§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. BIGGAR
, said, he would like to make a few remarks on that Bill before going into Committee. There were two or three points to which he would 296 wish to call attention. One very important matter, and the cause of great complaint to Irish cattle dealers and owners, was the contradictory arrangements for the restriction of the disease made by the local authorities in England, Ireland, and Scotland. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on the 7th of April had stated that no restriction would be placed on the exportation of cattle from Ireland; but he found that up to the 12th of April such restrictions still continued in Gloucestershire. Restrictions might be placed on certain districts, but that, for the reason that disease existed in some remote place, the whole country should be placed under a ban was preposterous. A Scotch gentleman, representing the Scotch local authorities, went over to Belfast, and he appeared to have power to manage the exportation of Irish cattle in any way he liked, and not certainly for the benefit of the Irish cattle trade. Now, he thought there should be one general law administered by the Privy Council dealing with the three countries, and that they should not be in the hands of local authorities, who made contradictory arrangements. He contended that if the Lords' Amendment were not allowed to continue in the Bill the whole thing might as well be thrown up altogether, and he hoped that the Bill would not be passed in such a form as would render it so much waste paper, but would be made a useful and thorough measure.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 (Privy Council to prohibit landing of foreign animals affected with foot-and-mouth disease).
MR. JAMES HOWARD moved to leave out from page 1, line 10, the word "may," in order to insert the word "shall." He said this was one of several Amendments which he had placed upon the Paper, all of which were intended to effect one object. The object of the first Amendment of which he had given Notice would not in itself be very obvious to the Committee; but if the Committee would favour him with its attention for a few minutes he would endeavour to show that that Amendment, taken in connection with those which followed, would have the effect of
greatly simplifying the Bill. The first part of the clause as it stood in the Bill was, he maintained, mere surplusage; it was, in fact, simply a repetition of Clause 35 in the Act of 1878. If hon. Members would refer to the Act of 1878, and compare Clause 35 with the phraseology of the greater portion of Clause 1 in the present Bill, they would perceive that the two were almost identical. For his part he failed to see the use of re-enacting the permissive power of the Act to which he had referred. If he were framing a code of rules for the management of a manufactory he should consider it injudicious to introduce rules of a merely permissive character. But it might be argued that this portion of the Act of 1878 was necessary to enable the Privy Council to prevent the introduction of this particular malady, foot-and-mouth disease. That this was not so was shown by the fact that the Privy Council had exercised that power under the provisions of the Act of 1878. If his Amendments were adopted by the Committee, as he hoped they would be, the clause would then read as follows:—
1. For the purpose of preventing the introduction into the United Kingdom of the infection of foot-and-mouth disease, the Privy Council shall from time to time by general or special order prohibit the landing of animals from any foreign country or countries, or any specified part thereof, and they shall prohibit such landing whenever they are not satisfied with respect to any foreign country 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 affected with foot-and-mouth disease.
These Amendments did not affect the question whether the negative "not" should stand where it did as the Bill had come down from the House of Lords, or be transposed to the end of the clause where it had stood in the Bill as originally sent up to that House. For his own part he was of opinion that, whatever lawyers might say upon this question of the transposition of the negative, it would in reality make very little difference in the minds of practical men. At all events, he hoped Her Majesty's Government would either accept his Amendment, or explain to the satisfaction of the Committee the necessity of re-enacting the merely permissive power of the Act of 1878. With-
out further taking up the time of the Committee, he now begged to move the first Amendment which stood in his name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 10, leave out "may," and insert "shall."—(Mr. J. Howard.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. DODSON
said, he quite agreed with his hon. Friend who had moved the Amendment, that it and the other Amendments of which he had given Notice necessarily hung together, and that they had no bearing upon the question as to the transposition of the word "not." But his hon. Friend was not quite accurate in asserting' that the first part of Clause 1 in this Bill was a mere repetition of Clause 35 of the Act of 1878. The clause in the Bill provided that—The Privy Council may from time to time, by general or special order, prohibit, whenever they deem it expedient so to do, the landing of animals from any foreign country or countries, or any specified part thereof.The effect of the Act was that they could not make an Order prohibiting the importation of animals from abroad without naming the country or the countries from which the importation was prohibited. This clause, as it now stood in the Bill, would give the Privy Council a general power of prohibition; and he thought it would be a matter of convenience that they should have such power, more especially if prohibition were to be more widely exercised. Under these circumstances, he hoped the hon. Member for Bedfordshire (Mr. J. Howard) would not press his Amendment to a Division.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Dodson) had assumed a position which Her Majesty's Government and the Liberal Party generally had assumed throughout when dealing with this question—namely, that they were the Representatives of the foreign producers of meat, and against the home producers. This, he asserted, was the general position assumed by the Liberal Party; they appeared as the Representatives of the interests of foreign agriculturists, as distinguished from the interests of agriculturists at home. The Liberal Party had now occupied 299 that position for some years, and this rendered it incumbent on those who were not ashamed of English agriculture or of English stock, and who believed that, with regard to our meat supply, the quantity produced at home was very nearly adequate to the demand, to controvert the view of these advocates of foreign agriculture. What, he asked, was really the question at issue in regard to this matter? It was the question of the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government to Parliament. The hon. Member for Bedfordshire had proposed an Amendment the object of which was to provide that, when Her Majesty's Government prohibited the importation of live animals, they should designate the country from which those animals were to be prohibited, otherwise the Government could not be effectively held responsible for the introduction of disease into this country. He (Mr. Newdegate) was a very old-fashioned Member of that House, and did not admire the system of free imports; but he was prepared to say that the people of this country were entitled to the benefit of securing their supply of meat from all countries in which no disease prevailed, so long as the course of legislation which had been adhered to for many years was preserved. He did not know whether hon. Members on the other side of the House were prepared to divide upon this question; but, for the sake of rendering Her Majesty's Government responsible for the exercise of the discretion intrusted to them as to the exclusion of animals from infected countries, he was prepared to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, if the hon. Gentleman should determine on pressing that Amendment to a Division.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, the hon. Member for Bedfordshire had given no reason for the Amendment he had proposed, except that he thought it desirable to introduce variety into the wording of this proposal. He had, however, said that the provision, as it stood in the Bill, was already the law; but this had always been the contention of hon. Members who thought with him (Mr. Arthur Arnold), and who held that there was no real reason for further legislation on this subject. However, the only ground on which the hon. Member for Bedfordshire had proposed his Amendment was that he thought it 300 undesirable that the same words should stand in this Bill as were enacted in another measure. He (Mr. Arthur Arnold) had only that very day presented a Petition, signed by 1,200 of the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. J. Howard's) constituency in Bedfordshire, praying that House not to enact any further restrictions on the importation of foreign cattle. Now, what was the real object of the hon. Member's Amendment? The hon. Gentleman proposed to convert the word "may" into "shall." He (Mr. Arthur Arnold) could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Dodson) in thinking that the Amendment was unimportant; while, on the other hand, he thought it certainly would, to some extent, restrict the powers of the Privy Council by diminishing the discretion they now exercised, and which he thought it highly desirable to preserve. He therefore hoped that, if the hon. Member for Bedfordshire pressed his Amendment to a Division, it would be rejected by the Committee.
