§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
, in rising to move that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that before 1865, it had not been thought necessary to take any precautions against losses from cattle disease. It would be in the recollection of hon. Members how severe were the losses in 1865 and 1867, and how materially, in some parts of England, it diminished the flocks on which we depended so largely for our meat supply. A Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the subject, and the result was the passing of the Act of 1866; which, for the first time, laid down regulations for restricting the movements of cattle. The legislation in 1866, and the inquiry that had preceded it, culminated in the Act of 1869, and up to the present moment that Act had practically regulated the importation of cattle into this country. The Bill of 1869 gave power to the Privy Council to prevent the importation of cattle from countries in which disease had broken out, and to order the slaughter at the ports of cattle arriving from infected places abroad, while allowing animals from countries from which the import was not prohibited to pass freely into this country after 12 hours' quarantine. The House would see that under the Act of 1869, and up to this time, our protection depended on the early knowledge we might acquire of the breaking out of disease in foreign countries, and on the efficiency of the inspection at our own ports. With regard to our home stock, the Act of 1869 left it to the local authorities of the districts to lay down and enforce regulations, with power to the Privy Council to supervise and step in in cases of great emergency. There were in all about 411 local authorities, and it came out before the Committee who sat in 1877 that the regulations they laid down were so conflicting that, practically, they furnished no real protection against the spread of diseases 134 when they were once introduced. A remarkable example of the evils resulting from, conflicting regulations was furnished by Mr. John Wilson, who stated that the existence of three different sets of regulations for Newcastle, Durham, and Northumberland enabled traders by a little scheming to render the regulations practically inoperative. Since the regulations framed under the Act of 1869, there had been a considerable amount of foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia in this country. There had been two separate outbreaks of cattle plague in 1872 and 1877. The spread of these diseases affected the country so largely that pressure was put on the Privy Council in many instances; the defects of the law were pointed out; and the result was the appointment of a Committee in 1877. The labours of that Committee were by no means unproductive. It was shown that the cattle plague had defied all our regulations, and that we did not receive any information of the outbreak of disease in foreign countries before the cattle from those countries had arrived at our ports and entered this country. Practically, the cattle plague was among us before the receipt by the Privy Council of the letter announcing its outbreak and warning us to be prepared. Naturally, when that occurred more pressure was brought to bear upon the Privy Council, and the defects of the law were pointed out. The Privy Council found that, although recommendations had been made as to some points which were not embodied in the existing law which might at once have been dealt with, there were other points vitally affecting consumers in this country on which it was desirable to have further consideration before legislation was undertaken. The result of the inquiry of 1877 was to reverse the decision of the Committee of 1873, and to show that there was evidence to justify a recommendation that cattle should be slaughtered at the port of import, It was established by the voluminous evidence of many witnesses that the inspection on which we had relied to prevent the introduction of disease into the country had practically failed; and that, although we were to a certain extent dependent upon foreign supply, it did not follow because of the restrictions that were suggested and of slaughtering at the ports that that foreign supply would leave us. It 135 ought to be remembered that the first introduction of cattle plague into this country practically reduced the stock of cattle in the country and seriously diminished its reproductive capacity; while, at the same time, we lost directly from disease more cattle than were brought from abroad. The foreign supply formed only a small proportion of the whole supply, and if that foreign supply were compared with the home stock and with the large amount we derived from Ireland, it would be seen that if we could succeed in giving security to the producers in this country, the increase of the home stock even to the amount at which it stood before the outbreak of the cattle plague, would increase the amount of food for the people so materially as to do away with the necessity for foreign import. But while you introduce slaughtering at the ports for the protection of the home stock, it by no means followed that you would diminish the foreign supply. Although disease might prevail to a calamitous extent at the present time, from the fact that it had never been sufficiently eliminated by restrictions, there was conclusive evidence that the disease itself was imported, and that conclusion was accepted by all the scientific witnesses. There was ample evidence to show that the restrictions at home in time past had not been sufficient to stamp out the disease. He would now cite some figures in order to show how large a proportion of the animals imported into this country were diseased. The total number of foreign animals imported in 1876 was 1,357,856, and of these 9,370 were diseased. The number of foreign animals imported in 1877, when the cattle plague restrictions were in force, was 1,090,059, and of these 3,790 were diseased. This large deduction in the number of animals imported was owing to our cattle restrictions as against Germany. In 1877 it was found necessary to slaughter at the port of debarkation no fewer than 231,689 animals that had been in contact with the 3,790 which were diseased. To show this still further, he might add that out of a total, in three years ending in March, 1877, of 12,380 cargoes which had come into this country, as many as 1,458 cargoes had been stopped for having diseased animals on board. With reference to the importation of disease, Professor 136 Brown, on being asked whether pleuro or foot-and-mouth disease was the more frequently introduced, replied—Pleuro, undoubtedly, in consequence of the impossibility of the disease being detected in the state of incubation by any kind of examination.He believed the House would be of opinion that the disease was either generally imported, or so largely imported, as to be dangerous to our home stock. The next question which arose was, whether the importation of disease had caused considerable losses to this country. From the annual Return published by the Privy Council, he found that in 1876 there were 4,673 beasts suffering from pleuro slaughtered, of the value of £32,000; and in 1877 there were 5,168 beasts slaughtered, of the value of between £38,000 and £48,000. In Westmoreland and Cumberland the losses from pleuro alone in seven years amounted to £306,000. But besides the direct loss from pleuro, evidence was given before the Committee of 1877 of the loss which was suffered from the foot-and-mouth disease, which was considered the most fatal in its loss of the three diseases referred to. Mr. Stratton, one of the witnesses, stated that the absolute losses by deaths were very much less serious in their effects than the depreciation in the value of the live animals, adding that from foot-and-mouth disease we absolutely lost, in his county, in 1872, 439 beasts, 55 sheep, and 851 pigs. The same witness said that besides these actual direct losses, the depreciation of stock was considerable, and he could not accept a closer valuation than £2 per head on all animals affected; while from having to re-prepare fat stock, and from lost power to feed off others, there was a direct loss to the consumer. He likewise said that in the case of milking cows being attacked with footh-and-mouth disease in the Summer, the loss would be £5 per head. Mr. Melvin, another witness, said—I consider that during the four attacks between 1871 and 1876 I lost about £2 per head on my cattle from foot-and-mouth disease, from their going off condition and having to be brought back. The deterioration in condition was equivalent to a loss of six weeks.Mr. Sheldon, another witness examined before the Committee, said— 137A great deal depends on the time of year when you have it. If I had it now, I should reckon the loss to be very great, because the cattle are in full flow of milk. I had it last Autumn, but then the loss was not so great—the weather colder; but at that time I reckoned the loss at not less than £4 per head on the dairy stock; on grazing stock, half fat, I should not consider that £2 per head was sufficient for loss.
, a gentleman who was well known some years ago as a practical agriculturist and a Member of that House, stated before the Committee—In one summer I lost 40 head of cattle from pleuro, and I have had constant losses from foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro—such losses as would have crippled an ordinary tenant farmer.When the footh-and-mouth disease fell upon the breeding stock, the losses were still more serious. Mr. Booth said—Breeding animals are particularly liable to abortion by disease. I will give an instance. In 1872 I had 17 cows in one pasture, and they all went down with disease, and the produce of the whole of those 17 cows was one calf. Against that I may set the present year, when we are perfectly healthy, and I have upwards of 40 calves on the farm at the present time.On being asked—"Do you think that was entirely owing to foot-and-mouth disease?" he replied—"I have not the slightest hesitation in saying so." With reference to the loss by abortion, Mr. Rea, another agricultural witness, said—In speaking of foot-and-mouth disease, I do not think there is anything more annoying and restrictive than it is, particularly as to breeding animals. If it gets into a large flock of ewes in the Autumn or Spring before lambing, no one can tell the havoc that it makes, and I believe there is inherent in that stock for generations to come a weakness of constitution.He was asked—"That applies equally, does it not, to breeding cattle?" and he answered—"Unquestionably. I believe it is equally so with cows."They often drop their calves afterwards, do they not?—I believe it is very well understood that they not only drop their calves, but that they suffer to a great extent themselves for a considerable time in their milking properties.Beyond the fact of these losses, he thought the evidence adduced before the Committee conclusively showed that the consumer was really prejudiced; because, since 1865, the price of meat had practically gone up in consequence of 138 the diminution of stock. Mr. Wilson showed by the figures he submitted to the Committee that beef was now as much as 1d. or 1½d. more a-pound than it was in 1865, and that there had been a steady rise in price since that time. That rise was owing to the fear engendered by the diseases which were imported. With regard to the discouragement of breeding, he saw in The Times a letter from Mr. Thornton, a gentleman well-known in the agricultural world, and also to the public. Mr. Thornton said—Since 1870 I have sold upwards of 15,000 animals for breeding purposes in every county in England, except Cornwall and Monmouthshire, in every province in Ireland, in the Lothians of Scotland, and as far north as For-far and Morayshire. These sales are the springs from which the general stock of the country is increased and improved, and are attended by audiences rarely less than 200, and on several occasions between 2,000 and 3,000 people have been present. To most of those people I am personally known, and their complaint is a general one, that the foot-and-mouth disease is the great deterrent to the increase of our herds and flocks, and the cause of the decrease in the number of animals throughout the Kingdom.This was the evidence of a man who was constantly brought into communication with all the breeders throughout the country, and therefore it was conclusive evidence that the fear of the disease engendered in 1865 and since that date had practically diminished the meat supply of this country. Before going further, he desired to say that the question submitted to the House in this Bill was not an agricultural nor a farmer's question. He placed it before the House entirely as a consumer's question. If the measures he proposed were not justifiable from a consumer's point of view, he admitted that it was not right. What he wanted, and what he hoped to prove the Bill would do, was to give the greatest amount of protection to our home stock, which, combined with the amount of foreign supply that could be sent to this country, would give us the greatest amount of food. It was true that restrictions of that sort might possibly diminish the foreign supply, but it was not proved conclusively that although possible it was probable. Now the question was, Could that be done? Could the introduction of disease be stopped, and could it be eliminated from this country? It had been stated in Committee by witnesses who came from 139 Denmark that pleuro and foot-and-mouth disease had been introduced, and that by severe restrictions they had been enabled to stamp them out. A Report made by the Chief Constable of Cumberland and Westmoreland stated that—During the last three months there has been no case of foot-and-mouth disease in either county. This is the first time since the latter part of 1869 that Cumberland has been quite free for three months at this season of the year from this disease. I attribute the absence of the disease now to the regulations which have been lately in force to guard against the spread of the cattle plague.It also said—It is a fact worthy of some consideration that during the operation of the cattle plague regulations 11 years ago foot-and-mouth disease disappeared altogether. In the latter part of 1869, when there were no regulations, this disease re-appeared, and from that time till the recent regulations were put in force, the country was not free from it. It is admitted by the farmers and others that one of the practical results of those regulations was the stamping out of the foot-and-mouth disease and the prevention of its re-introduction. This is exactly similar to what occurred 11 years ago during the existence of the then regulations.He had quoted these opinions to show that, with proper regulations for the home supply, cattle disease might be stamped out. It was conclusively proved by witness after witness representing the agricultural interest—many of whom came from Agricultural Associations—that the farmers were willing to admit such restrictions for the purpose of securing such a gain. One farmer only came forward to express a contrary opinion. Professor Brown stated that if the regulations were enforced, the stamping out of the disease would be a matter of months only. And Mr. Rea said he was not prepared to state that the disease would be stamped out at once, but that it would be reduced to a minimum. Well, if that were possible, were not the farmers and agriculturists entitled to ask, when submitting to restrictions, that at least they should be protected as far as possible against the re-introduction of the disease from abroad? The question naturally arose, would any system of inspection of animals practically guarantee such security? There was strong evidence to show that such would not be the case. They had no control over the regulations, and, therefore, had practically very little knowledge of what went on in foreign countries. They had, 140 in fact, to depend upon such information as was sent over, and could not, therefore, know whether there had been a really efficient inspection at the ports of export. The House would remember that what was to be dealt with was a disease which lay dormant for 30 days to, perhaps, two, or even three, months, and how was it possible to know, supposing even that the animal had passed a satisfactory inspection abroad, that weeks after landing disease might not be developed? How, therefore, was it possible to say that inspection of animals at the port of landing was a sufficient guarantee against the introduction of pleuro-pneumonia? The period of incubation of foot-and-mouth disease was, no doubt, shorter; but it was often as long as a fortnight or three weeks, and as the animal was allowed to go free 12 hours after inspection, it was a fair inference that the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease, notwithstanding inspection, was possible. It was clear from the evidence that imported animals, which, on inspection showed no signs of disease, had developed disease, and that slaughter at the port of landing was the true remedy to prevent its introduction. The next question was, whether the slaughter should be universal, whether it should be applied to all countries alike, or only to those in which severe precautions were not taken abroad? [Cheers.] He was quite aware from that cheer, that it might be said that individually he had not always been prepared to recommend universal slaughtering at the port; and that, in summing up the evidence which had come before him in the Committee, he had submitted a draft Report to that effect. But this he would say, that there was so much to be urged against the exceptions which he thought might be made in favour of such a country as Denmark, that he confessed the opinion he had formed had been very much shaken. There was no doubt or question about Germany, or Russia, or the Netherlands; but the question came to this—whether the cattle imported from France, Spain, and Portugal, and from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, ought or ought not to be treated differently? With respect to France, he was quite aware that before 1865 a large amount of cattle was received from that country, and that