§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, he rose to move the second reading of the Bill. It had not been his intention to detain the House with any statement upon this subject, but he had been reminded that this was rendered necessary by the number of new Members recently returned to Parliament, who could not be supposed to be familiar with the legislative action that had taken place in former years. He had introduced the Bill thus early in the Session because, judging from the divisions which occurred last year, he believed that the opinion of the House was not against the principle of the measure. Since his Bill had been laid upon the table the Government had hastily framed and introduced a measure which they had not previously contemplated; or which they had considered and cast aside as unnecessary. The energy which they had evinced since his Bill had been printed, and the rapidity with which the Government scheme had been concocted, in order "to cap" his Bill, had excited his wonder and even admiration. Some were under the delusion that he intended to run his Bill against that of the Government. That, however, was not the case; for the two measures related to different branches of a great question, and in nowise did they trench upon or interfere with each other. They did not profess to cover the same ground or aim at the same end. The Government Bill dealt with the movement of cattle inland; his Bill dealt with the arrival of foreign cattle. Their Bill was directed against the existence of diseases in this country; his was designed to prevent the importation of new disease. The rules of the House prevented him from discussing the two measures together, but he hoped they would both be referred to the same Committee, and then they could be considered together, and they could be made to harmonize with each, other and form one measure. Some had taken upon them to assert that this was a question of the interests of the producers of stock against the interests of the importers of stock; and that all attempts at legislation respecting foreign 997 cattle were made in the interests of the home producers. This he emphatically denied; the contests of twenty-four years ago were not to be revived; his measure was introduced in the interest of every class of the community. But let those who had the hardihood to make such an assertion, and to oppose the Bill on that ground, consider for a moment the meaning of their assertion; let them contemplate what a support of the foreign cattle trade, against the English cattle production, amounted to. There were in this country, according to a late Return, 45,500,000 acres under cultivation or bearing stock; and calculating the capital employed at the low rate of £4 an acre, we had £185,000,000 employed in agriculture. This was a large sum as compared with the capital engaged in the importation of cattle; the capital employed in the whole cattle importing trade did not probably amount to more than a hundredth part of it. The assertion to which he had alluded, then, amounted to this: the smaller interest was to be supported to the detriment of the larger; the interests of the foreigner were to over-ride the interests of this country. Formerly farmers had been of little account and their wishes had been little heeded, because they were scattered and separate; they had no unity, no organization. Chambers of Agriculture had now, however, changed this state of things; the farmers had the amplest opportunities given them to discuss their position and interests; and their wishes had been so strongly and so unitedly expressed in favour of the Bill under consideration that it would not be becoming in the House to refuse to give the Bill its most earnest and careful consideration. The numerous attendance in the House so early on a Wednesday was a sign that the pressure of these Chambers of Agriculture was already felt. Lot him warn the House how they resisted the pressure, because these Chambers were so young; they were an infant Hercules in the cradle. When the cattle plague first broke out two systems of legislation had been inaugurated. The aim of the first was to stamp out the pestilence, and consisted entirely of internal regulations; the most stringent restrictions were placed upon the movement of cattle, accompanied by a wholesale slaughter of all infected beasts. The farmers had made up their minds that 998 these serious losses were necessary, and they bore it all with patience. The aim of the second system was the prevention of an access of new disease. The first of these systems was now in abeyance, for the plague had been stamped out; but the second was not, and could not be in abeyance, because the danger of disease being imported from abroad was ever present; nay it was increased by the increase of railway communication with the east of Europe. The Bill of the Government was founded cm the first system; it was with this second system that his Bill proposed to deal. The two Bills therefore did not clash; they did not meet on the same ground; for the second system was entirely overlooked by the Government measure. He did not, by any means, oppose the Government measure; he desired that both Bills should pass, in order that we might have a whole, and not a partial legislation. For what had been the result of the combination of the two systems of which he had spoken. Not only had the plague itself been stamped out, but also three other cattle diseases of foreign origin, had been reduced from a proportion of 42½ per cent to 1 per cent. These three diseases had, however, increased to 30 per cent since the restrictions upon the movement of home cattle had been removed. That was a proof that there ought to be strict regulations enforced even now with respect to the removal of cattle from one part of the country to the other; and farmers said, "We are ready to submit to your restrictions on the free movement of our cattle, but we hope you will deal justly with us, and prevent the access of new disease to our shores; put equally stringent restrictions on the importation trade; then each trade will be on the same footing, and our cattle will be preserved." They did not murmur at the harsh sanitary regulations at home; but they demanded to be made secure against a re-introduction of the plague from abroad. Indeed, that Bill would be most unjust which imposed home restrictions, while it permitted a constant influx of disease ab extra. What measures had already been sanctioned by previous Governments in order to attain this security? Lord Palmerston's Government totally prohibited the importation of cattle. That failed, and compulsory slaughter of all beasts at the 999 water-side, together with the option of quarantine was tried; but quarantine had totally failed; only one quarantine ground had been established; and that had never been used, because a beast was found to be not worth the additional expenditure after having been in quarantine twenty-eight days. The result was that only one town had applied for a license, and that was Southampton, where in only one case was the quarantine used, and that was in the case of two beasts sent as a present to the Prince of Wales. While he was at the Privy Council Office, on the 11th of October, 1867, a new system was devised to give facilities to trade—that of separate markets. The principle on which this system rested was that the only security against contagion from foreign cattle was to prevent contact between foreign and English beasts. The prevention of that contact was of the most vital importance; for no other means of security, no plan which would absolutely prevent infection, and be a bar to a fresh access of disease, could be devised. And yet how urgent the necessity! Every year railways extended further into the east of Europe, where the cattle plague was chronic; every year foreign countries competed more with us for meat, and every year we had to extend the range of our trade; every year, consequently, the danger of importing the disease increased. If the disease declared itself immediately, the danger would be comparatively slight; but the period of incubation was variously described as from five to twenty-three days, and by the most scientific and authoritative witnesses, had been put down at from ten to fourteen days. During that time an animal might have the disease, during that time it might be continually affecting others, and yet not even the most experienced veterinary inspectors could possibly detect it. Now, a diseased beast might start from the east of Europe, and arrive in London in six days,—long before the period of incubation was over. Or an infected beast might arrive in Munich or Berlin, and there mix with healthy beasts on their way to England; these formerly healthy beasts would arrive in England in three days, with the germ of the disease in their systems, and before it showed itself the herd would be scattered throughout the country, and the mys- 1000 tery of the case would be increased, when it was known that those beasts had never come from the east of Europe or from any infected district. The only preventive against this was the creation of separate markets, which would give free scope to both the foreign and home trades. If a town desired to have both trades, then let it; but let the markets be separate; let all contact be rigidly guarded against. That was the principle upon which we had devised the system of separate markets. Some of the smallest seaports chose to have only an English market; larger towns required two markets, an English and a foreign market, and had found only convenience and benefit to result. But the largest town of all had only one market. That is to say, the system had been adopted throughout the country with the exception of London. There it was found impossible to force into motion an inert Corporation, which did not care sufficiently for the good of the surrounding country to expend those funds in forming a market which it loved to lavish on banquets. We had no means of forcing the Corporation, and could not forbid the foreign importation altogether; the trade was too large for that, and the demands were too urgent. We had, therefore, to content ourselves with the cumbrous metropolitan regulations as the only means of preventing contact between foreign and English beasts. Yet these metropolitan regulations were bad in two ways—first, they were of no avail for carrying out the vital principle of non-contact; and, secondly, they were, on the whole, a most useless as well as costly and cumbrous machinery. The size of the metropolitan area was 117 square miles. Cattle were landed from abroad chiefly on Saturday; they then remained on the wharves during at least twelve hours for inspection. The inspection was necessarily hurried, and consequently imperfect. Those beasts which were found to be diseased were slaughtered at the landing-place; this was a great inconvenience, from the want of proper slaughter-houses and the absence of any market or buyers; the remainder were passed from the docks to the metropolitan market; two-thirds of these were sold and then driven through the streets back to the vicinity of the place where they had been landed; the remaining third were sold and scattered 1001 throughout the whole metropolitan area to the various private slaughter-houses. This arrangement did not prevent contact between foreign and English cattle; it was of no avail whatever in this respect: the cattle were driven through the streets, they passed dairies on their road where the cows poked out their noses to smell the passing herd and take the disease, and their manure was sent out into the country to infect the cattle on any farm where it might be used. It was by this means that the disease was first carried into Hertfordshire, in 1865. Beside this, a foreign beast might be driven from the market to a meadow half in and half out of the metropolitan area, and by merely walking across the field it would be on I ground from which it might lawfully pass all over the country. Moreover, the traffic manager of the South Western Railway had stated in evidence that foreign cattle were constantly sent down his line. Foreign sheep, too, might go all over the country if they had not been imported in the same ship with cattle. And it was well known that they were a means of carrying the contagion of cattle plague. So the disease might break out at any time; there was, in fact, no security whatever against a new access of disease into the country through the metropolitan market. In fact, this had already occurred, only nobody became aware of it. In May, 1867, Mr. Gebhart imported forty beasts from Galicia, Hungary, or Podolia, or some neigbouring principality, he knew not whence; they were fine-looking animals, and sold for a good figure to graziers or butchers within the metropolitan area. After a week one of the buyers returned to him and said that one of the beasts had proved to be diseased; and, on inspection, it