§ MR. KENNY
said, he hoped that the Committee would adopt the Amendment. He thought the Amendment in reality a very important one. As the 1st clause of the Bill at present stood, there was not the slightest difference between it and the Act of 1878; and he thought the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) was wrong in saying that the Bill would make no difference in the law as it now existed. In the Act of 1878 it was set forth in the 5th Schedule that—In relation to foreign animals other than those brought from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, if and so long as from time to time the Privy Council are satisfied with respect to any foreign country 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 diseased animals; then, from time to time, the Privy Council, by general or special order, shall allow animals or any specified kind of animals brought from that country to be landed, without being subject under the provisions of this schedule to slaughter or to quarantine, and may for that purpose alter or add to those provisions as the case may require.This power, as given to the Privy Council by this Sub-section of the Act of 1878, it was proposed to reconfer; but the Privy Council having such discre- 301 tionary power, the contention of those who supported the Amendment was that they ought to be compelled to exercise that power. It was urged against the action of the Privy Council that they had not used the power the Act of 1878 had conferred upon them, and what was now wanted was simply that they should be forced to exercise it. All that was required was, that when it was found that the Privy Council was indifferent to the interests of the United Kingdom, they should be compelled to act in accordance with what the people of the United Kingdom deemed to be their interests. He thought the hon. Member for Bedfordshire had done a public service in endeavouring so to amend the Bill as to make it a reality, and he trusted the Committee would adopt the Amendment.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he felt it necessary to trouble the Committee with a few further observations after what had just been stated. He was afraid he had not made himself understood by the Committee in the point he had urged against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bedfordshire. The clause they were now discussing was divided into two parts. The first portion of it gave the Privy Council a power—a discretionary power—to prohibit, either by a General or a Special Order applicable only to a specified country, the importation of cattle in such cases as they might deem expedient for the purpose of preventing the introduction foot-and-mouth disease. The question of the obligation on the Privy Council to prohibit importation in certain cases arose on the second part of the clause, to which the attention of the Committee would be directed hereafter. The effect of the Amendments of the hon. Member for Bedfordshire—for there were three Amendments, which practically formed one, and could not be separated—was strictly this. They would add nothing to the obligations imposed by the Bill upon the Privy Council, and take nothing from its discretion to prohibit, but they would prevent the Privy Council from having the choice of using a general or a special form of prohibition. Such would really be the effect of the several Amendments if they should be adopted by the Committee. He hoped the Committee would allow this portion of the clause to remain as it was. It did not 302 affect in any way the question of the obligation under which the Privy Council was to be placed; that arose entirely on the second part of the clause.
§ MR. PUGH
said, the simple effect of the first part of the clause was to give the Privy Council a discretionary power to prohibit the landing of animals from any foreign country, and the other part of the clause made it compulsory upon them so to do under certain circumstances. He looked upon the clause as having been drawn with the intention of restating the powers of the Privy Council as they now stood, and then of making it imperative on them to give effect to those powers in the cases pointed to by the Resolution of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin). He trusted that, under the circumstances, the hon. Member for Bedfordshire would not press his Amendment to a Division.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he merely wished to state that the reason why he supported the proposal of the hon. Member for Bedfordshire's proposal to amend the clause was that it would render it incumbent on the Privy Council to exercise all possible assiduity in ascertaining where foot-and-mouth disease might exist abroad, as it was only where the disease was discovered that they would be able to use their power of prohibition, by ordering the exclusion of cattle from the infected country. He did not wish to give the Government or the Privy Council a general discretionary power of exclusion, because general discretionary powers might be exercised in a very latitudinarian sense, and such discretion he had no desire to see intrusted to any Government.
§ MR. DODSON
said, in answer to what had just been stated, he must repeat that upon the first part of the clause they were discussing the question of the obligation of the Privy Council did not arise. That portion of the clause added nothing to the obligation and nothing to the discretion of the Privy Council. All it did was to give the Privy Council power to prohibit, by a General Order, the importation of animals from any foreign country or countries; whereas under the existing law they could only prohibit importation from specified countries. It was only a question of the form to be adopted, and as far as the clause did anything, it gave greater facilities to the Privy Council.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, lie hoped the hon. Member for Bedfordshire would not press his Amendment, the effect of which would really be to convert a double clause into a single one. He was of opinion that his hon. Friend (Mr. J. Howard) did not realize the true effect of his proposal, which certainly would not attain the object at which he was aiming. If carried, it would convert the double power proposed to be given to the Privy Council into a single one.
§ MR. JAMES HOWARD
said, his object was precisely what had just been stated by his hon. Friend the Member for Forfarshire (Mr. J. W. Barclay)—namely, to convert the clause from a double into a single one—to render it a clause of one paragraph instead of two. He had made this proposal on the ground that the powers sought for in the first portion of the clause were already conferred by the Act of 1878, and had been acted upon. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had given one reason only for his opposition to the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman had maintained that if the first part of the clause were allowed to stand it would enable the Privy Council to prohibit importation from the whole of the Continent; but there was nothing in his (Mr. J. Howard's) reading of the clause which warranted that assumption. What it stated was that the Privy Council might prohibit "the landing of animals from any foreign country or countries, or any specified part thereof."
§ MR. DODSON
It says they may prohibit the landing of animals from any foreign country "by general or special order."
§ MR. JAMES HOWARD
In the 35th clause of the Act of 1878 are the words "foreign animals," which will extend to animals from all countries.
