HC Deb 27 April 1875 vol 223 cc1694-735

rose to call attention to the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords in 1873 on Horses, and to move— That this House views with apprehension the large and continued export of the best and soundest stud horses and brood mares for general purposes from this Country, and wishes to direct the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the national importance of taking such steps as may be desirable to prevent the deterioration of the stock which remains. The hon. Member said that seldom, if ever, he apprehended, in the annals of that House had there been taken a course more uncalled for, more unwarrantable, or more offensive to the House than that which had been adopted by the hon. Member for Cavan, who appeared to forget that he was now admitted into an Assembly of Gentlemen. However that might be, he was proportionately grateful to the House for the decision at which they had arrived in rejecting the Motion of the hon. Member; and there was no man in the House, and, he believed, no man in the country, who would not re-echo the eloquent and indignant protest which the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government had uttered against that Motion. Having said this, he trusted the House would regard the importance of the subject he was about to submit to its notice as a sufficient apology for his intruding it upon their attention. It seemed to him that the question of the supply of horses in this country—and by that he meant the supply of horses bred and produced in the United Kingdom—was a question of very great interest, not only to himself and to many other Members of that House, as well as to an immense number of persons out of the House, but that it was, in addition to that, a subject which engaged the attention of the country at that moment, and one which deeply concerned the interests of the nation at large. Under those circumstances, he would endeavour to state, as briefly as he could, the reasons which had led him to place his Notice on the Paper; and if he were compelled to trespass somewhat severely on the patience of hon. Members, he should rely upon the indulgence and kindness on the part of the House which it had been his good fortune to experience upon more than one occasion. Whatever might be the cause—whether it was owing to the advantages of climate and of soil which we undoubtedly possessed in this country, or to the almost instinctive love and knowledge of the animal which appeared to be indigenous to the character of Englishmen, or whether it was owing to the enormous amount of care, pains, and attention bestowed upon its production in its most perfect form—one thing was perfectly certain, that this country had enjoyed for a very considerable period all the advantages which were to be derived from the possession of horses, and of a breed of those horses which had hitherto been unrivalled in any part of the world. Now, there might be a difference of opinion as to how this result had been first brought about; and he attributed to the practice of horse-racing and to the institution of the Turf as it had been conducted in this country, in the first instance, at all events—and he said in the first instance, because he believed that racing, as conducted in the past, conduced more to the general welfare of our horses than it did in the present—in no small or inconsiderable degree, the unquestioned superiority of our own horses over those of any other nation in the world. That was not the time, nor was he there to defend that institution. Racing was, on the whole, he was happy to say, in a tolerably flourishing condition, and was well able to take care of itself, although some persons constantly decried and attempted to run down the Turf. There were some things in connection with the Turf which he should gladly see altered. But, although he did not despair of seeing reforms carried out in connection with it, hon. Members should remember that it was beyond all question and doubt that it was the Turf which had mainly, if not entirely, promoted, stimulated, and encouraged the breeding of thoroughbred horses in Great Britain, and through them had benefited and. improved every class of horse in the United Kingdom to such an extent that they had not only been sought for generally, but had become the admiration and the envy of the inhabitants of every quarter of the globe. That was a circumstance of which every Englishman ought justly to feel proud. He could not, however, look forward without a feeling of apprehension to a similar state of things in the future. Had there not been a well-grounded alarm in the minds of a number of persons who were competent to form an opinion on the subject that the country was losing the best of its breeding stock for general purposes, his Motion would never have been placed upon the Paper. They must not shut their eyes to the fact that an immense proportion of our best stallions and of our brood mares were being taken out of the country, and that, in the opinion of those people to whom he had referred, many of the horses which were bred in the country in these days were generally inferior in quality, and probably also deficient in quantity, too, as compared with what was the case some few years ago. If those views were correct—and he could show that they had at least a great deal of foundation—he said it was a question that was worthy of the serious attention of Parliament and of the country. The House would remember that public attention was first prominently called to this question a few Sessions since by a noble Lord in "another place" (Lord Rosebery), and the result was that a Committee was appointed to "Inquire into the condition of this country with regard to horses, and its capabilities of supplying any present or future demand for them." That Committee enjoyed special advantages for discharging the task which was imposed upon it. Noble Lords sat on that Committee, who, by their judgment and special experience, were peculiarly capable of dealing with the question. The Heir Apparent to the Throne, who was one of its Members, displayed that sympathy with its objects which he invariably manifested in every subject that possessed considerable interest for any portion of the people of this country; and they had in addition as their President one who combined with a thorough knowledge of the subject distinguished ability and all the ardour and generous ambition of a youthful politician, which was not to be daunted by the difficulties incident to a question of this nature. The House could not have forgotten the very great interest that was manifested in the proceedings of that Committee at the time; and it was not too much to say that its appointment created a perfect flutter of excitement and anticipation in the minds of all the horse-loving portion of the community. It was hoped that its inquiries would result in the question being dealt with in a determined and vigorous manner. Those anticipations had been realized to this extent—that a vast amount of valuable and instructive evidence, which the House would do well to consider carefully, bearing upon the whole question, was laid before the Committee, and to some portions of which he would presently refer. At the same time, he was bound to confess that when the Report of that Committee appeared, it gave rise to widespread and general feelings of disappointment, from the conspicuous absence of any substantial recommendations, beyond two or three trifling suggestions as to how to deal with the acknowledged evils which it had been expected the Committee would have grappled and dealt with in an effectual manner. So far as their collection of evidence went, he thought that the labours of that Committee had been of the utmost value; but, so far as any proposals on their part as effectual remedies went, he must say he thought they had been singularly barren indeed. It was under these circumstances that he had ventured once more to bring this subject under the notice of Parliament. Now, there were three considerations in particular in connection with this question, which were all more or less dealt with in the evidence which had been taken before the Committee, to which he was anxious to direct the attention of hon. Members, because it was upon them that the decision at which they arrived on this subject must depend. He would ask the House then to consider, in the first place, the present condition of our horse supply in this country, both as regarded its quantity and its quality. In the second place, he would like to refer to the startling evidence given as to the great exportation of the best of our breeding stock which had taken place, and was still taking place, from these shores, and the consequent dearth of good and the great prevalence of inferior animals of that description, which remained in the country; and, thirdly, he would point out such remedies as had been suggested, and which might be applied with advantage to the scarcity and deterioration which was alleged by many, and to the great exportation which was denied by none. With respect to the first of these points, he admitted that when they came to consider the question of whether the number of horses now bred was greater or less than formerly, in the absence of any reliable statistics they had no absolute grounds upon which they could prove any assertion whatever. But, nevertheless, from all he had seen, heard, and read, he was of opinion that we had fallen off in that respect to a very considerable degree. He did not agree with all he had heard; but he still thought there were reasons for that falling off. He would, in the first place, say that he did not think any falling off was to be accounted for by reason of the superior attractions offered for the breeding of cattle rather than horses, owing to the high prices of beef and mutton. The breeding of horses in England had always formed a merely incidental occupation for the farmer, who had never devoted his exclusive attention to the breeding of horses. In former days there was scarcely a farmer throughout the country who did not possess, for some purpose or other in connection with the business of his farm, one or two mares of an excellent stamp, and adapted to breed a good foal; and, under more favourable circumstances than existed at present, with a good horse almost always close at his door, they invariably did so, with profit to the farmer, with advantage to the public, and with a loss and interruption to their work—so small as to be almost surprising. And what he was anxious to impress upon the House was this—that it had been through the general practice of breeding one or two foals every year, on the part of an immense number of individuals, which went to make up the aggregate of our horse supply, and that it was the easiest thing in the world to encourage this practice immensely or to extinguish it altogether. There was no great inducement to carry on that breeding with a view to profit; but, as a general rule, farmers liked the idea of breeding one or two horses, and it was an agreeable kind of speculation which could result in no very great loss, and might chance to bring a small fortune. Having had some considerable experience himself in the subject, he was convinced that it was in the power of the House of Commons at that moment, by means of the most trifling efforts, and by giving a very small amount of encouragement, to increase immensely that practice and that taste on the part of the farmers of Great Britain, upon which, after all was said and done, the horse supply of this country, for whatever purpose it might be required, and especially in the event of any foreign emergency, must in the long run