaughterhouse. The whole traffic in live cattle from the Metropolitan Market by railway—which has been much complained of—has been stopped, and this prohibition will be retained in the Bill. We did not make the same Order for all the markets in the country, as we thought it better to make the proposal to Parliament, in the presence of representatives of all the interests concerned. The effect of the regulations we propose is, that markets may still be held in certain places, from which the surrounding districts may be supplied with dead meat, but that no cattle sent to any such market shall leave the place alive.
373 One of the resolutions of the Royal Agricultural Society refers to the necessity of insuring some co-operation between the authorities of counties and boroughs. Representations have been made, which are entitled to great weight, of the interference with the regulations of the magistrates of counties as to fairs and markets by the separate and independent jurisdiction exercised in towns by mayors and town councils. In certain cases where the boroughs are not large, or where the area of the borough jurisdiction extends a considerable way into the country, the regulations made by the magistrates are rendered comparatively useless by the continuance of markets and fairs within these boroughs. The question is a very difficult one to deal with. There is a sensitive feeling on the part of the municipal authorities on this point; but we think that the representations made are well-founded; and to correct this evil without interfering with boroughs having large populations, such as Liverpool, Manchester, and others, with a population exceeding 40,000, we propose that fairs and markets shall not be held in a borough without the concurrent licence of the magistrates of the county in which the borough is situated; and, where the borough adjoins several counties, without the concurrent licence of all the counties adjacent. [Mr. HUNT: What do you propose to do with respect to railways?] We propose that railways shall be subject to the general regulations as to removal, so far as relates to cattle taken to or brought from stations. If an owner wants to remove his cattle by railway he must comply with the same regulations as if he removed them to any other place. But, when the cattle are upon the railway, the owner may remove them through one jurisdiction to another, no intermediate authority being empowered to stop animals going with a licence from the proper authority from one place to another, which is open to their reception.
The removal of cattle by sea is a matter of great importance, not merely in a temporary but in a permanent point of view. It is impossible to trace the actual origin of the disease in this country, but from its similarity to the disease which ravaged our herds in the last century, and to that which now prevails in some parts of the Continent, it is probable it was brought to this country from some part of Europe by cattle brought into London or other ports. Therefore, this is a matter of permanent 374 importance. It may be necessary hereafter to lay down permanent rules with respect to cattle brought by sea into this country, but I will now state what we propose to do at present, and for a limited period. The amount of importation just now is smaller than at other times of the year. As a temporary measure, we propose that the other ports in the country into which cattle are brought from any part of Great Britain or from abroad should be placed on the same footing as London as to the prohibition to remove the cattle from the place where imported. With regard to that prohibition, the remark I made just now as to Liverpool occurs again—there may not perhaps be the necessary facilities at some of those ports to slaughter all the animals brought into them; but it must be remembered that the importation into other ports is small. London is the great port of importation, and in London facilities for the purpose I have mentioned exist. Therefore, we think that for a limited time the House may be asked to sanction the regulation that cattle should be slaughtered at the port to which they are brought, and that the dead meat only should be removed. If the owner should be unwilling to agree to such a regulation, he would beat liberty to re-embark the cattle; but if they should be re-embarked and taken to another port, they would, of course, be subject to the same regulation there. We do not intend, however, that this regulation should apply to Irish cattle, because we know that Ireland is free from the disease. The Irish cattle come chiefly to Liverpool and ports near it, or to Bristol; and if they go into the markets where there are other beasts they must be subject to the general regulation as to slaughter, but if not taken into the market, they may be taken by rail to other places where there are licensed markets for slaughter. By this means a large amount of meat is conveyed to towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire which depend much on Irish cattle for the supply of that food.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
asked, with regard to store cattle from Ireland, if they would be allowed to be sent to the graziers in England?
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
There is no provision expressly applying to that subject, but the restrictions in force in any district will apply to this class of cattle. The Bill will be limited as to the time of its operation, and will continue in 375 force until the 1st of July, 1867. Some of the provisions, however, will he limited to a shorter period—namely, two months, with power given to the Queen in Council to extend by Order in Council those special provisions from time to time. At present we propose that they should continue in force until the 15th of April. It is impossible to speak with any certainty as to the effect of these regulations, but we hope they may produce the desired effect. If, unhappily, it should be necessary to continue them for a longer period, it would be inconvenient on every occasion to apply to Parliament for power to continue them, and therefore we think that Parliament would do well to give to the Queen in Council the power to extend any of these special regulations for a longer period.
I will not detain the House by specifying the various regulations to which I have referred respecting, among other matters, the disinfection and cleansing of railway trucks in which beasts are carried. I must, in justice to the Government, say that the Bill introduced in 1864, which was prepared in the Home Office, and which was referred to a Select Committee, which contained provisions for ensuring the proper treatment of cattle and proper care in their movement failed, in consequence of the opposition of the agricultural interest and of those concerned in the cattle trade. ["No, no!"] The hon. Gentleman the Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) says "No!" and I must certainly do him the justice to say that he was not a consenting party to its being dropped, but he was unfortunately absent when this course was taken, in consequence of the nearly unanimous wish of the Committee. My hon. Friend will, at a later period, introduce a Bill on the subject, and I hope that it will receive a favourable consideration, and that the regulations made on the subject will be of a permanent character. There are also regulations to be enforced with respect to the destruction of manure and other articles which have been connected with diseased cattle. They are included in the Orders of the Privy Council, but will also be embodied in this Bill. There is also a power given to local authorities to extend the regulations in their districts to other animals besides cattle. On this point there is great difference of opinion, and there is a difficulty in acting uniformly in the matter, owing to the different cir- 376 cumstances of different parts of the country. For instance, the effect of subjecting sheep to the same stringent regulations as cattle would be in some parts starvation to the flocks and ruin to the farmer. We therefore leave that matter, as now, optional with the local authorities, believing that they will act with a due regard to the different circumstances of their respective counties. We propose to remove the doubts which have arisen in reference to the penalties, under the existing Act of Parliament. Under that Act there is a penalty of £20 for every breach of the Orders of Privy Council; and the question has arisen, whether the penalty is cumulative—whether in the case of a herd driven on a road, or a truck load conveyed by railway, it is leviable per head for each beast, or only leviable for the whole number- The advice given to magistrates has been that they might lay a separate information for each separate head of cattle, convict upon each, and leave the persons fined to ask, if they chose, for a case to be stated to the Queen's Bench. We propose in the present Bill to retain the penalty of £20 in the case of any number of cattle not exceeding four in number; but if the herd should consist of a greater number, then the penalty of £5 should attach to each head of cattle. The case, I am told, has actually occurred of the drover of a large quantity of cattle crossing the border from Scotland to England tendering payment of the penalty of £20, which he thought it worth his while to pay, to enable him to move the cattle. It is to meet such cases that this provision has been introduced.
We propose, also, to afford facilities for holding general sessions for the purposes of this Bill. I addressed a circular to the chairmen of quarter sessions, suggesting that, in order to obviate the inconvenience which might arise from the transfer of powers from the petty to quarter sessions, owing to the infrequency of the meetings of quarter sessions, they should exercise the power of adjournment from time to time, as has been often done in some counties. From one county I had a letter addressed to me almost immediately after the holding of the quarter sessions, telling me that they had not adjourned, and asking for an Order of the Privy Council to correct an error they had committed. I said, in reply, the proper course would be to convene the general sessions, as they had not adjourned. But 377 the law on the subject of convening general sessions is obscure. I believe the law is that a notice of a fortnight or three weeks must be given before they can be held; they must be convened on an application to the lord-lieutenant; and they must be subject to all the incidents of an ordinary session; so that it would be necessary to summon jurors from all parts of the county, as if they were about to deal with ordinary sessions business. We propose, that for the purposes of this Bill, permission should be given to two magistrates to convene a general sessions. We further propose that local authorities should be enabled to form committees, with power of performing the duties imposed on the local authorities by virtue of this Act. This has been proposed in Scotland, and it has already been adopted in some counties, among others, in the county, I believe, which you, Sir, represent. It has been suggested, and I think it a useful suggestion, that there should be associated with committees of the local authority other persons, such as tenant-farmers. With this view the Lord Advocate has prepared a clause as to Scotland, which will be embodied in the Bill. We propose to enable the local authorities to do the same in England. The only restriction will be that such persons shall be rated occupiers within the district for which they are to act. It is also desirable that facilities should be given for combined action. The law has already recognized this principle. Counties may unite with counties or with boroughs for certain purposes, such as the building of asylums and other objects of public utility. This combined action is effected by means of a joint committee, and we propose that the same power shall be given to counties or boroughs to appoint a joint committee for the purposes of this Act.
I now come to what I must admit to be one of the most difficult parts of the subject with which we have to deal, and with reference to which I cannot lead the House to suppose that we can deal with it in a manner altogether satisfactory to ourselves; for every mode of dealing with it which has been suggested seems open to difficulties. At first the objections appeared nearly insurmountable; but we have been led to the adoption of that course which, on the whole, after much consideration, appeared most practicable, though not free from objection, I refer to the fund for 378 compensating the losses sustained by animals slaughtered by order of the local authorities, and for paying the expenses of giving effect to this Bill. On this subject we have not been much assisted by those bodies from whom we have received really valuable assistance on other points, and it is not unnatural that they should wish not to commit themselves to any specific proposal. The large deputation we received from the conference held in St. James' Hall, which was said to represent forty-four counties of England and Scotland, distinctly said they had no opinion to offer on that subject. They left it to the consideration of the Government and the wisdom of Parliament. There were members of that deputation who did express an opinion, but it was only an individual opinion. As far as the conference went, no resolution on the subject was come to, and we are quite in the dark as to what they thought the best mode of raising the fund for compensation. But the Royal Agricultural Society, in one of those resolutions to which I alluded just now, distinctly point to the county rate as the source out of which the fund ought to be provided. The Scotch Chamber of Agriculture and the Highland Society suggest that a portion of the fund should be derived from local sources, and a portion from the public funds. There have been other suggestions pointing to local funds, and admitting the great objection there is to look to the Consolidated Fund for compensations for losses of this kind; but no very specific or definite proposal has been made, except that of the county rate for counties, and the borough rate for towns. The objections to charging the Consolidated Fund with these expenses appear to us conclusive. The principle of applying to the public fund to compensate for private losses is in itself a very dangerous one to admit. Even in the case to which I alluded the other night of the very limited compensation granted from the Consolidated Fund in the last century, much fraud and recklessness were found to result from it, and it should operate as a warning rather than an encouragement to repeat the experiment. The Commissioners in their first report were unanimously of opinion that this principle was altogether inadmissible. We have had also from Scotland the proposal that the rate should be laid on lands and hereditaments—which is similar to what a county rate would be in England—and that that rate should 379 be equally divided between the owner and the occupier. We are indebted to the hon. Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. Banks Stanhope) for the suggestion he made the other night, which showed that he was actuated by the sincere desire of contributing to the solution of the difficulties connected with this subject, and not by any desire to find fault, although be was perfectly entitled to criticize the conduct of the Government in the course they had pursued. The principle on which his proposal was founded, I believe, is perfectly sound—namely, that the losses occasioned by the slaughter of diseased animals, and the expenses requisite for carrying into effect the provisions of the law for checking the disease, ought to be borne to a certain extent by the whole community, because the whole consuming and producing population are interested in checking the disease; but that a special burden may be fairly thrown upon those on whom the loss primarily and immediately falls. He proposed, therefore—and in principle it is what we recommend—that in counties the county rate should furnish part of the fund out of which the compensation should come, and in boroughs, the borough rate; that the proportion in which the burden should fall on these funds should be two-thirds, and that the remaining one-third should be borne by the cattle owners. No doubt it will be difficult to give effect to these provisions. We have prepared clauses with this object, which are probably not free from objection; but the House will be called upon to decide whether the principle be a sound one, and whether it be practicable to give effect to it. What we propose is, I that a cattle rate should be imposed on all cattle one year old and upwards; 2 that the rate should not exceed in any one year 5s. a head in respect of such cattle; 3. that the rate may be levied at intervals of time not less than three months; 4. that the local authorities shall be enabled to require a return of the greatest number of cattle possessed by any person within their district on any one day before the return, for the purpose of assessment; 5. that any person making a false return shall be liable to a penalty of £20 and double the amount of rate; 6. that the rate shall be collected by persons appointed by the local authorities; and 7 and 8. give an appeal to any person aggrieved to the petty sessions in the first instance; 380 and thence to the quarter sessions. The Bill also give3 a power to the local authority, where the rate exceeds a certain amount, to borrow money from private sources, or from the Public Works Loan Commissioners, with the sanction of the Treasury, repayable in instalments within a period not exceeding seven years. One consideration connected with the imposition of this cattle rate is that those who have been the great losers by the cattle plague will not be called on to pay it, except on their remaining cattle. The cattle rate will, therefore, operate as a species of insurance on those animals to be hereafter slaughtered by order of the local authority; but, with regard to the county rate, we have felt the hardship of imposing the rate on all occupiers of farms, however severely they may have been visited by the cattle plague, and however ruinous the losses they may have sustained. We think it right, therefore, to submit to the House a proposal, I admit doubtful in principle, and difficult to give effect to in practice, but a principle almost essentially connected with the imposition of the rate, that where before the passing of this Act any person shall have suffered so great a loss of cattle by the plague, in respect of which he is not entitled to any compensation under this Act, as to entitle him in the opinion of the local authority to remission of the whole or any part of the rate, the local authority may make such remission. That will be a question for the consideration of the House. I have thought it right to mention it because it is a new principle, except as applied to the remission of poor rates in the case of persons too poor to pay. [Mr. BAILLIE COCHRANE: Will the compensation be retrospective?] Yes. We propose that the compensation shall be retrospective in respect of animals slaughtered by order of inspectors appointed by the local authority and acting under authority derived from the Orders in Council, while the Order for slaughter remained in force.