§ MR. JAMES HOWARD
said, he saw no reason for re-enacting powers which the Privy Council already possessed; otherwise the Committee would seem to be asked to give the Privy Council a double permission to neglect their duty. His object was to make the power obligatory on the Privy Council from beginning to end. He hoped the Committee would accept his Amendment.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
said, the only ground for the argument of the hon. Member for Bedfordshire appeared to be that he believed the power asked for was already provided in a former Act—namely, the Act of 1878. The Committee had formerly heard from Her Majesty's Government that the Lord Chancellor took a different view of that; but in order to make the matter clear the Government had brought in the present Bill. Surely there could not be any real objection to the proposal the Government had made. He hoped that in the interests of the farmers whom, the hon. Member for Bedfordshire professed to represent he would consent to withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, he would call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the 35th clause of the Act of 1878 appeared in exactly the same words in the Act of 1868, and, this being so, it would appear to afford evidence that the Tory Government of 1878 conceived that they had not the power they were now alleged to have possessed.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, as he understood the question, the words proposed in the Bill that had been sent to that House from the House of Lords were merely intended to extend the area of prohibition; but the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Bedfordshire would seem to be intended to narrow it. As he was anxious to keep the area of prohibition as wide as it could be made, and as he wished to send the Bill back to the House of Lords as nearly as possible in the same shape as that in which it had come down from that Assembly, he was unable to give his support to the Amendment; and if it were pressed to a Division he should vote against it.
§ MR. JAMES HOWARD
said, he would not, under the circumstances, press his Amendment further. With the permission of the Committee he would, therefore, withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. JAMES HOWARD
As the other Amendments I have placed on the Paper form part of the one now withdrawn, I will ask permission to withdraw them also.
§ Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he had now to move, as an Amendment, in page 1, 305 line 13, the omission of the word "not," with a view of reinserting that word in line 17. He desired, in the first place, to state that this was an Amendment to which Her Majesty's Government attached the very greatest importance. He was perfectly well aware that many hon. Gentlemen considered the difference between the expression in the Bill as it was introduced by the Government and the Bill in the shape in which it had came down from the House of Lords to be one of no material consequence. In fact, one hon. Gentleman had stated to him that the difference raised upon this question was merely the difference between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee. He knew that this opinion was held by many hon. Gentlemen of great experience in agricultural matters, and he believed, moreover, that the same view was entertained by some hon. Members who were learned in the law. He respected the opinion of those hon. Gentlemen, but at the same time it was not one in which Her Majesty's Government could concur. Her Majesty's Government, on the contrary, considered that the alteration made in the Bill during its progress through the House of Lords was, in reality, a very material one, and, as he had just stated, they attached the greatest importance to the Amendment he had now the honour of submitting to the Committee. They thought that the change made by the House of Lords went far beyond the necessities of the case, and that, under the circumstances, it was not justifiable. The view entertained by Her Majesty's Government was that for a very slight—if, indeed, for any—perceptible addition to the security of the home producer it would render the restrictions on the importation of cattle so stringent as seriously to hamper trade, and in all probability appreciably to affect the price of meat to the consumer. [Mr. CHAPLIN: Why?] By diminishing the supply. The restrictions, in fact, were so great that they would risk defeating the very object which those who supported the Amendment of the Lords aimed at, because, in the view of the Government, it would impose upon the Privy Council so stringent an obligation to prohibit, even under circumstances which scarcely, if at all, warranted prohibition, that there would be a constant temptation upon them to strain the in- 306 terpretation of the 4th part of the 5th Schedule of the Act of 1878, and lean to the side of free admission. The Lords' Amendments went so far beyond the necessity of the case, as it appeared to the Government, that they laid those who supported them open to the suspicion and the charge that they were intended not merely for defence against disease, but for protection against competition. The former was a most legitimate object for agriculturists to keep in view. Defence they had a perfect right to demand that the Government should give them to a reasonable extent; but the changes that had been made in the Bill went so far that they amounted, whether so intended or not, to protection against competition. The clause, as amended by the House of Lords, appeared to the Government to require them to prohibit, not only when they were affirmatively satisfied that certain securities against the introduction of disease were wanting, but also to prohibit whenever they were unable to ascertain or were in doubt whether they existed or not—perhaps without trying to ascertain or to remove the doubt. This would be the case, if they conceived the case which some hon. Members had suggested as possible—of an ignorant or negligent Agricultural Department. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire cheered that. The hon. Member, apparently, was prepared to approve of the action of an indolent or negligent Agricultural Department who would not take the trouble to ascertain whether security existed in the case of any foreign country, but would, without putting itself to any trouble, at once prohibit. [Mr. CHAPLIN: No. no!] Now, the Government were to prohibit under the clause as it stood, not because certain safeguards were found to be wanting, but because they did not know whether they were wanting or not, and possibly, as he had put it, without having taken the trouble to inquire. If they reversed the clause in the manner in which the Government proposed the Privy Council could not proceed in such a negligent manner as that suggested. They might be in ignorance of securities because they were too indolent to take the trouble to inquire whether they existed; but they could not be cognizant of the existence of securities without having taken the trouble to in- 307 quire and having ascertained that they did exist. The effect of the clause, as the Government proposed to amend it, would be this. It would put the Privy Council under the statutory obligation of prohibiting in all cases in which they were satisfied, with respect to any foreign country, that having regard to the sanitary condition of animals therein or imported therefrom, to the laws made by such country for the regulation of the importation and exportation of animals, and for the prevention of the introduction or spreading of disease, and to the administration of such laws, the circumstances were such as not to afford reasonable security against the importation therefrom of animals affected with foot-and-mouth disease. That appeared to the Government to be a reasonable form in which to require the prohibition to be made. It required the Privy Council—it made it the duty of the Privy Council—to ascertain whether or not securities existed, and if they were satisfied that there were not as comprehensive securities against the importation of disease as were required, then that they must prohibit. He would just like to take this opportunity, while moving this Amendment, of saying one word as to the charge brought against the Agricultural Department of the Privy Council, of too freely permitting the landing of animals from diseased countries. He would like to remind the Committee that the Agricultural Department of the Privy Council began its action early in May last, and that since the 9th of May, 1883, with the exception of the solitary case of the Ontario—which was quite a recent and a very peculiar case—there had not been landed upon the shores of this country for slaughter one single head of cattle affected with foot-and-mouth disease. [Mr. DUCKHAM: Nor sheep, nor pigs?] He should come to that later on. He had mentioned the special case of the Ontario, and as to sheep and swine he would ask the attention of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire to this, that since the 1st June, 1883, there had been landed for slaughter upon our shores only 12 sheep and 21 swine affected with