more or less mainly depend. In order that the practice might be successful there were two essential conditions which must be maintained. The farmers must have a regular and ready market for their produce, and they must have facilities for obtaining the use of sound sires at comparatively little trouble and ex- pense. They enjoyed the first at the present moment, it was true, owing to the great increase in the price of horses; but it was because the second condition was almost invariably wanting—because they no longer enjoyed the services of the excellent class of horses they were formerly able to get, because in nine cases out of ten those horses had been taken away to other countries—because the farmers were far too good judges to use the worthless brutes that were left—that, instead of continuing to breed, they had sold their mares to the foreigners who were always ready and anxious to buy them and to give a good price for them; that the practice of breeding horses in England had been growing of late years more and more into disfavour, and in some districts, he was sorry to say, had ceased altogether. The House would perceive that he was clearly convinced there had been a diminution in the supply, and that he was equally satisfied as to the causes of that diminution. But whether he was right or wrong in that respect—and he did not wish to assume the least infallibility—there was one thing, at all events, in which he thought they would all be agreed—namely, that we had at this moment to encounter a greatly increased demand and that our supply was in no way adequate to meet that demand. The real question, therefore, they had to consider was not so much whether the breeding of horses throughout the country to-day was more or less than it used to be, but by what practical means they might be able to encourage and to increase that supply so as to place it, in relation to the demand, on a permanently satisfactory footing. Recent Returns seemed to show that an improvement in this respect had commenced. In the Agricultural Returns which had lately been made, he found the following passage:— The number of horses returned by occupiers of land in Great Britain was larger in 1874 than in 1873 by 35,000, the increase being chiefly in the class of mares for breeding and unbroken horses. The number of horses of these descriptions, and which form the chief part of the addition annually made to the general stock of horses in this country, has advanced from 301,000 in 1870, to 367,000 in 1874, showing an increase in five years of 66,000, or at the rate of nearly 22 per cent. A large part of this increase occurred in the last two years, and to a greater extent in 1874 than in 1873, showing that high prices have had the natural effect of encouraging the breeding of a greater number of horses, This apparent increase in the number of horses was undoubtedly owing, in part, to an increase in the practice of making returns, which he found, on making inquiries, had been by no means universal. But, after making every allowance for that circumstance, he gladly admitted that this was intelligence of a cheering description, and he fully believed that so long as the present prices continued to prevail, there would continue to be an improvement, so far as numbers went, even if the whole matter was left, as an hon. Member (Mr. A. Brown) intended to propose it should be, to the ordinary operation of the laws of supply and demand. But the scarcity complained of was only one part, and to his mind by no means the most difficult or most important part of the question with which they had to deal. He ventured to say that it was of vital importance to this country to maintain the standard of excellence, as well as the standard of numbers, for which the horses of England had hitherto always been famous, and which, he thought, to a certain extent, the hon. Member appeared to lose sight of. Here again it was not in his power to offer any proof or make any positive assertion. The question whether our horses were worse or better at this moment than formerly was and always must be a matter of opinion. They could, each of them, only be guided by the experience which they possessed. There were, no doubt, many persons who would agree with him in the opinion that the proportion of good horses in this country to-day as compared with the bad ones was nothing like what it used to be, and that, as a general rule, they had deteriorated to a degree which was positively alarming. Then, again, he supposed there were others—among whom he must include his hon. Friend the Member for Dorset (Mr. Sturt)—who would declare that the horses had never been better; that they were to be had in abundance, and that it was merely a question of paying a proper price. He could only say that he hoped his hon. Friend when he next had occasion to go into the market would not find himself disappointed. There were always some men to be found of that happy and amiable frame of mind whose geese were invariably swans, and who, directly they got anything for themselves, invested it with every possible attribute of excellence under the sun. This description, however, would not, of course, apply to his hon. Friend, whose modesty, disposition, and character were so universally known; but, supposing for a moment that his hon. Friend was quite right and that he (Mr. Chaplin) was totally wrong—which was exactly reversing the real state of the case—it only proved to his satisfaction the terrible and irreparable loss the country had sustained in getting rid of the sires and dams which had bred the excellent animals of which his hon. Friend was so justly proud. This brought him to a part of his subject on which he hoped to be able to afford some information which might be new to many hon. Members of the House. He had carefully waded through the whole of the evidence given with regard to it before the Committee of the House of Lords, and he could come to no other conclusion than this—that if it was worth the paper on which it was printed two facts of the utmost importance were established by it and placed beyond doubt. It showed in the first place, that we had been losing for years, and were still losing, an enormous proportion of the best of our breeding stock for general purposes; and, secondly, it showed that those which remained in the country were of the most inferior quality only. Now, he wished it to be distinctly understood that in making these observations he was alluding in no way whatever to the highest description and class of those bred stock, or of stallions, which varied, in the price paid for the use of them, from 10 to 100 guineas. Owing to racing and to the market which racing created for their produce, private enterprize was still enabled in this country to compete even with foreign Governments for their possession. His remarks were wholly directed to animals of another description—animals which, although they might not possess all the qualifications which were requisite when the higher class of racing horses was wanted, were not a whit less valuable, but perhaps more valuable on that account for general purposes, and for the purposes for which foreign Governments desired to possess them, and which, according to his own experience, and according to the evidence contained in that Blue Book, had of late years been taken out of this country by wholesale. Persons might ask how it was that, with an increased and a still more increasing demand for horses in England, this description of animal did not remain in the country. The breeding of horses, however, and everything connected with that occupation, had hitherto always in England been left to unaided private enterprize; and so long as private enterprize had nothing to contend with abroad it answered remarkably well. But of late years the Governments of foreign countries had become keenly alive to the fact that it was of great advantage to a country to have good breeds of horses, and they were doing all they could to make up for deficiencies in this respect. From Hungary, Austria, Italy, France, and Germany, agents had been sent to England, and also to Ireland, whose business it was to be always on the look out for good horses, and who bought with excellent judgment—quite as good as our own—and with a most careful discrimination in rejecting anything in the slightest degree unsound. Their commissions were practically unlimited, and their instructions were never to miss anything of the right sort. They therefore scoured the country in every direction, and bought up the finest country sires they could get, at prices with which it was impossible for private enterprize to compete. Indeed, it was no uncommon thing for such horses to be bought for £4,000 or £5,000. In one case he remembered £6,000 was paid. He might refer in illustration of that point to a case in which he was himself concerned on the part of a noble Lord whose name was was never mentioned in that House without a feeling of deep respect—he alluded to the late Speaker, Lord Ossington. It would be in the recollection of many Gentlemen present that some three or four years ago there was a sale of some of the most celebrated thoroughbred stock in the Kingdom, forming the stud of that most eminent breeder of horses, the late Mr. Blenkiron, a most patriotic Englishman. In that stud there were two horses descended from a breed the most famous that we possessed, and each of them conspicuous for the merits which distinguished it. One of them was Blair Athol, the best horse in the world, and priceless as a sire for the Turf, and the other was his own brother Breadalbane, of no less value as a stud horse, though greatly inferior to his brother as a racer. It might not be gene- rally known that the late lamented Lord to whom he had alluded combined with those other admirable qualities which they had recognized so long in that House all the instincts of a sportsman and a knowledge and a love of horses second to none. Recognizing the unusual merits of those horses, the noble Lord commissioned him (Mr. Chaplin) to attend the sale, and offer for one of them a price which, considering that he wanted a horse for the service of his tenants and neighbours in the county of Nottingham, was liberal in the extreme. What was the result? Owing to the exertions of a patriotic body of English gentlemen, who, at the last moment, formed themselves into a company, of whom the hon. Member for Scarborough (Sir Charles Legard) was one, Blair Athol was bought, and kept in this country, for the sum of £12,000, the Prussian agent having actually offered £11,500 for him. Breadalbane fetched £6,000—three times the liberal sum he was commissioned by Lord Ossington to give for him—and was bought by a foreign agent. That was a simple explanation of the reason why such horses did not remain in this country. They were bought up at prices against which private enterprize could not compete and taken out of this country. He would lay before the House some particulars as to the manner in which those studs were managed in foreign countries, and more especially as to the system adopted in Germany, for his information about which he was greatly indebted to the Ambassador, and he took that opportunity of expressing his sense of the kindness and courtesy he had received from his Excellency. He found that in the Austrian, in the Italian, and in the French studs there were something like 5,000 stallions altogether, and they were distributed in this way. In Italy there were 350; in France there were 1,500 at this moment, which were to be raised at the rate of 200 a-year until they reached a total of 2,500; in Austria and Hungary combined there were 3,400; and all those horses were kept at establishments which were