was found that these beasts had introduced a new type of cattle plague; not the Steppe Cattle Plague, to which we had become accustomed, but the Galician Plague. The result was, that 200 head of cattle had to be slaughtered to stop the disease which these forty had introduced. Three things were to be remarked in this case—first, the importer did not know where the cattle came from, whether from Galicia, Hungary, or Podolia; secondly, they had passed through Berlin after inspection—and a certificate of the Prussian veterinary inspector had been shown at 1002 the Privy Council Office in proof of this; and, thirdly, they were passed by our own inspector as healthy, and had been in the country a week before the mischief was discovered. If that occurred once, might it not occur again? The metropolitan restrictions, therefore, were of no avail whatever to secure us from a fresh access of disease. The same witness, in speaking of an importation of sheep, said the sheep had been put into a field adjoining "his valuable herd," and in saying so he let slip an ejaculation which showed that he recalled the fear and emotion which he had felt on that occasion. He said—"Damn it, they put the sheep in the field next to mine." I stopped him, and asked the cause of his alarm. He said that the sheep had come from abroad, and for aught that he knew to the contrary they might be infected. There was another case, which happened while the cattle plague was in the country. There being at one time an imminent danger of its breaking out in Friesland—because some symptoms of infection had been observed—immediate measures were taken to sell the infected cattle in the English market. Steamers were telegraphed for to take the cattle over to England, and they came in very large numbers. After a week the Dutch Government telegraphed to the Privy Council Office to take care, because cattle plague had broken out in Friesland. But by that time the harm had been done. There were other examples, but he would not detain the House by dilating on them. What he had said was sufficient to show that there was no security afforded by the metropolitan regulations. He would not on the present occasion show how cumbrous they were, nor what inconvenience they caused, for no benefit; this he had done last year. But he would remind the House that this inconvenience was very useless. Why should these foreign beasts go to he metropolitan market at all? Two-thirds of them went there at great expense and trouble and injury to the beasts, only to return again to Whitechapel and the East-end, so that two-thirds of the foreign trade was inconvenienced for the convenience of the other third. An absurd regulation! These metropolitan regulations being in every sense utterly futile, what substitute can be proposed? The Vice Pre 1003 sident of the Council had said that they would stop the importation of cattle from infected places. It would be utterly impossible! You will not know that a place is infected until the mischief has been done. In this Friesland case, for instance, the cattle had come over first, and a week afterwards the Dutch Government telegraphed to us to take care—when it was too late. We could not have intelligence in sufficient time, and therefore there was no security in the world that we could keep out infected cattle by saying we should exclude those that might come from such and such places where the infection prevailed. But even if we could know in time, still it would be impossible in the nature of things. The cattle from abroad were shipped at two ports; but they mostly came through one port—namely Gestemunde. From Prussia, from Silesia, from Galicia, from Hungary, from Bohemia the cattle arrived on the quays at Gestemunde and were shipped, so as to arrive in London on the Saturday for the Monday's market. Thus cattle were brought together from every country of the interior, without the least attempt at separating or classing them. Now, he would ask, how were we to separate the cattle coming from the infected places from those which came from the uninfected? It would be utterly impossible, and if it were possible it would be of no avail, for the rest would be infected. But suppose it were possible; suppose the cattle coming from Bohemia, for example, were to be slaughtered at the water-side, then they would be slaughtered either where there were no slaughter-houses, no market, no buyers, no conveniences whatever; or else the local authorities would be asked to make, for a few cattle, a market which would, in the long run, have to be supported by rates and tolls; and in that case the few cattle would not make the market pay the interest on the outlay of capital. The Vice President of the Council, the other night, seemed to think it would be quite sufficient to forbid importation at the time when there was any disease prevailing, and to leave the trade free at all other times. The objection to that was that a very great shock and consequence disturbance to trade would be occasioned. We had a great importation from Holland; suppose that we heard that the plague was there, and 1004 we issued a prohibition that no more cattle was to come from that country; yet people must eat; the same amount of cattle must come from somewhere. Some fine morning you issue your edict forbidding the importation of the thousands of cattle from Holland. On the instant some other place must be found where those thousands of cattle can be procured. Where, then, should we get our cattle from? A great shock or jar and disturbance to trade would thus be occasioned, and did we suppose that the wheels of trade could run smoothly all the while? Even a great iron steam-engine is injured by being checked suddenly or suddenly put out of gear; and do you expect that you will not injure so delicate a structure as a trade, with all its credit and fears and sympathies? It would be a great deal better to say at once—"We will allow the trade to flow on for ever and ever in a certain channel," and have no more shocks and disturbances; because then it would be found that the trade, which was a most elastic thing, would accommodate itself by degrees to the altered circumstances. But if on a sudden we were to turn back some 80,000 or 100,000 cattle from a particular country, we might go far and wide without being able to find another from which so many could be obtained, and the people of England would have to do without them. Besides, we could not have a separate market unless it was to be a permanent market. A market requires a site, and a system of drainage, and buildings, and appliances, a quay and landing-places; for all of which capital must be sunk. Will this be undertaken for the time during which you may please to forbid importation? They might as well ask him to believe that a man would build a house upon a three years' lease. If Government were to ask the local authorities to make a market they must undertake that it would be permanent. These were his objections to the two plans at which the Vice President seemed to hint the other night, and which his party had devised, and so vehemently supported, as their conceptions of what the policy of the nation should become. The next question then was, was there any danger? He need not address himself to that question, because the Government confessed it, otherwise why bring in a Bill on the subject? why desire to le- 1005 gislate for it? why maintain any restrictions whatever? Well, then, he would ask, would they weaken the present safeguards, or keep them as they were? If they weakened them, and the plague came in, then the Government would have incurred a serious responsibility, for they would have wantonly injured the country for the sake of the prejudices and prepossessions of their party. But if they were to maintain the safeguards, then they would, in fact, be making them permanent, which was the very thing he desired. It was true that he desired something more; but what he desired would make little difference to all the outports; for in them the system was already established. And that little difference would be a sensible benefit. It would be a benefit to the seaport towns financially, because it would make the markets permanent, and it would be worth while to expend money upon them. In the next place, what were called separate markets were not in the legal sense markets at all; they were merely confined areas with sale licenses. But the Bill would make markets in these places, for the market clauses would apply; and it would enable the local authorities to make all the regulations that they thought desirable, and they would have power to impose tolls and market rates, and thus pay off the expenses of the market. Besides, under this Bill they would have most extensive borrowing powers. To all the outports, therefore, it would be a great advantage. With regard to the metropolis, it would have to provide separate markets for foreign meat; or, in other words, instead of having a metropolitan area of 117 square miles, the local authorities would have to provide one or more—six or seven areas, if they liked—for the landing and slaughtering of cattle, instead of the many private slaughter-houses which could not be under control, and had long been condemned as nuisances and serious injuries. The local authority need not have the expense of constructing these markets even; they may confer their powers on one or more persons or companies, who would then have the same power as the authorities of the outports. Then we should no longer have a third of the foreign cattle wandering over the town to private slaughter-houses spreading infection as they go. Those 1006 private slaughter-houses had always been regarded as a great nuisance, and in 1854 an Act was passed to abolish them in twenty years—that was, in 1874. If anybody would like to know what a nuisance those private slaughter-houses were he had only to compare them with the abattoirs in Paris. The abattoirs were as clean as possible, there was no smell there; the manure was all saved; the meat was kept hung up pure and sweet; in fact, one might go into them as into a drawing-room. But let them visit the private slaughter-houses of London. In the most densely-populated places, they would find behind the dwelling-houses a filthy dirty place, stinking and reeking enough to taint the meat and pollute the neighbouroood; this was used for the slaughter-house which supplied your table. Besides, part of the blood was lost, the manure was lost, and there was loss everywhere. Moreover, the cattle must now be driven through the streets to these private slaughter-houses, and everybody knew what a nuisance that was. The Corporation of London wanted to get rid of the nuisance of driving cattle through the streets, and had expended large sums of money on a dead meat market. It had been argued that these small slaughter-houses were a convenience; but one of the witnesses who appeared against the Bill last year told the Committee that twenty-five of the large wholesale butchers had their slaughter-houses in one immense place in the east of London, which, he said, was the greatest convenience and benefit to the locality, because persons came from a distance of four or five miles to buy meat at wholesale prices, thus dispensing with the middleman. So that it appeared from the evidence of this witness against the Bill of last year, that it was of the greatest benefit to have slaughter-houses congregated together. Whether in the case of the outports or in the case of the metropolis the question was the same. The question was, what were we to do with the foreign fat cattle in the few days between the landing and slaughter? Ten days were now allowed instead of six, as formerly, but the cattle were seldom left to live so long, because the beast lost so much in weight and deteriorated so much in quality—becoming "muddled" (as the butchers term it) that it was the interest of the butcher to kill them as 1007 soon as possible. The question then was—Where shall the beasts be killed? Shall they be killed in private slaughter-houses all over the town, or in an abattoir at the water-side? Should we send only the available parts inland, and leave the guts and hides in the east of London, where there were manufactories to consume them; or should we carry the animals inland, at the risk of spreading infection, and afterwards send back the guts and hides, at increased expense and inconvenience, to be consumed? He had paid the greatest attention to the objections which were urged before the Committee of last year, and to all the objections which had since been started in the public Press; and all that appeared to be of the slightest weight seemed to come under one head—namely, "If you have separate markets, you will raise the price of meat." Now, if anyone proved to him that it would raise the price of meat to the poor man, he would not proceed further in the matter. Why should it raise the price of meat more to send only the available parts inland