HC Deb 17 February 1869 vol 194 cc90-4

, in moving for leave to bring in a Bill to amend and perpetuate the Acts relating to Contagious or Infectious Diseases among Cattle and other animals, and for other purposes, said, he understood there would be no opposition offered to the introduction of the Bill, and he would not therefore take up the time of the House by arguing in its favour. When the subject was under discussion last year the present Prime Minister made a suggestion, which seemed to be fraught with wisdom—namely, that any Bill intended to deal with London should also deal with the kingdom generally. He (Lord Robert Montagu) had acted upon that suggestion, and the present Bill was not one of a local or hybrid character, but was a general Bill, the provisions of which were applicable for England and Scotland. Its first provision was to render permanent those Acts upon which the present system rested, and which had been continued from time to time. These Acts would only last for two Sessions longer unless they were made permanent. Under those Acts the Privy Council might appoint certain ports where foreign cattle might be landed; and at those ports certain portions of ground had to be set apart for separate markets; these markets were for the reception of all foreign cattle, which had to be slaughtered before removal. On the other hand, the local authorities, under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts, had powers for acquiring land for these separate markets. There were three modes by which they might provide for the expenses: first, out of the ordinary county or borough rates; secondly, by means of tolls or rates on the markets; and thirdly, by borrowing from the Public Works Loan Commissioners at the rate of 3¼ per cent. Under those Acts there was, however, no direct obligation laid on the local authorities for the formation of these separate markets. It was, in fact, optional with a town to cease to import cattle, and not set apart any portion of ground for a separate market. But under the present Bill it would be made obligatory on every local authority proposing to import cattle to set apart permanently such a place for a market. The provisions of the Bill were made permanent, partly because the inconvenience and loss was great, when a large sum of money had to be expended for an ephemeral object, which could not long continue to pay interest on capital. The local authority, according to the existing law, would, continue to be, in counties, the Quarter Sessions, and in boroughs the municipal authorities. As regarded the metropolis the City Corporation would be the local authority in the City, but in the metropolitan area the local authority would be the Metropolitan Board of Works. In the Bill, however, the local authority would only be designated by the term "local authority." He did not propose to interfere with the jurisdiction of the local authorities as now existing. The local authority, if they chose, might have two or three or more places, instead of one, for the reception and slaughter of foreign cattle. In Essex, for instance, the Thames Haven and Dagenham Dock Companies might both apply to the local authorities and be sanctioned, or a company might be formed and apply for the sanction of a new locality. The Bill would have very little effect upon the country generally, because at those provincial ports where foreign cattle were now permitted to be landed accommodation had already been provided. Under the previous Acts the local authorities were placed at a great disadvantage in raising money, because the markets to be provided were not permanent; this Bill would relieve them of that disadvantage. Of all places in the king- dom London would be the most affected by the Bill, which, however, would contain advantageous powers for enabling the Corporation to mortgage the funds at their disposal for the market, besides other advantages. The Bill would reserve to the Privy Council their existing powers to permit certain classes of cattle to be imported into the English markets. Last year an application was made to the Privy Council for permission to import cattle from Normandy, Brittany, Spain, and Portugal into our southern ports, and the Bill would not take away from the Privy Council the power of dealing with such applications, but they would of course do so upon then-own responsibility. The Privy Council would also retain their present powers of quarantine. They would also be given a power to extend the time for the formation of the markets in large towns from one to three years. The local authorities, on the other hand, would have powers for acquiring land just as they did now under the Local Government Act.


, in seconding the Motion, said, he believed the proposed measure would be very beneficial. Perhaps the Government might entertain a suggestion he would offer for the redress of a grievance. During the prevalence of the cattle plague in this country an Act was passed providing compensation at a fixed sum, to be paid to those owners of cattle whose beasts had been slaughtered under the orders of the inspectors; and another Act was afterwards passed, providing that compensation should be paid out of the rates. But in the interval between the passing of those two Acts many beasts were slaughtered by order of the inspectors, the owners of which had been unable to obtain any compensation because the compulsory slaughter happened in that interval. The Government might perhaps consider whether a clause should not be introduced into the Bill to meet these claims.


said, he would not oppose the introduction of the Bill, but, judging it from the description which the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) had given of it, it would be his duty to oppose the Bill on the second reading, and at every subsequent stage. He was not sorry the noble Lord had brought it forward so early, because it was abso- lutely necessary that the principles on which the importation of foreign cattle was to be regulated should be made clear and plain. He had already presented a Petition on the subject from the town he represented, and he could state that a healthy and vigorous trade in foreign cattle, which was for the benefit of the whole community, and which would have grown every year, had been reduced by the establishment of these separate markets, which had brought it down to one-third of what it was before they were opened. The question was fully discussed at the end of last Session, and the result was that the Bill for the establishment of a separate market for London was withdrawn. After its withdrawal the Privy Council issued an Order placing the importation of sheep under the same regulations as that of cattle with regard to the separate markets, and the result had been that the importation of foreign sheep into Newcastle had been put a stop to, and the trade completely destroyed. This was a grave and serious subject, affecting the welfare of the whole community, and as such it would have to be considered by the House. So far as he could form an opinion of the Bill of the noble Lord, its object was to stereotype a most objectionable system to make it absolute and permanent.


said, he would have preferred to see the Bill in the hands of the Government, rather than in the hands of a private Member, although he had no doubt that the noble Lord who had introduced the measure was better acquainted with the subject than most Members of the House. From the speech of the noble Lord it was not to be gathered that he intended dealing in anyway with the diseases of home cattle and the regulations to be imposed upon them; and yet, taking a series of years, the losses to the farmer and consumer from the lung disease and the foot and mouth disease in the home breeds had been quite as large as from the cattle plague. No Bill could be satisfactory to the country which, while it attempted to impose restrictions on foreign cattle, did not deal with the diseases of English cattle; it would not be fair to the consumer, to the importer, nor to the farmer himself. He had entertained great hopes that the Government would have taken up the subject, and he should be very glad to know that it was to be dealt with as a whole.


, without offering any opinion on the Bill sketched by the noble Lord, would simply say that the Government would not offer any opposition to its introduction. With respect to the Order in Council in reference to the importation of sheep, made early in the Recess, he was glad to state that the Government were considering whether it might not be rescinded.


said, the Bill of last year was generally approved, but it failed because of its financial defect. It was absolutely necessary hat some restrictions of a permanent character should be placed on the importation of foreign cattle from the astern countries. The question of the markets had been made a great deal of, nit he did not believe that the markets would be very expensive; and he was certain that when the Bill came to be discussed the feeling of the House would be strongly in its favour.

Motion agreed to.

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Resolved, That the Chairman be directed to move the House, that leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend and perpetuate the Acts relating to Contagious or Infectious Diseases among Cattle and other Animals; and for other purposes.

Resolution reported:— Bill ordered to be brought in by Lord ROBERT MONTAGU and Mr. SELVIN-IBBETSON.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 1.]