§ MR. CHAPLIN
, in rising to call attention to the following facts in connection with the recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in England:—That, up till October last, the Country had been for many months perfectly free from that disease; that, during that month, a cargo of diseased animals was landed at Deptford from France at a time when disease was known to exist there; that, within a week of their landing, cases of the disease were detected in London, and that since their detection the disease has spread rapidly among thousands of stock, causing much inconvenience to the general public and serious injury and loss to agriculturists in all parts of the Country; and to move the following Resolution:—This House is of opinion that the recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease has been entirely caused by the importation of diseased animals into this Country from abroad; that it is proved by experience that compulsory slaughter on landing does not afford security against the introduction of contagious cattle diseases from Foreign Countries; and that the landing in England, Scotland, or Ireland of foreign live animals should not be permitted in future from countries which are known to be infected, or as to which the Privy Council are not satisfied that the Laws thereof relating to the Importation and Exportation of Animals, and to the prevention of the introduction or spreading of disease, and the general sanitary condition of animals therein, are such as to afford reasonable security against the importa- 1663 tion therefrom of animals which are diseased into this Country,said, he made no apology for bringing this matter before the House that night, because they had recently been suffering, and were still suffering, in many counties in England, from a severe outbreak of contagious disease amongst the herds. The House would remember that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) said, in answer to a Question put to him from that side of the House during the earliest days of the Session, that since the month of January, 1880, down to October last, the country had been perfectly free from what was known as "foot-and-mouth disease." In the accuracy of that statement he (Mr. Chaplin) was, happily, able to agree. It was true that for a period of nine months they were free from that terrible scourge; in fact, it was completely stamped out by the exercise of the severe restrictions which were imposed upon the home trade of the country under the provisions of the Act passed in 1878, and that, too, in spite of all the predictions to the contrary, which he remembered so well on the part of a great many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the opposite side of the House, and who, at that time, were most persistent and strenuous opponents. It was interesting to watch the working of the Act from the commencement of its operation, and to see the gradual and steady effect it had had upon the course of that disease, resulting at last in its final extinction. Professor Brown, in the official Reports to the Privy Council, had illustrated so clearly the effect of the Act upon the course of that disease that he hoped he might be pardoned for quoting two or three extracts from his Reports. In the Report of 1878, referring to the progress of foot-and-mouth disease, Professor Brown said—No serious accession of the disease occurred in any month of the year 1878, although the number of attacks varied in the Returns for each month, from 1,365 in January, 1,586 in February, and 2,505 in August, to 684 in September, when the regulations under the Act of 1869 were superseded by the Act and by the Orders under the Act of 1878… According to the Returns of the last week of the year 1878, there were only two centres of foot-and-mouth disease in Great Britain; and it is not unreasonable, therefore, to entertain the hope that under the stringent provisions of the Act of 1878 the affection may shortly be extinguished.1664 That was in 1878. He would quote two very short extracts from page 6 of the Report of the Department in 1878. The first said—Foot-and-mouth disease began to extend its area. At the commencement of the year the declaration of infected places and the consequent limitation of the movement of infected animals had a very marked effect in controlling the progress of the malady.Later on, the Report said—In the latter part of the year foot-and-mouth disease declined so much that it was commonly spoken of as a thing of the past. The Return for the last week of the year included only three infected places.That was the experience of Professor Brown, who was probably the highest authority they had, upon the working of the Act in three months of 1878; and it culminated, as they had seen, in the total extinction of that disease during the first nine months of 1880. That, to him, was a most gratifying testimony of the beneficial working of the Act; and when he remembered it was passed during the reign of a Conservative Government, and when he called to mind the charges and taunts brought against the Conservative Government—and he must add so unscrupulously by some of their opponents, and especially during the last General Election, when it was said that they had done absolutely nothing for the farmers' interest during the whole time that they were in power—he must express his own individual opinion that the Act of 1878, which was introduced in the House of Lords by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, and carried in the House of Commons by his right hon. Friend below him against a Liberal opposition and a Liberal obstruction such as he had rarely seen equalled in that House, had been proved by experience to be the best, the wisest, the most statesmanlike, and the most beneficial measure affecting the agricultural interests ever carried, certainly, during his time within the House of Commons; and more so, when it had become the instrument of finally extinguishing that terrible scourge of foot - and - mouth disease throughout the country. Well, that disease having been stamped out, having, he said, practically—not only practically, but absolutely—ceased to exist in the country, he felt it his duty to take the earliest opportunity he could find of calling the attention of the House of Com- 1665 mons to the fact that they were again suffering from this disease, which he had stated as distinctly as he could had been absolutely stamped out; and he would endeavour to indicate, also, the means, the reliable means, by which they could ever hope to be free, as they ought to be, from any recurrence of that grievous calamity. That it was a most grievous calamity he could assure the House was no exaggeration on his part. But before he proceeded to trace what he believed to be the real remedy, perhaps the House would allow him to show, as far as he could, what had been the extent of the effect of the outbreak at the present moment, not only upon the producers of stock and the agriculturists of the country, but also upon the interests of the general public and consumers as well. He found that the number of outbreaks since October had been 3,166. According to the latest Returns he had been able to obtain, the number of animals attacked had been 131,260. The number of places infected were so numerous that, he understood, a complete list had not yet been compiled, and there had been 193 infected areas in 30 counties of England. Now, what did that mean? It meant not only immense inconvenience to the producer and owner of stock, but it meant a large additional expenditure of time and labour as well. It meant a large direct pecuniary loss, arising from the diminution in the value of the animals attacked, and it also meant a still larger pecuniary loss arising from two or three causes—partly from what he might describe as forced sales, and partly owing to the limited market, which, owing to the necessity of imposing severe restrictions in the districts where the disease existed, were all that were open to the farmer who was unfortunate enough to live in those districts. More than all that, a still more serious loss resulted to the farmer from the amount of injury done to the breeding prospects of his flocks or of his herds, as the case might be, in future. It was indeed difficult to estimate the absolute pecuniary loss sustained by the farmers, as the indirect loss, so far as he could judge, was much greater than the direct loss they had undergone. He, himself, could not put the loss at less than £1,000,000 or £1,500,000, and he was not by any means satisfied with the accuracy of those Returns. At the same time he said this, he was not making any complaint 1666 of the Government or the officials they employed, for anyone knew how difficult it was to obtain anything like accurate Returns. But he would give the House an instance of what he meant. It so happened that in one of the Returns there was included a farm in the county of Lincolnshire which he knew himself. The Returns in this case were given as 12 sheep dead, and 200 that remained on the farm affected by the disease. Well, it so happened that he received only yesterday morning a letter from the farmer himself, full of complaints of the sufferings of the sheep and the loss he had undergone, and he said he had lost 43 ewes by death, and 387 lambs besides, in addition to all the other animals on the farm remaining affected; and so the House would see that, taking the estimate he had done, if that Return was to be a sample of the others, he should not be much over the mark. Then the House ought to remember, as well, that the outbreak had occurred at a period of the year which was peculiarly favourable for its suppression and control; and while he gladly took that opportunity of acknowledging the energy and zeal of the Privy Council, and of expressing his opinion that the thanks of all agriculturists were due to his right hon. Friend opposite, to the President of the Privy Council (Earl Spencer), and others, for the promptitude and vigour they displayed in trying to check the spread of the disease after it had broken out, they would agree with him that if the outbreak had occurred in the summer, when the flocks were scattered over the fields, instead of in the winter, when they were sheltered in homesteads, and, so to speak, isolated, the loss must have been fully four or five times greater. So far he had spoken merely of the loss that had fallen on the producer; but what would the outbreak of the disease do at the same time for the consumer? Undoubtedly, he must be a loser as well by the return of the disease. The unhappy return of this disease would have been a serious discouragement to breeding in the country; and, in consequence, it would have lessened greatly the home production as well, and in all human probability would end in the increased cost of meat, which the consumer would have to pay; and he might say that that, perhaps, appeared to him to be the most serious question of all 1667 that was likely to arise through the presence of that terrible disease in the country. They must remember that live stock constituted so large a proportion of the capital of the farmer, that unless he could have a sure guarantee that they would not be subject to contagious disease, his position would always be one of great risk for the security of the capital which he had embarked in his farm. Well, but security for their capital was what they were all of them anxious to give tenant farmers in these days; and nobody more so, if he might judge by the loudness of their professions, than hon. Gentlemen opposite. The security of their capital was what they always wished to give to tenant farmers; and they might rely on this, that there was no security at the present time that could be offered which would be so effective or so beneficial to the tenant farmers of the country as security against the introduction among their flocks and herds of contagious diseases from abroad. He remembered they were told at one time that the whole agricultural produce of the country, with proper security and adequate capital, might be very easily doubled. He did not know who made the statement, and he did not care who it was; but, if he said the whole produce of this country could be doubled, with profit on the outlay, then he (Mr. Chaplin) ventured to say, in his humble estimation, he was simply talking nonsense on a subject he did not understand. But, at the same time, he was ready to admit that there was room for an enormous increase in the production of mutton and beef; but to do that, the breeder must have absolute immunity from the terror of contagious disease at home or abroad. That was absolutely essential; and until that was done he was satisfied they could never hope for any real or permanent advance in the future. So much was that the case, that he himself had known, he might almost say without exaggeration, hundreds of instances of farmers who had given up breeding in this country in disgust and despair; and to his judgment it was deplorable and distressing that, at the present time, just as they had began to entertain hopes that confidence had been restored and fear had been allayed, and just as the beneficial effects of the last legislation on the subject were beginning to be felt, all the good should be undone, and all 1668 that mischief have occurred, because of the unhappy importation of disease into the country again. Let him ask the House why was that so, and what was the cause of it? Whence did it come? He did not suppose that there could be a shadow of a doubt. He did not imagine that even his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Mundella) would venture to deny that it had come in that case direct from abroad. What were the facts? In the month of September in last year, there was an outbreak of the disease in the North of France, and shortly after a cargo of diseased animals was landed at Deptford. They were all slaughtered at the port of landing; but, unfortunately, human beings who had been in contact with those animals were liable to convey the disease as well as the live animals themselves. And that it had been conveyed, in this case, there could not be a shadow of a doubt, because within three days—he believed he was perfectly right in saying three days, and if he was wrong the right hon. Gentleman would correct him—after the landing of this cargo the disease appeared in the London dairies, although there had not been a single symptom of a case of that disease anywhere in England previously for nine months. Well, now, he was not making any complaint of the Government; on the contrary, he thought that after the disease had unfortunately been admitted, the efforts to check and suppress it had been of a most energetic and praiseworthy character; but they could not ignore this fact, that the whole of the mischief had arisen from the system under which the trade in foreign meat at the present time was carried on. Under that system the landing of foreign animals was kept entirely to the discretion of the Privy Council. The Privy Council could permit them to be landed, or prohibit them from being landed, as they pleased; but when landed they were obliged to be slaughtered at once. The Privy Council, however, had no discretion as to their slaughter, except under certain stringent conditions which were afterwards mentioned, and were based upon the knowledge and information possessed by the Privy Council as to the freedom from disease of those countries from which the animals might have come. Well, in that Deptford case, all those diseased animals were slaughtered at a port at once; but, notwithstanding 1669 that, the disease found its way into the country; and he contended, therefore, it had been shown, by experience, that compulsory slaughter at the port was absolutely no safeguard and security against the introduction of contagious disease. What he would propose, therefore, was simply this—that the Privy Council, in the first place, after giving adequate notice—and the Privy Council must decide for themselves what adequate notice was—let the Privy Council, he said, after giving adequate notice, exercise the power which they possessed already to prohibit the landing of all foreign live animals from countries infected by the disease, and known to them to be infected. Let the landing of all such animals in future be prohibited by law, but subject to those conditions of exemption to be found in the 4th section of the 5th Schedule of the Act of 1878, which applied to animals to be killed on landing, and under which none, except on those conditions, were permitted to leave the wharf alive. Then they might hope for a complete immunity from the disease abroad, and they might also look forward once again to its final and complete extermination at home. He saw the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold) was going to oppose the Motion. He should be told, he supposed, that they must not interfere with the food of the people. No one was less desirous than he was to impose any restrictions on the food of the people. He remembered when the Act of 1878 was introduced, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, but who was then Vice President of the Council—["No, no!"]—well, he forgot what Office the right hon. Gentleman held, but he was one of the chief opponents of the Bill, and he moved an Amendment to the effect—That, in the opinion of this House, the slaughter at the ports of landing of all cattle from the Continent would restrict the supply and increase the price of food, and should, therefore, not be made compulsory, under all circumstances, by Act of Parliament.Then the right hon. Gentleman wont on to say—It is on my ability to prove these two propositions that I ask the House to base their opinion of my Resolution."—[3 Hansard, ccxli. 148.]Now, what happened? So far from 1670 increasing the price of food, the Act had just the contrary effect, for the mean price of meat at the Metropolitan Market in 1878 was 8 1–16d. per lb., and in 1879 only 7¾d.; and with regard to restricting the supply, he found that in 1878 there were 1,201,498 live animals imported, and in 1879, the year after the passing of the Act, 1,245,022. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were wrong at the time as to the consequences of the Act, and he had every reason to suppose they would prove equally wrong in the future so far as his proposition was concerned. He asked the House to consider what the restrictions proposed really amounted to. He was sorry to trouble the House with so many statistics, but they formed the most important part of his argument; and when it might be legitimately contended that his scheme would interfere with the supply of food, he was bound to show that that result need not be apprehended. Now, our importation of meat into England consisted partly of dead meat and partly of foreign live animals. Taking the Returns of 1879, he found that there was imported of dead meat 6,443,024 cwt., and of foreign live animals—in number—1,245,022. These 1,245,022 live animals, calculating 6 cwt. for the average weight of a beast, and 1 cwt. as the average of the sheep and pigs, would represent 2,483,862 cwt., making a total of meat imported into this country of 8,926,886 cwt. Of those foreign live animals, however, 254,000 came from the following countries:—British North America, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain, and Portugal, which were already exempted under the Animals Order Act from slaughter at the port, and would, therefore, under his proposition, be allowed to land. That reduced the number of foreign live animals whose landing would be prohibited to 991,000. These 991,000, on the same calculation as above, represented 1,704,822 cwt., or just about one-fifth, and no more, of the total amount of meat, dead and alive, which was imported into the country. Those figures left out of the calculation altogether the increase in our home production that would be certain to occur, and which, in his opinion, would soon more than counterbalance the temporary loss that would be sustained. He did not know that there were any other possible ob- 1671 jections that he could anticipate as likely to be urged against the Resolution. Possibly, the old three-legged cripple Free Trade would be again trotted out; but he wished to remark that he demanded, not protection against foreign meat or food, but protection against foreign disease. It could scarcely be contended that the prohibition of cattle from infected countries would not give us immunity from disease. He had, indeed, heard it argued that the outbreaks were spontaneous, and that the disease was indigenous to the country; but such arguments would not hold water for a moment, as hon. Gentlemen would see if they waded impartially through the Reports of the Cattle Plague Committee of 1877, in which the balance of evidence was conclusively against that view. Lastly, there was one other consideration that he had to submit to the House. It could not be expected that the farmers of this country would continue to submit to the harassing restrictions imposed upon them, unless they received in return immunity from disease from abroad. The main opposition to the Act of 1878 was grounded on two considerations. It was said that the restrictions would never be sufficiently strong to stamp out the disease—and on this point the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had expressed himself very plainly to that effect; and, in the second place, it was declared that even if the restrictions were sufficient our farmers would never consent to them. In both respects, however, experience had shown that the late Government were right. The farmers throughout all England had loyally submitted to severe but necessary restriction; and now, after all their sacrifices and losses and inconveniences, it was most depressing and disheartening to find that their efforts had been fruitless and their sacrifices thrown away, in consequence of the re-admission of the scourge of the disease. If the system of the free admission of cattle continued, he had no hesitation in saying it would be necessary to abandon the present harassing restrictions at home, as to which the farmers could not justly be asked to submit unless they at the same time enjoyed complete and absolute immunity from foreign disease. Freedom of importation, coupled with freedom at home, meant nothing less than universal disease 1672 throughout England; and the only alternative was a system such as that which he advocated, and which would utterly stamp out the disease. Once more he claimed the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary as his supporter, for he had said in the debates on the Act of 1878—If the disease were once stamped out at home, the farmers would have some ground to demand that its introduction from abroad should be rendered impossible.[Mr. MUNDELLA: What disease was that?] Foot-and-mouth disease. He, therefore, called upon the right hon. Gentleman and on the Government to act up to the views expressed by the right hon. Gentleman in 1878, and to support the Resolution which he now moved, in the confident belief that its recommendations were in the interests of the farmers, of the consumers, and of the community at large. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given. Notice.