I think I have now stated all the main provisions of the Bill. There is a good deal of detail in it, and it may be necessary to add to its provisions; but at present we confine ourselves to those which we think essential under the present circumstances of the country. Some of them may be considered more immediately requisite than others, and it might be advisable, if such be the opinion of the House, that the Bill 381 should be divided into two parts, and that those provisions to which a general assent is given should be passed at once. I do not now propose that course, because I think the House will be better able to consider it when hon. Members have seen the Bill, which, I hope, will be in their hands tomorrow, though not, I fear, at the ordinary time for the delivery of Parliamentary documents. The Bill is already in print and undergoing revision, but I think it better to delay its presentation till to-morrow afternoon. With regard to Scotland, I will only observe that several clauses have been prepared by the Lord Advocate which will apply to that country. I have not touched fully on them because I am not so conversant with the laws and practice of Scotland; but if in the discussion of those clauses any explanation should be required my right hon. and learned Friend will afford it. As to Ireland, I stated the other night the course which the Government have hitherto taken. I have had frequent communication on the subject with the Irish Government; and though the disease does not at present exist in Ireland, we have thought that a Bill ought to be prepared for that country which, though not different in principle from the English one, will be different in its details, in consequence of the difference of the circumstances of the two countries. My right hon. Friend the Attorney General and my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland are now preparing such a Bill for the consideration of the Lord Lieutenant and the Government. With respect to the committees which are to be formed by the local authorities, it is important that I should point out that under the Bill they will be executive committees only, and that they will have no power of imposing a rate. As to the time of the second reading of the Bill, I am quite in the hands of the House. All I can say is, that the Government are desirous the Bill should be read a second time as soon as possible; and therefore, if the House will allow me, I will fix the second reading for Wednesday. If, after seeing the Bill, the House should be of opinion that further time would be desirable, of course it will be impossible for me to ask them to read it a second time on Wednesday; but I would request the House to allow me to fix it for that day, in the hope that we may consider it de die in diem, with the view of passing at least the more important provisions with the least possible delay. I 382 thank the House for the patience with which they have listened to me. I have ventured to state the general principles of the measure, and I hope that when hon. Members shall have had an opportunity of seeing the Bill, they will be of opinion that it is calculated to check, as far as possible, the extension of this great calamity.
SIR GEORGE GERY
We propose that they shall not be put on a railway without a licence, the conditions of which are to be prescribed by the local authorities; but this will not apply to cattle passing through. Thus, if cattle should be passing through Northamptonshire, the magistrates would not have power to stop them in transitu. Will the House permit me to observe that I made inquiries as to the form in which this Bill should be brought in, and I found that the Bill giving authority on these matters to the Privy Council was brought in not in Committee, but on leave -asked in the ordinary form. The two Bills of 1864 were also brought in without a Committee. I believe the only case in which a Bill of this nature was introduced in Committee was that of a Bill affecting the importation of cattle. This Bill does not affect importation. It only affects foreign cattle after they are brought into this country, and then it deals with them just as it does with cattle from any part of Great Britain. I have, however, just received an intimation on the subject. I do not know whether it has come from you, Sir, but if there be the slightest doubt on the matter, I presume the House will allow mo to alter the form of the Motion. I therefore move, Sir, that you do leave the Chair, and that the House do go into Committee to consider the Cattle Diseases Act.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether in cases of compensation each county would be independent within its own boundary; or whether the funds of all the counties would be put into one joint fund for general assistance throughout the country.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
replied, that the funds would be locally raised and locally distributed. When he spoke of a Joint Committee, he did not mean one to act for 383 the whole country in respect of funds. He might observe that a strong opinion had been expressed in favour of those funds being locally raised and locally administered.
§ MR. GEORGE CORNWALL LEGH
asked whether power would be given to the local authorities to superintend the burial of cattle condemned and destroyed. In the county which he had the honour to represent (North Cheshire) the cattle are dying at the rate of 700 or 800 a week, and unless great powers were given to the quarter sessions he feared the mode of disposing of the carcases might occasion danger.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
replied, that one of the provisions of the Bill required that in every case, whether of an animal which had been slaughtered in consequence of being affected with the disease, or of an animal which had died of the disease, an Order was to be issued for the burial of such animal. There was also a provision giving local authorities power to acquire land in which to bury diseased cattle. This latter provision had been introduced in consequence of persons having refused to allow diseased animals to be buried on their land.
§ MR. WATKIN
inquired whether the Bill proposed to tax property in the towns and counties for the purposes of the Act.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
replied, that the incidence of the county rate would apply as in any other case. It might not be necessary in some cases to make a new rate, because in some counties the expenses under the Act might be very small. In others it might be necessary to levy a new rate, and it was clearly intended that it should be levied in accordance with the ordinary incidence.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ (In the Committee,)
§ Moved, That the Chairman be directed to move the House that leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Law relating to contagious or infectious diseases in Cattle and other animals.—(Sir George Grey.)
§ MR. HUNT
I feel that I have taken a very unusual course in giving notice that I should, notwithstanding the announcement of the Government measure, move for leave to introduce a Bill on the same subject, but the circumstances of the case are very peculiar, and I trust the Committee will think they are such as justify me in the course I have taken. We have been for weeks and months using every endeavour to induce the Government to 384 take some decisive step to check the cattle plague. Gentlemen who take a great interest in this question have besieged the Home Office with deputations from public bodies—they have approached the Government with entreaties—they have used every means in their power to urge the Government to more prompt action in what they believe to be a great emergency, but up to the time of the meeting of Parliament, without effect. They have to a certain extent dragged the Government on step by step. Inch by inch—by Orders in Council coming out about once a month—power was given to the country gentlemen to regulate the movement of cattle, they all the time saying that they did not want that power, and asking the Government to take the responsibility upon themselves. And what was the state of things when Parliament met? From the speeches delivered by Members of the Government on the first night of the Session, the country was not led to expect that the Ministry would introduce any Bill worthy of the occasion. From the speech of the Secretary of State for the Home Department—I do not refer to the speech just delivered by the right hon. Gentleman—and the speech of the Under Secretary, I came to this conclusion—that the Government never have appreciated the magnitude of the calamity impending over the country. From the former speech of the right hon. Gentleman I gathered this—that in his opinion the calamity was only a partial one—that it only affected part of the community, the agricultural interest, but he appears now to have realized its magnitude. From the tone of the speeches addressed to the House on the occasion to which I refer, I was not satisfied that the Government would lay on the table a Bill worthy of the occasion. Under ordinary circumstances it would have been proper to wait and see what the measure was, and if it were not satisfactory to try to defeat it, and introduce one after the Government Bill had been disposed of. But time is of the greatest consequence in this case. Had I waited till the Government measure was on the table, and the House should not have been satisfied with it, I might have had to wait a whole week in order to prepare another. In this case a week is of vital consequence. It is under these circumstances I have taken the unusual course of announcing a measure in competition, if I might say so, to that which the Government were about to introduce. I have no party and no personal 385 feeling about this matter. My sole object is to get the very best measure that can be devised, and to have it passed at the earliest opportunity. From the speech of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, I am convinced that the right hon. Gentleman has been educated in this matter by the deputations which have waited upon him during the last few days, and has begun to think it a more serious evil than he did before. The right hon. Gentleman has just announced a measure more stringent than he would have announced on the first night of the Session; but still it is not stringent enough. I must, therefore, ask leave of the Committee to place my own Bill upon the table, not necessarily with the view of its being proceeded with, because the Government Bill is a very complicated one, and I am not sure that I understand all its provisions. All I can say is that if, when the Government Bill is printed, it shall appear to be one which can be converted into such a measure as ought to be passed, I will give every assistance to the Government in passing the Bill after it has been properly amended. If, however, it should prove on examination to be a measure which will not satisfy the demands of the country, I shall ask leave to proceed with the Bill which I have asked leave to introduce. It would then be my duty to ask the House to reject the Government Bill and to accept my own. It has been my lot for some time past to spend nearly half of every week in considering what orders were to be issued in my own county, and I would ask hon. Members who have not bestowed so much attention on the subject to look at a map which I have asked permission to place in the Library of the House, On that map the centres of infection in this country are carefully marked, and, though there may be some defects in it, substantially it is correct. Now, I think that if any Member would look at that map he will be appalled at the state of the country. I maintain that this is not a question which affects the agricultural community alone. I represent a great grazing county (Northamptonshire), where there are hundreds of graziers whom ruin stares in the face. I protest against this question being considered as merely a local one, or as one affecting one interest in the country. When the agricultural interest suffers we all know that that of commerce, and of the great mass of the people, suffers also. For my own part, I believe that no calamity ever fell upon a large class 386 which did not re-act upon every interest in the country. I would instance the cotton famine, though in my judgment that was far less a national question than the cattle plague, because the latter relates to the food of the people. I employ the term "food of the people" because it was used the other night by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who said he thought we ought to feel a difficulty in aiding the agricultural interests because we were dealing with "the food of the people." Now, in my opinion, that is the very reason why we ought to give the matter the gravest and earliest consideration. The question is one which will affect the animal food to be eaten by the people for a long period to come—it might be for the next ten or fifteen years. I would ask leave to read some statistics compiled by the veterinary department of the Privy Council respecting the progress of the disease. Up to the 4th of November last the number of cases of cattle plague reported to the Privy Council was 20,897. I have procured a list, week by week, of the number of cases which have occurred from that time to the present, and it shows the following figures:—In the first week, 3,194 cases; in the second, 3,341; in the third, 6,551; in the fourth, 5,731; in the fifth, 7,485; in the sixth, 8,187; in the seventh, 8,207; in the eighth, 9,956; in the ninth, 8,508; in the tenth, 12,199; in the eleventh, 12,842; and in the twelfth, 13,642. In the next week—being up to the third of February—the Return shows an apparent decrease, the number being 11,443; but it ought to be observed that there is a note appended to the Return to the effect that it is not to be trusted, because between 200 and 300 inspectors have failed to send in returns, and the officers of the Privy Council are of opinion that there has been no falling off whatever in the number of cases. I instance these figures to show that with the most stringent powers they will fail to arrest the disease if this is allowed to continue. I say "allowed to continue," because I believe much may now be done to check the disease. If Parliament had been called together two months ago, and Government had asked the House for powers to stamp out the disease, by preventing the removal of cattle from one quarter to another, they would have had them. If, however, they allow the disease to progress at this rate, it will soon become not only a question for the 387 meat producer but the meat consumer. I ask the right hon. Gentleman not to think too much of the outcry which may be raised by the populations of large manufacturing towns. I have always thought it to be the duty of a statesman to put up with any amount of clamour if he feels that he is doing his duty to the country at large; and it is the duty of the right hon. Gentleman now to disregard any outcry from the meat-consuming centres of population, directed against the measures they may take for promoting the interests of every class. I do not, however, believe that there will be any outcry from the large manufacturing towns. I have a greater trust in the intelligence of the working classes than the right hon. Gentleman has, although he is going to give them the franchise, and I believe they will understand that if the present price of meat be raised by any Act we are going to pass it is for their interest in the future. I protest against starving the meat eaters of next year is order to satiate the meat eaters of this year. It will be necessary to put some restrictions upon meat now, in order that we may not be utterly dependent upon the foreigner for the next few years to come. The Bill of the Government is, as I stated before, extremely complicated in its details, and I may not have quite followed the right hon. Gentleman; but I confess that that portion of it which still leaves it permissive to the local authorities to adopt the general regulations did not appear to me satisfactory. Take the case of an infected county adjoining an uninfected county. In the latter the statutory regulations are not adopted. What is the consequence? Over the next hedge might be a case of cattle plague, and before the statutory regulations of this Bill are adopted the free county might become affected and the seeds of the disease spread throughout its whole length and breadth. Then we have the question of railroads; and whether I press on my own Bill or support that of the Government I shall do all in my power to prohibit altogether the removal of live stock by railway. I consider railway trucks, pens, and platforms are the surest means of infecting the cattle placed in them. I believe all the attempts hitherto made to disinfect them have utterly failed. There should be a clear month or more in which they should be entirely disused, and during that time they should be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected under official supervision. Until that is done we shall 388 not have got rid of the most fruitful means of spreading this disease throughout the land. Then, again, with regard to the prohibition of traffic. The right hon. Gentleman has said that no county has yet absolutely prohibited the removal of cattle, without any exception.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I did not say that no county had prohibited removal. I said that almost all had allowed the movement of cattle to a certain extent. There may be one county which has prohibited it entirely, but I am not aware of it.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Yes, and I used it as an argument to show that those gentlemen who are most conversant with the practice of counties, and who are quite as desirous of checking the disease as the hon. Gentleman, did not feel it right to enforce absolute prohibition.