foot-and-mouth disease. He thought that under the circumstances it was hardly open to hon. Members to accuse the Agricultural Department of the Privy Council of having seriously 308 neglected their duty, and allowed at random the landing of diseased animals on our shores. [Mr. CHAPLIN: Since May?] That was what he was claiming. He was speaking now of the Agricultural Department, and was stating what had happened since that Body had come into operation. With regard to Ireland, what he had stated the other day, and what he would now repeat, was this. Every local authority in Great Britain had power to prohibit the introduction of animals, other than animals in transit, into its district from the district of any other local authority in the United Kingdom. It might prohibit from a great number of districts—it might prohibit from one district, or it might prohibit from all the rest of the United Kingdom; but no exceptional powers were given against Irish cattle. He should like to say one word further in regard to this matter, and it was this—the Agricultural Department of the Privy Council had actually at the present moment under consideration the issue of an Order which would limit the powers of local authorities to prohibiting the introduction of animals from those parts of the United Kingdom which were actually ascertained to be free from foot-and-mouth disease; this he hoped and trusted was the case with Ireland amongst other parts of the United Kingdom. He was sorry to say, as he had stated in answer to a Question to-day, that there had been an alarm about the introduction of foot-and-mouth diseased animals from Ireland into Bristol. That subject they were now engaged in investigating; and, at all events, until the result of their inquiries were known, it would be premature for the Department to take any action in the matter. He was sorry to have been obliged to have detained the Committee so long upon this question; but he would now move the Amendment which stood in his name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 13, leave out "not."—(Mr. Dodson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'not' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he had listened attentively to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and he was sure with every wish possible to see him justify the Amendment which he had brought 309 before them. He was, however, bound to say that the Amendment was as objectionable to him now as it was when he first saw it upon the Paper. He regretted very much that the right hon. Gentleman should have brought in the word "protection," and should have talked about the incapacity of Ministers. Whether rightly or wrongly, the House supposed that Ministers were chosen because they were capable, and therefore he thought the question was altogether beyond the mark. If the right hon. Gentleman wished them to draw comparisons, the observation was unfortunate, because, if he remembered aright, after the right hon. Gentleman had been down to Brighton and had made a very strong speech asking the country not to look upon this question as an agricultural question, but one in which the whole country was concerned, his Colleague in the administration of the Privy Council had gone down to Manchester and had abused everyone who was asking for legislation, and had repudiated everything that the right hon. Gentleman had said. The noble Lord who had gone down to Manchester was at the head of the Department, and the real question for them was this—and they ought not to lose sight of it—whether the House of Commons was to lay down the way in which the Act was to be worked, and whether its working was to be left to the Lord President of the Council, who had said in his Manchester speech that the Bill was not required, and who in moving it in the House of Lords might have been supposed by his manner to be opposing instead of supporting it—at least it might have been sent to eternity if "damning it by faint praise" could be said to be opposing it. Since then the Lord President had received two deputations upon the subject, one of which he received with open arms, and the other of which, if he (Mr. Heneage) might be allowed the expression, the right hon. Gentleman had snubbed.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he did not mean that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) had done this; he was referring to the Lord President of the Council.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he was refer ring to the noble Lord, and not to the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to this question there were three distinct classes interested. First, the agricultural class, consisting of producers, consumers, and ratepayers, who had suffered immensely; secondly, there were the people who had profited by what had been going on—namely, the foreign cattle dealers, who did not wish to see any restrictions imposed in order that their trade might continue; and, thirdly, there were the general community, who were consumers and ratepayers, and in whom all hon. Members were more or less interested. As to the interest of the agriculturists in this question it was admitted by everyone. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had said that they deserved some attention for the manner in which they had carried out the restrictions imposed upon them. With regard to the second class he did not think there would be much sympathy with them. For his own part he only wished to speak with reference to the consumers and the ratepayers. He represented a constituency of about 40,000, 30,000 of whom belonged to the wage-earning classes, and it was as to the manner in which the Bill would affect them that he wished to speak. He would briefly say that if the present Amendment were carried, so far as these people were concerned, he would prefer not to have the Bill at all—rather than have only a sham prohibition, he would prefer to have no restrictions at all. He entirely agreed with the remark that had fallen earlier in the evening from the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) that they should either do one thing or the other—either keep the disease out of the country, or allow it to have its full swing and take its chance. He (Mr. Heneage) preferred for his part to be in the hands of Providence rather than in the hands of the Lord President of the Council. Now, the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken said that he and the Government took a very strong view upon this question. Well, he (Mr. Heneage) might be entirely wrong; but he took a very strong view of this question too. He did not wish to affront the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench below him; but, at the same time, he must say 311 that the Amendment before the Committee appeared to him to be nothing less than a delusion and a snare. He would not be a party to deluding those unfortunate persons, whether they were producers, or ratepayers, or consumers, who had suffered much during the last three years, in asking them to spend their money in stocking their land in any way under a Bill which he thought would not do them the slightest good. What was required was that power should be given to prevent cattle being imported from countries which were affected with foot-and-mouth disease immediately it was known that they were so affected, and not that diseased animals should be allowed to come in before measures of restriction were adopted. What was required was something to restore confidence to the home meat trade, because if that were not done consumers would not have made up to them by production the amount of meat which the country required. That was required in order that the country farmers might be stimulated in the trade to produce more meat, and to produce milk which, as the Prime Minister had said, was so much required. They required to get rid of these harassing and costly restrictions which had taken money alike out of the pockets of producer and consumers, and had only benefited the cattle dealers. He was happy to say that the butchers of his own constituency had signed a Petition in favour of the Bill as it had come from the House of Lords; and they wanted the measure as it had so come to them, in order that it might decrease the price of meat eventually by increasing the production at home, and by improving the animals imported from abroad; and lastly, though by no means least, they wanted the Bill in order that they might get rid of those rates which had been such a heavy tax upon the poorest members of the population. But that was not all that they required. They wanted, further, that the powers should be by Statute, in order that a moral effect might be produced in foreign countries—in order that foreign countries that wished to trade with England might know that we had this law, and might be constrained to use more vigilance to control or stamp out disease, and improve their sanitary regulations and laws. It was no use having such powers that foreign countries could snap 312 their fingers and say—"Oh, they are no use, they will never be put in force; only let us wait for the Recess, when Parliament is not sitting and Her Majesty's Ministers have