than to send the entire animal inland, and then have to send back the guts and hides again? Some people answer, "Because meat will not travel." He denied it altogether. Folkestone was now supplied with dead meat from London, so were Brighton and most of the towns in the south; the same might be the case with towns on the east and west. The very best meat we had in London was brought as dead meat from Aberdeen, a distance of 500 miles. A late Member of that House who now adorned the House of Peers, and who had been a Cattle Plague Commissioner, had told him that he regularly got his meat from Tiverton, because it was cheaper and better. Besides, fish could travel, and fish was much more perishable than meat. Fish was at its best the moment it was caught, and every moment afterwards it deteriorated; but meat was not at its best until five or six days after it had been killed, and it was not until after that time that it began to deteriorate. And yet fish could be sent hundreds of miles to London; a fortiori, so could meat. Moreover, dead meat travels better than live animals. Beasts sent by rail from Aberdeen lost £5 per head in value, to which loss must be added the amount of freight. After a long distance the flesh got what the drovers 1008 called "muddled"—that is, feverish, and the meat of such animals would not keep so well as the meat of beasts which had been killed at the other end of the journey. Therefore the mere sending of foreign cattle in the dead state would not raise the price of meat on the ground that meat will not travel, for meat did travel, and would travel better than the live animal. Hence the Bill would not tend to confine the foreign supply to the seaports; for it could be sent inland, and would arrive in a better state for being killed beforehand. Therefore the proposed measure would not, from this cause, raise the price of meat at all. Well then, how could the price be raised by what he proposed to do? It must be either because fewer cattle would come from abroad, or because the price of meat would be artificially raised in this country. He would first deal with the latter alternative. During the cattle plague, when all beasts were slaughtered by the water-side, was the price of meat raised? Separate markets were established on the 11th of October, 1867, and what was the result? Was the price of meat raised thereby? When he was at the Privy Council Office he obtained the prices of meat at various places—Liverpool, Birmingham, Southampton, and the metropolitan market—for he regarded these as "prerogative instances" of the prices of meat; and he would give some of the figures. In Liverpool, in 1863, the highest wholesale price of meat was 7¾d., the lowest 5d. Meat rose throughout the country in 1864, even before the arrival of the cattle plague in the autumn of 1865, and was at the highest for the first nine months of 1866; it then fell, and remained steady during 1867. Well, the highest price at Liverpool was 9d., the lowest 5d. After the establishment of separate markets in Liverpool the price actually fell, and in 1868 the highest was 8d. and the lowest 4d. The price was somewhat lower in the inland towns than in the seaport of Liverpool. In Manchester in 1866 the highest price was 8½d; in 1868 the highest was 8d. At Birmingham in 1866 the highest price was 8½d., and in 1868 it was 7¼d. Throughout all the towns the prices ruled highest until October, 1866, when there was a fall. He spoke of the wholesale prices alone, for a reason which would presently be apparent. 1009 With regard to the metropolitan market, in 1864 the highest price was 9d., the lowest 5¼d, On the 24th of March, 1866, an Order was issued that all foreign cattle should be killed at the water-side, and meat foil in price, the highest being 8¾d., the lowest 5¼d. On the 27th of April, 1866, foreign cattle were no longer killed at the water-side, but were allowed to go to the metropolitan market alive. At once prices rose; the highest price was 8¾d, and the lowest 5¼d. During the rest of the year the highest price was 7¾d., the lowest 4¼d. Well, that proved that the separate market system had not had the effect of raising the price of meat. But he would tell the House what had. It was the butchers. It was they that put on enormous profits and made meat dear. How was that? The reason was, that there was a forced sale of cattle in London. The London butcher only could compete as a buyer in the metropolitan market; for the country butcher could not remove the beast alive out of the metropolitan area, and he had nowhere to kill it. The butcher then hung back; he would not give the price, yet the beast must be killed within a limited time, and the farmer was obliged to come down. The London butcher took the beast home and killed it, and then came the competition. The Dover man, and the Brighton man. and the Folkestone man, all bid for the meat, and the London butcher, though he bought the animal cheap, because there was no competition there, could sell it dear, because there was competition after the beast had been killed. It was that which gave the retail butcher or middleman his large profits. In support of that opinion he would quote the authority of Dr. Trench, of Liverpool, in a letter to Dr. Williams of the Privy Council Office. Dr. Trench said—I do not consider that the importation has affected the price of meat to the consumer in the slightest degree; but, indeed, during the whole of the cattle plague the price of meat has never been regulated by the relative amount of supply and demand. I know that when cattle from Knowsley and other parts in the neighbourhood of Liverpool, and from the whole of Cheshire, were sent in overwhelming numbers, and at the very lowest price, to Liverpool, and when on account of the heat of the season meat could not be kept nor safely sent to other towns, yet the butchers absolutely increased the price to the consumer under the pretext of the existence of cattle plague. But though the importation of foreign cattle has not 1010 lessened the price of meat, the restrictions of the quarantine have been used as an apology for the continued high price maintained by the butchers.It was not the farmer's interest but the butcher's which raised the price of meat. If farmers obtained a higher price, other producers would step in to compete—that is, a foreign trade would at once be attracted. But if the English producer receives a low price, the foreign trade is repelled. The high price which the middleman obtains does not affect the trade, because you shut out the competition of other middlemen. What destroyed the foreign trade, then, was that there was too little remuneration for the producer, and what made the poor suffer was that the consumer had to pay such a high price to the retail butcher. Moreover, if they allowed foreign beasts to get inland alive they would raise the price of meat; in the first place because of the risk. Farmers felt, as had been testified in evidence, that there was a risk in rearing cattle, and ceased to do so. Secondly, if cattle plague were re-imported, the numbers of animals which would be lost would greatly raise the price of meat. And, thirdly, the cost of transit of the guts and hides must come out of the price of the meat, and thus increase the price of it. So much then for the artificial raising of the price of meat in this country. He now turned to the investigation of the other alternative. Would fewer cattle come over from abroad? Would prices be raised by a diminution of importation? He must remind the House that prices did not depend on importation, but importation depended on prices. That was the very A B C of political economy; and yet, the case of those who opposed the Bill last year rested on the assumption that the price would rise because the importation would become less under the Bill. The foreign producer learned the price of beasts in England, he knew the price abroad, and calculated whether the price which he would receive in England would not only cover the cost of the freight but give him a profit. If it did he would export, otherwise he would not. If the farmer here received a high price for his cattle the foreign exporter would therefore be induced to send foreign cattle over. That was stated by a Prussian witness before the Committee in answer to Question 6880. That question was— 1011What guides you in exporting to Belgium or France, instead of England?—It depends upon prices; I send where I can get the best return.When prices fall in England, you send to France or Belgium?—Yes; I send wherever the prices are best.It would follow from this that whenever there was a fall in the wholesale price of meat they would see a diminution in the number of cattle imported. This corollary was fully borne out by the facts. For instance, in 1861 the price was 5s. a stone, and 107,096 head were imported. In the autumn of that year the price fell to 4s. 8d., and in 1862 only 97,887 cattle were imported. There was a rise in price during the autumn of 1862 to 5s., and in the succeeding year, and so 150,898 head of cattle were imported in 1863. There was a rise again the year following 1864 to 5s. 6d., and 234,686 were imported, and then came the abnormal years of cattle plague. In the autumn of 1866, and in 1867, there was a serious fall down to 4s. l0d. a stone for prime beef, and as low as 3s. 4d. for inferior beef, and the importation declined to 117,620. It must be borne in mind that these were the wholesale prices, not the middleman's prices. With respect to mutton, the case was still more apparent. In 1861, when the price of mutton was 5s. l0d. a stone, 312,923 head were imported. During that year the price fell, and in 1862 only 299,472 head were imported. During 1862 the price rose from 5s. 4d. to 5s. l0d. in 1863, and the imports rose to 430,788 head. The price rose to 6s. 9d. in 1865, and the imports rose to 914,170 head. A fall in price to 6s. was followed by an importation of 790,880 sheep in 1866. And a further fall to 4s. 10d. in 1867 caused a falling-off in importation to 534,788 head. Hence he said generally that importation depended upon prices. He said "generally," because a proviso must be added. If something comes between the supply and the demand, then the balance is disturbed; if there is a third grasping hand between the price and the trade, the general rule may not hold good. In 1845, the energies of the House were directed to destroy Protection, which was the third grasping hand of the Government. In the trade of the present day the third grasping hand was that of the middleman. It is the middleman who makes the price high to the consumer and low to the producer; it is the mid- 1012 dleman, therefore, who repels trade. In the meat trade the middleman is the retail butcher. His exorbitant profits are the cause of the dearness of meat, which every one in this House knows to his cost. If these prices were not grasped by the middleman's hand, but flowed on to the producer, then trade would be stimulated, competition would arise, and the prices would be forced down to the normal level. But the middleman grasped large profits in his great butcher's fist, and the producer got only what he let slip through his fingers; so the foreign trade became dead; the forced sale destroyed competition; and all suffered except the butcher. Well, then, what cared he when he heard—as he had heard vociferated often enough,—"This Bill would destroy the retail butchers?" All the witnesses that came before the Committee last year said, "Tour Bill will ruin the 5,000 retail butchers in London." He acknowledged it; but this would cheapen meat to the consumer; because it would destroy the grasping hand which came between the producer and the consumer, and that would be gone which now purloined the profits and deadened trade. The price to the consumer would be less, and the price to the producer would be higher by the amount of the middleman's profits. And then trade would be stimulated and prices would fall. Now, the question reduced itself to this—the Bill could not lessen the number of home cattle in the whole country, it could lessen the supply then, only by turning the trade into another channel. It could do this, if it did so at all, only because either the freight was cheaper or because there were no middlemen to get large profits in the country to which the trade was turned. In other words, the trade would be turned only if the producer found a higher remuneration elsewhere. But this Bill could not affect the freight in one way or another. The only manner in which it could effect the price would therefore be by getting rid of the middlemen, which he had shown it would do. But the argument against the Bill was that it would raise the wholesale price of meat. Yes; it would do that; and therefore it would make it better worth while for the foreign producer to send over his cattle. That is to say: this measure would draw trade to England, while it also increased the supply 1013 of home cattle in England; or meat would become more plentiful. This Bill, therefore, would not injure trade. That which injured the foreign trade was distress among the working classes; or the reduction of the number or pay of the hands in mills and manufactories. Whenever there was great distress among the working classes there was injury to the foreign trade, because there was less consuming power here. That had been proved before the Committee by the evidence of Mr. Thomas Rudkin, the chairman of the City Markets Committee, who was examined by the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt). Mr. Vernon Harcourt, having extracted from the witness that "the great distress, and because the poor people of London were very badly off from want of work" caused the falling-off in the foreign cattle trade, asked (Q. 6278) "The consuming power of the population is very much less?