HC Deb 31 July 1872 vol 213 cc185-8

asked the Vice President of the Council, If there has been a further outbreak of Cattle Plague at Hartlepool; whether the Cattle affected came from Hamburg via Lubeck; and, whether, considering the close proximity of those towns to Holstein, he will revoke the recent Order which permits cattle from Holstein to be taken to any part of the kingdom?


said, it would give a false impression to say that there had been an outbreak of cattle plague at Hartlepool, for that might lead to the inference that it had broken out amongst English cattle, which as yet had been prevented—and he hoped would be so in the future; but it was true that among some cattle imported from Hamburgh to Hartlepool the cattle plague had been found to exist. There had also been two other infected cargoes from Hamburgh, both of which went to Newcastle. With regard to the disposal of the diseased animals, the best possible arrangements had been made at Newcastle; but at Hartlepool, as at Hull and Leith, there was a difficulty about burying the animals within the defined place. Professor Simonds was there, however, and was giving the best assistance he possibly could to the local authorities. [Mr. C. S. READ: Were the cattle landed?] He was not sure whether they were landed or not, but if they were, the place where they landed would be an infected place under the Act, and the fullest precautions would have to be taken in regard to it. He was not able to give any positive information as to whether the cattle came viâ Lubeck, but there was reason to suspect that cattle might have been imported from Cronstadt to Lubeck, and then carried across by rail to be shipped at Hamburgh. He had communicated with the German Embassy on the subject, and they took up the matter instantly; and just before he came into the House that morning he had received a letter from the Chargé d' Affaires, informing him that a telegram had arrived from Berlin stating that steps were to be taken by the Senate at Lubeck to prohibit the importation of cattle from Russia into that port. The last part of the Question was an important one, and was occupying his close and constant attention, but he could not give any definite answer. On the one hand, he did not deny that there appeared to be danger on account of the neighbourhood of Hamburgh to Schleswig-Holstein; but, on the other, they must remember the high price of meat, and not allow themselves, through any unreasonable fear, to increase that price. It was a most serious matter to interfere with the importation from Schleswig-Holstein at that moment. He found that during the last three weeks the number of cattle imported into Great Britain from Germany was 5,103, of which 3,576 came from Schleswig-Holstein, and were brought to the Port of London. That importation would be very seriously affected by the cancelling of the Order in Council to which the hon. Gentleman referred, and he trusted the hon. Gentleman would not be surprised if he found that it was not done, unless it were necessary; but in that case it would be done immediately. He would just inform the House what the conditions of that importation were. Before the Order in Council was issued, no cattle could be imported from any part of Germany without being slaughtered at the port of landing; but the cattle of Schleswig-Holstein had, so far as they knew, always been safe from the cattle plague; and there was a strong desire, in consequence, that those cattle should be imported, which appeared to have been thus far remarkably healthy. For a long time the Government refused to allow the import of Schleswig-Holstein cattle, unless they were secured against getting no others; and ultimately the security afforded was—that the importer was under a bond of £1,000 not to import any other cattle, and that there was a Government certificate stating that the vessel had not within three months had on board any cattle from any part of the German Empire other than Schleswig-Holstein, or from any scheduled country; and had not entered any of the scheduled ports, and that none of the cattle imported had come in contact with cattle open to that objection. That, he conceived, constituted sufficient security, except for the danger arising from the proximity of Schleswig-Holstein to Hamburgh, and that was a matter to which he was directing his most earnest attention. For many months Lord Ripon and himself had very strong pressure put upon them to admit all cattle that came from Germany into the interior of this country, and he trusted that those persons, both in the House and out of it, who pressed for that relaxation would see that if their wish had been acceded to, it would have been very difficult to prevent the cattle plague from being spread all over the country.


asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman had any information as to the disposal of the carcases of the cattle sent to Leith? He noticed that he was reported to have said that the carcases were found within seven miles of Leith; but the nearest point where they had been found was four miles from Leith, and they were observed along an extent of seven or eight miles of coast in his county.


said, it was difficult to explain how it was the carcases of cattle had got into the sea near Leith; but he had a strong impression that it occurred through the carelessness of the local authorities in not seeing that the lighters containing the slaughtered animals were properly sunk. On the previous evening he saw Professor Brown, who had just returned from the North, and though that gentleman agreed with him that such a thing ought not to have occurred, he also satisfied him that such precautions were taken for secure burial that there was not much cause for apprehension with regard to the carcases in question. He did not think such a thing would occur again.