HC Deb 14 February 1866 vol 181 cc460-502

Moved, "That the Bill be now read the second time."—(Sir George Grey.)


Sir, in common with those Gentlemen who have been kind enough to assist me in the preparation of the measure which I laid on the table the other night, I have had the greatest difficulty in arriving at a conclusion as to what course I ought to take with regard to the Bill now before the House, in consequence of the very great delay which took place before the Bill reached the hands of Members. I have had some experience as to the necessity for such delay. On Thursday last, after the meeting in St. James' Hall, it first entered my mind to bring in a Bill. At that time I had no Bill prepared, but I gave my Notice to the House within an hour after the meeting. On Monday, when I moved for leave to introduce the measure, I had a proof of the Bill in my hand, and copies were in the hands of Members the next morning. If an independent Member who has no special means at his disposal for preparing Bills can have a Bill prepared and circulated within that time, I ask whether the Government, with every means at their disposal, cannot do the same thing? I appeal to the House to compare the two Bills, not on their merit, but on their construction. I do not take any credit to myself on this point, because I am indebted to a legal gentleman for the structure of my Bill; but I ask whether the Government Bill does not bear far greater marks of haste than mine. The only conclusion I can come to is, that the gentleman who drew the Government Bill received his instructions so late that he was not able to do justice to himself. The delay and the extraordinarily inconvenient structure of their Bill convince me that till the last moment the Government did not know the nature of the Bill they were going to lay on the table. A Bill was announced in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne; notice was given of its introduction the first night of the Session on which it was possible to do so; it was introduced the same night as mine; and yet it was not in the hands of Members till twenty-four hours after mine. I mention this to show the extreme embarrassment in which those who act with me are placed with regard to the Government Bill. Yesterday, between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, a certain number of copies of the Government Bill came to the House. I procured one; but having given it to a friend, I found that all the other copies had been disposed of, and I could not get another for myself till this morning. I was asked last night by the organ of the Government in communication with Members of this House what course I intended to take. I do not think an independent Member was ever placed in so embarrassing a position. It was suggested to me that if I assented to the second reading of the Government Bill to-day, the Government would assent to the second reading of my Bill. Under the stress of circumstances I consented to that arrangement; but do not let it be supposed that I think the Government Bill, so far as one point—and I wish to confine my remarks to this point, and to say nothing about the slaughter of animals, and the compensation to be given for them—do not let it be supposed that I think the Government Bill a satisfactory one. The point to which I allude is the removal of cattle. I believe it would be far better to keep to the present regulations, inasmuch as people have now got to understand them, rather than produce a new set of orders such as those provided in this Bill. I confess that when I heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (the Secretary for the Home Department) the other night I was not prepared for a Bill so permissive in its principle. And here, I venture to observe, that it requires very considerable attention to understand this Bill. If I misunderstand it, I do not think I shall be to blame. From the speech of the right hon. Baronet the other night I understood that with respect to removals the Bill would be this:—That there would be enacted in the Bill a code of regulations which all counties adopting the non-removal principle must accept; that it was to be left to the counties to adopt this principle or not, but that if they adopted it they must accept the statutory regulations. But I find that the whole structure of the Bill is framed in the sense of permission to the local authorities to adopt regulations or not: the idea of the Bill is permissiveness, and the difficulty of dealing with it in Committee will arise from the permissive power which it gives to local authorities in respect of those regulations. In the first clauses of the Bill, I think down to Clause 9, with the exception of the interpretation clauses, the several provisions have reference to getting the local authorities together, and giving them certain powers. The difficulty will be that if we pass these provisions in Committee we shall be assenting to the permissive principle. I do not see how we can go on passing these clauses in Committee if we are to deny discretionary power to those authorities. We then come to clauses which are compulsory on the local authorities; but I do not find anything new in them. Clause 13 makes it compulsory on all local authorities to slaughter diseased animals, and provides compensation. I believe that between the compensation views of the Government and my own views on the same point there is not very much difference; but as to compulsory slaughter, we have it now under the orders of the inspectors appointed by the local authorities. The 14th clause provides for the burial and disinfection of the carcass; but this is nothing new. Then we come to the purification of sheds in which diseased animals have died or are slaughtered; but, if I remember rightly, the inspectors have the power to order such disinfection now. Clause 16 provides for the slaughter of animals herding with diseased cattle. I believe this is a new power. Coming to the isolation of infected places, there are very stringent statutory rules as to what is to be done with those places. That is very good, but its value is destroyed by a provision leaving it to the local authorities to decide what the infected area is. They may say it is a shed, or a farm, or a hamlet, or a parish, or a petty sessions district, or a Parliamentary division, or a riding, or a county. And how are the local authorities to settle this? They must call in the best professional assistance to hand, and, perhaps, the inspectors may be the best; but I am sorry to say that the opinion of some of those inspectors is not worth more than the opinion of the first child whom you may happen to meet in the street. Now, one of the greatest difficulties we have experienced has been to find competent men to fill the office of inspector. So ignorant have some of them showed themselves that in some cases they had actually certified that no disease existed, where the cattle were in fact affected, and consequently spreading the disease around. Surely the Government could not suppose that by such a provision they were going to stop the operation of the infection. To come, however, to the question of the movement of cattle. That is a point to which I wish to draw the attention of the House, because it is in respect to this point that those who agree in opinion with me are completely at issue with the Government. The first paragraph of the 21st section is as follows:— All cattle brought by sea from any place in Great Britain or from any place out of the United Kingdom into any town or place in Great Britain shall be marked by clipping the hair off the end of the tail, and no such cattle shall be removed alive from such town or place by land. I do not object to that paragraph, though I do not know whether "by land" will include conveyance by railway. If not, however, the words may easily be amended in Committee. Then we come to the second paragraph of the same clause— No cattle shall be moved, except by railway, after sunset and before sunrise, except within the limits of the metropolis, inclusive of the City of London. That, I believe, is a regulation which has already been adopted by almost all the local authorities. The clause, however, makes this important exception, "except by railway." Now, on this point I am directly at issue with the Government. What I wish to insist upon is this—that unless you stop for a certain time all movement of cattle by railway it is utterly impossible to prevent the spreading of the infection—I believe that unless you do so it will be utterly impossible to ensure the cleansing or disinfection of the cattle trucks. Allow the cattle trucks to be in daily use, allow fresh animals to be conveyed in them, and you will keep alive the infection and have no power to stop it. The next paragraph is in these terms— No animal shall be taken into the district of any local authority contrary to any prohibition of that local authority for the time being in force. So it is to be permissive to the local authorities to exclude animals from their jurisdiction or not as they please. That was exceedingly objectionable—considering, too, that the Bill did not altogether prevent the movement of cattle by railway. It appeared, then, by the Government measure, that even though the local authorities should be desirous of excluding the introduction of cattle within their district they would not have the power of preventing their movement by railway, although they might stop them from passing along the ordinary roads. The clause, as it went on, again gave the local authorities a permissive power which he considered very objectionable— No cattle shall be moved along any highway within the district of a local authority, except for a distance not exceeding 200 yards from part to part of the same farm, where the local authority has prohibited such movement; and where no such prohibition exists, no cattle shall be moved along any highway within the district of a local authority, except as aforesaid, without the licence or contrary to the tenor of the licence of such local authority. So that if any local authorities do not choose to make a prohibition, you allow them to grant a licence of removal under any conditions they may choose to adopt. Now, those conditions may be of a very different and varied character in the several districts; and being so, the cattle owners will be compelled to run here and there for the purpose of ascertaining what are the conditions of the Orders which apply to particular districts into or through which they wish to send their cattle. That may appear to some hon. Members to be a small matter; but I can assure the House that it will prove a most serious and perplexing arrangement. The right hon. Gentleman opposite seemed the other night to think that I came here with the peculiar views of Northamptonshire. Now, those views were very fully expressed at a meeting over which I had the honour to preside, held in the Corn Exchange at Northampton, and the same resolution was passed there as was passed the other day, with only two dissentients, at the meeting held in St. James' Hall, at which representatives from forty-four counties were present. That shows that the views of Northamptonshire are the same as those which are entertained by the country at large. Still, Northamptonshire is very peculiarly circumstanced, and I ask permission of the House to refer to it for a moment or two. There are no fewer than nine counties bordering on it. It is also a very narrow county, and a great many farms extend into the adjoining shires. I even know of fields through which the county boundary line runs, and no man knows exactly where the two counties are actually divided. How are you to subject a man to different orders, relating not only to different parts of his own farm, but even to different parts of the same field? Consider, too, the expense such a system will entail upon the farmers of that county. According to this Bill we have to publish our Northamptonshire notices in our newspapers, and also in those of all our bordering counties. In the same way, all these counties have to publish their notices in our newspapers. People often want just to go out of the county and in again with their animals, and sometimes they actually will not be able to do so, except in accordance with the orders of three different local bodies. Is that, I would ask, an evil which ought to be disregarded? Then, there is another question which I do not think the Government have fully considered—a question of great importance with regard to the interests of cattle-owners. Although the prohibition of the movement of cattle may be absolute by the order of the magistrates in one district, the movement may be allowed under certain conditions under the order of the magistrates of a neighbouring district. The effect of such a varying and unequal state of things will be this—take the case of two adjoining counties:—If the movement of cattle is free in one and prohibited in the other, the persons who purchase fat cattle from the farmers will be able to get cattle almost at their Own price in the county where the restrictions exist, because, if the farmers refuse to sell them, the purchasers could get what beasts they wanted in the county where there are no restrictions. I believe that the cattle owners in the counties which have been very hard hit by the disease would submit to almost any restrictions, if they thought they gave a chance of stopping the disease. But they say, and with sound reason, that it is but fair they should all be placed upon an equality. If the farmers of one district are to be subjected to certain restrictions they naturally complain that their neighbours should possess the advantage of being spared their infliction. That is the reason why they objected so much to the Government Order lately repealed with regard to cattle coming aliveout of the London market. They say, "If you prohibit all movement of cattle you ought to prohibit butchers going to the London markets and bringing cattle down by railway." For that same reason the Northamptonshire orders were not made so strict as they would otherwise have been. Then, I must refer to the next paragraph of the 21st section— A licence under this section may be given by the local authority, or by some person duly authorized in writing by such local authority to give such licence, and such licence shall be in such form and