HC Deb 14 February 1873 vol 214 cc508-26

in moving that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the operations of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, and the constitution of the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council, was happy to say that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had assented to his Motion, and although it might on that account be considered unnecessary for him to make any statement to the House, he thought he should not ask for such a Committee without stating the reasons why he did so. Any question having reference to the supply of meat at the present time must be of vast importance. Within the last 20 years the price of beef and mutton had almost doubled, while that of pork had been nearly stationary. No doubt that increase of price was partly occasioned by increased consumption; but the unfortunate droughts of 1868 and 1870, the cattle plague of 1865, and the continuous outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia had also very much to do with it. It was highly essential to guard the health of our home stock rather than place our chief reliance on the foreign importations, which did not amount at present to one-tenth of the consumption of the country. There was no party feeling in this Motion; he would be seconded by an hon. Gentleman who sat behind Ministers. He should say nothing disrespectful of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council. He thanked him for the very courteous reception he had at all times given to the deputations that waited upon him. Even when he had to express a negative, it was always couched in the most respectful and courteous language—an example which might advantageously be copied by the heads of other Departments. But it was quite possible that the right hon. Gentleman was better acquainted with the Ballot and with Education than the cattle diseases, and he might have left too much to the subordinates of his Department. He had been pressed on both sides, first by the consumers, and then by the producers; but both of them came to the same conclusion, and told him plainly that the Act worked badly and required amendment. Notwithstanding the expense, trouble, and restrictions of the Act, they had gone from bad to worse, till in 1872 they had reached what he hoped was the climax of the cattle disease. The Act of 1869 was a half-and-half measure; and a compromise as affecting disease was sure to fail. It was a halting between the unanimous Report of the Cattle Plague Commissioners and the veterinary authorities of the Privy Council Office. The Commissioners said there must be a total isolation of foreign cattle, and then they might have a strict regulation of the home trade; but the Bill did neither, and had consequently failed. He could not separate the Act from the Department that had administered it. That Department seemed to publish their Reports about three years after they were due. In 1867 he happened to know that the Cattle Plague Report was in print, but it was not laid on the Table till the latter part of 1869; and now, three years after the passing of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, they were favoured with a Report of 14 pages. It stated that the first 18 months following the passing of the Act were occupied by the Department in getting it put in force; but that, taking the year 1871 as that in which its powers were fully in operation, the result was the occurrence in England and Scotland in that year of 5,869 cases of pleuro-pneumonia, and of 691,000 cases of foot and mouth disease. If they compared the beginning and the end of that year, the figures were these —that in January the average number of farms infected with pleuro-pneumonia was 90; in December it was 113; in January the number infected with the foot and mouth disease was 1,100; in December it was 5,500. In his own county of Norfolk in 1871, there were 32,000 cases of foot and mouth disease; in 1872 the number was no less than 200,000. The great proportion of the animals affected was, fortunately, sheep; but at least 2,800,000 lbs. of meat had been lost from this cause, or a weight equal to that of 5,500 carcases of foreign bullocks in the county of Norfolk from that one disease in 1872. In the Report there was a very considerable flourish made about cattle plague and sheep pock having been kept out of the country; but in July, the very month when this Report was written, there were imported direct from Russia several cases of cattle plague. The Department sunk the carcases at sea, and 17 of them were washed up on the coast of Norfolk, and if they in that county had not been very quick in burying them, there might have been an outbreak of cattle plague. No proper provisions had been made in this matter, except in the port of London. When the outbreak of cattle plague occurred in Yorkshire, with all the powers of the Act, there had been a certain lack of vigour and determination. The disease should have been stamped out at once. It was necessary that the Privy Council should have power to send down their Inspectors and kill not only the arrivals affected with the disease, but all which were contiguous to them; and if they did this by the action of the central authority, the whole compensation for the cattle killed for the public good should be borne by the Imperial Exchequer rather than be thrown on the county rates. Whatever was the nature of the disease of pleuro-pneumonia, the Act was wholly unable to resist its progress. In 1872, in his own county, there were 1,621 cases, whereas in the previous year there had been only 389 cases. It had been said that the local authority had not done its duty, but that he altogether denied. At the time of the cattle plague Norfolk had set an example to England, as Aberdeenshire did to Scotland, for stamping out the disease. Norfolk on that occasion did, as he hoped it always would do, its duty, however unpleasant that duty might be. The Report