§ MR. WILBRAHAM EGERTON
, in seconding the Resolution, said, that, as Chairman of the Veterinary Committee of the Royal Agricultual Society, also as representing a county which had suffered more from foot-and-mouth disease than any other county in England, he had had opportunities of obtaining special information on the subject. It appeared to be certain that the disease was introduced last autumn into France by a vessel which put into St. Omer, and that it next spread to the North of France, whence it was brought across the Channel to Deptford. Now, as it was difficult for the Government to put sufficient pressure on foreign Governments, he was driven to the conclusion that the only proper course was to stop the introduction of animals infected from every country in which we believed the disease to be. His point was that the French, in order to prevent the introduction of trichinosis, absolutely stopped the importation of pork. In the same way, as we had no security against the introduction of diseased animals at our ports, he was driven to the conclusion that it would be necessary to prevent altogether the importation of animals from certain countries. There had been a great growth in the feeling with respect to foot-and-mouth disease, and the measures taken with regard to it. Ten years ago, the farmers did not care much 1673 about it, and were unwilling to take those precautions which the foresight of Professor Brown would have imposed upon them. But now there was a feeling throughout the country that the disease was so dangerous, that farmers would submit to any restrictions to keep it out. In 1878, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) told them that foot-and-mouth disease did not come from abroad; but it was somewhat strange that since the Act of that year up to the beginning of the present year the country had enjoyed a complete immunity from that disease. He considered that the Act of 1878 had been a complete success. It had not, as the right hon. Gentleman anticipated would be the case, increased the price of meat; while, at the same time, to his (Mr. Wilbraham Egerton's) own knowledge, it had acted as a stimulus to the farmers to breed more stock at home. Those two points were sufficient to show that the supporters of the measure were right, and that those who opposed it were not justified by the results. There had also been a very great increase in the dead meat trade during the last 10 years, and this country need never be afraid of any shortness of supply, seeing how successful the scheme of bringing meat from the Antipodes in frozen chambers had been. He believed the trade in dead meat might be carried on with success, if it were necessary to prohibit the importation of live cattle altogether. There were two or three centres from which foot-and-mouth disease spread, and these were the large markets. The greater part was introduced from abroad; but he believed it had been also introduced from Ireland. He did not say that the disease was in Ireland; but, from information received by the Royal Agricultural Society, he believed that animals had been landed at Silloth, which probably contracted disease in the passage. The outbreak in Cheshire had been traced to a cow in Manchester market—whether an Irish cow or one from a foreign country he could not say; but in a month from that time 390 animals were attacked. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), who represented, probably, the largest dead-meat market in the North of England, was opposed to the Motion of his bon. Friend; and his Predecessor in the representation of the borough (Sir 1674 William Charley) on that question took a different view from the Party with which he usually acted. There must be something in the position of Salford as a dead meat market to which the opposition of its Members must be attributed. But the general feeling of agriculturists was that no sacrifices would be too great to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease, provided the price of meat was not increased, nor any restrictions placed on free trade but such as might be justified by the absolute necessity of the case. The absolute necessity of the case was that it was far more important that we should breed healthy cattle at home rather than import them, and the English farmer ought not to be handicapped in the race with other producing countries by increasing the risk of production through the importation of diseased animals from abroad. He begged to second the Resolution.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House is of opinion that the recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease has been entirely caused by the importation of diseased animals into this Country from abroad:
That it is proved by experience that compulsory slaughter on landing does not afford security against the introduction of contagious cattle diseases from Foreign Countries:
And that the landing in England, Scotland, or Ireland of Foreign live animals should not be permitted in future from countries which are known to be infected, or as to which the Privy Council are not satisfied that the Laws thereof relating to the Importation and Exportation of Animals, and to the prevention of the introduction or spreading of disease, and the general sanitary condition of animals therein, are such as to afford reasonable security against the importation therefrom of animals which are diseased into this Country."—(Mr. Chaplin.)
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he hoped it would be found convenient that he should at the very earliest opportunity place before the House the views of the Government with respect to the Resolution of his hon. Friend. He need hardly say it was their intention to give to that Resolution a direct negative. He hoped to be able to show the House that, in the interest not only of the consumer but of the producer, the Resolution was one of the most unfortunate that could possibly be submitted. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lincolnshire commenced by speaking in terms of the highest laudation of the Act of 1878. He (Mr. Mundella) did not dispute for a moment the value of that Act. He be- 1675 lieved its operation had been most beneficial, and that it had mainly succeeded in accomplishing the purpose for which it was passed. But the Liberal side of the House might claim some credit for the modifications which they introduced, and which made it mainly a working Act ["No!"] What, then, about the restrictions on the import of cattle from America? The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire said that the Act of 1878 was the best, wisest, and most statesmanlike measure ever passed for the agricultural interest. [Mr. CHAPLIN: I said the most beneficial in my time.] Well, if it was such a beneficial, wise, and statesmanlike Act, how was it that the hon. Gentleman asked them to destroy it? For he began by asking them to take away the very principle of the Act, which was the compulsory slaughter at the ports of landing of all animals which had not complied with the provisions of the 5th Schedule. He had looked through the long debates on the Act, and there was not even the mention of the word "prohibition" by any Member who spoke on the question. All that hon. Members opposite had professed to require was free importation with compulsory slaughter at the ports; and prohibition had never been mentioned in the House, except with reference to cattle plague and rinderpest. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), who had the conduct of the Bill, made many speeches all in that sense; and citations might even be made from the speeches of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire. The hon. Member said that its object was to stamp out disease at home, and prevent its re-introduction from abroad; and that it sought to attain its object by imposing severe restrictions at home, and enacting compulsory slaughter at the ports.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, the right hon. Gentleman appeared to misunderstand his (Mr. Chaplin's) present position. What he proposed was—instead of compulsory slaughter at the ports, which was proved by experience to be no sufficient safeguard, but which at the time we were ready to accept for a trial—that there should now be absolute prohibition in regard to the landing of live animals from countries known to be infected, or having laws which did not afford us security.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, that was exactly what he had assumed. The hon. Member now advocated exactly the reverse of what he wanted in 1878. It was not intended, said the hon. Member, by compulsory slaughter to stamp out disease, but to prevent infected animals coming in; and it had not been shown that that object would be attained. Of course, it was the common object of all to enlarge the meat supply. But the hon Member now proposed to abolish compulsory slaughter at the ports altogether, and to establish complete prohibition. If that were done, the principle of the Act would be entirely gone; and the hon. Member now practically asked the House to destroy the measure which he and other hon. Gentlemen opposite themselves showed to be so beneficial. He must make his acknowledgment of the way in which the administration of the Act by the Privy Council had been spoken of. He could say honestly he had endeavoured to the best of his ability to administer the Act to prevent the spread of disease; but his part in the work had been very small compared with that of Earl Spencer, who had devoted more time and labour to the business than would generally be supposed. The hon. Member had made certain statements which, for the convenience of debate, he would, as far as possible, admit. It was true that, up to October last, the country had been for some nine months practically free front foot-and-mouth disease. It was also true that during that month a cargo of diseased animals was landed at Deptford from France, at a time when the disease was known to exist there; also, that within a week of their landing cases of disease were detected in London, and that the disease had since spread largely among the stock, causing much inconvenience to the general public, and serious injury and loss to agriculturists in all parts of the country. That he would admit, but with a certain qualification. It must be remembered that the cargo from France to which reference had been made was the 15th that was affected during those nine months, and that we were constantly in receipt of affected cargoes. That only showed how effective compulsory slaughter at the port of landing had been. We had been receiving cargoes from Holland, which was, perhaps, never known to be 1677 free from the disease. He made the hon. Member a present of these admissions; but did they justify the hon. Member's Resolution founded upon them? To the assertion that it had been proved that compulsory slaughter on landing did not afford security against the introduction of contagious cattle diseases from foreign countries, his answer was that it was proved to have afforded reasonable security against the introduction of contagious cattle; and the only disease against which it had not afforded absolute security was foot-and-mouth disease, against which neither compulsory slaughter nor absolute prohibition would afford absolute protection. However, against pleuro-pneumonia slaughter afforded absolute security. [Mr. CHAPLIN assented.] Let it be understood that the total prohibition that was asked for by the hon. Member would exclude from three-fourths to two thirds of the vast imports of the past few years, estimated at a money value of about £8,000,000. It was impossible to prove whether it was or was not the specified cargo of October which led to the distribution of the disease in this country. The hon. Member for Cheshire (Mr. Wilbraham Egerton) upset the whole case for the Resolution by suggesting that the disease might have come from Ireland to Cheshire. [Mr. WILBRAHAM EGERTON: I said I could not tell.] He thought the hon. Member seemed to assume that it came from Ireland. He (Mr. Mundella), however, did not believe that a single case of foot-and-mouth disease had been introduced from Ireland during the last two years, although he was constantly receiving reports that Irish cattle were bringing it. Still, it was open to them to ask why might not the contagion be spread just as much from Ireland as from Deptford market? The 2nd and the 3rd Resolutions were entirely unwarranted and inadmissible; and if they were adopted their operation would be prejudicial to both producers and consumers, and consequently to the general interests of the country. To adopt them would get rid of the principle of the Act of 1878, and give effect to its two exceptions; and it would substitute for the present law prohibition or absolute freedom. The Privy Council had done nothing contrary to the principle or the letter of the Act; they had 1678 followed strictly the precedents of their Predecessors, if they had not gone beyond them, in order to be in advance with the measures necessary to prevent the spread of disease. Last week a deputation of farmers came to him to say that they preferred the foot-and-mouth disease to the restrictions; and he believed many farmers had said the same thing. There was prohibition of import from Russia, Austria, Greece, Turkish Provinces, Germany, and Denmark. He did not deny that some people thought that the principle of prohibition ought to be extended; and if bad cases arose, and dangerous disease existed in a country previously free, the Privy Council had at present the power to prohibit; but, up to this time, they had never been required or asked to do so. The conditions framed under the Act were perfectly clear. As long as the Privy Council were satisfied that a country was free from diseased cattle, that the laws relating to the export of cattle and the general sanitary regulations in force were such as they could approve of, then they were to allow the animals of that country to be landed at British ports without subjecting the animals to slaughter. That condition had been acted upon; and it was not imputed by the hon. Gentleman that they had admitted a single animal that ought not to have been admitted. [Mr. CHAPLIN: Disease has been admitted.] He had made the largest admissions on that subject, and had nothing to conceal. They could not boast of perfect immunity from disease. Did the hon. Gentleman know any country where such perfect immunity existed, with the exception of two or three? Well, in 1879 it was found that pleuro-pneumonia existed in the United States, and an Order was made for the slaughter of the cattle imported on landing. Later on it was found that some sheep were affected, and all animals from the United States were slaughtered. They had now had two years' experience of the Act; and he maintained that time had proved that its operation had been most beneficial. And yet the hon. Member, at the end of two years, asked the House to exclude from the administration of the Act its main provision. In introducing the Bill into the House of Lords in February, 1878, the Duke of Richmond and Gordon said— 1679In view of the danger of spreading disease through the country, I have been urged more than once to prohibit any live stock coming from abroad. It has been suggested that it ought only to come in the form of dead meat. I do not think we have sufficient experience to justify our adopting that course, and I do not think our experience of the dead meat supplies from America and the Continent is sufficient to warrant the recommendation of so grave a change in the trade. But then to make the home restrictions to which I referred bearable in this country, I think it is absolutely necessary for the purpose of getting rid of the foot-and-mouth disease and of pleuro-pneumonia that all foreign animals shall be slaughtered at the port of landing.And what did the hon. Gentleman himself say?The object of the Bill," he said, "was to stamp out diseases at home, and to prevent their re-introduction from abroad, and it sought to attain its object by imposing severe restrictions at home and enacting compulsory slaughter at the ports. It was not intended by compulsory slaughter to stamp out disease, but to prevent disease coming in, and it had not been shown that the object would not be attained."—[3 Hansard, ccxli. 345.]And the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) who introduced the Bill, and carried it with so much good sense and good temper through the House, said, on the second reading—The Bill which he had the honour to introduce to the House attempted to deal with the question. It proposed, as far as cattle plague was concerned, to put it down by giving to the Privy Council absolute power to stop the imports entirely from the countries where it prevailed, and by slaughter at the ports and inspection…. Combining these two precautions, he maintained that sufficient security against disease was taken."