§ MR. HUNT
That is done in my own county, with my consent, and I am myself responsible for the wording of the orders which are in force in Northamptonshire. But consider the position we were in. At the time we were asked to make the order we found that cattle were removed without check throughout our county. At that time under the Orders of the Government we could not stop cattle going by railway through the county, we could not stop animals that had been to London and came back infected from entering the boroughs in the county, where they would be handled by butchers, who would proceed from those boroughs to the farms. It was with reference to those Orders of the Government which we could not contravene that we made these exceptions, allowing the movements of cattle under certain conditions. If we had prohibited the movements of cattle, the owners would have said that the butchers could go to London, buy beasts, and slaughter them in the boroughs of Northampton and Peterborough. That is stopped now; but we had besieged the Government with letters and representations, and the prohibitive Order was issued only on the 6th instant. But for the Orders made by Government those relating to cattle traffic in Northamptonshire would have been different. In moving cattle under licence we have two evils to guard against—fraudulent declarations, and declarations untrue in 389 fact, but made in ignorance. Besides these, there is that of carelessness on the part of magistrates, some of whom will sign anything put before them, while others will sign anything that any one else has signed. [Sir GEORGE GREY: The great unpaid.] Even among the great paid I have found gentlemen willing to sign things which, if they had done their duty, they would have left alone. When a beast exhibits incipient symptons of the plague, the owner, not knowing positively that it is the disease, will get rid of the animal, if he can, before he does know it; and during the two or three days of doubt, I can conceive that even a tolerably scrupulous man would, under certain circumstances, sign a declaration that the beast was not infected. I do not say that a highly scrupulous man would do so; but directly any movement is permitted risks are incurred from fraud, ignorance, and carelessness. But supposing that the declaration of freedom from infection were true, and licence to be properly granted, when an animal is put into a railway truck can it be said that it is healthy any longer? It might be infected from the moment it entered the truck, and I believe there are many instances of animals that have never exhibited a symptom of the cattle plague doing so almost immediately that they were driven into trucks. Then, conveyed through the country at many miles an hour, they carried infection into the fields and farmyards which they passed. I see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer shakes his head; is it his opinion that infection is not so carried? [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER nodded assent.] The question has been put to me by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, "Can you prove that animals passing along the railway communicate infection?" and my answer was to this effect, "With regard to infection you can prove nothing to demonstration; but we are morally certain in Northamptonshire that animals located beside railway lines have taken the infection from cattle trucks." In every case in the county that has been brought under my notice, with the exception of one mentioned to me by letter to-day, we have been able to trace the origin of the disease; and, along the railway, in most cases, the spread of it could be traced to no other cause than trucks passing along the line, and we were therefore convinced that this was the way in which infection was communicated. If that be so, is it not an argument for stopping the move- 390 ment of cattle by rail as well as by road? Then comes the question as to how the centres of population are to be fed. I think all the difficulties in the way of establishing dead-meat markets in the place of live stock markets may be overcome. I have heard of railway companies who are prepared to convert their cattle trucks into trucks for meat, and who are prepared to establish dead-meat markets at their termini. I believe the North-Western Company, having involved themselves in penalties through ignorance of the Orders in Council, have absolutely refused to carry hides, and are considering whether they ought not to refuse to carry cattle. I come next to the question of markets and fairs. I have to find fault with the plan of the Government, for it makes exceptions of large towns. The effect of holding these markets and fairs will be that infected beasts will find their way among the healthy, and in that way the plague will be communicated. The butchers who went to these markets and freely handled the cattle thus spread the plague. Often animals in the market did not show any symptoms of the disease, yet before they were killed these symptoms appeared. It was no fanciful notion to suppose that the disease might be spread in this way, I read in a newspaper the other day a case of infection which had arisen from a packing cloth which had been brought from London, and which was worn as an apron by the person who milked the cows that became infected. I have heard of numerous instances in Northamptonshire of cattle plague introduced by people who bad had the curiosity to go and see infected beasts. A case occurred in my own neighbourhood. A young man went to bring his sister home from a farm house in Huntingdon, where she was on a visit, and while there he went to look at the beasts. He then drove home, walked about his own farm-yard, and communicated the plague, which spread almost up to my own door. In fact, I have been living in an atmosphere of cattle plague for some time. The subject has occupied my attention almost exclusively for many weeks, and I have seen almost every one in the county interested in the matter. With regard to slaughtering animals on farms, I agree with the Government that all infected animals ought to be slaughtered, and that all animals exposed to infection, according to the degree of exposure, ought to be slaughtered. With regard to slaughtering other animals, I am averse to their 391 being sent to the railway station to go to market. There might be difficulty about slaughtering on all farms, and nuisance might arise from it; but on the larger farms it could be done easily, and the difficulty on small farms would be reduced by the provision of additional slaughterhouses throughout the country. I shall now proceed to unfold the scheme which I propose, with the permission of the House, to introduce, and trust the Government will assent to my doing so. In that scheme are embodied the various principles agreed upon almost unanimously at St. James' Hall on Thursday last, and some merely skeleton resolutions I have worked out in detail and seek to give effect to. I am bound to acknowledge the very great assistance in preparing this measure which I have received from hon. Members sitting on both sides of the House. I have never known an occasion on which hon. Members have shown themselves so willing to sacrifice any personal crotchets they might entertain to secure the common object which we have in view, or more willing to relinquish a great portion of their time to assist one who, in the majority of cases, is politically opposed to them.
I am bound to point out to the hon. Member that the House is now in Committee upon the Bill introduced by the right hon. Baronet. The hon. Member for Northampton has given notice of a separate Bill, which he will naturally introduce on another occasion.
The question before the Committee is, that I be directed to move the House that leave be given to bring in a Bill.
§ MR. HUNT
I am always anxious to keep myself within the limits of order, and to support the authority of the Chair. Perhaps, therefore, I may be permitted to put the matter in this way:—If I were going to introduce a scheme, instead of that proposed by the right hon. Baronet, I should do so after this fashion. The scheme would divide itself into two points—the first having relation to the localization or restriction on the movement of cattle, the other to their compulsory slaughter and the amount of compensation to be paid for them. From the 1st of March, when the 392 present Order in Council will expire, to the 25th of March, no movement of cattle whatever should be allowed to take place in any county, infected or uninfected, by railroad or road, with this exception, that on a man's own farm he should be at liberty to move his cattle from field to field, provided they did not go more than 200 yards on any highway. That exception would be necessary, because homesteads very often are situated on a different side of the road from the pastures, but within the limit proposed it would be hardly probable that cattle belonging to two different farmers would encounter each other. That slight exception I know is a departure from the terms of the resolution carried at the conference, and if necessity be shown to warrant such a course, I should be prepared to strike out the exception, but my own opinion is in favour of its retention. With regard to the difficulty suggested by the right hon. Gentleman as to slaughtering on the farm in such a measure as I advocate, I would introduce one other exception from non-removal. I should like to see introduced a power to the parish officers, when required by a certain number of ratepayers, to provide a slaughterhouse in the parish. [Sir GEORGE GREY: Would you only have one?] One or more. In some cases the parish ought not to be required to provide more than one, because there might either be conveniences existing upon the farms, or possibly a slaughterhouse already in the parish itself. What I wish to see is, within a convenient distance of any large numbers of cattle fit for slaughter, a slaughterhouse, to which they could be taken to be killed. The advantage of that plan over the project of moving cattle into towns is that they would travel on a very limited space, and that all cattle travelling over the same piece of road would do so on the way to be killed. These are the only exceptions which I should like to see in any Bill up to the 25th of March. Then comes the question which the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman fails to deal with—that of change of tenancies. In some parts of the country these changes take place on Old Lady Day, the 6th April, in others upon New Lady Day, the 25th March, and I believe it to be absolutely necessary, in the case of such changes, that there should be some relaxation of the rule to allow the removals of cattle rendered necessary by such changes. [Sir GEORGE GREY: Hear, hear, hear!] The right hon.
393 Baronet cheers that sentiment, but I beg to notice that, in the scheme proposed by him to the House, the 1st of April is mentioned as the day. [Sir GEORGE GREY: I assume that the magistrates have common sense.] Some magistrates have common sense, and some have not, though, upon the whole, I believe a large amount of common sense guides the decisions of those magistrates ordinarily taking part in the administration of county affairs, I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that, when the county authorities adopted his statutory rules, animals could be only moved under licence for slaughter.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
The hon. Gentleman is quite mistaken. I said that in no case should cattle be moved by night, and that in other cases they should not be moved without a licence, which was to be granted by the local authorities in accordance with certain prescribed conditions. I hope the form of licence will be scheduled to the Bill. The provisions with regard to slaughter only affect the markets.
