§ Order for Committee read.
§ SIR ANDREW AGNEW
asked whether it was competent for his right hon. Friend (Mr. Milner Gibson) to move at this stage the Amendment of which he had given Notice, and which, if carried, would have the effect of defeating the measure?
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
* Sir, The first witness who was produced in opposition to the Bill asserted a proposition in which all will readily agree. He said—" I think the Cattle Plague has taught us a lesson by which we ought to profit." The fruit of that lesson is the Bill now before the House. Yet I cannot entirely claim for Her Majesty's Government the origination of the present Bill. It has sprung rather from the House itself; I may even say, from a Member of the Opposition. The House last year determined that parts of ports should be defined for the reception and slaughter of foreign animals; and a Member of the Opposition desired to insert a clause to make it compulsory on the Government to effect this purpose, and on the market authority in each town to provide land for a separate foreign market. But as it had not been ascertained what towns would desire to import foreign cattle on those terms, and as the circumstances and localities of those towns were not known, the House determined merely to give the Privy Council the necessary powers, on the understanding that they should be exercised without delay. That policy has, after considerable labour, and the examination of the several 104 localities, been carried out in all the ports which desired it. In the metropolis, however, greater and quite unexpected difficulties presented themselves. After making various attempts and labouring for more than two months, we had to relinquish the task and come to Parliament for additional powers. Thus arose the necessity for the present Bill. The object, therefore, of the Government was merely to carry out the policy which had been originated by the Opposition and accepted by the House. The real question at issue is, whether the annual loss, which is due to a sense of the risk of a re-introduction of the cattle plague, together with the present value of the loss which would ensue if the cattle plague was re-introduced, exceeds the annual injury to trade from those restrictions which may be necessary for security? If that question is answered in the affirmative, then there arises a further issue—namely, by what means can we attain the maximum of security with the minimum of injury? In each case, the House will observe, the question which has to be decided is merely a balance of advantages. The decrease of importation has to be measured against the risk of loss, and the actual losses to our home stock. The trade in foreign cattle has to be put into one scale of the balance, the production of home cattle in the other. Let the House first turn their attention to the one scale and then to the other. What is this trade? What foreign cattle are imported? There is no trade in foreign store stock. Lean cattle never have, to any extent, been brought from abroad. Thus Mr. Rudkin, the Chairman of the Markets Committee, asserted that "there were never many store cattle" in the metropolitan market; "a few sterks and half-lean things did come from time to time, but very few comparatively." Why is this? Because foreign animals are not fit for store stock. Mr. Kilby, in his evidence, said that farmers all agree that foreign animals are "constitutionally unfit." Mr. Dickson asserted that "they never make much of animals," and that "the country is far better without them." Mr. Symonds testified that they are "practically useless for grazing purposes." While Archer, a witness against the Bill, said that we do not require 'any foreign cattle as store stock," and that "none should be used for grazing purposes." Professor Strange ways expressed himself strongly as "against the importation of foreign store cattle entirely." The 105 foreign trade, therefore, is wholly confined to fat cattle which are destined for immediate slaughter. And the question is narrowed to this—what is to be done with foreign cattle during the short period intervening between their importation and their death? As the foreign fat cattle have to be weighed against English stock, let the House consider the relative characters and values of the two. It seems to have been admitted by the witnesses on both sides, that foreign cattle are cheaper and worse than English cattle. Thus Archer, a witness against the Bill, testified that "foreign meat is, without exception, cheaper than English; and that the price depends entirely upon the quality." As all concurred in that testimony, it is useless to enlarge upon it. The destination, moreover, of the foreign fat cattle is different from the ultimate destination of English cattle. The foreign meat falls into the hands of the large wholesale traders (that is, carcase butchers, shipping agents, and army and navy contractors); while some of it is eaten by the poorest classes of large towns. This fact also was generally admitted. Thus Mr. Symonds told the Committee that "it is a different class of butcher who kills the foreign cattle" namely, the "carcase butcher." Mr. Lintott, a Brighton butcher, corroborated this evidence. Mr. Rudkin, the Chairman of the Markets Committee, was asked—What percentage of home cattle is killed by carcase butchers?—Very small. How much of the foreign supply?—A large proportion.Mr. Woodley, a large carcase butcher, and a member of the Common Council of the City, said that—Foreign meat goes chiefly into the hands of wholesale traders, while the coarse parts go to the low thickly populated districts.Hence, in conformity with the evidence of Thomas Harrison, it may be taken that at least three-fourths of the supply of foreign cattle go back to the neighbourhood of the place where they were landed. Why, it may be asked, are foreign cattle so much cheaper and so much worse than English cattle? Something depends upon the breed. This is inferior; for the foreign witnesses, who appeared against the Bill, averred that just before the breaking out of the cattle plague they had begun to import English bulls into foreign countries, with the intention of raising somewhat the quality of foreign cattle. Since the cattle plague, however, they have ceased to import, and they are not likely to import any 106 more bulls for many years to come. But even if the breeds were equal to the English, yet the cattle must always be inferior, for they are all grass-fed. If they fed their cattle abroad as highly as we do in England, then it would be impossible for them to pay the freight to this country, and yet compete in our markets. It is true that now and then some few good beasts have come over to England, and have fetched exceptionally high prices. One of the witnesses, a German, of the name of Prenzlow, said that a few that he brought over sold for £27 a head; he was asked how he obtained such an unusually high price for foreign beasts, and he stated that the reason was that they were so good that "the retail butchers could make use of them." Such cattle are smuggled by night into the West End by the retail butchers, who are willing to give this high price, because it is, nevertheless, lower than the price of home cattle. But they smuggle them in clandestinely by night, because they would lose their custom if it were known that they kill foreign beasts. This rests on the evidence of many witnesses, as Blackman, Brewster, and Rudkin. While Gebhart, a German witness, who had been brought over in opposition to the Bill, said that—Only the very best foreign beasts go to the West End butchers, and they are smuggled in by night, so as not to be seen; but all the others go to the poorer classes.It may be concluded, therefore, that the foreign trade is a trade in a very inferior article; and also that it is a trade in an article which is used for a totally different purpose; so that there can be no clashing between the English and foreign cattle trade. The case with us lately has been this—Pharaoh's seven lean kine have come up from across the water and have eaten up our seven fat kine in England.
The next point to be considered is the injury to this foreign trade by any restrictions which may be necessary for security. It may be stated generally, that importation depends on the relative prices in this and in the foreign country. Many of the witnesses against the Bill wanted to make out that the price of cattle here depends on the importation from abroad. That is putting the cart before the horse. How is it that importation takes place? A man sits down and calculates what the price of cattle abroad, together with the freight to this country, would come to; and if, on comparing this sum with the price of cattle 107 here, he finds that it leaves a large margin to cover risks and profits, then he buys the cattle abroad and imports them. The price of meat must therefore be high in this country, and low in that; or else importation will not take place. But meat is now very dear abroad. The prices in Paris and Brussels are as high as here, while the freight to them is less. This was testified by Mr. Scott, by Brewster, and others. The cause is obvious. Manufactures have sprung up, large populations have gathered round them, wages have risen, and the meat-consuming power having increased, causes a greater demand for cattle in those countries. The foreign cattle trade has thus, as Hönck, a witness against the Bill, testified, a natural tendency of itself to flow into other channels. The Trade and Navigation Returns for the four months ending April 30, show how considerable has been the falling off in the importation of foreign cattle. During the first four months of 1866 there were imported into this country 42,301 head of foreign cattle, the value being £487,083. In 1867 there was a slight increase, the number being 43,125, the value being £678,160; while in 1868, during the same period, the number fell to 18,496, the value being £225,048; showing that the foreign trade in animals was passing of; itself into other channels. Belgium consumes all her own produce; for she imports as many cattle as she exports. Thus, for instance, the importations into Belgium in the first three months of 1868 were 16,219 head of cattle, while the exports were 16,265. We cannot look, therefore, to a supply from Belgium. France also, according to the evidence of the witnesses against the Bill, consumes all that she produces. Her exports and her imports during the year are very small and nearly balance each other. While meat has become dearer abroad it has become cheaper at home. This is no doubt partly due to the slackness of trade in this country; for badness of trade and the consequent distress among the working classes cause a fall in the consumption of foreign meat. The foreign trade is lessened in proportion as the consuming power of the working classes is diminished; while a rise in wages causes the working classes to eat more meat and attracts the foreign supply. This was remarked by two of the wit nesses, Archer and Brewster. I will now quit this subject for the present, as I will afterwards show more fully that the restric- 108 tions which are necessary for security will not affect the foreign trade; or, according to the opinion of M. Bouley, it will have no great effect on importation if we were to enact that all foreign cattle should be slaughtered at the port of landing. We have now put the foreign cattle into one scale. Let the House now turn its attention to the other scale; namely, to the loss which will ensue if the cattle plague, or the other foreign epidemics, are re-introduced. Three epidemics have, at various times since 1842, been imported from abroad—foot-and-mouth disease, pleuro-pneumonia, and cattle plague. The losses from these diseases have been very great. Take first the lowest estimate of all. The estimates of Professors Simonds and Brown, of the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council, give the probable number of cattle lost from July, 1842, to December, 1867, from contagious diseases, other than cattle plague, as 1,275,000, and from cattle plague 300,000, making a total of 1,575,000 head of cattle which have died from imported diseases. The total importation into the United Kingdom during that period was 2,590,296. When it is remembered that the losses are losses of prime English cattle, while the importations are importations of foreign cattle, it will be conceded that even this low estimate is very serious indeed. Take now the Report to the Veterinary Department in 1862. The average annual importation of cattle into the United Kingdom during the six years ending in 1860 was 92,172. The average annual loss from imported diseases during that time was 375,850. So that while our loss from imported diseases, up to 1842, was only 1½ to 2½ per cent of the stock of the United Kingdom, the annual loss was nearly 5 per cent. The actual number imported during those six years was 553,043 head; the total loss from diseases other than cattle plague during those six years was 2,255,100 head; or four times the number imported. The value of the cattle imported during those six years was £4,424,264. The value of those lost was £25,933,650, or nearly six times the value of the importations. This was before the cattle plague had been imported. The losses from the cattle plague, amounted in the two years to 290,527 head of cattle. Yet the total number of cattle imported from the year 1842 to 1867 into the United Kingdom was 2,590,296; so that during two years we lost more than one-eighth of 109 the total importations from 1842 to 1867. "New lamps for old" was the cry in 1842; "New lamps for old;" and we exchanged the good old lamp which had been the source of our wealth and power for anew lacquered lantern, merely because it was brought to us by a stranger. This, however, is not the entire loss, because to it must be added the expense which was incurred during the cattle plague years, in providing security against greater losses. The sum taken in the present year for the Veterinary Department was £7,743; the sum voted from the Civil Contingencies Fund amounted to £111,518 18s. 4d., while the sum voted in Class 7 last-year was £16,155, giving a total of £135,417 17s. 10d. These are the losses which the country has sustained by the importation of an epidemic among the cattle. This, however, is not all; for I have spoken only of the losses which have been actually incurred. But the risk is every year increasing. As Professor Spooner stated, we are every year going for our supplies further and further into countries where the cattle plague is indigenous. The learned Professor warned the Committee upstairs—and Harrison and Archer joined in the warning—that as we extend our trade we increase the chances of infection. Besides the actual losses which occur only when disease has been introduced, there are the annual losses which are consequent on the sense of risk, and the fear lest it may be introduced. I will blink-the amount of insurance, although that also may, perhaps, fairly be taken into account. I allude more to the fact that the breeding and rearing of cattle has been greatly deterred by the sense of risk. Mr. Clayden said that it was a fact decidedly within his knowledge that the rearing and breeding of cattle has been stopped by the imported epidemics; and that he entertained a decided apprehension that, if precautions were not taken, this injury would continue. This evidence was corroborated by Mr. Duckham. With regard to Scotland, Mr. Dickson testified that a great many there had left off breeding bullocks and taken to the rearing of sheep. When he was asked why this was so, he answered "Because they were afraid." Mr. Syme also told the Committee that sheep had thus replaced cattle to a very considerable extent. Mr. Brewster, one of the witnesses against the Bill, admitted that this was the case in England also. So did Mr. George Eve; while Mr. Symonds gave it as his opinion 110 that the breeding of cattle will be decidedly diminished if things are allowed to remain as they are. It is clear, therefore, that not only a periodical loss in cattle ensues, but an annual loss in the staple of the cattle trade of the country is produced. The first issue placed before the House must therefore be answered in the affirmative; that the annual loss occasioned by the sense of risk, added to the present value of the losses which may be caused by the re-importation of the cattle plague, far outweigh any injury which may be incurred by the trade of the country in taking measures for security. Indeed the point is one which has already been determined by the House; for what else do the present metropolitan regulations mean, if it be not that restrictions on trade are less injurious to the country than cattle plague? Why did Parliament pass the Acts on which those regulations depend, if the country had not come to the same conclusion? Why did the House last year direct the Privy Council to define a part in every port for the reception and slaughter of foreign cattle, if the House had not then already made up its mind on the question? Parliament and the country have already decided that the question of injury to the foreign trade is eclipsed by the losses to English cattle. As we examine the question, the former fades into dim distance, while the desire for security steps into the foreground and assumes gigantic proportions. Mr. Gebhart, the strongest of the witnesses against the Bill, willingly admitted this principle, for he said—If I myself were convinced that a foreign maket would be the only means of protecting this country from the cattle plague, I should say by all means have the foreign market, because any sacrifice would be better than to introduce the cattle-plague again into England; but I believe that is not the proper way.He thought that the cattle plague should be excluded, and that the herds of England should be preserved in security. He concurred in this common object, He answered the first issue in the Affirmative But at this point he diverged from us: he said that a separate foreign market is not the best way of effecting this object. This leads me therefore to the second issue; by what means we can obtain the maximum of security with the minimum of injury. How do we now seek to attain it? What are the present metropolitan regulations with that aim? What is the system now in force? The cattle come from two or three ports, and arrive on Saturday. They are crowded together in a small space on the 111 wharves, and have to wait twelve hours, or generally speaking twenty-four hours, for inspection. Some of them are unhealthy, being affected with foot-and-mouth or some other disease, and are mercilessly slaughtered at the waterside. There are no slaughterhouses, no slaughtermen, no market, no buyers for them, and they are disposed of for a paltry sum of money on the spot. The importers, one and all, complained that this occasions a great loss. What happens to the healthy cattle? A certificate has to be obtained from the Inspector, which is subsequently exchanged for a licence from the Commissioner of Police, to enable the owners to take them to the metropolitan market. Thither they can be transported by railway alone. There the licence is exchanged for market passes. The cattle are then driven through the streets to the slaughterhouses, and must be killed in six days. The market passes must be taken by the butcher to the police station weekly and delivered up to the police. Three-quarters of the cattle are thus driven back to the vicinity of the place of landing. No cattle which have entered the metropolitan area can leave it again alive. They must be killed within the stated time. Nor may cows be moved within the metropolitan area without a licence, for a greater distance than 500 yards. Such is the system now in vogue to secure English cattle from disease. To estimate the inconvenience, it must be borne in mind that the metropolitan market was once, before the introduction of the cattle plague, the great central cattle market of the whole country. Cattle from the whole kingdom came to London to be bought. Cattle and customers, beasts and buyers, came from all parts. Buyers came from Southampton and other towns to the south and west of London to the metropolitan markets to buy the Irish and Scotch and English cattle which were to be found there, and to take them into the country for slaughter. That such was the case was shown by the evidence of Mr. Rudkin, Mr. Birt, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Symonds, Mr. Walsh, and several other witnesses. Thus it was that, as the Cattle Plague Commissioners reported, and as the witnesses before the Committee; attested, two-thirds of the cattle which came into the metropolitan market over-flowed into the country, having been purchased by the country butchers. On this ground it was that Mr. Walsh complained of the metropolitan regulations; because he used, before the imposition of those re- 112 strictions, to send great numbers of Irish cattle, which were then bought up for the country markets. It was on all sides admitted in general terms that these restrictions are exceedingly cumbrous, onerous, injurious, and quite insupportable. I will mention specifically the injuries which are caused, and the classes of persons who are injured. In the first place, the cattle are driven through the streets to the great inconvenience of the inhabitants. On that point I will read the evidence of Mr. Rudkin, the chairman of the Markets Committee of the Corporation of the City. He said—I think it is very necessary that something should be done to prevent the driving of cattle through the streets; I think it is necessary to get rid of many slaughterhouses which I know to be great nuisances, &c.Again, another witness against the Bill, Mr. Guerrier, said—I say that driving cattle in the heart of the City of London must necessarily, to any unbiassed mind, be a nuisance; no person who means to give a straight-forward answer can deny that.The same witness mentioned that the Thames Haven Company had been got up in order to abolish the nuisance of driving cattle through the streets. He said that there had been numerous complaints of the inhabitants, and reiterated petitions to the Customs, which were so injurious to the trade, that importers formed themselves into a company with the intention of landing and slaughtering cattle at Thames Haven. Such is the state of things under the existing system; but under the operation of the Bill it would be remedied. There is at Islington a market for English cattle, which is close to the Great Northern, London and North Western, and other stations, the points of arrival of English cattle; while the foreign market will be at the point of arrival of foreign cattle at the waterside. I have mentioned that no cattle which enter the metropolitan area are ever allowed to leave it again, but must be killed within six days after the market day. This amounts to a forced sale. The farmer, the grazier, or the salesman who brings them to town is compelled to sell them to the butcher. This forced sale is a great injury to various interests. The farmers complain at not being permitted to remove their beasts from the market and take them home again, if they do not receive for them that which they consider to be the full value. On no other trade is this compulsion placed. "It is nought, it is nought," says the buyer, in every 113 case. But in no other case does the State step in and say to the seller, "You must sell your beasts for nought." Again it is an injury to prevent milch cows from going into the country to be bulled, and to prevent the 2,000 calves which are born annually in London from going out to be reared on the grass lands of Essex. Again, the railways suffer, because all railways abut within the metropolitan area, and hence the transit of cattle through London is stopped by these regulations, and those cattle which would come if the transit were free, are not now sent by the Scotch and Irish owners. The same may be said with regard to many English cattle. Thus Mr. Archibald Scott, the traffic manager of the South Western Railway, stated that from this cause the cattle which should go to London, now go to the local markets. For instance, the cattle which are intended for Brighton no longer come north to the metropolitan market, but are driven to the market at Chichester. The railways are injured in this also: the country butchers can no longer come to London to buy their beasts and remove them to the country. Mr. Barford, the veterinary of Southampton, said that if these restrictions were removed the butchers of Southampton would come to London to purchase. The present system is also an injury to the metropolitan market. The Chairman of the Markets Committee, Mr. Rudkin, stated that the restrictions led to the following diminutions in the number of cattle at the market. During the years 1857–8–9 and 1860, the annual average of cattle in the market was 309,000 head. During the years 1861–2.3 and 1864 it was 343,000 head. But in 1867 it was only 287,000 head. This he said was due to the restriction which prevented country butchers from removing beasts out of the metropolitan area. This restriction, he testified, is now causing a diminution of 1,000 beasts a week in the metropolitan market. This evidence was corrobated by Mr. Symonds, who said that the amount in the market "will go on decreasing." Country butchers and country populations are also injured by the system now in force. They have to scour adjacent districts in order to obtain the supply they require. It was said by some of the witnesses that country butchers might buy in country markets. But as the farmer is never sure of finding a demand in any country market, so the butcher: is never sure of finding a supply. The Leicestershire farmer will not venture to 114 send his beasts to Reading market, for instance; and the butcher from Hastings, Dover, or Maidstone will not go to Reading for the chance of buying. Mr. Lintott, a butcher from Brighton, said that he has to travel from farm to farm in Leicestershire to buy his beasts; and what with the expenses, and what with the muddling of his beasts in travelling, his beasts cost £2 a head more when they get to Brighton. Thus meat is there raised 1½d. to 2d. per pound, and frequently they have an insufficient supply. Mr. Dickson stated that the country butchers cannot obtain what they require for their customers, except at greatly increased expense. This evidence was also corroborated by Hönck, by Eve, and by Harrison; while Mr. Rudkin alleged that the country butchers cannot supply their customers as cheaply; and that they would be able to suit themselves far better from the large supply of the London market. It has been said that a large central market might be made outside the metropolitan area. But that could not take the place of the London market; for beasts come at different seasons from different parts of the country—at one time from Scotland or Norfolk, at another time from the midland counties. The difficulty of transit, moreover, could not be overcome. Romford, in Essex, has been suggested as the place for the central market; but how could beasts get from Romford to Brighton, Hastings, or Dover, without going into the metropolitan area? Every railway goes to London; not every railway goes to Romford. Even if transit were possible, yet the increased freight would make it unavailable. For there is no competition between railways at any other point than the metropolis. The same objection prevents cattle from being taken by railway round the metropolitan area. It costs 10s. to 15s. a head more to stop at Harrow than to take your beasts from the North on to London. Why is this? Because there is a monopoly of railway communication with Harrow. From Aberdeen to Brighton, shunting at Harrow is, I believe, nearly double the freight from Aberdeen to Brighton through London. So also the Great Eastern Railway charges from Norwich to Cambridge twice as much as they charge for twice the distance—from Norwich to London. That is, wherever they have a monopoly their charges are 400 per cent higher. These restrictions are an injury to the consumers of the metropolis, in establishing a 115 monopoly for the butchers; and the result has been that, while the price of meat has been exceedingly high in London, the price of cattle given by the London butchers to the fanners and salesmen has been exceedingly low. The effect of the forced sale is, that butchers, knowing that an animal exposed in the Monday's market must be killed before the next Monday's market, and that it cannot be exhibited for sale in any other market, hold back from buying until the price has been considerably reduced. Having obtained him cheap, they kill and sell him dear. As this is an important matter, I will, with the leave of the House, read some of the evidence on this point—CLAYDEN.—540. Then the butcher can give as low a price as he likes by waiting, as the cattle Cannot leave London again?—We are left entirely at his mercy in every way.LINTOTT.—2907. Without speaking unfairly of your friends in the metropolitan market, do you think the present state of things gives any advantage to the London butchers as regards price?—It is a decided advantage to the London butchers, because if we were allowed to go to buy beasts there and bring them away, the price at times would not be so low as now. In bad weather in the autumn, when the supply is greater than the demand, we have to buy at a higher price, and have to compete with butchers who buy at a lower price.2962. You say that the existing state of things lessens competition within the metropolitan area to the butchers?—Yes.SYMONDS.—2840. Do you think at present the London butchers have a complete monopoly of the market as against you?—Yes.2841. You think that this Bill would have the effect of breaking down that monopoly as against country butchers?—Yes.2800. Will you give the Committee any reason for that?—Because the London butcher is in a position to dictate terms to the people who send cattle to that market.STEADWELL.—3038. Do you consider, as regards buying cattle, the London butcher has an advantage which you do not possess yourself?—Quite so.3069. Therefore, the London butcher enjoys a monopoly over you?—Yes.3071. The effect of this Bill would be to do away with that monopoly?—Yes.CLAYDEN.—276. For two or three years the butchers in London have enjoyed the monopoly of all the cattle that have come there?—Yes; most decidedly.277. What has been the result to the consumers of beef in London?—That the price of meat has been exceedingly high. ‥ Though the prices are quoted high, there are many beasts sold at an exceedingly low price.SYMONDS.—2858. Has the effect of the restrictions been to seriously reduce the price of meat to the consumer in the metropolis, do you consider?