on ale foot and mouth disease was at variance with all the evidence which had been taken before the Committee of this House and the Cattle Plague Commission. It says that it is the duty of the Department to carry out any experiments relating to these diseases, and it adds that some cattle had died in consequence of having been improperly treated. But it had not given a single receipt, recommendation, or suggestion for checking the disease, except that which related to carbolic acid mixed with whitewash. But the Department issued arbitrary forms and orders, which some could not understand and many would not obey. They made Inspectors return all sorts of forms, which he supposed would be published three years after they reached the Department. Then they expressed a doubt whether the foot and mouth disease could not be raised spontaneously. But why not employ a man like Dr. Saunderson, who investigated the cattle plague thoroughly, and proved that it could not be produced spontaneously, to go into the matter? This last outbreak had been peculiar in attacking sheep with a virulence never before known. It was before unknown that cattle could be attacked twice in 12 months; but they had been attacked twice, and even three times this year. Then the Department appeared to be above receiving suggestions. That they should not do so from one sitting on the Opposition side of the House might, perhaps, be expected; but they treated Radical Members in the same way. Take the case with regard to Irish cattle. The Lord Lieutenant said that Ireland was entirely free from disease, and the Reports confirmed that statement. Well, a man bought a number of cattle, as he had done, and took the utmost care in every possible way that no contagion approached them, and yet in three or four days after reaching England the whole of them fell down dead with the murrain disease. He believed that the hold of the ship was the place where this disease was generated, and it would be easy to make a few experiments to see whether better ventilation could not be introduced. If we could ventilate a coal mine 600 or 700 feet deep, it ought to be far easier to ventilate a ship's hold. The Report went on to say that the foot and mouth disease could not be connected with importation—that increased importation did not appear to be followed by increased disease. But during the cattle plague restrictions, not only was the cattle plague got rid of, but foot and mouth disease was exterminated in this country, and it was not until the foreign sheep were turned out of the Metropolitan Market that we had any outbreak of foot and mouth disease; but from that time we had continual outbreaks, which reached colossal dimensions, as it did last year. He would give one or two illustrations of practical defects in the Act. Pleuro-pneumonia was treated in this way—You might remove diseased cattle for immediate slaughter; but there was no power to remove those that were healthy, even to save them being starved. With regard to foot and mouth disease, if a herd was going to market you could lay your hands on those which were infected and stop them; but the rest were allowed to go to market and thus to distribute the disease all over the country. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for having provided a good supply of water at the railway stations, and also for having taken it upon the Department to appoint Inspectors at the ports rather than leave their appointment to the Customs. But there was one thing which the right hon. Gentleman had not done, and that was to help agriculturists to avoid the frightful delay which their cattle experienced at the different railway junctions. A gentleman had a lot of cattle loaded at the Norwich station at 6 o'clock on Monday morning to go to Deal; but they did not arrive at Deal until 25 minutes past 2 on Wednesday, and never received either food or water on the transit. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire sent him a lot of valuable heifers, which left Aberdeen at 10 o'clock on Monday morning, but were not received at the station near his residence until the Thursday following. There seemed to be an increasing objection to the development of the dead meat traffic owing to the prejudice of the butchers; but on every principle of health, economy, and humanity we ought to encourage the trade. If Aberdeen could supply the West-end of London with the best dead meat, there could be no difficulty whatever in transferring dead meat from the ports to the midland towns. The supply of a perishable commodity like fish was regulated by the telegraph; why should not the supply of dead meat be regulated by the same means? There ought to be greater facilities for developing the dead meat trade. When the City undertook anything they generally did it thoroughly well; and their mallet at Deptford was an excellent one; but it had this one serious defect, that it had no railway connection with it. The Act, which was costly in its operation, had failed to effect the object for which it was passed, and the Department to which its working was committed had failed also, except in the matter of spending a great deal of public money. He hoped that on the Committee for which he moved all parties interested would be represented—not only consumers, but producers, from all parts of the United Kingdom, and he was particularly desirous that they should have the valuable assistance of several Irish Members. The importance of securing the services of Irish representatives would be apparent to all who remembered that the import of cattle from Ireland was far greater than that from all other countries. As a Norfolk man, one of those whose county bought from Ireland 40,000 store cattle in the year, he felt how essential it was that they should be received in the best possible condition. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for the Committee—the inquiry to embrace the operation of the Cattle Diseases Acts in Ireland.