gone on their holidays, when some minor officials will be at the head of affairs, and when we can do what we like with the people in charge of the Privy Council Office." Foreign countries who wished to trade with us should be given to understand that they could not do so unless they made proper sanitary regulations. Unless they produced a moral effect the Bill would be of no use at all. The Bill as it came from the House of Lords would have that moral effect; but with the proposed Amendment it would have no such result, especially after the speeches of the Lord President of the Council. He should have thought, when the right hon. Gentlemen representing Her Majesty's Government was speaking just now, that he would have considered it worth while—seeing there were a great number of hon. Members who had really not studied this question—to have told them exactly what was the result of the law as it now stood, and what it would be under the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had not done so; but he (Mr. Heneage) would tell the Committee what it was. He had written down the law as it was and as it would be, and if the right hon. Gentleman thought he was misrepresenting the state of the case he should be glad to hand what he had noted down to him later on so that he could comment upon it. The law as it now stood was that animals from any or every country from which importation was not prohibited under Section 35 of the Act of 1878 could be admitted for slaughter at the port of landing; and animals must be admitted when the Privy Council were satisfied, under Section 5 of the Act, that there was reasonable security against importation of disease. By the Bill, the Privy Council were directed to prohibit the landing of animals from any country, or part of a country, as to which they were not satisfied that there was reasonable security against the importation of disease. This would throw the onus of proof on foreign countries that they were eradicating or controlling disease. But if they took the law as it would stand under the proposed Amendment of the Government, what were the Department to do? Why, 313 they were to prohibit only when they were satisfied that such reasonable security did not exist. That was to say. whilst they were in communication with the authorities of America, Germany, and elsewhere—whilst they were making inquiries which might go on for weeks—cargoes of cattle might be freely landed on our shores, and disease might be disseminated from one end of the country to the other—for they knew how easily it spread after it once came to our shores. Then they were told that the adoption of the Bill as it came from the House of Lords would entail great loss upon the community by decreasing the supply of meat. Well, what amount of loss could it incur? Why, it could only incur the loss of the animals which could have been landed, diseased or not diseased, between the time at which the Consular Agent, or other person who gave them notice of the disease prevailing in the foreign country, gave them the notice and the time at which they found out whether they ought to prohibit or not. If they found out ultimately that there were grounds for prohibiting, then they would have been right in prohibiting from the first, and there would be no loss at all; but if they found out that the alarm was groundless, then all they had got to do was to say at once that cattle could be again imported from that foreign country. All the amount of cattle that would be prohibited from coming into the country would be just that amount which, supposing there were a false alarm, might have been imported between the time the notice was given and the time they set the foreign country free to import again. He regretted that he had detained the House so long; but he felt very strongly on this question, and he had not hitherto said a word to the House on the subject. As he did not represent an agricultural constituency, he wished to state the grounds on which he based his support to the Bill as it came down from the House of Lords. He had never changed his opinion on the subject. When he first saw the measure he told the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) what his opinion was. He believed that if the Bill became law as it was, farmers of the country would have confidence, and that the dead meat trade would materially develope; and he should like to call the 314 attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) to this fact. The right hon. Gentleman had given some figures the other day with regard to the importation of dead meat, and had put the quantity into pounds weight, as in that way the amount looked larger than in money. He (Mr. Heneage) would like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that 60,000,000 lbs. of foreign dead meat was now sold at Smithfield Market alone in each year, according to the Markets Committee's statistics; that the frozen carcases of sheep imported now averaged 20,000 per month. Prom Australia the supply for the first three months of 1884 was eight times as much as in 1882, showing how much the dead meat trade was developing, and showing that should the importations continue at the same rate they would be equivalent alone to all the meat which had been sent from Germany, Belgium, and America. This bogey of dear meat under the present Bill would be entirely illusory, and was merely a cry raised by interested foreign meat jobbers or salesmen to try and delude the British public, whilst they continued to make money out of diseases and restrictions in England. If the Bill passed as it now stood, he was certain that it would be a benefit, not only to the agricultural classes, but to the whole community. He should like to remind the Committee of a fact of which, perhaps, they were not aware—namely, of the amount of rates paid under the existing state of things. He would take, for example, the division of the county in which he lived. In Lindsey—four-sevenths of Lincolnshire—they amounted in 1883 to 30 per cent of the whole county rate, while the last six months alone gave them a half-penny in the pound, or equal to a penny on the Income Tax, in consequence of restrictions for putting down foot-and-mouth disease. That sum was levied on the poorest class of artizan labourers and small shopkeepers. He regretted that this charge was not made on the taxpayers instead of the ratepayers of the country, because, if it were, they would soon have the Chancellor of the Exchequer—who was not now in his place—on their side. They would have him and a great many right hon. Gentlemen on their side. He always noticed that right hon. Gentlemen, as a rule, left it to private Members to take 315 care of the rates, unless, indeed, they were right hon. Gentlemen in Opposition. As this was not a taxpayers' question, therefore, he did not expect much help from right hon. Gentlemen. They were told this was not an artizans' or labourers' question; but he ventured to say that no classes had suffered so much as the artizans and labourers from the restrictions necessitated by foot-and-mouth disease. The artizans were more liable than anyone else in the large towns to the evil results of the use of diseased milk and diseased meat. The doctors could tell hon. Members of many instances in which the children of artizans and labourers had been affected by the use of impure milk and diseased meat. No class suffered more severely than the cow cottagers, who were really the most deserving class of agricultural labourers. No one had lost more than they had through foot-and-mouth disease, for they very often found that their solitary cow became diseased, and that the milk it yielded infected their children and their pigs. The cow then dried up, and they were often compelled to sell it at half the price they had given for it. In addition to that these poor people had to pay the heavy rate to which he had alluded. When, therefore, hon. Members talked about this not being a people's question, he maintained that it was eminently a people's question—it was not merely a farmers' or landlords' question, but a people's question; and, therefore, they had a right to demand from the Government a real measure, and not a sham one.