maintained in order to improve the breed by the respective Governments of those countries. Again, in Prussia there were three principal breeding studs, which were originally intended for supplying the Royal stud. In addition there were 11 different depôts, containing about 1,450 stallions. From those depôts, at the proper season of the year, those horses were distributed in numbers varying from one to six, under the charge of Government servants; and they were located at 540 different stations throughout the country, where accommodation was usually provided for them by the landed proprietors, who took an interest in the matter. Now, the whole cost of maintaining these studs was £170,000 per annum, of which there was received back in fees for horses £70,000; and the annual results of those establishments was a produce of something like 50,000 foals, at a gross cost to the State of £100,000, or an average of £2 per head. Those were the results of that system, and they were surely worth our careful attention, especially when he pointed out that while the average charge for a German stallion was something like 10s., if we had a similar establishment in this country it would be seldom less than two guineas, which would bring in £280,000. It therefore followed that if we had an establishment equally well managed on the same scale, we should not only greatly improve the breed of our horses, but put £110,000 a-year into our pockets. He hoped that was a matter which would commend itself to the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But the most serious part of that question as affecting us was that all those 1,700 horses in Germany were of English extraction—that was to say, were bred either from English horses or English mares, and one-third of the whole had been imported straight from this country. Again, in regard to France, during the last 10 years for which he had any figures—namely, down to 1873–541 stallions had been taken out of this country, of which 150 still remained in their studs, and he believed also that a largo proportion of the stallions in Italy were English horses. Now, out of 29 witnesses examined before the Committee, he found that 22 were agreed as to that great exportation, while only one differed from them in opinion; while, again, out of that number there were 19 or 20 who contended that the stallions which travelled the country were, as a general rule, worthless and bad, as against five who took a different view. He would not weary the House with the evidence of the witnesses; but he would quote that of three of their num- ber, which was a perfectly fair sample of the whole. He would take one witness from England, one from Ireland, and one who could speak for the whole Kingdom. Mr. Phillips, the great Army contractor, who had very large experience, was asked by the Chairman— As regards the class of stallions generally, are the travelling stallions a good class?"—The foreigners buy away all the host from us, and they would not leave a good stallion in the country." "Is it true that an enormous percentage of the travelling stallions are unsound?" "No doubt of it. THE MARQUESS OF AILESBURY: Do you mean unsound from accident in training? "No; hereditarily unsound, roarers and spavins and everything else. Mr. M'Grane, the great Irish dealer, stated that a good many of the stallions in Ireland were bad, and that there were a great many "roarers" in that country. Mr. Lumley Hodgson said there was a deterioration in the breeding stock in this country among mares as well as stallions. He attributed that deterioration to the best mares going abroad, and to the foreigners taking away the best and soundest stallions, adding that the farmers had only inferior stock to breed from them, and consequently they were tired of breeding. Well, if neither that evidence, nor the inferences to be deduced from it could be refuted, even those hon. Members who had put Amendments on the Paper would be compelled to admit that, whatever might be the state of our horse supply at that moment, we had a very deplorable prospect indeed to look forward to. That, then, was the case with which they had to deal. Perhaps he would be allowed to make one or two brief suggestions as to the mode of remedying that state of things. He thought they had two things to do—first, to encourage the practice of breeding as much as they could; and, secondly, to discourage the bad, and to devise some means of keeping the good, stallions in England, and dispersing them over the country. To prohibit exportation, or anything like it, according to his mind, would be out of the question. But there were two or three proposals which it appeared to him would be simple, feasible, and effectual. To discourage bad stallions, even without any undue interference with the liberty of individuals, was not very difficult. The Chancellor of the Exchequer only a short time ago took off the tax on horses, and it could not be denied that he had a right, if he saw fit, to re-impose it. He (Mr. Chaplin) would impose a considerable tax on every stallion that covered in England for hire, to be remitted on every occasion where it fulfilled certain conditions of soundness which they ought to require. It might be said they had no machinery for such a purpose; but he could not believe, especially in these days of Inspectors, that it could not be created without any very serious difficulty that could not be surmounted. In order to retain the good horses in England, his next suggestion was that they might have Government depôts in England under the same system as that which had been so successful abroad, and here they had a machinery ready to their hand, for there were State establishments maintained in this country for the breeding of horses; and if the object of those establishments was, as it ought to be, to improve the national breed of horses in England, they might do infinitely more than was now done towards attaining that object, instead of producing a number of worthless yearlings, of which of late years they had seen too many at the paddocks of Hampton Court. No great amount of capital would be needed. There were not enough horses to be found in England. They were not at this moment to be found in numbers sufficient to justify the outlay of more than £5,000 or £6,000, or, at the utmost, £10,000 a-year. If once they were purchased, they would not only pay their own keep, but they would pay a very good interest into the bargain. Then as to their use, they might, at the proper season, be sent over the country, as in Prussia, under the charge of Government servants; or, if that were deemed undesirable, they might be let annually by auction in the same way as the Glasgow stud was at the present moment. That stud, which he had just visited, not only did enormous service to the country, but paid a considerable interest to its proprietors. If this project were not approved—although it was one to which, for his part, he was disposed to attach the highest importance—he thought some good might be effected by giving large prizes at agricultural shows, on a system which he would describe. He would give prizes for foals, yearlings, and two-year-old horses. The younger the stock the quicker would be the re- turn, and consequently the inducement to the owners would be greater, and in every case of a winner he would have the prizes supplemented by one for the mare and stallion from which he was bred. In that way the owners would have considerable inducements held out to them to retain their mares in the country, and the best stallions—the test of whose excellence was not so much what they were themselves as the quality of the stock which they begot—would be the means of securing such a number of prizes as to become very valuable property, so that their owners would be disposed to refuse the large sums for them which they were accustomed to receive when they were bought by foreigners. He had now almost done, and he had to thank the House exceedingly for the kindness with which they listened to a somewhat more than ordinary long statement. He was well aware that in making the present proposal he was doing that which was opposed to the practices and prejudices of the British House of Commons; but he knew also that the question was a most exceptional one. Hostile Amendments, indeed, had been placed on the Paper, and yet placed there, he was confident, in no unfriendly spirit. To his hon. Friend the Member for Dorset he would venture to say that, however he might regard it, the subject was one of real importance, and one with which, sooner or later, the House would find itself compelled to deal. He would ask him was he aware that three-fourths of the horses which were working in our streets at the present moment had not come from abroad? Was he aware that since the Report of the Committee was published, the price of the omnibus horses had risen 5 per cent? Was his hon. Friend aware that Mr. Phillips, the great Army contractor, stated before the Committee of the other House, that in the event of any sudden emergency the British Army could not be horsed in this country? Was he aware, to use his own words, that this was not a question of money, but one of not having the animals? Was he aware that it had been announced on the authority of the Committee that the supply of horses was greatly deficient? And he (Mr. Chaplin) wanted to know what was the meaning of a deficient supply? It might mean, in the event of any sudden foreign emergency, that they might some fine morn- ing find themselves, especially if the example of Prussia were followed by other nations of Europe—and they all knew how contagious example was—placed in a position of difficulty and danger which, for aught they knew, might end in disaster to the nation. It was true that they were now at peace, and he hoped they might long continue to remain so; but when they looked to the Continent, and saw what was going on around them, they as men of common sense, could not shut their eyes to the fact that peace at the present day meant, unhappily, but a long preparation for war. What, then, would be their condition, if called upon to act in any such emergency? Would his hon. Friend be prepared to horse the British Army? [Mr. STURT assented.] His hon. Friend was, he knew, a man who was equal to any occasion. He should like to know, however, where the horses were to be obtained. Not in England, nor, he believed, in Germany, because there the doors were closed against us. Neither was it in France, for France herself had been obliged to seek elsewhere for 10,000 horses which she required. His hon. Friend, unable to meet the objections which he had raised, was compelled to resort to an evasive Amendment, to which he hoped the House would not give its assent. The question was, as he had said before, one of enormous importance, and one which he must confess he had most sincerely at heart. It was not given to any man to command success; but if he were on the present occasion successful it would be to him a source of honest exultation. He, at all events, had the consolation of knowing that no efforts of his had been spared to denounce what he believed to be a blind and suicidal policy, which, if persisted in, must sooner or later result in their losing for ever in this country that famous breed of horses which, tracing its descent from the purest blood of Asia, had been brought by the judgment, skill, and enterprize of those who went before them well-nigh to perfection, and which not once, but many thousands of times, had proved its superiority and upheld the national renown in every country and in every clime in which the name of England and her horses had been known. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.


