§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [24th June], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
And which Amendment was,
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 again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. RATHBONE
Sir, I am sure all those who listened to the debate last night must have been impressed with the great importance and difficulty of that subject, and the anxiety generally felt to approach it in a way to lead to its satisfactory settlement, and I think it worthy of the consideration of the Government that of those who, on either 212 side of the House, spoke in favour of the Bill, I think I may say the majority ended by saying that they were going to vote for the alterations in it which those who support the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford considered of most importance. One of these, the hon. Member for Glamorganshire (Mr. Hussey Vivian), in his very interesting speech, draws a most charming picture of the limitless flocks and herds that were to sail from America for my native town. I only hope he may be right; but I think he a little left out of account the dangers and losses which occur in even so short a passage, as that between Ireland and England, and which, in a 12 or 14 days' passage would be very much increased, to say nothing of the very greatly-increased cost of transit. The hon. Member went on to point out that we had only to lay out a certain number of acres of ground, to receive our welcome visitors, to enable us to accommodate large quantities of cattle for as long a time as was necessary to insure their profitable sale. But the circumstances of Liverpool and Chicago are very different. Chicago has plenty of land for this purpose. It is in a new country where land is cheap; whereas, in Liverpool, I think the hon. Member would have a difficult task to find any that could be devoted to such a purpose. I do not know where it could be found. In and near Liverpool, land is not sold by the acre, as in Chicago, but at high prices by the yard. Besides, the hon. Member forgets that the greater part of the cattle coming to Chicago are not intended to be sold as fresh meat, but are brought there to be slaughtered and salted. As my hon. Friend's knowledge of Liverpool appears to be of somewhat older date than his knowledge of Chicago, and as Liverpool is the principal port for the supply of the manufacturing districts in the North of England, I feel sure I shall not be considered as trespassing unduly on the time and patience of the House if I venture to bring before it the results of the experience of that port, and the opinions there entertained of the very important and difficult question before the House. I understand that the real question now before the House is not, whether compulsory slaughter should be applied to all places from which there is risk of rinderpest being 213 imported into this country, but whether the discretionary power now exercised by the Privy Council should be taken away, and animals should be compulsorily slaughtered on arrival from those ports of Europe from which there is not any danger of cattle disease other than foot-and-mouth disease, while that discretionary power is left as regards the precautions necessary to be taken with respect to the home supply. I will, with the permission of the House, read a single short extract from a Memorial from the Conservative Corporation of Liverpool, signed by the Conservative Mayor, one of the ablest Leaders of the Conservative Party, and which, therefore, cannot be suspected of any Party prejudice against the Bill—Your memoralialists have observed that it is provided by the Bill that foreign animals, except those intended for dairy or breeding purposes, or for exhibition, shall not be moved alive out of the wharf at which they are landed. If this proposed provision passed into law, your memorialists believe that much loss and inconvenience would be occasioned to the public, that the trade of the port would be unnecessarily interfered with, that no greater protection against the spread of disease would be afforded than at present exists, and that, during the hot weather, a considerable waste of food would be caused.Thus, it will be seen that the Liverpool Corporation, which contains many men peculiarly qualified to form a sound opinion, consider that those provisions are unnecessary, and that they will occasion much loss, inconvenience, and waste of food. But I must quote another authority also. The Liverpool Steamship Owners' Association represent about one-third of the whole steam tonnage of this country, and a much larger proportion of the steam tonnage engaged in the cattle trade. I have presented a Petition from them, which, when printed, I would strongly commend to the attention of hon. Members interested in this subject for the valuable information and cogent arguments which it contains. I do not propose to weary the House by having that Petition read, but I trust the House will allow me to read a few very important paragraphs out of it—That, if the said provisions of the said Bill were to become law, the effect would be to put an end to the importation of foreign cattle to this country from the ports aforesaid. The cost of the carriage, even with the smallest possible margin of profit to the carrier, is necessarily so 214 considerable, that when added to the first cost of the cattle in the country of exportation, the total expense barely permits of the trade being carried on in competition with the home supply. If, then, this trade be hampered with further restrictions and expenses, it will be entirely destroyed. That, so far as regards the port of Liverpool, it would be quite impracticable to have all cattle landed and slaughtered on a foreign animals' wharf. The cattle arrive in too great numbers; there is not sufficient available space, and the steamships carrying them have to be unladen in dock, or at berths too distant from one another for such a regulation to be carried out. It is not proposed to compel the local authority to provide such a wharf. Nor, indeed, is it possible for the Liverpool Corporation—who would be the local authority under the said Bill—to provide it, as they have no land on the margin of the river Mersey or the port of Liverpool, and are not the harbour authority. They are not, therefore, in a position to 'provide, erect, and fit up wharves, stations, lairs, sheds, and other places for the landing, reception, keeping, sale, slaughter, or disposal of foreign animals,' proposed by the 38th clause of the said Bill. Even the harbour authorities have not the requisite spare land, all that is available for any purpose being required for dock accommodation. That the enforcement of a regulation for slaughtering cattle on landing is very objectionable for several reasons. It is often desirable that the cattle should have time, after a rough passage, before slaughtering, to improve their condition, and, in such cases, immediate slaughter would involve waste. In all cases, the result of slaughter on landing would be to throw the meat upon the market for immediate consumption, so that inland towns and places distant from the port of landing would lose the benefit of the supply, and importers would be placed at the mercy of dealers in meat carrying on business at the port of landing. Thus the trade would be destroyed, because it could no longer be carried on at a profit. Only a small proportion of the cattle brought by sea into Liverpool are at present slaughtered there. They are for the most part carried by railway to London, Manchester, Birmingham, and other towns, and it is only by means of the present ability to carry such animals to inland towns, where a good market can be found, that they can be imported at a profit. That there is no necessity whatever for the proposed alteration in the law hereinbefore referred to, and the enactment of such alteration would not, in fact, make 'better provision respecting contagious and infectious diseases of cattle and other animals.' So far as regards animals imported from abroad, there are ample means in the existing state of the law—viz., under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1869, of preventing the spread of cattle disease from foreign animals. In pursuance of that Act, and the regulations made thereunder, foreign cattle arriving in Liverpool are inspected by the Government Inspector a first time immediately on landing, and a second time after the expiration of 12 hours; and as both inspections must take place in daylight, the cattle are often detained 24 hours after landing before the second inspection is finished, and it is only after the second inspection that the cattle are removed. Although the importation of foreign 215 cattle to Liverpool has now been going on for several years, there has not yet been, so far as your petitioners are aware, a single case of disease amongst cattle brought from North America, and there have been only two or three cases of foot-and-mouth disease amongst cattle brought from Spain and Portugal. That the period occupied by the voyage to this country is really a period of quarantine, and is found sufficient for its purpose, for if the disease is latent, it will develop. That the provisions of the existing law with regard to the cattle trade generally, and those contained in the said Bill with regard to the home trade in cattle, are entirely permissive. They leave the Privy Council free to act as may be necessary, according to the sanitary condition of cattle in various parts of the country, and according to the particular circumstances of the case. Your petitioners submit that the same principle should be applied to the foreign cattle trade, and that it is very undesirable and unjust to enforce regulations on that trade which are not now and may never be required, and which if put in force must put an end to the trade altogether. The said clause was added because it was proved before the Committee of the House of Lords, to which the said Bill was referred, that amongst the cattle brought from North America cattle plague is unheard of, and the other contagious diseases amongst cattle mentioned in the said Bill are, practically speaking, unknown. But although it was also proved before the said Committee, and is the fact, that the case is the same with reference to cattle brought from Spain and Portugal, yet cattle brought from those countries have not been exempted from the operations of the said Bill. The case of cattle brought from Spain or Portugal differs from that of cattle brought from Germany, Holland, Belgium, or France in this important circumstance, that foot-and-mouth disease is the only contagious disease which, so far as is known, has ever appeared amongst the Iberian cattle imported into this country. That the disease never takes more than 48 hours to develop itself, and generally develops itself in much less time. The passage from ports in Spain or Portugal to ports in the United Kingdom always occupies more than 48 hours. Thus, if any disease exists, it must declare itself before the cattle are landed. That the said Bill authorizes the landing of store cattle, without slaughter, and permits of their transmission inland, after performing quarantine. In case of diseased animals the quarantine grounds would become hotbeds of infection, and the risk of disseminating disease would be much greater than it would be in the case of fat cattle imported, and sold for slaughter. The Bill gives discretionary power to the Privy Council as to all home cattle and foreign store cattle. Your petitioners submit that there is no good reason why the like power should not be given in respect of all foreign fat cattle.The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary said that these people are interested, and he threw out—well, I will not call it a taunt, but a hint—that the opinion of men engaged in a trade ought not to have too much importance 216 attached to it, because manufacturers in former times opposed the factory legislation; and, at the same time, he strongly deprecated the use of the word "Protection." Well, when such arguments are used, it is inevitable that we should look back and ask whether manufacturers and merchants are the only classes who have been shortsighted in their own interests, and whether the evidence of the agriculturists, on which the right hon. Gentleman