—[Ibid., 144.]The Government of the day were very much reproached for the provision as to slaughter at the ports, which was considered too strong a measure; and what did the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) say, in reply? He said—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 that all cattle should be knocked on the head as soon as they were lauded from the ship. Nothing was further from the intention of the Ministry. Cattle could be kept for ten 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."—[Ibid., 244–5.]1680 Nothing could be more to the point or more satisfactory than that statement of the noble Lord. What was the first act of the then Government under the Bill? They called upon the local authorities to make provision for slaughtering animals at the port of debarkation, and he might add that there had been an enormous expenditure incurred in making the necessary arrangements. He could hardly say what amount had been spent in this fashion by the Corporation of London. The Lord President had had repeated interviews with the Corporation, who met him most handsomely in making a large increase of that expenditure in order to ensure greater sanitary precautions. Surely the hon. Gentleman, who was such an advocate for vested interests, would not ask them to abolish all those markets, and render useless all the vast expenditure indicated, without proposing some means of compensation. [Mr. CHAPLIN: I said you might compensate them.] Yes; but it would be found a very heavy item. He believed £500,000 had been spent in the case of London, and millions all over the country, for the purpose. In reference to the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary said—All cattle which now came from abroad would come in still…. It had been said that this was a question of cheap and dear meat, of town and country. The only question between them was how the importation of cattle could be most safely carried on."—[Ibid., 1021–2.]Well, they had had no outbreak of rinderpest or sheep rot since the Act was passed. It was pleuro-pneumonia that was to be stamped out under it. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Pell) was of opinion that the foot-and-mouth disease could not be stamped out in this country. [Mr. PELL: Without slaughter.] The hon. Gentleman said, in, June, 1878—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.…He hoped to see that strenuousnes 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."—[Ibid., 239.]Mr. Kavanagh, who was at that time Member for Carlow, and, he believed, Mr. Clare Read, also at the time a Member of the House, had great misgivings as to whether compulsory slaughter at 1681 the ports of disembarkation would have the effect of stamping out the foot-and-mouth disease. It was, therefore, a new feature in the controversy for the hon. Member now to propose that the importation of foreign cattle should be altogether prohibited. The fact was that the operation of the Act of 1878 had been most beneficial. For instance, in 1877, the number of outbreaks was 2,007, with 5,330 animals attacked; in 1878,1,771 outbreaks, and 4,593 attacked; in 1879, 1,549 outbreaks, and 4,414 attacked; and in 1880, 1,052 outbreaks, and 2,765 animals attacked. That showed that since 1877 the number of cases had come down to one-half; and if the local authorities would only second the efforts of the Government, and have a little more courage in slaughtering healthy animals that had been in contact with diseased ones, there was no doubt that in a very short time they would stamp out pleuro-pneumonia altogether. At present, so far as importation was concerned, there was no danger from that cause, except by direct contact with the foreign animal. Pleuro-pneumonia could never be incubated. In 1871, the Dutch Government tried to extirpate that disease; but they were not very successful till they came down to 1876, and resolved to slaughter the healthy animals. In 1871, they had 6,000 cases of pleuro-pneumonia; in 1872, 4,000 cases; in 1873, 2,500; in 1874, 2,400; in 1875, 2,200; in 1876, 1,723; in 1877, 900 odd; in 1878, 600 odd; and in 1880, only 48. He believed that a similar result would follow a similar course of proceeding in this country. He did not wish to minimize the serious character of the disease of which the hon. Gentleman complained—foot-and-mouth—but, at the same time, it was comparatively slight. ["No, no!"] Well, if hon. Gentlemen so wished, he would say it was a very serious disease. He knew it was a very troublesome one—it was highly infectious; it was communicated by means of a wisp of hay, a milk-maid's apron, almost any medium would convey it. When, however, total prohibition was talked about, it should be remembered that the disease had first been introduced into this country at a time when prohibition of all animals had been in force. He ventured to say that no outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease had been so sud- 1682 denly grappled with and had led to such small results as in the present instance. He could not claim to have the agricultural authority of hon. Gentlemen opposite; but he spoke on the strength of statements by experts. The present outbreak might be said to have commenced at the end of last September, between which time and the end of December the number of reported outbreaks was 1,461, and of animals attacked 32,378. In the last 13 weeks of 1871 there were reported 25,699 outbreaks, and 381,772 animals attacked—or more than ten times the number in the former period. The proximate number of fresh outbreaks and the number of animals attacked in Great Britain during the 24 weeks from October 2,1880, to March 12, 1881—both dates inclusive—were 3,166 and 131,260 respectively. There being about 36,000,000 head of live stock in Great Britain, this gave a third of 1 per cent attacked, or just over 1 in 300. He did not wish to say that this was not a larger proportion than he would like to see; and he must, in mentioning it, show how the Department were mastering the disease, by stating that the number of animals attacked had steadily fallen from 256 in the week ended January 8, to 55 in the week ended March 19, and this week he believed the numbers were proportionately less. The fact that they were keeping the country comparatively free from the disease while cargoes were constantly coming in, showed that it was possible to keep it comparatively free for a long time. But could it be hoped that they could ever, by prohibition, keep it entirely free? With our enormously increased commerce and our constant communications with countries perpetually affected by the disease, such a hope could not for a moment be indulged in. Anything that came from a French farm or a French dairy might carry infection, and there was no doubt great danger that people coming over to International Cattle Shows might bring the disease in their garments or on their boots. The hon. Member had spoken of the number and value of the animals which were brought to this country. America had found means of bringing to this country enormous supplies of animal food which, previously, it had been thought impossible to bring. The number of cattle that came in last year was slightly in excess of the number in 1876; and how was it 1683 that the number was not greater? The answer was, in consequence of the prohibition of Continental cattle and the slaughtering at the port; and America had only just recouped us for what we lost in the Continental supplies. We had averaged 10,000 head of German cattle until 1877, when we prohibited them; and what had since been the result? In 1877 there was imported 2,258 cwt. of dead meat, the produce of 300 cattle; in 1878, 5,541 cwt., as the produce of 600 cattle; in 1879, nothing; and last year, instead of 19,000 head of cattle from Germany, we imported exactly the produce of 19 cattle. He had no hope, therefore, of being supplied by the Continent of Europe with fresh meat. He wanted to ask the House to consider seriously what would really be the effect of cutting off this enormous supply of food. The supply of fresh meat had not increased at all in the same ratio as the supply of cattle. The imports of fresh meat last year were in excess of the year before, and they had been growing for several years past. In 1878 the value of the fresh meat imported was £1,335,299; in 1879 it was £1,501,349; and in 1880 it was £1,865,529. The value of the living animals imported into the United Kingdom in 1880 was £10,242,903, while it was only £7,075,000 in 1879. The increase of live cattle was mainly from America, and it was the quality as well as the quantity of American cattle that was important. Anyone who had read the Report of Messrs. Pell and Read would have an intelligent idea of what kind of meat the Americans were sending us. It was nothing but the primest and the best, for that was the only meat that paid; and instead of reckoning now three cattle to the ton, as used to be the case, we could only reckon two. What would happen if they acted on the principle of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire? It was a rule well known to political economists that immediately the supply fell below the demand there was a rise in price out of all proportion to the falling off. If the hon. Member's Motion were adopted, we should be deprived of from 10 to 12½ per cent of our meat supply, and the price of the article would be doubled. Anything more disastrous for the working classes, and for the interests of the country generally, could not be imagined. The 1684 first effect of a rise in the price of food was to diminish employment, and to drive the people from the home to the foreign trade, thus impoverishing the country, and, therefore, impoverishing the farmer. The hon. Member opposite had said that if they prohibited they would have a plentiful supply of meat presently. It was a mistake, however, to suppose that anything they could do in that House would stimulate the supply of meat. When science had found out the means for transporting fresh meat safely to this country there would be no lack of it, and then hon. Members might fairly ask for the prohibition of live cattle. Why was it that we did not at present get a much larger supply of fresh meat from America? Why, because it was a perishable article, and when brought here was brought to a forced sale; whereas the live animal could wait 14 days for a purchaser. American cattle cost in the transport to this country nearly treble what the dead meat cost. Every animal, in fact, cost 2d. per lb. while the dead meat cost only ¾d. per lb. The cost of insurance of cattle was from 5½ to 10 per cent. The loss in the transport was well illustrated by the fact that last year, out of 154,000 animals sent from America, more than 7,000 had either to be thrown overboard or killed immediately after landing. This was enough to stimulate the active and vigorous Yankees to send their dead meat as quickly as possible to avoid this loss. Dead meat, however, might be expected from other shores than those of America. Australasia, with boundless resources, was eagerly looking forward to supplying England's wants. He had received a letter from a trustworthy correspondent as to the value of meat in Sydney and Melbourne. The writer said—I have made inquiry, and I find that the price of beef wholesale is from 1d. to 1½d. per lb. As to the quality, it is prime. The sheep and cattle are the choicest. The best sheep and cattle to be obtained from the Old World have been taken out to enrich the flocks and herds.Let them consider the boundless supply, therefore, which Australia could afford us. In Australia and New Zealand there was a population of less than 3,000,000; in this country we had a population, taken roughly, of 33,000,000, and for our 33,000,000 we owned 9,900,000 1685 cattle and 32,000,000 sheep; whereas Australia and New Zealand, for their population of less than 3,000,000, owned 7,800,000 head of cattle and nearly 70,000,000 sheep. Now, the Australian people had made enormous efforts to send fresh meat to England, and were expending great sums of money with that object. They brought over three cargoes last year, and two of them were perfectly successful. [An hon. MEMBER: That shows it can be done.] When it could be done safely they would see plenty of it; the quantity would be tremenduous, and there would be no need for the prohibition of live cattle. He desired to illustrate briefly how the Resolution, if carried, would affect the British farmer. The first effect would be that the countries to which notice would be given of the prohibition would pour in all the cattle they could. When the time came for total prohibition prices would rise enormously in this country; he would not venture to say how much, but he thought 3d. in the pound would be about the amount of the increase in the price if they took away 10 per cent of the supply. Suppose, however, that after two months, America came forward and said, "Our cattle are free from disease," the Government could not refuse to let American cattle in, with a hungry people knocking at the door of the House. [An hon. MEMBER: Dead meat.] The hon. Gentleman knew it did not come in dead meat. [An hon. MEMBER: It would.] Yes, it would when it paid the Americans to send it, and not till then. The effect, first of all, would be to raise the price, and there would spring up a trade of speculation, and the farmers would be reduced to the greatest uncertainty. They would probably have bought their stock while the prices were high, hoping to realize high returns by the exclusion of foreign cattle, while he found shortly after that foreign cattle were again admitted, and that his stock had become suddenly depreciated. He would find that he was not safe for a day, and that he was liable to be subjected to periods of intense depression and consequent disappointment. There would be no slaughter at the ports. He asked hon. Members to consider that there would be no means of testing the cattle. They discovered that American cattle were diseased six months before the Americans 1686 discovered it—[Mr. WARTON: Before they admitted it]—and they would have American cattle wandering through the country before it was ascertained whether they were healthy or not. He believed what they were doing now would give them a reasonable guarantee against cattle disease. He had shown that every disease in the category, except foot-and-mouth disease, had been guarded against, and practical immunity obtained by slaughter at the ports. Perhaps the House would ask him why they were likely to be more successful in the future than they had been in the past in dealing with foot-and-mouth disease? His belief was that they had, in this country, relied too much upon slaughter at the ports to get rid of foot-and-mouth disease. He believed they could not keep clear of it unless they had the best possible sanitary arrangements and sanitary police. They had made important changes at Deptford. Immediately that the last outbreak occurred they made inquiries, and found, in the first place, that dairymen in the neighbourhood of London had been taking fat cattle to Deptford to sell in the market with foreign animals. That, of course, brought the dairyman into contact with foreign animals, after which he went home to his dairy, and if there was any chance of disease he took it home with him. Well, the Government at once stopped that. Then they found that Deptford Market was completely overcrowded, and that there was no means of preventing healthy cattle mixing with diseased cattle. To remedy that, six blocks had now been provided, and they were so divided as to effectually isolate six several cargoes, with a slaughter-house for each block. That prevented any contact between one cargo of diseased animals and another. Then they came to the last and most difficult problem—how to prevent dealers, owners, buyers, and butchers who went in and out of the markets, from bringing out disease; because if the disease had escaped from Deptford—and he was not prepared to say it had not—it had been taken out by men. Of course, although they could slaughter the cattle, they could never think of slaughtering the men. But if the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire would go down to Deptford Market, he could there find out by experience what was done to prevent the men carrying out any disease with them. 1687 First, he would have to divest himself of those habiliments which always graced his person so much. He would find that while they were taken charge of by someone he would have to put on a smock frock. He could then take his peregrinations through the market-place, and penetrate the blocks allotted to cattle which were found to be diseased; but when he came back he would have to go into a chamber, where he would be subjected to the action of sulphurous flames, which would cleanse him as pure as the Ghost in Hamlet. After being so disinfected, he would next be whitewashed—and he understood the attendants took care to give them in this way a very good dose of a mixture of some chloride of lime, even the hair and whiskers being well rubbed by the chloride of lime and whitewash brushes. Every person who left that market now was disinfected, there being four disinfecting houses, one of them moveable. The same thing was done in Liverpool, and the authorities now requiring it wherever foreign animals were landed. That, they believed, was the only way of preventing the escape of infection. They did all they could under the Act, which had been described as a beneficent Act, and would be glad to receive suggestions that would facilitate their efforts to keep out contagion. He believed that by the careful steps now being taken they would prevent the foot-and-mouth disease escaping from such centres as Deptford, and at the same time would be able to keep up the supply of food to our enormous and increasing population.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, the right hon. Gentleman had made one admission which strengthened the argument of his hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin), that the time had come when it might be necessary to re-consider the arrangements made under the Act of 1878, because the right hon. Gentleman had held out the hope that, before long, the supply of dead meat would be almost unlimited. It was quite true, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman, that this disease was seldom fatal, but it led to a serious diminution in the supplies sent to market. There was no doubt that the question of foreign importation affected the Metropolis far more than any other part of the country. In the discussion upon the Bill of 1878, it was shown that the amount of foreign supply represented but 2 per cent of the actual 1688 consumption of this country, eliminating London altogether from the calculation.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