—No doubt of it." The poor had less money to spend last year, and that it was which, had injured the trade. In support of what he had stated, he hoped the House would allow him to quote a few figures. He would first show that, as a matter of fact, the slaughtering Order, and the separate markets had not had the effect of diminishing the foreign supply. France and Holland had no imports of cattle; Belgium had; but France exported very few cattle annually. The exports of cattle from Holland to the United Kingdom during 1867 amounted to 20,360. Separate markets were established throughout the kingdom on October 11, 1867, and did that injure the trade? Did we get fewer cattle from Holland in consequence? Not at all, for in 1868 our importations from that country amounted to 32,590. With regard to sheep, in 1867, we imported. 116,260 sheep from Holland, and in 1868, 182,440. Then, again, the exports of j cattle from Belgium, which were nearly all to the United Kingdom, were in; 1867, 11,096, and in 1868, they were, four times as many, or 45,759. In 1866–7, for every two oxen which Belgium imported, she sent one to the j United Kingdom; but in 1868, for every three which she imported, she sent us j two. So, in 1866, out of every two sheep which Belgium imported, she sent us one; and in 1868, for every two, she sent more than one to us. It was clear, 1014 therefore, that the separate markets in the United Kingdom had not injured I the foreign trade. The right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) opposed his Bill, but the petition he presented, showed that he and his constituents were not agreed on the matter; I for the complaint of the people of Newcastle did not arise from their having a separate market, but from their having that separate market so far off—a very different story. The right hon. Gentleman's constituents had reason on their side. In 1866–7, the weekly average of cattle imported into Newcastle was 797, taking the twenty-seven weeks from the middle of August to the 17th of February. In 1867, the separate market was established in Newcastle, which he supposed caused a slight disturbance of trade; for in the same twenty-seven weeks of 1867–8 the weekly average fell to 634; but in 1868–9, when the separate market had got into working order, there was an enormous increase, for it rose to 1,117. Again, in the sheep trade for the same periods there had been a constant increase—the figures for the three periods being 5,128, 7,717, and 10,210. Hence, the separate market, established in October, 1867, so far from decreasing, had increased the total supply. The Vice President of the Council had picked out the case of Hull as one—the only one—in which the importation had been very large before the establishment of the separate market, and smaller afterwards. It was true that the importation was much larger at Hull in the year before the cattle plague than it was last year; but the reason for that, as shown in evidence before the Committee of last year, was that the former importation was abnormal; it consisted of store stock, which had been introduced as an experiment, but they were the means of introducing the cattle plague into Yorkshire; after which the importers would have nothing more to I say to store stock, and imported only, fat stock. Besides foreign store stock have always and everywhere found to be a loss and failure. He would next refer to the effect of the Order of August 20, 1868, which condemned imported sheep to be killed at the waterside. The arrivals of foreign sheep in London during the week ending February 1, 1868, were only 311 head; in the same week of 1869, they were 821; in the week end- 1015 ing February 8, 1868, they were 144; while in the same week of 1869, they reached 1,239; in the week ending February 15, 1868, the number imported was 33, and in the corresponding week of 1869, it was 2,442. In the week ending February 22, 1868, the number was 1,848; while in the same week of 1869, it was 4,407. That showed that the slaughtering Order had not diminished the foreign supply. He had made some extracts from the reports of the metropolitan market with regard to the imports of sheep after the issue of the slaughtering Order, which took- effect on September 1, 1868. Among the extracts were these—End of September.—We continue to receive a fair supply, and as many as 7,000 were collected at the water-side on Monday last.End of October.—Notwithstanding that prohibitory measures against the removal of foreign sheep have continued in force, fair supplies are still forwarded from the Continent, the arrivals during October having amounted to nearly 18,000 head, the whole of which, after being slaughtered at the water-side, have been sent to Newgate and Leadenhall markets for disposal.End of November.—Although the regulations compelling the slaughter of foreign sheep at the place of debarkation are still in force, foreign graziers have not been deterred from Bending their stock to this country, and the arrivals during the month have amounted to 18,162 head, the whole of which have been killed at the waterside.That was a plain proof that the order for slaughtering sheep at the water-side—a thing much worse than a separate market, because there were not the conveniences to the buyers of such a market—so far from diminishing the importation of sheep, had been followed by a very large increase of the trade; and, a fortiori, a separate market would not have the effect apprehended by its opponents. He had been considering the foreign supply only. Now, he would consider the total supply of meat, dead and alive, foreign and British, first for London, and then for the United Kingdom. He might mention that the following calculation had been made by Mr. Algernon Clarke, the Secretary to the United Chambers of Agriculture. Adding together both the home bred and the foreign cattle, sheep, and pigs sold in the metropolitan market, and reducing them to tons weight, he found that in 1867 the total quantity was 97,033 tons, of which 37,055 tons were foreign. Similarly, in 1868, 108,885 tons of meat 1016 were sold in the metropolitan market, of which 29,495 tons were foreign. Hence, although the foreign supply had slightly diminished throughout the year, yet they had a larger total supply of meat; and he begged the House also to observe how very small the foreign supply was in proportion to the home supply. Adding to the live animals the amount of dead meat brought to London from abroad, and also from the provinces, he found that total consumption of London in 1867 was 180,861 tons, of which the foreign animals were only 37,000 tons, or one-fifth of the whole. In 1868 the total consumption of London was 192,713 tons, of which the foreign animals were only one-seventh part. It followed that the total supply of meat to the metropolis has increased; and, secondly, it must be felt how much more anxiously we should guard against the destruction of the home supply, than against that paltry percentage of foreign trade. This was fully borne out by an undoubted authority. For Mr. Caird, in his pamphlet on Our Daily Food; its Prices and Sources of Supply, gave the proportion of foreign beef and mutton to English as only one-ninth of the entire supply, for the United Kingdom. Another most competent authority—the hon. Member for East Norfolk (Mr. Read)—had made very minute calculations, from which it was shown that the total production of dead meat in the United Kingdom was 1,222,048 tons in the year 1868; that 53,968 tons of this were imported alive from abroad, and 10,680 tons were imported dead; so that the total foreign supply was 64,378 tons, and the total consumption of both foreign and British meat in the United Kingdom was, 1,286,426 tons; of which, therefore, only 5 per cent was imported from abroad. Allowing for the inferiority of the foreign meat, the proportion in money value of foreign to British meat was 4½ per cent. Why, even if anybody were mad enough to exclude the foreign importation altogether they might easily increase the home supply to a greater extent than 4½ or 5 per cent. They would do more than this by decreasing those diseases, by which they now lost a greater proportion of their flocks and herds than that. He would in the next place advert to the dead meat trade. The dead meat trade was growing, and 1017 it was a great blessing to the people that it should be gradually supplanting the trade in live animals. In 1853 the total supply of live and dead at Smithfield was 155,328 tons; of which the foreign was 15 per cent, and the dead meat from the provinces 24¼ per cent. In 1863 the total supply of live and dead at the London market was 228,650 tons, the foreign being 17½ per cent, and the dead meat from the provinces 30 per cent. In 1867 the proportion of dead meat to live animals had risen to 45 per cent; or, taking the fourteen years from 1853 to 1867, the arrivals of dead meat in London from the provinces had increased 73 per cent, while the importation of foreign animals had increased 57½ per cent. In the metropolis two-thirds of the animals which came to the metropolitan market were killed for the dead meat markets of the metropolis; that is to say, the consumers went to the dead meat market to supply themselves with this amount. This is leaving out of account the dead meat which came from abroad and from the provinces. It is two-thirds of that which has been enumerated, in the foregoing calculations, as live animals, which are disposed of in the dead meat markets. Since the new Smithfield market has been opened, the proportion which was disposed of as dead meat was probably far greater. The dead meat trade had therefore an evident tendency to increase. This tendency should be encouraged. It is for the advantage of the people; it will diminish the nuisances, it will decrease the risk of infection. The Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. W. E. Forster) was an excellent Bill as far as it went, but it dealt with only one part, and that not the most important part, of a great subject; and he warned the Government that if they rejected the system proposed by his (Lord Robert Montagu's) Bill, they would incur a very great risk of bringing the cattle plague or other diseases again into this country. This Bill, if it were even to injure trade, could possibly only touch 5 per cent of the total supply. He was sure that it could not even touch that. But, on the other hand, let the House consider the enormous loss to the country from the cattle plague as compared with the importation of foreign animals. The total number of cattle slaughtered, and of cattle that died, from, 1018 or on account of, cattle plague in the years 1865, 1866, and 1867 was 290,527. Now, the total number of cattle imported into the United Kingdom from 1842 to 1867, both years inclusive, was 2,590,296—that was to say, in two years they lost from cattle plague more than one-eighth of the cattle imported within the twenty-five years previous to 1867, including the three years of extraordinary importation during the cattle plague. In conclusion, then, if the Government rejected a Bill which had for its object the security of the country from cattle disease in future, and passed only a Bill for restricting the movement of cattle within the country, they would incur a heavy responsibility, and be guilty of a gross injustice to the agricultural interest. All he asked was that his Bill should be read the second time in order that it might be referred to the same Committee of the Whole House as the Government measure. The two Bills deal with separate systems or methods of security; they do not cover the same ground. Why should the House not have the opportunity of considering them as a whole and amalgamating them together? Let the memory of a great disaster and the effects of the suffering of two years of cattle plague deter the representatives of that people which had suffered from rejecting a Bill which would place them in a position of security for the future.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the; Bill be now read a second time."—(Lord Robert Montagu.)