in seconding the Motion, pointed out that the price of the animals mentioned in it, from those used to draw the carriages of Her Majesty to the donkey which the huckster drove about town, had of late years become greatly enhanced in price. It was true the Motion did not include donkeys; but it was, he believed, the fact that they had risen in value 50 per cent during the last five years. That was a question which affected them all. As to the breeding of horses, he feared there was no increase in that respect, for when information on the subject was first required from the farmers the returns were not made properly, so that no reliable argument could be based on the statistics which had been furnished. The better prices which the farmers could obtain for mutton and beef had, he believed, a great deal to do with the farmers not breeding horses to a great extent, and one of the great objects he had in view in seconding the Motion was, if possible, to induce the House and the Government to adopt some step which would enable the farmer to get quicker returns from that source. The evidence taken before the Committee, he might add, clearly showed that the supply was by no means commensurate with the demand, and the Government found that not only had they to pay an increased price for their re-mounts, but that they had to buy horses at a younger age. For several years past many of our best mares, for breeding purposes, had gone to Germany, where breeding was carried on with great pains. He had been lately speaking to dealers who had returned from Lincoln horse fair, and they had told him they could not buy a sufficient number to pay their expenses, and that two-thirds of the horses in the stables of London dealers came from Germany. France could only give us horses of the lowest quality, and therefore we were flung upon our own resources, and that was the question they ought now to meet. We had incontestable evidence that for many years past we had been losing our half-bred mares, and the question was, how to build them up again. If help was given it might be accomplished, and one of the remedies he would suggest would be that farmers should be helped as regarded stallions. There was no use in private enter- prize trying to compete with foreign Governments in the purchase of our best stallions. He did not speak now of stallions to breed racehorses, but of those which were to produce half-bred stock. If prizes were given in the several districts for stallions and brood mares great encouragement would be afforded to private enterprize, and he would like to see those prizes come from the Government. We were now paying £3,300 a-year for Queen's Plates. When first established they were very useful; but their utility had long gone by. When thousands were given not only for flat races but for steeplechases, assuredly £100 offered in a Queen's Plate was very meagre encouragement for improving the breed of horses. In his opinion, the money might much more usefully be given in prizes for sound stallions throughout the country. What the farmer wanted was a genuine article, and to have that article near his door; and the only way by which that could be obtained was either by letting out stallions in every district of the country, or by giving prizes not only at the large agricultural shows, but also at the shows in remote places—Wales, Cumberland, and elsewhere. If the farmer had the prospect of getting a genuine sound stallion he would take to breeding. There could not be a better instance in point than Cornwall. There at one time they hardly bred at all; but Lord Falmouth and others had for some years kept good stallions for the use of their neighbours, and now Cornwall was one of the favourite hunting grounds of the dealers in horses. If the sum given for Queen's Plates was augmented by £5,000 or £10,000, to be given in prizes all over the country for sound stallions, we might depend upon it that the farmers would breed very much more largely. But the encouragement must come from the Government; and veterinary surgeons, masters of foxhounds, and other fit men would always be found to go around and judge those animals. He would also like to see this encouragement carried further, by giving prizes for brood mares and foals. If the thing would not be done by Government, then let it be done by private enterprize; but he was afraid that private enterprize would not come up to the mark. It would be said by the hon. Member who was about to move the Amendment (Mr. Sturt) that the law of supply and demand would be sufficient. Well, the exception proved the rule, and we must meet the breeder half-way. He had ridden a great many miles over the estate and county of the hon. Member, and he would appeal to him if he did not wish to see the Government of the day engaging in this matter, to increase the great popularity which he now enjoyed by keeping a stallion himself for the benefit of his tenants and neigbours. He felt that this question was one of very great importance to the country. He could assure the House that he had had an opportunity of meeting many who dealt in horses; and they, one and all, said that instead of the price of horses going down it went on increasing every day; and he really thought that, for the sake of what was required by the Government and everybody else in the country, this question should receive due attention from Her Majesty's Ministers and from the House itself.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House views with, apprehension the large and continued export of the best and soundest stud horses and brood mares for general purposes from this Country, and wishes to direct the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the national importance of taking such steps as may be desirable to prevent the deterioration of the stock which remains."—(Mr. Chaplin.)


in rising to move the Previous Question, said, that in common with the whole House, he was quite ready and willing to admit that his hon. Friend had brought forward his Motion not only with his usual ability, but also that he had been actuated by no other motive or wish than a sincere and unselfish desire to improve the breed of horses we possessed. His hon. Friend would, he felt sure, give him the like credit, although he might feel bound to differ from him not only in his conclusion, but in many of the opinions which he had expressed. What was the Resolution now before the House; or rather, what were the Resolutions? Because when he first took up the Paper he said, "Hallo! here are two Resolutions combined in one;" and the speech of his hon. Friend had confirmed that idea. Well, let the House examine these Resolutions in a careful, impartial, and business-like manner. His hon. Friend asked the House to express its dread of the foreigner visiting our shores, to take away our best stal- lions and brood mares, and he proceeded to argue for some sort of Government interference to avert the deterioration of our remaining' stock. He joined issue with his hon. Friend on both these points. He was all for competition, and he denied in toto any deterioration whatever of stock. And why was he all for competition? He spoke now as a breeder. Because competition raised and enhanced the value of the article that he produced. Who was the chief competitor? Why, the foreigner; and, instead of throwing obstacles in his way, he cared not whence he came—from France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Russia, Mesopotamia—he would say, "Welcome, illustrious stranger, to our shores; and. the more you bid for my horses, my mares, and my foals, the better I shall like and the more I shall appreciate you." Surely neither of the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken would advocate for a moment that the Government should employ a man to outbid the foreigner in endeavouring to obtain the best article he could. Who was to be the judge of the best article? Who was to be so supernaturally gifted as to be able to say which was the best stallion—which the best mare? His hon. Friend would, no doubt, say that was a matter of detail. Well, it was; but a matter of detail so difficult, so complex, so impossible to put in working order, that he (Mr. Sturt) strongly advised the Government of the day, from whatever side it might come, not to embark in such an undertaking. He would advance a step further than his hon. Friend. Suppose the man employed by the Government had out-monied the monied and illustrious stranger and obtained the article. Where was he to be placed? Was he to parade the Queen's highway, to be turned out into the fairs, or to be placed in the barrack? No; his hon. Friend knew—and if he did not he would tell him—that if the Government interfered one iota—if they bought one single hair belonging to one single tail belonging to one single horse—they were "in for it;" they were in for Government haras and breeding establishments, which meant nothing more or less than Government grants of money from the Consolidated Fund to maintain and sustain them. He thought that by this Resolution his hon. Friend had framed an imaginary grievance, and then proceeded to demolish and destroy it. His hon. Friend told him that he was modest, but he was not half so modest as the Mover of the Resolution; because if there was one man in this country who had done more good than another towards improving the breed of horses it was his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend had improved materially, substantially, and numerically the breed of horses in his own county. How did he do it? By the aid of the Statute Book? No. By individual energy and enter-prize; and he had done this not only without loss, but if he had followed it as a business, he might have added to his pecuniary emoluments. He asked his hon. Friend whether such propositions and schemes as he had carried out so successfully were not far better than annual Votes of money from that House—Votes which were sure to be challenged by some ultra-Radical economist on the Opposition benches, who would argue that such a Vote was unnecessary and unfair to the taxpayers of England. Give him (Mr. Sturt) public competition and private enterprize against Parliamentary interference and legislative enactments; and save him! oh save him! from going one inch further in the direction of paternal Government. He would now refer to the latter part of the Resolution, which dealt with the question of deterioration of stock. What did that mean? It must mean one of two things, or both—diminution in number or deficiency in quality. He was prepared with unmistakeable evidence to refute the former, and could bring unimpeachable testimony to rebut the latter. His hon. Friend had quoted the evidence of several witnesses from the Blue Book to substantiate his case, and he had dealt with those witnesses with a skill and dexterity