§ MR. HUNT
I had not read the provisions of the Bill in that light originally; but, as now explained, the Bill is far more dangerous than I had imagined. Magistrates, it seems, are to have the power of passing animals up and down through whole counties for any purpose whatever under a declaration as to a clean bill of health.
§ MR. HUNT
Although most counties may favour relaxations in favour of cattle going to the railway or to the slaughterhouse, I hardly think they will endorse the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, according to which cattle will be free to traverse the country under licence for any purpose. Ear from such a measure being satisfactory to the wishes and opinions of the agricultural community, I am sure they will almost regret that such a Bill was ever put upon the table.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
How do you propose to arrange as to cattle going from 394 one part of the country to another when tenancies are changed?
§ MR. HUNT
I was about to explain that branch of the subject when I was led away from it by an observation of the right hon. Gentleman. Were I preparing a Bill one of the provisions which I should like to see introduced would be that between the 25th of March and 6th of April, inclusive, the owner or purchaser of stock on any farm where the occupation was abandoned or a change made in the tenancy should under licence from the magistrates, and upon a declaration as to a clean bill of health, be allowed to move his stock either to the farm belonging to such purchaser, or to the place to which such owner of stock removed upon the change of tenancy. The measure which I have sketched out I should like to see continued during the month of April. By that time warmer weather would be due, and a certain experience in the working of the measure would have been acquired. If Parliament were then sitting the Government should come to them for a further measure; if not, they should have power to issue an Order in Council discontinuing the measure, or reviving its operation, if that proved to be expedient. If the measure which I suggest were carried out and enforced, it would be necessary at certain periods of the year to allow movements of cattle for the purpose of stocking the land. [Sir GEORGE GREY: How about breeding?] I shall come to that question in its proper order; or I had better say at once that an exception for that purpose must find a place in any scheme. I believe it to be absolutely necessary to the carrying on the business of a farmer or grazier that there should be periods of relaxation, during which the occupiers of land should he able to purchase cattle to stock their land with. Fourteen days appears to be the most suitable period of relaxation, which should not be uniform all over the country, but the fixing of which should be left to the local authorities. With regard to these periods of relaxation, I should insist on very strict conditions. The cattle should only travel by railway, and by licence, and by that time railway travelling would be very different from the system now pursued. Every pen, cattle truck, and platform would before then have been thoroughly disinfected under official supervision. With regard to the second part of the Bill—namely, that which relates to the slaughter of beasts and to compensations, 395 I shall not trouble the House upon the details, for the provisions of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman are, to a certain extent, in conformity with what I should propose; but there is one point upon which the right hon. Gentleman did not touch. I should like to give power to the local authorities to employ an additional number of police as cattle police to act as inspectors.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
The local authorities have already this power, and, in some instances, have availed themselves of it.
§ MR. HUNT
But there will be no necessity to put them in uniform; so that this expense may be saved to the counties. A badge to distinguish them will be sufficient. With regard to the fund out of which the compensation ought to come, the measure which at first recommended itself to my mind was different; that a county rate should be raised for animals fed and slaughtered in the county, and a borough rate for animals fed and slaughtered in the boroughs; but the general fund proposed by the right hon. Gentleman satisfies me, though I will not pledge myself to the details. I cannot see my way to the machinery by which we should ascertain, in time for the working of such a measure, the head of cattle of each county, with the view of putting a poll tax upon them; but if the right hon. Gentleman does see his way to it I am very glad, and such a plan will have my concurrence. There was one part on which the right hon. Gentleman did not touch—namely, that with regard to the movement of manure. This is an important question; for the plague has been carried into various parts of the country by manure being brought from London by railway from infected sheds and yards. Up to a certain time there should be a prohibition against such manure being carried by railways. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that I have a grudge against railways; but, in the case of cattle travelling by the road, you can find out the drover and stop the progress of other animals; but when they are once put on the railways they can defy the entire posse comitatus of the county. If cattle and manure be sent off by railway it is impossible to say what is their destination, and it is therefore absolutely necessary to prohibit the transmission of either by railway. I would suggest that a very heavy penalty should be inflicted on any person who brought along any road a load of ma- 396 nure which had been taken from any place infected with the cattle plague. I am not quite clear whether I understood the right hon. Gentleman to state that with regard to animals arriving in this country by sea he proposed that all should be slaughtered at the port of debarcation on a certain date, with the exception of those arriving from Ireland. I should like to know if that is what the right hon. Gentleman proposed?
§ MR. HUNT
No doubt the cattle might have left Ireland with a clean bill of health, but the vessel which conveys them might have previously carried infected beasts, or the cattle might acquire the disease in the transit. I do not think such an exception ought to be made with regard to cattle arriving from Ireland.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Once the cattle arrive in this country they lose their Irish character. They come to Great Britain subject to the licensing system, and the licence must be given on this side. The hon. Gentleman will find in the Bill a form of the licence.
§ MR. HUNT
I do not attach much value to the declaration of a man at Liverpool, for instance, who has just seen the cattle arrive. The owner in Ireland might say he knew the beasts for a certain length of time and that they were free from disease, but after they were put on board the vessel, who is to give them a bill of health at Liverpool? Is a cattle jobber to be trusted to give this necessary licence? It appears to me that licences granted on declarations made by people who know nothing at all about the cattle which are the subject of them are not worth the paper on which they are written. I think it will be a considerable risk to have Irish cattle landed under declarations such as I have described, and then removed to all parts of England. I have gone through the different portions of the scheme, which I should like to see introduced to the House. It has often been a reproach, upon the Opposition Benches 397 that they are very free of their criticism of Government measures, but that they never propound any measures themselves—that they have one policy, and that is to dislike every thing that is brought forward, although they have no plans of their own. I have acted, as far as in me lies, so that no such reproach can attach to my party on this occasion. I confess, however, I do not like the Government Bill as announced, I have thrown out the sketch of such a scheme as I should like to see substituted for (he Government measure. As to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman for engrafting on the Government Bill such Amendments as will carry out the views I have expressed, it is not possible for me at the present moment to offer an opinion, as I have- not perused the Government Bill, I admit the advantages of such a Bill as I have sketched being carried by the Government, and the passing of it would not only be a pleasure, but a relief to me, and I should be glad to try and induce my friends to assist the Government in making the scheme as complete as possible. As soon as the Government Bill is printed, I will give my attention to it, and in conceit with Gentlemen on both sides of the House, endeavour to promote the second reading of the Bill, with the addition of such Amendments as I and my friends may propose. But if I find that the Government Bill cannot be improved, I must be allowed to adopt my own course., I hope, at a future period of the evening, to introduce a Motion on the subject.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) has referred to the educational progress which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has made on the subject before the House, but I think that taunt might have been well spared. I rise for the purpose of removing all manner of doubt as to the course which the Government are disposed to take with respect to this question. So far from being inclined to offer any opposition to the hon. Gentleman's Bill, the Government will regard it as a very great advantage to have that Bill laid on the table. I am sure I may say on the part of my right hon. Friend that he will be exceedingly happy still to receive any lesson from the hon. Gentleman upon this question, a question which to some is so practically plain and simple as that no rational man can differ about the proper course to be pursued, but which, in fact, in every day's experience, appears to be more 398 difficult. With regard to the political part of the hon. Gentleman's speech, I must admit there is no man in this House who, professing certain political opinions, and always stating them manfully, is more watchful against any unnecessary effort of criticism than that hon. Gentleman. He has, indeed, made many charges against my right hon. Friend, or rather against the Government, but I am extremely anxious to do what was suggested by the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Banks Stanhope)—separate the future from the past—for if we were to be fastidious, we should perhaps set a bad example in wasting the precious time of this House at a period when time is of the greatest consequence. By all means let the trial he made. Time is of the utmost moment in passing the Act proposed to-night by my right hon. Friend. The hon. Gentleman says he thinks this question was treated on a former night by the Members of the Government as a slight and a secondary consideration. But I am sure if the hon. Gentleman had been aware of the manner in which this subject hag weighed upon the minds and upon the time of all the Members of the Government, especially those who have been conversant with it, he might have thought them chargeable with any kind of omission or error, but he would not have charged them with underestimating the importance of the subject. No doubt, this is a calamity of a character most peculiar. In one sense it is quite obvious that it is not national, but partial. It is confined to certain counties and districts, and, in many instances, even in counties which have suffered severely, parts of those counties are comparatively free. On the other side, if we examine the range and sweep of this calamity, it is impossible to conceive anything more destructive. Many is the industrious and energetic man whose whole future has been darkened by the share of the calamity which has come upon him. Under these circumstances, then, it is the absolute duty of the executive Government standing in this House not to be too chary of their own reputation in regard to the past, but to overlook for the most part charges which they may think insufficiently sustained, in order that they may direct their exclusive attention to the consideration of one question—what is to be done. The hon. Gentleman says, having followed the careful statement of my right hon. Friend, that it is unsatisfactory. He assumes, as his basis of what should be done, the resolutions of the conference held in St. 399 James' Hall on the 8th instant. Of these, there are five operative resolutions; but with respect to four, there is no substantial difference between the hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friend. On the second resolution there is a difference with respect to Irish cattle being moved inland; but with that single exception, I do not gather that there is any difference between them. With regard to the use of railway cattle trucks and cattle pens, I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman will find either the provisions of the Bill satisfactory, or, at all events, founded upon principles which he would approve—that is to say, stringent provisions for disinfection, and summary and easy methods with regard to the enforcement of these provisions. Now, there is on one point a great difference of opinion between the hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friend—I have some difficulty in describing it, because I frankly own I was not able to follow the hon. Gentleman. But he commenced his speech by denouncing the principle of the total prohibition of the movement of cattle for a limited time, which limited time he called two months.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
That is what I thought the hon. Gentleman described as a period of two months. But he appeared to me to be considerably hampered and entangled with exceptions, and to make proposals with a view to giving effect to his own plan which were totally inconsistent with its character as a remedial measure. The hon. Gentleman said he felt himself pressed by the difficulty which had been stated by my right hon. Friend in a very clear and effective manner as respects the general introduction of a system of slaughter in the farms, which if it could be done would no doubt be the most effectual, for the slaughter of cattle in that way has been proved to be so. But the hon. Gentleman appeared greatly to underrate the difficulties of the plan which he proposed of a total prohibition of the movement of cattle, with respect to its requiring general or at least very extensive conversion of farms into slaughterhouses. The hon. Gentleman recommended that new slaughterhouses should be provided after the passing of this Act, and be built in time to be brought into operation, so as to enable all the arrangements of the past trade of the butcher to be adapted to 400 them for a period which is to expire in two months.