subject to such conditions as the local authority may think expedient. Now, it seems to me that under this section the local authorities will be able to do whatever they are empowered to do at the present time. The next paragraph is to the effect that persons having charge of animals moved under a licence shall produce the same on demand to any constable, policeman, or local officer. A similar provision is made in my Bill, and has been, I believe, in most of the local orders. Then comes the 22nd section, relating to the power of local authorities to make prohibitions. That, in fact, merely confers in express terms powers which the local authorities could have exercised even if no such clause had been inserted. It runs as follows:— Every local authority shall have power by Order to prohibit altogether or to impose restrictions or conditions on the introduction into its district, and also on the removal from place to place within its district, of—1. Animals, or any specified description thereof, excepting for a dis- tance not exceeding 200 yards from part to part of the same farm; 2. Raw or untanned hides or skins, horns, hoofs, or offal of animals, or of any specified description thereof, except hides, skins, horns, or hoofs imported into the United Kingdom from India, Australia, South Africa, or America; 3. Hay, straw, litter, or other articles that hare been used in or about animals. With regard to markets and fairs, the 23rd section says— No market, fair, auction, exhibition, or public sale of cattle, shall be held during the time that this part of the Act is in force, except as hereinafter mentioned—that is to say, a market for the sale of cattle intended for immediate slaughter may be held, with the licence of the local authority of the district; provided, that in case of boroughs or burghs containing less than 40,000 inhabitants, according to the last census, a licence to hold a market in such borough or burgh shall not be valid unless confirmed by the local authority of the county in which such borough or burgh is geographically situate; or, if it adjoins more than one county, by the local authority of each of such counties. So, here there is permission given to the local authorities of little towns to open markets and fairs, but only with the consent of the county magistrates; while in large towns the borough authorities will have sole jurisdiction. Now, what may not this give rise to—this allowing county magistrates to come in and control borough authorities? Was there ever such a bone of contention thrown out in the shape of an enactment? I will tell you one thing that will happen. In all the little towns, where the county authorities have control, they will stop the fairs and markets; but in all the large towns, where the borough authorities think only of the present and not of the future interest of the meat eaters, markets and fairs will be allowed. This will give rise to inequality with regard to trade, for butchers will be able to go to the large towns to buy, but not to the small towns. In this I perceive the one idea which seems to have pervaded the minds of the Government—namely, fear of the big towns. Now, if this interference of the county authorities is good for the small towns it must be equally good for the big towns. The big towns, however, seem to be the bugbear of the Government. I have addressed audiences in large towns, and I believe there is no subject which the working-classes will not take into consideration and reason upon fairly, if not rightly, if you put the arguments plainly and frankly before them. The political sentiments which I hold are not generally supposed to be acceptable to the working-classes in large towns; but I hare always found that they were disposed to give me a fair hearing, or to enter into a consideration of the views and arguments opposed to their own opinions; and I believe that if the right hon. Gentleman fairly put before the country the reasons which induced him to propose a measure which would produce temporary inconvenience and privation to the inhabitants of large towns, they would, when they saw it was for their future interest, have cheerfully and gladly submitted to the hardships, they would see that the measure was for their own ultimate good as well as conducive to the interest of the agricultural community. I do not think I need trouble the House with any remarks on the regulations proposed in the Bill with regard to the movement of cattle within the metropolis, or on the provisions relating to the public exposure of diseased animals. Those provisions, I believe, we have now under the Orders in Council. I will pass over also the compensation clause. I will pass on, therefore, to the 43rd section, which has reference to the cleansing of trucks— Every railway, canal, or other company that carries animals for hire within any part of Great Britain shall, after any animals have been taken out of, and before putting any other animals into, any pen, truck, or boat, cause the said pen, truck, or boat to be properly cleansed, and to be disinfected by a washing of lime-water, or by some other effcient means. Any company making default in so cleansing and disinfecting any pen, truck, or boat, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds in respect of each such pen, truck, or boat. On this subject I will read an extract from a letter which I received this morning from a gentleman residing in North Wales, near Holyhead. He says— We at present are free from disease, but every day I see cattle trucks in a filthy state. I remonstrate with the railway company, but though they always promise to clean them, I never see a clean truck coming into the station. And he goes on to say, "I believe we have no power to touch them." I maintain, however, that there ought to be Government officers whose duty it should be to insist on inspecting the trucks, and compelling them to be thoroughly and perfectly cleansed. Unless, however, you specify a certain space of time during which that cleansing shall take place, you cannot clean the trucks, because you cannot catch them. It was absolutely necessary to put a stop to the cattle trucks moving at all during a certain time. I have now, I am happy to say, gone through the clauses of the Bill which refer to the movement of cattle, the holding of markets and fairs, and the disinfection of trucks. At present I do not intend to touch upon the question of compensation, because that is a separate question, and one which I think ought to have been embodied in a separate Bill. If, however, it is retained in the present Bill, it can be discussed in Committee. I have gone into the subject of the Bill at great length, because I believe that hon. Members have had no sufficient opportunity of considering its provisions. Judging from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, the House could hardly have been aware of the extent to which permissiveness was to run through the Bill. I think it a bad Bill—bad in form and bad in substance, and I may be asked, "Why do not you move its rejection upon the Order for the second reading?" I will tell you why. If this were a question which could wait, I would not have had one moment's hesitation in moving the rejection of the Bill, and I would even have done so if this had been the 14th of December, instead of the 14th of February. But I am fully alive to the danger of delay, and I dare not take upon myself the responsibility of delaying any Government Bill even for a single day. With that understanding I undertook to consent to the second reading of the Bill today, on the understanding that my own Bill should also be read a second time. But there would be another danger. Moving the rejection of the second reading of a Government Bill on important occasions is generally considered as a party Motion. What, then, would have been the consequence of moving the rejection of this Bill? The Government would say, as I am sorry to remark a portion of the liberal press has said already, that this question of the cattle plague had been seized upon by the Conservative party as a means of opposing the Government. Some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite might also think so, and give their support to the Government in order to prevent a Ministerial crisis. If the principle of the Government Bill were affirmed by a large majority we might get a bad principle affirmed in this Bill instead of a good one; and, on the other hand, if there were a majority against the Bill, the Government might say they must go out. What, I ask, would be the position of the cattle plague if there were the chaos which always exists during a Ministerial crisis? It must have been most detrimental to the national interests. We should have no one to guide us. The hon. Member for Bir- mingham (Mr. Bright) points over the way, but I do not know who may be Her Majesty's next advisers. Perhaps one of them may be the hon. Member for Birmingham himself. At all events there would be a Ministerial crisis for a few days, and I think it would be impossible to carry any measure relating to the cattle plague under those circumstances. I wish to deal frankly with the Government in regard to this question. I have no objection to tell them that I regard their tenure of office as a thing likely to be disadvantageous to the country. I have not been in the habit of opposing Government upon all questions. I have supported them at times when I thought they were right, and opposed them when I thought they were wrong. I have not been a very hot or eager partisan, but I confess that I acquiesce in their tenure of office much less willingly since the removal from among them by the hand of death of that noble Lord who, by his wise and moderate counsels, so long conducted the affairs of this House to the satisfaction of Members on both sides of it; and I tell right hon. Gentlemen opposite that I believe the loss they have sustained by the retirement of one of their number, who among all the Members of Lord Palmerston's late Government was the one least liable to pressure, with the exception of Lord Palmerston himself, (Sir Charles Wood), is far greater than they have as yet appreciated. And if, as rumour says, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir George Grey) is likely soon to seek repose and rest from the cares of office, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will find that, notwithstanding the new hands on board, he will find increased difficulties in steering the Government boat through the troubled waters. But with these views, and while saying unreservedly that I should have no objection to see the displacement of the present Government, always supposing that a good and a strong Government could be put in its place, I could never consent to let a question of this sort become a party question. I shall never aid any attempt to use the question of the cattle plague as a means of displacing the Government; and, therefore, in taking the part which I have done in reference to this matter, my sole object has been to get such an Act of Parliament passed as may do something to check the spread of the cattle plague, without reference to political objects or party considerations. Under these circumstances, I would ask the House to consent to-day to the second reading of the Government Bill, bad as it is. I see the difficulty of dealing with it in Committee, and I am not aware of the course which the Government intend to adopt, but I think if they persevere with it only one course can be taken in Committee—namely, to postpone all the clauses up to the 21st, and to strike out all the clauses relating to the removal of cattle in order that more stringent provisions may be inserted. I would refer for a moment to a meeting which took place in the tea-room yesterday afternoon, and which was attended by Members of both Houses of Parliament, irrespective of the side of the House from which they came. Three resolutions were passed—the first two unanimously. These two resolutions were entirely in accordance with the Bill which I have laid on the table. They were to the effect that, for a limited period, the movement of cattle by railway or road should be entirely prohibited. The second proposed that movement on the high roads ought also to be prohibited by law, with certain statutory exceptions as to cattle moved short distances, under rigid regulations; the third was that the Government might declare certain districts free from disease, and permit cattle to be moved in such districts. The third resolution was passed in a hurried way, as the meeting was about to break up. [Sir GEORGE GREY: Hear, hear!] The first two resolutions were passed after due consideration and without hurry; the third was passed in the hurry of breaking up, and, though no hand was held up against it, it was not so much considered as the other two. That third resolution was an infringement of the principle of this Bill. That resolution allowed an exception in certain districts to the strict restrictions by road, but not by railway; but then it threw the responsibility on the Government. Now, I confess I do not like even this exception, but, if others think it absolutely necessary, I do not say that nothing would induce me to consent to it; but I would only consent to it on this condition, that the Government alone should declare the exception. I say also that the conditions under which the exceptional movement of cattle is to be permitted in such districts ought to be defined. Even then, however, it would be necessary for the Government to act with the greatest promptitude, as in the case of the Order issued for Ireland, It would not do to have a week's notice before orders could be drawn up, another week before they could appear in the Gazette, and another before they came into operation. If this power were left to Government the inspectors should have notice by telegraph, as was done in the first case, and at once proclaim the district. That Order, indeed, was so good that I cannot understand how it could have proceeded from the same Government which issued the other Orders. After the passing of the resolutions at the conference yesterday, I hope that the Government may be willing to modify their Bill, and I trust that some Member of the Government will give us some intimation to that effect. If not, I shall, when the Bill is in Committee, raise the issue of statutory prohibition or not.