was understood to say that last year the foreign supply was 12½ per cent, and that this year it had largely increased.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, it was indisputably proved that in 1877 and 1878—and he did not suppose the facts were very different now—the country (excluding London) depended on foreign cattle for only 2 per cent. of its supply. Then it came to a question how far the importation of that foreign supply was necessary for the Metropolis, and how far any deficiency that would arise from the adoption of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire's proposal could be met by the dead-meat trade, which was developing and increasing. There was plenty of evidence to show that a very large proportion of meat consumed in London was meat imported from America.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, it was shown that 49 per cent of the live animals consumed in the Metropolis were foreign animals.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, he was contending that a very large proportion of the consumption in London was not dependent on the importation of live animals, but on a dead-meat trade, a great part of which was carried on from America. Might they not, then, fairly ask whether the time had not come for them to re-consider what took place in 1878? He held that if the consumers did not suffer by the change, anything that would bring about immunity to the farmer would be practically for the advantage of the consumers themselves, because the increase of the home trade would more than compensate for the stoppage of foreign import. They were only at the commencement of the dead-meat trade, which would supply the void that might arise from the stoppage of importation of foreign cattle. He recognized the energy which the Privy Council had shown; but the question they had to consider was whether the proposal of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire was feasible, and, if feasible, whether it would not benefit the farmer without injuring the consumer. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman opposite that already the importation of a large portion of the cattle sent from foreign 1689 ports had been prohibited; and that in 1878 they had the very same prophecies as to the loss of food for the people as they now heard from the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire. The result had not justified the former evil predictions. The price of meat had not risen since 1877; but, on the contrary, had fallen, in spite of the restrictions which, it was said, were to operate so injuriously. The Act of 1878 was objected to and fought on the very grounds that were urged against those additional restrictions which were intended as a safeguard to the home stock of this country on which the consumer depended for his supply. The proposal of the hon. Member (Mr. Chaplin) did not preclude animals from coming into our ports from countries which were free from disease. All it said was that in regard to countries where disease existed of so virulent a character as foot-and-mouth disease, instead of allowing animals coming from those countries to be slaughtered at the port of landing, as was done now, by which practice the disease had been again introduced among us, they should prohibit the landing of cattle from those countries, and require them either to create a dead-meat trade, or to cease to send live animals to our ports until the disease had been extirpated within their borders. The subject was well worth the consideration of the House, for, he believed, the change would not to any great extent affect the meat supply of the country.
§ LORD EDWARD CAVENDISH
observed, that from whatever point of view they regarded the debate initiated by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire, they were brought face to face with considerations of the greatest possible importance. He thought this subject was one which, beyond all question, Her Majesty's Government and every Member of the House was bound to regard from the point of view of the general interests of the country. It was impossible to exaggerate its importance as regarded the interests of the farmers, large numbers of whom, after the successive bad seasons they had experienced, would be ruined if disease were introduced into their flocks. An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, moreover, would naturally cause an increase in the price of 1690 meat. On the other hand, the adoption of absolute prohibition would so largely increase the price of meat that it would debar many poor families from using it. Some hon. Members would, no doubt, be disposed to support the proposition of the hon. Gentleman opposite, from a feeling that they would be benefiting the agricultural interest thereby; but, for his part, he had arrived at the conclusion that the hon. Gentleman had not given sufficient reasons to justify the adoption of his proposal. The disease was one which, although causing grave injury and loss to agriculturists, did not demand so vigorous a remedy as absolute prohibition; and it was rather to the adoption of the precautionary measures indicated by the Vice President of the Council that the country must look for relief.
§ COLONEL LEVETT
observed, that to the agricultural population in and around the borough he had the honour to represent this subject was, he might almost say, of vital importance. It was not very long since they heard from a Member of the Government that if there was any class that deserved the consideration of the House, it was the class of tenant farmers. He had hoped that this Motion would not have been met with a direct negative. When he looked at the statistics as to cattle coming here, he found that more than half of the importation into this country came front Ireland. The importation of cattle from Canada and the United States appeared to be increasing to such a degree that it was practically without limit, and Canada, as was well known, was altogether free from disease. If it were possible to encourage the importation of dead meat, and to exercise greater control over the importation of disease from Ireland, he thought it might be found advisable to adopt the Resolution of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire. The question deserved the anxious consideration of the House.
§ MR. JAMES HOWARD
said, that he had suffered such losses in his own flocks and herds from the ravages of contagious diseases, that he was not likely to under-rate the importance of keeping the foot-and-mouth complaint out of the country. He thought the subject was one which should be approached entirely free from Party bias; and he therefore regretted when the 1691 hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), soon after the commencement of his speech, plunged into Party politics, and attempted to raise political capital out of the action of the late Government, of which he was so zealous a supporter. The hon. Member had, by that course, entered upon a dangerous path. He (Mr. Howard) wondered whether it had occurred to him why Mr. Clare Read left the Government, of which he was so useful a Member. If the memory of the hon. Member was at fault on this subject, other hon. Members had not forgotten the reasons. Mr. Read left the Government because of its supineness, its apathy—he might say its obstinacy—in refusing to amend the defects of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act. It was not until Mr. Read had retired from the Government, and the farmers throughout the country had condemned, in the most unmistakeable manner, the neglect shown by the Government on the question of stamping out disease, that the Duke of Richmond could be induced to turn his attention to the subject, and to bring in a Bill to carry out the recommendations of the Select Committee which had sat and reported upon the subject. So much for the political aspect of the question. Turning to the general aspect, whilst sympathizing with the object which the hon. Member had in view, it was with great regret that he could not arrive at the same conclusions as to remedies which the hon. Member (Mr. Chaplin) entertained. No one, however, could question the desirability of drawing our supplies of animal food from pure sources. But what were the facts which the House bad to consider? Before the passing of the Act of 1878, the farmers of the Kingdom had demanded and clamoured for compulsory slaughter of infected animals at the port of landing. This was conceded by the Act of 1878, and the farmers were satisfied. Since the Act was passed there had been but one outbreak—the recent serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease—which, for want of promoter action upon the part of the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council, for the want of more vigorous action on the part of local authorities, had been allowed to spread itself over the face of the country. It was under those circumstances, and those circumstances only, that the hon. Mem- 1692 ber asked the House virtually to repeal the Act of 1878—an Act he had so loudly applauded. The House was asked to upset the compromise arrived at after years of contention beween the great centres of population and the agricultural interest. He ventured to think that was not the wisest course; he held that it would be wiser for Government to render their own regulations more efficient. It would be in the remembrance of the House that when the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold) brought forward a Motion last year for relaxing the present restrictions, he (Mr. Howard) moved an Amendment with a view to upholding them; and it would be remembered that the House carried the Amendment by a very large majority. He believed that the country indorsed the action of the House on that occasion; but he did not believe the country would concur or consent to the proposals of the hon. Member (Mr. Chaplin). The evidence of their necessity was too slight for the country to consent that the great trade in foreign animals, amounting to more than £10,000,000 per annum, should be endangered; much stronger grounds would have to be adduced before the country would consent to such interference. If the house were to adopt the Resolution submitted to it, he feared the effect would be that the country would be less willing than it was at present to put up with the existing restrictions. Nor did he himself see the necessity for such a sweeping measure as that now proposed. He should be very glad if it were possible to carry into practice the principle of the Resolution, and draw our supplies from countries only which were free from disease; but that was impossible. He believed that Canada was the only country in the world that was free from contagious diseases. He objected to the Resolution, because he believed it would have the effect of arraying the great centres of population now friendly to the farming interest against it. All that was wanted, in his opinion, to secure the country against similar outbreaks and spread of disease in the future, was that the Veterinary Department should carry out more efficiently our own internal regulations; and profiting by recent experience, that would doubtless be the case, not only with the Privy Council, but with local authorities. 1693 On those grounds, he felt very reluctantly compelled to oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire.
§ MR. J. C. LAWRANCE
said, he could not help thinking that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council was founded on a misconception. The object of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire was not to upset the Act of 1878: but, that Act having proved ineffectual, to go a step further in the same direction in the hope of excluding foot-and-mouth disease altogether from this country. It could not be necessary to show how a serious a matter an outbreak of this disease was in this country, affecting, as it did, not only the supply of meat, but also that of wool. Everyone who had had their cattle or sheep attacked knew how great their misfortune was; therefore it was not useful to labour the point as to the loss which resulted from the introduction of the disease into the country. The only question for consideration was, would it be possible to carry out what was proposed by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire? He was sorry to hear that the Resolutions would be met with a direct negative, as he had hoped that the Government would continue to carry out the new rôle which they adopted last year of being the farmers' friends. Considering the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella), they ought to think themselves most fortunate that the disease had not been spread all over the country before, as it appeared that 14 previous cargoes of diseased animals were imported before the one of the 15th of October last, which caused the outbreak. So it appeared that while the farmers were restricted from sending their cattle and sheep to market, and were entirely at the mercy of butchers and jobbers, the authorities in London were introducing cattle by thousands from other countries, which were liable to spread disease amongst our flocks and herds. It was quite clear from what they had heard that all the European cattle, at all events, might be slaughtered where they were grown. There could be no difficulty about that, if the American meat came over in such large quantities. The Privy Council had the Irish ports under their own control, and could prevent infected cattle coming from Ireland to this country. [Mr. MUNDELLA dissented.] Then, Irish cattle were, he presumed, 1694 subjected to the same conditions as those which came from foreign countries?
§ MR. J. C. LAWRANCE
said, that in that case they would not be allowed to be sent out of the country from infected areas. The Privy Council thus had a control over Ireland. [Mr. MUNDELLA: The Privy Council of Ireland has.] He (Mr. Lawrance supposed the Privy Council of Ireland would perform its duties as well as the Privy Council of England. There was no such control over any foreign country. While the Privy Council were restricting people in our own country they were allowing the importation of cattle from infected countries under the provisions of the Act of 1878, which, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own admission, were insufficient to secure the object for which that Act was intended. Experience had shown that the Act had proved useless for the purpose of keeping out foot-and-mouth disease, and, therefore, if the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire should press his Motion to a division, it was his intention to vote for it.