§ MR. HUNT
The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right in that criticism as I expressed my views; but the fact was, I was several times interrupted from the Treasury Bench when I proposed to go more fully into the matter. I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) for the interruptions, as he was anxious to obtain information about my plan. It was my fault. But I intended to say that there should be a difference of duration for part one and part two of the scheme; part two relating to compulsory slaughter, and that that part should extend to two years certain, and to the end of the Session of Parliament then next ensuing.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I am not venturing upon this as mere criticism, but the stringent part of the plan of the hon. Member, the prohibition of the movement of cattle to a man's own farm, except along 200 yards of a highway, was to expire on the 25th of March. But it is during the interval while that stringent provision is to be in operation that the difficulty will be most felt with respect to the supply of meat and with regard to the slaughtering of animals in farms and farm buildings. I confess it seems to me that the difficulty of carrying on the slaughter of beasts freely in farms as they are now constituted would be enormous. But what I want to call the attention of the hon. Gentleman to is this, he having paid great attention to this subject, and having studied it thoroughly with reference to the circumstance in his own neighbourhood. I think the hon. Gentleman in some degree forgets that in coming down to this House he will meet the representatives of every portion of the country, and he will find himself in conflict not with my right hon. Friend, but with them. I do not speak now of the representatives of towns, but of the representatives of different portions of the country, and from many parts which are free from disease. Now, Sir, if we are to approach this subject in the spirit and with the intention of every Gentleman stating strongly and warmly insisting upon his own particular view, we may just as well not approach it at all; because it is perfectly plain that the question we have to consider now is not merely what plan is the best in the abstract, but which is the plan which, being good in itself and promising on the whole the most important effects, can rapidly secure the approbation 401 of Parliament. This is a question of infinite detail; and unless we are enabled to deal with it in a spirit of compromise, in a disposition to sacrifice that which we think best for that which the House in general is disposed to think good, I think there is but little prospect of our doing well. And now that we have at length the immense advantage of having enlightened representatives of the general opinion of the country collected within these walls from every portion of the United Kingdom, but especially from Great Britain, and now that we have out of doors a public opinion which is ready to adopt and sustain us, nothing, I think, could be more lamentable than if, in order to promote particular ideas to which we are attached from the special circumstances of our own neighbourhoods, we were to lose these precious moments, in which, under Providence, we may apply effectual measures of restraint to this great calamity. The hon. Gentleman expressed his opinion that if Parliament had been called together two months ago it would have been ready to support the Government in adopting the measures which he recommended. We shall have an opportunity of testing that opinion on going into Committee; because I do not think that the House is even now prepared to sanction the total prohibition of the moving of cattle. That is a most important point, which must be considered in Committee, and there it will be disposed of. We have good grounds for the firm and deliberate opinion which we entertain that even at this time it would be a great error to adopt the principle of total prohibition; but, nevertheless, we trust that that will be decided by the House after hearing a free expression of opinion. But with respect to its being likely to have been done two months ago, I must dissent from that opinion. I am perfectly certain that Parliament would not have entertained such an intention upon the authority which the hon. Gentleman brought forward. I further think it was but shortly before that period that an hon. Gentleman opposite, applying his mind to the concerns of his constituents, expressed great doubt and disapproval of such a measure, and especially of the total prohibition of the removal of cattle which the hon. Gentleman recommends. My object at the present moment really is earnestly to point out, while profiting by the measure of the hon. Gentleman where we can, the enormous importance of acting promptly in this matter, and of being prepared to sacrifice everything which it is 402 not absolutely necessary to obtain. It is to be hoped that now, when the period for action has arrived, we shall not throw away this most precious season, but be able to pass a law which may assist in the mitigation of this most grievous disease.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
I am one of those who are unable to join in the inculpation of the Government for want of promptitude to the extent that other hon. Members have expressed dissatisfaction, for it happens that I am connected with the Governorship of the Royal Veterinary College, and, therefore, had the earliest information of the danger which is now fully perceived. Yet, when in August, September, and October, in my own neighbourhood, I endeavoured to sound an alarm, I gained but little attention, even among my friends. Veterinary surgeons also, when they endeavoured to impress their clients with the danger that was impending, were treated as though they were only seeking for practice and for fees. But after the Report of the Royal Commission, I think that the Government showed less promptitude than I had expected. I think that after that Report, they should have enforced greater stringency. Now, let the House consider the nature of the Bill which the Government have introduced. This is a Bill not merely for an emergency; it comprehends provisions that are to last for years. I do not say that the provisions of the Bill are altogether inadequate, though I think that some of the provisions should be more stringent, and that there are some serious omissions. But my belief is that, if the Government intends to deal fairly with the House, and to act with that promptitude which I think necessary, it would have been far better to have proposed certain Resolutions to the House, and on the adoption of Resolutions with respect to cattle traffic and importation, that the Government should then have issued Orders in Council, based upon the Resolutions of Parliament in the first instance, and then should have based their Bill on these same Resolutions; such a course would have ensured a prompt passage through the House. My own opinion goes to a great extent with that of my hon. Friend (Mr. Hunt). Hitherto, I have concurred with my brother justices in thinking that the present restrictions upon the transit of cattle were enough; but the effect of the concurrent testimony given by the agricultural body, and the opinions expressed in this House, have shaken 403 my opinion upon this matter. The Report of the Commission was in favour of the suspension of all traffic, and I beg the Government to bear in mind that during the next two months it is possible, without interfering with the supply of meat, or with the reproduction of cattle, to carry out restrictions which will be impossible after the next two months without interfering with reproduction and supply. For this reason I should have preferred the proposal of Resolutions upon which the Government might have acted immediately by Orders in Council. At this time the cattle are almost exclusively confined to the cow-yards; and, therefore, greater stringency in reference to removal would not be much felt; but in the next month or six weeks it will be essential that the grazing counties shall be supplied with cattle from the breeding counties, or the pasture of such counties as Leicestershire and Northamptonshire will be lost. My idea is that during a month after the next six weeks the removal of cattle by railways should, under strict supervision, be permitted. It is essential that the Government should take powers to regulate cattle traffic by railways. This traffic is largely conducted by night, and the speed with which it takes place renders it almost impossible to deal with it, or to obtain correct information as to whence the cattle came, or rather where they have been before they were placed in the railway trucks. It is to the vicinity of the county near the point of delivery of cattle brought by railway is the locality in which the danger occurs; and the Government ought to devise some measure by which, when cattle are placed upon a railway, there shall be some record of the market, or farm, or place, from whence they are brought, and, upon considering this information, a Government officer should have the right to refuse to allow the removal, or should send the information with the cattle for the use of the magistrates of the district in which the cattle is to be delivered. Without some such provision, I am convinced that the railways will continue to spread the disease. As to foreign beasts, what is needed is that certain ports shall be designated as the only ports at which foreign cattle shall be disembarked, and that at these ports they should he slaughtered immediately, or should be removed to lairs, which shall be treated as so many centres of quarantine. I think that it will be impos- 404 sible for any lengthened period to slaughter every head of cattle delivered at the ports at once, but what we want is, that cattle shall only be disembarked at certain ports, such as London, Liverpool, and Hull, and that at these places there shall be a system of quarantine, and with an adequate staff of Government officers, who shall decide whether the cattle shall be slaughtered immediately, or shall be held there for slaughter, or shall, after a period of quarantine, be allowed to be moved away. I fear that the Government measure is so complicated that we shall not be able to pass it with that promptitude which is desirable, and I think that it falls short in two essential provisions—namely, that it does not propose to regulate cattle traffic by railway, and that it does not regulate the number of ports at which cattle may be disembarked, and provides no system of quarantine. I am strongly in favour of dead-meat instead of live-meat markets. For years it has been urged in the public journals that there is no greater danger to the health of the metropolis than slaughterhouses, and no greater nuisance in the streets than the passing of cattle through them; and it has been urged repeatedly in this House that there should be abbattoirs outside the town, and we have an opportunity of passing a law in favour of the largely increasing practice of slaughtering in the country. It is already a common practice round my neighbourhood to slaughter for the London market; and I cannot but see advantage in any restriction that would favour that practice. A permanent measure will have to be passed if the system of dead-meat markets is to be encouraged, for the measure must extend over some considerable period, or the arrangements for it cannot be made on account of the primary expense. A permanent measure is also required with reference to the importation of cattle. As the Continental system of railways is extended to the Steppes of Russia and into Hungary—the permanentseats of this disease—there will be increasing danger that the food of the people of this country may at any time be cut short by the importation of the disease. No circumstances are so favourable to the dissemination of the disease as when cattle are packed in railway trucks or on shipboard. The disease would, if thus disseminated, destroy first the imported cattle, and then the home-bred, infected by them, and an indefinite rise in the price of meat 405 would, of necessity, ensue. I trust that the Government will adopt some permanent regulations as to ports. I wish to touch also upon the subject of compensation. It is idle to order the slaughter of cattle unless you compensate for the cattle so slaughtered. If you deprive a man of the exercise of his own judgment in the disposal of his own property, you must compensate him. In my own county I am happy to say we have established a mutual insurance association under the Limited Liability Act, and the last account I heard we had £240,000 worth of stock insured, and from day to day the quantity is increasing; and I think that if some such associations were formed in every county, you would have this ad vantage, that you would not need extra policemen, for every member of the association would he bound, in his own interest, to support the police. It would, in my opinion, have been wise to have encouraged the formation of such associations, and that Government aid should have been extended, if not as a gift, as a loan; and that every payment should be made to such associations by a percentage—say a third of the whole compensation made for animals dying by the disease. I believe such a system, by enlisting the spirit of co-operation, and insuring caution and exertion, as well as economy, by means of county insurance associations, would have enabled you to grapple more effectually with the disease than by any system hitherto advocated in this House. I wish also to observe that a heavy tax is levied upon every policy issued by these associations, and I think that it would be but an act of grace and justice if the Government were to remit that heavy tax, and thus afford, at least indirectly, an encouragement to exertions for staying this plague on the part not only of the authorities, but of every member of the agricultural body who becomes a member of such association.
§ MR. LEEMAN
said, he wished to ask if, inasmuch as the county rate was levied solely upon the occupiers and not upon the owners of property; and as the evils that result from the cattle plague must, if it continue, fall largely upon the owners of property, and especially of agricultural property; the Government contemplated by this Bill giving to the tenant power to deduct any portion of the rate from his rent, and, if so, for what period?
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that the Bill provided that a tenant should be allowed to deduct half the amount of the 406 special rate from the rent of his landlord, so that the burden might be equally divided between the occupier and the owner.
said, he could not express any decided opinion upon the clauses of the Bill; but he was quite sure that every Gentleman on both sides of the House would concur in rejoicing that Her Majesty's Government had at last, even at the eleventh hour, introduced a measure which would have the effect of relieving those concerned from the confusion caused by a multitude of authorities and jurisdictions from whom no uniform, consistent, or harmonious directions could be expected. It was only that morning that he had received a letter from the clerk of the peace for the county which he represented (Elginshire). The magistrates of the county had forbidden the use of the markets in the county up to a certain date, but the clerk to the magistrates at Elgin had stated in a letter that, unless the Morayshire Farmers' Club would guarantee compensation to those who sustained losses through the suspension of the cattle market, the magistrates of the town had resolved to take no steps to prevent the holding of the ensuing cattle market. He thought they might congratulate themselves on getting rid of this kind of local self-government. He was no more an advocate for centralization than was his hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire (Mr. Leslie); but it should be remembered that the present case was exceptional, and of a character which could only be met by what his hon. Friend might term despotic, or, certainly, central action. He must say that he felt extremely glad that they had at last a measure presented by the Government which he thought might be made efficient and useful. Some points, however, he had hoped to see dealt with with greater force, and one of these was disinfection, which might be made very serviceable, and would certainly be regarded with greater satisfaction than the rude system of slaughter with the pole-axe. An eminent professional gentleman (Dr. Dewar) had detailed in a Stirling paper a simple and efficacious process of disinfection which he had tried with exceedingly satisfactory results on twenty homesteads in the counties of Fife and Forfar, where the disease had been very prevalent. It was grounded upon the fact that no disinfectant was so successful as sulphurous acid. A piece of sulphur about the size of a man's thumb, burnt in a brazier introduced into a fire, would entirely destroy the vitality or germ of infec- 407 tion. He had been informed by a friend of a very remarkable case bearing on this subject. It was that of a farmer who had two cattle-sheds about 1,200 yards apart. In one of those sheds the disease was raging with more than usual violence, and the cattle in the other shed were perfectly healthy, although the farmer was continually passing from the shed where the sick and dying cattle were, to that in which were the animals free from the disease. Not alone did he pass from shed to shed, but he often went into the shed where the healthy cattle were, immediately after handling the animals suffering from disease in the other. The gentleman from whom he heard that anecdote attributed the non-communication of a disease which every one knew was exceedingly contagious entirely to the fact that the farmer used the disinfectant suggested by Dr. Dewar, and to which he (Mr. Bruce) had previously alluded. This question of disinfectants was a most important one, and he earnestly hoped that, by experiments and otherwise, it would receive the prompt and best consideration of the authorities. As to the remuneration, he did not quite understand what had been done; and he would ask the Lord Advocate to state what was its proposed effect in Scotland. He considered that while, on the one hand, the Government Were now taking a most proper course, on the other, it could not be denied that the spread of the disease was in no small degree attributable to the inaction of the Government, even after the receipt of the exhaustive and excellent Report of their own Commission. Such being the case, he thought that those who had suffered by the cattle plague had a right to look to Government for some relief and assistance. He held that the remuneration ought not to be confined to any particular counties, but that such part of it as it might be thought right to levy on the agricultural interests should be levied equally on every county in Great Britain, from the Lands End to John-o'-Groats, and ought to be a national measure. He would suggest that the funds out of which this recompense was to be paid should be derived, half from the farmers and landed proprietors of districts, and half from the public funds. By this system any trickery, any effort to obtain money under false pretences from this fund, would be effectually prevented, for the proprietors and farmers of the neighbourhood having to pay half the sum disbursed, would form an excellent amateur 408 police, and would carefully scrutinize every claim that might he advanced.