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he was able to completely endorse, and endorse with great pleasure, much that had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and he asked leave of the Committee to rise at once in order to put before them some information bearing, as it seemed to him, directly on this Amendment, and of which he thought the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) must have been in entire ignorance, to judge from the answer he had given to a Question which he (Mr. Chaplin) had put to him that afternoon as to the prevalence of foot-and-mouth disease in the United States. Before, however, he did that, he should like to make one or two comments upon the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. With reference to his observation as to the trifling difference 316 between the Amendment now on the Paper and the Bill as it came down from the House of Lords, and which had been described by one of his Friends as nothing more than the difference between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee, he (Mr. Chaplin) desired to express his opinion that if the Privy Council could be relied upon to do its duty whatever Government might be in power, and upon all occasions, he had not the slightest doubt in the world that the same objects might be and would be accomplished, either under the Bill as it came down from the House of Lords, or as it would stand if amended as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman; but, unfortunately, they knew from past experience that the Privy Council could not be depended upon; and that was the reason why, in the words of the hon. Member opposite, they desired to have a measure that should not be a sham, and why opposition was offered to legislation of a permissive character, against which they used to hear so much in scorn from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they used to sit on the Opposition side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) had proceeded to make a whole series of assumptions in support of his Amendment, for which he had not offered a shadow of a reason. He had declared that the Amendments inserted in the Bill by the House of Lords were unjustifiable, and went a great deal beyond the grounds of necessity, and that the Bill as it at present stood would hamper trade, and seriously raise the price of meat. He (Mr. Chaplin) had ventured, he was afraid in a somewhat irregular manner, to interject across the House "Why?" But that was a question which the right hon. Gentleman had carefully abstained from answering during the whole course of his speech. What single reason did the right hon. Gentleman give for these statements? Did he explain to the Committee why the Bill went beyond the ground of necessity? Did he tell them why the Bill was not justifiable? Did he tell them why it would raise the price of meat? He (Mr. Chaplin) had had the honour, not very long ago, of speaking on behalf of a large deputation that attended upon the right hon. Gentleman at the Privy Council, and submitting the reasons that appeared to them to be conclusive against the fears and assumptions which had been ex- 317 pressed to-day. He had taken the opportunity of explaining to the right hon. Gentleman at that time the past history of this question, and had stated instances of the price of meat in the Metropolis, showing that, notwithstanding the extraordinary increase of population during the past 20 years, the number of live animals imported into London was less now than it was then, and that, concurrently with that state of things, the people had been generally supplied with meat at reasonable rates; and he must say he thought that after this the right hon. Gentleman was bound to give them some reason in support of his series of assumptions, which no one yet on the Government side of the House had ever attempted fairly to prove. The right hon. Gentleman had taken exception to a cheer which he (Mr. Chaplin) had given during the course of the right hon. Gentleman's observations, when he referred to a possible "indolent Agricultural Administration." What he had cheered at was the inference he had drawn from the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, strengthened by the knowledge he had of certain circumstances in the past as well as in the present, which showed that it was not only quite possible, but extremely probable, that they might have such things as indolent Agricultural Administrations in the future. The right hon Gentleman took great credit to the Government because, as he said, they had been so energetic, so little asleep, that since May, 1883, not one single cargo of diseased animals had been admitted into this country, save the cargo of the Ontario, which was peculiarly circumstanced. But what had the right hon. Gentleman to say about the period precedent to that? Unless his (Mr. Chaplin's) memory deceived him, this energetic Agricultural Administration had admitted cargoes of diseased animals into this country by hundreds. And in saying "by hundreds" he believed he was literally within the mark, and that the right hon. Gentleman would not dispute the accuracy of his statement. The Government had given no reasons whatever against the adoption of this Bill as it had come down from the House of Lords; but he and his Friends, on the other hand, had offered reasons and arguments in support of it, which, at all events, ought to be met or contradicted by Her Majesty's Government. 318 The Government admitted—and the great bulk of their supporters agreed with them—that whatever was necessary to prevent the introduction of disease in the future ought to be done in this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, however, declared that the measure went a great way beyond the grounds of necessity. Why? What was the difference between the position of himself and his Friends and that taken up by the Government? He and his Friends said that animals ought not to be admitted alive into the country unless the Privy Council were satisfied that it could be done with perfect safety from disease; and the Government, on the other hand, said—"No; we will admit the animals unless we know that there is danger." The Amendment of the House of Lords presumed that there was danger from a foreign country unless the Government actually knew that that country was safe; whilst the Government presumed that foreign countries were safe unless they had absolutely ascertained that they had the disease. That was a position to which the Committee ought not to submit, and which would not give that security that it was admitted by nearly everybody ought to be given provided it did not go beyond the grounds of necessity. He would give the right hon. Gentleman an instance or two of what he meant in regard to negligence on the part of the Agricultural Administration. They had to-day heard a statement from the right hon. Gentleman, in reply to a Question put by the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Hicks), to the effect that in spite of all the carefulness of the Administration there appeared to be no doubt that just at the period when the county of Cambridge, having imposed severe restrictions on itself, had escaped from the disease, it was readmitted into the county by reason of the importation from Liverpool of cattle suffering from foot-and-mouth disease, admitted into that port from abroad.
§ MR. DODSON
I expressly stated that the animals were landed at Liverpool on the 12th, that they were examined and found to be sound, and that seven days afterwards, in Cambridgeshire, they were found to be diseased.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
begged pardon. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had admitted that the animals were suffering 319 from disease in Liverpool. [Mr. DODSON: No, no.] Then, he was very sorry he had made the observation. He would however, give the right hon. Gentleman another instance, which he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would also be able to contradict. He had himself asked the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon whether he had any information as to the prevalence of foot-and-mouth disease in Canada and the United States at the present time. He had asked as to Canada because, though he knew the right hon. Gentleman had stated that country had been free for some years, he had gathered from what was said in reply to the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire that the disease might have reappeared in the Dominion. As to the United States, he had some information which he did not know whether the Government were cognizant of, but which was contained in a paper published in Kansas, and dated March 19th, 1884. He found in that paper that the Legislature of Kansas had been especially summoned, the President, in the course of his Message, saying—It was with great reluctance and hesitation that I issued the proclamation convening you in special session. I was apprehensive that your body and the people might not fully appreciate the gravity of the situation and the importance of such action. The proclamation convening you fully explains my reasons for my action. Additional outbreaks of the cattle disease confirm me in the opinion that such call was absolutely imperative.The Message went on to say that the President had been notified by Mr. Finney that the peculiar and highly contagious disease known as "foot-and-mouth disease" had attacked the cattle at Neosho Falls. The Legislature of Kansas met, and, according to the paper he (Mr. Chaplin) had in his hand, adopted measures for the suppression of the foot-and-mouth disease. In the face of this information he must confess he had been somewhat surprised and somewhat disconcerted when the right hon. Gentleman, who was responsible for the Agricultural Department in the House, had informed him, in answer to a Question he had put, that so far as the Government were concerned they knew nothing about the prevalence or existence of the foot-and-mouth disease in the United States.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he apprehended the case the hon. Member was referring 320 to was that reported from Neosho Falls, Kansas?