§ DR. LYONS
wished to say a few words on this question, because it was one which considerably affected the interests of Ireland. The present condition of cattle in Ireland had an important bearing on the proposal of the hon. Gentleman, inasmuch as England drew a considerable supply from the Sister Country. It was, however, unfortunately the case that England could not for some few years rely upon such a full and large supply of cattle from Ireland as in recent years. This was due to a most important reason namely, that there had been a very general diminution in the general stock of the country, and that, he thought, was a very serious question for England at the present moment. The statement that the foot-and-mouth disease had been imported from Ireland, or that it might have been contracted on the passage to this country from abroad, was an entirely gratuitous assumption in face of the fact that the cattle in Ireland had, for the last three or four years, been completely free from the disease. It was, indeed, true that there was a very serious diminution in the number of cattle in Ireland, and that the diminution was likely to continue for some time; but it was due to an unfortunate and unwise restriction of 1695 credit on the part of the banks, owing to the panic which prevailed at the commencement of the bad harvests three or four years ago, and which led to the sacrifice of large numbers of the younger stock by the small farmers. The stock, however, in Ireland had never been in a more healthy condition than it was at present, although, as he had already stated, this country must not calculate, for the reason which he had given, on anything like the same supply for years to come of cattle as she had hitherto drawn from that part of Her Majesty's Dominions. He could not assent to the proposition of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire that the present outbreak had been mainly caused by the importation of animals from abroad; but he would not enter into a discussion in that House on the way in which disease could be disseminated. He wished, however, to point out, so far as Ireland was concerned, that that country suffered from the want of any proper system of training for veterinary surgeons. That want, he hoped, would be supplied, and an educational establishment set up, so that Irish veterinary surgeons might be educated at home, instead of having to be sent to London and Edinburgh to learn their profession.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
said, he did not wish to trouble the House with more than a few remarks; but as he represented a constituency mainly engaged in cattle feeding, he did not desire to be altogether silent on the question before the House. The hon. Member who had just sat down had made an able speech, containing some statements which he (Sir Herbert Maxwell) did not for a moment dispute, particularly those relating to the supply of cattle in Ireland. There was a statement, however, in that speech which he took exception to. The hon. Member characterized the assumption of his hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin), that the foot-and-mouth disease had been imported from abroad, as gratuitous. He did not know what precise meaning the speaker attached to the word gratuitous. He supposed it meant an assumption without a basis; but, in the Report of the Committee of 1875, he found that the foot-and-mouth disease was attributed to a foreign origin. Now, he supposed that before drawing up that Report the Committee had before them the evidence of those who were skilled in 1696 the knowledge of such diseases, and, therefore, it was hardly justifiable to call the assumption of his hon. Friend a gratuitous one. But he should not have intruded himself on the notice of the House merely to make a criticism on the hon. Member's speech. He really rose for the purpose of expressing the disappointment and the astonishment he felt at the course which the Vice President of the Council had taken in meeting the Motion of his hon. Friend with a direct negative. No one had a greater admiration and was more inclined to congratulate the Government on the success and the energy with which they had encountered this disease than he. He was certain, too, there was all over the country a sense of gratitude to the Government for the course they had taken, and the energy they had shown. When, therefore, he found the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) meeting this reasonable and modest Motion with a direct negative, he could not help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman was not consistent in the course adopted. Surely the right hon. Gentleman must also have somewhat misconstrued the Motion of his hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of it as advocating a course which would result in absolutely stopping the importation of live cattle into this country. He had spoken of the outlay by various municipal bodies in the erection of slaughtering places and apparatus connected with the traffic, and he had asked how they were to be compensated for that sacrifice. He (Sir Herbert Maxwell) ventured to think that the Motion of his hon. Friend would not have the effect anticipated. Even granting the fact assumed by the right hon. Gentleman, he felt sure that when those countries which sent us live animals found the market of this country closed against them, they would at once take the precaution pointed to by the Resolution of his hon. Friend. The Vice President had said that his hon. Friend had magnified the effects of the disease; but he (Sir Herbert Maxwell) fancied that the disease was only felt at its worst in certain districts of the country, one of which was the county which the hon. Member represented (Mid Lincolnshire). The disease was distinctly local in its effects. It fell upon the local rates; and although one county might enjoy an immunity 1697 from the disease and expense, the neighbouring county might fall under its attacks. The right hon. Gentleman said that a day or two ago he received a deputation of farmers, who said they would rather run the risks of the disease than have the trouble and annoyance of the restrictions put upon them by the Privy Council. He could understand some farmers taking that view—they probably came from a county that was never affected by the disease. Further, in some counties, in the one, for instance, that he represented, under the Act the local authority had the power of rating both the owners and occupiers alike for the compensation of those whose cattle were slaughtered; while, in other counties, the rate was confined entirely to the owners. Therefore the farmers who lost cattle by disease were compensated by the owners in those counties—a fact which, he thought, was sometimes lost sight of. If the farmers that went as a deputation to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) came from counties where that arrangement prevailed, he could quite understand them being willing to run the risks of the disease. The right hon. Gentleman said truly that foot-and-mouth disease was not so deadly as pleuro-pneumonia and other diseases; but he was not sure whether he admitted the additional risk of contagion. The main difficulty in excluding this disease was the extraordinary risk of contagion; but he did not think the worst result of that disease had been touched upon that night—its effect on dairy stock. No statistics could show, in his opinion, the amount of damage done to various stock, and the direct and invariable results of foot-and-mouth disease. Nothing throughout the whole course of this debate had struck him as more extraordinary than the wonderful tenderness shown by the Government for the producer, who lived thousands of miles away, and the want of thought for those who lived at our doors. He was at a loss to account for this. He thought, however, a little more consideration might be extended by the Government to those who were at home, and who were able to show their gratitude in a manner which those who lived on the other side of the Atlantic were not in a position to do.
§ MR. EVANS
did not hesitate to say that more damage was done in the county which he represented by foot- 1698 and-mouth disease than by the more terrible and frightful diseases—the cattle plague and pleuro-pneumonia. He was not prepared, however, to go so far as the Resolution. He thought, on the whole, what had been done was very successful, and he believed the precautions would be successful in the future. The Government was alive to the danger which existed, and it was inclined to take stringent precautions. The farming interest had shown a wonderful disposition to submit to these stringent precautions. If, in the long run, it should be proved that the foot-and-mouth disease came over and over again into this country, and that it was impossible to keep it out by the present precautions, he did not say that it might not be necessary, and even advisable, to go further; but at present he considered it would be premature to act upon the principles enunciated in the Resolution of the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin). At the same time, he must bear his tribute to the ability and moderation with which the hon. Member had brought forward his Motion. In conclusion, he would say that he would have been better pleased had the Motion of the hon. Member been met by the Previous Question.
§ MR. RODWELL
said, he could not reconcile it with his duty to his constituents to give a silent vote on that occasion. He could hardly picture to himself the astonishment with which some of them to-morrow would read the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, when he told the House that he had received deputations of farmers who pooh-poohed the foot-and-mouth disease, and that there were parties in the country who treated this disease as a non-serious malady. He could only say he had taken the opportunity of seeking information, and he had statements from quarters on which he could rely, and he could state that an amount of terror and dismay was spread all over the Eastern Counties of England by this disease, which was quite inconsistent with the idea that this was a trifling disease. He had received a Return which showed that in Suffolk no less than 2,171 animals were now suffering from foot-and-mouth disease. The evils of the disease were specially felt in the lambing season. It was not denied by the Vice 1699 President of the Council that the disease came from Deptford, and yet nothing had been done to render impossible its introduction from abroad. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Evans) that the disease was so mischievous and troublesome that it was quite as serious a matter as cattle plague or pleuro-pneumonia. The Committee of 1877 had stated that the disease was of foreign origin, and he thought their statement conclusive. The only question was how to got rid of the evil. The farmers had never come before the country with so good a case as the present. They had done everything required by the Privy Council, and had been exposed to much trouble and loss. They had cheerfully and loyally submitted to the restrictions that had been imposed upon them. Surely, it was not too much to ask in their behalf that means should be taken to prevent that which, in their opinion, admitted of prevention. If it was wise to place restrictions on the movement of cattle from village to village and county to county, à fortiori a stop ought to be put on the importation of diseased animals from abroad. Why should the producer 500 miles away be placed in a better position than the producer five miles off? The evidence given before the Committee of 1877 proved that the disease was not indigenous, and that it had not become acclimatized. They were now dealing with precisely the same matter as that with which they dealt in 1865. All the steps that had been taken since that time had failed one after another. The course proposed by his hon. Friend was, therefore, quite logical. He said—"The remedies hitherto applied have failed, and consequently I am entitled to ask for a new and stronger one." The Vice President of the Council affirmed that the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire was proposing to repeal the valuable part of the Act of 1878. As a matter of fact, the hon. Member's proposal contemplated, instead, an extension of that Act. It was not intended that cattle should be indiscriminately excluded from England, but only such cattle as came from infected areas abroad. With the fact staring him in the face that the disease had been imported from abroad at Deptford, could the right hon. Gentleman deny that compulsory slaughter did not 1700 afford security against its introduction? The right hon. Gentleman talked of its affording reasonable security; but security in this case should not be a question of degree; absolute security should be given if they could possibly have it. The agriculturists of this country would feel greatly disappointed when they found that the Government, which had lately professed to have the farmers' interests so much at heart, refused them simple justice in this important matter. He held in his hand a book, which was read in 1879 by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson), who brought on a Motion with reference to the Agricultural Holdings Act; and he found from it that that hon. Gentleman, acting as a kind of volunteer Commissioner, put to the farmers this, among other questions—"What can Parliament do to remedy agricultural distress where it exists, and to increase the production at home?" Various replies were given. One of them was—"Get rid of Lord Beaconsfield's Government." But the answer, in a very great majority of instances, was this—"Defence from foreign disease; security against disease; keep out cattle disease." That was what his hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin) now asked the House to give the farmers. He thought his hon. Friend had made out a very strong case, which had not yet been even attempted to be answered—in fact, it had been admitted. If the English cattle -breeder had the protection from disease which he required the effect would be beneficial both to him and to the consumer, and the price of meat would probably be reduced. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) had answered one of his own objections to the Motion, because he had spoken of the period when Australian meat would be in such great abundance that it would be brought home to every man's door at 2d. per lb. Again, with the power of scientific invention existing in these days, he believed that if it were known on the other side of the Atlantic that live animals could not come into this country because of their infection, means would be found to increase the supply of dead meat sent from America, and our people would not pay a farthing more for their food than they did now. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, need have no apprehension 1701 that, if this Motion were adopted, there would be any difference in the amount of animal food introduced into this country from abroad. The question, then, might be stated in this way—would they not, by protecting home cattle, be doing more to cheapen food and supply the wants of the people than they could do by allowing their flocks and herds to be invaded by disease through the introduction of foreign animals? In his opinion, the balance of advantage was decidedly in favour of excluding cattle coming from infected countries; and he should, therefore, cordially support the Motion of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
admitted that the hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell) had made a very plausible speech in support of the Motion. He also thought that a word might be said in extenuation of the introduction of that Motion, because the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire must have been, to some extent, encouraged and emboldened by the course which the Government felt it their duty to take last year in regard to a Motion which he himself then brought forward. He did not wish to minimize the importance of foot-and-mouth disease. Although foot-and-mouth disease, as hon. Members were aware, was not a deadly malady, yet it undoubtedly diminished the value of cattle. One of the strongest allegations of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire was that the disease spread from cattle in Deptford Market. Particular attention was paid by Professor Brown to the possibility of foot-and-mouth disease coming from that market. He had endeavoured to infect animals in his charge by communication from Deptford Market, and had not succeeded in carrying the contagion. Hon. Members who were on the Committee would remember that Professor Brown mentioned in his evidence that foot-and-mouth disease was introduced at a time when this importation of foreign animals was prohibited. Professor Brown said foot-and-mouth disease had been in this country 30 or 40 years at least, that the probability was that the disease had no connection with foreign importation, and that he regarded it as a disease which had become naturalized in this country. Mr. Clare Read, in his evidence before the Committee, said that the virus had no great force, and that 1702 it quickly died out. The question was whether it was expedient, that foreign cattle should enter alive at Deptford and other markets and be there slaughtered. It was most expedient, in the interest of the vast majority of the population of this country, that the entry of cattle should be so allowed. The hon. and learned Gentleman who preceded him had spoken as if it were a matter of indifference whether the supply of the food of the people entered this country as dead or as live meat. It was of vital importance to the health of the people that as large a portion as possible of their food supply should enter this country in a live condition. Of the dead meat imported into this country perhaps the greater part had been for a long time in a frozen condition. At the moment of freezing, the vessels which contained the juices of the meat burst, according to a well-known law of science. When the thaw of that meat took place the juices passed into the muscle and fibre of the animal, and that meat became deteriorated by that fact, and on cooking that meat those juices either passed away altogether and left the residue comparatively useless for human nutriment, or if the meat were long kept in a shop it became discoloured, and the butchers had great difficulty in selling it. He was very familiar with the operations of Deptford Market. He could not say that those operations were perfect. He thought that much might be done in that market to avoid the possibility of contagion arising from it. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire had adduced a number of statistics as to the dead meat trade, and had shown that the mean price of meat was less in 1879 than in the preceding year; but the reason for that was painfully obvious, and was not connected with the Act passed in 1878. The hon. Member was possibly not aware of the extent to which wages had been withheld in manufacturing towns, or of the great sufferings that the people of those towns had endured while the depression of trade lasted. And when the hon. Member had spoken of the hardship inflicted on the farmer by the forced sale of his stock, he might with more than equal justice have dwelt on the similar but greater misfortunes of the importers. The depression of agriculture was severe, no doubt, and attracted more and more attention every day; but if the hon. Member, instead of coming 1703 forward with these hankerings after Protection—["No, no!"]—if, instead of coming forward with measures which had not due regard to the interest of the people, he would either introduce, or support those who were willing to introduce, measures with respect to the land which would give agriculture that expansion which it needed, he would do some good. He opposed the Resolution on the ground that its Mover had not proved his facts, and because his arguments were founded upon a careless—he would not say thoughtless—disregard for the interests of the great mass of the population of this country.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
observed, that the House had learnt a good deal from the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), who, since last year, had acquired some new facts. Last year, for instance, he had said that Texan fever was not contagious.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