in seconding the Motion, said, that his hon. Friend who had just sat down had dealt with the subject as a producer. He proposed to approach it from the consumer's point of view. He was strongly of opinion that it was as much a consumer's as a producer's question. When he reflected upon the very small proportion of foreign stock and meat they had in the country—namely, about 4¼ per cent in live stock and 4¼ per cent in dead meat, as against 91½ per cent of home stock, he thought it must be evident to all that it was very needful every precaution should be taken that in having free trade in all that is healthy and good they should have protection against all that is injurious and bad. The most sanguine Freetrader would not, he thought, be in favour of free trade in disease. They must all feel for the very painful position which the Vice President of the Council was often placed in—pressed, as his hon. Friend had said, on one side by the consumer, and on the other by the producer. He was sure the House would be desirous of relieving him of his difficulties, and to that end he trusted they would support the Motion before them. There seemed to be a delusion in the minds of many persons that fanners were op- posed to the importation of foreign stock. They were not opposed to the importation of healthy stock. They were, on the contrary, directly interested in it. A very small number of farmers bred their own stock. He believed it would be found that in Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire out of every 50 farmers not more than two were breeders of their own stock. They had consequently to buy stores in the spring and autumn, and if the price of meat was very high, stock had to be bought at such a price as to give very little chance of ultimate profit. Any means, therefore, that could be devised which would have the effect of securing a supply of sound store stock would be hailed by the farmers with great pleasure. He knew of one case in Buckinghamshire in which a farmer laid out from £20,000 to £25,000 in stock, and just before the cattle were ready for market, disease which had been brought from Bristol market broke out, and the depreciation in the stock amounted to more than 30 per cent. In Herefordshire, the statistics showed that of the cattle attacked—as they had been in great numbers—40 per cent died, while of sheep and pigs over 20 per cent died. These were serious facts, and showed clearly that it was time some effective measures were taken to put a stop to so disastrous a state of things, and the sooner decisive steps were taken the better.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1869, and the Cattle Disease Acts (Ireland), and the constitution of the Veterinary Departments of Great Britain and Ireland."—(Mr. Clare Read.)


said, that his hon. Friend (Mr. Read) had by implication rather than by direct statement thrown some obloquy on railway companies for their neglect in the conveyance of cattle. Certainly his hon. Friend did bring forward two very gross instances, which were, perhaps, susceptible of some sort of explanation. He would, however, mention a case which came within his own knowledge, and which tended to show that the railway companies were not always to blame. Some time since a number of Irish cattle were taken in transit at Liverpool, and the truck in which they were conveyed was filled to the utmost by the drover with a view to save expense. At Retford Junction where the company were compelled by the Act to keep water for the use of the cattle they were taken out, and they drank and were fed. But inasmuch as the same number of cattle after being fed could not be squeezed into the truck again, some had to be left behind, the railway servants not knowing what to do with them, and the North-Western Company were actually sued by the owner for damages arising from cattle losing the market at Peterborough, owing to the delay at Retford. This fact would show the difficulties with which the companies had to contend in the conveyance of cattle.