§ MR. DODSON
A Question was put about it some three weeks ago, and we have since heard that it is officially reported that the disease is not foot-and-mouth disease at all.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, there had been considerable difference of opinion on the subject at Neosho Falls some time ago; but he now understood it was admitted that the disease was foot-and-mouth disease. He wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a paragraph in a little publication entitled Proceedings of the National Convention of Cattle Breeders, holden in Chicago on November 15th and 16th, 1883. In order that the Committee should not place too implicit reliance upon all the statements from that part of the world in regard to the absence of cattle disease, he should like to read a few words which appeared on page 41 of that publication. It was the report of a speech delivered during the Congress by a gentleman named Daniels. Referring to the Motion carried in the House of Commons last Session, the speaker said that it had brought about a very decided change of feeling over there. He had been over to England in the course of the summer, and he had been struck by a very strong remark made by the American Minister when he called upon him officially to assure him that there was no foot-and-mouth disease in that country. It was a day or two after the Motion which he (Mr. Chaplin) had introduced, and which was passed by the House. Mr. Daniels told the American Minister that he was prepared to state that there had been practically no change in that country, whereupon Mr. Lowell answered—We have told the British public so many lies about the condition of cattle in our country they they will not believe us if we tell them the truth.Under those circumstances, and taking into consideration the whole facts of the matter, he (Mr. Chaplin) thought it was not too much for the House of Commons to ask the Government that they should consent to allow this Bill to pass as it had come down amended in this particular form from the House of Lords. The distinction came to this, if the Government did their duty as they ought 321 to do, precisely the same results would follow from the unamended as from the amended Bill. But, on the other hand, instead of leaving it in the discretion of the Privy Council in future to do their duty, or to decline to do their duty, it would place it beyond their power to neglect their duty by making it a matter of Statute Law. He had now nothing further to say on this question. He believed that the Government at this moment had a great opportunity of doing something which would not only afford an immense boon upon the agricultural interests of the country, but which would benefit all classes of the whole community. They might feel sure of this—that much of the bad trade of which they had heard so much of late, and much of the sufferings of the vast number of the people who had been put out of work, had been caused unquestionably by this above all other things—namely, the prolonged and severe depression which had fallen upon the agricultural interest in this country. It might be difficult to propose means for alleviating that depression, or for restoring agriculture to a happier state of things in the future, which would command the general assent and support of Parliament and the country; but he must say that it did seem to him that this was one of the most legitimate means they could employ in doing something to help that interest, in order to place it in a more fortunate and in a more happy position in the future. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had alluded to the working classes of the country. He had said it was a question of their interest which was entitled to as much consideration from Parliament as that of any other class. He (Mr. Chaplin) agreed with every word the hon. Member said, and he would only say, in conclusion, that he had of late received numerous communications from conferences of working men, presided over by leaders of the working men themselves, and held in various parts of the country, who were beginning now to appreciate and understand the merits of the question. The communications which he had received from all sides satisfied him that it was for their interests, as well as for all other interests, that this Bill should be passed into law as it had come down amended from the House of Lords.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, that if the Bill now before the Committee was entitled in any way to be called a sham Bill, then the Act of 1878, which was passed by the Party opposite, was certainly a sham Act. In endeavouring to interpret for himself the difference between the words proposed by the House of Lords and those proposed by Her Majesty's Government, he took the declaration of the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin), who had taken so prominent and worthy a part in this matter, that the question which the Committee had to decide was, whether the Privy Council had any discretion in the matter whatever? What the Committee had to decide was, whether there should be any discretion at all left to the Privy Council in the matter, or whether there should be none whatever? Would the Committee be prepared to say that the Privy Council should have no discretion whatever? It was because exceptional cases might arise that it was desirable that the Privy Council—whatever might be the character of the Council, because at all times it would be governed by the opinion of Parliament—should exercise some form of discretion in regard to the question. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) had again alluded to the fact—or had, rather, brought forward again the argument with which he entertained the House on a former occasion—that when the supply of live animals fell in London the price also fell. Now, that was a very curious doctrine, which he thought it would be altogether impossible to prove. He would, however, ask hon. Members to deal with the facts of the case; and here was one fact in the last reported year. There were 866,000 live animals imported for the food of the people of the Metropolis from countries in regard to which the policy of the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln would operate as an absolute prohibition. As a matter of fact, during last year 220,000 animals were introduced into the county of Lancaster from countries in regard to which the hon. Member would enact an absolute prohibition. Now, was the hon. Member, or any other Member of the House, prepared to get up and say that the sudden prohibition of more than 1,000,000 of live animals into this country would make no difference in the price of food 323 to the people? Yet that appeared to be the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite and their supporters. When the Amendment which had been inserted in the Bill in the House of Lords was carried, there was a statement in The Standard newspaper—an organ representing the views of hon. Members opposite—that great apprehensions were entertained that the policy pursued by the House of Lords would bring about a considerable increase in the price of meat; and hon. Members were cautioned that it would be necessary to take steps to prevent consequences which might be strongly prejudicial to the public interest. The hon. Member for Mid Lincoln had mentioned a case of reported outbreak of disease in Canada. He was sorry that the hon. Member had not made himself more thoroughly acquainted with the facts of the case. The course the hon. Member had taken reminded him (Mr. Arthur Arnold) of what Lord Beaconsfield had said of the country gentlemen. Lord Beaconsfield said that they lived in the open air, they knew but one language, and they never read. If the hon. Member had been acquainted with the real facts of the case, he would be aware that it had since been reported, and fully proved, that there had not been a case of foot-and-mouth disease in Canada. He should like hon. Members to bear in mind that in the United States the mode of breeding and fattening animals was different from that adopted in this country. In the United States there were 10,000,000 acres of land on which cattle-raising was carried on as on one farm. There were millions of acres with no substantial fence between them, and an outbreak of disease occurring under those circumstances was a matter of the greatest importance, and led to the greatest publicity, far more than would be the case in the event of some cattle becoming diseased on a sequestered farm in this country. It might be depended upon that if there should ever be in that large cattle-raising district a serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, there was nothing more certain than that this country would receive information of it long before any injury could arise to our own stock. The hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) had accused the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford 324 (Mr. W. E. Forster) of talking about meat in pounds' weight. Now, he (Mr. Arthur Arnold) thought the meat was always sold in pounds' weight, and not by the ton. He was glad to see that the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) had deliberately dropped his original argument in reference to dead meat. The hon. Member appeared to have learned a great deal in a short time, since he (Mr. Arthur Arnold) had had the honour of sitting opposite to him.