HC Deb 27 April 1869 vol 195 cc1696-8

said, he wished to ask the Vice President of the Council, Whether he has received any official intelligence of the arrival of a cargo of 900 sheep by the "Trident" from Hamburg; and, whether they have been condemned as infected by Small Pox; if so, whether, under such circumstances and the recent arrival of a similar cargo from Antwerp, he does not intend to re-enact the recent Order for the slaughter of sheep coming from such ports?


, in reply, said, it was true that last Saturday a cargo arrived from Hamburg of 905 sheep. The Custom House authorities suspected that four of these sheep were suffering under the disease of the sheep-pox. They were detained, and they had all since been killed, and measures were taken, as in the other cases, to disinfect the vessel and the wharf. But there was great doubt whether this was the sheep-pox or whether it was another disease similar in its symptoms, but by no means so fatal in its character. However, the Custom House thought, and in his opinion most rightly, that if they were to err at all it was better to act on the side of caution, and all the sheep were killed as if they had the sheep-pox, though, he believed, they had not. As an impression had gone abroad in the country that the other two cargoes, some of which were diseased, were altogether infected, he was anxious to remove that impression. The facts of the case were these—The cargo that arrived in London from Antwerp consisted of 1,800 sheep, of which five were diseased; and of these 1,800 only 219 came from the person to whom the diseased sheep belonged. There was no reason to suppose that the rest of the sheep were diseased, but all were killed. So with regard to the cargo that was landed at Harwich, only four sheep were diseased out of 375, but the whole were killed. As to the latter part of the Question, he had to say that his noble Friend Lord De Grey was giving the subject his closest consideration; but, as they were at present informed, the Government did not think it was necessary to re-enact the Orders in Council for the slaughter of sheep, and if the House would allow him he would state why this was not thought to be necessary. Hitherto they had been able to contend, and to contend successfully, with all the cases of diseased sheep that had been imported; but if the Orders in Council for the slaughter of sheep were re-enacted the effect upon the consumption of the country would be very considerable. The House would, perhaps, allow him to state that a large portion of the consumption of mutton in London was supplied by foreign importation. In 1865, 41½ per cent of all the live sheep brought into London were imported from abroad. In 1866, the importation was more than 50 per cent; in 1867, it was nearly 50 per cent, while in 1868, when the Orders in Council for the slaughter of sheep were in force, the importation was only 12 per cent, but up to the present time this year the importation had been 48,000, against 25,000 for the same period last year. The hon. Member (Mr. Corrance) would therefore see that if these Orders in Council were renewed it would be a real hardship to the consumers. He might also state this other fact, that there was a great difference between the cattle disease and the sheep-pox. The cattle disease, when it had once broken out, could only be stopped with great difficulty; whereas, since the sheep-pox made its appearance in 1865, in every case they had been able to stamp it out, without allowing it to do any harm. Taking all these considerations together, they were not prepared to renew the Orders in Council.


said, he wished to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council, Whether, with reference to the recent importation of sheep infected with the "Sheep Pox," it is true that this disease has lately largely prevailed, and does at present, largely prevail at Hamburg, Antwerp, and Schleswig-Holstein?


said, that he had directed inquiries to be made on this subject. At Antwerp and in Belgium there was no sheep-pox. From Rotterdam he had heard that the sheep-pox had entirely disappeared from South Holland and Zealand. From Hamburg he heard that there were no fresh cases in Mecklenburgh and Holstein.