—I think not at all; at the present moment the London butcher is charging more, in the whole, than the country butcher, notwithstanding 116 his advantages. The restrictions have in a measure diminished the profits of the grazier, and not benefited the consumer, consequently the; butchers are the persons who get the profit, and, consequently, they are very desirous of keeping things as they are,Sir James Elphinstone, formerly a Member of this House, and a very large breeder in Scotland, stated that he obtains £2 a head less for his cattle, although his butchers' bills in London are much higher than formerly. It is well known that, in consequence of the high price of meat in London, many persons obtain their supply from Tiverton and other country places. I was two days ago informed by a Member of this House, that he received all his meat from as far as Aberdeenshire, preferring to do so rather than pay the prices of the London butchers. Such facts as these, Mr. Woodley, a wholesale butcher, explained by saying that "the country butchers run their profits finer," than the London butchers. This is how it takes place. There are, as some of the witnesses explained, over-stocked weeks and scarce weeks. In a scarce week prices rise, and the butcher of course sells his meat dearer. Then comes a week of over-supply. The cattle which have to be killed within six days are more than the inhabitants of London can consume. But the 'butcher does not sell cheaper. The wholesale man, and the shipping agents, and army contractors, lay in, for a small sum, that surplus which used to overflow into the country. That being the variable and inconstant nature of the London market, Mr. Dickson, a large salesman and most competent witness on that point, said: "You never know how many beasts to send to market." Cullen gave similar testimony. Mr. Syme, a Scotchman, asserted that it is a great pecuniary risk to send cattle to the London market. While Mr. Lintott; testified that this forced sale causes Scotchmen to receive for their cattle £2 less than their value; corroborating, by this evidence, the reiterated statement of Sir James Elphinstone. Mr. Dickson gave it as his opinion, on the other hand, that if these restrictions were removed, if an extended market were thus provided, from which cattle could be taken to the country, prices would be equalized and rendered steady throughout the kingdom. There would then be found in the metropolitan market a larger supply of cattle, and more buyers from an extended area. For buyers from a distance would be sure of a supply to meet the wants of their customers; and 117 producers would be certain of a demand which would adequately remunerate them for their produce. The surplus would, as 'Mr. Symonds said, always overflow into the country, and "trade would be relieved." That will be the effect of this Bill. It will produce a freedom of market; a competition of buyers; and therefore a great reduction in the profits of butchers. Although the farmer will receive more, yet the consumer will pay less. That is the reason of the violent opposition to the Bill. That accounts for the resistance of the retail butchers. "Great is Diana of the Ephesians! "they cry;" Great is Diana of the Ephesians and that windfall from heaven—the cattle plague! "There is also an injury to the English trade from the present system; Mr. Rudkin fully allowed this; for he said that, to prevent the country butcher from removing the beasts which he buys, and to prohibit the English farmer from having a more extended market, "is certainly a protective view." English farmers will not send their beasts, "lest the market should be overdone," and "therefore the London market is not, in any sense of the word, a free market." The Aberdeenshire farmers complain that trade is so far from being free, that the regulations, as they find to their cost, amount to a tax of £2 per head of cattle. Mr. Dickson gave the Committee his experience; whereas he used annually to bring 7,000 head of cattle from Scotland, he now brings only 4,000 head a year; for, he said, the butchers from the South and West used to buy half his cattle for their customers. The same remarks apply to Ireland. Here is evidence on that point—WALSH.—3218. Less have come since those restrictions?—Yes.3203. Before those restrictions more cattle used to come to London than have come since.3204. Before the restrictions which were put upon the metropolitan market?—Yes.3288. Have you any reason to believe that if these restrictions are continued the supply of stock sent to London will continue to diminish?—I think-it will from Ireland.ROBINSON.—1534. That system of restriction prevents us bringing Irish cattle to the London market, because they are obliged to be slaughtered in London now within the district.1535. Then anything that puts an impediment which, according to your account, there exists at present on importation from Ireland, is a hardship upon Ireland, and a hardship to the consumer here?—Yes.WALSH.—3352. How has the price of the Irish cattle been affected by these restrictions; is it higher than it was before the cattle plague 118 broke out?—It was affected by the restrictions at first.3353. Was it higher '—Lower.3354. You know there has been a great increase in the price of butchers' meat?—Yes.3355. The difference must have gone into the hands of one of these middle men?—The butchers; they have made a very good trade of it these last few years.3215. Do you think in giving this opinion of yours, that you represent theirs also?—I do, of the most respectable part of the trade, and of the grazing trade, I think, entirely in Ireland.3216. Do you believe it perfectly certain that the grazing trade are entirely in favour of this Bill?—I do.Mr. VERNON HARCOURT.—That may be taken for granted.These restrictions are injurious, not only to the English trade, but to the foreign trade also. Mr. Robinson, a gentleman who imports very large numbers of foreign cattle, stated that the foreign trade is now suffering from restrictions more onerous than any which would be necessary under a separate foreign market system. In answer to a question, he asserted more particularly that the possibility of a prohibition of importation was the worst restriction that could be placed upon the trade; because it stopped production on the other side of the Channel. The rule of detention for inspection, although most necessary for security, is also injurious to the foreign trade. For foreign cattle thus often lose the market, and have to stand over, waiting for another market. The killing in six days is also in this case an injury, for butchers hold back from buying, until the price is forced down; and the foreign importer receives less for his goods, and importation is discouraged. There has been a considerable decrease in the number of foreign cattle in the London market of late years. Thus, in the week ending March 24, 1868, the number of foreign cattle in the London market was 3,851; in the corresponding week in 1867 the number was 7,431; in the corresponding week in 1866 the number was 10,681; and in the corresponding week in 1865 the number was 8,000. Another injury by the present system is its great expense to the ratepayers of the metropolis. What are the means employed to prevent cattle leaving the metropolitan district? There are 142 policemen employed to watch the principal roads, at an expense of £11,691 6s. 8d. per annum; twenty-eight more are stationed at the different railway stations, besides sergeants, superintendents, and other officers, who are all paid out of the police rates of the metropolis, at a total 119 expense to the ratepayers of the metropolis of perhaps as much as £16,000 per annum. The Bill before the House would thus at once reduce the rates in the metropolis. I have now shown that the present system for giving security to English herds is needlessly injurious, not only to the foreign trade, but also to many other interests and classes of persons. Besides being injurious the system does also not attain security. It fails to give the maximum of security with the minimum of injury. As we extend the range of our imports the chance of re-importing the Cattle Plague increases. Yet these cattle, from the furthest limits of our imports—these cattle from the countries where cattle plague is indigenous, and carelessness traditional, arrive in the market and may infect everything there, and are then driven along the metropolitan streets and roads, past the dairies of the metropolis, the cows of which thrust their noses out and smell these cattle as they pass; so that Mr. Priestman, an eminent veterinary, and an inspector in London, who was called as a. witness against the Bill, exclaimed, "So that I am really in dread every day of a fresh outbreak of cattle plague." Moreover, the inspection of these foreign cattle is most insufficient. They are herded together in great crowds near the waterside, and then they are hurriedly and therefore imperfectly inspected. This inspection is necessarily hurried; otherwise very many cattle would be detained too late for the market. Besides, as the plague is incubating for twenty-one days, during which time not even a veterinary can detect it, and as the journey from infected districts is performed in six days, all men of science are agreed that inspection is so uncertain as to be no security at all. And if the disease happens at any time to be introduced, it will be sure to spread rapidly; and all our efforts will be powerless to arrest it. For, as Mr. Rudkin testified, the cowkeepers of London are sure to send to the market any cow which they perceive to be in the least ailing. The manure also of infected beasts, if there be any in London, is taken out to the country and spread upon the land miles away, carrying the infection with it. Moreover, sheep mix in the metropolitan market with foreign, perhaps infected cattle, and are then allowed to travel out of the metropolitan area and all over the country. Mr. Rudkin recognizes this as a serious defect in the metropolitan re- 120 gulations. Professor Spooner, Dr. Nicholls, and Professor James, all of them scientific witnesses, testify a similar opinion. Again, Dr. Priestman asserts that infection can be carried by wool, whether woven or raw. Men's clothes can be a vehicle for infection. Yet 200 or 300 drovers and salesmen bring English cattle to the metropolitan market on Monday morning, and pass among the foreign cattle, pinching them and feeling them, and on Monday evening they are again in their masters' yards in the country, watering and feeding their masters' cattle; these men pass from the infected market to the country without disinfecting themselves or changing their clothes. Mr. Gebhart justly gave it as his opinion, on this ground, that our regulations are of no avail. Again, calves are smuggled out of the metropolitan area, and from the London dairies to a great extent. Nay, even oxen themselves are carried out of London by railway every week. As the regulations are so strict on this point this statement may be hardly believed unless it is given in the words of the witnesses—DICKSON.—686. There are so many dairy cows in London, and there are so many calves born in London, and those calves are sent, and will be sent, out into the country, do the best you can and you cannot keep them within the boundary, and those foreign animals will mix alive with your dairy cows in many places, and the Calves will go away and will take the disease.KITTLE.—2772. To dispose of their calves they frequently attempt to smuggle them out.PRIESTMAN.—6027. They do have some calves in London, I suppose?—Yes, they do.6028. Do you know how many they had previous to the cattleplague?—I think they have rather more now, for many people have had their cows bulled since, to preserve them, to save buying fresh animals; to save infection, they have bulled all they could to calve them in.6029. Then when a witness said that no cakes or next to none were born in London he was mistaken? Yes; I have a large practice, and I know the particulars, though I have not them with me.6,030. Can you tell us what becomes of these calves?—Many of them are smuggled out of London, I believe.6,031. Previous to the cattle plague, it was a regular trade to sell the calves in the country?—Yes, it was a trade, and there is a trade carried on just the same now; they go out of London now with all the restrictions; many of them do.6,061. So that that risk is going on at the present moment?—Just so.JAMES.—6177. There will always be infringements, no matter how stringent the regulations may be.A. SCOTT.—7,990. Now, with regard to the passage of cattle through London by railway, what do you think of the Orders which prohibit that arrangement at the present time?—I would respectfully suggest that these Orders are of no real value. I have practical experience of this 121 difficulty in acting upon them; that under the present Orders cattle once entering the metropolitan district cannot be sent out of that district again. Notwithstanding these Orders, I have to deal with cattle that do arrive in London, the dealers wanting to get them to the North or South; and in order to get rid of them, I am obliged to send them from London to Reading for the North, or from London to Guildford for the South, to get them out of the metropolitan district again.CHAIRMAN.—7991. Do you mean to say that you now send cattle out of London to Reading and Guildford?—I am obliged to do so. I get these cattle, and they are going to the North or South; they must go somehow, and so I send them to Reading and Guildford. " 7,992. Then you set the Orders in Council at defiance, and send them to Reading and Guildford?—I cannot help myself.7,993. When did you do that last?—It is a case that is occurring every week.It is therefore certain, from the evidence of Mr. Scott, the traffic manager of the London and South Western Railway Company, that the regulations of the Council are openly set at defiance by the railway companies. Such a system of regulations does therefore not attain security. The fact is that in the nature of things it must, under any system, be extremely hard—nay, even impossible—to watch the metropolitan area. It is so large that it must always be easy to evade the regulations. The extent of the area is 117 square miles. It is partly rural and partly urban, and the line of separation between the rural and urban boundaries is extremely indented and irregular. The roads are very numerous. The boundary of the metropolitan area there is nothing to mark; it is generally the parish boundary. Where it runs across the middle of fields and meadows it is quite ideal. Yet cattle which have mixed with foreign cattle in the metropolitan market, or even the foreign cattle themselves, may be sent and have a legal right to go to any part of the metropolitan area. Say they enter at nightfall the corner of a field across which the metropolitan boundary runs; in the morning they are at the other corner of the field, and outside the metropolitan boundary. They then have a legal right to go to any part of the country without obstruction. Kittle, the police constable, said that the police do not profess to be able to watch these imaginary lines, and that it is not difficult, therefore, to evade the regulations. Mr. Rudkin himself allowed that the regulations are very easily evaded. To Aberdeenshire, as Sir James Elphinstone testified, there are very few roads of entry. A few gamekeepers and 122 shepherds on mountain tops, with telescopes, can see every road for miles; and yet, with all these facilities, Aberdeenshire was thrice invaded by the cattle plague. What, then, is to preserve England—if cattle plague once gets into the metropolitan area—with its hundreds of roads of entry, and without its high mountains and watching shepherds? Let the House therefore conclude that the present system is not only onerous, oppressive, and injurious, but also that it is very far from attaining our object of the maximum of security. Yet all that Brewster, Baker, Gebhart, and Guerrier proposed as alternatives to the Bill was to maintain this present system. This system clearly will not do. But what other plans were proposed to attain the object