Sir, I am really sorry for some of the observations made by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunt), because, notwithstanding his disclaimer to-day, it appears to me that there was a good deal of party feeling mingled with the anxiety he evinces with regard to this distressing question. Now, I think nothing could more lower the estimate of the House of Commons in the eyes of everybody outside its walls than the mixing up of any political and party feeling with a question of this nature. I have read the Government Bill with some minuteness, and I have come to the conclusion—which is confirmed by what I heard fall from the hon. Gentleman on the former occasion and to-day—that the House is doing what is generally a very unwise thing—that is, about to legislate on a panic. There is hardly anything more common, and for myself I do not think anything is more absurd and pernicious, than a panic. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has, I think, been rather hustled in this matter, and I doubt whether he, and, still more, whether his Colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer, entirely approve some portions of the Bill. We are now on the second reading, and though I shall mention one or two things which are matters of detail, yet they are at the same time matters that can only be discussed at this stage of the measure. On looking over the Bill, it appears to me to involve three things—first, an attempt at isolation, in which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunt) thinks it does not go far enough; secondly, a general provision to slaughter cattle which are either attacked by the disease, or likely to be attacked, or suspected of being ill; and thirdly, the principle of compensation which is admitted—and admitted, I suspect, for the first time in the lifetime of any Member of this House, into any matter of this kind. Now, I agree to a very large extent with the hon. Gentleman opposite as to the necessity of a very rigid system of isolation. I think, however, that isolation cannot be carried out absolutely, because if it were attempted, so great would be the inconvenience and suffering, that it would probably be much worse than anything which could possibly arise from the cattle plague itself. But if isolation on farms could be carried out with great strictness, I do not see myself the necessity for an indiscriminate permission to slaughter. Now, according to this Bill, in every small district there would be what is called a "local authority." That local authority is not very accurately defined, but in every one of those districts, by the authority of the local powers, and by command of their inspectors, on every farm where there may be a single beast suffering from this malady, that beast must be killed, and, at the pleasure of the inspector or of his masters, the whole herd of cattle on the farm may be destroyed. Now, I think that the more the process or practice of isolation is adhered to, the less necessity can there be for a general and almost indiscriminate slaughter. We know, in fact, from our present experience, as far as it has gone, that in this country there is a percentage of diseased cattle which recover, and it is quite probable that as the disease runs its course in the country—and it is even now running its course—it will become tractable and more subject to curative efforts. That is observed, I believe, with regard to all complaints of cattle, and likewise to all complaints of the human family. Therefore, I say that this power of slaughtering indiscriminately is a power which it would not be wise to grant; but, coupled with compensation, it would be followed by a massacre of cattle altogether unnecessary, and when the figures are at a future time laid before Parliament they will, I think, be regarded with astonishment by those who have supported this Bill. Now, if you give this power of slaughter—first of all, that every beast that is ill shall be slaughtered, and every beast near it may be slaughtered—I do not think it likely that any farmer or owner of cattle would be disposed to try curative means of any kind—so that everything like experiment and everything like science, even patience and precautions and ordinary care and cleanliness, would be abandoned. The farmer would submit to fate—he would get one-half or three-quarters of the price of his cattle, and there would be a great cessation of the efforts to discover the nature of the disease, to cure it if it appeared, and to prevent its approach when it appears in the neighbourhood of any farm. Now, the compensation will necessarily have a very strong effect in that way; and I think that if compensation is to be conferred the sum proposed in the Bill is excessive. Nothing can be more monstrous than the notion that the public ought to be called upon to make up to private persons all losses in consequence of accident, or, as it is called in this case, of a visitation of Providence. We are introducing a principle which I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will accept; but he is reconciled to it in this instance because it will not affect his Budget, though it will the taxation of the various counties. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) has referred to a great meeting held at Northampton some time ago. Now, I want to ask him a question which may excite disapprobation on the other side of the House. In the instructions issued in Ireland particular reference is made to the possibility of contagion being carried by dogs. I have no opinion myself on this matter. This question of contagion or infection seems absolutely mysterious to all of us, and I think a man would be a foolish man who would say positively that the disease may or may not be carried in some particular way. I said that according to the instructions for Ireland, "any local authority may make orders as to shutting up of dogs in any infected place, and as to their destruction if found coming out of the same;" and in the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, the 22nd clause says— Every local authority shall have power by order to prohibit altogether or to impose restrictions or conditions on the introduction into its district, and also on the removal from place to place within its district, first, of animals or any specified description thereof, excepting for a distance not exceeding 200 yards from part to part of the same farm. Understand me, not to maintain that these poor curs are likely to be guilty; but, if this be a proper regulation, if it be necessary, I should like to ask the opinion of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire of a resolution passed at that large meeting in Northampton with regard to the possibility of the plague being spread by the practice of the sport of hunting. Bear in mind, this question of the cattle plague is a very serious one, or it has no right to be in this House at all; it is a very serious question, or no Member has a right, for a single moment, to dream of asking Government to impose these unbearable inconveniences upon the people, and the large expenditure which will fall upon somebody if the Bill passes. If it be so serious a matter, and if these humble curs are suspected, and are to be shut up in infected places, for fear they should carry the disease, I put it to the country gentlemen, who have so powerful a representation in this House, whether they will stand well with the owners of cattle, the great body of the tenant farmers of this country, if the sport of foxhunting be pursued during the next month, when this Bill is to come into operation, seeing that the matter appears to have assumed so great a gravity? I said I would not give any opinion of my own on this point, because I have not any; but I have seen in several newspapers—in Liverpool papers—letters written from the county of Chester, complaining of this matter. The Northampton meeting, at which the hon. Member for the county was in the chair, and at which I am told 2,000 persons were present—[An hon. MEMBER: No—only 500.] I am sorry that more interest was not displayed, but I was told that the room would hold 2,000 and that it was filled—that meeting passed a resolution upon this very subject; and yet any gentleman may see in a newspaper published in that town notices of the meeting of no fewer than fifteen packs of hounds that were to run in one week, a total of between sixty and seventy times. They would course over 10,000 to 20,000—Oh! far more—acres in that county; and if this disease be so subtle, if it can be carried by almost everything that flies and everything that creeps, why should it not be carried by something that runs. A Northamptonshire clergyman who lives in the midst of the Pytchley Hunt, says in a letter— The inspector of my district told me distinctly, a week or two ago, not only that in his own opinion (that of a graduate of the Veterinary College) foxhunting might, but that it had, in some instances, introduced the murrain from infected into healthy districts. I met, on my return from Northampton, on Saturday last, a farmer whose brother, living in our neighbourhood, had recently lost some cattle from the plague. I in- quired how he thought it had been introduced and his reply was that his only way of accounting for its appearance was that it had been brought into his farm by the foxhounds which crossed his fields about a week before. Now, I repeat, I have no opinion upon this matter—I cannot say anything about it as to whether it is so or not; but I say, if that be possible, is it conceivable there is any gentleman in England who would consider it necessary to continue—what, after all, is not an essential of life—sport during the short time the season will last, if it be possible any harm can happen to the farmers of England from this cause? I shall say no more about that, because it is not a subject I am very well qualified to discuss, beyond what I have said with regard to it, except to maintain that if there be anything any of us can give up, the giving up of which would tend to lessen or remove a calamity which must reduce many hundreds of farmers, probably, to poverty, we ought to give that up with the greatest possible pleasure. I want to say one word on the question of compensation, which is rather an important part of this measure. I said before that I think the effect of it will be to cause a great amount of slaughtering of cattle which, under the system of isolation which the Bill intends, would not be necessary, and would really be pernicious and a grievous loss; but I should like to ask, why is compensation to be given by means of an Act of Parliament, and a public rate? I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself would be able to give a good reason for the proposals in this Bill. Now, I can understand that if the landowners and farmers had no interest in what is called the "stamping out" of this disease by the slaughtering of cattle, and if it was simply done in the interest of the public, that then there might be some claim upon the public in some cases for compensation. But, bear in mind, all the demand made to the Government in favour of this excessive, and, as I think, almost senseless slaughtering has been made by the country gentlemen and the farmers whom they represent. If ten beasts be slaughtered on one farm to save ninety on the same farm, and presuming that if Government did not order the slaughtering, the farmer himself would think it necessary, I do not see why the farmer or landowner should come to Parliament for compensation. Now, I maintain, as far as I know, as far as my memory goes, as far as my reading of late years has gone, that this is a new principle which is introduced in this Bill. There are many classes of persons who will suffer. There is the rich man, for example—I have heard of one in this House—I could mention his name, but it is not necessary I should do so—who has lost 150 or 200 head of cattle. Well, that will be an expense to him of £2,000, £3,000, or £4,000, according to their value. But he may be a man who has an income of £15,000 a year. Is it proposed to go to all the towns and villages, to all the non-agricultural and non-landowning classes, and to collect rates from them to compensate this rich man for his loss? The loss which this man has suffered, is only the same kind of loss which periodically visits almost every other industry in the country. Why, there was an hon. Gentleman sitting near me the other night when this Bill was being discussed who, I know, lost in one winter £40,000 by shipwrecks. He had taken his own risk for twenty years, and he had found it answer; in one winter—a winter like this through which we are passing—£40,000 of his property went down; but there was no proposition of compensation from Parliament. Take the position of Lancashire during the last four years. The sufferings of that county—I am not speaking of the poorest people and of the workmen, but of the spinners and manufacturers, the owners and the occupiers of mills—have been great, far beyond anything the public have any conception of; but there has not been a single farthing either of taxes or of compensation in any shape given to those persons. I do not forget that a magnificent subscription was made for those of the sufferers whose daily bread was taken away. In this case, what I would have suggested would have been this—that, with regard to all those small farmers with very little capital, or those nearly the whole of whose capital was invested in their stock, there should have been some great public effort made in order that they might not be ruined; and I would rather give five times as much in a subscription to a fund to relieve those humble and much suffering people, than I would pay anything to a county rate to compensate rich men in this House or out of it. I will not state it unfairly—to whom this calamity, grievous as it is, comes in the shape of a bad debt, or of a shipwreck, or of a cotton famine such as we have passed through in Lancashire. Now, we are on the principle of this Bill, and I am on the particular question of compensation. I ask hon. Gentlemen op- posite what will be the effect on the farmers themselves of giving this compensation out of the taxes? I believe it will have an effect that will be most unfortunate and pernicious. I should like to read to the House an extract from a letter I received yesterday from a grazing farmer in Scotland, who farms extensively under a Member of the other House of Parliament. There is one passage in which he agrees with me entirely, that if you have rigid isolation you need not have the compulsory slaughter. He goes on— I look upon it that the House of Commons will consider this visitation as a loss in stock in trade of a class, and that such measures as they pass are for the ultimate benefit of that class, and that any losses sustained from those measures must be paid by the class interested and not from taxation or rates. Bear in mind that this is an extensive cattle-owner in Scotland, and he continues— The loss is a farmer's loss, generally speaking, and cannot be paid out of the public purse any more than an unusual series of disasters at sea could be paid to the shipping interest. I consider that the tenantry have it in their power to help themselves, and were they to help themselves, and were they to unite in forming a general system of epidemic stock insurance, they would he able to meet losses and secure themselves as effectively as shipowners now do through their underwriters. If this system of paying out of taxes be established, you will probably put an end in future to all kinds of providence on the part of farmers. They will feel that they can come to this House in case of any calamity of this kind, and they will have less inducement than ever before to establish and to support insurance societies. The farmer I have quoted continues— I venture to hope that you will use your influence to prevent the House of Commons from agreeing to recompense in any way the loss that may arise from measures passed to arrest the progress of the rinderpest. I do so under the thorough conviction that such losses are in many cases quite unnecessary, particularly where slaughtering is resorted to, and that as the class who lose could cover their losses by adopting such precautionary measures as are practised in other trades, you will confer a benefit upon us by making it a virtual necessity our mutually providing against loss by insurance, which will only be done when we find we can get no assistance elsewhere. That is the argument advanced in the letter of a respectable tenant farmer, an owner of stock, who himself may be visited by the calamity which has now traversed certain parts of the country. Now, I have been told—I do not give it on mean authority—I have been told on fair authority, that the disease during the last twelve months has not killed more cattle in the country than died from the lung disease in the year 1860. Any gentleman who likes may contradict that statement; I have no figures that will positively prove it; I understand it has been asserted by those who have paid great attention to the question. I want to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite if some of them do not now regret that in past times they had not joined with us in promoting a Bill by which we could have had correct agricultural statistics returned to Parliament. I have received a letter from a farmers' club in one of the midland counties, urging me strongly to press upon the House the necessity of obtaining agricultural statistics. If you had had those statistics, if you knew the mortality among cattle from the lung disease in 1860, you would have had not only evidence of the necessity of insurance, but the facts and figures upon which a safe cattle insurance company could be based. As it is, you have no figures, you have shut your eyes to the facts, you have not permitted us to gather them. The farmers throughout the country have objected to inquiry into their business and into their stock; therefore, no person wishing to establish a cattle insurance company has understood the facts on which a table could be framed: and for that reason the cattle insurance societies have been feeble, and I daresay they find themselves unable to cope with this enormous mischief which is now spreading throughout the country. I have risen on the second reading to put these two or three opinions before the House. First of all, I agree very much in the necessity, so far as the farmers are concerned, of a rigid isolation. I disagree entirely with the proposals of the Bill that this wide and indiscriminate slaughter should be left to the authorities in these different districts. I believe that the effect of giving this compensation will be that the slaughter will be unnecessary and monstrous in amount; and I contend that it is contrary to every principle on which Parliament has acted on past occasions of public suffering to vote money out of the taxes to remedy a misfortune of this kind, and that it is a grievance of which every taxpayer will have to complain, if his taxes should be taken to pay compensation to well-to-do farmers and rich landowners who may suffer from this affliction. I believe that if that system be carried out, it will lead to greater improvidence on the part of the farmers even than that which has existed in past times. They will fancy that they are an order and a class in the community which has special claims upon this House—an opinion which they held twenty years ago, and which was destructive of their independence and energy. I say that it would be unfortunate to promote such an opinion among them now, and that we ought to strike out of this Bill the power of slaughtering and the power of collecting taxes to compensate the rich man. I should be ashamed if I were a man, whether a tenant farmer or a landowner, having property left after that which the scourge had taken, to go to the humble ratepayers of towns and villages, who have no special class interest in this matter, and to ask them from their pockets to make up the loss in my trade. I put this to the House; and I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite, instead of being panic stricken, will be content with the system of isolation; will believe, as I believe, that this scourge, like all other scourges of this nature, whether they attach to our own species or they attach to what we are pleased to call in our dignity the inferior animals—that scourges of this kind have their course and their time, and they run their course, and no power of man hitherto has been able to obstruct it. I am told you have 1,500 townships or parishes in which this disease has been or now is to be found. I do not believe that, with this extent, anything this House can do by legislation can prevent it running its course. I would not, by false legislation, add to the slaughter which may be necessary; and I would never let it be said hereafter that the landowners and rich farmers of England, suffering a loss which is not greater to them than that which befalls many other classes of their countrymen, came to Parliament to ask Parliament to legislate that the losses of their special trade might he paid out of the taxation of their country.