Sir, I wish to make a few remarks upon the experience of the people of Scotland on this subject. I cannot concur in the disparaging remarks on these Acts made by the hon. Member (Mr. C.S. Read), for with respect to Scotland, and especially in the North-eastern counties, their operation has been highly beneficial; but, at the same time, it is to be remembered that the legislation was very much of a tentative nature, and I am sanguine that the experience of the last few years will enable those interested in the trade to point out several improvements that can be made towards simplification of the present mode of dealing with disease. In supporting the Motion, I trust the House will bear with me for a few minutes while I briefly submit a few facts, showing the magnitude of the interests involved in this question. Several figures have been quoted on both sides of the House tonight. I am not sure on what authority those statements have been made; but I have looked carefully into the figures for myself, and taking the Agricultural Returns of 1871, I estimate the total value of the cattle and sheep of Great Britain —I do not include Ireland—at no less than £115,000,000 sterling. Now, Sir, that is about double the value of the total amount of the registered shipping of the United Kingdom. This stock, I estimate, supplies annually animal food to the value of £48,000,000 sterling. Now, Sir, taking the Board of Trade Returns also for 1871, the total value of the live stock imported is estimated at £5,370,000. The proportion which the foreign supply bears to home produce is thus only about one-ninth, or about 10 per cent of the whole supply. That is what I find from the Statistical Returns, and when I state further that an animal is deteriorated almost 10 per cent of its value by even an ordinary attack of foot and mouth disease, it will be at once seen of how great importance it is not only to the farmer, but also to the consumer, that our herds should be protected from disease in the best possible way that can be devised. I do not anticipate that it will be found necessary to have any increased stringency of the provisions of the Act; neither do I think that it will be necessary to augment the powers of the Privy Council under the Act. So far as the experience of Scotland has gone, the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council has exercised those powers judiciously, promptly, and energetically—and, speaking for the counties which I know best, entirely to the satisfaction both of the farmers and the people at large. The local authorities in Scotland have acted up to their full powers under the orders of the Privy Council, and I am convinced that if local authorities generally throughout the kingdom would act up to the orders of the Privy Council with the same energy and efficiency, contagious disease among animals would be very soon exterminated, and, if re-introduced, quickly put down. But there is reason to suspect that certain local authorities do not carry out the provisions of the Orders in Council with the zeal which one could wish to see, and which we are entitled to expect; and I think it would be highly desirable, in adjusting the provisions of the Act, that authorities should be taken to exercise a control and supervising power over the mode in which local authorities carry out their duties. If the local authorities in the districts in Yorkshire which have been referred to had been as zealous in carrying out the duties imposed upon them by the Orders in Council as the people in the North of Scotland, I do not think that the cattle plague would have existed nearly so long in that part of the country. A good deal may, I think, be done in respect to the constitution of local authorities, to introduce more simplicity as well as greater economy in the working of the Act. In the county which I have the honour to represent there are no less than six local authorities, one for the county, and one in each of the five boroughs within the county. Now, Sir, it is quite possible for each of those local authorities to issue separate regulations under the Orders in Council, and it is necessary for any person dealing with cattle, not only to be acquainted with the Act and the Orders in Council, but with the provisions and regulations of each of the local authorities in the county. It is evident that it would require a lawyer to understand the position of the farmer who wishes to move his cattle when the regulations are in force, and at present it is utterly impossible for the great majority of farmers and cattle-dealers to know what they may, and what they may not do. I therefore think that arrangements ought to be made, if possible, whereby there should be only one local authority for each county. I am fully persuaded that this would lead to greater efficiency in the working of the Act, and greatly reduce the expenses of the various local authorities. It is the opinion of the Scottish farmers, as well as of the farmers of Norfolk, that the great source of disease is Ireland. I cannot, however, agree with hon. Members who think that the disease is originated during the very brief period of the transit from Ireland to Scotland. Reports which were made to the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture by various authorities, and in particular by the chief Veterinary Inspector in Ireland, show clearly and distinctly that the simplest way of getting rid of the disease which comes from Ireland would be to have an inspection of cattle prior to their embarkation at the Irish ports; and the authorities to whom I allude say that this would also be a very great benefit to Ireland itself, because dealers in that country, when they found that animals must be inspected prior to embarkation, would be more careful to keep them, if possible, in good condition on their way to the ports. For these reasons, I feel great pleasure in supporting the Motion for a Committee made by my hon. Friend on the other side, and I am very happy to hear that my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council has consented, on the part of the Government, to grant a Committee.


