HC Deb 13 February 1866 vol 181 cc451-3

, in rising to move for "Copy of the Report of the Committee convened by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to consider the measures that might be adopted for arresting the progress of the Cattle Plague, in case of its appearance in Ireland," and to ask when the Bill promised by the Secretary of State will be laid upon the table, said, he hoped the great importance of the matter would excuse the few remarks he proposed to address to the House. Ireland was now placed in presence of one of the greatest dangers that ever menaced a country. The destructive effects of the cattle plague in England had been very great; but if, unfortunately, the plague should extend to Ireland, the misfortune would be fifty times as disastrous to that country. He could not help, therefore, expressing his regret that the Government had not, on the first night of the Session, laid a Bill on this subject on the table of the House. The committee which was convened by the Lord Lieutenant agreed to certain specific resolutions, which proposed to deal with this disease, should it arise, in that country in a manner different from the mode in which it had been dealt with in this country. The Irish Government had adopted those recommendations, in so far as it was in its power to do so, by Order in Council. They had agreed that, in case an outbreak of the disease took place, the best thing to do would be to draw a cordon at once around the infected district, to adopt the most stringent measures against the ingress and the egress of cattle, and to enforce the compulsory slaughter of infected cattle. But here a difficulty arose, for the committee recommended that the compulsory slaughter of cattle should be accompanied by compensation up to two-thirds of the value of the animals destroyed. In this country he believed that one of the greatest misfortunes incidental to the cattle plague had been the unfortunate Order in Council which gave powers of compulsory slaughter without offering compensation. The system suggested by the committee which had now been for some weeks before the country, and had received very general approbation on all hands, would really be inoperative and come to nothing unless it were supplemented by sufficient compensation for slaughtered animals. Though, happily, the measures which had been taken had been, under Providence, the means of diverting this terrible disaster from the shores of Ireland, yet the country ran daily risk of an outbreak of the disease. It was liable to happen at any moment, and if such an outbreak should occur, the Government were without the power to carry out the measures which all in Ireland admitted to be necessary. Not a moment was to be lost in introducing and passing a Bill, and he believed that Government would find very little difficulty in the matter. A question might, perhaps, arise as to the mode in which the compensation was to be levied, but that would be easily settled. He hoped that, before another day elapsed, they might have an opportunity of seeing the measure of the Government, and that, if possible, it would be made law within a week. He must, however, warn the Government that they would make a mistake if they intrusted the enforce- ment of their measures to local authorities, who could not carry out the system recommended by the committee. It must be carried out by Government officers alone, and its operations must be uniform throughout the country. No board of guardians, or magistrates in petty or quarter sessions, or committee of a grand jury, could carry out the system recommended with any chance or hope of success. He hoped, therefore, that a Bill embodying the recommendations of the committee would be introduced immediately by the Government, and that the Government would take on themselves the responsibility of carrying out all its provisions.


said, that there was no objection to the production of the Report. The Government had been in communication with the Lord Lieutenant on the subject of the measures that it was desirable should be adopted in the event of the cattle plague appearing in Ireland, and the Attorney General and the Solicitor General had been instructed to draw up a Bill founded on the report of the committee and on the views of the Lord Lieutenant. It was, however, quite necessary that the Bill should be seen by Lord Wodehouse and the Irish Government, and he could not therefore fix the day when it would be brought in; but it would be introduced on an early day. There was this difference between Ireland and this country, that in Ireland there was an army of police directly responsible to the central Government and not to the local authorities, and therefore that could be done in Ireland which there was no means of doing here.

Motion agreed to: Return ordered.