said, there were two Bills before the House, one went to the extent of positively prohibiting any removal of cattle, while the other admitted the desirability of cattle being removed under certain circumstances by licence, the latter Bill to which he referred, and which had been introduced by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, was the one which would receive the sanction of the country. He believed that the system of licences was a proper system to adopt, as it was very important that the country should go along with this Bill. Now if the regulations were too stringent they would be inoperative, and to show that, he would instance what had occurred in his own county. He was one of a committee of Berkshire magistrates who, on the issuing of the first Order in Council on this subject, were appointed to advise the court of quarter sessions. The first thing they did was to pass stringent regulations with regard to the movement of cattle; but in quarter sessions the whole power of the committee was hardly able to carry the measure, which passed only on an assurance being given that it should remain in force only three weeks, and that then its stringency should be relaxed. Still further relaxations were promised on the 1st of March, as it was represented to the committee that their stringent regulations could not be enforced, and had been and would be still more infringed. He did not dispute what the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) had said as to the system of licensing being impaired by the carelessness of magistrates who would sign anything put before them which had been signed by anybody else; but if educated gentlemen were apt to sign papers too readily, what might be expected of a constable receiving 15s. a week, whom a bribe of 10s. would induce to pass cattle over the land without further protest? If regulations were too stringent, they would be broken in every way, and however careless magistrates might be in attaching their signatures, they would be still more careless in enforcing penalties for breach of regulations which they might consider too severe. The Bill of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire would be canvassed in every homestead in the kingdom, with this inevitable result—that it would be said to be unworkable because too stringent. On the large dairy farms of Berkshire, which were bound by contract to supply all their milk to London and other large markets, when calves were dropped they must be either sold or have their throats cut. A calf was of no great value, and it might be sold for a few shillings, or if it was slaughtered it was made into sausages and there was an end of it. If it lived twelve months it was valuable. If then they killed the calves on the large dairy farms, next year when we looked out for our yearlings, we should find we were without them. If they passed the more stringent measures they would find that they had been burning their candle at both ends —they would slaughter their calves on the one hand, and lose their cattle by the rinderpest on the other, until they had none left. The House was not aware of the difficulties that would have to be encountered by passing so stringent a measure as that of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire. The Bill of the right hon. Baronet, however, contained provisions that might be useful and that would be thankfully received and adopted by the country. Certain Resolutions which had been adopted at a meeting of Members of the House held in a part of that building on Tuesday seemed to him to be hasty and ill-considered. On the first Resolution, relative to the removal of cattle by railway, he would make no remark. On the second, to the effect that the movement of cattle on the highways ought to be prohibited by law, except for short distances, under certain regulations, he would merely say that in his opinion it would be better to allow them to be removed any distance with a licence than short distances without one. The la9t Resolution was that Government ought to have the power to declare certain districts free from infection, and allow cattle to be moved from one place to another by the highways in such districts. This seemed to him a dangerous measure, because if this mysterious and insidious disease broke out in such a proclaimed district, as it might do without any contact being traced, the farmer would naturally be at once desirous to get rid of his beasts, there would be no power to let or hinder him, thus this very district proclaimed to be free might be the very means of disseminating the disease over a county hitherto free. These Resolutions, carried by hon. Members, must have been framed in rather too hasty a manner. Those anxious to carry stringent regulations bad paid more attention to oratorical display at meetings and by deputations than to the sober sense of their constituents; for he believed that if a Bill were carried absolutely preventing any movement of cattle it would be received with consternation throughout the country. That consternation, however, would very soon lead to this reflection—that as it would be impossible to carry out the provisions of the measure consolation must be found in the possibility of breaking them. It was some time before he could understand that when the hon. Member for Birmingham spoke of "humble curs" he was alluding to foxhounds. The hon. Member transgressed the Rules of the House by speaking of what he did not quite understand; and, eloquent as he was, he placed himself in an awkward position by talking of what he did not fully comprehend. The hon. Member said that the farmers wished foxhunting to be stopped. He saw the late Master of the Pytchley Hunt under the Gallery, and he would appeal to him whether it was not the fact that, if the farmers were to declare their wish, the hounds should be at once stopped, and the country gentlemen would at once give way. He was quite satisfied they would not stand out for an instant; but he was not aware that the farmers had ever said a word about it. They were quite aware that the plague might be carried by a fly or by a bird, or in a thousand ways, but foxhounds did not carry it. Foxhounds did not hang about farm houses, and run at will about the country, but were taken to their kennels every night and locked up, and kept under proper regulations. When the hon. Member for Birmingham spoke about the losses by the cattle plague not equalling those from the foot and mouth disease—[Several hon. MEMBERS: The lung disease]—he again Spoke without book. He felt great reluctance to record his vote against and speak in contradiction of Members with whom he hoped frequently to act, but he felt the strongest interest in the matter, and he was encouraged to address the House by the remark of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire that he disclamed all party feeling on the subject. It was not a party question; it was one upon which all were entitled to express their opinions with the view of assisting the Government to carry a measure introduced with patriotic motives. He felt, therefore, bound to support the Government in attempting to carry a measure which he believed would be acceptable to the country, and which was introduced in so conciliatory a manner by the right hon. Gentleman.