§ MR. REBOW
said, he wished to briefly draw the attention of the House to a circumstance which had recently come under his notice, and which he thought of considerable importance. A short time since a vessel belonging to the Great Eastern Railway Company arrived at Harwich, in Essex, with cattle. One of these cattle was found, immediately after the vessel's arrival, to be suffering from the cattle plague, and the Government inspector directed the beast to be slaughtered and buried where it had landed. A hole was dug on the quay to receive the carcass, and the animal was just about to be slaughtered when the town authorities interfered, and refused to allow it to be killed or buried in Harwich. The animal was then put into a railway truck, carried seven miles along the line to the next station, and there slaughtered and buried. Now, he need not inform any practical agriculturist—any man who knew how contagious this disease was—that nothing was more calculated to cause the spread of infection than what had been done in this case by the servants of the railway company. It caused a regular panic among the farmers who lived in the neighbourhood of the station where the cow had been brought to, and the next day they crowded to the petty sessions, of which he was chairman, to complain of what certainly was a most improper act, an act for which the servants of the company had been brought up before the petty sessions bench and fined. As to the general question under discussion, he believed that the only way to check the epidemic was to entirely prohibit the moving of cattle, and to provide a quarantine and cemetery for all store cattle imported. He hoped that the Bill would contain a provision that all fat stock imported should be immediately slaughtered at the port of debarkation, and that quarantine ground and a cemetery should be provided for the store stock near the place.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he congratulated the House on the question before them not having become a party one. He believed that Members of that House were all, without any distinction of party, determined to put their shoulders to the wheel to do all in their power to check the spread of a disease which had already done so much injury to the country. He took the earliest opportunity of directing the attention of the Government to what really was 409 a very serious matter. He had in his pocket a letter from a gentleman living near Edge-worth, who informed him that in the high road near his residence there were heaps of manure which had been taken from sheds in a town in which over 100 cattle had died of the plague. He need scarcely say that no course could possibly be taken better adapted to spread the disease than this. The matter was one that deserved, and he trusted would obtain, the prompt attention of the Government. Officials should be appointed, whose duty it should be to watch over the conveyance of manure, and Bee that every precaution was taken against unnecessary risk of infection. It would be most improvident and unwise to endeavour to throw the whole burden of the loss upon our posterity instead of meeting it ourselves; and, therefore, Government should be prepared to deal with the financial part of the question by means of a rate, and thus avoid the objectionable plans proposed out of doors founded upon a system of rent-charges. He thought a poll tax of 5s. per head would effectually meet the requirements of the case.
§ LOUD JOHN MANNERS
The right hon. Gentleman loudly cheered the proposition contained in the speech of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire that it would be necessary to have an open time after Lady Day next, when transfers of stock might be effected in cases where there was a change of tenancy. The conclusion I draw from this admission is that Her Majesty's Government acted wrongly in not calling Parliament together at an earlier date, as it is obvious that in so short a period as must elapse before the restriction is removed much good cannot be effected. We are told that the reason why Parliament has not been called together earlier is that at the end of last year public opinion was so immature upon the subject that had we been assembled the action of Her Majesty's Government would have been found far in advance of the proceedings Parliament would have been inclined to sanction. That is begging the entire question. I am prepared, on behalf of myself and of every Member present, to repudiate the charge that our ideas were behind those of the Government. Why, in what frame of mind, and with what knowledge, should we have come to the consideration of any measure which the Government might have proposed at the end of October and the beginning of November? We should have had in our hands the whole of that 410 valuable and exhaustive Report of the Royal Commission; and if the Government had been really sincere in the commendation bestowed on the Royal Commission, Parliament would have been prepared to receive a Bill based on the recommendation of that Commission, and so have paid it the attention it deserved. There is, then, no justification for the statement of Government, that the Parliament would not have been prepared to deal with the measure in an early Session. I ask the Committee to look at the provisions contained and to be contained in the Bill about to be submitted. Does any hon. Member who heard the clear statement of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department believe that a Bill dealing with so vast a complication of objects, with omissions here and exceptions there, and embracing a whole course of sanitary regulations, can be passed within a period when it could be effectual in stamping out the disease? The right hon. Gentleman himself has given us a pretty broad hint that Government will be obliged to divide the Bill into two or three separate measures, merely proceeding with those measures which it is essential should be speedily passed. The more I reflect on the measure sketched forth, and on the speeches which have been delivered, the less becomes the prospect of a satisfactory measure at the hands of the Government. The Government have been threatened, and no wonder, with a rival Bill from my hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire. How is that rival Bill to be considered? The Government is going to allow its introduction; but the second reading of the Government Bill is fixed for Ash Wednesday, and the House does not meet until two o'clock. Is my hon. Friend's Bill to be taken on Ash Wednesday after the Government Bill has been discussed? This kind of legislation, I fear, on so critical a subject, is likely to run the risk of complete failure. I feel so deeply on this subject, that at the risk of the charge of making yet another suggestion to the Government, I should propose that as the Government cannot carry this great and complicated measure within a reasonable period of time, they should proceed by way of Resolution in both Houses of Parliament, which will test the opinion of the Legislature on many important points. Orders in Council might be issued immediately founded on those Resolutions. If that were done the House could then proceed to the consideration 411 of the great and complicated proposals of the Government, and to permanent legislation on the subject. But I must say, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, that if we are going to legislate on the principle that the first thing to be considered is how the temporary wants of the great towns of this country are to be supplied, and the next how the extinction of the cattle plague is to be accomplished, legislation will inevitably fail to produce the latter object. But if, on the other hand, we legislate on the principle that the cattle plague is first to be extinguished, whatever temporary inconvenience might be felt by the manufacturing towns, success may, and probably will, with the blessing of Providence, crown our efforts. That principle lies at the root of the matter, and I regret that the Home Secretary should have said that, from information derived from deputations and Mr. Thompson, he was disposed to give a temporary convenience to the manufacturing towns of the West Riding precedence over measures for the extinction of the cattle plague itself. I should like to know whether during the month which has elapsed since Mr. Thompson's letter was written the terrible strides made by the plague are not calculated to alter the opinions of men even more influential than Mr. Thompson? I am convinced that if Mr. Thompson had consulted the great body of the people, they would not have hesitated a moment in recommending not the palliation merely, but the extinction, if possible, of this terrible visitation. With respect to the manufacturing towns in the West Riding, the right hon. Gentleman says the Bill will be based on the practice which now prevails in the West Riding, the practice in the North Riding being different. But is the practice of the West Riding so successful? Have the results in the West Riding been so successful that the House will be justified in giving that practice the effect of law? I find it stated in the last Report of the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council, that in the week ending the 3rd February sixty-two fresh centres of infection of the plague had broken out in the West Riding. I find that 470 animals have been attacked in the last week in the West Riding. But it is confessed that that return is incomplete, for in a note it is added that "especially from Yorkshire" the returns are not complete, and it is likely that the gentleman who drew 412 up the report would find, not a decrease, but an increase in the fresh cases occurring in that part of the country. What reason, in fact, have we to hope that this plan recommended by the Home Secretary, and now carried on and failing in Yorkshire, will meet with any success at all? The right hon. Gentleman says that great difficulty would be felt in slaughtering cattle if all removals were positively prohibited, and in providing proper slaughtering places, and afterwards transmitting the meat to the large centres of consumption. Difficulty there may be, but can anyone suppose that so great an evil can be got rid of without some trouble and annoyance. On the part of the agricultural community, I ask are they not subjecting themselves willingly and with alacrity to every amount of inconvenience and pecuniary loss at the present moment? And are they to be the only classes to be called on by legislators to bear inconvenience and pecuniary loss for the sake of a great public advantage? Does anybody mean to say that in localities adjoining these manufacturing towns means for slaughtering animals could not be devised at a small cost? and I appeal to any chairman of railway companies in the House, to the hon. Member for South Lincolnshire, the Chairman of the Great Northern Railway, whether there would be any practical difficulty in conveying dead meat by railway to the north? Means and appliances in this direction would not be found wanting. From any measure the northwestern portions of Scotland ought to be exempted, as by their geographical position they enjoy a complete immunity, and stand on precisely the same footing as Ireland. There is a clear geographical boundary in those districts beyond which nobody has hitherto succeeded in passing any cattle. With these exceptions at this late period of the calamity the only sound principle is the total and entire prohibition of the removal of all cattle throughout the country for a limited period. As to other principles of the Bill relating to compensation and the prohibition of all imported cattle inland, I have not a single observation to offer. With respect to the latter, I think the principle sound; but I think that the whole machinery of the measure is so complicated that it cannot become law in a reasonable time. The only sound principle to adopt under the circumstances is that the House of Commons 413 should declare that, for a limited period, there should be a total prohibition. My own belief is that the whole of these complicated, costly, vexatious, inconvenient, and interfering provisions of the Bill proposed by the right hon. Gentleman will fail in the one result we have in view—namely, in the extinction of this frightful cattle plague within the period contemplated by the Government. I make these observations with great reluctance, as I had been in hopes, from many parts of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, that the Bill might have received the hearty concurrence of the House. But after the debate which has occurred, and after the full explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman, I feel convinced that such concurrence will not be had, and that the measure, based on the principle announced, will not succeed in the object which I feel sure every Gentleman in this Committee has at heart.