said, there were one or two points to which he would call the attention of the House, that had not been taken up by the previous speakers. He could not agree with his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. C.S. Read), as to the Act being the total failure ho had represented it to have been, for as his hon. Friend (Mr. J.W. Barclay) had pointed out, the farmers of Aberdeenshire had, under its operation, exterminated pleuro-pneumonia from that county. There could be no question that the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act was a well conceived and vigorous remedy for dealing with imported as well as established diseases in our live stock, and as far as rinderpest was concerned, it had been completely successful. There was no fear oven if this dire disease gained a footing once more in this country that it would spread to any alarming extent. But in the matter of that troublesome and over recurring disease, the foot and mouth complaint, ho must express the opinion that the Act had been a total failure. A prevalent opinion existed that the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council had been somewhat inert in the matter, and had not put forth that energy and knowledge which it possessed, or, at all events, which it ought to possess. So far as he could ascertain, no adequate measures, if any, had been adopted to trace the origin of the disease. The theory of the veterinary authorities was, that the imported animals, which fell soon after landing, must have had the germs of the disease in their system before they were embarked on board ship. A host of facts could be adduced to prove this to be an erroneous idea, and persons qualified to express an opinion protested against these veterinary professors being considered the only wise men on the subject. As the Veterinary Department had been inert upon the question, the Royal Agricultural Society of England very commendably, and at great expense during last summer and autumn, set on foot an investigation as to the causes of the outbreaks of foot and mouth disease. The information obtained proved conclusively that our system of inspection was totally inadequate for its purposes. This fact was also revealed—that the provisions of the Act were systematically ignored in Ireland, and that Irish cattle were neither inspected on one side nor on the other side of the Channel, and this from a country which sent us more disease than all the world beside. The gentleman who conducted the investigation, an eminently qualified man, came to a conclusion exactly opposite to the view expressed by his hon. Friend below him (Mr. Barclay). He was of opinion, after having made 11 voyages in cattle boats, between England, the Continent, and Ireland, that foot and mouth disease was generated on board ship, or, at any rate, was taken by the animals whilst on board, probably from the ships being infected. [The hon. Gentleman here read extracts from a document in support of these views.] He (Mr. Howard) would also remind the House that their own Committee which had sat upon the subject had arrived at the same conclusion. And he wished to hear from the Vice President of the Council what steps, if any, had been taken by the Veterinary Department to prove whether there was any foundation or not in this theory. His hon. Friend (Mr. C.S. Read) had alluded to the losses in Herefordshire, which last year amounted to £100,000. In the much smaller county of Bedford 38,000 animals were attacked last year, 800 of which died; the loss to that small county could not be reckoned at less than £60,000. Thousands of acres of grass land with abundance of keep were only half stocked last year, in consequence of the fears entertained of introducing the disease upon the farm. With respect to quarantine, he desired to point out to the House the great advantage which would accrue to importers, and which had not hitherto been recognised. When the Bill was before the House in Committee, he remembered pointing out the fact that Irish store beasts fetched from £1 to £2 per head less than their value through their liability to disease; especially establish quarantine grounds to which farmers could resort with some confidence in being able to buy healthy stock, and the price of store cattle would at once be considerably enhanced; and, with respect to fat cattle, a few days rest and quiet would restore their blood and system to a healthy and normal state, and their flesh would be far more wholesome than when killed in an excited feverish condition. He was glad the Government had consented to the appointment of a Committee, believing it would result in much good, and give great satisfaction to the public.


said, he had not been opposed to the appointment of a Committee last year, but had then stated that it was proposed too late in the Session, and that he would be glad to assent to it this year. He not only now assented to it, but would welcome the inquiry. He thought the time had come when the working of an Act that had given such strong powers to the Government should be fairly considered, and that they ought to make up their minds whether their legislation had been in the right direction or not. In conducting the Act through the House he had felt that the powers vested in the Government were most unpleasant powers, and it would be a rope round his neck that would be strongly pulled before he had done with it. It was impossible for anyone in his situation to act without meeting with a great deal of complaint on both sides arising from Government interference. It could not be otherwise in a matter like that affecting both the supply of food of a large population and the very great commercial interests, both of the home producer and the foreign importer. Another ground on which he welcomed that inquiry was that he wanted his hon. Friend (Mr. C.S. Read) to have an opportunity of bringing before the Committee the charges which he thought he had a right to make against the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council. He had such confidence in his hon. Friend's candour as to believe that, after making those charges and having them thoroughly sifted, he would find there were not a few of them which he would be glad to withdraw. As to the Act and the administration of it, his hon. Friend had alluded to him personally most kindly, yet evidently supposed that he had not time, with the many other things he had to do, to give full attention to that matter. There was no part of his hon. Friend's speech with which he more agreed than that in which he suggested that the duties should be handed over to the Local Government Board, to the Board of Trade, or to any other authority. A Minister who was pretty well worked during the Session did not like to lose his holidays; but owing to business connected with the Veterinary Department, he had not had a fortnight's holiday this year, and if there had been any fault committed it had not arisen through want of attention on his part. He did not, however, think very much would be gained by transferring those functions from one Minister to another. Whoever was intrusted with them would find them very difficult and responsible, and, whatever else he had to do, he would have to discharge them carefully. His hon. Friend had made a mistake in reference to the importation of animals infected with rinderpest into this country. There were eight vessels that came to England with cattle plague on board, but in only one case—namely, at Hull, did any ill result happen; and their precautions were sufficiently stringent to prevent any harm arising except in that single instance. As regards rinderpest, he must, indeed, claim a little credit for the Department. Although during the last few years the Department had had to confront the greatest possible danger of cattle plague, which had been raging in Germany, France, and Belgium, yet until last autumn they had managed to keep it away from this country. His hon. Friend said that just as a ship came to Deptford an animal was accidentally found to be ill, and if it had been thrown overboard the whole cargo might have come into the interior. But lie forgot that such were their regulations that not a single animal from Russia would have been allowed to go into the interior. No animals came from Russia to Deptford—whether the vessel had cattle plague or not on board—without the condition of immediate slaughter being enforced. His hon. Friend thought the disease would not have taken so much hold in East Yorkshire if the Department had shown more vigour and determination; but the very moment the telegram reached London informing the Veterinary Department of the existence of cattle plague there, their best available Inspector was sent down. He himself was up in London in a very few hours, and never had a much more difficult task before him. One animal was said to be ill; at any rate, the plague appeared to be confined to one farm; and with only that information it was not easy to put the most stringent powers of the Act into force. Yet he did not hesitate to issue an order stopping all markets and the movement of cattle in the East Riding, and how the Department could have acted with greater vigour and determination he could not see.