said, he was sorry that the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) had thought it necessary to press this Bill; because his doing so placed him (Mr. Headlam) in a position that he was not at all desirous of assuming, that of apparent antagonism to many of his hon. Friends who represented rural districts. He really believed there was no substantial difference of interest on the part of the different portions of the community in relation to that subject. Whether as consumers or as producers they were all anxious to prevent any new danger of disease breaking out among their flocks and herds. Such a national calamity was to be avoided by every reasonable and proper precaution; but they must look at the question in a large way, and not allow their precautions to 1019 be the means of stopping for all future time the admission of a most material part of the food of the people. Having taken all the precautions that were reasonable and necessary, they must put their trust in. Providence, and hope that health, and not disease, would continue in future to be the normal state of beast as well as of man. The noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) said his Bill did not trench on the same ground as the Bill of the Government, which, the noble Lord alleged, applied only to the stamping out of the disease among home-bred cattle. That was an entire misapprehension, for the Bill of the Government dealt, whether rightly or wrongly, with the whole subject; and, considering that that was not in any way a party question, surely when the Executive Government undertook to legislate on the matter, the natural and ordinary course would be for hon. Gentlemen on both sides to unite in an endeavour to make their Bill as perfect as possible. The introduction of a rival Bill, and the reference of the two Bills to a Select Committee, could only produce delay, and, perhaps, would altogether prevent legislation on the subject that Session. There was nothing to hinder the noble Lord from proposing his clauses as Amendments in Committee on the Bill of the Government, and having them fairly discussed. An exceedingly anomalous and uncertain state of the law would arise if they adopted the noble Lord's Bill, for it sought to perpetuate the existing Acts relating to the diseases of animals, which were not only numerous, but complex, and left the law in a condition in which it was most difficult to discover what were the precise provisions applicable to a particular trade. By enacting, as he proposed to do, that all those existing Acts—some nine in number—should be made perpetual so far as they were in force at the time of the passing of his Bill, and yet that they should be subject to the provisions of his Bill, the noble Lord would render the present law still more confusing and uncertain than it Was already. On the other hand, the measure of the Government gave a clear and complete code, showing what was the law on the whole matter; and any improvements in its provisions which hon. Members could suggest might be easily introduced. But his main objection to the noble Lord's 1020 Bill was fouuded on its principle, which he conceived to be to make the separate market system a permanent and normal part of the institutions of the country, and applicable at all times to the introduction into this kingdom of foreign cattle, which were to be subjected to very rigid restrictions that would not be imposed on home cattle, and were to be slaughtered at the water-side. That would be perfectly fatal to the interests of Hull, where the importers wanted to send their cattle into the West Hiding of Yorkshire, and it would be similarly injurious at Newcastle. He was aware that the noble Lord proposed to enable the Privy Council, by clauses of a very different kind, to make exceptions to the general rule he laid down; but it would be very unfair to the Government of the day to throw on them the responsibility of saying that in any part of the world the cattle were so safe from disease that in regard to it an exception might be made to the general law and policy of the country. Now, what was the principle of the Bill of the Government? That the normal state of things would be restored both at home and abroad; but that, at the same time, as they could not be absolutely sure that would be the case, they should vest in the Government in respect both to the home and foreign cattle trade ample powers of stamping out the plague wherever it might appear, and of isolating all places in the country where the disease had shown itself. Whenever there was reason to suppose that any danger of cattle plague existed, the Government would be armed—on the principle of ne quid detrimenti republica capiat—with power to take care immediately to prohibit importation; but, subject to that principle, the cattle trade for the benefit of all parties would be entirely free. The establishment of the separate market system was to all intents and purposes a return to the system of Protection ["No, no!"] He did not charge hon. Gentlemen opposite with intending to bring back Protection, but the effect of the separate market system on the cattle trade was precisely the same as if that were done. There was no part of the world freer from the taint of cattle plague than Spain and Portugal, and yet the effect of the system of compulsory slaughter at the water-side had been to destroy the trade in cattle imported from 1021 these countries at the port of Liverpool. In 1863 one firm in Liverpool imported from Portugal 3,857 head of cattle; in 1864, 3,140; in 1865, 2,820; in 1866, 2,525; in 1867, 1,164; and since then they had scarcely imported any at all. Similar results had followed from the establishment of separate markets at Southampton and other places, where the importation of cattle from Normandy and other parts of France, equally free from all suspicion of plague, had formerly been carried on. At Southampton the importation from Normandy had fallen off from 1,500 in 1866 to only 30 last year; and he maintained, on the strength of these facts, that, whether hon. Gentlemen opposite intended it or not, the consequences of the system which they wished to enforce were exactly the same as would follow a return to Protection. Then, in regard to Hull, speaking in July last year, the present Prime Minister said that in 1867 the working of the separate market system had greatly-reduced the importations. That of sheep and lambs had decreased from 60,000 to 9,000; of pigs from 15,000 to 3,000, and of cattle from 41,000 to 15,000. "What the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) meant by the increase at Newcastle he could not understand, for he (Mr. Headlam) found that the number of cattle imported from Hamburg, Rotterdam, and Antwerp was 4,594 in 1865; 6,273 in 1866; 2,299 in 1867; and only 999 in 1868. These figures showed a great falling off, but, as the trade in 1866 was a growing one, he believed that if it had been perfectly free the number of beasts imported would have been at the present time three times as great as it was some years ago. The figures which he had just quoted showed with great clearness the practical working of the I system which the noble Lord's Bill was designed to perpetuate. He would now direct the attention of the House to the manner in which it was proposed to carry out the permanent separate market system under the provisions of this Bill. The tenth clause of the noble Lord's Bill gave powers to the local authorities to erect separate markets for foreign cattle at the ports at which they arrived. The noble Lord would, he believed, find that there would be no great, readiness on the part of the local authorities in large towns, and more particularly in the metropolis, to establish mar- 1022 kets of that description. The Bill, however, provided that, at any time after its passing, the Privy Council might by notice in writing addressed to a local authority require that local authority to provide within a time specified in the notice, not being in any case less than one year or more than three years, a separate place for the landing, reception, sale, and slaughter of foreign animals; but if the local authority failed to do so, the Privy Council might certify the fact to the Board of Trade. On such a certificate being made the Board of Trade would be invested, "any Act, charter, prescription, right, or authority to the contrary notwithstanding," in lieu of the local authority, with all the powers conferred on the local authority under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts in relation to the disposal of foreign animals, including the power of making charges for the use of places provided for the reception, sale, and slaughter thereof, and the power of borrowing from the Public Works Loan Commission, conferred by the fourth section of the Cattle Diseases Prevention Act 1866, but without the restriction imposed by that section on the borrowing powers of local authorities with reference to the amount of rate. The House, he believed, would not deem these provisions so valuable that they need go out of their way to pass this Bill at a time when a Government measure on the same subject was about to come under discussion. If the noble Lord thought fit, he might propose the insertion of these clauses in the Government Bill when that Bill went into Committee. He doubted, however, whether such provisions would be adopted, for the noble Lord presupposed that his plan was to be carried into effect by means of powers more arbitrary than had ever before been vested in any Government in this country. According to the noble Lord's notion of political economy, prices did not depend on importation, but importation depended on prices. Well, he (Mr. Headlam) should have said that a high price in this country would stimulate importations from abroad, and that large importations would necessarily diminish prices, and that importation would continue until the price fell below a certain standard. And this view was corroborated by the Report of the Select Committee, which inquired into the foreign 1023 trade in animals in 1866. As regards the movement of animals within the limits of this country, that Committee recommended that foreign and English cattle should be placed on precisely the same footing. What was the rule adopted in other countries? There was no country in which the Government were more careful to guard against the introduction of disease than France, and it appeared from the evidence given before the Select Committee that in that country foreign cattle were sold in the same market as French cattle. The Government of France took power to stop importations from any place where there was a suspicion of disease existing, and there was a veterinary inspector at all ports with power to stop cattle suspected of disease. With that exception there was free importation and free circulation. He should like to see the trade in this country regulated in the same way. The practice in France was to recognize the care taken in other countries. In Germany precautions were taken to prevent the introduction of diseased cattle. It might be that in remote parts in Transylvania and Hungary this disease was not guarded against; but even if so, the cattle could only come to this country by going through places where they were as careful as we were in this country. In his opinion, if the Government had good grounds of suspicion, it would be much better to prohibit altogether the importation of animals from particular countries, for infinite dangers would arise from the introduction of a system of special markets and compulsory slaughter. The proverb, "Give a dog a bad name and you may as well hang him," was applicable to the bovine as well as to the canine species, and under the provisions of this Bill the value of foreign animals on arriving in this country would be so much diminished that it would be better to prohibit their importation altogether. The tendency of the restrictions which had been some time in force had been to diminish the quantity of meat consumed in this country, and of course there were a large number of persons who were prevented by these restrictions from having so large a supply of food as they would otherwise have. In conclusion, he moved that the second reading of the Bill be postponed to that day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Seadlam.)