of the maximum of security and minimum of injury? First, suspend the present system until the cattle plague is re-imported, and then impose the present system again. This plan was propounded by two foreign witnesses. Thus Mr. Gebhart says—I believe that all those restrictions might be very well done away with until the cattle plague comes again.He was so pleased with the notion that he afterwards repeated his advice. Another withess, Hönck, wanted us to leave it to the Privy Council to close up the metropolitan area when the cattle plague should have got in. This Hönck, together with another witness (Baker), furnished the money which purchased the unlucky cargo at Revel, in the summer of 1865, and this cargo—the fons et origo mali, I believe—came over, he said, in one of his ships. He also acknowledged—as any reasonable man must do—that the destruction of English cattle by cattle plague must be a benefit to foreign importers. These two foreign importers were of opinion that we should suspend the restrictions until the cattle plague had got in. On this subject I will waste no other argument than this—I hear a lion in the Lobby roar!Say, Mr. Speaker, shall we shut the door,And keep him out; or let him inTo try if we can get him out again?Another plan for attaining the maximum of security with the minimum of injury was to forbid importation from infected countries as soon as we know them to be infected; but to leave importation from other countries perfectly free, and to do away with all restrictions within this country. This plan, also, was propounded by foreigners. Of course! it suits the interests of foreign- 123 ers. Thus M. Bouley advised that—If cattle plague breaks out in a country whence we get our supplies, then the Privy Council should stop them; while all cattle from suspected countries should be slaughtered at the waterside. This plan he afterwards called "the system I have developed." Now, in the first place, I must ask—What is an infected country? and what is a suspected country? Dr. Nicholls, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, who has studied the subject as much as any man, was asked this question—How would you distinguish infected countries? He answered that he could not give any opinion upon it. This is a list of foreign countries from which we received reports of cases of cattle plague during the last year—Austria, Bavaria, Belgium, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Prussia, Russia, Turkey. Are all those infected countries? Should all importation from them be prohibited? From what countries, then, would it be permitted? But suppose that cattle plague occurs in a country, and that we do not hear of it until too late, or not at all, what should we do then? It is a case likely enough to happen. Besides, it would be a great disturbance of trade suddenly to throw back the tide of importation; if indeed the wave do not prove itself to be altogether too large, be that it may overhear your regulations. Such sudden stoppages of trade are too violent in their operation, and prejudicial in their results; much more so than any permanent measure such as that in the Bill. Mr. Robinson, the large importer, told the Committee that the restriction most baneful to trade is the possibility or fear of prohibition, for it stops production on the other side. Yet M. Bouley would change this possibility into a probability, and erect it into a system and make it a law. But suppose it done: let us imagine the great sources of our supplies to be suddenly stopped, where are we to find other supplies at a moment's notice? It is hard to foster a trade. So those Southampton witnesses and the Normandy farmer told us. You have to nurse it, and coax it, and dandle it, and still it is apt to dwindle. And this is the work of years, not of a day. Then where are you to find your supplies at a moment's notice? These are some of the objections against M. Bouley's way of dealing with infected countries. What does he propose with regard to cattle from suspected countries? He would kill them at the water- 124 side. What? and have no market for them, no concourse of buyers, no slaughterhouses, no conveniences?—that is just what the importers now complain of as such a great source of loss. But if he would have the market, and buyers, and slaughterhouses, then I tell him, "So would we too." Gebhart's version of this plan is somewhat different—" The importation of cattle from any infected part of a country should be prohibitėd." And so the Committee asked him what he meant by an infected part? "A district," he said, "which has been declared so by its Government, that is what I call an infected part." Good! But how does he proceed? "And nothing is allowed to come out of it." It is "a place round which a cordon is drawn, so that nothing can come out of it." So then all we may do is to exclude the cattle which can never come. But suppose for a moment that they can come; what security would there be in such a system? This depends on our knowing as soon as any cattle plague breaks out in a country, and on the certainty that cattle from that country do not come in contact with cattle which we obtain from any other country. For suppose that cattle from Podolia or Galicia arrive at Munich, and that other cattle leave Munich for this country before the incubation has ceased in the former cattle, that is before it becomes known that they are infected. Then the infection will be brought over to us. Again it depends on the certainty that railway trucks on foreign railways are not infected. And also we must alter the present practice, and not allow boats to go in turn to healthy and to unhealthy parts, as Gebhart says they now do. Well, but grant all this, how are we to carry out the proposal? Prenzlow, a Berliner, who was brought over to give evidence against the Bill, informed the Committee that beasts from Bohemia and Galicia arrive at Gestermunde, together with those from Berlin. At Gestermunde they are all shipped together to this country, where they all arrive together on Saturday. Now, how are you to separate the cattle which have come from infected parts? And if this could he done, what would be the good of doing it? Therefore, although anyone may fairly agree with Professor Spooner that the best means to protect a country from infection is to stop importation; yet no one can reasonably suppose that such a rule can be applied with any benefit to one part of a cargo and not to another. 125 The third plan which was proposed for attaining the maximum of security with the minimum of injury was this:—Abolish all restrictions in this country, and trust entirely to the regulations of foreign Governments. This plan also was propounded by one of the foreign witnesses. Sir. Gebhart advised us to trust entirely to foreign Governments. He was asked by the hon. Baronet the Member for Wigton-shire (Sir Andrew Agnew), whether he thought we made our restrictions at the wrong end, and that what we required was more stringent restrictions abroad? He answered—" That is my idea." When a man is not clear in his judgment how suicidal are his arguments! What does Mr. Gebhart say next? The foreign cordon regulations inland cannot be more severe; all we want is that foreign Governments should make regulations at the ports of export. Here again we are told to exclude those who cannot come. He is then asked, whether he thinks that foreign Governments would be very anxious to prevent the departure from their shores of unsound foreign animals in exchange for good sound British gold; and what does he answer? "They cannot come from any cattle plague country except through Prussia, where they would not allow the transit." It becomes important therefore to ask what Prussia does do; what is her practice? Let Mr. Robinson be the first to answer—G. A. ROBINSON.—1705. Are the cattle of Germany ever diseased?—Germany is a large place now; we do not know what Germany consists of at present; but cattle that come from the centre of Europe and that way are very subject to foot-and-mouth complaint; there is scarcely a cargo of German cattle that comes in now where the cattle are not stopped on account of foot-and-mouth complaint. It is, I believe, pretty well admitted that cattle were imported here last year from Germany suffering from cattle plague, and it caused the Bavarian Government to prohibit the transit of Austrian cattle through Bavaria, and for some weeks our trade was stopped; but the Austrian shippers made interest with the Prussian Government, and they got permission to send them through Silesia, and then they came here.And what does Gebhart himself say? He told the Committee that in May, 1867, he had a consignment of forty cattle; he could not tell whether they were Polish, or Podolian, or Galician; he knew not whence they came. They travelled through Saxony and Prussia. They arrived in London on Saturday, with a certificate of health from a Prussian inspector. They were crowded 126 for inspection; they proceeded to the metropolitan market on Monday, and were sold in four lots. On Thursday he was informed that they had cattle plague—not the Steppe cattle plague, to which the country had become accustomed, but a new type, the Galician type. The veterinary surgeons knew it, and distinguished it. The police informed us, at the Privy Council Office, that animals were disappearing by night from the London cowsheds, they knew not whither. Detectives were employed, and the whole thing was discovered. Mr. Gebhart came openly to the Lord President and informed him; for which Mr. Gebhart told the Committee that he got into great odium with his compeers. I suppose therefore that other foreign importers would have concealed the mischief. The result was that with much trouble and anxiety, and the killing of upwards of 200 infected beasts, the plague was stamped out. Now, three things in this narrative have to be noted—1. They came with a certificate of health from a Prussian inspector. 2. They came from unknown sources. 3. The disease was not perceived until they had been five days in this country. Prussian regulations, therefore, do not secure us against cattle plague. Mr. Gebhart also mentioned with an ejaculation of alarm and concern which was not taken down by the reporter, that some sheep had been put into a field adjoining his "valuable herd." He was asked what occasioned his concern; he said it was because these sheep had come from abroad. It was plain, therefore, that in the case of his own herd, he does not trust to foreign regulations. Mr. Robinson also mentioned an outbreak of cattle plague in Friesland; and he added that the effect was that the cattle in the district were moved down to the waterside, and hurried across to England. Again he stated that two or three times cattle plague occurred in parts of Holland; and that, before the Dutch Government could hear of it, or do anything, the Dutch fanners hurried off their infected cattle so quickly, that special steamers were telegraphed for to come from London and fetch them. These cattle were in London in thirty-six or forty-eight hours; and a week afterwards the Dutch Government heard and informed our Government that there was cattle plague in the place. Of what use to us, then, are the regulations abroad? I must mention a few points with respect to incubation. It must not be supposed that 127 the disease can be detected during the period of incubation. Dr. Nicholls asserts that incubation lasts from nine to fourteen days. Mr. Priestman puts the period at five to twenty-one days; while M. Bouley asserts that the average time is ten to eleven days, but that he has seen examples of twenty days. During the period of incubation the most experienced veterinary cannot detect the disease; to use the words of Professor Spooner, "one word denies the other." The word incubation denotes that the disease is spreading and growing unseen. Yet, according to Dr. Nicholls, Mr. Priestman, and other scientific witnesses, the disease, during the period of incubation, can be communicated by contact, by the breath, the saliva, or the excreta. Infected cattle from Bohemia or Poland may therefore reach London, and remain to all appearance healthy for five days, as in Gebhart's case; or the disease may not be developed for fourteen days afterwards; and yet they may all the time be communicating the disease. During that period, you cannot stamp it out, for it cannot be known. This would be like striking at a ghost with a falchion. Even after it has become developed, it would be kept secret. Dr. Nicholls informed the Committee that a butcher, the moment symptoms of cattle plague declared themselves, would put the beast quietly out of the way. While Mr. Priestman said that a beast in which the disease was incubating might be taken to a private lair, where the cattle plague would break out, and no one would know of it; it would not be discovered, and yet the infected manure would go into the country and be spread on the land. I, therefore, fully agree with Professor Spooner, that we cannot depend upon foreign regulations. Lastly, there is Mr. Rudkin's plan, which seems to attain the maximum of injury and the minimum of security. For he wanted to "strengthen" the present metropolitan regulations, and carry them out more stringently. He would also remedy these regulations in the following points where he deems them to be defective: he would prohibit sheep from going out of the metropolitan area into the country; he would abolish cowsheds as being the nuclei of disease; he would keep a registry of cows, and have them periodically inspected; he would brand every beast which arrives, and cause inspectors to follow him and inspect him day by day; he would permit no cattle to be driven through the streets, and 128 would allow them to travel by railway only; he would establish a public abattoir system, and a system of check and countercheck which could never be evaded. Such a system would be most oppressive and least secure. The only other plan proposed for attaining a maximum of security with a minimum of injury is the plan which is contained in the Bill before the House, namely, a separate market for foreign cattle, with slaughter at the waterside. Consider first the question of security. It was alleged by the witnesses against the Bill, that if infected beasts come over to this market the infection will spread to the Islington market. If infected beasts do come over to this country, the infection will be more likely to spread to the Islington market if the foreign beasts themselves go there than if men merely pass between the markets. If the foreign beasts are kept at the new market, they will be always under the eye of an inspector, and any infected beasts will be killed the moment the disease is perceived, and everything disinfected before the disease can be carried by men. For Dr. Wells, one of the scientific witnesses, asserted that it was not likely that a man could carry the infection from beast to beast during the period of incubation. But if an infected beast itself were at Islington market, it would communicate the disease during the period of incubation. Hence, as Professor James said, there will be far more danger if the foreign cattle themselves go to the metropolitan market than if it is confined to men. Suppose even that the cattle plague does become declared in the new market, yet men are not likely to carry the infection to English cattle for, as Dr. Nicholls testified, the man who buys foreign cattle is not the man who goes to the country. And Mr. Gebhart said that persons would not go from one market to another; for "they have no purposeful it." Even if it were only a question of the comparison of more or less, yet the advantage would be on the side