Sir, the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham is a specimen of a manufacture with which we are all, unhappily, and through his own agency, too familiar—the manufacture of grievances. The hon. Gentleman has just depicted to us, in the most graphic manner, a crowd of aristocrats, sweeping over the country with their dogs and horses, and spreading infection far and wide among the flocks and homesteads. Nay, so inveterate is his habit of setting one class against another, that he does not confine himself to the human race in these things, but he ventures to include those animals of which he thinks either that they are up to the level of the human race, or that the human race has descended in this respect occasionally to the level of them—I do not know which; but he actually tries to get up a schism, and a fight, for all I can say—between the "humble cur" and the aristocratic foxhound. But let that pass. I wish that was all the hon. Gentleman had done in this department; but he has gone further, and he has discussed the provisions of this Bill with reference to compensation, as if they were a demand on the part of the rich members of this community, and, above all, of Members of this House, that they should be indemnified from losses which this great calamity brings upon them at the expense of their poorer neighbours. Now, Sir, that is, I say, a specimen of "the manner in which grievances are got up. Misrepresent the facts wholly; assume motives and objects that do not exist; take out of the extreme of one class only the persons benefited, and out of the extreme of another only those injured; and you have a receipt for converting the best and wisest institutions of the country into so many intolerable grievances. Do not take that on my authority; what is the fact? Is it proposed in this Bill, or has it ever been proposed by anybody, to compensate losses merely as such? Is it not known to every Gentleman that the object of this Bill is not to compensate for what persons have lost, but for what they have lost by the direct agency of the Government, in taking possession of and destroying their property for the public good, and for the public good alone? Is that a new principle? If it is necessary to destroy houses to fortify a town, or to destroy any other property for a public purpose, there is no civilized Government in the world that does not compensate the person whose property is taken; and why are we to be considered as doing anything wrong and invidious when we apply this principle to the present calamity? Let us go further. It is assumed that the object is to reimburse and to compensate the farmer. That is not, as I understand it, the object. The effect of this Bill may be to indemnify the farmer against part of his losses; but the object is not indemnification; it is a very different one. It is well known to all who have studied this question that the farmer has no inducement to make known the presence of the disease: he will conceal it; he will send his cattle, tainted very probably with the disease, to other places to get rid of them; and thus the disease is diffused. The first condition to dealing efficiently with the disease in any way is that its presence should be known, and the only way of making it known is to give those who are first aware of its existence an interest in disclosing the fact. This is the object of compensation; it is that the farmer should feel that he will be indemnified, to some degree, at the public expense, if he will only do the public a service by making known the existence of the cattle disease so as to enable proper precautions to betaken. The hon. Member complained that this difficulty had not been met by insurance. But the hon. Gentleman has answered himself. He has himself shown that, owing to the absence of agricultural statistics, we have not the means of calculating an average; that it is impossible to ascertain any definite proportion of risk, and without that you cannot have a system of insurance upon commercial principles. Since then it is very requisite and advisable, if there is to be slaughter of cattle, to have some system or other of compensation—that question of compensation divides itself into two parts—retrospective and prospective. I do not intend to go into the first of these points further than to say, that it seems very doubtful now whether the slaughter that has taken place has been done under legal authority. Not that I object to it. It seems to me to have been very properly done by the Government. It was, however, a stretch of authority; and when that is the case, I think there arises a good claim for compensation. But I do not think that compensation ought to be made a part of the burden imposed by this Bill upon the county rates. It seems to me that the Government has ventured to take that step without consulting any of the local authorities whatever. In my opinion, it is out of the funds of the entire country that compensation ought to come. But I will not dwell on this point. I mention it now for the purpose of suggesting to my right hon. Friend that he should withdraw the 18th clause of the Bill and adjourn the consideration of it to another time. As to the question of compensation for the future, I cordially approve the principle contained in the Bill. I come next to the second point in the Government Bill—that is the question of slaughter, and in that respect it seems to me that the Government have taken a wise course. They have made the slaughter of diseased ani- mals compulsory, and the slaughter of animals not known to be diseased optional with the local authorities. That seems to me to be quite right. The hon. Member for Birmingham has spoken of this as an inducement to indiscriminate slaughter. But will there be any such inducement when the persons who give the order know that they will have to pay for every animal that is slaughtered by their authority? A precaution is thus taken against rash action. It appears to me, Sir, that the mode proposed by the Government is a wise way of dealing with the subject. The third part of the Bill is that which deals with the movement of cattle; and I earnestly press upon my right hon. Friend to re-consider this part of his Bill by the light of the resolutions come to yesterday. It was stated at the meeting on behalf of two great railway companies that it was time to prevent the movement of cattle by rail, and that it was impossible to prevent the risk of contagion unless a stop was put to it. I am quite certain from all I have been able to learn that that is one way, and a very common way, by which the infection is propagated. The matter which spreads the contagion, according to the opinions laid before the Cattle Plague Commission, is not supposed to be anything in the nature of a gas, but is propagated by very minute molecules which float in the air. These are capable of being carried by the wind and dropped here and there and picked up again. Well, apply that to the railway. Imagine an animal forced twenty miles an hour through the air, and imagine how much of these small molecules it is necessary should be discharged from the animal's body on the land on either side of the railway'. I do hope, therefore, that the recommendation of yesterday's meeting on this point will meet with the favourable consideration of Government. The other resolution I also submit most earnestly to their consideration. As to the provisions of the Government Bill on this subject, we shall be placed in this position. The local authorities have made regulations varying much from each other, and infinitely troublesome and perplexing. Nobody can pretend to say he understands them all. A man may understand those which apply to his own neighbourhood, but nobody understands any portion except what relates to the place where he happens to reside. These regulations drop on the 1st of March, and if this Bill stands in its present form the local authorities will have to go to work to manufacture a new set of regulations while the Bill is only calculated to last for six weeks. The result will be that this Bill will be like many excellent people in this world—it will die before it is understood. I would entreat, then, the right hon. Gentleman to obviate this difficulty, and the only way to do so is to do what was suggested yesterday on the part of the meeting—to prevent by the Bill the movement of cattle, introducing such exceptions as this House in its wisdom may approve, so that the people may know—what it is the greatest possible benefit to know—the laws by which they are to be governed. I will now offer a few remarks with regard to the Bill itself. It seems to me, on the whole, that this Bill has been framed with very great care, and I think, without doubt, the House will do wisely in reading it a second time, and making it the basis of effective legislation. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) seemed to fear that he could not introduce such changes as he desires. I am not struck in that way. The first 17 clauses, giving definitions and appointing local authorities, may, I think, pass without discussion, for the hon. Member must bear in mind that we must have local authorities of some kind, and therefore the clauses creating those authorities are a necessary part of any Bill on this subject. The 18th clause, which deals with retrospective compensation, I hope the Government may be prevailed on to withdraw. It must be remembered that it is one which it will take a great deal of time to discuss. Clauses 19 and 20 are with regard to infected districts. They are not of any great consequence. But from 20 to 25 are the clauses to which I have alluded, regulating the movement of cattle; and these clauses which give the whole power to the local authorities, I do hope the Government may be prevailed upon to re-consider, and to allow instead of them one simple clause framed on the basis of the two resolutions which were passed yesterday. I hope, also, that they will not give to the local authorities power to open fairs and markets. What happens in the country? I have been informed that in Sussex a new cattle market was opened last week, and in a very short time we may be sure that this example will be followed in other places. We must make the most of the Bill we can; but if we mean to introduce exceptions of this kind we might as well throw the Bill into the fire. There- fore, I hope the Government will re-consider that point, and that they will also re-consider the question of putting a second rate on cattle. It has been forcibly argued that the whole of the charge ought not to be borne by the counties. There is, no doubt, so great an advantage in having the same body to manage the slaughter of animals and the suppression of the disease, and also to pay for those measures, that it seems to me to overbalance any other consideration. But I think the stockowners have suffered, and are likely to suffer, too much to put this burden upon them. We all know that the stockowners are only put in the front of the battle. The frightful loss falls upon them first, but it will visit all in time. I think it would be a miserable and unhappy feeling if we were to insist that, because the first brunt of the evil falls upon them, they should be made liable to another burden from which the rest of the community are free. There is one other subject to which I wish to advert. I hope that no provision will be introduced into this Bill with respect to the slaughter of cattle which would render it impossible to stop that slaughter if such a stoppage should at any moment be found desirable. I am almost ashamed to allude to the possibility of a remedy for the disease after the many disappointments we have already had to encounter; but it would really appear as if Mr. Worms had hit upon something which may turn out a remedy. If some cure should at any time be discovered it would be most absurd and most unfortunate that we should still be compelled to slaughter our cattle in compliance with the Act; and I hope that a power will be reserved of discontinuing its operation in the event of its being no longer found necessary. I have only to say, in conclusion, that the Bill must impose upon every person in this country very great and heavy sacrifices, and in this House we are called upon for the special sacrifice of immolating on the altar of our country our desire to insist on the enforcement of our individual opinions. I think we ought to accept the general conclusions at which the Government have arrived upon this subject—to take all but the very largest principles on their responsibility—and I trust that we shall be able to pass the measure rapidly through Committee.