explained that he had not charged the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council with being remiss, but had simply said that either in the local authorities or in the Veterinary Department there was a certain amount of inactivity.


said, he must express his thanks to a late Member of that House, Admiral Duncombe, the chairman of the local authority in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and also to the magistrates, for the earnest and determined manner in which they put the Act in force. He could not anticipate the results of the proposed inquiry, and he should be most willing to be guided by them; but he was rather sanguine that it would show that the Department had carried out faithfully and to the utmost of its power the Act that had been passed. It was quite true that they had not done some things that had been charged against them, because they were only empowered to carry out the law, and not to constitute themselves a curative department. They had not set themselves up as doctors with a cure for every disease, and it would be a serious matter for any Committee to recommend that any Government should undertake to act as physicians for all the animals in the kingdom. The time had gone by when a Government could interfere and insist upon a dead meat traffic. They could only leave that to the action of supply and demand. His hon. Friend (Mr. Howard) thought that they should try a few experiments, but the Veterinary Department had no power to detain animals in Ireland or to compel an inspection there; and he much doubted whether they would have been justified in trying experiments in England. He thought it would be found that there would be very great difficulty in changing from the present system of dealing with the foreign importation. No doubt it gave a great discretion to the Government as to the cases in which it should compel the immediate slaughtering of the animals. But lie was strongly of opinion that it would be found very difficult to change from that practice without great inconvenience to the home consumer. There was one matter of experience to which he wished to call the particular attention of the House. It was this—if they were to say that every animal imported into England from foreign countries should be slaughtered at the port of landing, according to experience up to the present moment, in all probability we should have a great many more diseased animals in the country; for when time animals came from fo- reign countries which were not scheduled, as, for instance, from Holland, much more care was taken as to what kind of animals were included in the cargo, than in the case of those sent from a scheduled country to Deptford to be slaughtered there. Then, it should also be remembered that the import of foreign cattle, though bearing a comparatively small proportion to the home production, was, in fact, much larger than was generally supposed. One hon. Member had stated that the proportion was 4½ to 5 per cent, and he was very much gratified to find from the most practical remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for Forfarshire that he, by a calculation made upon an entirely different basis from that which had been gone into by the officer of the Department, had arrived at almost precisely the same conclusion—that the real proportion was 12 per cent. That was a calculation which he believed would be nearer the truth. He wished, in the next place, to make one or two remarks with regard to the home diseases. When the Act was passed the first real practical legislation with respect to the prevention of home diseases had been entered upon, and he was quite of opinion that the time was come when we should carefully consider whether it was more desirable to go backward or forward in that course. His own impression on the point was very much that which had been conveyed to the House by the hon. Member for Forfarshire — that the restrictions in the Act were of use in stopping home diseases, especially that very dangerous disease pleuro-pneumonia, if put in force by the local authorities throughout the country. If not put in force, however, they were of little avail, and it would be for the Committee to consider whether much good could be expected from them when put in force in one part of a county, or one county, and not put in force in another. That was a point on which he should be exceedingly glad to hear the opinion of the Committee, whether we should proceed in our present permissive legislation or have recourse to more general and compulsory powers. With respect to the spread of the foot and mouth disease, a good deal of complaint had been made against the Department on account of the spread of that disease; but he thought they could defend them- selves by laying the blame partly on the Act as not being strong enough, and partly upon the local authorities for not carrying it into effect. The year after the Act was passed — 1870 — he was called back from the Continent in the autumn in consequence of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in this country, and when he returned he found that five or six counties required more stringent rules. The Department, thinking they would be supported by public opinion, issued those stringent rules for the whole of Great Britain; but the result was that county after county protested against them, saying that the remedy was a great deal worse than the disease. The Department found, therefore, that they were greatly in advance of public opinion, and the local authorities, upon whom it relied to put the Orders in force, were so slack in the matter that the Orders had to be cancelled, and it was left optional to the authorities whether they should carry then into effect or not. Some local authorities enforced them successfully; some did nothing at all; and some, he had no doubt, failed because their neighbours had not done anything. It would, under those circumstances, be for the Committee seriously to consider which course they would deem it expedient to adopt, whether they would leave things as they stood, optional with the local authorities, and against that he thought there was a great deal to be said; whether they would strengthen the restrictions throughout the kingdom, in favour of which there was a great deal to be said; or whether, taking one year with another, they would arrive at the conclusion that the foot and mouth disease was not bad enough to call for such restrictions, for which view there was much to be said also. Indeed, he recollected that when the Act was passed his lion. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. C.S. Read) had expressed considerable doubt whether the foot and mouth disease should be included in its provisions. He was glad, he might add, that his hon. Friend had included in his Motion the operation of the Act in Ireland as well as in England. Statements would, no doubt, be laid before the Committee as to the extent of foot and mouth disease supposed to have been imported from Ireland, and in dealing with that question the Committee would, ho hoped, have the assistance of Irish Members. Nor must it be forgotten that, though we might get some disease from Ireland, we also got an immense amount of food, and care must be taken that no restrictions should be enforced with regard to Ireland that were not really necessary. He wished, at the same time, to add that nothing could, in his opinion, do more good to Ireland as a producing country than that more care should be taken at home with respect to the prevention of disease in the case of animals intended for the English market.