of the new market. For now every Monday 200 or 300 drovers go straight from the foreign cattle in the market to English cattle in the country. So that, according to Dr. Nicholls and Professor James, the contagion would be far more likely to be carried by them. Besides, moving through the air in passing from one market to the other would disinfect the men. Dr. Nicholls asserts that the air is the best disinfectant, and that a twelve miles' journey would be enough; 129 but that no amount of moving through the air would remove infection from a beast. Moreover, if the two markets do not take place on the same day, an additional security is presented; men are then sure not to pass direct from the one market to the other. Dr. Nicholls recognized this as conclusive; and yet, after all, the attendants at the foreign market may be made to change their clothes when they enter and leave the market. This is the rule in Paris at the market of Vilette, and Dr. Nicholls recommended the practice to us. Guerrier admitted that it would be quite proper to require that butchers and drovers should change their clothes in accordance with such a rule; and Priestman said that when he went about inspecting he made his attendants disinfect themselves with chloride of lime. At the Islington market perhaps the novelty of such a rule would prevent it from being enforced; but it may easily be made a regulation of the new market. Besides, those who offer such an objection to the Bill forget that they them-selves told us to trust to foreign Governments, saving that foreign regulations are sufficient to secure us against the possibility of any infected beasts coming over. If so, there will be no infected beasts in the new market. I will adduce from adverse witnesses a few authorities in my favour. Mr. Woodley gave it as his opinion that if the market were placed in the Esses Marshes the cattle plague might be expected to spread from it; but that it certainly would not spread through the streets, nor to the cattle in London, nor to the market at Islington, if the new market be placed nearer to the metropolis. Mr. Barford, a veterinary from Southampton, said that—The new foreign market, as proposed by the Bill, would undoubtedly do away with the risk of importing the cattle plague.And Professor Spooner averred that—A resident inspector in the new market will reduce the risk to a minimum.This disposes, then, of the question of security; and now for the estimate of injury. The fairest way to estimate the injury which may be done is to consider the objections alleged against it by the opponents to the Bill. Before entering upon this, it would be well to consider the character of the witnesses who appeared in opposition. First, there were butchers—the men whose monopoly will be destroyed by the Bill. Take Charles Harman as an example. He is a "butcher in a small way;" he kills 130 two beasts a week; but he is the representative of a class, for "the majority of the butchers are such" as he. What, then, is the character given of this class of witnesses? Professor James, after calling them "a very careless set of men," is asked this question—You are probably aware that the number of butchers in London is 5,000?And he answered—Yes; and I am aware that they are a very dangerous set of men.This seems to be explained by Mr. Rudkin, who describes persons whose livelihood consists in going round the country and the London cowsheds, buying diseased animals cheap. This is confirmed by Hönck, who told the Committee that the butchers who buy foreign meat go to the London cowsheds to buy diseased animals; and he added. "A great many London butchers do this." Dr. Nicholls says further that the moment any animal in the London cowsheds is supposed to be infected, "they are down like so many vultures on their prey;" for, knowing that something is amiss, they "think he is to be had cheap." Inspector Priestman informed the Committee that these are the very men who buy foreign meat—that is, for the working classes—" it is their living; they job in these things; there is a great number of these men." Harman himself admits that—The men who buy foreign meat, because it suits the class they supply, also frequent the London cowsheds.Who cares, then, if the horrid monopoly of these men be destroyed? Besides, it is hard for us entirely to believe that they will be injured in the way they assert. For Mr. Rudkin, the Chairman of the Markets Committee, testified that he never knew a butcher in favour of any new market, or of any alteration of an old market; and he thought them mistaken in their opinions. When the Copenhagen market, he said, was about to be established, they asserted that it would be "dead ruin" to them. M. Guerrier testified the same; when the Islington market was proposed, although no one contemplated any provision for compulsory slaughter, they said the same, and alleged the same injuries as they do now against the market with compulsory slaughter—They say a great many funny things," he added; "I have heard them say funny things in this Committee-room since I have been here.131 Therefore I think we should be careful before we attach much weight to the allegations of injury from this class of witnesses. The next class of witnesses were the foreigners. They objected on the ground that the Bill would benefit the British at the expense of foreigners. The Bill will benefit the British!—is not that the strongest of all arguments with a British House of Commons? Thus Mr. Gebhart, a Prussian, said—It is a Bill to protect the English farmer at the expense of the foreigner. He would have all the benefit, and we would have all the loss.Franz Prenzlow, another Prussian, who was examined through an interpreter—so little did he know of England or the English—of course took the same view as Mr. Gebhart, whose Berlin correspondent he is. M. Bouley, a French gentleman, was also examined through an interpreter, and candidly and honourably warned the Committee that he judged from a French point of view, and did not speak as an Englishman. Hönck, a Schleswig-Holsteiner, objected to the Bill on the score that in Schleswig they would again plough up the land which was laid down in grass for the British trade; so that his compatriots were "very uneasy" about the Bill. This was the witness who, in company with Baker, was unfortunate enough to be the means of introducing the cattle plague into England from Russia in 1865. M. Pouppeville, a Frenchman, was also examined through an interpreter. He objected to the Bill because "it is adverse to the interests of the French people." Alphonse Leguillon, a French farmer, also examined through an interpreter, opposed the Bill because "it sacrifices French interests for the benefit of the English." He said he had never seen the Bill, but had it explained to him. This reminds me of another class of witnesses: those whose minds had been prejudiced, and evidence vitiated by having the Bill explained to them. Thus, William Lancaster gave his evidence under the impression that the market tolls were to be raised; the fact that the tolls were to be reduced by the Bill from 5s. 11d. to 2s. 6d. had never been explained to him. He had also been told that the new market was to be very far down the river; he naturally concluded that it would be very inconvenient at that great distance. They had forgotten to explain the clause which enacted that the market should be in London, or in a parish immediately adjoining. Mr. "Woodley a 132 straightforward honourable man, I think had his evidence prejudiced by ardent opponents; he also had been given the impression that the "market is to be far off in a place where the roads are bad;" and also he had been told that "there is to be no dead moat market there," a tiling which the Bill actually provides. The remaining class of witnesses to which I shall allude me interested witnesses. As the Bill provides that the market is not to be far down the river in a place where the roads are bad, Thames Haven will be excluded; the Thames Haven Company will no longer reap profits by the importation of foreign cattle. The Thames Haven Company were naturally interested in throwing the Bill out. The first witness against the Bill, Mr. Brewster, turned out to be a director and shareholder of that company; so is Mr. Archer; M. Guerrier is a director; and Mr. Baker, whose regimental banner bears date 1865, is also a shareholder. That is the character of the witnesses against the Bill. Let the House now consider what injuries they allege. The first objection was against having a separate market. Mr. Brewster objects to this, because he would like the whole supply to be in the market at once. Mr. Woodley supports this view. Mr. Baker would have only one market place, and one market day. That is to say: the power of purchase being virtually limited to monopolists, they would naturally like to secure a large supply. That would increase the monopoly, and depress the prices they would have to give. Mr. Gebhart is an importer; a seller of foreign cattle; his interests are therefore contrary. To have many buyers, and to divide the supply, would suit him better. He told the Committee that if the market is only once a week "the animal wastes between." He therefore would have no objection to a separate market if there were two market days for the sale of English cattle, and two market days for the sale of foreign cattle; or have only one market day for English cattle if you like (that is nothing to him), say Wednesday; and have the markets for foreign cattle on Monday and Friday. Mr. Rudkin backs up the objection about cattle standing over for a week, and wished for two market days for home and two for foreign cattle. In Paris the cattle are sold every day; why should we single out market days? Sell the cattle as they are wanted. The next objection was that which was raised against compulsory slaughter, or rather the 133 objection was directed against a public slaughterhouse: for the small butcher prefers to drive his cattle home for slaughter. Yet there are strong reasons, on sanitary grounds, against permitting the nuisance of private slaughterhouses any longer to continue. All these private slaughter-houses are immediately behind dwelling-houses and in thickly-peopled districts; so that the air, already loaded, becomes fully contaminated. Besides, as Mr. Rudkin informed the Committee, they can never be kept in order, for slaughterhouses "must be concentrated to keep them under control." Moreover, if private slaughterhouses are studded over the town, cattle must be driven through the streets to all parts of the town, which is another nuisance. The House has long ago declared its judgment on this point. Twice it has given notice that these nuisances shall cease; but with a charity, which I think rather mistaken, they determined that the inhabitants of London should endure the nuisance for thirty years more in order that the butchers might have no room for the complaint that their interests were being damaged. Mr. Woodley read to the Committee the part of the Report of the Committee of the Common Council which referred to the Act of 1844 and to the other Act—WOODLEY (reading Report of the Committee of Common Council). 4989. 'Our attention has been directed to certain provisions contained in the Building Act (1844), under the operation of which many slaughterhouses now in the metropolis will, in the year 1874, cease to exist; and we have also considered the provisions contained in the Newgate Market Abolition Act, under which the various slaughterhouses in the vicinity of that market will, in all probability, be removed.'The large carcase butchers and the Government contractors do not seem to object to a public slaughterhouse. Mr. Rudkin testified that it is no detriment to a large butcher, that it is immaterial to a carcase butcher, where he slaughters. Mr. Garton, a carcase butcher and Government contractor, said that individually he had no objection to a separate market with compulsory slaughter; a public slaughterhouse close to London was the same thing as his own; there would be no loss if it is sufficiently near to London. Mr. Woodley, it is true affirmed that it would throw the killing trade into the hands of a few large men. Mr. Archer also said that it would destroy the small retail men, and put the trade in the hands of the large men. 134 Gebhart said the same. Why will it do so? Because the expenses of large firms are smaller in proportion; and because the profits of large firms can be smaller in proportion. It is the tendency of all businesses to fall into the hands of large firms. Well, then, the large firms will grow, and squeeze out many of the smaller men—the 5,000 of cowshed notoriety. But this is no injury to the consumer. The demand does not depend on the number of agents for distribution, or middle men; it depends on the amount required for consumption. The fewer distributors and shopkeepers and middle men the better, consistent with convenience; for there will be fewer profits to extract. Large monied men require a smaller total of profits, and as there are fewer of them fewer profits will be required. But we hear a whine—" It will injure the small butchers." Put against this the cry from England, Ireland, and Scotland, that the present system injures farmers, small and large. Archer very fairly allowed that against the injury to small butchers we must balance the loss to farmers and graziers. Besides, the small butchers will not lose so much after all; for they can buy dead meat, even if they cannot kill their own beasts. Mr. Blackman, a large man, says that the retail butchers, who are scattered over the metropolis, buy carcases of him. Woodley says that they buy dead meat at the Newgate market. Archer was asked, "Who are the principal buyers in Newgate market?