so much relied, does not come from a class the majority of whom, for many years, maintained the Corn Laws to the almost ruin of the country, and to some of whom it would not be doing an injustice to say that they would not be sorry to see what Americans call "incidental protection" arise out of a sanitary Act. It will not surprise the House that the petitioners, with these views, consider these provisions of the Bill unnecessary, and certain to result in injury to the public as well as to themselves. But it has been argued that the importation of cattle is small in comparison with the home production; and that, consequently, we need not expect that it will produce any marked effect on the price to the consumer, if even we should reduce the supply by the measure now proposed. But this argument is unsupported by facts, and is unsound on all sides. Every mercantile man knows that when the supply of an article falls below the demand for consumption, the rise in its price is much greater in proportion than the deficiency of supply. Look at facts, a few years ago, when the coal supply of this country fell somewhat below the consumptive demand, the deficiency was comparatively small, but the rise in price was something enormous. But is the supply so small? Mr. Caird, no mean authority on agricultural matters, and an agriculturist, not a trader, has estimated the foreign meat supply at one-twelfth; and, bear in mind, that it is a supply which, if prices rise as they have done, is capable of very large increase. Just compare the supply of live animals from Canada and the United States during the first four months of 1878 with the corresponding months of 1877. In 1877 only 444 live cattle were imported, while in 1878, 3,254 live cattle were imported, while hogs and sheep increased also, and there was a similar large increase in the price of hogs and sheep. But we 217 have actually no statistics to enable us to compare the home and foreign supply. People point to the large number of cattle that exist in this country, and then they compare it with the small number of cattle that are imported; but that is comparing capital with interest. To show what will affect the price of meat, you ought to be able to compare the fat cattle imported in a year for immediate slaughter with only the number of homebred cattle slaughtered, and not with the whole stock of the country. People are eating a great deal more meat than they were, and as they get accustomed to higher wages, and drink less, they will eat more still; and in this state of things it is utterly fallacious to treat the foreign supply as of small importance, or to assert that the effect of limiting that supply and discouraging it will not have a very important influence on prices. And you may depend upon it that in these days care will be taken that the working classes know to whom they owe those increased prices. But, say the advocates of indiscriminate slaughter of all live cattle arriving from abroad at the port of discharge, the Bill will not prevent these cattle from coming. Well, the answer to that is, that the practical evidence is against it. The Duke of Richmond himself, in a speech alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, pointed out the disadvantages of slaughtering cattle at the ports of discharge and sending the meat to the markets of consumption, while those who have been engaged in the trade say that compulsory slaughter involves a loss of from £3 to £4 per head. If hon. Members will turn to the evidence of Mr. Leyland before the Lords' Committee—Questions 2,347 and 2,349—they will find that this can be proved by actual experience, and a much less loss than that is sufficient to discourage the ordinary and steady processes of trade. Then, just look at the state of the French cattle trade. In six years, when the French cattle trade was free, we imported 112,000 cattle. In seven years, when it was placed under restrictions, we only imported 24,000 cattle. There is another argument against imposing unnecessary restrictions on cattle from Spain and Portugal. For instance, they arrive at the most opportune moment, when the home supply of stall-fed cattle is falling short, 218 and the home grass-fed cattle are not yet coming freely into the market. The cattle from Spain and Portugal arrive most freely in April, May, June, and July; while it is only towards the latter end of July that I am informed that our own grass-fed cattle come freely into the market. I really do think that this House ought to pause before it gives its consent to unnecessary restrictions upon the supply of foreign food at a time when wages are being reduced, when we are looking forward to a very severe struggle in the North of England in competition with foreign countries, and sacrifices will be called forth from all parties to maintain that struggle. Is this a time when it is wise or safe, by protective measures, to increase the price of so necessary an article as meat is becoming in the diet of the working classes of this country? Something might be said in favour of a course of consistent restriction, that it might really have the effect of stamping out the disease; but you are not proposing a course of consistent restriction, and you know perfectly well that the evidence of your own officers and all practical men of every kind has been that these measures that you are proposing against the foot-and-mouth disease will be absolutely ineffective unless they are made general in their application. You propose to leave entire discretion with the Privy Council as regards the home supply, while you propose to slaughter all animals indiscriminately from every country of Europe by statute. Now, as I have said, I do not propose to touch the question as to how far it is necessary to take the power from the Privy Council as respects countries where the rinderpest exists; but what I wish to ask the House to consider is, is it necessary, is it desirable, to apply this hard-and-fast line where no cattle plague has ever existed? I would just ask the House to consider what has been the state of the case as to cattle imported from certain countries. From Denmark there has been no rinderpest, no pleuro-pneumonia, and only 36 cases of foot-and-mouth disease in eight years. From Norway, while 6,300 animals were imported, there were no cases of disease of any kind. From Sweden, out of 53,000 cattle imported, there were only 419 cases of foot-and-mouth disease. Out of 137,000 animals 219 imported from Portugal there was not a single case of rinderpest, only three doubtful cases of pleuro-pneumonia, and only 1,500 cases of foot-and-mouth disease. From Spain, 178,000 were imported, among which there were no cases of rinderpest, no pleuro-pneumonia, and only 516 cases of foot-and-mouth disease. It is admitted that the precautions taken by the Privy Council have been effectual, and yet you propose to introduce this new protective legislation under the plea of its being a help to you. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies said last night that the provisions as to the home supply were left discretionary with the Privy Council, while the compulsory slaughter of all foreign animals was enjoined by statute; because the time might come when it might be impossible, with safety, to do away with these home restrictions, and yet it may be necessary—I distinctly noticed he used the word "may," not "will"—to retain the restrictions on foreign cattle. Well, we do not object to that. We do not object that, if it be necessary, the Privy Council should have power to retain the foreign precautions when the home precautions have become unnecessary. But what we do object to is, that it should be enacted that we must retain them, even after it may have become perfectly clear to the country and to the Government that the foreign precautions are no longer necessary with regard to certain countries which may be quite free from disease, and more careful as to precautions against it than this country itself. Moreover, it may be true, as is contended by the Irish Members, that it is impossible to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease because people will not submit to the necessary restrictions. Are we, then, to continue these restrictions, the only justification for which is the intention to stamp out this disease? We have had a pretty clear intimation, in the course of a debate in "another place," that the real meaning of this Bill is to demand of Government and of the House of Commons, as representatives of the nation, to place in the hands of the most protectionist branch of the Legislature, the power of continuing these restrictions as "incidental protection," even when these can be shown to be absolutely useless. I think the House of Commons should refuse to become a 220 party to such a scheme, so candidly avowed by the Foreign Secretary in "another place," for tying its hands and taking from it the power of protecting the food of the people. The whole weight of evidence given before every Committee has been against the necessity or wisdom of compulsory slaughter as applied to foot-and-mouth disease. All the Committees that have sat, except the last Lords' Committee, have reported against it, and even in the case of the last Committee of the Lords, it was only carried by 7 to 5. It is perfectly evident that the Government themselves were opposed to it, and only proposed it under pressure from their extreme and less prudent supporters. If hon. Members will turn to Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson's draft Report, page 20, paragraph 27, of the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons of last Session, they will see that the Government proposed to retain this discretion as to all countries except Russia and Germany—except Schleswig-Holstein; and if hon. Members will read a speech of the Duke of Richmond, reported in The Times of the 16th December, 1875, they will find that he, too, until pressure had been brought to bear upon him, saw clearly the danger of the course now proposed. Then you have the evidence of, I believe, all the large Irish graziers, such as Mr. Gerard, Mr. Featherstonhaugh, Mr. Cullen, Mr. Verdon, and others, that no further legislation than that already existing is necessary or desirable as regards foot-and-mouth disease; and though I am aware that many Irishmen are in favour of this Bill, I do not believe that they attempt to disguise their views, that it is as protectionists, not on sanitary grounds, that they are so. Mr. Caird, in a letter published in The Times of Saturday, strongly urged the unwisdom of closing the door against all Continental cattle, and he urges strongly that it is not from fat cattle but from store cattle that any danger, if it exists at all, is to be feared. And yet you propose to leave absolute discretion with the Privy Council in the most dangerous part of the foreign trade, while you tie their hands as to that which is less dangerons. Can you expect people to believe that this Bill is a purely sanitary, not a protective, measure? However good your intention may be, I repeat, that to introduce such a Bill at the 221 present time, and in the present prospect of distress in this country, is an unwise, unstatesmanlike, and a dangerous measure. One point, and I have done. It has been said that the fear of foot-and-mouth disease prevents the breeding of cattle, and thereby diminishes the home supply. That is only another instance of the unsound arguments by which it is attempted to defend an indefensible measure. Just turn to the evidence of the hon. Member for the county of Carlow (Mr. Kavanagh), who is one of the largest and most intelligent landowners in Ireland. You will see that he shows clearly that in Ireland at least foot-and-mouth disease has not prevented cattle breeding, for one of the most violent outbreaks of that disease occurred in the year 1844. The existence of that disease has not, therefore, in any way interfered with the very rapid increase in breeding cattle that has taken place since that year. The English statistics are very defective up to 1866, therefore I could only take the last 10 years; and the cattle under one year are not given, therefore I could only take the cattle under two years as showing the tendency of matters. In these I find there has been an increase since 1867 of about 20 per cent, which is much more than in