since she was subjected to the 141 Schedule in 1877 they had practically received none at all. But the fact would be recognized by all who had studied the subject that the supply from France depended on the amount of cattle sent into France. The Franco-German War practically destroyed a large portion of the stock of France, and now the supply for that country depended largely on the import of cattle into it. The statistics showed that there was a large amount of difference between the amount of disease imported from. Denmark and from Spain and Portugal; but he would point out to the House that where the restrictions at the port of export were not sufficiently severe to prevent the introduction of disease, disease might be imported if proper regulations were not enforced here—for one case might become a centre from which the disease might spread over a district. It was within the knowledge of the Veterinary Department that, notwithstanding the restrictions mentioned in evidence before the Committee, German cattle were introduced from the frontier farms into the markets of Denmark, and found their way into this country. Nothing could be easier than for this to be done, and he thought the fact was one which militated strongly against allowing exemptions from the rule which had been laid down. There was another reason which ought to weigh strongly in favour of the proposed regulations, which was that they would insure a fairly regular supply of meat to the English markets. If a consignee of oxen or other animals intended for the English market heard that there was a suspicion of the cattle plague regulations being put in force, he, although his consignment might be perfectly free from disease, was compelled, in order to save himself from loss by reason of delay, to send his cargo to a different port of disembarkation; and, therefore, to a different market. This led to great uncertainty, and it was given in evidence by several witnesses that butchers did not go in any large numbers to the Dept-ford market, because they were not certain of finding a supply of cattle sufficient to meet their wants. This was a state of facts which must tend to prejudice the business of those who exported and imported foreign cattle. It must, also, be considered whether the necessity for slaughtering cattle at the ports 142 of disembarkation would lessen the trade from Continental countries. In many quarters it was contended that this would be the result; but he found that they imported from Holland, during April and Juno, 1877, 725 oxen and cows, 3,689 calves, 14,068 sheep, and 317 pigs; whilst, in the same months in 1878, with the restrictions existing, there had been imported 1,559 oxen and cows, 4,793 calves, 23,455 sheep, 1,069 pigs, being 11,000 or 12,000 head more than in the same period the year before. And, curiously enough, while the sheep came from Germany, which was restricted, Denmark, which was free, sent a very much smaller number into this country than she had the year before; so that decreased importation could not be attributed entirely to the animals having to be slaughtered on their arrival, but to the difference in the stock of one year as compared with the previous one. Furthermore, it must be clear to anyone who carefully considered the matter and paid attention to recent changes in the matter of food supply, that the probable effect of the regulations in existence would be to increase the import of dead meat as compared with that of living cattle which must be slaughtered at the port of disembarkation. The Swedish Minister, in a speech recently delivered by him, acknowledged that under the restrictions proposed, the cattle trade would be less free than heretofore; but that it would be equally advantageous to transport the dead meat. It must be evident that whatever restrictions were placed upon the trade, it would be practically regulated by the demand, and as long as prices continued to rule in this country as at present, so long would there be a superabundant supply from the Continent. Looking at the question as one referring solely to the supply of food, there was no doubt that the dead meat trade was largely and steadily increasing; and that, however imperfect the trade now was, it was immensely and steadily growing, and the Returns that had recently been published by one of the principal importers showed a large increase since the Committee took evidence on that point. A very large quantity of dead meat was at present imported from America, and the trade was extending within the United Kingdom. Mr. Rudkin in his evidence 143 stated that the quantity of dead meat imported into London was 175,000 tons a-year, and no less than 60 tons per day was sent from Scotland into London in the hottest July weather in perfect marketable order, without any of the appliances used for bringing over American meat. This, he contended, showed that, in default of animals to be slaughtered, there was every reason to anticipate a steady supply of dead meat. It was said that if the animals came to be slaughtered at the ports, they could not be easily distributed among the manufacturing towns. A great point was made by the butchers that it was necessary they should be able to take the live animals down to those towns, because they could not rely on the carcasses being brought down in good condition. The Committee had considerable evidence on that subject. Mr. Robinson, speaking for a large importing firm, gave evidence to the effect that there would be no difficulty when animals were slaughtered at the ports in taking a supply to those towns, and he said that up to the last two or three weeks of the time he appeared before the Committee there were forwarded to Manchester, Birmingham, and other places, a considerable supply of animals which had been slaughtered at the ports. And Mr. Rudkin, who, perhaps, knew more at the time about the Deptford market than anyone else, said that there was a large supply sent from Deptford into the country, and that thousands of sheep slaughtered at Deptford passed to differents parts of the country. It was Mr. Rudkin who stated a fact, which caused considerable amusement—that he knew of sheep slaughtered at Deptford going down to Wales, and coming back as "Welsh mutton" to London. Thus the meat went through two journeys. Speaking of Leeds, Mr. Rudkin said he could assure the Committee that that town would not suffer, except as regarded the offal, and that difficulty could be readily overcome. If, then, the animals came over here in sufficiently large numbers, as he had tried to show they would, and were slaughtered at the ports, we could freely distribute them about the country without fear of the introduction of disease, and the result would be that we might look forward to an amount of security such as existed before these diseases became prevalent; the home supply, 144 which was so much in excess of any that could be derived from abroad, would return to its normal condition, and we might hope that the price to the consumer would fall. The Bill which he had the honour to introduce to the House attempted to deal with the question. It proposed, as far as cattle plague was concerned, to put it down by giving to the Privy Council absolute power to stop the imports entirely from the countries where it prevailed, and by slaughter at the ports and inspection. There was one clause in the Bill which dealt with the introduction of store animals into this country. At first sight, to allow the importation of store cattle might appear contradictory to the object in view—namely, to prevent the introduction of disease. The Bill, however, provided that these animals should, in the first instance, be subjected to a quarantine, and afterwards that they should be followed to the places where they were located and be put under constant supervision for 56 days. Combining these two precautions, he maintained sufficient security against disease was taken, while a loophole would be left for the introduction of valuable animals. With regard to Ireland, the Bill placed the sister country in exactly the same position as England itself; and he believed that farmers in Ireland, supposing that severe restrictions against the introduction of disease were necessary, would admit that this provision was justified. He was quite aware that it had been said, with considerable force, that as regarded the foot-and-mouth disease these restrictions were unneccessary. He quite believed that animals of a hardy nature, such as the cattle from Ireland, were not so subject to that disease as the highly-bred animals in this country. But if the Kingdom were to be treated as a whole, Ireland would not object to be subject to restrictions which were found to be absolutely necessary for England. The opposition to the Bill came really from certain importers of foreign animals. It was true that a certain class of butchers in this country had a prejudice against buying slaughtered animals; from a custom of the trade, they were in the habit of buying the animals alive, and keeping them on their premises until they wanted them. But that practice was dying out. From evidence before the Committee, it appeared that 145 the practice had almost died out in London; that since the opening of the dead meat market at Smithfield the number of private slaughter-houses had diminished enormously, and that the trade had not suffered. From the butchers' point of view, he believed the grievance to be imaginary, and that the trade would be benefited by the change. But it was quite true that the importers would be affected by the Bill, though not as seriously as they imagined. Their trade would be altered; but it should be remembered, after all, that the position of the trader was not very much in the interest of the consumer. He confessed he was very much surprised at one argument used against the Bill, when it was said that the import of live animals from America was much more in the interest of this country than the introduction of carcasses, because live animals were worth £2 to £3 more. In the interest of the consumer, that was not the view which the Government took of the question. However much it might be the object of the trade to oppose the Bill, with the view to keep up the prices, the great object Parliament ought to have in view was to get the largest supplies of meat both from this country and from foreign countries, and thus to keep the prices down. He placed the defence of the Bill merely on the suppression of disease. If the regulations and restrictions which the Bill imposed were effectual in that point of view, he thought the stock of this country would largely increase and the price of food would be cheapened. He ventured, therefore, to think that some benefit to the people of this country would result from the Bill. He was afraid he had trespassed much too long on the attention of the House; but, feeling deeply impressed with the advantages which would result to the consumer, he ventured with confidence to recommend the Bill to the adoption of the House.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson.)
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I beg, Sir, to move the following Resolution:—That, in the opinion of this House, the slaughter at the ports of landing of all fat cattle from the Continent would restrict the supply and increase the cost of food, and should, therefore, not be made compulsory, under all circumstances, by Act of Parliament.146 Before I give my reasons in support of this Resolution, I ought to tell the House why I adopt this course. My hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) has given Notice of a Motion for rejecting the second reading of the Bill. I wish him to know why it is that I cannot vote in favour of that Motion. In 1873 there was a Committee on this question, of which I was the Chairman. There were several recommendations made by that Committee, some of which could be carried out by Order in Council, while others required the alteration of the Act. Everything that could be done by Lord Ripon and myself, under the Orders in Council, was immediately done, and we were surprised that our Successors in Office did not take the first opportunity of doing what we should have done had we remained in Office—namely, of carrying into effect those recommendations that required an Act of Parliament. One or two of those recommendations are contained in this Bill, and one is of considerable importance, giving the power, as it does, to place under supervision the neighbouring premises to those in which the cattle plague may have broken out. Professor Brown, who is almost the ablest administrator with whom I ever came in contact, strongly recommended the adoption of this provision; and, in his evidence before the Committee last year, stated that, if it had been law, the outbreak of cattle plague might have been stamped out in one month instead of continuing, as it did, for six months. I cannot, therefore, vote against the second reading of a Bill in which this provision is contained. There is another recommendation of our Committee embodied in this Bill—namely, the prolongation of the period of isolation for pleuro-pneumonia. The supporters of the Bill, however, ask me why, at this stage, I propose this Resolution? My reason is, that the compulsory slaughter of all Continental animals at the ports of landing is to my mind so exceedingly objectionable, that I cannot avoid taking the opinion of the House on this provision, which is, in fact, the main provision of the Bill. But, although it is the main provision, it must be remembered that my Resolution may be passed and yet the Bill be read a second time, and that all the alterations of the present Act, of which I approve, may become law.
147 I will not repeat the statement often made and but little attended to, that this Bill ought not to be made a Party question. But this much I may say, that this question will not be fought out within Party lines. On the one hand, there will be many Members on this side of the House who, sympathizing with the farmers, and brought into contact with them, will, I fear, oppose my Resolution, unless I succeed in convincing them of its justice, of which I do not altogether despair. On the other hand, the principle of freedom of trade will, I trust, be supported by many hon. Members opposite who are the Representatives of large populations. But, however this fact of a tendency towards a division, which I should much regret, between town and country, or, rather, between producers and consumers, may operate, I can assure the House that I am as anxious as the hon. Gentleman who moved the second reading of this Bill to point out that the interests of producers and consumers are not really opposed, although the interpretation which I put upon those interests is very different from that which he has placed upon them. We must all do our utmost to prevent class antagonism, and a concession, I think, on each side may be made. Some of the opponents of the Bill are of opinion that its object is protection, while some of its supporters imagine that we who oppose it have but little sympathy with the farmer. Now, I am quite prepared to admit that the object of the Bill is not protection, though I think I shall be able to prove that protection would be the result of its passing into law; but I think I ought not to be supposed to be either ignorant of the difficulties which beset this question or to make light of the diseases with which the Bill deals. My experience in Office has been sufficient to show me that they are very serious matters, and if it could be proved that slaughter at the ports of landing was necessary to stamp out disease, or even that it would stamp it out, I would admit that it would be for the interest of the consumer to suffer some immediate loss from the diminution in the foreign supply in the hope and belief that the home supply would be ultimately increased. But I think I can show, in the first place, that the provisions of the Bill, with regard to home restrictions, will not 148 stamp out disease; and, in the second place, that the foreign restrictions will raise the price of meat, or, in the words of my Resolution, "restrict the supply and increase the cost of food." It is on my ability to prove these two propositions that I ask the House to base their opinion of my Resolution.
I will take the second proposition first. I will attempt to show that harm will be done, before demonstrating that no good will be effected. The speech of my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury was, generally speaking, very fair, but he made, in my opinion, too little of the Continental trade; and we must remember that, although this Bill is generally called a Cattle Bill, it is also a Sheep and Swine Bill. Taking the average of the last five years, the import of live cattle affected by this Bill—that is to say, the import from the Continent—has been 210,000; the number of sheep being 900,000, and of swine 66,000. It is impossible to say, with accuracy, what proportion this import bears to the whole consumption of the country. Professor Brown tells us in his evidence that the lowest computation was 5, and the highest 15 per cent. If I were asked to give my own opinion, I should put it at 12½ per cent; but we have very reliable data with regard to this City. We know what is the proportion of live animals that come to London from the Continent, and the official Returns show an immense import trade. In 1875, the Continental cattle imported into London bore the proportion of 47 per cent to the total number of cattle sold in London; in 1876, the proportion was 46 per cent; but in 1877, it had come down to 41. In 1875 the importation of Continental sheep was 46 percent; in 1876, 49; and in 1877, 51 percent. As regards swine, the Continental swine were 85 per cent in 1875; in 1876, 87; and in 1877, 86 per cent. These official Returns show an immense import trade, but they furnish no measure of what this trade may become. We have now got into a period of high prices for animal food; there is a strong inducement all the world over to grow beef and mutton for our enormous population; and my objection is, that by this Bill we shall prevent that consistent and natural growth and increase of imports to which we ought to look for some protection against those high prices.