§ MR. CARNEGIE
said, it was not his intention to go into the merits of the Bill of the Government further than to remark that it appeared to him that by the principle of compensation proposed those counties which had suffered most from the cattle plague would suffer most by the assessment. The benefit to be derived would be in exact inverse ratio to the assessment. Therefore in some counties, as in the one he himself represented (Forfarshire), where nearly all the cattle had been swept away, the people would be called on to pay very large rates for stamping out the plague; whereas those counties where the disease did not exist would have to pay absolutely nothing. Now that was manifestly unfair and unjust. The rate should be a general one extending over the whole country. This was not only a stockowners', but a consumers' question, and therefore extending over the whole country. The consumers were at this moment paying for the effects of the cattle plague—it was answered—in the increased price of meat. To a certain extent they were; but if the cattle plague were not stamped out they would have to pay twice as much. To a certain extent the burden ought to fall on them, but that that burden should fall on those localities least able to pay was manifestly unjust, and he should oppose any such proposal to the utmost of his power. He could not see the justice of the distinction sought to be drawn by the right hon. Gentleman between compensating the owners of 414 cattle slaughtered by order of the Government inspectors, and not compensating those owners whose cattle were, if he might use the term, allowed to die by order of the inspectors. Any retrospective measure, he thought, ought not to recognize any such distinction. He protested against their taxing those who had already lost stock for those who had as yet not suffered any loss. Such counties as Aberdeenshire who by their energy had stamped out the plague—who had paid money out of their pockets for effecting that object—should be repaid that expense, and thereby be placed in the same position as other counties were to be under the proposed arrangement. The gentlemen of Aberdeenshire ought not to be losers by the benefit they had conferred on the country.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, he wished to offer two suggestions, by the adoption of which the Government might, he considered, improve their measure. The right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey) proposed that all diseased animals should, of necessity, be killed; but that as to those animals which had come into contact with disease animals, and had thereby become infected, it should he left to the local authorities to decide whether they should be slaughtered or not. This, he thought, was radically wrong. If they desired to stamp out the plague they must do as other countries had done, and slaughter not only the diseased but also the infected animals. The example of Aberdeenshire had been adduced as perfect; but what had they done there? They were not content with destroying merely such animals as had the disease, but they bought up the whole herd and killed it. He now came to his second suggestion. He agreed with the noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners), that they must entirely stop all movement of cattle. The right hon. Baronet had warned them that if they did that they must resort to a dead-meat market; but he did not show that any evil would result from adopting that alternative. Many advantages would, in his (Lord Robert Montagu's) opinion, attend the establishing of a dead-meat market. At present, animals often suffered a great deal in travelling to market; and, moreover, the bones, hides, hoofs, and offal of cattle, to the extent of many thousands of tons, were now brought long distances into large towns, where they were utterly useless, and therefore they had 415 to be sent away again to some place where they were wanted for manufacturing or manuring purposes—thus entailing much needless trouble and expense. All that would be obviated by the establishment of dead-meat markets. Besides, by establishing dead-meat markets a further advantage would be gained. A beast purchased from the farmer or grazier in the London market for £28 was retailed by the butcher for £40; consequently, the inhabitants of towns were paying more for their meat than they would have to do by the establishment of dead-meat markets. But it was said, "Oh, but meat was a perishable commodity; if it came up to town one day and was not then bought, it must be sold next day so much cheaper." But what was the Home Secretary going to do? He said they might send their fat cattle to market, but they must not take them back again. But when the butchers knew that the cattle could not be taken away again, would they not be sure to hang back in buying them until the seller consented to yield them up for far less than their value? The consequence of that regulation would be to deprive the farmer of the full price of his cattle, while the result of a dead-meat market would be to enable the public to get their meat at a cheaper rate. The Home Secretary, he might add, had made no provision for the movement of cattle from Ireland, from which, as hon. Gentlemen were well aware, the cattle fattened in England to a considerable extent came. By that means an injury would be done, not only to the English grazier, but to the Irish farmer also, who found in this country the best market for his stock. Now, too, that no cattle were being bred in England, we must in the spring resort to Ireland for a supply; and, therefore, it was, he thought, desirable that the cattle from Ireland, being free from infection, should be allowed to be landed at our quays, and taken straight to the grazing ground. Next came the question of compensation. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to give a compensation amounting to two-thirds of the value of every diseased animal killed, and three-quarters of the value of those animals which might be slaughtered without showing any symptoms of the plague. It was, however, in his (Lord Robert Montagu's) opinion, a most arbitrary proceeding to say to the farmer, "You must have your cattle killed in the interest of the country," and not to acknowledge his right to ask for full 416 compensation for the loss which he sustained. It must not be forgotten, also, that every restriction placed upon a particular industry spoilt the sale of the article which that industry supplied, and that thus the value of cattle would be diminished under the operation of the stringent rules about to be laid down. This large interferences with private property, as well as the extensive slaughter of cattle, were to be carried out for the good of the public. The farmer, under those circumstances, had a right, he contended, to demand full compensation. The question was one in which, not only he, but the large towns—in short, the whole country—were interested; but what did the Home Secretary propose? He proposed to relieve the farmer by laying on his shoulders one-third of the two-thirds which he intended to give him in the shape of compensation. Now, for his own part, he could not see, as everybody in the country was interested in stamping out the plague, that there would be anything unfair in making good out of the Consolidated Fund the loss of capital which the farmer must sustain.
§ MR. MARSH
said, he quite concurred with the noble Lord as to the expediency of killing all cattle which had come into contact with those which happened to have been diseased. A committee of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, of which he was a member, had succeeded in completely stamping out disease in that way. He did not know how it was with cattle; but from his experience in the management of sheep, he was able to state that the disorder by which they were attacked sometimes remained latent for five or six months before breaking out.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
I wish, Sir, to call attention to one part of the right hon. Baronet's statement, which I confess does not appear to me altogether clear. I cannot but think that if Her Majesty's Government consider that the plague requires a short and sharp remedy they must feel that the delay which has already taken place is very much to be deplored. We are legislating when nearly arriving at a period when the movement of cattle is an absolute necessity. Therefore we are legislating under difficulties, and so far as I can understand from the right hon. Baronet's speech, very much in the same way as we have been going on under the Orders in Council which have preceded it. A great deal is to be 417 thrown on the local authorities; but I am at a loss to understand what those local authorities are to be. Petty sessional divisions under the Orders in Council have not given the slightest security for carrying out the rules and regulations ordered, because we have seen the same Orders carried out with vigilance and care in one division, whilst through negligence they have been ineffectual in another. Power was then transferred from the petty sessions to the quarter sessions. But who are they—a body composed of persons having each a separate knowledge of the different localities, which differ with regard to agriculture, stock, &c., as much as one county differ from another. Nor is there any possibility of such a large body as that acting together for purposes such as would be required in this case. What local authority was to be called on to say what cattle were diseased and what cattle were infected the right hon. Baronet had not explained. How was it possible that a changing body of from forty to fifty, or 100 persons, meeting in the county town, could come to any decision with respect to the putting to death suspected cattle in remote parts of the county? I wish to have it explained whether the quarter sessions are to lay down rules for the whole county; that whenever cattle come into contact with diseased stock, both shall be killed, or whether they are to examine special cases that may happen on any particular farm? If the latter, it must be done by some authority independent of the quarter sessions; but if the former, then there is no reason why the House should not legislate in the first instance, because we are quite as competent to do it as the quarter sessions are to decide it generally for the counties. Power is also to be given to quarter sessions to appoint committees, who are to adjourn from time to time, in the same mode as the sessions. In that case they will be a perfectly useless body, because who will then give the orders to kill the cattle as each case arises? Is a committee to be appointed in each petty sessional division, sitting with the power of quarter sessions or one committee for the whole of the county, adjourning from time to time as the sessions? If so all the labour expended on this proceeding, so far as the interference of the local authorities is concerned, will be completely thrown away. I admit it is a difficult question to deal with, because whichever way we turn we are met by 418 interests antagonistic to each other—it is a consumers' case as well as a producers' case, and it is difficult to reconcile both. The question requires to be promptly dealt with; and I hope the House of Commons will not hesitate to decide peremptorily and absolutely what shall be done during the five or six weeks which remain before a removal of cattle will be necessarily called for, and not leave the matter in the hands of local authorities, fluctuating as they may be, overruling the decisions one of the other, and thus throwing things into a state of confusion.
§ SIR CHARLES RUSSELL
said, that in the county he had the honour to represent (Berkshire), so soon as the Orders in Council permitted, the magistrates put into effect the most stringent regulations, so as not even to allow the moving of cattle across a road. At that time the disease prevailed in five different portions of the county, and in the eastern part of the county not less than 3,000 cattle had died of the disease. From the moment, however, the stringent orders of the magistrates were carried into operation the disease began to die out, and it had now completely and entirely died out, except in the borough of Windsor, over which the orders of the county justices had no control. Unfortunately, a diseased animal had been brought by railway from the Metropolitan Market to Windsor, and the disease still continued to prevail there. He should not have ventured to offer any suggestions to the Committee if he had not had reason to think that the difficulty of a dead-meat market was not so serious as it appeared. In his parish, where the orders against removal were so stringent that the cattle could not be moved across the road, the farmers sent for the butcher and had their beasts slaughtered on the spot. One farmer who had twelve fat beasts sent for a butcher from Reading, who slaughtered them. He said, "I was not able to dress them quite up to the town pattern." He (Sir Charles Russell) asked the butcher whether, as matter of food and good meat, the flesh was inferior to that dressed under the most careful process. The butcher said it was not; and added, that it would be as saleable as the town pattern if they had the advantage of dressing it in the same way. He had been that day in communication with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Great Western Railway Company on this very subject of the dead-meat supply, and had been told 419 by them that they were prepared to give up very commodious premises at Padding-ton for a dead-meat market. At present, fish came from the seaboard to Paddington. There it was unpacked, and when the consignees had taken out sufficient for the London supply, the remainder was repacked and sent to the various towns in the kingdom. The same thing might take place in regard to dead meat. It might come up in carcass, and, although the directors were not vendors of meat, yet they would make arrangements for its reception, and, by the aid of the telegraph, it might be returned to all the towns on the line where it was wanted. The managers of the railways said it was impossible to become acquainted with all the different orders made by the thirty or forty local authorities of the boroughs and counties through which the line ran. He should not have risen, but that he wished to mention a practical matter which might help to solve a very difficult question.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that if hon. Gentlemen opposite were wise, they were wise after the event. He had no wisdom; and he had risen to ask for some information as to what was proposed to be done relative to the metropolis. The circumstances of the metropolis were very peculiar, and it had, no doubt justly, come in for a large share of condemnation in regard to the propagation of the disease. No doubt the metropolis and the large towns had been the centres and sources of the disease in this country. The manner in which the cattle had been imported was most unsatisfactory. The metropolis had, unfortunately, no municipal institutions strong enough to deal with the circumstances of the case, for the cattle had been brought together under the best conditions for allowing any infected animal to give the disease to the rest. He went to see the cattle on their arrival, and it was surprising to find what was left undone when so little authority would have cured the evil. The place in which the cattle were collected was not paved; and they were wallowing knee-deep in compost, under circumstances most favourable to the diffusion of the disorder. He had not heard the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) say anything of the way in which the Bill proposed to deal with the dairies of London. They obtained much of the food of the cows from the London breweries, but they received other food from the country. This food was brought in carts, and the manure of the cattle was taken back in the same 420 carts. Was not this practice calculated to propagate the disease; and did the Government intend to propose any measure with regard to the distribution of manure in the metropolis? How was it to be got into the country? He was told that the regulations were so unsuited to dairies in London that everybody connected with them conspired to set the Orders in Council at defiance. These persons could hardly be blamed, for if the disease attacked his dairy what was the dairyman to do? He could not convert his dairy into a slaughterhouse, and he could not bury the animals in his dairy, so the cows were removed along the road. He (Mr. Ayrton) was told that the dead cattle and the live cattle were brought to the same depository in London, with the concurrence of those charged to stop the disease. He trusted that the Government would have some explanation, so that the large body of persons interested in the supply of milk in the metropolis might know their position. He was glad to think that the London milk had vindicated its character at last, for he heard great complaints of the milk that came from the country. People said it was not the churning it got on the railway, but the quantity of water that was put into it before it was sent off.
