HC Deb 04 August 1869 vol 198 cc1252-3

said, he wished to ask the Vice President of the Council, Whether Her Majesty's Government have received information that the foot and mouth disease has broken out among cattle in the county of Bucks, and that such disease has been imported from Spain; and, whether, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, it is too late to consider some alteration in the Contagious Diseases Animals Bill, which may prove a more efficient protection against the importation of such diseases?


said, in reply, that the Government had received no information of the foot and mouth disease having broken out among cattle in the county of Bucks, but they had received information of that disease being at Windsor, as they had heard of its being in other parts of England and Ireland; but they had no reason to suppose or believe that it was imported from Spain, any more than other cases of disease which for many months, he might say for years past, had been more or less prevalent throughout the kingdom. It would be too late now to make any alteration affecting this matter in the Bill, which was in the Paper to-day for the consideration of the Lords' Amendments. Perhaps, as he observed from the newspapers that foot and mouth disease existed in one or two parts of the country, he might be allowed to state how the law now stood, and how the law would stand when the new Act passed in relation to it. At present there were stringent restrictions in regard to foreign cattle having that disease. They were detained by the Custom House authorities and slaughtered. There were no restrictions as to home cattle. The prevalence of the disease had arisen from the removal of the restrictions, which were found too stringent to be borne without very great reason, and since their removal the foot and mouth disease had spread very much throughout the country. There was an apprehension, he observed, that the present disease was preparatory to rinderpest; but it had, in fact, nothing to do with rinderpest. It had been in the country since 1836, and there was a difference of opinion as to whether it had been imported or not. The effect of the Bill now becoming law would be to check the movement of cattle having foot and mouth disease, under regulations which, in the opinion of the Government, would tend to isolate the disease and prevent its spreading. It was not a disease to be stamped out like cattle plague, because it was curable. Foreign cattle would, under the new law, remain under much more stringent restrictions than home cattle.