thought that the statements of Blue Books ought not to be quoted in the House as actual facts, unless the hon. Gentleman so quoting them was quoting them as facts. However, the hon. Member knew now that Texan fever was contagious. He had also learnt another fact from the Vice President of the Council—namely, that foot-and-mouth disease might be conveyed from place to place by human agency. When the hon. Member acknowledged that 15 cargoes of cattle had been slaughtered at Deptford, and that the last outbreak of the disease probably originated there, he had practically admitted the cases he had set himself to disprove. The Government deserved all credit for their endeavours to carry out the Act of 1878; but they ought to remember the cost of enforcing that Act. It amounted to this—that by restricting the markets of the farmers, their live stock, on being sold, fetched something like 15 to 16 per cent less than the proper price. He himself had been obliged to sell cattle which should have brought £24 £20, at and he lost 6s. or 8s. a-head on his sheep, which he had been obliged to sell at home. The Government knew that the agriculturists had borne the depression well, and they ought now to recompense them by 1704 making the introduction of the disease impossible. He was very glad that the right hon. Gentleman had ordered special precautions to be taken at the Deptford Market; but there was another market, that at Islington, which had much to answer for on account of the laxity of the way in which cattle and calves sold there were, in ordinary times, allowed to he sent all over the country. As for the dead meat trade, the right hon. Gentleman had destroyed, his own arguments by admitting the extreme cheapness of meat in Australia, and by his own statement that arrangements for its exportation were being perfected. It was surprising that the right hon. Gentleman should have immediately afterwards contended that it would be against the interests of the English people to restrict further the importation of cattle from a neighbouring country that was known to be infected. As he had said before, the Government were carrying out the Act very well; but what was now wanted was a pledge, such as the right hon. Gentleman showed no intention of giving, that further steps should be taken to prevent the occurrence of the disease in future. What was being done would not stop the disease. It had been detrimental to the agricultural interests, in spite of their being subject to restrictions such as they had not known before. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell) in the statement that since 1863 the House had been adopting, step by step, tentative measures to prevent the importation of disease. The junior right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) had always opposed anything which might benefit, or even protect from disease, the agricultural interest; and he would defy that right hon. Gentleman to show that the agricultural interest could be properly protected otherwise than by more stringent measures against importation. All the steps that had been taken hitherto, it was admitted, had not advanced the price of meat. It was said it had to be shown that for the consumer absolute protection was the best thing we could have. Well, suppose there were a great war, and suppose we could not obtain our usual supplies from abroad, what would be the position of this country? [A laugh.] He noticed 1705 an hon. Professor laughing at that remark; no doubt he thought the supply would come whether we were at war or not. But a wise and prudent Government would look ahead, would consider what was to be done in such a contingency, and would determine that with such a population there should be no necessity to go away from home for the supply we required. This could be done only by protecting our own herds and flocks. There was no more insidious disease, and none more damaging to the stock of the farmer, than the foot-and-mouth disease. The only way to keep it down was to adopt more strenuous measures affecting importation. It was admitted that the disease affected more or less many of the cargoes that made up that import—he did not say so, but some even said three-fourths of our foreign supply—and that showed the grave responsibility that rested upon the Government if they did not adopt every means in their power to stop the importation of disease.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
said, that the hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down had challenged him to justify the conduct he had pursued in a previous Parliament, when, as the hon. and gallant Baronet said, he was opposed to everything which could protect or, as he subsequently said, could benefit the agricultural interests. Certainly, he had some dislike to the term Protection, whether applied to agricultural or to industrial interests; but he absolutely denied that he had ever been opposed to anything which could be proved to be likely to benefit the agricultural interests of the country. He believed nothing could be done to secure the permanent advantage of these interests—which, after all, was the greatest industrial interest we had—that would not also re-act to the advantage of the other industrial interests. He did not, however, believe in any proposal in any manner intended to benefit the agricultural or other interests at the expense of some other party. Those who had followed this debate, and recollected the debate that took place two years ago, when the Act that had been under discussion was passed, would know there were always present two interests, interests which were not necessarily in-consistent, but both of which had to be considered by the Government of the 1706 country. First, there were the interests of the consumers generally, and especially those of the inhabitants of large towns, who were concerned in the cheap and plentiful supply of food. There were, next, the interests of farmers, who desired, not unnaturally, to be as far as possible preserved from anything in the shape of the foreign importation of disease. Those interests, he repeated, were not necessarily inconsistent; for if they could, without unnecessary interference with trade, protect the farmer they would stimulate the production of food; and that, no doubt, would result in a cheapening of the supply. These objects could be reconciled by endeavouring to follow out the recommendations of the Committee of 1869, whose aim was to secure the maximum of protection against disease with the minimum of interference with trade. To this he might add, as another condition, that any form of protection from foreign disease must be accompanied by the willing submission of our farmers to stringent domestic legislation. The question was, whether, two years after the passing of the Act by which these things were secured, it was necessary to increase the protection against foreign disease, or the stringent character of the domestic legislation? He did not deny for a moment the serious character of the disease which had been under discussion; and any further protection which could be devised that did not constitute an improper interference with enterprize might fairly claim the fullest consideration from the House. But he confessed he looked with some suspicion upon propositions having that avowed object when they came from hon. Gentlemen who, like the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire, assured them that they had not the slightest concern in favour of Protection generally, and that all they desired was protection from disease, but who afterwards went on to anticipate that, in the course of debate, the "old three-logged cripple, Free Trade," would once more be trotted out. Another ground of hesitation with regard to such propositions was that they came from the Members of a Party who were continually increasing their demands. There was no satisfying them. The hon. Member (Mr. Chaplin) had said that he grounded his case, in a great measure, upon the existence of agricultural dis- 1707 tress. Whenever there was agricultural distress in this country, there always came from that Party propositions which, if they were not Protection, were something so very much like it that it was very difficult to distinguish the difference. It was only two years ago that an Act on this subject was passed, with, apparently, the almost unanimous approval of hon. Gentlemen opposite; but to-night, after hearing the debate, he was really doubtful whether that Act was, as the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire had said, one of the wisest, best, and most statesmanlike legislative performances he had ever known in his time; or whether it was an Act so futile and so incomplete that it required to be repealed as regarded its most important provisions. They had heard a good deal as to the failure of the predictions made by Liberal Members when that Act was under consideration; and he must say that, looking back upon that time, those who predicted, whether on the one side or the other, had had the usual fate of prophets. He hoped they would take the lesson, and, perhaps, indulge less in vaticination for the future. On his own side, undoubtedly, it was said at that time that, as one result of more stringent regulations, the price of meat would advance; and it was also thought that the farmers would not submit to the stringent restrictions which alone would justify the provisions as to foreign importation. He was bound to admit that the price of meat could not be demonstrated to have risen in consequence of the restrictions of the Act of 1878—thanks to the unexpectedly large and continued importation of live meat from the United States—and that the farmers had shown an intelligence which some had hardly expected them to exhibit; and that they had, apparently, willingly consented to very severe restrictions in the belief that by such means alone they could stop the prevalence of the foot-and-mouth disease. If their anticipations had not been entirely fulfilled, those of their opponents had been equally unconfirmed. Those gentlemen assured the House that if it only passed those regulations, they could promise an absolute immunity from disease. And now, within the short space of two years, they said, in the language of the hon. Member for Mid. Lincolnshire, that the Act of 1878, requiring 1708 compulsory slaughter at the ports, was no security whatever against disease. He was not prepared to deny that the time might come when both sides might re-consider the position. But if there must be re-consideration it ought to be mutual, and not be confined to hon. Gentlemen opposite. Having re-considered the matter, he was inclined to say that their experience up to the present time did not justify any considerable change. The case of the hon. Member rested upon four assumptions; but before they made so tremendous a change in the law, and risked such considerable consequences to the population, he ought to produce a case based upon something like certainty. The hon. Member alleged, in the first place, that the Act of 1878 had the effect of immediately reducing and, very shortly after, of extinguishing foot-and-mouth disease; in the second place, that the disease was re-introduced from abroad by the importation of diseased cattle from France; thirdly, that absolute immunity from risk of that kind was necessary to the British farmer if he was to proceed with any energy in his undertakings; and, fourthly, that this absolute immunity could only be secured, and would certainly be secured, by the prohibition of the importation of live animals. Not one of those allegations was in the nature of an axiom to be accepted without much more evidence. It was not absolutely certain that the Act of 1878 was the sole cause why the foot-and-mouth disease diminished, and for a period of nine months was almost extinguished. On previous occasions the disease almost disappeared for a time. In 1876 there was hardly any foot-and-mouth disease in the country. They had that on the evidence of Professor Brown before the Committee. And yet at that time there were no restrictions of anything like the severity of those imposed by the Act of 1878. Foot-and-mouth disease was like many diseases to which human beings were subject, and was capricious, and subject to periodic variations in intensity. There might be times when cattle were more susceptible of it. As to the disease being propagated by immediate contagion, as maintained by the hon. and gallant Member (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), gentlemen of great authority declared before the Committee that they had done all in their power to induce 1709 contagion by taking the virus from the foot and saliva from the mouth of a diseased animal, and they had failed. He did not deny that there was evidence which pointed in a contrary direction; but it was too much to be asked to undertake such extravagant legislation upon a basis of theory and not of fact. As to the British farmer not being able to carry on his business unless he was protected in the way proposed, if that were so, then the British farmer stood upon a different footing from other persons. There was no manufacturer or shopkeeper who did not carry on his business with certain risks. Lastly, he was not able to admit as a positive fact that the absolute stoppage of the importation of cattle would prevent the reintroduction of the disease. Professors Brown and Simonds gave evidence before the Committee that they did not believe in putting an end to the disease by the prevention of foreign importations, but relied on the most stringent home regulations. Some witnesses before the Committee of 1878 declared that this as well as other diseases could be imported in hides, wool, and even dead meat. He had very little confidence that if the House were to assent now to the imposition of the more stringent regulations desired, in two years hence, if agricultural distress were to continue, some of the hon. Gentlemen would not come forward and promise absolute immunity from disease if they would only protect the British farmer by prohibiting the importation of hides, wool, and dead meat. The argument of hon. Members he understood to be that, inasmuch as the Act of 1878 had not increased the price of meat, they might still further limit importation. Why had not the Act operated in that way? Simply because the importation of live animals was not stopped. They were told in 1878 that they might rely on the importation of dead meat to prevent a rise in the price of meat. If they had done so they would certainly have been disappointed. In three years the importation of dead meat had only increased to the extent of £500,000, while that of live animals had increased nearly £3,000,000, or six times as much as the other. In the case of the Continent there was no dead meat trade to take the place of the live supply; and, as the importation from the Continent bad considerably dimi- 1710 nished, there would have been a great difference in the price of meat if it were not for the supply of animals from the United States. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) had pointed out that there was a prejudice against foreign dead meat, because the English consumer preferred fresh-killed beef. It might be said that the proposal of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) would apply only to infected countries. But at present, and it would probably be the case for some time to come, most foreign countries were infected. His right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council had pointed out that the proposal would not be beneficial, even in the narrowest point of view, to the British farmer. They would have to provide £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 out of the Exchequer to compensate the local authorities for the provision they had made under the former Act, and then there would remain ono of two alternatives—absolute prohibition when any country was infected, and absolute free trade the moment that country appeared to be healthy. But, as his right hon. Friend had pointed out, there might be primâ facie evidence of a country being healthy, while there might really be some disease in it, which might be imported under the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. The Act of 1878 was a compromise. It was said that it had met with strenuous opposition from hon. Members representing town constituencies, and no doubt that was so; but those hon. Members did not sit on one side of the House only. That opposition was not due to any prejudice against the farmers, but from a desire to protect the food of the people against unnecessary restrictions and interference. Hon. Members opposite sought to obtain in the Bill powers of compulsory slaughter, and they obtained those powers, with certain modifications. What had happened since? So many foreign countries had proved to be diseased that hon. Members opposite obtained practically all that they had been demanded. They must all, he thought, admit that the legislation of 1878 had been fairly successful. It had been borne by the country, first, because the live meat trade had continued to increase, and, next, because the farmers showed themselves willing to meet the restrictions on foreign importation by very stringent 1711 domestic restrictions. The country had, in fact, obtained a reasonable guarantee of security against disease; and he hoped in time, with proper precautions, the disease would be further restricted and practically extinguished. It was too much to hope that that would be the case after two years' experience of the Act, and he considered that they were no true friends of the British farmer who would provoke an agitation which might end in the present restrictions being entirely swept away. It would be much wiser for the House to watch for a further period the working of that Act, and not to pronounce it a failure, when, with more experience, it might prove to be a success.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
trusted he might be permitted to occupy the attention of the House for a very short time, as he happened to represent, not only an agricultural constituency, but a constituency sufficiently numerous in large towns to give him a significant hint if he did anything to shorten their food supplies. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had touched on the subject of Protection; but he begged to inform the right hon. Gentleman that he supported the Motion so far only as it related to protection from disease. The debate had been fruitful in charming surprises. It had caused to be exhibited in the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council a strong symptom of the Toryism which lately sat on that Bench; and he (Sir William Hart Dyke) began to wonder whether there might not be some contagion left there. Then, again, it presented the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. J. Howard), the presiding member of a powerful organization for supporting the interests of the British farmer—a leading feature in whose programme was the protection of the capital of the farmer—as an opponent of the Motion. And yet the very thing that deprived the farmer of security for his capital was the apprehension of cattle disease. The hon Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), too, had evinced a sudden knowledge of agricultural matters; but he mentioned the county of Lincoln as a veritable Garden of Eden. The hon. Member had dived into a Blue Book, and found that the state of agriculture was truly lamentable, for it was stated that at the Midland Hotel, Derby, 300 lb. 1712 of French butter was sold each week. The hon. Member described that as a disgraceful fact, and he thought he might claim the vote of the hon. Member. But why was not English butter sold there instead? Because the English farmer had been for so many years in terror of this disease that he dared not purchase and keep the necessary stock. Hon. Members opposite talked of the importance of the agricultural interest; but they did not seem to realize its importance. They talked of facilities for selling land, and other matters. He had a considerable quantity of land of which he might have got rid with great facility; and if hon. Members would carry out their argument practically and buy that land he would be very glad. He desired to show the dangerous position of agriculture at the present moment. Corn growing was at a discount, and there were hundreds of farms in this country the tenants of which were brought to the verge of bankruptcy because they dared not invest in cattle, owing to the terror which was inspired by this disease. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had referred to the Bill of 1878, and acknowledged that it had done good; and he seemed to look with great fear lest anything should happen to it. Well, very soon the right hon. Gentleman would be discussing a great Land Bill, which would set aside the Land Act of 1870; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not forfeit his present position from any fear of the alteration or destruction of that Act. He did not see why the right hon. Gentleman should be terrified at the idea that the Act of 1878 might, perhaps, be amended. To his (Sir William Hart Dyke's) mind, they ought, as practical men, to deal with these difficulties as they arose. He could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that the farmers of this country ought to be content with the present condition of affairs, because post legislation had relieved them, to a great extent, from the diseases which in past times ravaged their flocks and herds; because it could not be forgotten that, as a class, they had by no means got over the difficulties that were thrust upon them by the want of legislation in their interest which existed in former days. With regard to the food supply of the country, the Vice President of the Council had tried to terrify 1713 them by saying that if these restrictions were imposed the food supply of the country would be injured. But the next instant the right hon. Gentleman had read a letter which knocked that argument most completely on the head by threatening us with such facilities regarding food supply from Australia as would certainly destroy the landed interest of this country. He should not have the least difficulty in supporting the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire. He wished, in conclusion, to express the satisfaction with which he had observed the tone of the debate—a tone entirely different from the town and country cry which was raised in 1866, when the House discussed a similar question under the influence of the cattle plague scare.