well worthy of a member of the long robe. He knew exactly where to stop, and in no instance did he give the House the benefit of cross-examination, but in no single instance did any witness come forward in this particular without being taken in hand and bowled over and over again; and of all the witnesses that were taken in hand and bowled over and over again, slaughtered, flayed alive, spiflicated, hanged up to dry, none was more conspicuous and stood forth in bolder relief than the seconder of this Resolution—the hon. and gallant Member for Gloucestershire (Colonel Kingscote). Being of a generous disposition, he would make his hon. Friend a present of all these witnesses, and proceed to meet him, in regard to the diminution in the number of horses, with his own weapon—extracts from the Blue Book. Now, in 1862 the number of horses charged with the duty in this country was 579,181; whereas in 1872 the horses chargeable were 859,385. But that was child's play compared with the evidence he had got to annihilate the other half of the Resolution. But here he must complain that his hon. Friend, who was welcome to his ponderous blue volume, had been base enough to poach on his (Mr. Sturt's) preserves and run away with his "little boy blue." The hon. Gentleman had read a portion, but he had not read all. He had not read the following extract:— So far, there is no reason to suppose there is any falling off in the stock of horses in this country, but, on the contrary, it is increasing, although not as quickly as the demand for some description of horses. His hon. Friend told them the difficulty he experienced in mounting himself. But then his hon. Friend must bear in mind that he happened to be a remarkably fine specimen of mankind. He defied anyone to look at the hon. Member without coming to the conclusion that Nature had bestowed upon him the very choicest of her embellishments. But if his hon. Friend wanted to be mounted he must pay for it, and he knew no one more capable of writing a fat cheque than the hon. Gentleman. Had it never struck him that there had been a great increase of wealth recently in this country? What did the increase of wealth mean? It meant increase of luxury, and what did increase of luxury mean? It meant more carriage horses, more driving horses, more racers, more hunters, and more hacks for wives, daughters, sons, and self. They were asked to agree to some Parliamentary interference because the supply was not quite equal to the demand; but he hoped he had proved to the House that it need not fret itself about the breed of horses dying out in these islands. Now, as to the latter part of the Resolution, deficiency in quality, he must again address a word of expostulation to his hon. Friend. He had entirely ignored the state of our thorough-bred stock. Nay, more, he had told them that he was perfectly satisfied with the condition of it; but would he get up and tell them that he was not perfectly well aware that the thorough-bred stock of this country was the fountain head from which they obtained not only the sinew, bone, fibre, and muscle, but the lasting qualities, the stamina, which were the chief characteristics of English horses? Would his hon. Friend have the audacity to tell them that there was a single horse or a young hack in his stable whose sire or grandsire was not to be found written in the chronicles of stud horses? In the year 1700, the average height of our thorough-bred stock was 14 hands; but in 1875, the average height of our thorough-bred stock was 15 hands 2½ inches. It was a curious fact that the average height of our thorough-bred stock increased exactly 1 inch every 26 years. It was not everybody who knew that. In the year 1700, when the Emperor of Morocco made a present of the celebrated Curwen Bay Barb to Louis XIV., the height of the horse was 13 hands; in 1765 a great stallion was advertized—his stature being the chief feature in the advertizement—his height was 15 hands, and his name was Marske, by the sire of Eclipse. He asked the House if it was not a curious fact—and it was a fact—that the stature of the stallion should increase in 175 years from 13 hands to 17 hands—through the Curwen Barb of 1700—through the same Eastern blood to the Prince Charlie of 1875? This brought him to the time in which we now existed. Last year, when his hon. Friend placed a similar Motion on the Notice Paper, he (Mr. Sturt) took the trouble to look at his racing calendar, and he wrote to the owners of the first 25 stallions which were advertized in that publication; and he should read to the House the height and the girth and the size below the knee in each instance. The first four were stallions for the use of which 100 guineas were charged. King Tom—height, 16 hands 2½ inches; girth, 6 feet ½ inch; and size below the knee, 8¼ inches. What did the grumblers think of that? Lord Clifden—height, 16 hands 2 inches; girth, 7 feet; size below the knee, 9 inches. Blair Athol—height, 16 hands 1½ inches; girth, 6 feet 6 inches; and size below the knee, 8⅛ inches. Parmesan—height, 15 hands 1 inch; girth, 5 feet 10½ inches; and size below the knee, 7 inches. The average sta- ture of these stallions was over 16 hands, and below the knee the average was nearly 9⅛ inches. He wished to call particular attention to Parmesan and Favonius, who had got two consecutive winners of the Derby, each being over 16 hands high, and in circumference below the knee nearer 9 inches than 8. Some hon. Members might wonder what he was driving at. Well, he would tell them. There was no royal road to breeding perfection in horses. The veriest "weed" which might have brought any hon. Member to-day to that House would, if pluckily mated, produce a horse of enormous stature and incalculable value. He would give an illustration of this. In 1825 there was a little mare which belonged to a country apothecary at Newmarket, and her vocation was to go up one street and down another, leaving pills and what not. Well, this little mare, of nominal value, produced in three consecutive years three of the best animals of their respective years—namely, Rubens, Selim, and Castrel. Again, the dam of Venison, who was the finest stayer this country ever saw, stopped still after she had gone half-a-mile; and the moment she had gone that distance she could go no faster than the hon. Member for Lincolnshire could on his own hack. Now, his theory was that the more they bred the more likely they would be to attain perfection; but, above all things, he would ask the House not to place any shackles in any way upon the breeder of horses. It was not all gold that glittered in that direction, as he would show by an illustration. Three or four years ago he set up a small breeding establishment of his own through the kindness of his hon. Friend the Member for Weymouth (Sir Frederick Johnstone), and became possessed of three about as perfect brood mares as could be conceived. In order to obtain the best produce he could, he sent the mares to the most expensive horses, at 100 guineas. He went from home for two or three months, and when he returned he thought he would go and look at these mares, so he took his walking-stick and went into the paddock where the mares were. They all walked up to him and looked him full in the face, and he found that not one of those mares was a bit more in foal than he (Mr. Sturt) was at that moment. He asked the House whether it was astonishing or to be wondered at that breeders should view with fear, dread, and trepidation any Motion which might in any way detract from the value of their produce when it did appear? He had endeavoured to prove to the House, to the best of his ability, that the Motion now under consideration was unnecessary—and here he might say that no man had derived more benefit than his hon. Friend had done from freedom of action. He hoped, however, he had said nothing that would wound the feelings of his hon. Friend. Certainly it had not been his intention to do so, for no man was more ready and willing than he to bear witness to the great good his hon. Friend had done in furthering the object he had at heart. He must congratulate his hon. Friend and those who supported him on the circumstance that he had not ventured to propose to place an export or an import duty on horses. Indeed, he might tell those hon. Members who might desire to place an export duty on horses that this country was far too much alive to the blessings of free trade to assent to such a proposal. Any measure carrying upon it the stamp of a re-actionary policy and having even the flavour of a return to Protection would not only be regarded with suspicion, and received with hostile criticism, but it would be unmistakably negatived throughout the length and breadth of the land. His hon. Friend had to-night endeavoured to frighten the House and the country in regard to the difficulties we should have to encounter in case of invasion. This was a mere bugbear, because if danger were impending, or if it was only flitting on the horizon, he would guarantee to the Government 100,000 horses. Not out of his own stables, of course; but on such an occasion he would stand sponsor for the loyalty and patriotism of his own countrymen, from the highest to the lowest. He had listened attentively to the speech of his hon. Friend in the hope that he might have made some practical suggestion, offered some feasible solution, or found some definite method of grappling with this imaginary equine disaster. He was, however, much disappointed at not finding any practical remedy proposed. As for himself, he should like to feel that he had said something which might tend to increase and improve the breed of horses. Before he sat down he had two favours to ask—one from Her Majesty's Government and the other from a large and influential class in this country. His entreaty to the Government was that they should do nothing. He saw many hon. Gentlemen opposite of the class to which he had the honour to belong, and there were many others on his own side of the House and also in "another place." He would ask them to follow the example of his hon. Friend the Member for Lincolnshire and himself, and set up in the South a few breeding establishments. They had every inducement to do so. They had paddocks, pastures new, and nature smiling, and if they would only do this he felt convinced that after generations would acknowledge the superiority of our equine production above that of all other nations of Europe, and that such a Motion as the present would never be necessary. Lastly, he believed that in after years those who considered the question would arrive at the conclusion that the Member for Dorsetshire was wise in his generation when he took upon himself to submit to the House, as he now humbly did, the Previous Question.

Previous Question proposed, "That that Question be now put."—(Mr. Sturt.)