—Butchers." And he added that a great many beasts are killed in all parts of London, and carried to Newgate market to be sold. Mr. Rudkin affirmed that two-thirds of the supply of cattle to the metropolis are killed by the carcase (not the retail) butchers, and sold in Newgate, Leadenhall, and Whitechapel markets; whence the retail butchers fetch it to stock their shops. Take an individual case as an example. Mr. Woodley told us, that at the place of business belonging to himself and other large men, there are twenty-five slaughterhouses all together, all belonging to wholesale men. "This is a very great convenience to the whole district." For he said, customers come from the surrounding districts; "from a very large population;" they come distances of four miles, and take away the meat in their own conveyances. That is to say, they have discovered the benefit of dispensing with the middle man. He adds—" These are better than if they 135 were in twenty-five different districts, because they make a large market." The very thing we want to make! Here are some authorities in favour of the public slaughterhouse. Mr. Rudkin avers that butchers are not reasonable in objecting to the abattoir system. He said it was because they misunderstood the question. He, it seems, persuaded the City to vote £36,000 to erect a public slaughterhouse at Islington. "It is not to be compulsory!" I shall be told. True; all the better for my argument. City people do not vote money unless they are sure of a return. And how will the City get its 7 percent; unless butchers find a public slaughterhouse such a benefit that they will invariably use it, how will it yield a profit? At Portsmouth, Sir James Elphinstone said they object to having any slaughterhouse inside the town. At Edinburgh, ever since 1850 they have had a public slaughterhouse outside the town. On which Professor Strangeways remarked that this has been a gain to the butchers, and that only the had butchers complain; which they do, because they cannot surreptitiously kill and sell bad meat. That is to say, a public slaughterhouse will put a stop to those gentry who frequent the London cowsheds to buy diseased animals cheap. In Paris, as Mr. Woodley testified, they have one large market and slaughterhouse, which supplies the whole of Paris, and the market is held every day, and the killing is performed every day. And although, he says, that in Paris they slaughter as much as 92 or 93 per cent of the whole amount killed in the metropolitan area of London, yet this does not affect prices, nor injure the butchers. But it was urged "it will cause the price of meat to fall so that the foreign trade will not be attracted." What then will be the amount of the depression? George Eve tells us that it may be ¼d. per lb.; that the foreigner will get 5s. to 6s. less for each beast. Brewster puts it at the same amount when testifying against the Bill; but Mr. Gebhart said it would not make a farthing of difference. M. Bouley testified his opinion that no great effect on importation would be produced if we were to enact that all foreign cattle should be killed at the port of landing. Mr. Rudkin evidently contemplates an increase of the foreign trade; for he says that a larger market (6397–6403) will be required for the foreign cattle alone than there is now at Islington for both English 136 and foreign together. This view of Mr. Rudkin's is not extraordinary. It is very reasonable. For, by breaking down the butchers' monopoly, by providing a more extended demand, we confer a benefit on the trade. This is the very benefit which accrues from good roads and railways—namely, a more extended market for the produce. What will be the result? The English cattle will go out to supply the country, and more foreign cattle will be required to supply the thickly populated districts of the town. That the Bill will break down this monopoly was clearly seen by Mr. Symonds and by Mr. Syme, The latter gentleman was asked—Why do you suppose that after this Bill is passed the butcher will take a less profit?—His neighbour—that is, the country butcher—will come in then and buy along with him, and he will have to pay the regular country price for his cattle.The last objection which was urged against the Bill has been termed the offal question. It is a peg on which were hung numerous appeals ad populum, and passionate addresses ad misericordiam, and a fervid Chatham-peroration. Offal is injured by carriage, they said, even for the shortest distances, and the poor live on offal. Yet the Committee heard from numerous witnesses that a great deal of offal is imported from Antwerp and from Hamburgh, "guts and all, in casks." And Archer testified that it is always brought from Holland with dead meat: that 2,600 dead sheep and many tons of offal have been brought over in one vessel; and again, that 3,000 or 4,000 dead carcases of sheep have come from Hamburgh with thirty or forty tons of beef, and all the offal thereto pertaining. "Aye! but this is water carriage." Well, but it comes by land as well. Lambs' offal is sent by waggon a distance of forty-four miles to London. And Captain Engledue said, in his remarkable evidence, that the offal of sheep and lambs is sent to London in hampers from all parts of the country, "and those do not speak the truth who say the contrary." What is the nature of this offal trade? Baker attested that the offal of the smaller butchers, and even of the carcase butchers also, is disposed of by contract to the offal dealers and tripe dressers. Mr. Blackman "does not know of one who retails it." "Not one in ten retail it; because they have not the means of dressing the tripe." Blackman, Archer, and Lancaster stated that 137 the offal shops collect the offal, and then, when dressed, it goes to the low neighbourhoods to be sold. The way is this—the contractor calls with his cart at a butcher's, and obtains what offal there is; he proceeds to the next butcher and then to another, and another, until the cart is full; so that offal does now travel about the streets before it is dressed, and after too. These offal salesmen, says Blackman, are few in number; and they are the men who retail it. I appeal to authorities. Mr. Rudkin allows that there will be no differcence between the offal in the new market and the offal of a large carcase butcher. Lancaster speaks of depôts of offal as an advantage; and says that the poor will get the offal cheaper in the new market, which will be a considerable benefit. Mr. Symonds and Captain Engledue affirm that the offal objection is very slight. Captain Engledue used weekly to send the offal from his farm at Southampton up to London to be sold. That the objection is slight is practically proved by Harman's evidence; for he states that be buys offal at Whitechapel, Newgate, and Leadenhall markets, and of wholesale men and offal salesmen, transports it to his shop, and then retails it to the poor.
In conclusion, let the House call to mind that the present restrictions are most cumbrous, onerous, ineffective, oppressive, and easily evaded. The inconveniences are numerous; the driving of cattle through the streets; the number of pestilential slaughterhouses in the metropolitan area. All these inconveniences, this insecurity, these evasions, are consequent on the enormous extent of the area to which the regulations are applied. It is like trying to defend a fortress of 117 square miles with a small army against a large and insidious foe. The natural remedy, then, is to contract the area. The regulations were applicable to an area of 117 miles, and were passed at a time when cattle plague was raging in the whole metropolitan area, and while the rest of the country was comparatively free. Now that the cattle plague has retreated, why should not the House close in and contract its line of defence? Evasion would then be impossible, inspection would be easy, and the detection of diseases certain. The number of police would be less; two would then effect more than 200 now. The expenses would be smaller. Cattle would all be under command and constant supervision. Dr. Nicholls was asked— 1385859. But do you not think, if you reduce the area, where the liability of infection exists, you diminish the chance of conveying it, and you increase your power of taking precaution against it?—I think you do.5860. Therefore, if you get all the cattle, liable to disease on one spot, you would be better able to take precautions against convoying that disease than you would upon the large district of the metropolitan area?—It would be more unmanageable.Professor Spooner was asked—7402. Would you suppose that when foreign cattle can only be landed in a small defined part, it would be much easier to inspect them than when they are spread over the whole town?—Yes.That is what we propose to do by this Bill. The object is to contract the area of the restrictions to a spot on the waterside. For the Islington market, as Mr. Gebhart urged, is very inconvenient for the foreign trade; but it is conveniently situated for home cattle. The House last year affirmed the principle of defining parts of ports for the reception and slaughter of foreign cattle. It has been tried; and no injury or inconvenience has resulted. Professor Spooner was asked—7400. You are aware that that policy has been carried out in all the larger ports except London, are you not?—Yes.7401. Have you heard of any injury that has accrued from it?—No, I have not.For the small ports, the supply of English cattle was found amply sufficient; they never desired to import any foreign cattle. They have therefore but one market. In the larger ports, foreign meat is required for the poorer population, as well as English cattle for the richer. Because of the size of these towns, two markets are necessary. A part of the port is there-fore set apart; they have a separate market for foreign cattle, and a market for English cattle; while the principle of non-contact between English and foreign cattle is strictly maintained. But for London, the largest port of all, some pretend to say that one market should suffice, and that the principle of non-contact should be disregarded!
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Lord Robert Montagu.)
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he regretted that the noble Lord had reflected on the evidence of one of the French witnesses as having been given in the interest of his own country, as if he had come here to promote some object of his own. Now, this French witness was the most dis- 139 tinguished veterinary authority in France. He was the adviser of the French Government, and had, in fact, inspired those regulations which had kept the cattle plague out of France. The French Government had been kind enough to send this great officer to this country to inform the Committee what those regulations had been. The noble Lord, therefore, who represented the English Government, was not entitled to reflect upon such a witness by saying that he had given evidence to promote the interests of his own country.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, he had stated that this witness had spoken from the French and not from the English point of view.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, the noble Lord probably did not remember the words he had used. The Committee were very much indebted to the French Government for the information this gentleman had given. He had asked the Committee to adopt the French system, and that was what we ought to do. That system was to let the cattle in from healthy and uninfected countries, and when they were in to treat them as French cattle, but not to admit them from infected countries. The system had been successful in France, whose Government distinguished between countries that were infected and those that were not, and closed the frontiers of France against importation from particular countries as occasion required. The French Government contrived to get information and to act upon it so successfully that in France the cattle plague had extended only to some forty-five beasts. The noble Lord was the representative of the Privy Council, upon which, however, the greater part of his speech contained the gravest reflections. Notwithstanding the alleged impossibility of distinguishing between one country and another, and the consequent necessity of treating all foreign countries as infected, there was at present an Order in Council founded on the principle that you could distinguish between countries that were infected and those that were not. The Privy Council had great experience in the matter, and no doubt they were acting wisely in admitting cattle from Spain, Portugal, and Normandy into all English ports on the South and West Coasts up to the Mull of Cantire. He had been under the impression that the Government had no real intention of proceeding with this Bill, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government 140 having said it had not been formally withdrawn because there were special reasons why it should be brought under the consideration of the House. He should be glad to know what those special reasons were. It was generally desired that necessary business only should be disposed of, and that the dissolution should be expedited as much as possible; and he believed that even those who favoured this measure would have been glad if the consideration of it had been postponed at present. There was no urgent necessity that it should be passed, for the cattle plague did not exist in England, and the Privy Council had ample powers to stop the spread of it should it, unfortunately, reappear. They had also full power to regulate the importation of cattle in such a manner as they might think best calculated to prevent the introduction of cattle plague from abroad. Seeing that there were these securities, what necessity was there for pressing forward this questionable measure? If passsed it would not come into operation for years, and during that time we must trust our present machinery. He was reluctant to oppose the Bill at this stage, but there had been no previous chance for discussing it. It was introduced just before the House adjourned in December, and at the first opportunity, after the House re-assembled in February, the Bill was read a second time. He had no idea that the Bill was to be carried through with so little explanation. He had taken what was called a technical objection, and the more he considered it, the more valid it appeared to be. It was that persons whose property was to be taken from them had not received the required notice through the Gazette, and although the Standing Orders Committee had held that the Government might be relieved from the giving of such notice, because the persons concerned were aware of what was going to be done, he believed a different decision might have been come to had not erroneous statements been made. It did not follow that because people had presented petitions they were not to have Parliamentary notice. If they had said nothing it would have been held that they had no objections. The reasons given were insufficient for so formidable an invasion of private rights as was involved in the provision of this exclusive landing-place and market, which would, for instance, deprive Mr. Brassey of £7,000. For that property it was not 141 proposed to compensate him, and he did not believe that any company or individual who proposed to take away the private property along the banks of the Thames would be permitted to do so without complying with the greatest accuracy with all the forms which Parliament imposed in such cases. The noble Lord who represented the Privy Council had, he might add, in his opinion, given a very imperfect account of a very imperfect scheme. His object was, he said, to prevent home and foreign cattle from coming into contact, and how was that object to be effected? All the cattle brought up the Thames in ships were, it appeared, to be taken to a particular place; but no provision was made with regard to cattle which happened to have been landed at other ports and were conveyed by railroad to the metropolis. It was impossible, however, to avoid the conclusion that if the proposal of the Government were adopted a similar policy must be pursued throughout the kingdom. For could anything, he would ask, be more monstrous than to take away the cattle trade from London in order that it might be carried on elsewhere, and that then the cattle should be sent flying through the country by railway? Looking over the memorials which had been laid before the Committee by the Government he found that they all, without exception, pointed to the necessity of a general application of the proposed system. The hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Reed), for instance, in his petition expressed a hope that the House would pass a law for the slaughter of foreign animals at all the ports and landing-places; but there was no provision of that kind in the Bill. Again, the Council of the Smithfield Club, in a memorial signed by the Earl of Hardwicke, as President, expressed it to be their wish that animals imported into this country should be slaughtered at the port at which they were disembarked. It was but right, under these circumstances, that the House should have the whole scheme of the Government before it, and a Cabinet Minister, the Duke of Richmond, who was examined before the Committee, when asked whether he did not think that a general measure should be introduced, applicable to all the ports of the United Kingdom, replied, "It may be so; I am not answerable for this Bill." Who, then, he should like to