§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to a decision given by two magistrates of the East Riding of Yorkshire against Mr. John Metcalfe of 594 Snainton, and Mr. William Swanwell of Fowbridge, for a breach of the Cattle Plague Regulations; whether fines of £10 and of £5, with costs, were not inflicted upon these gentlemen for having moved cattle from one place to another, though they had obtained a licence from the magistrates authorizing the removal of the cattle; whether the defendants were not fined for acting upon a licence which they thought to be valid, which the magistrates had granted, but which, being ignorant of the Law, they had no right to grant; and, whether, in such circumstances, he will consider whether he might not advise that the fine be remitted?
MR. ASSHETON CROSS,
in reply, said, the affair occurred at a time when there was great danger of the spread of the cattle disease in Yorkshire. The magistrates, therefore, might have deemed it to be their duty to construe the law with the greatest strictness. He had been told that, although it was true that one of the gentlemen in question had obtained a pass for his cattle, in the opinion of the magistrates, that had nothing to do with the case; because, as a large dealer in cattle, he ought to have made himself acquainted with the law relating to their removal. The rules on the subject which were framed by the local authorities were perfectly clear and distinct, and had been published in all the local newspapers, as well as posted up in various parts of the county. The case, therefore, had nothing to do with the granting of any licence, for the notice stated that from the date of its publication no cattle could be brought from any part of the East Riding. There was thus an absolute prohibition on the removal of cattle, with which the dealers ought to have been acquainted, and he had not in the circumstances deemed it right to interfere in the matter. He thought it possible that the magistrates might have signed the licences under the impression that the cattle might go through the Riding.