proportion to the total increase in cattle. I think, moreover, that the decrease in the number of cattle last year, as compared with 1876, is in cattle two years old and upwards—that is, in the cattle that are fit for the meat market. There is much less reduction in the numbers of cows and heifers, and hardly any reduction at all in the number of cattle under two years, proving that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford was correct in saying that it was the bad harvests which induced the farmers to part with their saleable cattle, and that they parted least with their breeding cattle, and have not practically reduced the quantity bred. I hope I have not wearied the patience of the House in trying to urge upon it the very serious character of this question. If our working classes become more wise, as I hope they are becoming, and spend their money more in food and necessaries and less in stimulants, this country would be utterly unable to supply at anything like a moderate price the amount of meat necessary for such consumption; yet here it is proposed to put a statutory diffi- 222 culty in the way of the introduction of that food from abroad. Is this prudent, or wise, or in the interests of the community? Whatever your intentions may be, it is a revival of the system of raising the cost of the food of the country by Act of Parliament, and I venture to think that if the Government are so unwise as to allow themselves to be driven by their less statesmanlike supporters to persist in all the clauses of this measure, the usual effect of extreme measure will be seen. Parliament will swing round from one extreme to the other; and, in the revulsion from these extreme measures of repression and precaution, even wise measures of precaution may be swept away. I doubt if it is wise, even from a Party point of view. The counties can hardly be made more Conservative than they are, but a very considerable effect may be produced on the towns by such a measure as this. I had occasion to have some conversation upon the subject with a gentleman from Liverpool—a man of very considerable power and influence—which he has always exercised in opposition to the Party to which I belong; but he said—"If this Bill passes, if Protection is to form one of the planks of Conservative policy, I decline to walk on it." But I do hope that the question will be decided on higher grounds than Party considerations. I do urge upon the wise and prudent men on the Conservative side of the House—and it is a Party that ought to contain and does contain many wise and prudent men—that they should be content with compulsory slaughter when applied to cattle arriving from countries infected with rinderpest, and with the very strong discretionary power in the hands of the Government—which I am afraid is not likely to be soon replaced—for dealing with those countries where the only danger is from foot-and-mouth disease, and that they should not bring upon themselves the odium which they will inevitably acquire of having tried to raise the price of the food of the people, at a time when they are not too prosperous, for the benefit of a class.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
concurred in one remark made by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down—namely, that the Bill before the House was a very important one. It was one which he was prepared to consider in a most fair and impartial spirit, and 223 without anything like Party bias. When he heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford propose his Resolution, he could not but think that the right hon. Gentleman must have known that if it were carried it must be fatal to the Bill. No one knew better than the right hon. Gentleman that when he raised a great question of this kind upon the second reading of a Bill, the proposition that he made was absolutely against the principle of the Bill. He denied that the principle of the Bill was confined to, or was to be found in, the 5th Schedule of the Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman himself had distinctly told the House that there were in the Bill certain most valuable provisions which, if he had been in Office, he would have found himself obliged to bring forward, and which were of such importance to the breeder and consumer that he could not oppose the second reading of the measure. It was certainly of overwhelming importance to the breeder and consumer that the Bill should be read a second time; but he frankly admitted that many of the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman were fair, and were made in so candid a spirit that they would deserve the careful consideration of the Committee. The first question put before the House by the right hon. Gentleman was the cattle plague. The terrible losses suffered all over England from the attack of 1865, but especially in Cheshire, which was still suffering from those effects in the rate which she had still to pay, showed us the absolute necessity of the most stringent regulations with regard to that fatal disease. An outbreak of cattle plague also took place in 1872, when the right hon. Gentleman was in Office. Now, where was the disease discovered? Why, in the dairies. And it was not discovered until it reached Hull and London, and the right hon. Gentleman stated most fairly and candidly that after what had happened in his own experience severe measures were necessary; and that, in fact, he had to prevent the import of cattle even from unscheduled countries in order to prevent the introduction of the disease into this country. Then, as to pleuro-pneumonia, that was a disease of which they had received a large amount from Ireland through the store cattle sent from that country. It was no disparage- 224 ment to Ireland to say so; but it was a fact that the disease had come to them from Ireland, and now they had to deal with it. He was in favour of Ireland, England, and Scotland being placed in the same position in respect to cattle disease; and he willingly admitted that they owed an enormous debt of gratitude to Ireland for the great number of cattle she supplied to this country, amounting to over 650,000 head a-year, of which, however, only 250,000 were fat, the rest being store stock. For his part, he could not see why, if one animal was found to be diseased on the voyage from Ireland, it should be the only animal to be slaughtered, and why all the rest were allowed to be scattered all over the country. That could not be right, and he submitted, it was a question which required careful consideration; because, whether diseased animals came from Ireland or from abroad, the effect, if they were allowed to be taken from place to place, must be the same. He should be glad to have an assurance from the Government that that question would be considered. Then, as to foot-and-mouth disease, the question it involved was one most difficult to deal with. He had had on his farm several severe outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, two of cattle plague, and one of pleuro-pneumonia. With respect to foot-and-mouth disease, no doubt in some instances it was not difficult to cure; but each successive outbreak was worse than that which preceded it. As the disease was of that nature it ought to be checked. Everyone who had practical experience of the disease knew that the milk of a diseased animal could not be used, that calves consuming the milk died, and that the chance was that the next year the cow would not be in calf. At the present moment the disease was not very prevalent, owing to the precautions which had been taken; for, in his opinion, the stoppage of cattle and other animals going out of the Islington Market for so long a period had had more to do than anything else with the prevention of foot-and-mouth disease throughout the country. The difficulty of the case was this. If we stamped out the disease, we should stop the trade of the country very considerably. People said they would submit to any restrictions, but would they really do so when it came to the point? That 225 was the question Parliament had to deal with in reference to this Bill. The loss on a cow suffering from foot-and-mouth disease was not less than £10, on a fatting bullock £5, and on ordinary half-fat stock £2. It had been stated that in 1871 and 1872 there were more than 500,000 cases of diseased animals discovered in Ireland, and it might be taken that 500,000 more had been in contact with them; and, calculating the depreciation at £2 per head, it represented a serious loss in the agriculture of that country. Again, what was to be done with fairs and markets? What was to be done at Ballinasloe, Norwich, Chichester, Barnet, and Blackwater, for example, if in those fairs or markets two or three or four animals were found which had pleuro-pneumonia or foot-and-mouth disease? This was a question which ought to be seriously argued out in Committee, and also whether the regulations proposed would be effectual in eradicating and stopping the disease. The right hon. Member for Bradford had adduced facts and figures to show what would be the result of enacting that all foreign cattle should be slaughtered at the port of landing. He said that the present supply was sufficient to feed 1,000,000 of people for two months with ¾lb of meat per day.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he stated that he thought the slaughtering all the animals at the port of landing would have the effect of diminishing the imports 25 per cent on the lowest calculation; and that, he thought, represented ¾lb of meat per day for 1,000,000 of men for two months.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, the percentage could not be tested until they had tried the change. But they did know that the imports were daily increasing. In 1862 the animals imported into this country were valued at £1,810,317; whereas, in 1876, the value of the animals imported was no less than £7,027,392. He thought the right hon. Member for Bradford had made out a case, and when they came to Schedule 5, any suggestion which the right hon. Gentleman might make out should receive the serious consideration of the House. With regard to the exclusion of foreign countries, Spain and Portugal were differently situated to others. They supplied themselves with 226 all the animals that they required, and up to this time they had had but few cases of foot-and-mouth disease, and they did not send us store or dairy stock, but fat bullocks for immediate slaughter. He should be glad to know the reason why Spain and Portugal should not be allowed to send their stock here? Denmark had had little or no disease, and the importation from Denmark was something like 56,000 cattle in 1876; but the most curious part of it was that of that number 19,000 were cows, which were allowed to be sent all over the country, and they had not heard yet that they had spread disease over the country. That was a point that required the attention of the hon. Baronet when they came to deal with the question in Committee. Norway and Sweden, so far as he knew, had not sent any diseased stock to this country. In Germany, out of 385,669 cattle and sheep sent to this country, 18,575 were cows; from Holland 26,780 were oxen and sheep, 16,726 cows, and 42,763 calves. He could not pretend to say where the calves went, but he thought they were sent to Islington Market. He was not going to say at this moment what ought to be done, but he merely wished to insist on the necessity of considering all these points carefully when they got into Committee. Although he represented an agricultural county pure and simple, he desired to forward the interests of his friends in the towns as well as of his friends in the country, and to see that fair and even justice was done to all. He would ask the towns to consider the risks which the agricultural producers of meat had run, and to allow restrictions to be imposed if they believed them to be desirable, instead of resolving, as his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) proposed, that no precautions whatever should be taken to prevent the disease. What all parties wanted was a supply of sound and healthy cattle; and he felt convinced that the House, looking at this Bill in a fair and reasonable spirit, would pass its second reading, and so amend it in Committee as to promote the interests of both producers and consumers.