know, was answerable for it? He was astonished, he must confess, to find the noble Lord opposite com- 142 ing forward and casting reflections on those who were his official superiors, and he should wish to be informed whether the Bill was the Bill of the Privy Council? But if he wanted to condemn the plan of a separate market and the compelling everyone to go there, he need only state the views of the Government themselves two or three months ago with reference to that very scheme. We lived, however, in days when Ministers seemed to be able to say anything and not be bound by it a few weeks afterwards. These were the days of "heedless rhetoric," and the noble Lord had, he thought, recourse to "heedless rhetoric" when he described the Bill. The noble Lord described it as a gigantic scheme of protection. For his own part, he could not go so far as that; for he thought that it was a little petty scheme of protection, and would not afford security against the cattle plague. It would raise the price of meat to the inhabitants of the metropolis, and impose a very considerable restraint on the foreign cattle trade. If the Council were in favour of this measure it was extraordinary that they did not call before the Select Committee their scientific advisers. They called farmers and agriculturists, the drift of whose evidence was, for the most part, that though they would like to go a good deal further, yet half a loaf was better than no bread. They would have liked to keep foreign cattle out altogether. The evidence brought before the Select Committee by the Government was of an improper kind. The Committee were not considering class interests, and yet the tendency of the evidence produced by the Government was to show how beneficial the Bill would be to the agriculturists. They put themselves forward through their witnesses as the farmers' friends, and it was not the first time that that title had been assumed by the party opposite, especially at the approach of a General Election. Sir James Elphinstone intimated to the Committee that the Bill was a capital measure for the agriculturists, as it would raise the price of beasts £2 a head. Now, as there were 300,000 head consumed every year in London, an increase in the price of £2 a head would be a tax of £600,000 on the people of the metropolis, and if to that were added the increased price of sheep, the tax on the population of London would amount to £1,000,000 a year. The noble Lord talked of the expense of the police under the present system, but what was 143 that to the £1,000,000 a year which this Bill, according to Sir James Elphinstone and the Government themselves, would impose upon the metropolis? The farmers advocated quarantine, because they thought that the expenses attendant thereon would keep foreign cattle from coming in, and one witness expressed an opinion that it would be a great advantage if the country were entirely free from the foreign trade. The feeling among the farming class was that the foreigner should be kept out, and that the metropolitan market was too good a thing for him. He did not believe that the present Bill was the Bill of the Council. At present, under the orders of Council, foreign sheep were exposed for sale in the metropolitan market, and might be carried inland by railway. But the Bill proposed that in three years from the present time no foreign sheep should leave the port of debarkation—at any rate as far as London was concerned—but should be there slaughtered. If it were safe now to allow foreign sheep to be imported and sent inland to Birmingham or elsewhere, why should it not be equally safe three years hence? The provision was manifestly absurd. Either the Privy Council were wrong in allowing the sheep to go into the country to feed the people in our large towns, or else the Bill must be wrong in stopping that source of supply three years hence. The Bill laid down that from three years hence for ever no foreign sheep or cattle shall be allowed to enter the interior of this country alive; but, he contended, that the Acts of the Privy Council were opposed to any such principle. He did not believe that the Privy Council and its advisers could be said to be the real promoters of the Bill, which was forced upon the Government by the agricultural interest. As was said by Mr. Vernon Harcourt before the Committee—" The manner was the manner of the Jacob of the Privy Council, but the hand was the hand of the Esau of Norfolk." It was said that this Bill bad been before a Select Committee of that House, which had gone through it clause by clause with great care, and it was asked whether the House could fake upon itself the responsibility of over-ruling the finding of its Committee, which decided the question after due consideration of all the evidence that could be adduced in support of or against the principles embodied in the Bill? No doubt there was great force in that argument, but he must state one fact connected with the decision 144 of the Committee which perhaps was not generally known. He was not about to find fault with the composition of that Committee—although, perhaps, the agricultural interest was rather better represented in it than the town interest was—but it was clear that if there had been one more Gentleman on it like the hon. Member for South Essex (Mr. Selwin-Ibbetson), who had voted with him upon a vital principle of the Bill, the Bill would have been smashed. The question raised before the Committee was a very important one, and was whether the Bill was to apply to all foreign cattle, or only to such cattle as came from infected districts. An Amendment was moved to the effect—" That all countries shall be exempted from the operation of this Bill which are declared by the Privy Council to be free from rinder-pest." He and those who thought with him were not desirous of running the slightest risk of infecting our herds and flocks; but what they complained of was that the power of the Privy Council should be superseded by this Bill, and that that Department should have no power to let cattle in when necessary to supply the wants of the country. Upon this question the Committee were equally divided, and the Amendment was only rejected by the casting vote of the Chairman. It was important that he should bring that fact before the House when he was taking so strong a course as asking them to review the decision of one of their Committees. The hon. Member for South Essex said that the Bill went too far in seeking to impose one iron rule for all times, upon all countries on this subject. The Bill was almost too strong for the hon. Member for East Suffolk (Mr. Corrance). The importation of foreign cattle into this country was a very important trade in this country, and no foreign cattle should be excluded which could be admitted with safety, and no restrictions should be tarried one atom beyond what safety required. But the Bill proposed to go beyond those limits in saying that all foreign cattle should be subjected to this iron rule, which was in direct contradiction to the acts of the Privy Council. The population within the metropolitan district amounted to upwards of 3,000,000, and half of the food of that immense population consisted of foreign cattle; and it was a serious matter to attempt by the imposition of any restrictions to exclude that half of their food 145 from the London market. He contended that the Bill proposed to reverse the policy of Sir Robert Peel, and that it was a retrograde stop in our intercourse with foreign nations, as it imposed what was neither more nor less than a differential duty upon the foreign article. It was estimated that in the event of the Bill becoming law the importation of foreign sheep and cattle would be reduced by 60 per cent, and that none but the inferior sorts would be sent here by the foreign producer. Was it likely that, with the free markets of Paris and other great continental cities open to them, the foreign producers would send their best cattle here to be subjected to these vexatious restrictions? Of course not; and the inferior class of beasts they would send would be the most likely to introduce the cattle plague. The best provision to make against the cattle plague was to empower the Privy Council to take proper precautions suitable to the every-varying circumstances of the case to exclude that disease. If necessary, the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act should be improved, and the Privy Council should be empowered to take the necessary steps for excluding the importation of the disease and for stamping it out in the event of its being re-introduced into this country. He thought the provisions which sufficed to guard the human race from disease would be amply sufficient to protect the bovine race. If a person came from a country where the plague was raging he was subjected to quarantine, but that was a very different thing from subjecting all persons to quarantine indiscriminately from whatever country they might come. Cattle were now let in from Spain, Portugal, and France, but of course the Council could not be unaware that the French frontier was at present open to cattle from all parts of Europe. [Lord ROBERT MONTAGU: Only Normandy.] Normandy, which was open to the whole world, was also open to the rest of France. It was obvious that if cattle were let in from France, Spain, and Portugal the same privilege must be extended to Denmark and Sweden. It was probably owing to political exigencies that it was determined to let in Spanish and Portuguese cattle. His hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) had to be got rid of, for there was a report that he was going to carry his Motion, whereupon the great principle was immediately departed from, 146 and the great farming interest of England exposed to the danger of cattle plague. The inhabitants of Manchester, Ashton-under-Lyne, and the other hives of industry appreciated what had been done, as they were no longer deprived of the opportunity of purchasing excellent Spanish and Portuguese beasts. He did not mind small things being done to please political friends just before a General Election, but he was of opinion that the free trade policy of the country was a matter of far too great importance to be disturbed for such a purpose. And he should not wonder if after all the farmers' friends betrayed the farmer as they had done before. No doubt the farmers had been led to believe that the Government intended to carry this measure; but surely no hon. Member could think it was destined to pass during the present Session. The First Minister of the Crown would not, in his opinion, undertake that it should pass, and he thought it was time the farmers should know they were being misled in this matter. The question had been made a party cry; but the matter would not bear investigation. He felt confident that no Government would be found to give effect to the plan as it stood. What would the farmers of South Essex say when they heard of the astounding fact that one of the hon. Members who represented them had actually voted against the vital principle of the Bill? The farmers were a good, honest sort of people; but they were being made use of for political purposes, as they had been during the time of the Corn Law agitation. He would now advert to what had fallen from the noble Lord as to the prevention of infection. In carrying out that object it was necessary to take care that no injury was done to the foreign trade. The noble Lord had asserted that the present system was very vexatious and restrictive, as the beasts were detained on landing in order that they might be carefully inspected before they were sent to the metropolitan market. For his own part, he was in favour of a rigorous system, of inspection, and of excluding all infected beasts. The noble Lord, however, would let in all cattle indiscriminately into the proposed safety market at Plaistow Marshes; but it should not be forgotten that the Cattle Plague Commissioners had stated that the disease might be communicated by proximity without contact. Upon this question of infection he preferred to be guided by authority. Professor Spooner 147 denied that he had ever been in favour of a separate market. The Commissioners were not in favour of a separate market. [An hon. MEMBER: Yes, they were.] No; they were in favour of slaughtering the animals at the place of debarkation; but that was not what was meant by a separate market. The Committee of 1866 unanimously rejected the idea of a separate market. There could be no doubt that the infection of the cattle plague might be communicated by the clothing of individuals, and that the disease would be spread by those who would attend both markets. It would be far better to maintain the present cordon around the metropolitan area, leaving it to the Privy Council to relax the existing regulations when they thought it prudent to do so. Communications would be constantly going on between the two markets which would remove the cordon in the most dangerous manner. There would be a collection of dangerous beasts in the foreign market; the butchers would be constantly going backwards and forwards from one market to the other in their carts, and what was there to prevent a butcher from calling at the foreign market for dead meat, then going to the live market and taking up a live calf, and afterwards sending both into the country? The time might come when it would be prudent for the Privy Council to remove the existing metropolitan cordon; but this was a matter for them to decide, and it would be most unwise in the House, by passing this Bill, to take the matter out of the hands of the Privy Council, and perhaps compel them to act against their own judgment. If the Bill did not prevent the introduction and spread of the cattle plague, it would be so much superfluous mischief, since it would subject the people of London to a great and unnecessary expense. The Resolution appeared to him to be a most reasonable Resolution. He thought he ought to have the support of every Chamber of Agriculture and every Farmers' Club that had petitioned the House on this subject. The House by affirming his Resolution would not deny the principle of the Bill, which was the compulsory slaughter of all foreign cattle brought into London. Who would contend that the metropolis was not to be allowed to do something that all the other ports of the kingdom were permitted to do? The Bill would not secure the country against cattle plague infection; it would most certainly impose a serious restriction 148 on the supply of the food of the inhabitants of this great metropolis; and it involved a great interference with private rights and property on the banks of the Thames without necessity. His Amendment asked the House to consider whether they would now entertain the question with regard to London apart from the other ports of the kingdom? The question had arisen, who were to be the authorities who were to manage the proposed market? The Government said the Corporation of the City of London; but they came before the Committee and framed certain clauses which would be necessary in case they exercised the option which they were to have under the Act of being the market authority. They could not; carry these clauses, however, and Mr. Hope Scott, the counsel for the Corporation of London, thereupon announced that the Corporation withdrew from all connection with the Bill. In the Court of Common Council it had been stated that the Corporation of the City of London had declined to have anything more to do with the Bill, because the Government had broken faith with them. This was a serious charge, requiring an answer from the Prime Minister, who would naturally like to stand