§ MR. DUCKHAM
entered his protest against the argument that this was an attempt to return to Protection under another guise. There could be no doubt that great injury had been inflicted upon the agricultural classes in this country by the existence of the foot-and-mouth disease, which, in his opinion, was a national disaster, and was far more worthy of consideration than either rinderpest or pleuro-pneumonia. He begged to remind the House that the Farmers' Club and the Central Chamber of Agriculture, which had their headquarters in London, had passed resolutions expressing their opinions in favour of the Privy Council taking steps to prevent the importation of live cattle from all countries in which contagious disease was known to exist. He was pleased to hear that the Privy Council was about to enforce stricter rules in respect to the landing of foreign cattle. The men who attended to and foddered the cattle at Deptford performed the same duties at the Caledonian Road Market, so that it was a wonder that the spread of the disease had not been more general. It was, however, a satisfaction for hon. Members to learn that regulations had been adopted at the Deptford Market, such as disinfecting the buildings, which he hoped would have the effect, whether the present Motion was carried or not, of stamping out the disease, for the farmers had a right to protection.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he did not believe his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) desired the repeal of a tittle of the Contagious 1714 Diseases Act of 1878; but simply wished, by means of a Resolution of the House, to induce Her Majesty's Government to bring in a Bill to provide—what? That it should be within the discretion of the Privy Council to prohibit the importation of cattle from any country in which disease was known to exist, and where there were no internal regulations adequate to the stamping out of disease. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council seemed to assume that his hon. Friend wished to repeal the Act of 1878. He (Mr. Newdegate) would certainly not vote with him if he thought his hon. Friend had any such intention; but he meant to vote with him for this reason—that, having watched this legislation from step to step, and remembering that when the Party opposite were in Office in 1865–6 they kept the country a whole year without legislative protection against the rinderpest, and were at length obliged to pass the first Contagious Diseases Act under the pressure of public opinion. Remembering that, he thought his hon. Friend did good service by moving in that House, when the occasion required it, and he held that the recurrence of disease furnished the occasion. He (Mr. Newdegate), therefore, concurred in pressing hon. Gentlemen opposite to take one step further in the direction they had been long pursuing, so that where disease was known to exist abroad, perhaps only across the Channel, and where the Government of that foreign country had not adopted efficient means for the repression of disease, in that case the Privy Council should have power to declare that the importation of cattle from that country should cease for a time. That proposal appeared to him to be perfectly consistent with the whole course of legislation on the subject. He had never regarded that course of legislation as being based on mere commercial considerations. On the contrary, he had voted on all the existing measures for the exclusion or repression of cattle disease as measures of quarantine; and, in that sense, he believed that the proposal of his hon. Friend was the only one which would have the double effect of positively excluding disease, and thus giving the farmers of this country something like an adequate security against the importation of disease, and, at the 1715 same time, of giving foreign Governments to understand that if they desired the free importation of their agricultural produce into this country, they must adopt measures within their own country which were adequate to the suppression of disease. It was from that point of view that he had looked at all the measures kindred to the present proposal that bad been passed. It was lamentable that hon. Gentlemen opposite should be so jealous lest there should be some infraction of their favourite commercial theory, the system of free importations, that they were willing to imperil the safety of our flocks and herds by allowing the free importation of disease. Hon. Gentlemen might depend upon it that they had not carried public opinion with them in taking that course. Instead of securing the commercial policy, to which they were attached, they would endanger it, because it was contrary to all sound reason and common sense that the principles which were applied to their commercial policy should be introduced into matters of quarantine. The fact was, that adequate reasons for the proposals of his hon. Friend had been furnished by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council; for what did the right hon. Gentleman say? Why, that hundreds and thousands of animals coming from the United States were thrown overboard. [Mr. MUNDELLA: I said from 6,000 to 7,000 last year.] Well, 6,000 or 7,000 last year; and why were those animals thrown overboard? Because they were diseased. And if they went on throwing overboard 6,000 or 7,000 a-year they might clear their cargoes of disease. Considering this argument, he held that they were not in so much danger of the importation of disease from the United States as from the Continent of Europe, and that there were stronger reasons for the adoption of his hon. Friend's proposal with respect to the trade with the United States. With the present facilities of telegraph and steam communication, information might be conveyed to France, to Holland, to Belgium, or to Germany, so that, slaughtering within their own territories, the owners of cattle and sheep in those Continental States could accommodate the supply to the demands of the market here in England. Why, then, should not the House adopt the Resolu- 1716 tion of his hon. Friend by enabling the Privy Council, in the exercise of their discretion, to declare that cattle should no longer be imported from France, or from the other States of the Continent respectively, until means for the suppression of disease had been taken in that country. The French stockholder might be informed by telegram of every turn in the market, and have his cattle slaughtered within the confines of France in time to catch every turn of the market in this country. It was from the Continent that the greatest danger of disease was to be apprehended; and considering that all these measures were, properly speaking, not measures of commercial policy, but simply measures of quarantine, and believing that the supply of food to the consumers of this country, in abundance and cheapness, could never be so well secured as by preserving the health of our flocks and herds in England, which, at all events, afford 70 or 80 per cent of the total supply, he (Mr. Newdegate) could have no hesitation in giving his vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire, with the clear understanding that his hon. Friend did not intend to touch any provisions of the Act of 1878, but to add to the provisions of that Act power in the hands of the Privy Council to exclude for a time the cattle of any country in which disease prevailed, and which had not internal regulations of its own for securing the health of the supply.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
said, it seemed to him unfortunate that the Party opposite were almost always engaged in discussing questions which tended to imperil the supply of the food of the people. Having succeeded in getting the cattle slaughtered at the port of entry, the next step was to prevent the introduction of cattle at all, and then would follow the prohibition of the introduction of dead meat on the ground that disease could be brought by dead meat also. ["Oh, oh!"] Evidence to this effect had been given in a Committee of the House. If that was the case, the effect of the hon. Gentleman's proposal would be to cut off two months' supply of the animal food of this country. Who would suffer by that? None but the poor families, who got too little animal food already. The adoption of the Motion would have the effect of increasing the price of meat, so that the poorer 1717 classes, both in counties and towns, would have to eat less animal food. Before the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) attacked the food of the poorest portion of the inhabitants in the counties of England, he ought to wait until the county franchise allowed their own representatives to decide this question. He regarded the proposal of the hon. Member as the most rash and the most foolish that had ever been made in the House on such a subject. He did not think the hon. Member really thought he would be able to carry the Resolution when he proposed it; and he would venture to say that he did not believe any English Government would ever dare to adopt a policy which would suddenly cut off one-sixth or one-eighth of the food supply of the country. The hon. Member's proposition might be advantageous to the Party opposite with regard to the opinions of farmers; but it would certainly be disadvantageous to them in regard to the feeling of the boroughs of the country.
§ MR. R. H. PAGET
said the whole of the last speech was based on the assumption that the Motion, if adopted, would have the effect of increasing the price of meat. This the supporters of the Motion entirely denied. The ground they took was, that in the interest of the producer, as well as in the interest of the consumer, this Motion was deserving of consideration, and ought to be passed. He never listened to a debate in which so many arguments in support of the proposition had been adduced by those who had risen to contend against it. The Vice President of the Council himself, after dividing the Motion into two parts, admitted the truth of one part, and then set himself to prove the truth of the other. The right hon. Gentleman allowed that the disease was spread in consequence of the importation of French stock at Deptford; and when he came to treat of the difficulty which would arise if foreign live stock were excluded, he showed how easy it would be to meet the difficulty by the enormous importations of dead meat, which were ready to enter our ports from foreign countries. The President of the Board of Trade had remarked that he saw no reason why a farmer should expect an exemption which was not enjoyed by the ordinary shopkeeper; but the right hon. Gentleman seemed to forget that there was no 1718 disease of which the shopkeeper had to dread the importation, and which, if it broke out, would destroy his muslins and silks, or whatever his commodities were. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) had lost sight of the fact that science was constantly progressing. A few years ago there were doubts whether this disease was not, so to speak, indigenous in England; but it was now established that a spontaneous generation of disease was among the impossibilities of nature. The disease must be spread from some active source, and if they got rid of it, it could not come again unless it was imported. If one thing was more clearly accepted than another, it was that the disease was easily conveyed. A question had been raised as to what became of diseased meat. They wished to prevent diseased beasts entering the country at all, and to supply only sound and healthy meat. We could have no safeguard against the introduction of disease unless we prohibited the entry of any live animal from a tainted source. The supply of dead meat would increase to make up for any difference resulting from further restrictions. They affected only a fraction of the supply, for no one suggested that any restriction should be placed on the freest importation from healthy countries. The trade would soon suit itself to the new circumstances by establishing slaughter-houses on the foreign side of the water. He believed this debate would do good if it had no other effect than to secure the recognition of the truth, which had been so constantly denied, of the great injury done to the agriculturists of this country by the foot-and-mouth disease. In the agricultural constituency which he represented the estimated loss from that cause alone in one year exceeded £200,000. He appealed to the sense of justice of the House to support the Resolution of his hon. Friend, which, he believed, would have the effect, not merely of freeing the farmers from the risk of disease, but of increasing, and by no means diminishing, the supply of food to the people of this country.
§ COLONEL KINGSCOTE
said, that at that time of night—12 o'clock—he would not have troubled the House with any observations if it had not been for a remark which had been made by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob 1719 Bright). The hon. Member said that anybody who supported the Motion of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) must wish to restrict the supply of meat to the working classes, and also to enhance its price. Now, if he thought that, it would be the very last vote he should think of giving.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
What I said was that it would have that effect; not that anybody wished it to have that effect.
§ COLONEL KINGSCOTE
would certainly not vote for the Motion if he thought it would have that effect. Representing as he did a very large constituency, and not a purely agricultural one, but a very large constituency of working men, he should feel ashamed if he thought he was doing anything that could advance the price of meat to the working classes. But he believed that the carrying out of the principle of his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire would have just the contrary effect, He wished to impress upon the House, and upon the country at large, that one reason why the price of meat was so high was that the tenant farmer, and all those who had to do with the agriculture of the country, were really afraid of breeding cattle on account of the diseases they were likely to contract. It was admitted that the price of meat was very high. And why was that? It was because the farmers had to buy in their cattle at high prices, because so few were bred; and, therefore, the price of live stock was kept up. If they could breed with more impunity and freedom from disease, he believed that the price of meat would very much decrease, and that the farmers would not suffer in consequence, and the consumers would obtain their meat at a lower price. He had listened attentively to the speech of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire; and he regretted very much, when the Vice President of the Council began his speech, that he should have said, on behalf of the Government, that he intended to meet the Motion with a direct negative. Although he gave the noble Lord the President of the Council, the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President, and all those who worked under them full credit for having carried out the Act of 1878, and he endorsed every word which had been said in praise of the Act, yet he thought that the right hon. Gentleman went on to show that the Act itself was not perfect in every respect.
1720 At all events, if the Privy Council had the power, they had not exerted it in trying to stop the foot-and-mouth disease coming into this country. Upon the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, 15 cargoes of infected cattle had come in without any remonstrance being made with the country—France—from which they came. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Those 15 cargoes came from all countries.] At all events, the first cargo came from France; and if the Privy Council had made remonstrances at the time, through the Foreign Office, to that country, he should have had more confidence in the Privy Council, and the disease which broke out in consequence of the importation from France would not, in all probability, have occurred. Instead of meeting the Resolution with a direct negative, he thought it would have been better for the right hon. Gentleman to have moved the Previous Question; and his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire might then have been satisfied with the assurance that the Privy Council would do all in its power to keep out the disease. He believed that foreign countries were willing to assist us in keeping out the disease; but when we were slapping cargoes from France animals might be infected without the disease having time to develop itself. In the conveyance of cattle between America and this country, the case was different, and the disease had ample time to develop itself; but when cattle were shipped from France they came over to this country so quickly that disease might break out the day or several days after they were landed without anyone having had the slightest knowledge of the diseased condition in which they were shipped. He was glad to hear that there were still more restrictions to be put before sending cattle into Deptford Market. That, however, would only apply to one market, and what they required was that the regulations should be applied to all ports where cattle were landed, and that the restrictions should be carried out to the letter in every market. A good deal had been said, especially by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), as to the impossibility of further extending the dead meat trade, and it had even been contended that the people would not eat meat so imported. But he had recently read the Report written by the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), in which it was stated how 1721 very much this country was behind hand in the means it adopted, not only for the killing, but for the storing of meat. He had not yet heard that any people in America had been poisoned by beef and mutton so kept, and he did not see why the same state of things should not prevail here. In spite of what the hon. Member for Salford said, the dead meat trade would develop very considerably, and very quickly. What induced a foreign country to lend itself to the propagation of cattle diseases was the knowledge it possessed, that it could not send dead meat here, and that nothing had been done by the Legislature of this country to free the markets from the contamination of infectious diseases. When France and other countries found that they could not send their infected animals here, they would take effectual measures to keep diseases out of their own country. He was sorry to have troubled the House with these observations, and he felt he could only support the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire to a certain degree. He could not go with him to the extent of crippling Free Trade in any way; but he did not believe that it was desirable, even in the interest of Free Trade itself, that disease should be imported into this country.
