HC Deb 14 February 1879 vol 243 cc1189-92

asked the Vice President of the Council, Upon what grounds the Government have ordered the slaughter at the port of landing of cattle arriving in this Country from the United States of America; whether any cases of pleuro-pneumonia have occurred among any cattle arriving from the United States except those brought over by the "Ontario;" how many cargoes of cattle from the United States have arrived since that of the "Ontario"; whether there has been any correspondence with the Government of the United States, or its representatives, or with our representatives in that country, on the subject, and whether there are any minutes relating thereto; and, if so, whether he will lay Copies thereof upon the Table of the House; and, whether the Government have any, and, if so, what proof that the animals in the "Ontario's" cargo which were affected were American and not Canadian cattle?


asked the Vice President of the Council, If he can state to the House, whether Her Majesty's Government have received any informamation as to the outbreak of disease among cattle in the United States of America; how far and to what extent it is true as reported that contagious pleuro-pneumonia is prevalent at the present time in that country; whether Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that the general sanitary condition of cattle therein is such as to afford reasonable security against the importation of diseased animals there from into this Country; and, if not, if he would explain why the Order in Council exempting American cattle from the operation of the provisions of the fifth Schedule of the Contagious Diseases Animals Act relating to foreign animals—viz.; "They are not to be moved alive out of the wharf," is not suspended immediately, instead of remaining in force till the 3rd of March?


asked the Vice President of the Council, If he will state the number of live cattle, sheep, and pigs imported from Canada and the United States respectively in the first and second half-years of 1878, with the number found suffering from contagious disease; if he will also state the circumstances under which the recent Order in Council was issued requiring the slaughter of all American cattle at the port of debarkation, and whether there is any probability of such Order being speedily withdrawn; and, if he will lay all the Correspondence relating thereto upon the Table of the House?


Sir, the facts upon which the Order in Council was made are very simple. For some time past the Privy Council have from different quarters received intimations that there was in the United States a considerable amount of disease among cattle and other domestic animals. I have in my hand a Report, or rather a Message from the President of the United States communicating to the Senate in February, 1878, information in relation to the diseases prevailing amongst swine and other domestic animals. In the Appendix, page 144, of this Report, are the opinions of the different men of authority and experience upon the subject. I need not trouble the House with their Reports; but I will read a few lines from Professor James Law, one of the most eminent of those consulted. He says, page 144— Lung Fever.—This is the most insidious of all plagues, and this malady we harbour on our eastern seaboard, where it is gradually but almost imperceptibly invading' new territory…. There is abundant evidence of the existence of this affection in Eastern New York, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and the district of Columbia. (See Government Report on Diseases of Cattle, 1871, and many instances in current agricultural journals). Within the last year I have been advised in the case of three outbreaks,—one in Eastern New York, one on Staten Island, and one in New Jersey. At present it excites little apprehension, but we are asleep over a smouldering volcano. Spreading from the port of New York, it has already gained a substantial hold upon different States, including the district of Columbia, and has invaded and been repeatedly expelled from two more, and it is only requisite that it should reach the sources of our stock supplies in the West to infect our railway cars and Eastern States generally… England has lost over 10,000,000 dollars from rinderpest in the present century, but she has lost hundreds of millions from the less-dreaded lung fever. He concludes by imploring the Government to eradicate this plague at once. Well, Sir, the Lord President did not feel justified in excluding, upon the information before him, the import of live cattle except for slaughter from the United States until he had conclusive proof of what the nature of this lung disease was, and that there was a real danger of pleuro-pneumonia being brought into the country from the States—there being no single case of that disease being brought from the United States up to 26th of January, 1879. During the last three weeks pleuro-pneumonia of a contagious character has been detected in three cargoes of live cattle, brought over in the steamships Dominion and Ontario, from Portland, and the Istrian, from Boston. An Order was therefore issued, prohibiting import of live cattle from the United States after the 3rd of March, except for immediate slaughter, but not from Canada, which is not only quite free from disease, but has recently issued an Order prohibiting the import of live cattle from the United States. Twelve cargoes have arrived since that of the Ontario, all healthy, except in the case of the Istrian. The date of the 3rd of March was fixed, as it was considered only fair to allow cargoes shipped at the time of the Order to be landed, if healthy. If any disease exists among them, all will be slaughtered. It is hoped that by the 3rd March a foreign animals wharf will be opened at Birkenhead, with every accommodation for the slaughter of animals coming from the United States. On the Liverpool side ample accommodation will be provided by the same date for the large; and, if necessary, the slaughter of animals from unscheduled countries, and the present inconvenient landing-place be abandoned. I will lay the Correspondence asked for, together with the Report I have alluded to, upon the Table of the House.


asked, Whether the information referred to was known to the Government in time to be utilized in the preparation of the measure of last year?


said, he was not quite certain on that point, although he kn6w it was in the possession of the Lord President when he issued the Orders in Council in November last.