said, that in the course of the discussion on the Bill many important points had been raised, respecting some of which he was not in a position to form an opinion; and that being the case, he thought it better that he should leave all other topics to Her Majesty's Government, who had the best means of information, and who were responsible for the failure or success of the measures they might introduce. There was one question, however, which it required no agricultural or special knowledge to understand—that of compensation—it was a purely economical question, and upon this part of the Bill alone he thought himself competent to speak. This question had been raised by his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, and as his hon. Friend had been rather severely dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman behind him (Mr. Lowe), he thought that any one who shared the sentiments of his hon. Friend would be acting unworthily if he did not stand forward and avow them. He did not object to the principle of compensation, but he did object, in the highest degree, to the amount proposed in the Bill, and to the manner in which it was proposed to be provided, It was perfectly true, as his right hon. Friend (Mr. Lowe) had pointed out, that the farmers were to receive compensation, not for their losses as such, but for what they lost through the interference of the Government. He (Mr. J. S. Mill) quite agreed that there could not be a more just claim for compensation than this; and, moreover, the grant of it was expedient on account of the inducement it would give not to evade the provisions of the Act. He quite adopted the conclusion of his right hon. Friend, that the farmers who might be the owners of diseased cattle ought not to be placed under the temptation of concealing the fact. But, on the other hand, the more reason there was for granting compensation, the more necessity was there for taking care that the compensation should not be excessive. If, on the one hand, the owner were not to be compensated at all for his loss, there was a strong inducement for him to do, what it was the very object of this Bill to prevent him from doing—namely, to keep the infected animals as long as possible, and thus to be the means of propagating the infection. If, on the other hand, the compensation were excessive, an inducement would exist to be careless as to the spread of the disease; because if his animals on becoming infected were ordered to be slaughtered, he knew that he should get an exaggerated compensation for them. The compensation provided by (he Bill for diseased animals slaughtered was two-thirds of the value, when that sum did not exceed £20. But what were the necessary conditions to render that sum a just compensation? It was that the animal should have two chances out of three of surviving, because if it had a less chance of recovery than this, the owner would be an absolute gainer by the compensation he would receive on its slaughter by authority. The value of an animal in the market was its value in its existing condition; unless, therefore, the marketable value of an animal after infection was two-thirds of its value when healthy, the compensation proposed by the Bill was excessive. Whatever the chances were of the animal's surviving, that would be the measure of compensation which a reasonable person would propose. He came now to another question—in what manner, and at whose expense, the funds for compensation ought to be raised. In order to judge of that, they ought to consider what would be the natural working of economical laws, supposing no compensation were granted at all. If, setting aside merely momentary effects, they took into consideration the ultimate, and indeed speedy, result, there could be no doubt that in whatever proportion the supply of cattle was diminished, in that proportion the price would be enhanced; and, therefore, in the end, the whole burden of the loss would be borne, not by the producer, but the consumer. Farmers and landlords would indeed suffer, but only to the same extent as other members of the community—that is to say, as consumers. As far as it was the whole community which suffered, no class of the community, as a class, had the smallest claim to compensation from the rest. Some, indeed, were less able to bear the loss than others, and it would not have been surprising if a proposal had been made to compensate them; but now, on the contrary, it was proposed to tax them, in order to compensate those who were able to bear the loss much better. It appeared to him that the farmers as a class had no claim whatever to compensation, and the only reason for granting compensation at all was, not that the loss fell peculiarly upon the agricultural interest, but because it fell upon that interest with such extreme inequality. He apprehended that in real justice the compensation ought to be paid to the less fortunate by the more fortunate of the class: thus establishing what would be equivalent to a compulsory system of mutual insurance amongst the owners of stock. This Bill did the very contrary—though he did not blame the Government for introducing it, considering the way is which the House was constituted. It compensated a class for the results of a calamity which was borne by the whole community. In justice, the farmers who had not suffered ought to compensate those who had; but the Bill did what it ought not to have done, and it left undone that which it ought to have done, by not equalizing the incidence of the burden upon that class, inasmuch as, from the operation of the local principle adopted, that portion of the agricultural community who had not suffered at all would not have to pay at all, those who suffered little would have to pay little, while those who suffered most would have to pay a great deal. The only argument of any validity which he could anticipate against the opinion he had expressed, was that a portion of our cattle supply is not derived from home production, but from importation; and, as far as that portion was concerned, the compensation which the consumer would pay through the enhanced price of the commodity would not be received by our own agriculturists, but by the importers. This he must admit; but the importation of cattle, though considerable and increasing, bore so very small a proportion to the entire consumption, that it would diminish the indemnity reaped by the home producers only to a very small extent; and this being the case, it would be unworthy of the landed interest to lay any stress upon so small a matter. An aristocracy should have the feelings of an aristocracy, and inasmuch as they enjoyed the highest honours and advantages, they ought to be willing to bear the first brunt of the inconveniences and evils which fell on the country generally. This was the ideal character of an aristocracy; it was the character with which all privileged classes were accustomed to credit themselves: though he was not aware of any aristocracy in history that had fulfilled those requirements. It might also be said that the farmers would derive no benefit from the ultimate high price, because one of the effects of the cattle plague was by making them bring their cattle prematurely to market, temporarily to keep down the price. This, no doubt, was the case, but after the grant of compensation, it would no longer be so, since the inducement to hurry cattle to market would then no longer exist.


