HC Deb 15 May 1866 vol 183 cc964-5

I rise, Sir, to ask my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether he has received any information of the appearance of the cattle plague in the County of Down; and, if so, whether Her Majesty's Government have determined on adopting the most prompt and stringent measures to isolate and stamp out the disease there; and, whether it is the intention of the Government to institute forthwith an inquiry into the origin of the appearance of the disease in-Ireland?


Sir, in answer to my hon. Friend, I have to say that I am afraid it is too true that there is great reason to believe the cattle plague has at last made its appearance in Ireland. From information which we have derived through telegram it appears that Professor Ferguson—whose services have been employed for many months in investigating suspicious cases in many parts of Ireland—reported in the course of yesterday, by letter to the Irish Government, that there were cases in the county of Down, at a place within about six miles of Belfast, which, in his opinion, were cases of cattle plague. It is supposed that the disease was brought over to Ireland by an English dealer who went there to purchase young stock. The most prompt measures were taken in the course of yesterday. The full powers of the Act lately passed were brought into force. A boundary was marked out, within which the infected district was enclosed; and the lands so cut off are closely watched by the police to prevent egress or ingress. The infected cattle were at once slaughtered and buried. Within the last half hour I, in the absence from London of my noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, sent over a telegram on the subject; and measures are being taken by the Privy Council to prevent the holding of all the fairs and markets which were about to have been held within some miles of the place where the disease has appeared. Everything, therefore, has been done which the law allowed us to do; so that I hope the disease may be stamped out in the locality where it has made its appearance.


I wish to ask my right hon. Friend, whether the Government are about forthwith to direct an inquiry by persons, in whom the public will have confidence, into the cause of the introduction of the disease?


Will the Irish Government take precautions as regards the export of cattle from Ireland?


I have no doubt that we shall have very soon a detailed account from Professor Ferguson, who is very competent to report on the subject. As I have mentioned he was sent down to examine the cases, and it is probable that he must know more about the matter than anyone else; but should anything else be wanted to clear up the origin of the disease in Ireland, means shall be taken to procure additional information without delay. I am not prepared to answer the question of the hon Member for Beaumaris (Mr. Owen Stanley) at present.


Am I right in understanding the Chief Secretary for Ireland that the whole of the cattle on the farms where the disease broke out have been killed? If not, will the Government give any instructions on the subject?


I depend entirely on telegrams for my information, which state that all the infected cattle have been killed.