§ ME. NORWOOD
said, it could not be denied that the present Bill treated only of one portion of the subject—namely, that connected with the foreign trade, whereas the Government measure dealt with the subject as a whole, and by consolidating all the statutes relating to it would form a complete code for the regulation of the home and foreign cattle trade in cattle. The noble Lord opposite had asserted that the ports were satisfied with and had benefited by the restrictions which had been imposed during the last few years; but this he denied, especially with respect to the port which he represented and which he believed had suffered more from those restrictions than any other port in the kingdom. In 1865, before any restriction was made, there were imported into Hull 45,862 oxen, cows, and. calves; but in 1868 the numbers had fallen to 8,524. The noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) had endeavoured to account for the Hull statistics by saying that in 1865 store cattle were imported. But in 1866, when no store cattle were received, 26,000 oxen, cows, and calves were imported, so that store cattle could not account for the great reduction since that year. The number of sheep imported was 68,257 in 1865, and 16,000 in 1868; the number of pigs in the same years being, in round numbers, respectively 16,000 and 2,600; and the total number of animals used for food imported into Hull was 131,373 in 1865, and 27,462 in 1868. The cause of so great a falling off was easily explained. Before the imposition of the restrictions Hull used to supply the enormous populations behind the port, in Sheffield, Leeds, Huddersfield, and other large towns; but now this could not be done, because it was impossible in the summer months to carry on a large traffic in dead meat. There were hundreds of thousands of people in this country whose knowledge of animal food was almost entirely confined to offal, and it was impossible to convey offal long distances, especially in hot weather. The noble Lord had stated that if it could be shown that the Bill would have the effect of rising the price of meat, or of keeping the price high, he would at once with- 1025 draw it. Now, he (Mr. Norwood) had no doubt that the effects of the restriction would be to limit the supply and to raise the price of meat. It was impossible that there could have been such a great falling off in the importation as he had pointed out—a falling off which did not apply to one port only—without its having a sensible effect on the price of meat. He was not opposed to reasonable and necessary temporary restrictions where there was a suspicion of disease; but from places where there was no evidence that diseases existed, they should have free importation and free circulation of cattle in this country. He had, last year, stigmatized the noble Lord's Bill as a measure which contained within it a principle of a return to monopoly, and he still entertained that opinion. He felt it to be his duty to protest against permanent restrictions, the effect of which would be to increase the price of food to the consumers in this country, and to put money into the pockets of the agriculturists at the expense of those who could ill afford to bear it. In conclusion he said he had great pleasure in seconding the Amendment.
§ MR. READ
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) had rightly stated that the main principle of the Bill was to establish separate markets for foreign cattle only in order to stop these contagious diseases at the fountain head. He contended that the principle embodied in the Bill was no new principle, inasmuch as it had received the assent of the Cattle Plague Commission, with some slight reservations on the part of the hon. Member for East Staffordshire. What the supporters of the measure sought to effect was the establishment of a separate market for the slaughter of foreign cattle, with the view to put a stop by that means to the spread of a disease which had already produced such disastrous results in this country. Privy Council Reports informed us that a greater amount of meat than had ever been imported from abroad had been destroyed by sheep-pox, pleuro-pneumonia, and the foot-and-mouth disease; for, although it might be said that some of those diseases existed in England previous to any large importation of cattle from other countries, he must maintain they were never known amongst us until we began to import foreign stock, whereas 1026 they had existed on the Continent from time immemorial. The fact was it was impossible to produce those diseases spontaneously here, let the condition of the atmosphere be never so bad and the treatment of cattle never so brutal. Upon the other hand, he would venture to say, that if he were to take a handful of hay from the mouth of a bullock suffering under the foot-and-mouth disease and carry it several miles he might affect a whole herd with it, though they happened to be placed in the best possible position in a sanitary point of view. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle had, a few days before, stated that the compulsory slaughter of sheep had completely destroyed the foreign trade in that class of stock in the borough which he represented; but it seemed that, while the importation of sheep into Newcastle had entirely ceased on the 28th of July, the Order in Council directing the compulsory slaughter was not issued until the 30th of August, so that the import trade came to an end a month before the Order was in existence. The trade revived in January and February last, and there were 452 sheep imported in the former, and 1,010 in the latter month, all because in the month of August the price of mutton went down to 5d. per lb., whereas in the month of February it had risen to 8d. The right hon. Gentleman had also told the House that the foreign trade in cattle had been greatly affected, and had referred, in support of his statement, to the years 1866 and 1867, when the home trade was suffering under all sorts of restrictions, and the foreign trade had a monopoly of the supply. But before the breaking out of the cattle plague, in the year 1864, the number of foreign cattle imported into Newcastle was 2,614; in 1863, 465; in 1862, 97; in 1861, 186; and in 1860, 1,169; while two years after, in 1862, the importation was under 100. It was impossible, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman could prove anything from the figures which he had laid before the House, or make them serve any other purpose than to please his own constituents. The total supply of sheep in Newcastle for the year ending February, 1869, was 24,000, for the year 1868; 18,000, and for 1867, 16,000; and the inhabitants of that borough had, he thought, not much reason to complain of the increase in their mar- 1027 ket. In the port of Liverpool, from June to November, 1867, there were 7,000 sheep imported, and yet without any alteration whatsoever having been made in the Order in Council—there were only three sheep imported during the next six months. But it was urged that the high price of meat rendered it absolutely necessary that the restrictions on the importation of foreign cattle should be relaxed. In his opinion, however, that high price ought to have rather the contrary effect. As the House was well aware, high prices operated to bring stock from all parts of the Continent, and it therefore became all the more requisite that we should take due care that our home supply was not diminished by the introduction of disease. The real causes of the enhanced price of meat were to be found in disease and drought. The cattle plague, as the noble Lord the Member for Huntingdonshire (Lord Robert Montagu) had informed the House, had carried off hundreds of thousands of our stock; and the result had not, he believed, been at all exaggerated, for the very simple reason that, as the greater proportion of the cattle killed were cows, the progress of our young stock had been retarded for years. The tropical heat, too, through which the country passed last summer when the sky was like brass, and the ground beneath our feet like iron, was the chief cause of the high prices which at present prevailed. We had no grass, and very little hay. The root crop was destroyed, and the spring grain, which farmers used very largely in winter grazing, was only a half crop. Yet agriculturists were told, on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, that they were never so prosperous as at the present moment. He could, however, assure him that there had never been so disastrous a summer for graziers as the last. From July to January we had been killing three sheep instead of two in the ordinary way to furnish the same quantity of mutton; or, in other words, 9,000,000 sheep, instead of 6,000,000. In January and February of this year he found that 27,000 sheep were imported into London, whereas, in the corresponding months of 1868, the number was only 16,000, although they were perfectly free to go where they pleased. That brought him to the question of the 1028 relative proportions of home and foreign supply, and upon that point he might be allowed to quote the high authority of Mr. Dudley Baxter, who said that the agricultural statistics for 1867, published by the Board of Trade, showed that there were in the United Kingdom nearly 9,000,000 head of cattle and 34,000,000 of sheep. By inquiries made of eminent agricultural authorities Mr. Baxter added that he found that the value of that live stock was about £150,000,000, and that every year we slaughtered for home consumption about 2,500,000 head of cattle and 12,000,000 sheep, of an estimated value of £60,000,000. Taking that calculation, which was, he thought, a fair one, although the estimate of sheep appeared to him to be somewhat under-stated, and comparing it with the importation of foreign cattle, he found the following to be the result:—The number of foreign cattle imported into this country and slaughtered during the past eight years averaged 170,000 a-year; but as the number might increase, it might be put at 200,000, or 1–12th of the number of home cattle which we annually slaughtered. The number of foreign sheep imported during the same period, averaged 500,000 a year as against 12,000,000 slaughtered at home; while the number of pigs constituting the home supply for 1867 might be put at 4,500,000, as against 50,000 foreign pigs imported during the same period. The result was that, if the weight of our own cattle and sheep—superior as they were to the foreign cattle and sheep—were taken into account, and the price of English meat put at 7d. per lb., and that of foreign meat at 6d. per lb., it would be found that the proportion of the foreign to the home supply of cattle was 1–12th; of sheep, l–24th; and of pigs, l–90th; or, to complete the table, it was l–24th of the number, l–18th of the weight, and 1–23rd of the value—in round numbers something like 5 per cent. The calculations of the noble Lord the Member for Huntingdonshire were therefore, he maintained, substantially correct. He had taken his calculations from a totally different source, but both gave pretty much the same result. Next came the question, to what extent London was supplied with foreign live stock. Taking the year 1867 he found that the weight of all the live stock was 97,000 tons, of which only 1029 37,000 were foreign. But then it was said that the dead meat trade could not be developed, and that in spite of the facts we were every day having brought under our eyes. There were, for instance, nine railways which conveyed to London over 70,000 tons of dead meat, besides 10,000 from abroad, and 5,000 tons which came by rail, road, and ship, making in all 85,000, of which quantity let him suppose 5,000 tons went into the country, there would still remain 80,000 tons of dead meat which, together with the 97,000 tons of live stock, would bring the whole supply up to 170,000 tons, of which only about one-fifth consisted of foreign live stock. We must, he contended, increase the dead meat trade, and greater facilities for doing so existed now that a noble market had been built by the Corporation of London instead of the old market at Newgate. The dead meat trade was deserving of encouragement for more than one reason. The cattle would be killed without the torture of a long journey, and in a better atmospere; and, although it was said that dead meat could not well be sent long distances, how was it, he would like to know, that tons upon tons of it were sent from Aberdeen to London, and arrived at their destination in the best possible condition? In 1853 we had in London 38,000 tons of dead meat, or 24 per cent of the entire supply; in 1863, 69,000 tons, or 30 per cent; and in 1867, 80,000 tons, or 40 per cent, so that the quantity was on the increase. He wished, in the next place, to say a few words as to the arguments against the Bill. It was contended that the butchers were more likely to carry the cattle plague about with them than the cattle themselves; but, in reply to that argument, he would merely observe that those who used it would shut up the doctor in the hospital and let the patient loose. As to the objection that dead meat could not be sent five miles by railway without injury, he need only remark that it had been sent over and over again 500 miles without suffering in the slightest degree by the journey. It was, he might add, urged that the exemptions which the noble Lord had introduced into his Bill were absurd, but the House was not at that stage dealing with the clauses of the Bill, but with its main principle, and in advocating that principle he hoped he had 1030 placed fairly before the House the views which lie entertained and the figures upon which they were founded. He knew it had been said that those who talked about bullocks could not be wise, but he might say with confidence that the question at issue was not a question of protection, but one of security against diseases the ravages of which were injurious to the whole community, and few more important subjects could, he ventured to say, occupy the attention of the collective wisdom of the nation.