149 I shall be told that this Bill does not prohibit the import of Continental cattle, and that it merely provides for their slaughter at the port of landing. We now come to the question, how far this slaughter will prevent or diminish the import? On this point there is great difference of opinion, and this difference was very decidedly shown in the evidence given before the Committee of last year. It is, however, remarkable that those witnesses who said that the import would not be diminished were men not engaged in the import trade, but farmers and members of Chambers of Agriculture, while, with one exception, all the witnesses engaged in the trade were confident that it would be greatly diminished; and this observation applies, not only to butchers and importers, but also to producers. The other Members of that Committee will recollect the very strong evidence which was given by a Pomeranian nobleman who occupies the same position in Pomerania as many Chairmen of Agricultural Chambers do in England; and so great is the anxiety in Denmark on the subject that the Member for Copenhagen has come over here to give information and carefully to watch this Bill. [A laugh.] Hon. Members may laugh, but is it not quite proper that the Member for the Metropolis of an importing country should come here to look after its interests? This gentleman, who has for years been a free trader, believing, as he does, that the provision to which I have been referring will injure not only Denmark, but England, has been only doing his duty in coming over to remind his old free trade colleagues of the diminution of trade between the two countries, which would certainly result from the passing of this Bill. I may be told that all those witnesses were interested, but their contention that their interests were affected proves my argument. The question is, will the trade be diminished? and the fact that all persons engaged in it are so sure that it would be diminished, that they are ready to use great exertions to prevent the passing of this measure, is a very strong proof of the justice of my assertion.
Those gentlemen have much to say in support of their view both as regards theory and facts. Let me take theory first. The Secretary to the 150 Treasury has referred to the dead meat import. I should be glad to see the dead meat trade increase, if for no other reason than the saving of suffering to the animals; but the time has gone by to justify the supposition that a trade can either be created or supported by legislative enactments. If the dead meat trade increases, it will be because of the power of those who are engaged in it to meet demands; but I doubt whether this year the increase is so evident as it appeared to be last year. As regards the United States, the chief fact we have to deal with is not so much an increase of the import of American dead meat as the very quickly growing trade in live animals. There is this reason why the live animal is more profitable to import than the carcass. The live animal can wait the market, and he can follow it, while we cannot get rid of the fact that dead meat is a very perishable article, and that the forced sale of a very perishable article generally results in loss. I appeal to all those Gentlemen present, who either attend or watch any market, Consols or Shares, or corn, or goods, or cattle, whether the worst position in which a seller could be put is not that in which he is obliged to make a forced sale; and that is the position in which, by this restrictive legislation, we shall place the importer. He will be the forced seller of a perishable article. Nothing was more clearly brought out in evidence before the Committee last year than the fact that very little difference of price would lead to animals being taken to Continental rather than to English cities. I have been told that, inasmuch as the price which importers would obtain would be less, because they would be thus forced to sell, the consumer would gain—a statement that would be true enough if we had the same control over the foreign producer as we have over the foreign importer. For instance, Mr. Gebhart, one of the largest importers into London, told us last year that a fall of 1s. or 2s. in the price of a merino sheep, or 10s. or 20s. in that of a beast, would divert them to Paris instead of to London.
So much for what would be likely to happen under the operation of this slaughtering provision. Now let us see what has happened. In 1877, the decrease in Continental imports was— 151 cattle, 87,000; sheep, 194,000; and swine, 24,000. Take the cattle first. I am well aware that some of this diminution may be accounted for by the total prohibition of imports from Belgium and parts of Germany, in consequence of the outbreak of cattle plague. Professor Brown thus accounts for 26,000 cattle, leaving a diminution of 61,000 caused by some countries being scheduled—that is to say, by the countries from which they were imported being included in the schedule which compelled the slaughter of their animals at the port of landing. Holland was thus scheduled in February of last year, and the diminution of the Dutch import alone was 41,000. In his last Veterinary Report, Professor Brown says—There is no doubt that the restrictions which were enforced on the free movements outward of cattle from Schleswig and Holstein induced exporters to send a large number of animals to France by sea; and it appeared, from the Holstein papers, that an effort was made to arrange for the transit of animals by train direct from Tonning to Paris.Again, take sheep. In their case there was no absolute prohibition; but slaughter at the ports was imposed on Germany, France, Holland, and Belgium, and the diminution in the import of sheep was 178,460. This may be said to be the experience of one year only, but take the effect of scheduling in former years. The Duke of Richmond and Gordon made a most able speech in March of last year in the other House of Parliament, in which he supported the view I now take, and which speech, I must add, he has never himself attempted to answer. As an argument against the very provision to which I now object, he pointed out how, during the six years ending with 1869, when French animals were allowed to come inland, the import was 112,618; while, in the seven years immediately following, when, in consequence of the outbreak of cattle plague during the Franco-German War, France was scheduled, the import was only 24,095. In like manner the import from Belgium diminished 50 per cent from the same cause. I may be told that I am responsible for this diminution, but the principle on which Lord Ripon and I ordered cattle to be slaughtered at the port of landing was solely in order to prevent the introduction of rinderpest or 152 cattle plague. We were obliged most reluctantly to enforce this restriction where we had reason to fear that without it the cattle plague might find its way into the country. But we were prepared to take any country out of the schedule, and we did so as soon as that fear was removed. If the present Bill passes as it stands, this discretion will be taken from the Privy Council, cattle will have to be slaughtered at the port of landing, and the import will be diminished whether there be danger from the rinderpest or not. Nothing can show the great anxiety of the producer to avoid this restriction, and, therefore, its probable effect on the import more clearly than an arrangement which was made between this country and Schleswig-Holstein. The Holstein animals are well-known to be a most desirable accession to our market as well as to European markets generally. I found that we could only preserve their import by allowing them to come inland under a complicated arrangement, by which the importers entered into a bond sanctioned by their Government that they would suffer no cattle to be imported into their district from other parts of Germany, or from any country contiguous to Russia. We were in like manner able to take Holland out of the schedule, because Holland was so anxious to keep up her trade with England that she actually passed a law prohibiting the import of all cattle. This brings me to the explanation of a fact with which the Secretary to the Treasury comforted himself as regards the present import from Holland. It had, he said, increased within the last seven or eight weeks as compared with last year. I can tell him the reason. Now that Holland is scheduled, and her animals are all slaughtered at the port of landing, she gains nothing by prohibiting the import of cattle. She has, therefore, repealed her prohibition, and the increase to which my hon. Friend refers is not an increase of Dutch cattle, but of German cattle, exported from Rotterdam and other Dutch ports. The facts with regard to Holland are these. In 1868, the import was 34,000 cattle. It grew until it amounted to 86,000 in 1876; but in 1877, owing to Holland being scheduled, it fell to 45,000. That was a trade which was growing, and which naturally would have increased. 153 but which has been thus diminished. Then, as regards Denmark. The import from Denmark in 1870 was 8,000. It grew to 50,000 in 1877, and will, doubtless, continue to grow unless this provision be enacted, in which case it will most certainly decrease.
It is, indeed, impossible to deny that this restriction will diminish supply. I could illustrate my argument by many cases of special loss; not to weary the House, I will only take one. Mr. Leyland, one of the largest importers in Liverpool, told the Committee of the Lords this year that the loss to him on 140 Oporto cattle, which had been slaughtered at the port of landing, was £334, or 50s. per head. I have been trying to make a calculation of the probable diminution of supply if this provision be passed. I can only make a guess; but a well-informed gentleman whom I have consulted tells me my guess is most probably far under the mark. I put the diminution at 25 per cent. I think it very likely it may be 50; but take 25 per cent. I may be asked, what does that matter? when we import 600,000 cattle from Ireland— though, of these, it must be recollected only about 250,000 are fat cattle—and when the Returns show that we have 6,000,000 of cattle in Great Britain. Well, this diminution of 25 per cent in the Continental supply, at all events, matters this much—I have tried to turn it into meat, I have consulted the best experts I could find, well-informed butchers, I have asked them to bear in mind that the weight of the Continental animals is not, on the average, equal to that of the British, and I find that this 25 per cent diminution would mean a loss of supply of beef and mutton which would give 1,000,000 men ¾ of a lb. a-day for two months. And remember this, that a rise in the price of an article, especially if a necessary article, is not in exact proportion to the diminution of supply. Nothing is more clearly proved than that there is no rule-of-three in this proportion. In coal, for instance, the rise was very much greater than the diminution in supply. A very small diminution will, in fact, serve to create a very great rise; and remember, also, how necessary is the article with which we are now dealing. There is great—though, I hope, only temporary —depression throughout the Kingdom, 154 and yet the price of meat does not fall. Are we to take measures to keep it up, or even to raise it still higher?
But I shall be told that this loss in sup-ply will be much more than compensated for by the prevention of disease in these Islands, and the consequent increase of the home supply, and this brings me to my first proposition—that the home restrictions imposed by this Bill will not stamp out cattle disease. Let me ask, what are these diseases? The Secretary to the Treasury lumps them all together, but there is a great difference between them. My hon. Friend takes cattle plague or rinderpest and tries to frighten us by a description, of that terrific disease. But these home stamping-out restrictions and this foreign restriction with respect to slaughter have nothing to do with rinderpest. So far as that plague is concerned, these home restrictions and this foreign regulation leave matters precisely as they found them. At present, cattle which come from a cattle-plague country are not merely slaughtered at the port of landing; their importation is altogether prohibited. That is the action of the present, as it was of the late Government, and doubtless will be of any future Government. In fact, this slaughtering provision in question is not a cattle-plague provision, nor is it a pleuro-pneumonia provision. Pleuro-pneumonia is the disease next in point of fatality to cattle plague; but I do not think it will be argued that this provision against which I am contending would be proposed if pleuro-pneumonia had been the main subject of consideration. Sheep and swine are, as I have said, included as well as cattle; but sheep or swine neither catch nor communicate pleuro-pneumonia; nor could the Government have proposed the slaughter of animals from Spain and Denmark by reason of pleuro-pneumonia, when they are well aware that for many years past there has been no such disease in either of those countries.
I think, then, it will be admitted that this provision is really a foot-and-mouth provision. It is because of the foot-and-mouth disease that it is demanded. The strength and weakness of the Bill lie in considerations affecting that disease; and though it is but a dull matter, I must ask the attention of the House to some remarks respecting it, because 155 upon it, in point of fact, depends the price of meat. With regard to this affection of the mouth and feet of animals, I will not attempt to determine how far it is injurious. The evidence greatly differs upon that point. Some farmers whom we examined seemed to think little of the disease. They even said they wished their cattle to have it and be done with it, while others went so far as to maintain that its ravages were worse than those caused by the cattle plague itself. This much, at all events, is plain—that it is very rarely fatal; while, upon the other hand, it throws back the animals, and injures especially milch and breeding cows, and the most valuable and high-priced stock. As to its origin there is much dispute. My own impression is, that it is of foreign origin; but that it was imported into this country, as well as pleuro-pneumonia, before 1842, when the importation of all foreign cattle was prohibited. But the question of its origin is now of no practical moment, and has merely historic importance. Nothing can he more clearly proved than the fact that both those diseases have become acclimatized, and are, in fact, home diseases. Professor Brown told us last year—I do not believe that the prevalence of the disease has anything whatever to do, speaking generally, with its introduction from abroad.Again, when asked—Do you think that no stoppage of importation would affect to any great extent the present prevalence of these two diseases?Professor Brown's answer was—I think that that point is as nearly as possible proved by the example afforded us in other countries.I could multiply quotations to this effect both from him and Professor Simmonds.
I must now tell the House what are the exact present foreign regulations with regard to foreign cattle affected by this disease. They are the same as were originally put in force by Lord Ripon and myself—namely, that all Continental cattle are to be detained for 12 hours, and that if any one of them be found to have the foot-and-mouth disease, the whole cargo is to be slaughtered. I need not say that the same regulation applies to pleuro-pneumonia. Now, mark the difference between the treatment of foreign cattle and of home or 156 Irish cattle. If any animal in a foreign cargo be found to be diseased, the whole cargo is, as I have already said, slaughtered; but if one-fourth, or one-half, of an Irish cargo be diseased, no animal is slaughtered, the diseased animals are detained, and the rest are allowed to go inland all over the country. In like manner, if a drove of cattle comes to Islington Market, a diseased animal is picked out, and the other animals are left to spread the disease, just as it may happen to be developed among them. Now, my belief is that our present regulation with regard to foot-and-mouth disease is quite enough to prevent its importation from abroad. I will challenge the supporters of the Bill to give any reasonable proof that since this regulation was enforced, the disease has been introduced anywhere in this country by a foreign animal. The official Returns show that the largest number of animals arriving here with this disease was in 1875–6; but Professor Brown, as a proof that the disease was not in consequence introduced into England, declares that, whereas it had been prevalent among us previously—During those years the disease declined. The decline began in the latter part of 1875, and during 1876 it was common to hear this remark made—'The foot-and-mouth has left us; there are no cases in the country.'Bear in mind, also, that this is a disease which very quickly develops. The period of incubation is generally within 40 hours, and is never later than three days. The length of the voyage from abroad, therefore, together with detention, make the present regulation a safeguard. There can, I believe, be no doubt that it is sufficient; but I will admit that there would be some colour of argument in favour of the slaughtering provision in the Bill, if it were combined with such home regulations as would really stamp out the disease. If the disease were once stamped out at home, the farmers would have some ground to demand that its introduction from abroad should be rendered impossible. I believe the present regulation to be sufficient; but I should not be surprised at their then demanding the slaughter of all Continental animals at the port of landing. The one thing necessary, however, is the stamping out of the disease at home, and if that be not done 157 —and I believe it is not even attempted to be done—by this Bill, there is, I maintain, absolutely no excuse for this compulsory slaughter. Let us, then, consider for a moment how far it is possible to stamp out this disease at home. I could tell the House how, in my opinion, that object could be attained. If the Secretary to the Treasury had despotic power, he would probably be able to stamp it out in a year, and in this way. Let him simply do to cattle at home what is at present done with cattle from abroad; let him enforce the same regulation with regard to the home cattle trade as is at present enforced with regard to the foreign trade. If you slaughter the whole of an Irish cargo when one animal in it happens to have the disease, or the whole of a drove in an English market, or the whole of the animals on a farm, you would, I believe, before long get rid of the disease. This, too, would be fair and equal treatment as between the farmer, the importer, and the foreign producer; but, of course, no sane man would recommend this slaughter. To adopt such a course would be to raise a rebellion in the country. The slaughter of home cattle for foot-and-mouth disease is out of the question; nor, indeed, do I think it would be necessary. But, in order to stamp out this disease, this much, I think, is required—that you should have the rinderpest regulations, substituting isolation for slaughter. Professor Simmonds, as the House is aware, is almost the highest authority upon this matter. He is the principal of the Royal Veterinary College, and was for a long time the official adviser of the Privy Council Department, especially during the great outbreak of cattle plague in 1865. Now, listen to what Professor Simmonds said, on giving evidence before the Lords' Committee this year—I think that the movement of all animals should be stopped in counties where foot-and-mouth disease exists—that is to say, that they should only move by licence in districts or departments which are free from disease.At any rate, I feel satisfied that if those hon. Members who take an interest in the subject will look through the evidence which was given before the Committees, they will come to the conclusion that if we wish to stamp out foot-and-mouth, disease at home, the least we 158 could do is—1st, to divide the Kingdom into districts; 2nd, if there be an outbreak of the disease in a district, to prohibit the movement of cattle out of it; 3rd, to stop markets in the infected districts; and 4th, to detain and isolate all animals that happened to have come in contact with diseased animals, whether in farms, or at markets or fairs—and this, not for a few months, but, as Professor Simmonds says, for a period of four or five years.