rose to second the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, and he did so because the Forms of the House would not allow him to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice—namely— That, in the opinion of this House, the scarcity in the supply of Horses will best he mot by leaving the question to the ordinary laws of supply and demand. He came down to the House expecting to hear some suggestion made as to how the purchase of horses for abroad could be regulated; but the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) had failed to suggest any remedy. It was quite impracticable to think of Government intervention in the way of keeping Government horses; and if good and sound animals alone were used for breeding purposes, we should have still more foreigners coming over to buy up our horses, and so the hon. Gentleman's alarm would be still further increased. The best friend to horses was the Chan- cellor of the Exchequer, who took off the duty last year. To remove all uncertainty about the number of horses, and to show that the increased price of horseflesh had had the natural tendency to increase the breeding, he would quote some figures from official statistics. In 1873 there were 2,750,000 horses in the United Kingdom, and, comparing the number that year with the number in the previous year, he found that there had been an increase of 65,000 or 82,000 in two years. Nothing could be more satisfactory. The number of horses employed in agriculture, including mares and unbroken colts, was in 1874, 1,007,000, which showed, comparing that year with the year previously, an increase of 45,000, and of 72,000 two years previously. There would be found a steady increase throughout the country, and the number of horses and their increase would be found to be unmistakably progressive. In 1872, there were 230,000 mares and colts in the country; in 1873, the number was 242,000; and in 1874, 268,000; showing an increase between the first two years of 12,000, and a much greater increase in the year following. If they turned to the number of licensed horses they would find that whereas in 1872 there were 917,000, in 1873 there were 972,000, showing that the wealth of this country in horses was on the increase. It was satisfactory to find that horse breeding was spreading in so many counties of England. Comparing the years 1871 and 1873, the number of brood mares and unbroken horses increased in 34 counties out of the 40, while in 1874 the Returns showed that the number had increased in every county. The horse power of the Kingdom was very satisfactory as compared with other countries, for while for every 100 acres of cultivated land France had 3 horses, the United States ½, and Belgium and Holland, 5; Great Britain had 7. As to the horses we imported and exported, it would be found that whether as regarded their quantity or quality there was not the least occasion for the slightest anxiety. The number of horses imported into this country in 1871 was 3,000; in 1872 it was 12,000; in 1873, 17,000; and this year the number had been 20,000. Why should we not go abroad and buy a cheap horse, which could not be obtained in this country? There was no reason in the world, so far as he could see, why horses of this description, light draught horses, such as those employed in the omnibus traffic, should not be brought into this country. He now turned to the figures touching the export of horses. He was not in a position from his limited knowledge to say how many of those animals were of the first class, but he could give the total figures showing the gross number of horses exported; they would clearly show that there was nothing whatever to be alarmed about. In 1871, 9,000 went abroad; in 1872, the number had fallen to 3,000; and in 1873, it was only 2,000; and if the circumstances were considered, it would be seen that it was the disturbing influence of a great Continental war which produced a great exportation of horses in 1871. He would give another proof to show that the export was not of the serious character which some people thought it was. The Trade and Navigation Returns showed that the average value of horses sent abroad in 1861 was £80, whilst in 1873 it was only £63, and Colonel Jennings had stated to the Committee which had been referred to, that he had seen a large batch which were being exported, and the average price of them was only £17 a-piece. If that was the sort of horses which were sent abroad there was not much to alarm the country. Horse dealers were interested in showing that horses were leaving the country because it afforded an excuse for keeping the prices high. They had industriously fomented alarming rumours about foreigners buying up all our horses. In their eyes, the foreigner was ubiquitous—he was as rich as Crœsus, and could outbid the poor Englishman. He knew where all the best horses were to be found, and bought them all up, regardless of expense. This mania about the foreigner reminded him of the character in Goldsmith's play of The Good Natured Man, who was made to ask "What makes the bread keep rising? The parle vous that devour us. What makes the mutton 5d. a pound? The parle vous that eat it up. What makes the beer 3½d. a pot?" He hoped and believed that this mania about the foreigner would soon vanish, and he had confidence in the energetic enterprize and horse-loving spirit of Englishmen. Turning to the question of the quality, he would point out that the Lords' Committee spoke in high commendation of our thoroughbreds and hunters, and stated that the mounted portions of our Army were never better horsed than at present. It was true that the breeding of certain classes of horses had declined, such as roadsters and the old-fashioned Cleveland horse; but that was simply owing to the change of fashion, which caused these horses to be less sought after in England, and consequently foreigners were able to come into the market and buy them at a cheap rate. But as to our better class of horses, such excellent judges as Mr. Tattersall and Admiral Rous considered that our horses were never so good before, and he would appeal to hon. Gentlemen whether a more splendid lot of animals could be imagined than were to be seen in last year's hunting-field, or in the Parks. The hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire had quoted from the evidence of Mr. M'Grane, the Dublin horsedealer, but he had omitted to refer to the passage where that witness said that thoroughbreds in Ireland had improved in size. It really was nothing but a question of price, and so long as we were willing to give a price that would pay for breeding, we should have the best quality of horses. The wealth of the country had increased enormously, and the demand had for a moment outstripped the supply. Prices had increased, and increased price led to increased breeding. Our horses were steadily increasing in number, and our exports, instead of being a subject of alarm, were a subject of congratulation. If any one ought to be alarmed, it should be the foreigner. He hoped the views which he had expressed—and he was sorry the Forms of the House would not allow him to move his Amendment—would be maintained by the House; and, in conclusion, he must say that any Government interference on this subject would do more harm than good.


The hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid-Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), if he is correct in his views as to the diminution and deterioration of our British horses, may, perhaps, feel that some of the sources of interest in his life are being impaired. But I will offer him this consolation—that if his views are sound and accurate, he may find a substitute for that noble and inspiriting pastime which has occupied many of his agreeable hours by giving more time even than he does at present to this House, and I can assure him, after the speech to which I have listened to-night, that I shall be most happy to find him sitting upon the same bench as myself. One of the most striking illustrations of the advantage of competition, however, which I think we have been furnished with to-night have been the respective addresses which we have heard from my Friends the hon. Members for Mid-Lincolnshire and Dorsetshire. That was a passage of arms which will not be easily forgotten, and far be it from me at present to decide who is the victor. In fact, one of my objects in rising is to suggest that, if possible, there should not be a division upon the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lincolnshire, and that we should not be forced, as many of us may be, to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset. It is impossible to deny the interest and urgent importance of the subject which the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire has brought before our consideration to-night. It is one that engages public thought, and upon which the consideration of society, and even of the State, are employed. It is my business, in the position which I at present occupy, to consider it chiefly in a military point of view. I think the duty of a Minister is limited to considering whether Her Majesty's Army is sufficiently supplied with horses under the existing circumstances. I will not give too decided an opinion upon that subject; but I am bound to say that, so far as I can form an opinion from the facts that are in my possession, the state of our Cavalry is by no means unsatisfactory; and I cannot comprehend how the evidence of the experienced dealers examined before the Lords' Committee, and whose evidence has been so often referred to, is consistent with the prices that now obtain for horses for the Army. As far as I can see, there is no very material difference between the prices now paid and those which have prevailed since the Crimean War. In 1870 three or four year old horses for the Royal Artillery were purchased for £45; and in 1874 horses of a precisely identical quality and charac- ter fetched £50. It must be clear, therefore, that if there was a demand so great or a scarcity so remarkable as we are led to believe, the prices would have been very different from those which were stated to the Committee. Down to the year 1850 our Cavalry was horsed for £26 5s. per horse. Then came the Crimean War, and the price rose to £40 per horse. What do I find now? In 1870 the price had fallen to £36 per head; in 1871 it was the same; in 1872 it had risen to £40; in 1873, £47; and in 1874 the price had only advanced to £5 more than was demanded at a time when horses were required for the purposes of the Crimean War. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lincolnshire has rested his case upon three points, one of which is the deterioration in the quantity and quality of our horses. With regard to the question of quality, it is difficult to fix upon any tests which would be generally adopted as conclusive, as so much depends upon opinion, and even upon fancy. The hon. Member for Dorset (Mr. Sturt), in his most interesting, and, I believe, accurate account of the development of our finest Arabian blood since the days of "Godolphin," has shown us that, taking the general views which are alone possible in considering questions of this kind, it is difficult to maintain that there has been a deterioration in the efficiency of our English horses. When we come to the question of the diminution of numbers, we are provided with tests which must be accepted as the materials for sound conclusions. So many figures have already been mentioned in this discussion that I should be sorry unnecessarily to refer to any, and especially to any which have been given before. We have had a Return referred to partially which I have here—from 1868 to 1870—as to the importation and exportation. In 1868 we imported 1,575 horses, and exported 4,091; in 1869 the numbers were not materially changed; in 1870 we imported 2,387 horses, and exported 7,202; in 1871 our imports were 3,448, and exports 7,072; in 1872 our imports, owing doubtless to the termination of the last war, were 12,618, and our exports only 3,300; again, in 1873 our imports had risen to 18,000; in 1874 they were about 12,000; and in both years the numbers exported remained about the same as in 1872. The hon. Member for Dorset has quoted from an important Return, which I presume, though I have not recently referred to it, is in the Report of the Lords' Committee; but I think I have even a later Return as to the licensing of horses. I think we give the numbers up to the year 1870 as 841,000 in round numbers. I have a Return up to 1873. My hon. Friend called our attention to the fact of an increase of, I think, from about 500,000, in round numbers, to 841,000. But from the last Return, in 1873, I find that the 841,000 who were licensed in Great Britain in 1870 had increased in 1873 to 865,000. This I take to be a remarkable piece of evidence contrary to the conclusions of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lincolnshire. Well, I will hardly touch upon the second cause of the present unsatisfactory condition of our horses according to the views of my hon. Friend—namely, as to the disadvantages which we have suffered by the exportation of breeding stock, because I do not understand that my hon. Friend insisted upon these facts as a foundation for any interference of the Government or the Legislature. We notice the circumstance with regret; but I am not persuaded that there really is any Party or any individual in the House of Commons who is prepared to put any check upon the exportation of horses; and therefore I will not dwell upon it. I would rather touch—which I will do shortly—upon the third head of the interesting speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lincolnshire—namely, the remedies which he suggests. Now the remedies which he suggests I confess appeared to me to be the portion of his address which was the least appreciated. I do not find in the remedies which he suggests any that are at all equal to the assumed evils which he looked upon as his duty to encounter; and, at the same time, they appear to me to be, though slight, probably productive of public inconvenience and injury. I do not think it is possible for us to bid against those prices which foreign Governments give by offering prizes which would be considered moderate in different districts of the country. If the power of foreign Governments, with their unlimited resources, is of the character my hon. Friend describes, is it possible to imagine that by confiscating Queen's Plates, or by any other means which the Government might have at hand or which the House of Commons would authorize, we could compete with those mighty Empires which are buying up all our stock at fabulous prices, and that with no regard to any immediate return for their capital, but solely with a view to the ultimate and beneficial consequences which they may produce in their respective countries? Again, I cannot understand that the system suggested by my hon. Friend for bodies of travelling sires wandering about under inspection in different parts of the country would be a system from which anyone would guarantee efficient results. It appears to me that it might be open to a great deal of mismanagement and carelessness, and that the Government in adopting it might only be doing very badly what individuals most probably would do much more efficiently. We have a remarkable instance in the haras of India of what can be effected by individual action. For a considerable period after its establishment in India the haras, which was looked upon by Government as of great importance, was not at all successful. I believe it was established for a limited period, and it was contemplated that it must be ultimately given up. After 10 or 12 years' experiment it gave such unfavourable results that Sir George Barlow, the Governor General, proposed to abolish the system; but, on further consideration of the subject, the Court of Directors determined to send over from England to superintend the stud a man who was thoroughly conversant with horses and breeding. Mr. Morecraft, a man of extraordinary energy, judgment, and knowledge was sent out, and his management was most successful and fully realized all the hopes of the Government. But it was entirely the individual character of the superintendent that made the haras of India successful, for at his death the establishment gradually declined was obliged to be given up. We have this example to guide us in considering what would be the effect of these travelling sires distributed over the country under the care of Government agents. As a general rule, you could not expect to see Government agents exercise that vigilance and care which depend so much on individual character and individual interests; and I think we may assume it would be alto- gether a losing speculation. This remedy, therefore, is not one which it would be advisable to adopt. "But," says the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gloucestershire (Colonel Kingscote), who seconded the Motion of the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire, "Something must be done by Government." I say, "Why by Government?" Why should the Government keep stallions any more than they should keep bulls or rams? I have never heard that question satisfactorily answered. Who produced our Shorthorns, our South Downs? Not the Government, but private breeders; and it is to the same individuals and the same class that we must trust for a settlement of the present question. It is to this class, which has achieved such great and beneficial results to the country, and of which the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire is such a distinguished ornament—it is to the intelligence, energy, judgment, knowledge, wealth, and experience of men like the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire and the hon. Member for Dorsetshire—although, I am sorry to say, the latter seems to have been deficient in one of his duties in that respect—that we ought to look for those improvements in the breed and number of our horses which the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire so much desires. I do not know that it becomes me to enter further into this discussion. I would just remind the House and the country that we have had upon the subject a Committee in the other House of Parliament, which has been referred to in this debate, a Committee distinguished by the ability of its Members, by their being perfectly equal to the subject with which they had to deal, who brought to it a knowledge which perhaps no other Assembly in the world could equal, experience of an unrivalled kind, and of which the result has been that they only came to one decided recommendation. Upon all other points they appear to have been doubtful, hesitating, perplexed, careful and cautious no doubt about committing themselves, and with a general impression in the Committee that it was best to do nothing—with the exception of one great object. And what was that? To take the tax off horses. Now, since that time the country has been blessed with a Government which has taken the tax off horses, and I think that ought to be accepted as evidence that we are in perfect sympathy with the important and interesting subject which has been brought under our consideration to-night. I am not prepared to do more at present than to remind the House and the country that we have taken the tax off horses, which was considered by that Committee a matter of the highest importance. My main object in rising was to suggest that we should not come to any division on the Motion. I do not see that the temper of the House is favourable to the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lincolnshire, though I am sure in everything connected with it both sides of the House are equally interested. But I should be sorry if, after a matter of this kind has been brought forward, in a manner so justly commanding the attention of the House and the country, by a Member whom we all so much respect, there should be a division which would convey to the country the impression that there was a want of sympathy in the House with him and with this subject, which might be if a division took place. I think that the Amendment—if we go to a division—the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset (Mr. Sturt), which he enforced not only with so much efficiency of logic, but with such sparkling illustrations, is the Amendment that I should support, if an Amendment is necessary. But we have had an interesting debate that has engaged the attention of both sides of the House, and which will do great good; which will bring the attention of the country to this important matter; which will, I hope, animate the gentlemen of England to the fulfilment of more active duties in this respect than they have hitherto accomplished; which will make them remember that they really now have approached a time when the country expects from them—grateful as the country is for their past exertions—something more than the mere production of thoroughbred stock. Thoroughbred blood is necessary in all things; but the country wishes, and the landed proprietors of this country generally must remember, that there are other animals to produce of equal use and efficiency than mere racehorses. If they bring their minds to this—and I believe they are bringing their minds to it—they will establish a fresh claim to the gratitude of their countrymen; and it is by their means—it is by the exertions of men like my hon. Friends who have addressed us with such remarkable ability to-night—that I, on this important subject, trust the future of England.


said, he thought the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) had done good service in bringing this important subject under the attention of the House. From the earliest times the importance of a good breed of horses had been recognized in this country. Oliver Cromwell held that opinion. Since his day Royal personages had taken a very active interest in the breed of horses. In 1712 Queen Anne started two horses—Pepper and Mustard—to run at Newmarket, and one of them afterwards gained the York Gold Cup. We were now obliged to dispense with Royal patronage, because practically that House dispensed the Royal bounty; and the farmers and gentlemen of this country had given themselves more to the breeding of shorthorns and sheep than of horses. To this day he found that the agents of foreign Governments were taking away our best stock. The increased prices offered would in time stimulate production, but English farmers and breeders had a remarkably uphill race to run. They had to contend with foreigners who were subsidized by their own Governments for warlike purposes, and the immense sums given away every year at hundreds of races rather increased the difficulty. No sooner was racing over than steeplechases began, and the money lost and won in gambling at those races made the production of horses so remunerative that nobody would part with a good running horse in these days. In the country generally it did not pay to breed horses, and the country was therefore much indebted to those gentlemen who from patriotic motives had done so much good in improving the breed of horses. He did not think his hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lincolnshire had asked too much when he proposed that the money spent in Queen's Plates should be given up for prizes to the best horses at the various shows throughout the country. The money would be perfectly safe in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant of each county. A Queen's medal or cup for the best horse would be highly appreciated by farmers. This matter really depended upon country gentlemen, and especially upon what he might call the new country gentlemen, who, having of late years accumulated enormous wealth, thought nothing of paying £5,000 for a picture or a Sevres vase—if these gentlemen would keep good horses for the benefit of their tenants and their neighbourhood, they would perform a great national service. He entirely endorsed all that the Prime Minister had so properly said. The number of horses in the country was larger than it had been, but not the class for Her Majesty's Cavalry. The Government themselves had recently knocked off six months from the age of horses purchased for that purpose. They used to give £28, £30, and £35 for a horse four years old; but they now allowed the same money, and even £55, for an animal three years and one month old.