§ SIR PITZROY KELLY
said, the disposal of manure was undoubtedly a very important question, and he hoped that it would receive the best consideration of the Government. It was not his intention to occupy, upon that occasion, the time of the Committee in arraigning the conduct of the Government further than by making the single observation that he believed it would hardly be denied by any one that if they had called Parliament together three months ago they might have pro-vented the loss which the country had since sustained of 120,000 head of cattle. He had listened with much attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary; and he believed that it referred mainly to three points to which he (Sir FitzRoy Kelly) proposed at that moment to confine his observations. He felt convinced that if the Government had adopted the three measures—first, of the destruction of all diseased cattle; secondly, of the isolation of cattle suspected of having been exposed to the infection; and, thirdly, of the absolute, total, and immediate stoppage of the passage of all cattle from one part of Great Britain to another—he felt convinced that if the Government had adopted those measures many mouths ago, 421 or if they were to adopt them, at the present time, the ravages of the malady would, within the space of one month, be stayed. He did not say, however, that they might not exempt from the operation of the last of those three measures that part of Scotland north-west of the Caledonian Canal, and also those Welsh counties, in which no traces of the disease existed, provided these counties could be completely isolated. One exception of great importance might be made—namely, that where no disease existed, instead of obliging the butcher to go to a farm to slaughter the animal, there was no reason why, under a licence and certificate, the farmer should not be permitted to send the animal to the butcher to be slaughtered. If the measure should be properly framed and satisfactorily carried out, he believed that the disease might even now be put an end to within a month. With respect to the duty on policies, he had communicated with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject of the hardship of taking the stamp duty on policies made under the different Cattle Insurance Associations; and he must say that the right hon. Gentleman, with great promptitude and liberality, had consented to the use of the smallest stamp which, under a liberal construction of the statute, the law required the Government to demand, and an intimation was held out that it would be for Parliament to consider whether the small stamp itself might not be dispensed with or the duty returned. With regard to compensation, it appeared to him to be a most inexplicable species of legislation to impose upon the very class of persons who had suffered so grievously from the calamity the greater proportion of the tax which was to be levied in order to make good the loss. Unless an exception should be made in favour of those who had sustained losses they would take, in the shape of a rate, a tax out of the pockets of the owners of cattle, who were no more to blame than the consumers of meat for the calamity under which the country was suffering, and he did not see why the nation at large should not make good the loss. He hoped in whatever form the Bill might pass there would be no qualification of those measures which alone could ensure the extinction of the disease.
THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he rose not to take part in the general discussion, but simply to explain with respect to Scot- 422 land that very strong opinions were intimated in various quarters that the local authorities should consist of a Board, one-half composed of landowners and the other half of tenant farmers.
MR. BANKS STANHOPE
said, he preferred the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt). The radical evil of the Government Bill was that it said "you may" do such and such things. The result would be that if the magistrates at quarter sessions in one county kindly chose to yield to the feeling of a number of farmers, the farmers in the next county might find themselves placed in an unfair position by a different bench of magistrates. As to giving facilities for transmitting live cattle to the markets in London and Manchester a difference would be made between the live-meat market and the dead-meat market, which would cause considerable dissatisfaction. The Government appeared to be trying to put an end to the disease by acting pretty nearly on the same system as that which had been found so thoroughly useless and absurd. He was astonished at one thing which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey). Under his Bill there was to be a new system of extended licence and extended movement for cattle—whether for fat, lean, or store cattle. At present, in Lincolnshire, cattle only meant for slaughter might be sent to the butcher or to the station. The consequence of the system was that instead of isolation there was propagation. Another point on which the Bill of his hon. Friend was superior to that of the Government was, that by providing for a month's cessation of the transit ample time would be given for properly cleansing the trucks, an operation for which the right hon. Baronet's Bill did not give sufficient time. With regard to the introduction of Irish cattle, it had been asked what objection could there be to letting them come into the country provided a sufficient licence was obtained at Liverpool. But on arriving at Liverpool they might meet with other cattle who might communicate the disease to them; and if they travelled two or three hundred miles who was to certify that the cattle on their arrival at their destination were perfectly pure. Last year there was a fair at Peterborough, from which place the disease was spread through Northamptonshire, Huntingdonshire, Lincolnshire, and Bedfordshire, by menus of cattle bought at 423 Peterborough, which started pure from Ireland, and pure from Liverpool. [Lord ROBERT MONTAGU said, he believed that the cattle had been to market.] The cattle might catch the disease in Liverpool or in the railway trucks. At present a strong fear existed in Ireland lest the drover took the cattle plague back with him, and many of the people in that country desired to have a dead meat traffic.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I wish to answer two or three questions which have been put to me during the course of this discussion; and first, as to the local authority in counties, I have to explain what that local authority is. It is intended that the local authority in a county shall be the quarter or general sessions. The hon. Gentleman who put a question on this subject (Mr. Hardy), said that there was a total want of uniformity in the regulations made by the justices in petty sessions. The hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware that I wrote a circular to the chairmen of quarter sessions in October last pointing out the importance of concert, and the desirableness of securing as much uniformity as possible. I do not know whether there is throughout the country generally such a total want of uniformity as the hon. Member supposes; but I may instance, as an example of success in obtaining uniformity of action, the county of Sussex, where uniform regulations had been made by common action amongst the justices of the petty sessions. With this view the quarter sessions were substituted for the petty sessions, throwing the jurisdiction over a wider area and securing greater uniformity. But, said the hon. Gentleman, what are quarter sessions? They consist of a great many gentlemen who come some from one part of the county and some from another, knowing only what is connected with their own districts. Now, that is precisely the rcommendation of the quarter sessions. You secure the agency of a body of gentlemen thoroughly conversant with the agricultural operations of every part of the county. Then as to the formation of committees, it is impossible for large bodies to act in a matter of this kind with the promptitude and decision required; it is therefore proposed that there shall be power of appointing at quarter sessions an executive committee, authorized to associate with them, if they think fit, a certain number of persons qualified as rated occupiers in their respective districts. Nor can there be any objection to the 424 proposal, as it is a common practice for the quarter sessions to appoint committees with delegated powers for particular purposes. The hon. and gallant Member for Berks (Sir Charles Russell) said I had quoted the practice at quarter sessions against absolute prohibition, and he said that his own county had adopted absolute prohibition. I believe that hardly any county has done so; the general course has been to put restrictions on the removal of cattle, and adapt them to the circumstances of each case. He says that in Berkshire absolute prohibition is enforced. That was, I believe, the fact as to the first Order. I am not aware of any other county in which so strict a prohibition is enforced. But shortly after the Order was made at quarter sessions, certain exceptions were found absolutely essential. Various exceptions were made in the second Order—
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I am glad to hear that; but I am afraid Berkshire is not returned among the counties entirely free from the disease.
§ SIR CHARLES RUSSELL
It is only with regard to Windsor, which is returned in the other list, and that I thought I had explained.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
As to dead-meat markets being substituted for cattle markets, I expressed an opinion the other day that such a change would be desirable; but I believe it will take a considerable time to effect it throughout the country. I do not think it can be done in a week or a month. Whenever it can be done now let it be done at once. It is in the power of the local authorities to prevent the removal of cattle. The hon. Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. Banks Stanhope) seems to be under the impression that by this Bill we are taking away from the local authorities power to keep cattle from coming into districts within their jurisdiction, or to regulate their movements. His mistake must arise from some want of clearness in my statement. He appears to think that Irish cattle, for instance, might go into any part of the country; but cattle coming from Ireland will be subject to the same restrictions as all other cattle, and can only go to places open for the sale of cattle with the permission of the local authorities. As to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Suffolk (Sir FitzRoy Kelly), I 425 really thought I had got an antagonist—one who was prepared to advocate for a general prohibition of removal without any exceptions whatever. The Bill of the hon. Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) contains so many exceptions to its general powers that it cannot be called an unconditional measure. My hon. and learned Friend said the evil ought to be met by an absolute unconditional and immediate prohibition; but as soon as he ventured on so large a proposition he began with his exceptions. It was proposed at first in St. James' Hall that the absolute prohibition should be only in respect of infected districts. That exception was afterwards struck out; but my hon. and learned Friend says that as to applying the Order to places quite free from the disease, no man in his senses would think of it. According to my hon. and learned Friend, it ought not to be applied to places not infected; and then he goes on with his system of licences, which would make his plan as conditional as that of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire. If there be a difference between the proposals of hon. Gentlemen opposite and the proposal of the Government, it is this—We think that, instead of including in the Bill every possible cure and exception, we may trust to the intelligence, good sense, and right feeling of the magistrates; but hon. Gentlemen on the other side have an absolute distrust of the local authorities whose co-operation we think essential. We are willing to give a certain amount of discretion to the local authorities; while the hon. Gentleman opposite thinks it necessary to insert every exception in the Bill, leaving no discretion whatever to the local authorities. By attempting to do what they propose we could scarcely fail to omit some of the necessary exceptions, at the same time that we should be depriving the local authorities of the power of supplying the omission. When persons have requested that the Government would make rules applicable to the whole country, I have asked them, "What general rule would you suggest?" Invariably the answer has been, "Take the rule we have laid down in our county." But a rule suited to one county may not be suited to another, and hence the difficulty of making any absolute and general regulation. The only other question asked me was that put by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. 426 Ayrton). The district comprised within the area of the Metropolitan Board of Works has been excepted from the counties of which it forms a part by the Orders of Council. Originally, inspectors appointed by the Clerk of the Council acted throughout the metropolitan police district, which is of much wider extent, for the area between the district of the Metropolitan Board of Works and that of the metropolitan police is a very large one. Now, the area under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Board of Works alone is left to the Privy Council. The licences in the district will be given by the Commissioner of Police. It is necessary for purposes of taxation that the organization of the Board of Works shall be made use of, and assistance will be given by the police in enforcing the regulations. With regard to manure, very ample powers are now given to the authorities, and these powers will be continued by the Bill; but it is quite impossible that the whole of the manure of London, or that of any other large town, can remain in the town itself without the risk of producing disease. The regulations as to manure will be left therefore as they are by the present Orders, to the local authorities.
said, with reference to the powers to be vested in the local authorities, that it was the part of the Government to issue the necessary Orders throughout the country. In reference to one remark which had fallen from the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey), who said that the Government had conceived that the compulsory slaughter of infected animals was the best course to be taken, and that they had given orders to that effect, but the farmers would not consent to it, he wished to observe that many of the individuals appointed as inspectors were not qualified to judge as to whether beasts had the rinderpest or not; moreover, no compensation was offered by the Government for this compulsory slaughter, and of course everybody objected to it. The right hon. Baronet had also said that there could not be found in our ports a sufficient number of slaughterhouses in which to slaughter so large a number of beasts in so short a time. He would remind the House, however, that the rinderpest was not a plague indigenous to this country, but it had been imported from abroad. Every year the extension of railways into those countries where the Steppe murrain is indigenous brings the plague 427 nearer and nearer to this kingdom, and the Government ought to take this fact into their serious consideration. We shall he obliged, sooner or later, to order slaughterhouses to be erected in those seaport towns where cattle are imported from foreign countries, and he thought the sooner the Government gave those orders the better. The rinderpest may, under Providence, he stamped out for a time, but unless we take proper precautions at those ports where cattle are landed from abroad, we shall never prevent its re-introduction into this country.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, that the Order referred to by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary as having been made in Sussex was one for the eastern division only. Another and a different Order was made for the western division. This showed that local authorities did not all agree, and that difficulties were sure to arise under a permissive Bill. He had hoped that this class of legislation would have gone out with the last Parliament. During the last Parliament they had nothing but permissive Bills; but it seemed they were to have them still. If the right hon. Gentleman had brought in a Bill of five clauses, in such a measure he might have embraced all that was necessary. Though he might have caused inconvenience to some persons, he would have stamped out the disease. He believed, from the length of the right hon. Gentleman's speech in introducing it, that his Bill would consist of, at least, 100 clauses. It would take a long time to go through it, and the magistrates would require a long time to enable them to master its details.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that if the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Sussex would draw up a Bill of five clauses which would contain every provision necessary for the stamping out of the cattle plague, the Government would feel much indebted to him.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolution reported:—Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir GEORGE GREY, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, and Mr. BARING.
§ Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 6.]