And now, let me ask what it was that this Bill, when it was introduced in the House of Lords, proposed to do? In the first place, as regards the districts, on which everything depends, it merely recommended the declaration of an infected place—that is to say, that a cowshed, or other place in which there was an outbreak of the disease should be declared to be infected, and that discretion should be given to the local or general authority to add to such infected place, if they thought fit, the ''lands or buildings adjoining." Observe that the principle of the Bill, as regards home restrictions, is discretion vested in the Privy Council or local authority; whereas, with respect to foreign regulations, there is no discretion but an iron rule. Next, as to movement out of this infected place—it is prohibited first by the Schedule, and then discretion is given to the Privy Council to allow it; and it is evidently intended that this discretion should be used, because it is stated that its conditions are to be described from time to time by General Order.
I may be asked why I do not postpone these remarks until the House has gone into Committee on the Bill, when the restrictions may be made more stringent? My answer is, that there is no probability of that being done. The Bill, as it left the House of Lords, is much weaker than when it was first introduced. There was a Committee of that House, and such strong evidence was produced before it, especially from Ireland, that the Government found it necessary greatly to weaken the Bill. As it went into the House of Lords, markets were to be stopped for foot-and-mouth as well as for pleuro-pneumonia; as it came down to us, the provision with respect to the stoppage of markets declared by Professor Simmonds to be absolutely necessary is omitted, and the period for the isolation of the animals affected is reduced from 159 24 to 14 days. The Secretary to the Tresury says the Bill is the result of the labours of the Committee of last year. I would, however, remind the House that the recommendations of that Committee have not been adopted. Let me read the last of those recommendations. It is as follows:—And your Committee are of opinion that no further restrictions should he placed on the importation of foreign animals in respect to foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia, unless, at the same time, orders be enforced throughout Great Britain, that in every district where either pleuro-pneumonia, or foot-and-mouth disease exists, and which has been declared by the Privy Council to be infected, all movement of cattle be prohibited, except under licence; that fairs and markets be under similar restrictions, and that absolute prohibition of movement be enforced against infected farms for periods varying from two months in pleuro-pneumonia to 28 days in outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease.I am sure it will not be denied that the "district" thus recommended is a very different thing from "the infected place" mentioned in the Bill. Discretion is given to the Privy Council to allow the movement of cattle; there is no stoppage of the markets, and, as I have already stated, the period of isolation for the foot-and-mouth disease is fixed at a fortnight instead of a month. There is another recommendation of the Committee which is not carried out in the Bill—namely, "that stock exposed in Islington Market should not be allowed to leave the Metropolitan district alive." That was thought to be necescessary, if disease was really to be stamped out; but it appears the Government have found it impossible to enact such a provision. Now, I do not blame them for thus permitting the Bill to be weakened. I do not complain either of the alterations made in the House of Lords or of the want of efficiency in their first proposals, and for this reason—that I believe, as regards this matter, the remedy may very easily be worse than the disease. That is the result of my experience when in Office. In 1865 Sir George Grey attempted to introduce a Bill with respect to the foot-and-mouth disease, but it was not supported. The first legislation with regard to this disease was in matters for regulation in the Bill which I introduced in 1869. We then made in that Bill regulations for preventing the exposure of infected animals at fairs and markets, 160 or their carriage along the highways; but we gave power to the local authorities in different counties to issue stricter regulations with the sanction of the Privy Council. There was an outbreak of the disease throughout the country, and many counties asked for these regulations; but so great was the difficulty in enforcing them, and so many of the counties asked for their repeal, that we found ourselves obliged to discontinue them. The Committee of 1873 went with the greatest care into the whole question, and came to a conclusion, with which I must trouble the House. They said—Many witnesses have been examined with regard to this disease, especially as to its recent prevalence in Great Britain and Ireland, and their opinions have been conflicting, both as regards the amount of loss it causes, and the measures which should be adopted for its diminution. Some agriculturists have recommended very stringent measures, such as the stoppage of all fairs and markets, and of the movement of animals except by licence, as during the prevalence of the cattle plague. On the other hand, there has been evidence of much weight, both by agriculturists and by professional witnesses, tending to show that such enactments would meet with strong opposition, and would be difficult—if not impossible—to carry out. Your Committee have come to the conclusion that it is hopeless to attempt to extirpate, or even materially to check, this disease unless the above-mentioned stringent measures are strictly enforced; and they also believe that such enforcement would require a costly and numerous staff of inspectors, an amount of supervision by the central authority, which would excite much local opposition, at any rate, in Great Britain, and such an interference with the home trade in animals, as would affect prices, and would induce not only the consumer but the producer to consider the remedy to be worse than the disease.I may be told that last year the farmers gave much stronger evidence in favour of stringent measures than they did in 1873. Let me read to the House Professor Simmonds's explanation of this fact; it is the last quotation with which I shall trouble it. Professor Simmonds was asked if, in spite of the evidence which had been given before the Committee of the House of Lords, he still adhered to the opinion that regulations such as he desired to see enforced would not be submitted to? His reply was—I think there are some individuals to be found who would readily submit to regulations such as have been made mention of; but with regard to agriculturists as a whole, looking at small farmers, looking also at stock dealers, I do not think that they would be submitted to by these classes, and especially by stock dealers, It 161 is well-known with regard to stock dealers, that with many small farmers the stock upon their farms belong not to the farmer absolutely, but to the dealer; and I do not think either of them would submit to any regulations which would interfere with their carrying on their trade.Again, nothing could be stronger than Professor Brown's evidence, both in 1873 and last year, with respect to the impossibility of carrying out those restrictions; and here, may I ask, why Professor Brown was not called by the head of the Department, of which he is the adviser, this year? Well, that which was originally proposed in the Bill has been made less, and I would venture to say that what is left will not be carried into effect. It is folly to talk of stamping out this disease, unless there be complete isolation of all animals which come in contact with those which are affected by it. Can that possibly be done? Is the Government prepared to detain all Irish cargoes in which even one animal is found to be affected? Let us consider for a moment the case of the Islington Market. If a diseased animal be discovered there, will it be possible to detain and isolate all the other animals? Could this regulation be acted upon in the case of Ballinasloe Fair?
The real truth of the matter is this— that the regulations as proposed originally in the Bill were insufficient; that they have been made much less so by the House of Lords; and that what is left of them will not be carried out. Surely, then, I am justified in saying, that although those restrictions were not—I am prepared to admit—intended to be a sham, they yet will be a sham. And am I not then equally entitled to add, that though protection was not the object of this slaughtering provision, it will nevertheless be its result. If the home restrictions be utterly ineffectual to stamp out disease—and I think I have proved that they are—then this restriction on foreign importation will not affect the disease, and the Bill will become a measure of pure protection. Now, is the present, I would ask, a time to pass such a measure of protection? Is meat so plentiful, and prices so low, that this step can be safely taken? Almost all the cooperative societies—composed, as they are, of the élite of the working classes— have petitioned against the Bill, and what answer can the Government make 162 to them? They are well aware that the official Returns show that, from 1870 to 1877, in the case of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain— five countries unscheduled at this moment— no cattle plague has been known to exist. No cases of contagious disease have occurred in Norway. There has been no pleuro-pneumonia in Denmark, Sweden, or Spain; and only three animals with that disease are stated to have arrived from Portugal in 1875. And as regards the foot-and-mouth disease, all those countries are much less affected by it than either England or Ireland. I think I have shown that the present regulation is a sufficient safeguard; and, so far as Denmark is concerned, I have a letter from the gentleman to whom I have already alluded, telling me that throughout this year there has not been in that country a single outbreak of infectious disease. What answer, then, has the Government to make to those Petitions? What right has the Government to interfere with countries which are more free from cattle diseases than our own?
The Secretary to the Treasury has, with great fairness, anticipated the only other remark I would make, and that is that the proposal to which I object was not originally the Government proposal. But my hon. Friend has not answered his own argument, and therefore he must allow me to read it. In the draft Report to which his name is affixed occurs the following passage:—On the other hand, the proposal to continue the freedom of importation from countries now unscheduled was justified by the evidence of many witnesses as well as the official Returns, showing that those countries practically enjoy immunity from disease.Again—That from Sweden and Norway, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, and America, importation should be permitted as now, subject only to inspection at the port of debarkation.My hon. Friend has altogether failed to answer this argument, though he has, he says, since arrived at a different conclusion, chiefly on the ground of the necessity of making the restrictions uniform and consistent. Well, but as the Bill was originally introduced they were uniform, and the United States were included; whereas now the United States are excluded, and very properly so, from the operation of the Bill. We have 163 heard a good deal of the dead meat trade from America; but its increase is as nothing compared with the live meat trade, and it would have been most unreasonable if the United States and Canada had been included under the operation of the Bill. I have no doubt whatever that before the measure leaves this House the Government will gladly consent to omit the five countries now unscheduled; but this concession I ought at once to state will not, and ought not to, satisfy myself or those who agree with me on this question. Our contention is that the Government of the day ought, on its own responsibility, to deal with this matter. It would, in my opinion, be absurd to take away the discretion from the Privy Council, and after excluding from the Bill those countries which are clean now, to pass a law based on the changing circumstances of the hour, and to declare that countries now supposed to be infected should be treated as if they must always remain so. In conclusion, I have merely to say that I regard this as a question of so much importance that I think the opinion of the House ought to be taken upon it, and I therefore beg to move the Resolution which I have already read.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the slaughter at the ports of landing of all fat cattle from the Continent would restrict the supply and increase the cost of food, and should therefore not be made compulsory under all circumstances by Act of Parliament,"—(Mr. William Edward Forster,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ COLONEL KINGSCOTE
complained that the right hon. Gentleman should have tried to make this question—which was one purely for the consumer, although, no doubt, the producer was affected in some degree—a question of protection. He had had a seat in that House for 26 years, and, although nominally a county Member, his constituency included a large mining and colliery district in the Forest of Dean, and a populous manufacturing population in the neighbourhood of Bristol. He never gave but one pledge in his life, and that was for Free Trade; 164 and his first vote in the House was given in favour of that principle, and he would be ashamed to turn from that now without surrendering the trust confided in him. What they wanted was not protection against the foreigner, but protection, against disease. The official inquiry which had taken place had shown the necessity for some such measure as that before the House; and the amount of loss sustained by the country from rinderpest, pleuro-pneumonia, and foot-and-mouth disease, was appalling. Mr. Fleming, late of the Royal Engineers, and an eminent veterinary surgeon, showed in his book, published in 1875, that in one preceding year the money lost to the country had been £13,000,000; and out of this vast sum that due to foot-and-mouth disease bore a larger proportion than was generally supposed. It had been said that high-bred cattle were more susceptible of disease than common-bred cattle; but his own experience and observation led him to take a different view, the conclusion he had arrived at being that it was the poorer sort of stock that suffered most. It was admitted that disease in cattle had caused enormous loss to this country; and we ought to ask ourselves whether the time had not come when we should really try to get rid of it? With regard to foot-and-mouth disease, he felt sorry that the severer home restrictions of the Lords' Bill had not been continued in the present measure, believing, as he did, that they were necessary, and that the farmers were prepared to submit to almost any restrictions, however severe they might be, if they were protected from disease coming from abroad. He had no doubt that if proper restrictions were put on the movement of cattle with regard to markets they would soon stamp out foot-and-mouth disease, as they had stamped out rinderpest; and, therefore, he should like not only to see the provisions of this Bill carried out, but if it went even further in the way of restriction than it did. With respect to Irish cattle, there could be no question that a great deal of foot-and-mouth disease came from that country, and he should like to see more stringent regulations laid down as to the inspection of stock both at the port of embarkation and at the port of debarkation, as well as with regard to the disinfection of ships by which cattle were 165 carried. Any additional expense which the more stringent regulations might entail on the producers would be more than made up by the enhanced prices which increased confidence in the soundness of the stock would induce purchasers to pay for it. He should be glad also to see more attention given to the development of the dead meat trade; and he believed that it would yet come to develop itself in a far greater degree than people generally supposed. Dead meat was sent from Aberdeen and America, and why should it not be sent from Spain, Portugal, and other places? There was room for development in this direction. It might be asked, why had the dead meat trade not developed itself? There were several reasons for that. Salesmen, middlemen, and corporations all had an interest in the matter, and helped to prevent its development. He should sooner see every thing slaughtered at the port of embarkation than at the port of debarkation. The experiments which had already been made in that direction showed what could be done; and if it had fair play it would soon become largely extended, and be attended with great advantages. He regretted that America and Canada were struck out of the Bill, as he feared that in America, in the absence of any veterinary inspection and restrictions, disease in cattle, especially pleuro-pneumonia, was making great and rapid strides, and that we should sooner or later have it brought over here. As for quarantine, it was a necessary evil, if a temporary one, and would have to be endured till the farmers grew cattle enough to supply our wants; at any rate, he hoped it would be effective. It had been said that countries with so little disease as Denmark, Spain, and Portugal ought not to be scheduled in the Bill. He did not, however, share that opinion, bearing in mind that "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." Disease came from all directions, and the consumer, not the producer, was to be thought of first. The chief thing was to keep out disease, or it would overrun the whole country. He was convinced that the farmers would submit to any restrictions if they felt confident that disease would be kept out of this country. He had great respect for Professor Simonds, who held a contrary opinion, and whose opinions had been quoted on that point by the right hon. Gentleman the Member 166 for Bradford; but he must say that he looked on the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) and also on himself as being better authorities as to the feeling of the farmers than Professor Simonds could be. For himself, as President of the Royal Agricultural Society, he had had opportunities of meeting farmers from all parts of the Kingdom; and he was certain he was not saying too much when he stated that they would put up with restrictions if they could only have confidence that disease would be prevented from entering this country from abroad by requiring foreign cattle to be slaughtered at the port of landing. He was satisfied that that measure, instead of enhancing the price of meat, would tend to lower it, because the farmers and producers of this country would breed more cattle when they had every security that disease would not be introduced from other countries. In conclusion, he had great pleasure in supporting the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. KAVANAGH