entirely sympathized with all that had been so well and effectively said by the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire. When danger was distant they might pooh-pooh the warning voice; but the time would come when attention must be paid to it. The urgency of this question was felt much more in the country to which he belonged; but even the urgency which was felt in this country amply justified what had been stated by his hon. Friend. In Ireland there had not only been a decline in the number but a deterioration in the quality of the horses sold. At Mullingar fair the average price of a horse was now only £19; whereas he recollected when it ranged from 50 to 70 guineas. The Irish horses were at one time held in high estimation, and he could mention a long list of them which had been brought over here and beaten the English horses on their own ground. They had no such horses as Russborough, on which J. Robinson rode a dead heat for the St. Leger. Faugh-a-Ballagh was allowed to pass into the hands of the foreigner, and this horse, which had only half of Faugh-a-Ballagh's blood, turned out the best horse in England. These were the acts of children, and if they did not know how to conserve their advantages they would at length let the thing pass out of their grasp, and 10 years hence they would have to come down to the House and acknowledge that they had allowed their best horses to go to Russia, to Prussia, and to Italy, and would be ready to offer countless treasures for what they had thrown away that night. It was said in Ireland that all the best young horses were taken over from that country to Lincoln fair. He had gone to Lincoln to verify the statement, and at that fair had found it to be perfectly true. He found young Irish horses there ready to be sold to the foreigner. He was sorry the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire had been sent back empty-handed to his county, with all his warnings complimented away. The House, he feared, would find out too soon what a precious benefit it had lost. The debate, in his opinion, had come to a lame and impotent conclusion; but he could not sufficiently admire the patriotic motives of the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire.


said, he thought that there was little left to be said after the speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Lin-shire (Mr. Chaplin), which really remained unanswered. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government said it would be difficult to decide which was the better speech, that of the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire, or that of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Sturt). No doubt the speech of the latter Gentleman was very amusing; but it by no means met the arguments contained in the speech which had gone before it. The evidence taken by the Committee of the other House sufficiently showed the serious character of the subject with which the House was dealing. He would only refer to one question. The Lord Privy Seal asked a witness whether, supposing he wanted a stud of hunters, and did not mind the money he should have to give for them, he could not get as many of a high quality as he could have done some years ago; and the witness replied that, apart from the question of price, he could not. As to the speech of the Prime Minister, if there was a weak point in the right hon. Gentleman's character, it was that he was not a sportsman, and therefore he could not sympathize with them fully upon a question of this sort. He did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman had ever taken a flight with the Pytchley or the Quorn. It was all very well to com- pare horses with bulls, but we did not mount out Cavalry on bulls; and, if we were starving for want of beef, the Government would look about them. Returns had been quoted in reference to the horses in this country; but he very much doubted the accuracy of those Returns; and he could hardly understand how anybody could say that horses in this country had not deteriorated, and were not dearer than they used to be. If you wanted a pair of good carriage horses now you could scarcely get them, and only yesterday he gave £27 for a little pony, though years ago he could have bought a similar one for £8 or £10. Cart horses, which formerly cost £40, now fetched £80, and this was a serious thing, because a very large amount of capital was invested in cart horses. He would suggest that Government, instead of buying horses at four years old, should buy them at three years old; because many persons would be induced to breed horses if they could sell them without the trouble of breaking them. The Government found money to support staghounds and Queen's Plates, and surely they might give some encouragement for retaining our horses in the country. He did not ask for the imposition of an export duty; but he was not alarmed at the word re-action. The House had lately gone from Free Trade to monopoly by passing a Bill to create a monopoly in public-houses. What was asked was that we should prevent the exportation of every good animal, and the leaving of nothing but refuse in this country. Although racing had done much for us, it did not produce useful horses of a particular class. At one time at Tattersall's it was easy to find a good short-legged carrying hunter; but now he often left without seeing a single horse he could covet. The simple remedy was that proposed by the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire. It was absurd to talk of rigid economy in a matter which affected the prestige of the country. Some of our soldiers were mounted on horses he would hardly mount if he were paid for it. If it were asked what the Government were to do with horses, he would say, let them keep them at Hampton Court. There was a great amount of patriotism in the country, and it only wanted encouraging by a few prizes for the best horses and the other measures recommended by his hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin). What the noblemen and gentlemen in every part of the country had to look to was that there were a few good sires for the use of the neighbourhood. His county (Suffolk) was noted for good horses; but the best were being day by day bought up by foreigners and sent abroad. The farmers now bred a number of ordinary animals; but if they had good sires within reach they would breed animals of greater value. His hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin) had been taunted with riding the best horses; but he was of some weight, and his hon. Friend very properly did not care to have a weedy, lanky, cross-kneed, ewe-necked brute to support him. If his hon. Friend went to a division he should vote with him, for no arguments had been urged against his Motion. His hon. Friend (Mr. Sturt) had, no doubt, shown a great deal of fine action. He (Mr. Greene) seldom went to a theatre; but he thought for a moment he had entered one when he saw his hon. Friend raising his hands to the clouds like the pictures of the theatres on the walls outside. It was very amusing, but it was not argument. Now they had got a Conservative Government there would be no nonsense, he hoped, about economy, which was generally another word for parsimony. England would not be the nation she was without her field-sports, and without horses there could be no field-sports. The importance to a nation of a sufficient supply of horses could not, indeed, be overrated. He could only say he thought the House ought to feel much indebted to the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire for having brought forward the Motion, and he regretted it had not had greater success.


said, he thought he had some right to ask the indulgence of the House for a few minutes, because he represented a very large county (Kirkcudbrightshire) which, in former days, produced a very fine breed of horses, and which did so no longer. He particularly alluded to Galloways, which were exceedingly useful and very much thought of; in fact, there was no class of horses out of which they could get any better work than the Galloway. As to the speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), he could not altogether agree with the remedies which he had proposed; but there could be no doubt whatever that there was at present a very great want of horses, and, he was sorry to say, a want of good horses. He spoke with knowledge when he said that really good horses could only be had at almost famine prices. In the face of this fact, therefore, how could any Gentleman who was a political economist say that the supply of horses was plentiful? It was said that people were richer and more luxurious now, and that every one connected with the upper classes wanted more horses than they did formerly. This, however, did not meet the point, and he thought he could dispose of that argument in one sentence. Let him ask, how about cart horses? If there was any class of horses in the Kingdom in regard to which the price had increased, it was the cart horse. He could remember when a good cart horse could be purchased for £30, and now a similar kind of horse would cost £100. Statistics had naturally been much relied on during the debate, and he had reliable statistics to show that, whether from bad management or bad breeding, a large proportion of our working horses were lame. His opinion was that the lameness which prevailed proceeded from the putting of wretched weeds of horses to do heavy work. He would like just to refer to some statistics in regard to the point of quality. The authority he would quote was Professor Gamgee, who had taken observations in the streets of Paris and of London, and the results were so astonishing that he should not have ventured to have quoted them to the House unless they had. confirmed observations of a similar kind which he had made himself. On the 24th of August, 1869, Mr. Gamgee saw passing along New Oxford Street on one side of the road, and in the same direction, in 15 minutes, 102 horses, of which 40 were lame. On the 25th of August he saw 83 horses of all descriptions, of which 47 were lame. In Piccadilly he took, altogether, observations of 143, and of these 75 were lame. Now, in Paris, on the 21st of April, 1870, standing on the south side of the Boulevard des Capucines, he saw 86 horses trotting past in the course of 10 minutes. Of these 5 were lame on one fore leg only, 3 on both fore legs, and 1 on the off hind leg. In the Boulevard Montmartre the proportion was even less; about 100 horses passed in 12 minutes, and of these 11 were lame. How could it be asserted, in the face of these statistics, that the London horse was, as to quality, in a satisfactory condition? The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had made an observation by which the House was very much struck. The Government, he said, did not keep bulls in this country—why should it keep stallions? But in this country horses were bred very differently from other animals—such, for instance, as short-horns and sheep. In the latter case the breed was not crossed; but if a man had what he regarded as an ideal horse he would cross all other breeds of horses with it. This he considered a wrong principle upon which to proceed. In his own county, many years ago, they had a very fine breed of animals; but he could not now get a pure bred pair for love or money. It seemed to him that what was desirable was to keep the breed of horses as pure and distinct as possible, suiting them to the particular districts of the country.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present, House adjourned. it a quarter before Nine o'clock.