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he entirely concurred with the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken in thinking that the question before the House had nothing to do with Protection beyond the necessarily protective effect which the restrictions proposed were calculated to produce. But while he agreed with the hon. Gentleman to that extent, he wished to give the reasons why he objected to the second reading of the Bill, and in doing so he must ask the House to consider in what state the second reading would leave them for legislating this Session, and it was impossible in noticing the present Bill not to allude to the Government measure. He objected to the Bill under discussion because, in the first place, it was provided by the fourth clause that the present Acts relating to the subject on which the noble Lord the Member for Huntingdonshire (Lord Robert Montagu) sought to legislate should be made perpetual. The Government were of opinion—an opinion which seemed to have been received with favour on both sides of the House—that it was desirable there should not be more than one Act, whatever the principles might be on which legislation should be established. His first objection then to assenting to the second reading of the Bill was that the consolidation of the seven or eight Acts now in force would thereby be rendered more difficult. Again, the noble Lord had, in his opinion, not placed before the House very clearly what would be the position of the foreign cattle trade under the operation of his measure. He stated, indeed, that the Government had proposed no regulations with respect to that trade; but, in making that statement, the noble Lord laboured under a misapprehension, for the Government had in reality covered the ground of legislation both with regard to the foreign and the home trade. There, were three modes in 1031 which the importation of foreign cattle might be dealt with. The principle of compulsory slaughter in the case of all foreign animals arriving at any of our ports might be laid down, or it might be left to the discretion of the Government to determine what foreign animals should be compulsorily slaughtered, or it might be provided that there should be no compulsory slaughter at all, but that foreign cattle should be freely admitted into our ports subject to inspection. Now, the last of these plans was not one which he believed was seriously advocated by hon. Members on either side of the House, and it had never entered into the minds of the Government that they could with safety admit the free entry into this country of all animals from foreign countries. At the same time he hoped, he should not be accused of exhibiting ignorance of the subject, if he were to say that whatever restrictions on importation we might impose, one of our main safeguards against the spread of the cattle plague must be regarded to be our power to stamp it out when if did occur. The hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House had observed that one of the objections which had been urged against the establishment of a separate market was that the disease might be conveyed by a butcher from one place to another, and there could be no doubt that danger would still exist under the operation of the present Bill, unless the idea of exterminating all butchers were carried out by its author. But be that as it might, the Government did not for a moment intend to advocate the free admission of foreign animals. Then came the question whether a rigid rule of compulsory slaughter should be established, and the noble Lord had not informed the House whether he was in favour of laying down such a rule. He understood the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) the other night to advocate a positive rule for the slaughter of foreign cattle, and if such were the general opinion of hon. Members opposite, it would be well to have the fact stated. It would, so far as the Government were concerned, be, of course, a great advantage to them to have no discretion left to them to exercise as to what animals should or should not be admitted from foreign countries, inasmuch as their responsibility would in that case be greatly diminished. Such 1032 a principle of legislation was not, however, he believed, seriously advocated on either side of the House. Indeed it was clear, from speeches which the hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Read) had made towards the close of last Session, that he was of opinion some discretion ought to rest with the Government in the matter, for otherwise he would not have argued that cattle might be admitted from Denmark and Sweden, or, as at present, from Spain and Portugal. He should like, then, to know from the noble Lord whether he proposed that there should be any discretion left to the Government by the Bill? In the 5th and 6th clauses the principle was laid down that foreign animals landing in our ports should be compulsorily slaughtered, but in the 12th clause, an exemption was introduced which—notwithstanding what had fallen from the hon. Member for Norfolk—he must look upon as one of the utmost importance, for it vested in the Government the discretion of admitting animals from such countries as they might deem fit without compulsory slaughter, provided they were not admitted from countries which had been visited by the cattle plague within a period of three years. Now, that was an exceedingly important provision, and he was surprised the noble Lord had made no allusion to it in his speech. What would be the effect of such a provision? It applied not only to the cattle plague, but to other diseases, such as those to which the hon. Member for Norfolk had referred; but how was it possible, he should like to know, for any Government to ascertain whether the cattle plague had existed for three years in any foreign country, or what was to prevent them from saying, if no proof were given them that it had, that they would then, as a matter of course, admit cattle from that country? The House might depend upon it that if discretion was to be vested in the Government at all, it must be given fully. Both the noble Lord and the hon. Member for Norfolk thought the Bill would not in reality interfere with the interests of the consumer, but he did not think that he need reply in any detail to their arguments on that head. The noble Lord laid down the doctrine that importation depended on prices, although prices did not depend on importation. The real fact, however, was that 1033 prices and importation depended upon one another, and that this was so the noble Lord would be convinced if he had had the advantage of dealing with importations as much as he had. It required no statistics to prove that if the natural course of a trade were interfered with, the prices in that trade must, to some extent, be affected. In order to show that this was the case in the present instance, it was not sufficient to compare the Returns for one or two weeks of this year with those for a similar period of last year. To arrive at a just conclusion, a larger space of time must be taken; and he found that while the number of foreign cattle imported in 1865 was more than 283,000, in 1866 237,000, in 1867 178,000, it was in 1868 only 136,000; the number of sheep imported being last year only 341,000, as against 534,000 in the previous year. If hon. Members were to look through the whole of the Returns, they would find that, as the restrictions in the trade were rendered more severe, the diminution in the amount of the importations became greater. A good deal had been said in the course of the discussion about the dead meat trade; and the House must, he thought, even in the interests of common humanity, desire to see that trade developed as much as possible. The way to effect that object, however, was not by attempting to foster it, or imposing any artificial restrictions in its favour. He had now stated some of the objections which he entertained to the Bill; but there was another to which he wished briefly to advert. Clause 10 referred to a local authority, by whom the separate market was to be provided; but the clause, was so far as he could see, a mere brutum fulmen, for there was no power of making the local authorities buy land for the purpose. If they did not, indeed, it was provided that the Privy Council might certify to that effect to the Board of Trade, who were, in that event, empowered by the 11th clause to make the market. But with whose money, he should like to ask, were the Board of Trade to make it? He did not read the Bill as providing that the particular district should be rated with the view to procuring the necessary funds. The Board of Trade would then, in all probability, be placed in such a position that they would have to apply to the 1034 Public Works Loan Commissioners; but what security could they give them for the advance of the money which they might require? It might be said that they could give the tolls as security—[Lord ROBERT MONTAGU: And the rates.]—He doubted whether, under the Bill, they could offer the security of the rates. But then the Loan Commissioners might refuse to accept that security. It was very probable that the Commissioners would refuse, and then what was to be done? But if they did not refuse, then the principle of the Bill would empower the Board of Trade at every selected port to speculate in the erection of a market, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to make good any loss which resulted from that speculation. That was an important principle, and the House should consider it very seriously before adopting it. He opposed the Bill, first, because it would make the work of consolidation difficult; secondly, because, while admitting discretion, it did not define to what extent that discretion was to extend; and, lastly, because it would place this House and the Government in a position which would be found exceedingly embarrassing and difficult. He would now state how the Government proposed to deal with this question of the foreign supply. The Government went upon the principle of interfering as much as appeared necessary for the prevention of disease, and no more. They thought they ought to have the power to prohibit importation entirely from any country afflicted with the cattle plague, and that they also should have power to define what might be called suspected countries, from which animals should be imported on condition that they were slaughtered at the port of landing. Leaving out the three years: provision in the noble Lord's Bill, there was really no immediate practical difference between the two measures in this respect, because a discretion would be given to the Privy Council in both cases. The noble Lord would give them a discretionary power to admit cattle from any countries the Government thought fit; the Government measure merely said that they should exclude cattle from such countries as they thought fit. The immediate practical effect would be the same, though the principle was different, and he maintained that the principle in I the Government Bill was the true one— 1035 namely, to assume that foreign cattle as a rule were healthy rather than diseased. But then the noble Lord would no doubt say, "You yourselves look forward to a separate market. How do you mean to provide one? "The objection taken by the noble Lord was that it would be difficult to provide any separate market, because there would be no security that the Privy Council might not at any time exclude the site of the market from the area into which foreign cattle were admitted. Now that objection applied to the noble Lord's own Bill, but not to that of the Government, for Clause 27 fully provided for such a case. The Government thought that the local authorities ought to have compulsory powers to obtain land for the erection of a market, and also power to borrow money for the purpose upon the security of the market tolls and rates. The difference between the measure of the noble Lord and that of the Government was that they did not attempt to impose a limit of three years within which the local authorities were bound to provide a market, and did not, in case of the failure of the local authorities to make such provision, entail upon the Government the difficulty of providing markets throughout the country. But then, he might be asked, "What hope have you that the market will be provided?" Now, when hon. Members talked about the difficulty which existed on this point, what they all had in their minds was the case of the metropolis. There was no practical difficulty elsewhere; for, although it might be of advantage that there should be better slaughter-houses at some of the ports, there were none at which some provision did not exist within the defined area for the slaughter and sale of foreign cattle. Now, as to the metropolis, he had been in communication with the City authorities, and though there had not yet been time to take the opinion of the Court of Common Council, the Market Committee, which was an influential civic body, had empowered him to state that if the Government measure were passed into law, they would recommend, and fully expected the concurrence of the Corporation, that the separate market which would be necessary under the Bill, should be provided by the Corporation. At the same time there seemed to be great objection on their part to the Bill of the noble Lord, 1036 and, considering how it would affect them, he was not surprised at this. Under all the circumstances, he would ask the noble Lord not to press his Bill to a division. This was no party question, and the views of Gentlemen on both sides of the House would be much better met by a discussion of the Government measure. It was easy to raise all the points suggested by the noble Lord in Committee upon that measure. Amendments could be framed embodying all those views, and the House would then be much better able to arrive at a satisfactory decision than they now could. They would then also have more information as to the probability of the practical working of the Bill in London. It was generally admitted that when a question arose involving considerable detail and complications, the best text upon which you could discuss such a question with a view to legislation, was a Bill brought forward by the Government of the day. He therefore asked the noble Lord to withdraw his measure, but he should vote against it with the full understanding and desire that all the points upon which hon. Members might agree with the noble Lord rather than with the Government, could be raised, and should be raised, and should receive the fullest possible discussion, upon the Government Bill.