said, the subject was one of very great importance, not only to the constituency which he had the honour to represent, but to the whole of Ireland; moreover, it was a question in which he had for many years past taken a great interest. As a whole, he liked the Bill; but there were points in it which he disliked of too serious a nature to allow him to give the measure an unqualified support. He liked it because it adopted the principle of dealing with England and Ireland in the same way, and because it dealt with the cattle plague in a very efficient and vigorous manner. He liked it also because it practically placed pleuro-pneumonia in the same category with cattle plague; and, therefore, afforded a hope that by vigorous treatment the pestilent disease might be got rid of. Although he approved of the three main principles of the Bill, he could not go so far as to say that he approved of all means of carrying them out. The first point he should touch upon was that brought before the notice of the House by the Resolution of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). That Resolution at once exposed a very grave error in the Bill, and that was the attempt to make what he might call too stringent a law, and by doing so to relieve the Privy Council of the responsibility which it ought to bear and 167 to deprive them of the discretionary power which they ought to possess. He thought that no one would deny that where cattle plague existed immediate slaughter should be enforced by law, and that in the case of countries where disease existed importation should be stopped. He did not think that there were two opinions in the country on the subject; but he did think that it was a very great question, indeed, whether such a course would be correct where no cattle plague existed. He quite agreed with the words contained in the Resolution of the right hon. Member for Bradford, that the slaughter at the ports of landing of all fat cattle from the Continent would restrict the supply and increase the cost of food, and should, therefore, not be made compulsory under all circumstances by Act of Parliament. It was necessary that full discretion should be left in the hands of the Privy Council on that point. On the one hand, circumstances might arise under which it would be necessary that all cattle should be slaughtered and importation stopped; but, on the other hand, to make it a permanent and universal rule would be unwarrantable. They had to face a steadily increasing consumption of animal food in the great centres of trade; and having regard to that, and the fact that there was a yearly increase in the price of meat, it was of the greatest importance that they should not attempt to restrict supply except in cases of the very sternest necessity. He was afraid that the Bill, as at present drawn, would do that. Under the Bill fat cattle only could be imported and slaughtered; but store cattle might be sent alive broadcast throughout the country after 14 days' quarantine. That he considered a very grave fault. No one of much experience in the cattle trade would deny that the importation of live stock was the most fruitful and dangerous source of infection that the country could well have, yet 14 days' quarantine was to be the only safeguard. No one could state how long the germ of the cattle plague might be dormant before the disease actually appeared. He would commend to the consideration of the Government the suggestion made by Mr. James Caird, in his letter to The Times of the 22ndinstant. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had worded his Resolution in a very 168 wise and very moderate manner; and he hoped the Government would see their way, if not to adopt the Resolution, at least to alter the Bill and carry out its principles. If that was not done, he was very much afraid that if the Bill became law, it would produce more harm than good. Of the provisions contained in Clause 21 for dealing with pleuro-pneumonia he heartily approved, as he believed it was quite possible by vigorous action to stamp out the disease, and that the stock owners of Ireland were prepared cheerfully to acquiesce in any regulations, however severe, which would bring about that desirable object, although they were very much opposed to vexatious and useless measures which would not attain the end desired. He had very great objection, indeed, to the clauses referring to foot-and-mouth disease, not because he underrated the mischief which that disease did. He would be glad to be convinced that it was possible to deal with foot-and-mouth disease, and stamp it out; and it was because he did not believe that, that he objected to the clauses as being vexatious and useless. Foot-and-mouth disease was most insidiously infectious. Infection had been carried by streams of water, birds of the air, foxes and hounds, rabbits and hares—in fact, any animal passing over an infected district might carry infection with it. It broke out on farms where there was no apparent cause for infection. With these facts before them, legislation was exceedingly futile. He hoped it would be admitted that Irish farmers were not unreasonable in asking that the Bill should be modified, and their opinion should have some weight with the House, as cattle formed the staple of their wealth. In Ireland the number of cattle was 3,996,027, valued at £51,948,251; in England, without Wales, the number was 3,979,650, valued at £51,735,540, showing considerably in favour of Ireland. He would give another statement, including Wales, and would contrast the rental of England and Wales with that of Ireland, which would give the House a better idea of the value of cattle in Ireland. The value of cattle in England and Wales was £59,746,000, and the rental of England and Wales was £109,335,000. In Ireland the value of cattle was £51,948,251, and the rental £17,800,000. This showed 169 that Ireland would suffer much more severely than England from any loss by disease among cattle; and he hoped, when they came to deal with the Bill, they would take this fact into account. The last point to which he would refer was Part IV. of the Bill, which dealt especially with Ireland. He had already stated that he regarded the fact that the same legislation was dealt out to the two countries as one of the most valuable features in the Bill. He thought it was clear that the people of Ireland could not, with any reason or justice, ask the English people to do away with the inspection of their cattle at the ports of landing—which was the most detrimental restriction that could be imposed upon the cattle trade—if they were not prepared to adopt the same safeguards against the spread of Disease that were adopted in England; and, therefore, he must ask the House most clearly to understand that in advocating that there should be no further legislation with regard to foot-and-mouth disease, he was not asking for a special exemption with regard to Ireland. What he urged he urged for, and, as he believed, in the interests of both countries; and it was with the object of having perfect similarity of both law and action that he considered that part of the Bill was faulty, as he did not think that, as the veterinary department was now constituted in Ireland, it would be possible for them to have such an efficient system of inspection as would ensure that every case of pleuro-pneumonia would be immediately detected. There were very few veterinary surgeons in Ireland, and it was not everyone who could tell the disease; and cases might arise and pass unnoticed which might spread infection far and wide, and render restriction in other places practically useless. He would, therefore, have much preferred that the responsibility of working the Bill should be given to the Privy Council here, because they had a large number of properly qualified veterinary surgeons at their command, of whose services they could avail themselves in cases where local professional men could not be obtained. No doubt this would materially increase the cost of working the Bill; but in a question of such vast importance too much stress ought not to be laid on the extra expense, even though 170 the whole of it should fall on Ireland: and he thought Her Majesty's Government might consider whether it would not be just and fair that some portion of the increased expense should be charged upon the Consolidated Fund. It was for the interest of Ireland as well as of England that this Bill should become law, and that its provisions should be uniformly carried into effect throughout I the Kingdom. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would not shut their ears to all the suggestions which hon. Members might make with a view to the improvement of the measure.
§ DR. LUSH
thought the Government must admit that there was much to be said in favour of the Amendment, and that those who supported it were quite justified in doing so, even if they were also disposed to vote for the second reading of the Bill. He was of opinion that the direct effect of several clauses in the Bill would be an advance in the price of meat. If reliance was placed upon the dead meat market in this country, that must be the consequence. The hon. and gallant Member for Gloucestershire (Colonel Kingscote) said the remedy was to be found in the increased supply of dead meat; but they were not certain that the supply would be kept up. In his opinion, there was an inseparable connection between the prevalence of these diseases and neglect. The whole district which he came from was supplied from Bristol; and it was the universal opinion in that neighbourhood that the spread of foot-and-mouth disease arose from the neglect, the filth, and the distress of the animals in their passage from the port of embarkation to Bristol. Steps ought to have been taken by the Privy Council, which possessed elastic powers, to put a stop to such a state of things before so stringent a measure as that now under consideration was introduced. He did not, however, object to many of the clauses in the Bill.
§ MR. WILBRAHAM EGERTON
said, that there was no other disease which deterred breeders of stock so much as foot-and-mouth disease. At the time of the last two great outbreaks, in 1872 and 1875, there were in Cheshire 63,604 animals attacked in the former year, and 61,568 in the latter. As that meant a loss of from £3 to £5 a-head of the animals attacked, it also meant a loss of some £300,000, not only to the county 171 of Cheshire, but to the country at large, because the animals were affected not only in their milking, but in their breeding properties. If it could be proved that the legislation proposed would have the effect of materially diminishing foot-and-mouth disease in this country, that alone would amply compensate us for the loss of any additional animals we might get from abroad for the supply of meat. The first great increase in the price of meat dated from the first great outbreak of cattle plague in 1865, when meat rose from 3s. 6d. to 4s. 6d. per stone. He did not see why the slaughter of animals at the ports should raise the price of meat. According to The Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, only 96,000 animals last year came alive into this country from the Continent, which were not slaughtered at the ports; and while the average price of beef in 1876 was 6⅝d. per lb., in 1877, instead of increasing, as it ought to do according to the theory of the hon. Gentleman in consequence of the shutting out of animals from abroad, it fell to 6¼d. The same thing was true of mutton. In 1876 the average price of mutton was 7½d. per lb.; in 1877 it was 7d. Therefore, it was quite clear, from our own experience, that the slaughter of animals at the ports of entry would not raise the price of meat. The importation of dead meat in 1876 was 788,973 cwt.; but during last year it was 1,279,649 cwt., and we had every reason to believe that the supply of dead meat from America was practically inexhaustible. There were 29,000,000 cattle in the United States; and, considering the price of meat in New York, the Americans would take good care to supply us as long as our markets were at their present prices. The price of meat depended much more on freedom from disease at home than on free importation from abroad. According to Mr. Gamgee, from 1714 to 1770, when we had an entirely open trade, we had disease introduced from abroad, and scarcity followed. From 1770 to 1840, when the import was stopped, we had an increase of food; and from 1840 to the present time we had nothing but one continued succession of cattle diseases and the devastation of our pastures. Mr. Caird argued that as not more than 1½per cent of our cattle died from disease, it was not worth while to exclude an unlimited 172 supply of cattle from abroad. That was an unfair way of putting it. It was not a question of the number of animals that died, but of the number, especially from foot-and-mouth disease, whose breeding powers were diminished, and thus the number of animals bred in the country were diminished. Another point urged by Mr. Caird was, that we had better leave things as they were in the hands of the Privy Council. But we could not go on leaving things as they were. Last year cattle plague broke out, and we had the most stringent orders issued by the Privy Council, and carried out in every case that was necessary by the local authorities, who suspended the sale and traffic of cattle throughout the country. The result was an extraordinary immunity from disease for the time. But the Privy Council would not be justified in keeping up that state of things unless in case of plague, nor would the farmers be satisfied with such stringent regulations unless absolutely required for the prevention of disease. He had endeavoured to show that it was necessary to keep out disease, more especially foot-and-mouth disease, by stringent regulations at home; but agriculturists would not be satisfied unless equally stringent regulations were adopted to prevent its introduction from abroad. That was what they wanted. It was not true that we had no disease from Prance, Spain, and Portugal; in 1875 foot-and-mouth disease had constantly appeared among the animals from those countries, and they could not be certain that at some time or other the disease would not be imported from them. There was very little disease in the country at present; and it was easy enough to stamp out disease when it made its appearance at first, or on a very small scale; but when it reached any height it was most difficult, if not impossible, to stamp it out. He had always insisted, whenever the disease appeared, that the farm should be isolated and the disease stamped out. It was when the disease reached fairs and markets that it became most serious by interfering with internal traffic. He thanked the Government for having brought forward this Bill, which would be received by agriculturists with satisfaction and gratitude.