§ MR. PELL
said, he was afraid that an hon. Member, who had spoken on that side of the House, had spoken a little too soon when he congratulated the House on the tone in which the debate had been conducted. If he had waited until the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) had addressed the House, he would not have expressed that opinion. He (Mr. Pell) regretted that after so long an acquaintance with the sentiments of hon. Members on that side of the House, the hon. Member for Manchester should not yet have learned that it was not one of their principal objects to enhance the value of their produce at the cost of the consumer in order to put money into their own pockets. None of them desired to do that, and in the few words he should address to the House he should direct the attention of the House to the evil consequences that were likely to arise, if the condition of things which now prevailed in regard to the foreign cattle trade was allowed to continue. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said they were always increasing their 1722 demands. He admitted at once that their demands had increased; but so had their knowledge of the necessities of the case increased also. They increased their demands, as they found they were able to improve upon the system, and methods, and practices which they could employ. There was a time when a large portion of the country, including many very able men, was of opinion that rinderpest could be kept out of the country by a system of Orders in Council, and by internal regulations. No one was now of that opinion, and it was admitted that slaughter alone stamped out the disease, and that the entire prohibition of importation from infected countries was necessary. As soon as the importation of cattle from any country in which foot-and-mouth disease was known to exist was prohibited, what had been proved to be true in regard to rinderpest would probably be found to be true in reference to foot-and-mouth disease. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council told them that, even if the country assented to the proposal of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire, and assented to the prohibition of the importation of live cattle from the country where foot-and-mouth disease existed, they might still have disease brought in by means of articles used for packing, by farm produce, and so forth. But had that been the case with regard to rinderpest? Since the country in which rinderpest existed had been prohibited from sending their stock here, he could not call to mind one occasion in which the disease had been introduced by articles which formed part of a ship's cargo without the diseased cattle themselves being actually on board ship. The last attack of rinderpest in this country was brought about by contact with diseased animals from another country. It was hardly fair, therefore, to say that the prohibition which had proved to be effectual in the case of rinderpest might not equally prove effectual in the case of foot-and-mouth disease. Foot-and-mouth disease, we all knew, was a most infectious disorder, but not more so than rinderpest; and if rinderpest had been got rid of out of the country by prohibiting the introduction of live animals, it was only reasonable to infer that similar treatment might keep out the foot-and-mouth disease. It was asserted that 1723 there was a large amount of capital invested in the trade; and an argument was made use of by the President of the Board of Trade, and by the Vice President of the Council, was that immense capital had been invested by the municipalities in making provision for the slaughter of cattle on shore, and that it would be unfair now that that capital had been sunk to turn round, and alter our policy in regard to the question, and say—"These wharves must now be shut up, and you are to have no compensation." It had been also suggested that compensation might be paid out of the Imperial Exchequer. But compensation was not wanted. The City of London had taken very good care to compensate itself before the Deptford Market was started. He was in the House when the Bill for that market was introduced; and before a single place was fitted up for the reception of foreign cattle, the tolls on English cattle were raised very materially, in order to furnish a foreign market. It was not, therefore, correct to say that the City of London had sunk money, and that money had been provided by the municipal funds, when, in fact, it had been provided by the country, in shape of increased tolls on English as well as foreign animals. They had now to consider the condition of the trade. Whatever proportion the foreign trade in cattle might bear to the English trade, there was no one who would not admit that the English trade was a most important one. We bred in this country the very best cattle in the world, with the exception of the Shorthorns bred in America. We bred the very best sheep in the world without any exception, and we should act most unwisely if we permitted the monopoly of pure blood which we now enjoyed to be seriously endangered and contaminated, year after year, by the importation of diseased animals from abroad. He could conceive no return to the country that would compensate for the serious mischief that might ensue in that direction. The present debate had turned very much on the effect the disease had upon the supply of meat. Very little had been said with regard to milk. Now, he was glad to say that every day there was a less demand for beer and a greater demand for milk. This milk was supplied from British homesteads, and there was no disease that interfered so materially and distressingly with the 1724 supply of milk as the foot-and-mouth disease. In the first place, it produced abortion among the cows, and thus lessened the supply; and, in the next place, it had had the effect of imposing upon the farmers of England the dairy order, which required a farmer to register himself as a dairyman, when, if the foot-and-mouth disease broke out among his cattle, his business was at once gone, as he had to cease supplying milk tainted with the infection. There appeared to be a contest going on now between the supply of meat in the shape of live stock and dead stock. They had been told that the live trade had been increasing, and that there was every prospect of its superseding the trade in dead meat, and becoming a very large trade indeed in the country. He hoped that it might. There could not be too much of it, and the price the people had to pay for meat now was heavy enough. The farmers would not make any demand upon the Legislature on the score of the bad price of meat; but so long as the English Parliament continued to trifle with the question foreigners would continue to thrust their cattle alive upon the English market, even if they had disease, and the English butcher would avail himself of the chance of buying. In America, although America abounded in cattle, and although the people ate a great deal too much meat, and lived too much upon it to the exclusion of vegetables, what did they do there? Dead meat was sent East, West, North, and South in ice from the great centres of the meat supply at Chicago and other great cities, and there were admirable regulations in force for the conveyance and storage of dead meat. In England there were no regulations of any kind. America sent her dead meat to Liverpool in as good a condition as it left the slaughter-houses in Chicago or New York. What did we do when we received it at Liverpool? We had no ice to store it in, no proper carriage for its conveyance to Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, London, and the other great towns. It was seized by time butchers as soon as it reached Liverpool, and the work of destruction at once commenced. How, under these circumstances, could we expect the dead meat supply to be what it ought to be in England; and how could we expect it to supersede the introduction of live cattle from places where the disease was existing? He 1725 had one other word to say about the English farmer increasing his demand. His hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin) now asked the House to assent to a proposal for dealing with foreign countries as he (Mr. Pell) was dealt with in the county of Northampton at the present moment. If a case of foot-and-mouth disease occurred on one of his own farms the district was declared an infected district; and he could not take his cattle into Lincolnshire, let them be over so fat, nor could he send them to a market town. He supposed that if he farmed in America or France he could send them to England. Therefore, if they were told, as they were told truly by the Vice President of the Council, that the restrictive measures were operating well in England, he said, extend and apply these restrictions, if only as an experiment, to foreign countries. They had got foot-and-month disease now, and he was afraid it was too prevalent for them to hope to get rid of it at once. Did the right hon. Gentleman know what it meant to the English farmer when the market was not open? He submitted to it quietly, because he hoped the disease might be got rid of by restriction; but it meant a bad price for everything he sold. When Free Trade was restricted, if there was but for a moment a deficiency in the supply, if only a very small quantity of cattle entered the market, the price would at once be enormously enhanced. But if the butcher found that they had only half-a-dozen more beasts in the market than they wanted the price equally went down at once, and the sellers went away discontented and disappointed. He would not enter into any question as to what country had sent us the foot-and-mouth disease. From France, during the last two or three years, the amount of importations had been infinitesimally small. All that she sent out in 1879 was something like 248 beasts, and last year not more than 150; and yet this insignificant supply had contaminated the whole of the stock in England. In conclusion, he thought there was good reason in the Resolution of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire, although it was rather a long one. He thought there was sense and justice in it, and a great deal in the circumstances of the case that would justify him in voting for it, Free Trader as he was and had ever been.
§ MR. MAGNIAC
was not disposed, at that late hour of the night, to make more than a few observations; but on that tide of the House there had been last Session great willingness to meet the views of the farmers, and even to support demands which many of them would themselves be disinclined to ask. He thought they had, therefore, a right to say that the arguments which had been addressed to the House throughout the whole of the debate from the other side of the House had been based upon assumptions, and on the assertion of principles which had no real foundation. He and others who sat upon the Liberal Benches were quite as competent as hon. Gentlemen opposite to understand and speak upon these questions. Many of them had studied it fully and with mite as much personal interest as hon. Members opposite. Nevertheless, they had no confidence whatever in the proposal of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), but absolutely and entirely preferred the Act of 1878. To his mind that Act gave much greater security to the farmer than the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member himself seemed to doubt the wisdom of his own proposition, for the proposal, as it stood upon the Paper, was entirely different from that which the hon. Member shadowed forth in his speech. The hon. Member told them that the British farmer must have absolute immunity from disease; but his Resolution only went to this extent—that he wanted "reasonable security." [Mr. CHAPLIN dissented.] The hon. Gentleman by his Resolution, the terms of which the House had a right to discuss, asked not for total immunity, but for reasonable security; and the hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell) asked the Liberal Members what reasonable security was. He (Mr. Magniac) did not know why that question should be addressed to hon. Members on that side of the House; it ought rather to have been addressed to the hon. Member who framed the Resolution. It was altogether the hon. Member's affair, and not that of hon. Members who sat on that side of the House. They knew well enough what they meant by reasonable security. They believed that the Act of 1878 gave reasonable security, and if it had not been so, such a Resolution as that which the 1727 hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire had placed upon the Paper, would never have been proposed. The hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) urged that there must be total immunity by importing dead meat only; but the hon. Member knew very well that the country would never stand such a Resolution as that. Every argument used by the hon. Member for South Leicestershire went direct to the point that dead meat, and dead only, should be imported into the country. ["No, no!"] He asserted that it was so. He asserted confidently that if total immunity were claimed on logical grounds they could not obtain it by such half-hearted proposals as this. What they should require was the slaughter of every animal before it left a foreign shore. They must import dead meat, and dead meat only. If the hon. Member made such a proposition it would be something upon which they could join issue; but the proposal now before the House meant neither one thing nor the other. The hon. Member wanted to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. He could not do both. If he wanted total immunity there was only one way of getting it. Let him, then, submit a proposal in that form and see how many Members would support it.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he would not detain the House except for a very few moments at that hour of the night (12.20) after the kindness and patience with which he had been listened to in opening the debate. The hon. Member who had just sat down had informed them that he approved the Act of 1878 a great deal more than the Motion of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire. If the hon. Member had given attention to the Act of 1878 he would have known that the whole of the last clause of the Motion had been taken from the 4th section of the 5th Schedule of the Act of 1878. After the speech of the Vice President of the Council he had no alternative but to take a division upon the Resolution before the House. The right hon. Gentleman bluntly declared in almost the first sentence of his speech that he would meet the Motion with a direct negative. What was still more surprising, he went on to say that he was about to take that action in the interest of the British farmer. It seemed to him the right hon. Gentleman had never taken the trouble to study the 1728 terms of his Motion. Many believed that compulsory slaughter would be sufficient to prevent the introduction of disease; but, unfortunately, the experience of the last few months showed that compulsory slaughter at the port was no guarantee and no security whatever against the introduction of disease. He, therefore, proposed to go a little further, and ask for a prohibition against the landing of live animals from foreign countries. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) alleged that under the system of compulsory slaughter our Continental trade in meat had been superseded by the American trade. It was true that the Continental trade had been so superseded; but why was this the case? Because the American meat was better, and because it could be sent forward at a cheaper rate. The right hon. Gentleman also complained that the dead moat trade had not increased as it ought to have done. He admitted that this was so, and regretted the fact; because, as far as the consumer was concerned, the dead meat was cheaper. The reason why the dead meat trade had not increased to the desired extent was because it paid the exporter rather better to send live cattle. If once the importation of live cattle was prohibited, the dead meat trade would increase with gigantic strides. The right hon. Gentleman declared that compulsory slaughter afforded a reasonable security against the importation of contagious diseases from abroad. But what did the right hon. Gentleman mean by reasonable security? The Act of 1878 had been in force for two years, and in that time there had been one severe outbreak of disease. Did this outbreak of disease in two years conform with the right hon. Gentleman's idea of reasonable security? The right hon. Gentleman was followed by the President of the Board of Trade, who, being of a more venturesome disposition than his Colleague, appeared to throw the right hon. Gentleman over altogether. The Vice President of the Council admitted that his (Mr. Chaplin's) facts were true; but the President of the Board of Trade declined to admit their truth, though he was not prepared to deny it. The right hon. Gentleman complained that his allegations were based upon assumption, and not upon certainty; but surely if the Government were not prepared to deny the serious allegations 1729 which he had made, he was justified in assuming that they were true. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) had protested against his assumptions. In his turn, he must protest against those of the right hon. Gentleman. There never had been, and he felt sure there never would be, a desire on the part of hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House to defend measures which they believed would impose harsh and unnecessary restrictions on the supply of food to the people. Before concluding, he would add that he could not conceal his surprise and regret at one speech which he had heard that evening, delivered by a pretended champion of the farmers' interest. He referred to the hon. Gentleman who, he was informed, was Chairman of the organization called the Farmers' Alliance. The apology made by that hon. Member for opposing the Motion appeared to him to be the lamest apology ever made by a farmers' friend for opposing a Resolution. But although the hon. Member would not support him, he trusted he should be followed into the Lobby by every real supporter of the agricultural interest.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 147; Noes 205: Majority 58.—(Div. List, No. 167.)