well with the Corporation; and he should like to know what engagement the Government had broken—what it was that made the Corporation start off in this abrupt manner. The co-operation of the Common Council could not now be relied upon, and the Committee itself rejected the Metropolitan Board of Works, thinking that the Corporation would be the best authority. As the authority, whatever it was, must have funds, an hon. Member from Scotland proposed, after raising the price of meat to consumers in London, to put a rate upon them to defray the expenses of the market. It would have been more reasonable in the hon. Member, when he was raising the price of the Aberdeenshire beasts, to levy a contribution upon Scotland. The people of London did not want this Bill, and the witnesses connected with the London consuming interest protested against it; they were satisfied with the system which had proved effectual in keeping the cattle plague out of the country since September last, and it was monstrous that the price of meat should be raised by these restrictions, and that then the ratepayers should be called upon to pay an additional tax to carry out the scheme. There was another 149 proposal to create as an authority five Royal Commissioners, but they were to have no funds, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he would not propose a shilling for them in the Estimates, nor would he put a money clause in the Bill. How were the Commissioners to pay large compensations if they were not provided with funds? All this only showed that the Government could not be in earnest, and that this crude and ill-considered scheme ought not to be proceeded with. Might not the measure be safely remitted to the new Parliament? Let that decide upon this new protective policy—upon the reversal of the policy which Parliament had of late years followed. He was not opposed to reasonable precautions for keeping the rinderpest out of the country; but this measure had not received the sanction of any Committee of Inquiry which ever sat upon the subject, and it was not in accordance with the Resolutions of the Committee of 1866, which simply recommended that the Privy Council should have power to declare any country infected, and to prohibit the importation of animals therefrom. Under those circumstances he should conclude by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
§ MR. NORWOOD,
in seconding the Amendment, said, that the very able speech just delivered by the hon. Member had so exhausted the subject that he would confine himself to stating to the House the very serious results experienced by his constituents from restrictions of a very similar character to those proposed by the Bill. The importation of cattle into Hull in 1865 was 35,000 head; in 1866, when the Order in Council confined the circulation within the borough boundary, the import fell to 23,000; and in 1867, during which slaughter was made compulsory within an area of but ninety acres adjacent to the waterside, it was further reduced to 12,000, while for the five and half months of the present year the import has not exceeded 1,000 head. Thus the import of foreign cattle into Hull has nearly ceased, and his constituents expect that a similar result would attend the operation of the proposed measure in the metropolis. The trading interests of the port had also suffered severely, for the reduction of import had operated in the same proportion on the payments for freight, wharfage, railway carriage, and other charges. In 1865 the freight paid to the steamship owners on cattle alone was estimated at 150 nearly £27,000. He was assured by a leading butcher at Hull that the price of beef was 1d. per lb. dearer than it would have been had the restrictions alluded to not been imposed, and he called the attention of the Members for the large towns of the West Riding to the fact that in 1865 as many as 28,000 head of cattle were forwarded from Hull to Leeds, Wakefield, Sheffield, and other towns. This was a question therefore in which their constituents were as largely interested as the outports, and he called upon them to resist a measure of so retrograde a character, and designed—in his opinion—with a view of protecting the agricultural interest to the detriment of the meat-consuming people of this country.
§ Amendment proposed,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the proposal to pass a permanent law, requiring that in order to prevent the introduction of the Cattle Plague into this Country from abroad, all foreign cattle and other animals imported into the Port of London shall be landed at one prescribed spot, and shall not be removed thence alive, ought not to be considered apart from the general policy of imposing legal restrictions on the foreign cattle trade in other ports of the United Kingdom,"—(Mr. Milner Gibson,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, that in the Select Committee he had voted with the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Milner Gibson) for continuing the permissive power to the Privy Council to admit cattle from Spain and Portugal, where no cattle plague had existed; and in so doing he did not think that he had struck at the vital principle of the Bill. Barking Creek had been chosen because it presented the most reasonable prospect of a site within easy limits of the metropolis. After having passed twenty-five days in the Committee with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne, and witnessed his efforts to defeat the Bill, he was not surprised at his Proteus-like appearance in opposition to it again. He found in the right hon. Gentleman a strong supporter of the butchers, of the foreign importer as against the Englishman, and, last of all, an instructor as to the course which he ought to have taken in the interest of the farmer. With respect to the evidence laid before the Committee, the 151 House ought, he thought, to he put in possession of one fact, which was, that in order to lessen the expense the Committee determined to make its proceedings as short as possible, and stopped the witnesses for the promoters of the Bill in order to further that object. The Bill was objected to on three grounds—that it was calculated to diminish the importation of foreign cattle, and consequently the supply of food; that it was a return to protection—that now very ugly word; and that it would afford no adequate security against the introduction of the cattle plague. As to the first point there was a considerable amount of evidence to show that though the importations at the outset might be diminished, it would soon find its level. Other witnesses thought that the foreign trade would not diminish. They had the evidence of one witness, a large importer, to the effect that the present restrictions acted much more injuriously than those proposed would do. But even if foreign importation were diminished, would it lessen the supply to the consumers of London? Would not the home trade increase and fill up the gap when the farmers of this country, relieved from the dread of infection, ceased to have objections to the breeding of cattle? With regard to protection, he could say that all the Agricultural Societies with which he had communicated denied that the idea of protection—except the protection of their flocks and herds from disease—had entered into their mind at all. The proper description to apply to the object now sought, to be obtained was to call it, not protection, but rather the establishment of police regulations, which it was necessary to adopt in consequence of the character of all the localities from which foreign cattle came not being sufficiently known. As the present metropolitan area was acknowledged to be insecure, inasmuch as, in spite of all the restrictions, there was a constant transmission of cattle through it, they were entitled to ask the House to pass a measure which would reduce that area, bringing it down to such a circumference that it could be fairly watched. The butchers had always shown themselves most consistent, for whenever any measure interfered with their trade they were always found banded in opposition to it. They had opposed the Copenhagen market, and the Islington market. In many instances their opposition had proved to be erroneous, and in the present case they would discover that 152 the Bill would not so seriously affect them is they feared. In his country the people felt strongly on this question, and, as Member for that county, he hoped the House would pass the Bill as speedily as possible.
§ MR. DENT
said, he believed that the general feeling of the members of the Royal Agricultural Society was in favour of the Bill, but he thought that they did not thoroughly understand what the Bill proposed to do. It was supposed by the farmers generally that the object if the Bill was to confine the sale and slaughter of all foreign cattle to a particular spot at the waterside. He did not think that that was a right description of the nature of the Bill. Already leave had been given for the importation of cattle from Spain, Portugal, and parts of France, and it was quite clear that that principle must be carried out by allowing the introduction of cattle from other places not infected with disease. Perhaps hon. Members were not aware what a large proportion of the metropolitan supply came from countries not infected. He found by the Customs' Report for 1866 that out of a total metropolitan supply of bulls, oxen, and cows, amounting to 145,000 head, 73,000 came from Portugal, Spain, Denmark, France, Sweden, and Norway; so that half the supply came from countries perfectly uninfected by the rinderpest. If a waterside depôt were established in which the cattle from, the uninfected countries were placed in contact with cattle from infected parts a manifest injustice would be done; and if, on the other hand, a market for Russian cattle were exclusively established, the rinderpest would be brought there in a more dangerous form than it had hitherto presented itself. He believed that Mr. Algernon Clarke, of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, had much to do with the concoction of the present Bill, for he wrote to The Times that—The very purpose of such a market is to provide for the constant reception of animals without let or hindrance from all countries whatever, whereas, in the absence of a safety market, animals can be admitted under a rigorous examination only from those ports which from time to time may offer no danger of disease.The Bill afforded the minimum of safety with the maximum of inconvenience. It was an attempt to shift the responsibility from the shoulders of the Privy Council to irresponsible Commissioners. The course 153 adopted by the French Government at the time of the cattle plague was most judicious. They closed their frontiers to all cattle during the continuance of the plague, but the moment they found that it was extinct they at once removed the restrictions. A great deal of the evidence taken before the Committee went to prove that the metropolitan market was always more or less full of disease. This disease, however, came from the country districts of England as well as from abroad. Diseased cattle were sent up from the country to the metropolitan market; and therefore he thought it would be advisable that store cattle should not be brought to that market. It should be confined to the reception of fat stock. The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council attacked the foreign cattle importers in a manner that was scarcely justifiable. Although foreign stock might have originally introduced the disease in this country, the proportion of infected cattle imported from abroad was very small. The noble Lord seemed to think that there was a decrease in our home production of cattle; but Ireland was now our great home emporium for our cattle. Before 1845 the foot and mouth disease was scarcely known in this country, because the cattle were driven leisurely along the roads to London, being furnished with plenty of food and water on their journey, whereas at present they were conveyed in railway trucks, where they were kept without food and water. The decrease in the supply of English cattle was owing to the farmers in many districts finding that the feeding of animals for the fat markets suited the rotation of their crops better than rearing young stock, and in consequence they depended more upon Ireland to supply store animals.
§ MR. HEADLAM moved the adjournment of the debate.
said, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Milner Gibson) had stated that the Standing Order Committee had had some erroneous information placed before it. He should be glad to know to what the right hon. Gentleman alluded.
§ SIR ANDREW AGNEW
said, he wished to explain, that whereas the right hon. Gentleman had said that the Scotch cattle dealers hoped to gain an additional £2 per head for their cattle if the Bill 154 passed, they hoped that the public would at the same time get their meat a great deal cheaper. He thought there was an attempt by a side wind to defeat a most useful measure.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that it could scarcely be said that there was an attempt to defeat the Bill by a side wind when the noble Lord who had charge of it had occupied two hours in addressing the House upon going into Committee. That was the best proof that the subject required ample discussion. He trusted that when the debate came on again opportunity would be afforded for the metropolitan Members to express their opinions with regard to it.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
explained that one of the erroneous statements to which he referred as having been made before the Committee on the Standing Orders was to the effect that there could be no doubt that the opponents before the Committee were the identical persons who in March last petitioned against the clause, and who for twenty-three days, directly or indirectly discussed it without raising this particular objection.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he wished the First Minister of the Crown would state whether he considered these Morning Sittings satisfactory? His own opinion was that they interfered with the rights of private Members when the House resumed in the evening.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give them full time to discuss the question. He believed they would be able to satisfy him that the Bill could not possibly go on, but still it was desirable that they should have full opportunity of entering into the matter; more especially so as, in consequence of the breach of the Standing Orders, not one out of 100 of his constituents would be at liberty to appear before the House of Lords and demand as of right that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee of the House of Lords, and gone into de novo. In his opinion the Bill would actually defeat the object which its agricultural supporters desired to accomplish.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he would put the Bill down for Monday next, not because he had any hope that it would then come on, but to give an opportunity of seeing what arrangement could be made for the discussion of it. He would do what he could to bring about the resumption of the discussion nest week. Although hon. 155 Members might object to Morning Sittings, they must at this period of the Session be content with what time they could get.
said, he believed that there was a disposition to take either a Morning or an Evening Sitting for the discussion of this Bill. It was a measure of great importance, and ought to be discussed fully.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday next.