§ MR. J. HOLMS
said, that as he represented a very large constituency which would be injuriously affected by the Bill, and as he had also been a Member of the 227 Select Committee which inquired into the cattle plague and the importation of live stock, he would make a few remarks on the Bill now under consideration. The hon. and gallant Member (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had drawn a very proper picture of the terrible ravages which the cattle plague made in this country in 1865, 1866, and 1867. If there was one thing that was brought more prominently before them than another in their investigation last year, it was that the terrible calamity that came on this country, and remained so long, and cost something like £5,000,000 in compensation to farmers, was the cause of that Act which was carried by his right hon. Friend in 1869, and which was evidently so well considered, and so prudent and so well-fitted for the purpose, that the cattle plague of 1872 was quickly dealt with, and dealt with, too, at very little cost to the nation. And in 1877 the plague made its appearance in January; but by the end of April it was totally crushed out at a cost of only about £12,000 to £15,000. All that was effected without closing our ports against foreign cattle, and during the last 18 months the country had been more free from disease than for some time before. It was necessary that they should look carefully to the provisions of the Bill. No doubt the Bill contained, with reference to internal regulations as affecting cattle plague and pleuro-pneumonia, provisions which most hon. Members would wish to see enforced, as being alike beneficial to the producer and the consumer; but, at the same time, there were in the Bill two great principles which, in his opinion, ought to be resented by the House. The first was that foot-and-mouth disease could and must be stamped out; the second was that all fat cattle must be slaughtered at the port of debarkation. Animal food had become an essential part of the food of all our working classes, and, therefore, we were bound to regard the augmentation of the supply of animal food, in whatever shape it could best be obtained, as one of the most important of all questions of purely material interest which now demanded our attention. Unless the provision of the Bill relating to the slaughter of cattle at the port of debarkation were got rid of, it would be better that the Bill should not pass. This would be made clear by an ad- 228 mission of the Duke of Richmond, who, on moving the second reading, said that—The object of the Bill was to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease; and if it were not stamped out in Ireland, then Ireland must be treated as a foreign country.But could the disease be stamped out in Ireland? If it could not, and if Ireland were to be treated as a foreign country, what would be the result? Why, we should cut off the great supply of the working classes of Lancashire, Cheshire, Nottingham, and the Midland counties. According to the Report of the Select Committee—A much larger number of cattle are imported from Ireland than from all foreign countries, and they are allowed to land at most of our ports, and are not subject to the same regulation, inspection, and detention on landing as that to which foreign cattle are subject.There was the broad fact that, in the last five years, Ireland sent us, on an average, every year 627,000 head of cattle, as compared with 227,000 sent each year from foreign countries. The hon. Member for the county Carlow (Mr. Kavanagh) had pointed out that—A much larger proportion of the income of Ireland depends upon cattle than is the case in England. You may say that the entire wealth of the country—the only real trade we have—depends upon cattle.The preponderating opinion in Ireland was strongly against the proposed restrictions, and he did not think it could be expected that they would be carried into effect. But even if foot-and-mouth disease were stamped out among cattle, he doubted whether the object of the Government would be attained; because, according to the testimony of Professor Simonds, the disease attacked other animals as well as cattle. Sheep, pigs, and domestic poultry were also affected by it in great numbers. Professor Simonds likewise said—In my opinion the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 1839 raged to a greater extent in 1840 and 1841 than it has ever raged since, and was more destructive to life at that time than it has ever been since.Nothing could be more clear than that statement, that before any live cattle were imported, we had more foot-and-mouth disease than we had since. What, then, was the position of the Government after the statement of the Duke 229 of Richmond? Foot-and-mouth, disease could not be stamped out in Ireland; therefore, logically, we ought at once to close the ports against the importation of live cattle from Ireland. Could this law, then, possibly succeed in Ireland? In his opinion, it would be extremely unwise and unjust to pass such a Bill. The Duke of Richmond had quoted figures to show that the dead meat trade from Aberdeen took its rise after the cattle plague in 1865–6, and he also quoted figures to show the importation of live cattle from that city, and that was taken as a proof that the trade in dead meat would take the place of the trade in live cattle; but that was not so. Both had increased; the growth of the trade in live cattle went on all the same, and was greater than in the dead meat trade. No better proof could be given of the advantage of leaving the trade to the option of the dealers. But, it was asked, if London had received dead meat from Aberdeen, why should London not receive dead meat from the ports of debarkation where foreign cattle were to be slaughtered? The answer was that the conditions of the dead meat trade from Aberdeen and the dead meat slaughtered at the port of debarkation were widely different in this important respect, that the Aberdeen butcher could regulate his time and his supplies to suit the market and the condition of his animals, whereas the position of the importer of cattle from the Continent was very different, being forced to be slaughtered soon after arrival. It was a consumers' question, and the right hon. Gentleman admitted that the Bill would be of little use if it could not be justified from a consumers' point of view. Now, how did we stand as regarded our sources of supply? He found that while the population of Great Britain was 25,469,000 in 1869, it was 28,100,000 in 1877, or an increase of 10 per cent. Assuming that 25 per cent of the herds of the country went to the butcher, he had calculated that there had been only an increase in home produce of 7 per cent during the period of 1869–77, while the population had increased by 10 per cent. Taking the supply from Ireland and foreign countries, it was just equal to 35 per cent of the whole in 1869; whilst he found that in 1877 it had increased so as to be equal to 37½ 230 per cent. How much of the average consumption per head in this country was foreign, and how much home meat? It had been stated that the average annual consumption of butchers' meat was 98lb. per head of the population, of which something less than half was from horned cattle, of which, in 1869, the consumption was 43lb. 10oz. of home meat to 3lb. 10oz. of foreign meat; in 1876, 45lb. 4oz. of home meat to 4lb. 14oz. of foreign meat; in 1877, 43lb. 10oz. of home meat to 4lb. 10oz. of foreign meat. In 1869, the 3lb. 10oz. of foreign meat was all live meat on its arrival here. In 1876, of the 4lb. 14oz. of foreign meat, 10oz. was dead and 4lb. 4oz. alive. In 1877, of the 4lb. 10oz. of foreign meat, 1lb. 9oz. was dead and 3lb. 1oz. alive. Therefore, while there was a great increase in the dead meat trade, there was more than a corresponding falling-off in the live meat trade. It was a great mistake to depreciate the importance of the dead meat trade; which, at an average of 520lb. per animal, had risen from 7,545 head in 1875 to 36,768 in 1876, and 100,415 in 1877. Although, in the past five months of the year, this trade was going back slightly, the Board of Trade figures showed it was accompanied by a growing increase in the importation of live cattle from America; and, knowing that there was a growing demand for animal food, we should do wrong, because of the increased supply of dead meat, to check the incoming of live cattle, unless for reasons vastly stronger than any that had been adduced. We had need of both trades, and they might and would thrive side by side. Why all that alarm about disease in foreign cattle? During eight years, from 1870 to 1877, there had been imported into this country from foreign countries, including the United States and Canada, 1,845,000 head of cattle. Out of that number only 18,947 were slaughtered at the port of debarkation, having been found diseased. The value of the whole had been £31,300,000, while that of the diseased animals was represented by the sum of only £320,000; and yet it was proposed that these vast herds should all in future be slaughtered, though, in the past, the slaughter of only about 1 per cent of them was found necessary. Surely the remedy went far beyond the nature and extent of the risk. The Privy Council now had vast powers, 231 which they had exercised with wisdom and discretion; they had been able to stamp out cattle plague thoroughly; and it had not been made clear that foot-and-mouth disease was so risky as to justify them in passing a measure of this extreme kind. The draft Report of the Chairman of the Committee of 1877 recommended that imports from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain, and Portugal should be permitted on the same conditions as now, and the reason given now