HC Deb 08 July 1878 vol 241 cc960-2

asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether he can lay upon the Table any Despatches from the British Ministers at Lisbon, Madrid, Copenhagen, or Stockholm, with regard to the proposal to slaughter foreign cattle at the port of entry: and, whether any representations on the subject have been made to Her Majesty's Government by the Government of France, or by Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris?


, in reply, said, that two Despatches had been received from British Ministers abroad with regard to the proposed slaughter of foreign cattle on landing. One, from the Minister at Stockholm, had been printed and circulated already; the other, from the Minister at Lisbon, would be laid on the Table at once.


asked the Secretary to the Treasury, it having been stated that some cattle which had passed the inspector at Thames Haven had two days afterwards been attacked with foot-and-mouth disease, and had introduced the disease on the premises of a farmer named Preston at Romford, Whether his attention has been called to a letter from Mr. Preston in the "Times" of Thursday, in which it is stated that the disease from which Mr. Preston's cattle suffered was not derived from any foreign source, but broke out before the arrival of the animals passed by the inspector; and, whether he is now able to mention any case in which cattle which have been passed by an inspector at the port have afterwards turned out to have been diseased at the time?


, in reply, said, it was difficult to answer the Question without entering at inconvenient length into details. The information he had given to the House was derived from a gentleman living close to Mr. Preston, who had been consulted by him as to the purchase of the Dutch cows, and who stated the facts from his own knowledge of what had happened. He confessed he was somewhat surprised at the letter of Mr. Preston, and all the more so because, according to a letter he held in his hand, on the day before the letter appeared in The Times, Mr. Preston stated, in conversation in a railway carriage, that the Dutch cows had foot-and-mouth disease, and had given it to his milch cows. A gentleman who had heard the conversation had written upon the letter—"I confirm the writer's statements." He could hardly reconcile Mr. Preston's published letter with the facts thus placed before him, and he must leave the House to form its own judgment. Evidence was given before the Committee of 1873 of a case which happened in 1872 of diseased cattle being passed by the Inspector, and the particulars would be found in the answer to Question 12,911, and those that followed.


asked, whether, as it appeared to be a question of evidence, and as Mr. Preston had written in his own name, the hon. Gentleman would state the name of the other gentleman?


said, that the gentleman who had written the letter to him was well known to Members of the Committee on this subject—namely, Mr. Robinson. [A laugh.] Although an hon. Friend laughed at that, he did not think that the House would agree that a gentleman who stated a matter of fact was not deserving of credit. That gentleman's statement was borne out by the signature of another gentleman, who had travelled with him in the same train.


asked, was he correct in understanding that the facts were within the knowledge of an hon. Member?


said, he was excessively sorry if he had misled the right hon. Gentleman or the House. What he had stated was that the facts were confirmed by another gentleman who was travelling in the same train, and who certified to the facts.


asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether he will lay upon the Table of the House The Orders of Council now in force in Great Britain under "The Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1869;" the General Orders which the Privy Council intend to issue to carry out the provisions of the Bill now before Parliament with regard to pleuro-pneunomia and foot-and-mouth disease, especially those contemplated in the third and fourth Schedules of the Bill; the Orders in Council now in force in Ireland under the Irish Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts, and also the General Orders contemplated for Ireland under the present Bill with regard to pleuro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease?


, in reply, said, the Government had no objection to lay upon the Table the Orders of Council now in force in Great Britain under "The Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1869." With regard to the second point, as the Bill had not passed, and as the House, therefore, had not yet decided upon the form in which the clauses affecting the home trade should be carried, the Privy Council had not drawn up such orders, and could not draw them up until they knew what the terms of the Bill were. As to the third part of the Question, he should be happy to place the Orders on the Table.


asked, Whether the Orders would be placed on the Table at once, or whether he should move for them?


I shall place them on the Table myself at once.


asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether he would have any objection to furnish a Return of the number of cattle imported into Southampton from Spain and Portugal during the last five years, with a Statement showing the number of cases in which Contagious Diseases have been reported?


, in reply, said, that the annual Reports of the Veterinary Department contained the information desired; and, therefore, he thought it would not be well to reprint it. At the same time, if the hon. Member conferred with him it would save trouble, and the information he desired would be placed at his disposal.