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
said, that a penny added to the price of a pound of 173 meat in the borough he represented practically meant no less than from £150,000 to £175,000 a year as against the consumer. He quite agreed with the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury, who introduced the measure, when he said that it was nearly entirely a consumers' question. He knew that there must be two varying interests pulling exactly in opposite directions, and it was most desirable, in the balancing of these interests, to see which was really the preponderating power. He was aware that for years past butchers' meat had been gradually rising in the market, from one cause or other, until now it was nearly 50 per cent higher than it was eight or 10 years ago. It therefore became a most serious question in the feeding of a borough containing 300,000 people. It was not a question which affected Members of the House, who could pay anything that the butcher chose to ask; but it was a most vital question to the vast wage-receiving populations in the large towns of this country, which were often too apt to be overlooked in inquiries such as that. Speaking in the fulness of his heart, he said it was of infinite importance to keep the meat supply of this country as cheap and as good as possible, so as to be easily obtainable by the wage-receiving classes. It was said that meat could be preserved in some bisulphate from the port of debarkation; but up to this time the wage-receiving classes had not been very much in the habit of being compelled to eat meat which had been cured in that way. There would be prejudices, if they chose to call it by that name, against it. It was also said that meat could be carried fresh even from the Colonial towns. He believed that in winter such a thing might be possible; but in times like these, when meat for a town like Leeds, almost equi-distant from sea to sea, came a journey of 50 to 70 miles, and had laid on the butchers' stalls, it must be very much deteriorated. It was very well known that in the dead meat trade, in consequence of inspection by the officers having supervision of the market places, the whole stock might often be in peril of condemnation, and certainly, if really bad, the meat could not be too speedily destroyed. What was there, absolutely just now, requiring any change in the state of 174 those laws in existence, and which for a length of time had been continued? The regulations in force were amply sufficient for the purpose, and an enactment—a provision in a Bill such as this —was a mere idealism, and a piece of sentiment which would not advance this most important question one inch. The Privy Council had it in their power to stop the entrance of cattle from any country where they thought it necessary to do so, and there was nothing in the existence of present circumstances to demand more stringent regulations in reference to importation. Then, why not leave the matter in the hands of the Privy Council, or place a discretionary power somewhere, and not establish a hard-and-fast-line, making fish of one and fowl of another, giving power to bring in cattle for some purposes almost without quarantine, admitting others with quarantine, and for other purposes prohibiting live cattle altogether? If cattle were admitted at all, surely it was right to admit them from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, or any of those countries which were not subject to cattle plague or foot-and-mouth disease. Especially take the case of Denmark, where it was well known there was a veterinary inspection of every head of cattle exported, and another inspection was made upon the landing of the cargo here. Surely, with precautions such as these, there should be no fear; and if fear did exist, it was because the Privy Council had not thought fit to carry out the regulations and the laws, the exercise of which would have been sufficient to stamp out disease the moment it made its appearance. The idea of subjecting absolutely to slaughter all cattle brought into the Realm was, he would venture to say from evidence given before the Committee, utterly unnecessary, and very unwise. Was it the intention to stop all the foreign cattle trade, or not? If such was the intention, it should be stated. He had no wish to go through all the statistics quoted on the one side or the other; nor could he treat it as a farmer's question on one side, or a meat salesman's question on the other. What the House should look at was what was best for the large mass of our population, especially our wage-earning classes. That it could be reasonable, just, or sensible, dealing with the large constituencies in 175 the North of England, to run the risk of having the meat supply condemned on its arrival at the market he denied absolutely. If all foreign cattle were killed at the port of debarkation, the result would be an immediate rise in price, and a risk, greater or less according to circumstances, of the meat being tainted before it reached the table. He had passed a considerable time among the wage-earning classes of the country, and for years he had had as much experience of the wants and circumstances of agricultural life as most people, and he was able to say it was not the sparsely and thinly-populated country, with here and there a village, and now and again a town, which would be half as much affected by this measure as the large commercial and manufacturing populations. According as the prices rose and fell this question was serious —vitally serious—to our large industrial populations in. manufacturing towns, where even the rise of a halfpenny in price might mean prohibition as to some part of the food obtainable for the support of growing lads, females, and children. He felt this strongly; and sorry as he was to oppose anything brought forward by Government, yet, in the interest confided to his charge, he did not hesitate in saying that the slaughter clauses of the Bill must have his strongest opposition.
§ MR. ARTHUR PEEL,
as a Member of the Committee of last year who attended all its sittings, desired to say there were many parts of the Bill which, in common with other Members of that House, he would be glad to see passed, and he would be sorry if any opposition on his part were considered to apply to the whole of the Bill. But the whole sting of the Bill lay in the 5th Schedule, which had reference to the slaughter of cattle at the port of embarkation. It had been said, as an excuse for bringing forward the Bill, that the Privy Council had been unable to meet the exigencies of the time, and he had endeavoured to ascertain how it was that the Act of 1869 had been found insufficient. Professor Brown said he conceived it was entirely impossible that the Act should have had any effect in checking pleuro-pneumonia, because he had not heard of an instance in which its provisions had been carried out with reference to dairies in great 176 towns, and the exposure of animals in fairs and markets. So far from having exceeded the legislative provisions of the Act of 1869, there were plenty of legislative materials we could take advantage of, and which could be usefully employed in stamping out disease. It was admitted that the discretion of the Privy Council had been, on the whole, fairly exercised in reference to rinderpest, and that they had proved themselves capable of dealing with a great emergency as it arose. This was a question between home produce and foreign produce; and he should like to state the material facts of the case. In England there were, roughly speaking, about 4,000,000 head of cattle; and eliminating all that would not be fit to be brought to the butcher within a year, he calculated that only 1,000,000 of these would be consumable meat within the year. The number of foreign stock imported in 1876 was about 270,000 head; and after making the proper deductions of cows for milch purposes, he estimated that the foreign cattle import of 1876 bore to the whole cattle yield of England alone for that year the relation of 25¼ per cent. The actual figures were—English cattle, 4,076,000—one-fourth of which was 1,019,000; the foreign import was 269,798; and, with the proper deductions for store stock, the proportion was 25¼ per cent. The Secretary to the Treasury spoke with great positiveness as to the fact that all three diseases —rinderpest, pleuro-pneumonia, and foot-and-mouth disease—were imported diseases. This was not borne out by the evidence of Professor Brown and Professor Simonds; and it was a well-known fact that foot-and-mouth disease existed in this Kingdom in 1839, and pleuro-pneumonia in 1840, while both diseases had, according to Professor Brown, attained to a very considerable degree of prevalence in this country before 1842. They were, therefore, located in this country at a time when the importation of foreign cattle was entirely prohibited, and they ought to be cautious in asserting that all the supplies of these diseases were introduced from foreign parts alone. Before the Committee last year, and again now, great stress was laid upon the dead meat trade. They would all rejoice to see the extension of that trade; but it could not be said that it was an 177 established trade. Yet they were told, when, they were going to sweep away the importation of live stock, they should rely on the importation of dead meat. For instance, they were going to cut off a healthy country like Sweden without the possibility of being able to retrieve their position except by another Act of Parliament. There had been great insistence as to the necessity of uniformity of regulations; but was there uniformity of treatment in this Bill in the case even of the several parts of the United Kingdom? Was there uniformity in the case of Ireland? What precautions did they take with regard to the importation of disease from Ireland? It appeared that in 1876 the enormous number of 600,000 cattle and calves was imported into England and Wales from Ireland, and, including sheep, lambs, and swine, the astonishing total of 1,860,000 was imported into this country from Ireland in 1876. What was the state in which cattle sometimes arrived in this country? What provision was made that the Irish cattle should arrive in a healthy condition? He had no intention of treating Ireland as a foreign country; but he did say this—that it did seem to be a strange thing that they were so anxious to exclude cattle from healthy places like Sweden and Norway, and have no scruple in admitting, with reckless disregard of ordinary precautions, cattle from Ireland, many of them in a deplorable condition. The evidence in the hands of hon. Members showed that diseased beasts were landed from Ireland on the west coast of England, and found their way to the east, perhaps affecting all the interlying districts through which they were taken. Much had been made of the fact that in consequence of the diseases now under consideration there had been a great diminution of stock in this country; and that was a statement which required very careful sifting, because if the diminution of stock could be traced to those diseases, there were very strong reasons why we should take precautions to exclude them. Mr. Caird, however, did not take that view, but rather regarded the falling off as being due to bad seasons, which threw the strain of expenditure upon the cattle, which the farmer, to meet it, was forced to send to market. But what were the precautions taken in this Bill with regard to Ireland? And 178 what about uniformity of treatment? This Bill did not afford uniform treatment, and would operate unfairly. What was the necessity for this Bill? Was there any true necessity for it at all? At all events, it would operate unfairly; and, if he might not say that free trade was concerned, he should at least say that freedom of trade was being interfered with. If it were true that there was a diminution of stock in this country owing to these diseases, it might be reasonable to suppose that in those counties most affected by it the greatest diminution of stock would occur. That, however, was not the case; as in three of our counties where disease was reported most violent the stock had increased 3 per cent, and in a fourth county 4½ per cent. In considering this subject, it should also be remembered that there had been many years in which, in countries from which we received supplies of cattle, no cattle disease existed, save such as could be eradicated with comparatively little trouble. He objected to this particular Schedule of the Bill, because he considered it to be unnecessary; because it would interfere with the freedom of commercial intercourse; and because, if it were to pass, the House would have to look back upon a piece of legislation, the main effect of which he believed would be to diminish the supply, and possibly to raise the price of meat 1½d. per 1b.
observed, that as the constituency which he had the honour to represent took a great interest in the question involved in the Bill before the House, he could not reconcile it to himself to give a silent vote on the subject. The question really involved in this Bill was whether they gained more from the import of live stock, or lost more from the import of foreign disease? There was a great quantity of evidence in reference to it which was not to be found in Blue Books and was, therefore, not available to many hon. Gentlemen. There were no public statistics available to show what losses the country sustained year by year, month by month, week by week, not merely from deaths, but also from deterioration of stock owing to diseases, which it was perfectly possible to stamp out. Take, for example, what was considered the most mild of all the cattle diseases, because it did not cause death—namely, the foot- 179 and-mouth disease. He was aware that the Irish witnesses had said that the foot-and-mouth disease did not signify; but, as they all knew, there was a great deal of poetry in the Irish nature, and it was, therefore, necessary to examine the facts upon which they found their conclusions. Those hon. Members, who had taken the trouble to examine the Irish evidence offered before a Committee in "another place," would remember that when one witness, who had made light of foot-and-mouth disease, was asked if fat cattle, suffering from the disease, underwent any loss in value, he admitted that they might be depreciated to the amount of £2 a piece. Well, that was really very much below the mark; but, taking the statement as it was, that meant a loss to a man who owned 200 head of cattle of £400, and it meant a loss of £400 worth of food to the people. The witness was next asked whether cows in milk suffered any depreciation in value when they were afflicted with foot-and-mouth disease? The answer was—"They certainly lost their milk." Here, again, was a loss to the proprietor, and a loss of the food of the people. The third question was—Did breeding stock suffer from foot-and-mouth disease? The answer was—"Yes." The breeding powers of animals so affected were impaired; and yet the conclusion drawn was that foot-and-mouth disease in Ireland did not signify. This was a way of arguing which no hon. Member had a right to make use of, unless he had first proved his nationality. If the House would allow him, he would mention what happened to himself. Last year he had a flock of 350 breeding ewes, and amongst them he placed six rams. These, unfortunately, were affected with the foot-and-mouth disease, and consequently he was disappointed of two-thirds of his expected crop of lambs. Now, those were the sort of instances which never appeared in any public Reports, and which very greatly diminished the food of the people. He calculated his own personal loss at £200, and the loss to the public in the matter of loss of food was not less than £600. He had purposely taken an instance of foot-and-mouth disease, as the disease which was considered the most innocuous. Of course, the losses, unknown to the public, sustained by growers and consumers in consequence of more fatal cattle diseases, 180 were very far greater. He was there to maintain that the country lost very far more from imported disease than it gained from imported live stock. The farmers were quite willing to submit to the most stringent regulations at home, on condition of obtaining protection from foreign disease; and it was perfectly clear that, unless protection from foreign disease was given, it would be most unjust to impose stringent regulations at home. The object of the farmers was not to obtain higher prices, but to obtain immunity from disease. It had been said that the proposed Bill would increase the price of the food of the people. It had been said that it would deprive the people of that portion which was called the fifth quarter. It was quite true that great disturbance of price always accompanied any great commercial changes; but it was equally true that the markets very quickly found their own levels again. Where the demand was large, the supply always rose to meet the demand; and where the demand increased, prices adjusted themselves to the demand. Therefore, if there was a demand for dead meat, depend upon it there would be a supply of dead meat; and, if there was a large demand for dead meat, depend upon it dead meat would become cheaper. Now, as to the fifth quarter, he must ask if the interests of those small portions of urban communities, which fed upon offal, were to be placed in the scale for one moment in opposition to the interests of the nation at large? He wished the Government had gone much further; he wished they had instituted a dead meat market from abroad, pure and simple. Where there was quarantine there must always be a fear of infection. They could not slaughter the persons who attended upon the quarantined cattle; and, therefore, infection was always liable to be spread from quarantine ports. He was, however, content to accept the present Bill as an instalment of what he thought would prove a most useful piece of legislation, and should therefore vote for the second reading of the Bill.