by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury for not acting on his own recommendation as Chairman of that Committee was, that if any one country was open, it would become a centre to which other countries would send their cattle. Could there be a better argument for an opposite conclusion, and allowing cattle to filter through those countries, which were so careful to be free of disease, before coming here? A Report from our Consul at Copenhagen showed that if it were not for the live meat trade the trade would greatly diminish, because the dead meat trade could not be carried on. The Bill attempted overmuch legislation, and nothing was more detrimental to trade than legislation where it could be avoided. The Minister of the Netherlands in London had addressed a letter to Lord Derby, deprecating the legislation on the lines of the Bill as contrary to the principles of Free Trade and likely to weaken our advocacy of those principles on the Continent. The Minister suggested that the Bill should be made temporary in its operation, and said that, as there had not been a case of distemper in the Netherlands for 10 or 12 years, the Government flattered itself that, in relation to that country, means would be found to reconcile conflicting interests. In conclusion, he stated that he had received a Petition to that House from the Southampton Dock Company, setting forth that if cattle were to be slaughtered at that port, the trade must cease, for importers would not be able to sustain the loss that must ensue. Only the best parts of the animals when slaughtered would bear the expense of carrying to London, and the poorer portion of the population of the Metropolis would be deprived of much of that kind of food which formed their present sustenance. He hoped the Bill, in its present form, would not be carried, for it contained 232 provisions detrimental to the interests of the country, and contrary to the spirit of the Free Trade policy of the nation.
§ MR. MARK STEWART
said, it was fortunate, that when one Member produced a certain set of figures in support of his argument, there was another Member ready with another set of figures to demolish that argument. That certainly was the case in the present instance. The hon. Member who had just sat down made a great point of the letter from the Minister of the Netherlands, showing that there had been no disease there for some time. But what were the facts of the case? In the Returns presented to that House, it was shown that in 1877 there were 951 cases of pleuro-pneumonia, and in 1876 there were 1,723 cases. These figures were exclusive of foot-and-mouth disease, which had not been included in the Returns, though it was certain that that disease prevailed in the Netherlands. That was the country which was held up to them as a country which should be taken out of the Schedule, and allow cattle of all sorts to be imported into this country. This was a question for the importers. No doubt, there was a growing demand for animal food, but he would maintain that it was not a question simply for the importer and the producer; but the people of this country should be considered, and if they failed to take that into consideration, the whole case of those who opposed the measure must fall to the ground. The advantage should be given to the people in this country rather than to those countries that would send animals of any description into Great Britain as long as they could get good money in return. His hon. Friend also stated that, probably in a few years, if this Bill became law, there would be found a difficulty with Scotland as well as Ireland; but in his (Mr. Stewart's) opinion, so long as this country was connected with Scotland in the manner in which it was, the Scotch in this matter knew how to take care of themselves. The meat trade in Scotland was increasing year by year. It was now the practice to send large freights of meat up to London daily; and, in the district with which he was connected, many thousands of heads of stock now went up yearly which were never forwarded before. But the farmers in that country did not want Protection. They wanted it in one sense, but not in 233 another. The farmers asked for protection from those diseases which affected their cattle. Protection was given to other trades; sanitary laws were passed with regard to diseases affecting human beings, such as smallpox and scarlet fever, and the farmers asked why should Parliament not legislate for the purpose of guarding against those diseases which did so much damage to their herds? Why should they not have that legislation which would free the market and open trade? If an attempt were to be made to prohibit the vast amount of disease which was engendered by the introduction of diseased cattle, was Parliament to sit with folded arms and do nothing while this outcry was going on? No doubt, there were complaints in the country as to the want of protection, and those complaints were also heard in the North of Scotland. Those diseases, they knew very well, appeared in Ireland, and he felt that it would be to the advantage of Ireland if the proposed regulations were put into operation. It would be an immense advantage to insure the health of the cattle. It would enhance their value, and would benefit those who owned them, while it would give facilities to people to send the animals to the London market, where they now went as dead meat. In spite of what hon. Members might say, he could assert, from the experience he had gained on his own farms, that the effects of foot-and-mouth disease were very injurious and disastrous. The bad results depended very much upon the time of the year in which the disease took hold of the animals. In one part of the year a great loss would result in the milking, and in another part of the year it would affect the calving, and the consequence was barrenness in the spring; so that they had not only a loss with respect to the great diminution in the quantity of milk, but also in the produce of the cow. Those things occurred both among cattle and sheep. The question ought to be considered in all its bearings, and not from one particular point of view only. An hon. Member had urged that as Denmark was free from cattle disease, the importation of live stock from that country could safely be allowed. A moment's consideration, however, would show that that was not the case. Speaking generally, cattle might be put into a 234 railway train one day in Russia, reach Denmark the next, and be at once exported from that country to England, although stringent regulations existed against the importation of cattle from Russia to Denmark. Again, cattle were brought by the Pins from Russia to Sweden, and so might introduce disease into England, if imported thither. What security could they have, then, that they would not receive diseased cattle, or cattle in which disease was latent, from Russia through Denmark? Looking over the clauses of the Bill which dealt with foot-and-mouth disease, he was bound to say that the measure would fail to cure the disease in Ireland. He did not see how they could stamp out foot-and-mouth disease anywhere; but it was the least of three evils, the most violent of which was pleuro-pneumonia. They knew perfectly well that the provisions referring to that disease would be effectual if put into operation the moment the disease was discovered; but it was the after-effects of cattle disease which the farmers mostly dreaded, and, therefore, it was their desire to embody an effective principle in the Bill. Although there were some faults in the Bill now before the House, yet there were other principles in the Act which ought to make it valuable. If the Bill became law, the Orders of Council—such as those issued last year by the Privy Council—would no longer be required. He urged that protection should be given to the country, for, in a great many cases, the town depended upon the support of the country. It was a question for all, and there was a great want of comprehension in the Bill; for in this country, if they were not prepared by an Act to lay down certain measures to provide against diseases, they could not reasonably expect reasonable men to submit to any stringent measures. He asked, were they prepared to make such regulations as would stamp out disease?—because, if they were not, it would be useless to ask farmers to hold out a helping hand. The hon. Member for Liverpool stated that inasmuch as there were no measures taken to carry out the slaughter of animals at that port, it would not be possible for the measure to operate in Liverpool. That argument had been used over and over again, and it was impossible to say that any Act could be passed without a 235 grievance resulting from it. If those regulations were carried out, however, with reference to slaughter at the ports, he believed that security would be rendered more secure, and the people would have a sense of that security and of the exemption from the disease, which would not only bring to our shores abundance of meat from the Continent, but an enormous amount of live stock would be found to be slaughtered at the ports of debarkation. Instead of a scarcity there would be found more meat than before. Statistics proved that the dead meat trade was increasing, and he had no doubt that it would continue to increase. The Bill, it was allowed, affected Ireland very largely, but, if passed into law, it would more than compensate Irish farmers for any restrictions placed upon them; and, in his opinion, it would give greater security with regard to the cattle plague. The regulations, he felt, would not only do good to the agricultural community generally, but would effect a greater good to consumers, and it would be a measure calculated to stamp upon the House a mark which it would never lose.