§ MR. SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, it had been objected that legislation on this subject would be postponed by acceding to the request of the noble Lord to refer this Bill to a Select Committee. But it never was the intention of the noble Lord to refer this Bill to a Select Committee. "What was proposed was that the Bill should be read a second time and then referred along with the Government measure to a Committee of the Whole House. Parts of the noble Lord's Bill were well worthy consideration by the House, and the Government measure would be in no wise damaged if considered alongside of this Bill. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that a Bill emanating from the Government was far more likely to be a comprehensive and satisfactory measure than one brought forward by a private Member; but it would facilitate the discussion of the Government measure if the noble Lord's Bill were taken with it, and the really valuable parts of it were grafted upon the Government scheme.
§ MR. DENT
said, he was not prepared to assent to the principle of this Bill. Whatever might have been the origin of the diseases which beset cattle in this country, he did not believe that they were now solely due to foreign importations, nor did he think that was the view of agriculturists, for one authority among them declared that other measures would be necessary besides the establishment of separate markets, and another advocated the establishment of separate markets for fat stock and; separate markets for store stock. In his opinion, besides being preferable as a Consolidation Bill, the principle of the I Government measure was a sound one, and the normal state of foreign cattle should be treated as healthy. He trusted there would be no trace of the unfortunate party contest which arose last year upon this question, for it must be the object of hon. Members on both sides to secure a regular, steady, and ample supply of meat for the food of the people. But all questions of difference might be fairly settled upon the Government scheme, and he therefore hoped the noble Lord would withdraw this Bill.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he could confirm the statement which had been already made that his noble Friend never intended to refer his Bill to a Select Committee, but to combine the two measures and enable them to be discussed side by side in Committee of the Whole House. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill, and those who followed him on his side of House, had laid much stress upon the proceedings of the Committee of 1866 and the Royal Commission of 1867, but scarcely alluded to the mass of evidence taken before the Committee of 1868. Now, without wishing to attach undue preference to the latter body, of which he (Mr. Lowther) was a Member himself, he ventured to point out a great distinction between it and the similar bodies which had been referred to—namely, that in 1866 and 1867 the majority of the witnesses gave only theories as to the best methods of precaution, whereas last year the Committee was able to hear practical experience, which, unfortunately, too many in the country were in a position to afford, respecting the success or failure of various methods which were under consideration. It had been said that, particularly in hot weather, when the dead meat 1038 market was glutted, serious loss would result to the importer. That point was much considered in the Committee of 1868, and one of the witnesses (Captain Ralph Engledew), a gentleman of much practical experience, who had acted as superintendent of the large cattle traffic under the Peninsular and Oriental Company at Southampton, was asked by him whether, since the condition as to compulsory slaughter was in force, there were any means of regulating importations according to the demand. To this the witness replied—There is no difficulty about that. The demand and supply are known with perfect ease among the dealers in cattle. We have, for instance, frequently as many as 3,000 or 4,000 dead carcases of sheep come in one ship, and twenty, thirty, or forty tons of beef brought from Hamburg and other places by steamers, which is landed at the wharf and taken away to the different markets; and I find, from the information I received from those gentlemen who deal in live and dead stock, that they use the wire so continuously that they keep their markets just to the point; that they never have an excess in the market over that which they can sell.Then, with regard to offal, it was true that a great portion of the labouring classes were dependent upon this kind of food, and on this point Mr. Engledew said that great quantities were imported from Antwerp, Hamburg, and other places; that not only the picked parts came over, but the whole offal, packed in casks. It was not at all probable that this supply of offal would be diminished in any sensible degree in future, and any apprehension upon this score might be dismissed. He urged the adoption of such measures as would effectually insure the flocks and herds of this country against disease.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he supposed that the hon. Members opposite, who were calling for a division after having but just entered the House, did not know what had occurred during the debate; perhaps they did not care to know; but were quite ready to vote without knowing on what they wore about to vote. That, however, was not the case with those who, like himself, had heard the debate. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam), opposed the Bill before the House on the distinct ground that he objected to any separate market for foreign cattle, and to any permanent arrangements being made at the ports for the tempo- 1039 ary quarantine of foreign cattle by proriding lairs and sheds, in which the cattle might be kept till they had been duly inspected. He (Mr. Newdegate) wished to know, whether this objection was entertained, by the Government; for the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had evaded this point while speaking, or rather, had disguised it. He therefore asked whether he was to understand that the Government intended to admit into their Bill a proposal for the establishment of quarantine in the case of foreign cattle, landed at certain ports to be designated by law, for the reception of foreign cattle, and provided with lairs, sheds, facilities for inspection, and with arrangements for separate markets in those places? It was said the Government measure proceeded on the assumption that cattle were healthy both at home and abroad, but in that ease, what need was there for a Bill at all? It was the unanimous opinion of the leading veterinary surgeons of England that, unless quarantine lairs were provided, in which cattle could be kept for a certain number of hours after landing, inspection with a view to ascertain whether those animals were diseased or not was a perfect farce. He objected to allow any undefined discretion to be vested in the. Privy Council. The case of Hull had been alluded to. What was the case of Hull? A large and unregulated trade in foreign stock had there arisen, until, unfortunately, the cattle plague was there imported. This naturally aroused the jealousy of the Government, and the trade was destroyed by the Orders in Council. He (Mr. Newdegate) believed that, in the interests of trade, in the interests of the consumer and of all classes of the community, it was essential that separate ports of debarkation should be established by law, so that the certainty should exist which was essential to all successful trade.
said, it was not his intention to enter into the merits of the case. The question now before the House was whether the Bill of his noble Friend (Lord Robert Montagu) should be submitted to the same Committee as that which would consider the Government Bill. Now, he thought he could show that course would be most inconvenient and objectionable. The Bill of his noble Friend only dealt with the foreign importation of cattle, leaving out 1040 of sight the question of domestic disease and other points provided for in the Government Bill. But did it even deal completely with the importation of cattle? No, for it was grafted, upon other Bills relating to this subject, and was merely a supplement to them. The Government measure, on the contrary, would, he thought, be regarded as setting a whole-some example of legislation, for it consolidated all the Acts relating to the subject. The Bill of the Government was, in fact, a code, dealing with the whole subject of cattle disease and importation, and it was impossible to engraft upon it a measure like that of the noble Lord, which did not depend upon itself but upon the Act of 1867, and upon Acts passed many years previously. Moreover, what was understood by referring Bills to the same Committee? It was, perhaps, in the minds of many Gentlemen that these two Bills could be considered side by side in Committee of the Whole House; that when one clause was dealt with in one Bill, a kindred clause in the other Bill could be set up against it and considered at the same time. But that was not the case. The only object gained by referring Bills to the same Committee was that when one had been considered and done with the Committee could continue the consideration of the second Bill without the necessity of reporting Progress on the first. Now he hoped it would be seen that it would be impossible to engraft his noble Friend's Bill upon the Government measure without entirely destroying the character of the latter as a Consolidation Bill; but it was quite possible for his noble Friend, and those who thought with him, to endeavour to embody the principles of his Bill in the Government measure by moving to amend the clauses of that measure. There was no great principle at stake between the two schemes, and the securities offered by the Government Bill were as great as those offered by his noble Friend, but the consideration of both Bills at the same time and by the same Committee was out of the question.
§ SIR GEORGE JENKINSON
said, he did not think it right or fair to refuse to refer the two Bills to the same Committee, and should therefore support the second reading.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 197; Noes 253: Majority 56.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Bill put off for six months.