said, that as an Irish Member, he had not the slightest objection that the inquiry should be extended to Ireland. It would be shown, he thought, that much exaggeration prevailed with respect to the existence of disease in the case of cattle exported from that country. He also concurred with the right hon. Gentleman in the opinion that a great deal too much had been made of the foot and mouth disease, for in the county which he had the honour to represent there was not a single instance of an animal having died of that disease. There was not a single case of rinderpest, he might add, in Ireland, and England would be very badly off indeed were it not for Irish cattle. He hoped the noble Lord the Chief Secretary would take care the Irish Members were fairly represented on the proposed Committee.


attributed the spread of these disorders among cattle to the variation in the orders as issued by the boroughs and by the counties. The largest markets in England were held in the boroughs, and the orders there issued were very frequently at variance with those which emanated from the authorities in the counties; while even among the latter there was a great want of uniformity, at any rate in the county he represented. In one petty sessional division of Leicestershire they had, according to the last Return, spent £1 only in preventing disease amongst cattle, whilst in another division of the same county the amount was over £100, though the disease prevailed over the whole county, indicating want of vigilance on the part of one section of the authorities which might jeopardise the operation of the Act. Many persons had conic to the conclusion that more stringent regulations were required with regard to the foot and mouth disease, because the character of that disorder had greatly changed, being now much more severe than formerly. Cattle frequently took it a second time within 12 months, and the second attack was more serious than the first. He should be sorry, he might add, that the Committee should do anything to interfere with the free importation of cattle from Ireland; but he felt bound to say that a great amount of foot and mouth disease was found to exist among them from one cause or another.

Motion agreed to.

Select Committee appointed, "to inquire into the operations of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1869, and the Cattle Disease Acts (Ireland), and the constitution of the Veterinary Departments of Great Britain and Ireland."—(Mr. Clare Read.)

And, on February 28, Committee nominated as follows:—Mr. WILLIAM EDWARD FORSTER, Lord ROBERT MONTAGU, Mr. MONSELL, Mr. RIDLEY, Mr. DODSON, Sir HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON, Mr. JACOB BRIGHT, Mr. PELL, Mr. JAMES BARCLAY, Mr. KAVANAGH, Mr. DENT, Mr. CAWLEY, Mr. CALLAN, Mr. TIPPING, Mr. LUSK, Mr. WILLIAM JOHNSTON, Mr. O'CONOR, Mr. NORWOOD, and Mr. CLARE READ:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.

And, on March 4, Mr. NORWOOD discharged, Mr. CLAY added.