§ MR. E. S. HOWARD
said, that this Bill was based on the assumption that it was not only desirable, but possible, to stamp out cattle diseases. If hon. Gentlemen thought that this end was unattainable, or that the remedy was worse than the disease, they would oppose the Bill altogether. Now, he was of opinion that it was possible, with proper restrictions, to stamp out those diseases, and that it was well worth while to endeavour to do so. The first part of the Bill aimed at suppressing the disease at home, while the other part aimed at preventing the introduction of the disease from abroad. If the first part of the Bill were not likely to be efficient, the whole excuse for the second part, as it at present stood, must fall to the ground. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) asked the House to express an adverse opinion on the second part of the Bill before an opportunity had been given to hon. Members of rendering the first part efficient; and, therefore, he thought the Amendment was altogether premature. He admitted that, in his opinion, the home regulations were not satisfactory; but he hoped to be able to amend these provisions when the Bill got into Committee. If they were not amended, then, 236 but not until then, he would join in endeavouring to procure those modifications which the right hon. Gentleman desired to introduce in the second part of the Bill. He should vote for the second reading, because he believed that if the Bill were improved in Committee it would attain its object and be of great benefit to the country.
§ MR. PELL
thought there was a very general agreement as to the necessity of the Bill, and the importance of the two subjects it dealt with—namely, the rinderpest and pleuro-pneumonia. At any cost or hazard the first of these two disorders must be kept out of this Kingdom. With regard to pleuro-pneumonia, which ranked next to rinderpest in its ill effects, he did not think there were many hon. Members, or any well-informed portion of the community outside the House, who could say that the Bill went too far in the way in which it proposed to deal with that disorder. With respect to the foot-and-mouth disease, however, a controversy had raged in that House, and difference of opinion was likely to continue. Before referring to the last-named disease, he would make a few remarks on the supposed effect of the Bill in reference to the supply of meat. No one could dispute the fact that interference with a trade was a bad thing in itself; but, in the present instance, it was worth while to ascertain whether adequate compensation would not be found in the shape of an alternative supply. It was true the trade had suffered from the withdrawal of a certain number of live animals; but he was inclined to think that there had been something like a corresponding increase in the importation of dead meat. He wished, also, to call attention to another fact which was encouraging to the consumers in England. Accompanying the decline in the importation of foreign cattle from abroad there was a large increase in the number of live stock in Ireland. In fact, there were 100,000 more cattle in Ireland in 1876 than there were in 1872. He did not suppose that our Irish friends were going to eat all these animals themselves, but would probably let some of them come over to this country. His right hon. Friend opposite had said very truly that this trade in live cattle in England was a new one, and that the figures as to its present amount were no 237 measure of what it might become. No one would be more inclined to deal fairly with this trade than he would be. But if all that had been said about the live cattle trade were true, it was also true with reference to the dead meat trade. From figures in his possession, it appeared that in 1876, 1,167,000 cwt. of dead meat was brought into the country; and in 1877, 1,500,000 cwt., which represented the value of £2,900,000 in 1876 and £4,117,000 in 1877. If they took an ox at 98 stone, or 7 cwt., the increased import represented 60,000 oxen, which went a long way to meet the diminished import of live stock. None of us could say to what extent the dead meat trade, if it had fair play, might be developed. And now came the question, were we doing our best as between England and Ireland, England and Denmark, England and Germany, to develop the dead meat trade? He could hardly think we were. Much might be done with that grand market which the Corporation of London had made at Deptford, and on the score of which they took at Islington very high tolls from the farmers of England. But the approaches to the market, and the appliances there, were unworthy of this country. There were no appliances at the market for chilling the meat or keeping it cool, and if we wanted to see how that was to be done, we must go not to Deptford, but to Chicago. One of the consequences likely to flow from the restrictions proposed to be imposed on the live cattle trade was that some arrangement would be made at this great market for cooling the meat, and bringing it into a condition in which it might travel through England with the same sweetness as American meat did in America. But, notwithstanding all the present obstacles and shortcomings, he believed that beef and mutton could be killed at Deptford and placed on the table at Manchester within 24 hours. He could not quite agree with his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) with regard to giving entire freedom to cattle from Spain and Portugal. He had ascertained, from good authority, that foot-and-mouth disease was not very unfrequent in Spain. There was one thing about Spain and Portugal which had not been alluded to. Those countries had 238 a large and productive geographical area. There was an almost insurmountable barrier between them and France, and there would be no difficulty in keeping animals out in that direction. But there was very little doubt that Austrians, Hungarians, and Italians, if they found it to their advantage, might make the Peninsula a country of transit, and might pass their animals through and tranship them to this country with all the evil consequences now apprehended. He had been told that in one instance Polish cattle had been so brought from Denmark. Would it be wise, then, to give Spain and Portugal precisely the same advantages as were conceded to the United States and Canada by the Bill? But, on the other hand, he had to consider that there was a large importation of most excellent and healthy animals from Spain. Well, then, could we do anything which would put Spain and Portugal not on quite the same footing as Germany and Austria, and, at the same time, afford a sufficient security against disease to the English public? Would it not be possible to give to the Privy Council, after due inquiry, and upon assured knowledge, and after statements had been laid on the Table for a certain period, power to relax the restrictions with respect to Spain and Portugal? In dealing with foot-and-mouth disease, he thought the Bill was most unsatisfactory. When the Bill was brought into the House of Lords the Privy Council had power to declare a district infected, but as the Bill stood now they had no such power. The consequence of the change would be bad. First of all, you could not call a small place an infected district, and the local authorities and the Privy Council would, therefore, make the infected place larger in area. The consequence would be that you could not get anything in or out of it; but people could go in or out. But if the Bill remained as at first introduced, there would be power to declare a district infected. An infected district would have an infected place inside it; and with regard to the infected place, the rules would make it clear that nothing could go in or come out. But with regard to the infected district, after due inquiry had been made, licence might be given to the owners of cows or fat stock to remove them to market under certain restrictions. 239 He hoped, therefore, the House would consider the propriety of restoring the Bill in this respect to its original form. Even then, he had serious doubts whether foot-and-mouth disease would thus be extirpated in England. He, therefore, did not feel at all comfortable at the prospect of imposing these extremely severe measures on foreign animals. Many years ago a great Italian physician, writing on this subject, spoke of England in her then decided treatment of rinderpest as gens strenua et severa. He thought the terms might not be inapplicable to this country now; but he hoped to see that strenuousness and severity applied in some marked degree to the extirpation of foot-and-mouth disease in England, and not directed too exclusively or sharply to foreign importations.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
entirely agreed with his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), that this was not a Bill to be treated as a Party measure. In fact, it was impossible when an hon. Member got up to speak on it to anticipate what side he would take. Although there was great divergence of opinion on both sides of the House on the subject, there was not one hon. Member who had not admitted that if we could extirpate the cattle disease it would be worth while to make a considerable sacrifice. But, on the other hand, it was also admitted, that unless they could put further restrictions on the internal trade, it was worse than useless to put these restrictions on foreign importation. The question then, was, was it possible to impose such internal restrictions as to afford any reasonable hope of the extirpation of this disease? He was not so learned on this subject as to be able to give an opinion where so many doctors differed; but he could appeal to an authority which the Government would recognize—their own Bill. The Bill did not carry out the recommendations of their own Committee of last year. The Report of that Committee recommended the imposition of three restrictions. These were—that where the foot-and-mouth disease existed, the movement of cattle should be prohibited except under licence; that similar restrictions should be imposed with respect to markets and fairs; and that the time of removal from place to 240 place should be restricted. Now, on looking carefully through the Bill, he observed that every one of these recommendations had been restricted. In the clauses and schedules there were restrictions relating to pleuro-pneumonia; but there were no such restrictions with respect to the foot-and-mouth disease. Take, as an illustration, the movement of cattle in any infected district. No power was taken in the Bill to declare a district infected. In the 18th clause, relating to pleuro-pneumonia, there was a provision giving the Privy Council power to declare any district infected; but, looking at the clauses relating to the foot-and-mouth disease, there was no power to make such limit, and in the schedule relating to that disease there was nothing to restrict the movement of animals in the place infected. He thought the hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill would be obliged, when he came to reply, to admit that the recommendations of the Committee were not embodied in the Bill. Professor Simonds, when examined before the House of Lords' Committee as to certain restrictions on foreign trade, said he believed they would be perfectly useless, and Professor Brown expressed a similar opinion; and, although he was the Government adviser, they had introduced provisions adverse to his opinion. It was