This debate, Sir, has wandered over a wide range. We have indulged in disquisitions on the merits of foxhounds, and we have gone into the question whether the hon. Member for Birmingham can consider himself superior or inferior to the cows which are perishing. I am too polite to question the estimate of his own claims by the hon. Gentleman, and therefore I will turn to the speech of the hon. Member who has last spoken. The hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. J. S. Mill) has read the history of aristocracies, but lie says that he is not aware of any which is conformable to the ideal aristocracy which he has conceived. I would ask the hon. Gentleman whether his idea of an aristocracy involves their paying the debts of the other classes of the community. My impression is that this is rather a pressing emergency, and that we had better devote onrselves to the question of the cattle plague and leave the question of aristocracies to a future time. The hon. Member for Westminster addressed himself to some important practical questions, and particularly to the question of compensation. Now, it appears to me that, with all his undoubted power of reasoning, he rather mistook the object of the Bill of the Government, and indeed of any Bill that might be proposed on the subject. One of his grounds of objection was that the compensation proposed would be an inducement to the farmer to slaughter his cattle. But the farmer is not asked to slaughter his cattle; the power to slaughter is placed in the hands of the local authorities and the inspectors appointed by them; and the local authorities have a direct interest to keep the slaughter at the lowest possible point, because they will have to pay for their dead. Therefore, instead of stimulating the slaughter of cattle by appealing to the cupidity of the farmer, we really restrain the slaughter by appealing to the economy of the local authorities. Again, the hon. Gentleman seemed to look at the question of compensation in what I venture to say is not a thoroughly practical light, lie seemed to treat it as if he were one of a jury appointed to assess compensation in a case of accident. But the point for the House of Commons to consider is whether there is a great public object to be served, whether a great public benefit will be attained, if that compensation be paid. Now, Sir, I confess that it appears to me a narrow view to treat this as a question affecting merely the agricultural interest. I believe if it had been we should not have had so much of it in this House. We have had many questions of the interests of the country before now, which have received the special consideration of Parliament. When the interests of Ireland called for the granting national aid, the House came to their support; and when the cotton interest was in difficulties, we very justly enabled the distressed population to seek relief in great part from the agricultural parishes to which they belonged. No one complained of injustice in those instances; it was felt that great interests were at stake, and that we ought not to look too closely into any relief which we could afford. But I assert that these arguments and considerations do not arise in the present case. It is not a case for the agriculturists, but for the whole country. The hon. Member for Westminster justly said, that if this disease went on at its present or an increase ratio the price of meat would rise; but have you at all measured the height to which it may rise? The other day I was in Belgium, and I there discussed the question with some Members of the Legislative Assembly of that country. They told me, I am happy to say, that hitherto the pressure has not been too severely felt; but they added that the demands from England were becoming so great, and the pressure on their own working classes was becoming so keen, that the idea had been seriously entertained by more than one Continental Government checking, or even of prohibiting altogether the export of cattle. Now, it is well known that, though the Continental Governments may treat the interests of some classes very cavalierly, they look most attentively to the wants of their own working population. If they see anything like famine, and apprehend those disturbances which are there the result of famine, they will not be deterred by any scruple from adopting any measures they may think necessary. If it should come to pass that the enormous slaughter or death of cattle in this country should so tax the resources of Continental nations as materially to raise the price of meat, you may depend upon it that the export of cattle will be checked, and it is then you will find what the cattle plague really means. We were told the other night by the Secretary of State that the working man will have beef; but if there is no beef for him to have, if Continental Governments prevent him from having access to the supplies, I want you to consider how far the interests and the tranquillity of this country may not be compromised by the neglect which you are now invited to approve. It is on the ground that any neglect on your part will assuredly strike the consumer quite as much as it will the producer that I ask you to regard the question of compensation, not as an agricultural, but as a national question. Now, I would like to pass a few remarks on the Government Bill, I quite agree with the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) that we ought not to look too narrowly into details, but apply ourselves to principles; and I am disposed to adopt the view of the hon. Member for North Lincolnshire on the first night of the Session, that there has been sufficient criticizm for the past. I will not therefore go into the consideration of what the Government has or has not done. But I cannot help looking upon this Bill, not as the fruit of the mature deliberation of the whole recess, but rather as a flash of genius—a bright idea—which has swept across the mind of the Home Secretary within the last few days. The period of an inspiration is always difficult to fix, but, if I said Saturday evening last or Monday morning, I do not think I should be far wrong. I am ready to give credit for the best intentions, and for the utmost sincerity, but the Bill bears strong marks of inevitable haste, which is always a defect even in the greatest writers of genius. My objection is one of principle—I indicated it the other night with great accuracy when I referred to the jurisdiction exercised by the local authorities. The right hon. Gentleman has paid what seems to me an ill-timed respect to the jurisdiction of the local authorities. If the Bill merely concerned counties, there would be a great deal to say against it; but, at least, it would be dealing with large geographical districts, and, to a certain extent, it might be defended on the ground that large districts might be left to large local authorities. But in this Bill "local authorities" means the mayor and corporation of a borough or petty town that possesses them, who are to have undisputed jurisdiction over the traffic in their own district, so as to stop it or not as they think fit. Now, I want you to consider how the Bill will work with respect to counties if this jurisdiction is left to petty boroughs. According to the Bill any animals may be sent to the boroughs with a licence from the mayor; and when there they have unlimited power to go out again, unless either the local authority declares the borough an infected district, or unless they cannot obtain from the inspector appointed by the local authorities power to go out. Now, there is not the least probability that the borough authorities will be forward to declare their borough an infected district, and they have no inducement to do so. A large number of their population live on the trade in meat, and much of that trade would be stopped if no ingress or egress were permitted. It is quite true that markets for store cattle are prohibited, and markets for fat cattle in the boroughs which are declared to be infected. But egress and ingress are not prohibited unless the borough is declared to be an infected district. Now, what will be the effect? Take an instance from a county of which I know nothing—the county of Kent. Take Maidstone, Rochester, and Canterbury—they form a triangle, and are connected with each other by a railway; and unless the local authorities declare them infected, it will be competent under this Bill for persons to send cattle from borough to borough along the railways; there will be nothing to prevent them, they will have only to obtain the licence from the local authorities, and as the latter have no interest in stopping them, the licence will be easily obtained. Now, consider the condition of the country districts which lie within that triangle. They are defending a besieged fortress; they are keeping out the rinderpest by every means in their power, and you are giving them a frontier which would tax an empire to defend. Remember, it is not only the rinderpest you have to cope with—that would be bad enough, with its thousand centres of infection, and the lines of railway—but you have to deal with the human friends of the rinderpest; you have to resist what will inevitably arise, a gigantic system of smuggling on the part of abandoned persons, whose object will be to evade and defeat your legislation by every means in their power. Your object is to frame a Bill which will defeat their object. Now, it so happens that it is not the country districts which are defending their cattle that will suffer. The right hon. Gentleman fears he will destroy the supply of meat to the great towns, and thus interfere with the food of large populations. But I do not think he has sufficiently understood the bearing of his Bill on that point, for he has given each local authority the power of stopping the traffic by any railway that passes through the locality. Suppose Huntingdon were declared to be an infected district, the effect would be to tie a tourniquet round the Great Northern Railway; or Reading, for instance, would produce the same effect in reference to the Great Western Railway; and thus, by this superstitious reverence for local authorities, you would destroy the object you have in view. It appears to me that there are two classes, the interests of one or other of which might have been consulted in the Bill now before the House. The Government might have consulted the interests of the producers, by entirely prohibiting the transfer of cattle. They might have consulted the interests of the consumers, by imposing no restrictions on the transfer of cattle—by leaving it as free as it has heretofore been. But neither of these things has been done by the Government Bill—in fact, the effect of the Bill would be to place the utmost difficulty in the way of the cattle reaching the consumer, while it gave every facility for the rinderpest reaching the cattle. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take into his serious consideration the Resolutions adopted at the meeting held yesterday. That meeting was certainly no party demonstration. That meeting was presided over by Earl Spencer; a Resolution was moved by Lord Grey, and strongly supported by Lord Lichfield. It was no party movement—it was a genuine expression of the views of the country gentlemen and farmers on the subject of the cattle plague. I complain, that in the Government Bill far too much regard has been paid to traditional jurisdictions. The right hon. Gentleman does not realize the fact that the infection is a question of geography and not of traditional jurisdiction. In ordinary cases, when dealing with men and their long-rooted feelings and opinions, it is very well to deal gently with traditional jurisdictions; but the rinderpest is not of human origin, and has no respect for long-rooted feelings. In dealing with such an extraordinary event, we should legislate boldly and firmly, entirely regardless of all human prejudices and feelings. When such a calamity as this falls upon our country, we must deal with it as we would with an enemy in the field. It is absurd to expect that we can put a stop to the rinderpest by paying respect to the opinions of every country parish, and balancing the claims of one little village against another. We should deal with the cattle plague as we would if a French marshal landed in this country at the head of 100,000 soldiers. The right hon. Gentleman has already shown great facility of conversion; I hope that he will be still further converted, that he will abandon his first hasty resolves, and that he will make such changes in the Bill as to render the action of the Government in this important matter at once comprehensive, prompt, and uniform.