said, he should vote for the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). He looked upon the measure as a most wasteful one, in that it would lose to the poor people what had been called the fifth quarter of the 181 ox—he alluded to the offal—and that it would also pro veto be a measure to protect the agricultural interests of the country as against the consumers. At the present moment the country was free from disease, and he, therefore, considered this as a very inauspicious moment to bring the question before Parliament. At the cattle market last week, in the town which he represented, there were 800 head of foreign cattle, and he did not believe that they had been the means of causing any disease whatever. This Salford market was held weekly, and on the average there were in it every market day 3,160 fat cattle and 12,200 sheep, which were for sale as food within, an area comprising portions of the counties of Lancaster, York, Chester, and Derby. The value of the land and buildings of this Salford cattle market was more than £47,000; and while it was contemplated to compensate farmers for the compulsory slaughter of their beasts under certain conditions, no compensation seemed provided for the loss to be sustained by a Corporation owning a large market. His own view was that the Privy Council had already sufficient powers to prevent the importation of diseases into the country; and he wished that they would exercise those powers, instead of asking the House to accept a Bill which would deprive them of means which were already at their disposal.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, that the observations of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Harcourt) were founded on two fallacies. The one was that all disease came from foreign countries; and the other that it was possible, by legislation, to stamp out these diseases. There were many good and useful clauses in the Bill; but the proposal with regard to the slaughter of imported cattle was calculated to excite great bitterness of feeling in the country. It was absurd to suppose that disease was more prevalent in foreign countries than in their own. It had been his lot to live a great deal in foreign countries, and he ventured to say that there was more disease in the 9,000,000 of cattle in this country than in the 40,000,000 in France, Germany, and other countries. All these diseases were well-known in this country before foreign cattle were imported. It had been said that the farmers in this country would not breed 182 cattle; but the fact was that many of them were so hard up that they were obliged to sell their cattle to enable them to pay their rents. It was, therefore, next to impossible for them to increase their stock. He maintained that the cattle plague was really the spotted putrid fever. It came, it was said, from Russia, where it was indigenous because of the bad way in which the cattle there were housed, and that it broke out in London, in 1865, as a consequence of the same cause; but there was no attempt to prove the statement that it came from Russia at that time, although it was imported in 1871 and 1877. The fact was, the farmers, instead of being allowed to take care of themselves, were induced to look to the Government to take care of them, and that the Government could not do. As to sheep, it was thought that they got the foot-rot from foreign countries, but it was, in truth, an epidemic. Let them take a few Southdowns and put them down in Leicestershire, they would have foot-rot in six weeks. Pleuro-pneumonia had become indigenous also as a species of consumption among the highly-bred shorthorns, which could stand nothing, which had succeeded the old long-horns, which could stand anything. They could not stop this disease from breaking out so long as the world existed. It was as foolish to suppose that this disease could be suppressed altogether by the means proposed in the Bill as that measles, scarlet fever, and other maladies peculiar to the human race could be put an end to by slaughtering the people who had them. It was equally a delusion to suppose that the price of beef or any other article could be reduced by preventing the importation of it. A very slight knowledge of business would convince them that the contrary was the case. The actual number of cattle kept in this country for other than dairy purposes was 2,500,000, the number imported 227,000, or 10 per cent. Every man knew that if we decreased the supply 10 per cent, the increase in price would be at least 10 or 15 per cent. If the supplies from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Spain, and Portugal were cut off, it would be impossible to foresee the result; and in the present state of society, with trade bad and the people uncomfortable and discontented, it would be very dangerous to bring about any considerable rise in the 183 price of meat. The Bill, it was commonly said, was a step towards protection; and if it was not advocated on false pretences, it was, at all events, brought in in order to give effect to a mere theory. He maintained that disease was generated in the country, and that they could not prevent it by legislation, and that they ought not to attempt to do so by restricting the importation of the food of the people. To do that would bring about a great deal more of discontent than at present existed.
§ MR. RITCHIE,
as a Member for a large working class constituency, wished to say why he intended to vote for the second reading of the Bill. He should do so in the interests of his constituents, as he believed that it was, in the main, desirable that some Bill of the kind should be passed which would have the effect of cheapening the food of the people. He was satisfied that it would not produce the result suggested by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz), or he would not vote for the second reading. The Bill would have from him no more than a modified support; and though he agreed with much that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had said, he hoped that they would not accept a Resolution that would necessarily be fatal to the measure. The right hon. Gentleman, had directed his arguments against one portion of the Bill; but probably every one would acknowledge that that part of the Bill relating to the internal regulations to be observed would be likely to prove beneficial, if only it were separated from the provisions for slaughtering animals at the port of debarkation. On that latter point the restrictions of the Bill might be easily modified in Committee, and, indeed, if it reached the Committee, he should vote for some such Amendment and for the exclusion from the Schedule of some of the countries mentioned. That, however, was not the same as voting against the principles of the Bill, which were that certain regulations for the internal movement of cattle should be made, and that it was necessary to slaughter a certain proportion at the port of debarkation. In his opinion, those principles, if not too much restricted, would lead to the cheapening of meat. They had chiefly to consider the cattle plague and the foot-and-mouth 184 disease. Now, the Bill made no changes with respect to the cattle plague, as the powers of the Privy Council were already as full as they would be under the Bill; while so infectious was the disease that the slaughtering of cattle at the port of debarkation would not make matters safe. There was good reason to hope that the best means of coping with the cattle plague were now known; therefore, the more important problems were those connected with the foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia. The evidence taken before the Committee showed that the supply of food in this country suffered enormously from the prevalence of foot-and-mouth disease. In 1872 nearly one-half of the cattle and one-sixth of the sheep in the country were affected with foot-and-mouth disease. One witness estimated that he had lost in 20 years between £30,000 and £40,000 through that disease. The consequence of that state of things was that many breeders had entirely given up breeding. The number of live stock in the United Kingdom had decreased, since 1874, 5 per cent in cattle and 7 per cent in sheep, or considerably more than all the importation of foreign animals which we had received. If, therefore, the normal increase of our live stock had not been checked by foot-and-mouth disease and we had had no importations from abroad, we should still have been in possession of more live stock than we now had. If foot-and-mouth disease could be stamped out, that would tend to cheapen the food of the people. That Bill dealt not only with importation from abroad, but with the movement of cattle at home. The producers in this country were willing to come under internal restrictions for the purpose of eradicating disease, provided they could be protected from the introduction of disease from abroad. If restrictions of that kind were enforced, they had the evidence of the case of Denmark to show that the foot-and-mouth disease could be eradicated. Moreover, when the heavy restrictions were imposed against the cattle plague in this country the foot-and-mouth disease decreased enormously. It was said that the farmers themselves could put in force regulations of that kind to arrest the spread of foot-and-mouth disease; but the evidence adduced went clearly to prove that that could not be done by the separate action of particular districts or 185 of individual farmers, but must be done with that uniformity which could only be secured by means of an Act of Parliament. Although he did not agree altogether with the provisions of that Bill as to the compulsory slaughter of foreign cattle at the port of debarkation, and thought that certain countries ought to be excepted from the operation of that clause, he still did not believe that the measure was fraught with the evils which some hon. Members apprehended. Even if the clause were enforced in its entirety, he doubted whether it would cause any rise in the price of meat, because the importation of live cattle from America would, he believed, enormously increase, and experience had shown that the trade in dead meat also from America was likely to become greatly developed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford said the effect of the restrictions in 1877 was materially to decrease the importation of foreign animals into London. But it should be remembered that the supply of the home animals also fell off last year considerably. And with reference to sheep in the London market last year, notwithstanding all the restrictions as to slaughter, not only did the supply not decrease, but it positively increased by 3 per cent. There were other causes which tended to decrease the supply from abroad besides the regulations in 1877, otherwise how could one account for the fact that Denmark, against which no restriction existed, imported less cattle and sheep and swine than in the previous year? He thought if the provisions of this Bill were carried out entirely, there was no reason for supposing that the price of meat would be materially affected: at the same time, he thought it would be a hardship to slaughter all foreign cattle at the ports. In his opinion there was no necessity, as far as concerned Spain, Portugal, Norway, and Denmark, for slaughtering at the port of arrival. Germany, Holland, and Belgium would have to be dealt with by stringent measures; but the other countries mentioned in the Bill ought to be excluded from the operation of the measure in the same way as America and Canada. He would propose such a compromise when the Bill got into Committee; but, meanwhile, he would vote for the second reading.
§ MR. HUSSEY VIVIAN
said, if he thought this Bill were a measure of protection under disguise he would, as a free trader who had always voted straight upon that question, oppose the second reading of the Bill. He thought that at the ports of arrival proper places should be provided in which the animals imported might be kept without deterioration. There could be no reason for forcing those animals on a market which was not prepared for their reception. It should be made compulsory upon the local authorities to provide proper yards for the reception of cattle, and by that means any disadvantage from slaughtering at the port of entry might be got rid of. He had great faith in the dead meat trade, and it was remarkable how the importation of dead meat from America had increased within a short time. It began with a shipment of 24,340Ibs. in October, 1875, and in March, 1877, no less than 5,797,817 lbs. were shipped from New York. The delivery from Chicago to Liverpool cost 1d. per lb. The average price of good meat in Chicago was 2½d. per 1b. gross, or 4d. per 1b. net, and, therefore, the meat might be delivered at Liverpool at 5½d. per lb. He could not understand the argument of the hon. Member for Warwick (Mr. A. Peel), that by passing the measure a tax of l½d. per lb. would be laid upon the people of this country. If he thought that any tax would be laid on the working classes by the measure, no power on earth would induce him to vote for the Bill. The American trade would continue to grow, and the country would in future be largely supplied from those markets. He could not, therefore, see how the meat supply of the country would be restricted. It was a monstrous assumption to say that it would. He thought the farmers of this country were right in demanding protection from imported disease; but he should be quite ready, when the Bill came into Committee, to vote for the exemption of certain countries in which it could be shown that no disease existed. He believed that disease was not indigenous to this country, and that if proper measures were taken it might be entirely stamped out. Even supposing the Bill did tend to reduce the importation of meat into this country, it would be very unwise, in his opinion, to endanger the 88 per 187 cent of our home meat supply for a possible reduction, estimated by the right hon. Gentleman, of one-fourth, or the equivalent of 3 per cent of the 12 per cent which came to us from abroad. Indirectly, the Bill would probably be of great advantage in encouraging the breeding of cattle, which was now so much discouraged by the uncertainty attending it. He considered he was speaking largely in the interest of consumers when he said the Government ought to do all they could to protect the stock of this country against the introduction of foreign disease; and if proper arrangements for compulsory slaughter were made at the ports of debarkation they would not, in consequence, impose a farthing more on the cost of meat in England. On the contrary, his firm conviction was that by so acting they would greatly reduce the present charges.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS - BEACH
congratulated the House on the fact that the discussion had not assumed a Party character. While the Bill was supported by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, there were several hon. Members on the Government side of the House who had expressed their intention of supporting the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) only complained of one matter in the debate, and that was that it had turned too much upon a single point in a measure of a large and comprehensive character. The Bill proposed, in the first place, to consolidate the law in England, Scotland, and Ireland, relating to the contagious diseases of animals, which in itself was no light work. This meant a consolidation of eight Irish and two British Acts. By the Bill further powers were conferred upon the Privy Council, which were recommended some time ago by a Committee of the House, and other improvements in the law were proposed, which had received the general support of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster), who had been so long acquainted with its administration. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) did not think those could be considered matters of slight importance in forming a judgment whether the Bill was or was not entitled to a second reading. But all the discussion that evening had practically 188 turned upon one provision of the Bill— namely, the proposal to enact by statute that there should be compulsory slaughter of all animals imported from Europe at the port of debarkation. Nothing could be further from the truth than to describe this as a proposal to revive protection. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster) was kind enough to admit that he believed the object of the Bill was not the renewal of protection; but he added that, in his opinion, that would be its result, and he went on to express his sympathy with the agricultural interest of the country, which had lately been in so depressed a condition. But he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) might venture to tell him—as he thought he could claim some acquaintance with that interest—that whatever the agriculturists of England might do, they were not likely to come to that House asking for protection to their industry, as against the competition of foreign countries. All that they asked from the House was this—that consenting, as they did, for the sake of stamping out these terrible diseases, to severe restrictions, they should also receive at the hands of that House protection against the importation of diseases from abroad. He was very sorry the word "Protection" should have been introduced into the debate by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. His object, to use his own words, in employing that remark might not have been to set town against country; but he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) could not help feeling that when that debate was read some opinion might arise that the interests of town and country in respect of the Bill were not identical, and they might be unable to discuss the measure in future in the calm and dispassionate manner in which they had that evening. It was no question whatever of Free Trade or Protection, because no one would venture to say that free importation of cattle from abroad was a possibility. They must subject cattle imported from foreign countries to certain restrictions when those foreign countries were subject to disease. It was admitted on all sides that the importation of cattle from countries where the cattle plague existed must be strictly prohibited. The difference in respect to the present Bill was not one of principle 189 but one of detail. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) admitted the necessity of the prohibition with respect to the cattle plague, and he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) was not quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not admit the necessity of some stringent measure with respect to cattle coming from countries where pleuro-pneumonia existed. The right hon. Gentleman shook his head; he drew the line at the cattle plague, and declined to consent to any further safeguards against the importation into this country of pleuro-pneumonia or foot-and-mouth disease. The proposal contained in the Bill was not merely the proposal of the Government. They had felt in this matter that the interests of the producer and consumer were identical; and that, looking to the large proportion of the meat supply of this country which was produced at home, the best way to secure the increase of, and consequently cheaper supply of, meat was to encourage its production at home by every means in their power, and especially by stamping out and keeping out disease. But the proposals which the Government had laid before Parliament in order to carry out these views were based upon the recommendations of a Select Committee of the House. That Committee was appointed last year upon a Motion partly framed, he believed, by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster), couched in these terms—To inquire into the effect which the importation of live foreign animals has upon the introduction of disease into this country and upon the supply and price of food.That Committee conducted a thorough and searching inquiry into the questions submitted to it. It was a very numerous and thoroughly representative Committee, composed of Members from all parts of the United Kingdom, town and country interests being alike represented. The point in the Bill which they were now discussing was based upon the Report of that Committee, so far as the Government felt able to give effect to it. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) objected to that Report, and referred to the Committee of 1873—a Committee over which he presided, and which adopted a Report prepared by himself. He saw no reason why the 190 right hon. Gentleman should claim priority for the Report of that Committee. The Committee appointed in 1877 had before them evidence of the injury done by these diseases, gathered from facts which could not have been known to the Committee which sat in 1873. The Committee of 1877, having this evidence before them, felt that these diseases were of a grave and serious character. They attached what he believed to be proper weight to the importance of putting an end to them, if possible, and their recommendations were framed with that view. Now, what was their Report? They reported that it was abundantly proved in evidence that the ravages of cattle plague since the Act of 1869, and the diminution of breeding herds of the Kingdom from the fear of breaking out of the cattle plague, were as nothing compared with the losses inflicted and the enterprize checked by pleuro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease. His hon. Friend the Member for Warwick (Mr. Arthur Peel) asked what was the reason for the measure? and he replied by the words which he had read from the Report of the Committee, to which the hon. Member did not venture to propose a direct negative. All that the hon. Member did was to suggest alternative words to the effect that "serious losses were inflicted and much enter-prize checked" by the diseases to which he had alluded. But that Motion was negatived by the Committee by a majority of 16 to 5. The Committee went on in the following paragraph to say that witnesses of the greatest practical experience agreed that if immunity from these scourges could be assured beforehand, the increase of breeding herds would in a short time be large enough to make up any diminution of supply occasioned by new restrictions on imports from foreign countries. Well, he ventured to give these recommendations as reasons for the provision in the Bill. In another paragraph—paragraph 33—the Committee, having reported their recommendation of a statutory arrangement for compulsory slaughter at the port of debarkation and of stringent restrictions on the movement of stock in infested districts, added their conclusion that compulsory slaughter at the port of debarkation was not likely either to discourage 191 foreign importation, to diminish the supply of large towns, or generally to raise the price of meat. The change, however, would be a considerable interference with the present system of trade carried on by butchers and salesmen. He believed his hon. Friend near him put the case very fairly to the House when he stated that the real opposition to the measure came from those whose personal trade interests would be interfered with. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster) quoted from the evidence of witnesses who were interested in the trade, and made some complaint that a certain number of the Members of the Committee did not seem inclined to attach great importance to that evidence. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) thought it right and fair that importance should be attached to trade evidence, whether it came from butchers or farmers; but he did not think it right that such matters should be decided merely according to the views of those whose trade interests were affected. If measures were to be decided solely on such evidence as that, he ventured to say the Factory Acts, which were now so popular, would never have been passed. Now let him refer to the two proposals which had been mainly discussed. In the first place, he would deal with the restrictions recommended to be applied to this country. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) found great fault with the principles of the Bill on that head. He said they were insufficient for the purpose intended. Well, that was merely his own opinion. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) preferred the Report of a numerous and representative Committee; and if the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) was not satisfied with the restrictions in the Bill as it now stood, it would be open to him to propose increased stringency in Committee, if he could prove that such an increase was necessary in order to stamp out these diseases. But, as a matter of fact, as had been already stated that evening, it had been proved that by restrictions of the nature proposed those diseases could practically be stamped out. In the years 1865 and 1866, when the restrictions for dealing with the cattle plague were in force, there could be no doubt of the beneficial effect which they had in stamping out 192 minor diseases; and in 1877 the enforcement of restrictions for getting rid of the cattle plague unquestionably aided in diminishing pleuro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease. But what were the objections to the compulsory slaughter of animals at a port of debarkation as proposed in the measure? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) said the slaughter at ports of landing of all fat cattle would restrict the supply and increase the cost of food. With regard to the increased cost of food, he thought they should remember precisely what was proposed. It was not proposed to slaughter, or attempt to provide for the slaughter of, any animals exported from foreign countries at the port of exportation. It was not proposed to attempt to compulsorily substitute a dead meat trade for the live meat trade. All that was proposed was, when animals were landed in certain defined ports in the country, they should not be moved alive from those places. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) spoke a good deal about the effect of enforced sales under such stringent rules; but nothing was said in the Bill as to any time within which an imported animal should be killed. An animal, when landed, could be kept a day, two days, or more, before being killed, just as it would best suit the market to which it had been sent. He might mention some facts to the House which would show, at any rate, that the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, that the cost of meat would be increased even temporarily by this measure, were really fallacious. He did not think that even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford argued that there would be any permanent increase. But if the compulsory slaughter of cattle prevented the importation of disease from abroad, and proper restrictions stamped it out at home, surely there would be an increase in the breeding from the home stock, which, in a few years, and possibly very much sooner, would far outweigh any loss from importations from foreign countries. But to take the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, that for a time there might be a loss on the importation, and consequently increased prices, what had actually happened in this respect? He found that during the year 193 1877 the importation of cattle was absolutely prohibited from Belgium and Germany, except Schleswig-Holstein. The result was that the foreign imports were 43,000 less than during the previous year. Yet what was the result? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) had said that a very large proportion of this foreign importation went to the London market. He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman paid quite sufficient regard to the increasing amount of dead meat which also supplied the London market; but, at any rate, the effect of a change of that kind, if felt anywhere, would be felt in London. But what was the result? While the price of beef was 5s. 1d. per stone in the Metropolitan Meat Market in the previous year, it was 5s. 2d. when importations from the countries he had mentioned were prohibited, and that was all the increase in the price of food from the loss of 43,000 cattle. But it was by no means certain that by the enforcement of compulsory slaughter at the ports of landing the supply of animals would be restricted. He could quote from the Report of the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council for the year 1877 some curious facts bearing on that point. He found that sheep from Germany were made subject to compulsory slaughter at the port of debarkation in January, 1877. He found that the number of sheep imported, under that restriction, from Germany, during the year 1877, was 477,566; while, in the previous year, without such restriction, the number was 315,619. These figures, at any rate, did not point to a decrease of the supply of animals from abroad through compulsory slaughter. Then, a great deal had been said about the Petition from Southampton. It was urged that for several years there was a large importation of cattle from the South of France; but, on the issue of the Order from the Privy Council for compulsory slaughter at the port of landing, the supply altogether ceased. What were the actual facts? He had a Return for 10 years, beginning with the year 1868, of the number, not only of cattle, but of sheep, annually imported into all the ports of the United Kingdom from France, and the extraordinary variations in number could not possibly be accounted for by any alterations in the Rules of the Privy Council as to 194 compulsory slaughter. He would take the years 1868–9. At that time the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) was Vice President of the Council, and the importations of cattle from France in 1868 numbered 5,747; while, in the next year, for no reason that he was aware of, the number was increased to 21,508. In 1872, when the cattle imported were subject to compulsory slaughter, the number sent from France was only 682; in 1873, it was 742; in the year 1875, under the same regulations, the number had risen to 9,025; whereas, in 1877, again, under the same regulations, it fell to 2,804. Then take the case of sheep. The order for compulsory slaughter at the port of debarkation having been in force for the first seven months of 1872, ceased in August of that year. During that year 21,000 sheep were imported; whereas, during the whole of 1876, when the importation was perfectly free, only 977 sheep were imported. He, therefore, did not think any argument against compulsory slaughter at our ports could be drawn from the falling-off in the French imports, although he admitted that when the compulsory slaughter of animals was first introduced there was likely to be an interference with the existing trade. But then the Southampton petitioners argued that, because they considered that trade in cattle with France had been stopped in this manner, therefore, the same thing would happen to the trade with Spain and Portugal. He ventured to say that there was no comparison between the cattle trade between England and France and between England and Spain and Portugal. France, like England, was an importing country. It was no object for the French producers to export cattle to England which could be sold at home, unless they could secure an exceptionally favourable market in England. Therefore, they were liable to great fluctuation in the importations. But Spain and Portugal were not importing countries. They were, necessarily, exporting countries, because they bred a much greater number of cattle than they could possibly consume; and, therefore, the trade would not be interfered with by small inconveniences as in the case of France. Spain and Portugal must find a market for the cattle which they produced, and would not be deterred from sending their cattle here by 195 compulsory slaughter. But what he had said applied, of course, entirely to the variations of trade under the existing system. Hitherto the Privy Council had been enabled, from time to time, to issue Orders for the compulsory slaughter of imported cattle. He ventured to argue that even if it were proved that that system had diminished the imports there was no reason why the same result should follow from the provisions of the Bill. It had been stated that serious losses would be sustained at the markets if statutory arrangements for compulsory slaughter were made. But it was perfectly obvious that if the importers, exporters, and trade generally, were aware that such an arrangement would be the invariable rule, they would be induced to invest their money in providing the necessary accommodation for the slaughter of animals, and would make arrangements for a dead meat trade, which they now had no inducement to enter into, seeing the uncertainty to which they were subject. That, he thought, was a strong argument in favour of making compulsory slaughter uniform for imports from all the countries of Europe. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster), in the remarks he made, had alluded to the extent to which the dead meat trade was now carried on. It was well known that something like 175,000 tons of dead meat a-year were sent from Scotland, Cornwall, and elsewhere, to the London markets. It would be equally possible to send dead meat to the inland markets from the ports of debarkation, after compulsory slaughter, as it was to bring it to London from other places now. When his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) and his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Salford (Colonel Walker) talked of the difficulties which would be thrown in the way of their constituents procuring meat if this Bill were adopted, he thought they must have forgot not only this possibility, but that their real supply came not from foreign sources, but from the home producer. There was only one more point to which he wished to refer. It had been objected to the provisions of the Bill, that the enactments as to compulsory slaughter at ports of entry were statutory, while that was not the case as to the enforcement of regulations at home. 196 The object of that was obvious. In the first place, if these restrictions should attain their desired object, they would only be temporary in their operation; and, when a district was unaffected, they would not be applied. If, after a time, as was hoped would be the case, these diseases were stamped out by the enforcement of the regulations, there would be no further necessity for imposing them. But, with regard to foreign imports, the case was different. He doubted if they could anticipate a period when, for any length of time, foot-and-mouth disease would not prevail even in the healthiest of the countries which had been named. It might be necessary to enforce compulsory slaughter continually, whilst the regulations under the Bill applying to this country would only be temporary in their operation. He believed that it was only by compulsory slaughter of animals from abroad, and by restrictions at home, that they would be able to get rid of other cattle diseases, as they had the cattle plague. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) thought that the remedy was worse than the disease. He would wish to see, at the most, power reserved to the Privy Council to order compulsory slaughter if necessary. The right hon. Gentleman, in the late Government, held the Office of Vice President of the Council, and from what he had told the House that night, it was perfectly clear, if at any nine he returned to that Office, he would not be disposed to enforce what was believed by the best authorities to be necessary for securing that which was universally desired. It had been said, during the course of the debate, that, after all, the proposal for compulsory slaughter was insufficient, because, under another provision of the Schedule, animals might be admitted under quarantine for store purposes; and, therefore, as the danger of infection remained, the slaughter of fat cattle at the ports of debarkation was of no use. But those who had made that objection could hardly have read the provisions of the Schedule to which he had alluded. If they had, he thought they would have seen that the Schedule did not mention store cattle at all. It referred to dairy and breeding took, and it was perfectly obvious, from the severe quarantine required, that the intention of the Schedule was practically 197 to prohibit all importations, except in the cases of animals necessary for improving breeds, or imported under other special circumstances of that nature. It would be quite possible in Committee on the Bill so to amend the provisions of the Schedule as to make that perfectly clear. He would not trouble the House with any further remarks upon the measure; but he asked hon. Members to remember that that was a debate upon the second reading of a Bill which contained, as had been admitted by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster), many most valuable provisions besides that to which special exception had been taken by himself and others. The right hon. Gentleman had criticized that provision with great acuteness and great knowledge, and he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had listened attentively to his remarks; but he could not discover that he made any alternative proposal whatever to secure that which surely he must have at heart—namely, the lessening and stamping out, if possible, of those diseases in this country. All that the right hon. Gentleman did say was, that he objected to the proposals which the Government had made. The Government had made those proposals upon the authority of an independent Committee of the House, believing them to be well calculated to effect the object at which they wished to arrive—the cheapening of the food of the people by delivering the home-producer from disease. It was obvious that the details of those proposals must be subject to free discussion in Committee. But they asked the House now to affirm the principles on which the Bill was based; because they believed that these principles, so far from being in the interests of any particular class, were calculated to promote the welfare of the whole country.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Rathbone.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the debate would be resumed at the Morning Sitting on Tuesday.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
did not rise to make any objection to the proposal of the Government to take the adjourned debate at the Morning Sitting 198 on Tuesday; but he thought the selection was to be regretted. He rather doubted whether it was usual to take a Bill of that sort at a Morning Sitting, when some hon. Members were engaged on Committees, and others, from various reasons, were unable to be present. He questioned whether it would be possible to complete the discussion in the limited time which would be at the disposal of the House at Tuesday's Morning Sitting, and he thought it was to be regretted that the Government had fixed the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Bill to be taken on that occasion rather than some other measure. While not raising any opposition to the proposal of the Government, he wished to point out the inconveniences it involved.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the measure was one which created a great deal of interest, and naturally so, and it was one upon which a large number of Members desired to express opinions. There were interests involved in the Bill on which many Gentlemen would feel they could not give silent votes; but he did not think they would be doing wrong in taking the earliest opportunity of proceeding with the discussion, and if not finished at Tuesday's Morning Sitting it could go on again on Thursday. He thought the Government would be running a risk if they postponed the discussion until Thursday, unless in the event of its not being finished on Tuesday. Therefore, the best course would be to go on with the Bill at Tuesday's Morning Sitting; and, although many Gentlemen would not be able to be present all the time, no doubt all would be in attendance before the conclusion of the debate, and be able, if they chose, to take part in it.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow, at Two of the clock.