no doubt said that Amendments to meet these points, and to render the Bill more stringent, might be inserted in Committee; but he should be surprised if the Government accepted Amendments tending to make the internal restrictions more stringent. He said this because, when the Bill was introduced into the House of Lords, it did contain more stringent provisions; but in that House it was referred to a Select Committee, on which three Cabinet Ministers sat; and that Committee having heard evidence, modified those restrictions, with the assent of those Cabinet Ministers. After that, it would be a good deal to ask the House to vote against the Amendment of his right hon. Friend, in the hope of inserting Amendments of the kind which the Government had already abandoned. He was, therefore, not so sanguine as the hon. Member for East Cumberland (Mr. E. S. Howard), that the Bill could be amended, so as to make it efficient. Besides, the provisions would come very 241 late in the Bill, and would not be likely to be reached before the end of July; whereas they were important enough to demand the attention more likely to be given to them at the end of June. Then it was said that these provisions were not very important, because one most important source of supply was at home. He admitted that the foreign supply had not increased so fast as it had at one time been expected, but from some countries it had increased rapidly. In six or seven years the imports from Denmark had increased from 10,000 to 70,000 beasts, giving rise to the hope of a considerable supply from that country. Every precaution had been taken as to the prevention of disease in Denmark, and so effective were the precautions, that that country was more free from disease than any part of England or Ireland; to stop the trade, therefore, would be a very strong measure. He would call the attention of the House, as a proof of the mischief done by imposing restrictions upon trade, to the effect of the restrictions imposed on the foreign cattle trade at the time of the cattle plague. From 1860 to 1865 that trade had increased rapidly, the number of beasts imported having increased from 100,000 to 150,000; but from 1865 the trade had remained stationary, notwithstanding the increased prosperity of the country, and the consequent increase in the power of the people to consume meat. No doubt, trade in foreign cattle would have increased as rapidly since 1865 as it did before if it had not been for these restrictions. Under these circumstances, he considered it most unwise to impose further restrictions on importation; and, although he was anxious to support some portions of the Bill, he cordially supported the Amendment of his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, he had listened with great interest to the speech of his noble Friend (Lord Frederick Cavendish), who spoke with authority on any subject he had studied thoroughly; but who, in this case, had spoken mainly against details which he would leave to be dealt with in reply by the Secretary to the Treasury. There appeared to be on the front Opposition Bench as much divergence of opinion as had been exhibited in other parts of the House. This would be seen, if they compared 242 the speech they had just heard with that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). The right hon. Gentleman was satisfied with the Bill, with the exception of the provision for slaughter at the ports, and spoke of it as a Bill of great value.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he had referred to two provisions of the Bill carrying out the recommendations of the Committee of 1873–one with regard to cattle plague, and the other with respect to the rules in places infected with pleuro-pneumonia. He did not express any opinion on any other point of the Bill.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
understood that the right hon. Gentleman thought the Bill of too much value to be opposed absolutely on the second reading. The noble Lord (Lord Frederick Cavendish), however, took a different view, and opposed the Bill in detail. It was not a measure on which they need be ashamed of entertaining different views; but, however they might wish to apply them, as far as principle went, both parties were agreed that certain diseases might be of so serious a character abroad as to make it necessary to restrict the importation of animals. No one regretted more than the Government that it should be necessary to restrict trade at all; and nothing but very grave reasons could justify them in doing so. He did not at all undervalue the natural jealousy which existed on both sides of the House as to the possibility of doing anything that would raise the price of meat; it was only right and just that they should be jealous, and the Government would be culpable if they did not acknowledge the value of the suggestions made to put a rise in the price of meat beyond all fear. It ought also to be remembered that there were other articles of food the price of which might be raised by the prevalence of disease. Hon. Members had not sufficiently recognized the fact that butter, milk, and cheese were seriously affected in price by the prevalence of disease in country districts. Foot-and-mouth disease interfered grievously with the production of butter, milk, and cheese, and raised their price seriously. The question was, why did they move at all with regard to the question of foreign meat? He would not deny that the Government had received very strong representations from the producers on this subject; and, as was natural, the first thing that struck 243 the Government was, that it was a very serious and grave matter to run the risk of even appearing to propose legislation in the special interest of those who might be considered to be their most immediate friends. The Government had had to take a wide view of the question. They had observed that, in spite of the comparative freedom of the regulations affecting the importation of cattle, the price of meat had still risen. Foreign supply had by no means met the diminished home supply, and those who were responsible had been brought to face the question of how an increasing population was to be fed with a decreasing supply. The Government asked themselves how it arose that the home supply was less than it used to be, for they found that the number of live stock owned in England was smaller by 2,510,000 in 1877 than it was in 1865. This state of things existed, notwithstanding that the population of the country had increased, and the necessity had arisen for a larger supply of animal food. The reason was, that home farmers were so afraid of the importation of disease that they kept only as many cattle upon their farms as sufficed to pay their rent. It was all very well to speak of the feeling of the farmers with regard to cattle plague as a panic; but it must not be forgotten that the ravages of the disease had cost the country £5,000,000, or more than 250,000 head of cattle. The loss of this large number of cattle, a large number of them being cows, was not in itself all the evil; because it involved further the loss of their possible offspring, which would have been available either for breeding or for conversion into food. It was estimated that had these animals not been carried off, this country would at this moment have had some 2,000,000 more head of cattle. That was one thing which had spread alarm among the farmers. Then there was the question of foot-and-mouth disease to be taken into account. It was quite a mistake to undervalue that. Nothing was more depressing to a farmer than to find his animals wasting away, so to speak, before his face. It would not feed, it would not milk, and when it did yield milk it had to be thrown away. So far from being a trifle, foot-and-mouth disease was, in some respects, a disorder as much to be feared as actual rinderpest itself. It might be asked, if this legislation 244 were so important, why had it not been had recourse to before? Those who put that question forgot or ignored the vast change effected by the multiplication of railways. Every farmhouse, so to speak, had almost a line brought practically to its own door, and cattle were interchanged between distant parts under circumstances which made it difficult to trace the origin of the disease in cases where it broke out. Bearing this in mind, the Government had come to the conclusion that the restrictions contained in the Bill were necessary restrictions in behalf alike of the interests of the foreign importer and the home producer. Well, then, the question came to be, would the restrictions diminish the foreign supply? That question had partly been answered by recent events. Ten years ago, any suggestion of a large importation of dead meat would have been regarded as a dream, now it was a reality. Large quantities were sent up every day from Scotland; and, as the House must know, mechanical contrivances had been adopted which rendered it as easy to bring into the English market in good condition meat which had been killed abroad as it was to produce a supply of beef which had been killed in English slaughterhouses; in fact, he understood that during the last six months the supply from America had reached between 7,000 and 8,000 tons. Objection had been made to the dead meat trade, on the ground that it prevented the poorer classes from obtaining as food what in the trade was known as "offal;" but which, in fact, was nutritive, cheap, and wholesome food. But, as a matter of fact, this kind of food could be and was largely sent from Deptford, where imported cattle were slaughtered, to all parts of the country; and, therefore, the poor lost nothing by the restrictions which had been imposed. These things caused the Government to consider the steps they proposed to take with all the greater confidence. Those steps had been somewhat misrepresented. Hon. Members had treated the Bill as if it were one entirely to prohibit foreign countries from sending live cattle to England. That was a mistake. All the Government said was—"You may land them alive, but you shall not be allowed to take them beyond a certain limit." Judging from what some hon. Members said, one might think that the intention was 245 that all cattle should be knocked on the head as soon as they were landed from the ship. Nothing was further from the intention of the Ministry. Cattle could be kept for 10 days or longer at the port of debarkation, and only be killed when information was received from the great centres of consumption that a scarcity of meat prevailed. And here he would remind the House of the part that was nowadays played by the electric telegraph. Messages could easily be transmitted to all the ports where the cattle were waiting, and they could be killed when wanted. That, of course, removed the misconception that by slaughtering the cattle immediately on arrival foreign traders would not import, as the state of the market might be unfavourable. Those who were opposed to the Bill, he might add, contended that the system of slaughter at the ports would raise very much the price of meat. That was an objection which, in his opinion, could not be substantiated. He had looked at the evidence which had been taken before the Committee of 1873, and a question had been addressed by the noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu) to Professor Brown as to the effect of the Slaughtering Orders of cattle in 1868 in Manchester, London, and Birmingham. The noble Lord read certain Returns which had been made