deprecated any attempt, in the discussion of this question, to cause a feeling of irritation and antagonism to spring up between town and country. When the cotton famine took place in Lancashire, he most strenuously supported the measure then adopted by the House, by which the wants caused by distress felt only in the towns were relieved by funds raised in the country as well as in the town districts. It had been said that the funds raised for the purpose of relieving the distress in Lancashire were beneficial to the poor alone. Now this was not the case, for had the support of the poor fallen on the ordinary poor rates alone, the rich taxpayers would have most severely suffered. Such being the case, he did not see how hon. Gentlemen could complain so strongly of the principle of compensation recommended by the Bill. He agreed that they should not be carried away by reverence for local traditions and authorities, but should confer power only on such authorities as were sufficiently strong to grapple with a great question like this. There was, however, one thing in the Government Bill of which he should complain—namely, the disposition evinced by the Government to respect every petty and narrow interest. They had, for instance, in dealing with the different municipalities of London, excluded the City. The result of this omission was to entirely exclude the City of London from the provisions of the Bill; whilst of all bodies responsible for the propagation of the disease the City authorities were, perhaps, the most responsible. There was no reason whatever that the City of London should be thus excluded, and he hoped the Government would direct their attention to the matter. There was another point to which he also wished to direct the attention the Government. By the Bill which the right hon. Baronet had introduced, it was proposed to give compensation to the owners of all animals slaughtered, where-ever that slaughter may have taken place. Now, in the Bill by which, on a former occasion, compensation had been given to the owners of cattle, it was enacted that the animal for which compensation was paid should have been slaughtered in some place where it had previously been for a certain space of time. Now, he regarded that as an exceedingly wise provision, and trusted that it would be inserted in the present Bill. If it were not, the result would be that animals from the country would be driven in crowds into the metropolitan and other large markets, and there slaughtered, the expense of compensation being thus shifted to the shoulders of the persons living near those markets. With reference to the measure of compensation, which some hon. Gentlemen considered excessive, he did not think the Government open to the observations that had been made. It should be remembered that the proposed sum was to be paid not on the slaughter of an animal but on its burial. The owner would thus lose not alone the carcass of the beast, but also its hide, hoofs, ? and remembering this important fact, he did not consider the amount of remuneration proposed at all excessive. He trusted, however, that the Government would consider the expediency of abandoning the cattle rate.


felt convinced that the remarks of the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Cranbourne) would not prevent Her Majesty's Government from carrying into effect a Bill which, instead of being the result of three or four days' incubation, was the result of long experience and serious deliberation. He did not pretend to be in the secrets of Government, but he could bear testimony to the fact that every practical question relating to this measure had been carefully considered. The principles of the two Bills were these. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) proposed to stop all cattle traffic by road or rail for the next six weeks, with certain exceptions; while the Bill of the Government drew a distinction between the infected and the non-infected districts. Now, he believed that no measures, however stringent they might be, would be sufficient to stop the progress of the plague if they were in force for six weeks only. He had been in communication with many landowners and farmers upon the subject, and he believed that a very large number of practical farmers thought what the Government should do should be to enact something that would work not merely for six weeks, but for many months to come, and should re9t upon a distinction between infected and uninfected districts; that there should be the most stringent measures for the former, whilst in the latter the system should be one which could be carried out by farmers who had to live by their farms. He wished to make one suggestion. He would strongly advise the Government to secure for the proper carrying out of the provisions of the Bill the co-operation of practical men through the country. The Government should also retain in its hands the power of overruling any local authority which should, from some local feeling, such as the influence of some crotchetty individual or from any other reason, shrink from doing its duty. He had lately waited on the Home Secretary with a deputation from the Royal Agricultural Society and pointed out the wants of the West of England. In that part of England they were more anxious about the breeding than the feeding of cattle. Indeed, that observation applied to the whole of Wales and the West of Scotland; it was, therefore, important that they should have well-guarded means of moving cattle to the feeding districts. That deputation was in favour of the scheme proposed by the late Member for Whitby—namely, that no prohibition should be placed in the way of sending cattle to market, but that no animal should leave any market alive. The deputation impressed on the Home Secretary the necessity of making this Order, and the reply of the right hon. Gentleman was, Why don't you do that yourselves? you have full power to do it. Many of the gentlemen present were not up to that period quite aware of the powers which the Order in Council gave to the local authorities. On the day after the interview with the right hon. Gentleman, he (Mr. Acland) returned to his county, and induced a Society representing six counties to put itself in communication with the lords-lieutenant and justices of peace of those counties. They then took certain precautions, the result of which was, that while Cornwall was full of the disease, Devon had almost entirely escaped. A regular cordon was established round the county as a whole, and round all infected parishes; information of the state of the disease was continually being received; and, in short, precautions were taken by the local authorities that it would be absurd to expect from any Government. He therefore thought that while on the one hand Government ought not to entirely give up their control over the local authorities, on the other it would be a most foolish and disastrous course to withdraw all discretion from these authorities.


said, that representing one of the largest agricultural constituencies in the kingdom (East Somerset), he should be sorry to allow the Bill to pass into Committee without saying a few words on the subject. He represented a large cheesemaking county, and were the plague to inflict it, it would perhaps suffer more than any other county in England. It was a county where the most stringent regulations had been carried out. His experience, however, convinced him that Government action was decidedly necessary. However strict were the orders of quarter sessions, they were found to work most inconveniently, as they differed materially from those of the different boroughs in their districts. The very transit of cattle by railways created great confusion; and he had heard farmers say that from the vexation arising from the different regulations on the one side and the other, the remedy was almost worse than the disease. A farmer within his district had been recently summoned before the petty sessions on a charge of having transgressed the orders of the magistrates. For his defence the farmer produced the letter which he (Mr. Grenville) would now read to the House— Sir,—In reference to your letter of the 18th I am directed by Sir G. Grey to inform you that farmers may drive fat cattle to a railway station not situated in their own parish, provided it be the nearest available for the purpose.—I am yours, H. WADDINGION. It thus appeared that the Orders in Council, as expounded by the Secretary of State, differed altogether from those of the magistracy. In the face of such mortifying facts it appeared to him that Government action was highly necessary. He therefore hailed the Bill before the House, not because it contained all that they wished, but because it showed the Government were in earnest in their endeavours to meet the evil, and he sincerely hoped that the result of the operation of the measure would be as beneficial to the country generally as they all desired. The orders of the quarter sessions differed not only from those of the Privy Council, but the construction put upon them by the magistrates and their clerks was most conflicting. In his county there had recently sprung up a feeling that the time had come for, to some extent, modifying the very stringent regulations in force to prevent the spread of the cattle disease. At a recent quarter sessions held in the county, a discussion took place with reference to this subject. But the chairman, Sir William Miles, a gentleman who had for many years sat in the House of Commons, expressed his opinion in favour of maintaining untouched the regulations at present in force, and read memorials supporting his view of the case from the two largest unions in the county. At the same time memorials, urging that the present regulations should be modified, were read from seven unions in the county. Before resuming his seat, he wished to make a remark with reference to the subject of compensation. From the manner in which this subject had been treated by some hon. Members, one would think that the farmers and stockowners when asking for compensation were asking for relief from a misfortune which had fallen upon them in the ordinary course of things. Now that view of the case would be quite correct if the agriculturists asked for compensation for cattle that died of disease. But it was one thing to have an animal die of disease and another to have a Government officer come into a man's shed and nolens volens knock his cow on the head. It was said that farmers asking for relief under such circumstances was similar to a merchant's asking Government for relief if his vessel were shipwrecked. Now, if a man's vessel were shipwrecked it was quite true that he had no right to look for relief to Government, but it would be a very different matter if a Government officer went on board a vessel, scuttled it, and sent it to the bottom. A good deal had also been said about the manner of raising the fund for compensation. Now he objected to the 5s. head money on cattle. There was not, he believed, a union in the county which had not established its own assurance company, the subscribers to which were obliged to pay 5s. a head on their cattle. It would, therefore, be a hard case to increase the liability of those gentlemen to 10s. a head. He trusted that this Bill would be agreed to, and that no measure would be brought forward to encourage the destruction of calves, which would inflict lasting evils upon the country.


On one point the House is unanimous, whatever difference of opinion exists respecting the Bills that have been introduced—that is that whatever is done should be done quickly. There is a general agreement that the Bill of the Government should be read a second time—the Government taking the same course in regard to the Bill of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire—the point of difference between us being one which can be efficiently dealt with in Committee, and on which we shall he glad to have the opinion of the House. Therefore, I shall refrain from making any reply to the criticizm of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire on this Bill, and shall likewise refrain from offering any criticizm on his Bill. The debate, according to the rule of the House, must stop at a quarter before six o'clock; and I hope, therefore, that hon. Gentlemen will allow the two Bills to be read a second time, in order to fix the Committee for tomorrow.


said, that considering the great importance of the Bill, he would suggest that there should be a morning sitting to-morrow.


said, that if at such very short notice the House determined on having a morning sitting to-morrow, many hon. Members might be prevented from attending. Should the Bill not make rapid progress in Committee, he would consider the propriety of having a morning sitting.

Motion agreed to:—Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.

Then the CATTLE PLAGUE BILL [Bill 7] read a second time, and committed for Tomorrow.

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