by Professor Brown, who had been sent on a mission of inquiry to those towns, and asked whether Professor Brown had arrived at the conclusion that the Slaughtering Orders had not affected the price of meat at all, or, if they did, that they had caused it to fall. The answer of Professor Brown was that the Returns for which he was responsible showed that the Orders had the effect rather of reducing the wholesale price of meat. Surely that was a testimony to which the Government should attach a great deal of importance. As there was a great deal of misrepresentation on the subject, he would ask the House to consider whence it was our foreign supply of meat came. There were Russia, Germany, Belgium, and Holland in one group; but the prevalence of the cattle plague in the great steppes of Russia, and the connection between Germany and Belgium and that country, made it impossible to deal with them otherwise than by means of very re- 246 strictive measures. Then came France, but all the testimony relating to that country went to show that France had not enough of meat for her own use, and that she was never likely to become a great exporting country, so that she might be set aside. Then came Canada and the United States; to those countries, he believed, they might look for an enormous meat supply for the future, and with them no interference was proposed by the Government measure. There were besides Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Portugal, and from those countries we no doubt received a certain supply of meat; but there was reason to doubt whether that supply was so large as it was generally thought to be. It was, therefore, quite intelligible that many hon. Gentlemen expressed considerable hesitation before accepting any proposal to place those countries under restrictions. But let him suppose, for instance, that an exception were made with regard to Portugal, the real risk which would have to be run was that the moment one country was placed in a freer position than another, the temptation presented to an unclean country to get its diseased animals passed through the freer country was so enormous that it was impossible to prevent that course from being taken. This had actually happened in Spain, through which he had been assured that even some cattle from Austria had been passed in order to reach England. It would, at all events, be exceedingly difficult to preclude French cattle from coming through Spain and Portugal; so that, without pronouncing any opinion of his own with regard to those countries, he begged the House to bear in mind the serious difficulties which lay in the way of making them exceptions to the Bill. They were by no means fanciful difficulties, because the great object of the Bill was to give a real security. And what was really the position in which the Government stood with regard to the matter? They did their best to encourage the dead meat traffic from the small producing countries; but when they came to deal with large producing countries, such as Canada and the United States, they kept the door wide open to them to send, not only dead meat, but their live cattle to walk all over the land as they liked. He would ask the House, therefore, to concur with 247 him when he said that the Government, in so acting, could not for a moment be justly accused of the desire to encourage by the Bill the protection of our native produce. It would, of course, be quite absurd not to admit that the Bill must effect a very considerable change in the course of trade; but that change would, he believed, be cured in a very few years by the course of events. Nevertheless, great changes must, of course, be distasteful to certain persons, such as the traders and dealers in cattle; but it was quite clear that the consumer did not occupy the same position as the importer and the middleman and the salesman. He was quite aware of the inconvenience to which those persons might be put; but he was very doubtful whether the consumer would not profit, in the long run, by the diminished number of persons who derived their profits from the trade. He thought, therefore, that the Government might disregard the charge that in what they were doing they would be increasing the burdens on the consumer. He was confirmed in that view by what had occurred in the debate of the previous evening. He was aware that those who were connected with the interests of the importers and the salesmen were rather shy of the Bill; but his hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ritchie), he found, who represented a large consuming and working population, was warmly in favour of the Bill as a whole. ["No, no!"] He certainly, after hearing his hon. Friend's speech, received that impression. But, be that as it might, he felt assured that when the Bill was fully considered, the apprehensions of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) and his hon. Colleague the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone) would be seen not to be well founded. They adverted to the fear that the Government should be supposed for a moment to desire to increase the price of meat. It was something like saying—"Do you not think the man ought to be put under the pump?" when such suggestions were made to the constituencies. As to the changes which might be introduced into the Bill in Committee, it was of course obvious that the Government would be prepared to meet all objections with regard to the inconveniences which might result from the operation as far as possible half-way whenever a real difficulty 248 had to be met. But, looking to the question as a whole, and having great confidence that the Bill would increase the food supply of the people in the long run, they felt it their duty not to be afraid of the taunts which had been thrown out against them; but, relying on their just intentions and a really good case, to invite the House to give its assent to the Bill.
§ MR. SYNAN
pointed to the fact that the number of cattle in Ireland had greatly increased between 1872 and 1876 to show that distemper did not prevail in that country to such an extent as some persons were disposed to think. In his opinion, the Resolution ought not to have been brought forward on the second reading of the Bill, and he consequently could not support the course taken by his right hon. Friend on the front Opposition Bench. Besides, the form of the Amendment was very inconsistent; for, while it related to an alteration that might be made in Committee, if it were passed it would be fatal to the second reading of the Bill. Why, then, had it been proposed at that stage? Evidently because it would catch those who objected to certain clauses respecting foot-and-mouth disease, and Members like the hon. Member for Birmingham, who objected to any legislation on the matter. The hon. Member had stated that the disease was not imported, and that the evidence of its importation was imaginary. And his hon. Friend had further said that the Committee, whose Report had been based on that evidence, had founded it on a pure delusion. It seemed, then, that the Resolution had been brought forward in order to catch the votes of hon. Members with the views he had mentioned. The right hon. Gentleman who had moved the Resolution had said that he wished to see the second reading carried; that object, however, would have been more surely obtained if the Resolution had been reserved until the discussion on the 5th Schedule, when it might have been debated without prejudice to the rest of the Bill. The Resolution was founded upon the assumption that, if that clause remained in the Bill, it would increase the price of meat, and diminish the importation of cattle, and consequently the supply to the home market. That was a question of statistics and facts, and depended upon 249 the further question whether the whole of the Continent was to be scheduled. No statistics had been adduced to prove the assumption. Nor had statistics been given to prove the position that the present system of scheduling countries had diminished the supply one-half, and that the stringent law proposed would add another 25 per cent to the diminution. Though he was in favour of the second reading of the Bill, he did not offer any opinion upon the merits of the Resolution, and reserved any observations he had to make on the principle involved in it until it came under consideration in Committee. With regard to the aspect of the question as affecting Ireland, it was admitted that the cattle trade was the only trade that had been left to it. Ireland, in that respect, had all its eggs in one basket. It was of paramount importance that the cattle trade of Ireland should be preserved, protected, and increased as much as possible. It was vital to the interests of Ireland that the supply should increase, and it was also equally vital to the interests of England that the supply should continue and increase. Nearly the whole of the cattle supplied to the North of England was forwarded from Ireland. The supply from Ireland amounted to 450,000 head of cattle a-year more than the foreign supply. Considering, therefore, that this was the only vital industry in Ireland, no attempt should be made in the House for diminishing that supply. For this reason, he had from the commencement shown his objection to the arguments on the other side of the House in favour of making the clauses in the Bill dealing with foot-and-mouth disease more stringent. It was impossible to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease in the same way as cattle plague and pleuro-pneumonia. It never occurred to anyone outside a lunatic asylum to slaughter cattle for foot-and-mouth disease. If this stringent course were adopted, the effect would be that all movement of cattle from Ireland would be prevented, and so a stop would be put to the cattle trade of Ireland; and, in order to secure the object in view, the system would have to be in operation for four or five years—or, at the very least, for 12 months. The evidence of the Irish witnesses showed pretty clearly 250 that such a stringent law could not possibly be applied to Ireland, and for that reason the House of Lords modified the Bill in this respect in order to meet this objection. He hoped, therefore, that the House would deal in such a way with the clauses on foot-and-mouth disease as that no injury would accrue to the Irish export trade.
It being ten minutes before Seven of the clock, the Debate stood further adjourned till this day.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
asked if the adjournment of this debate would make any change in the arrangement for bringing on the Queen's Colleges Vote?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, it would, for this Bill must be proceeded with. If the debate finished on Thursday, the Queen's Colleges Vote would be taken on Friday morning.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
wished to know, whether, if the debate on the Cattle Bill did not finish on Thursday, it would be continued at the Morning Sitting on Friday, which might not be a convenient time?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
replied, that it would be no doubt more convenient to proceed with the debate on Friday, but that he could not say whether those hon. Members in whose names Notices stood on the Paper for that evening would give way for the purpose. He hoped, however, that the debate would close on Thursday.
§ The House suspended its Sitting at Seven of the clock.
§ The House resumed its sitting at Nine of the clock.