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, he was glad that the hon. Member denied having expressed any opinion upon the subject; but on a previous occasion the hon. Member had made important reference to the dead meat which came from the two great countries of the United States of America and Canada. If the dead meat trade was profitable, why should not both of those countries send it? Why did we not receive a single hundredweight of dead meat from the whole of the Dominion of Canada, when we received continuously a large importation of live stock? The fact was that where a country could export live stock it did not care to send dead meat, and that was the reason why we received so small an importation of dead meat from the Dominion of Canada. Now, this question turned very largely upon the position of the United States. From the United States, notwithstanding all the restrictions which had been imposed, the importation of live animals was constantly growing. He had just received the figures for the first three months of the present year; and, comparing the average with that of the first three months of the year 1882, the importation of live cattle from the United States was nearly four times as great, and nearly twice as great as in the first three months of 1883. The total number of cattle imported for the first three months of the year amounted to over 35,000. He had received a letter only the other day from a Norfolk farmer, who, he had no doubt, was very well known to the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read), strongly disapproving of restrictive legislation, which hon. Members opposite supported. He was glad to say that he had received many letters from farmers in different parts of the 325 country, and all of them were of a very friendly character. Allusion had been made to the great gravity of the issue now before the Committee; but his right hon. Friend had not stated what he (Mr. Arthur Arnold) hoped he would be prepared to state—that if this important Amendment—the first of a series of Amendments—were not carried, Her Majesty's Government would not proceed further with the Bill. He apprehended that the Division, to which he hoped the Committee would go very quickly, would be taken upon this Amendment as the keystone of the whole; and in the interest of the great body of the people of the country, as well as of those who were connected with agriculture, he sincerely hoped it would be adopted.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
said, he represented a very large constituency who were deeply interested in the question; and he feared he should not be doing his duty if he were to give a silent vote upon this occasion. He regretted very much that he could not agree in the views that were taken by hon. Gentlemen who sat around him. He had listened with considerable interest to the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage); and he felt that if the hon. Gentleman had a right to speak in behalf of the 40,000 constituents whom he represented, a very much greater responsibility rested upon him (Baron Henry de Worms), because he represented a constituency of more than five times that number. He would support the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, because he was of opinion that it would afford all the safeguards that were necessary for the prevention of the spread of disease. He did not think that it would be sufficient, were it not accompanied by the security which was afforded at the different cattle markets where the animals were landed. But knowing, as he did, from personal experience, how admirably the Cattle Market at Deptford was conducted, he thought that, taking into consideration the Amendment of the Government, which went upon the assumption that unless there was actual evidence forthcoming of disease no restriction should be placed on the importation of live animals, with the precautionary measures which were adopted at Deptford 326 when animals were imported from foreign countries, no danger was likely to arise from the passing of this Amendment. There was, however, a danger which presented itself to his mind, and which he did not think was sufficiently appreciated on that side of the House. It had often been stated that if the importation of foreign cattle were stopped this would not have a very material effect on the price of food. He could not understand upon what evidence that assumption was based. As a matter of fact, the foreign meat supply was equivalent to two-fifths of the whole amount of meat consumed in the Metropolis; and he must say that it appeared to him unreasonable to assume that if that supply was suddenly cut off the price would not be proportionately increased. He thought that, in approaching the question, those who took the view he did must approach it with an impartial and unbiassed mind, and with a desire only to afford such protection as would effectually put a stop to the spread of disease. If they could satisfy themselves that this Bill afforded those securities which were necessary to prevent the spread of disease, and if they were assured, as he was, that the different markets where these animals were imported would carry out strictly the very stringent rules laid down by the Privy Council, then he did not think they need fear any penal results from the introduction of this measure. It was no part of their duty to consider the interests of the butchers or the farmers at all, but the interests of the country at large; and he thought they would materially injure the interests of the working classes, who had to depend in a great measure for the supply of meat, as well as the price of meat, upon an importation of foreign animals, if they were to put a stop to the importation of those animals, unless they had evidence that in permitting it they were encouraging the spread of disease. In the absence of positive evidence to show that the measures which could now be taken to prevent the spread of disease were ineffective, it would be unjust to the working classes to pass a measure sanctioning the absolute prohibition of the importation of all foreign cattle.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, the hon. Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry de Worms), from his point of view, was quite right in voting for this Amend- 327 ment, seeing that he represented a large Metropolitan constituency; but he (Colonel Nolan) found that the Irish Members were placed in a position altogether different. They had no big slaughterhouses to resort to, and no great market for the immediate sale of dead meat. They had, however, a very large number of stock; and it was of much more importance to them to take care of their cattle than it probably was to the English people. England had coal mines, manufactories, and every other description of industry. Ireland, however, depended mainly upon its agriculture, and the Irish people were very anxious to keep out disease from that country. They had already suffered enormously, not from actual disease, but from the restrictions imposed in order to keep down the disease. It was in every way to their advantage to support the Bill as it stood, and to resist the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, provided that they found that they were treated fairly in the Bill. For example, when they came to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Kenny), which provided that—On and after the passing of this Act, no local authority in Great Britain shall prohibit the landing, or stop in transit, healthy cattle brought from Ireland to Great Britain, unless such local authority shall have obtained from the Privy Council an order authorizing them so to do.He wished to know if Her Majesty's Government were inclined to support such an Amendment in order to show that they did not wish to strike a blow at Irish cattle? The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, on the present occasion, had certainly dropped a suggestion which he thought was an extremely useful one. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was thinking of limiting the power of local authorities to excluding cattle from diseased districts. He wanted to ask the right hon. Gentleman how he was going to do that? Would he do it by accepting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ennis, which was the last Amendment on the Paper, or would he do it by some special action on the part of the Privy Council? He should like to get an answer to that question, which was a very important one, and one which had been introduced by the Government themselves, who had raised it in connection with this Amend- 328 ment. He should certainly expect to get an answer to the question from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster before the Committee went to a Division. The Irish Members were anxious to be perfectly clear upon the point, which was one of very considerable consequence to their constituents. At the present moment some of the local authorities excluded cattle coming from any part of Ireland. For instance, when it appeared that cattle disease existed in Ulster, they excluded cattle from Munster, notwithstanding the fact that it was 100 miles off. No doubt they would be justified in excluding cattle which came from districts in which disease absolutely existed; but they were not justified when particular districts only were affected in excluding animals which came from any part of Ireland. Unfortunately, the interests of the people of Ireland were different and more complicated than those of England; and he thought the Irish Members had a right to know where they really were before they went to a Division. He, therefore, asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to explain the meaning of the remark he had made, and to state how he proposed to restrict the power of the local authorities to exclude cattle from every district.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
wished to correct an error into which he believed he had been led. Speaking of the importation from the United States in the first three months of the present year, the number ought to be 35,000.
§ MR. DUCKHAM
said, he rose to express a very strong opinion against the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Dodson). He thought the experience of the past few years was quite sufficient to show the evil of permissive legislation upon this great question. The Act of 1878, when put in force, freed not only this country, but Ireland and Scotland. Ireland continued free for three years; Scotland, with two very small exceptions just over the English Border, continued free for four years, and England was free for nine months, only to have restrictions imposed again in consequence of the importation of diseased animals from France in September, 1880. The effect of that freedom from disease was to reduce 329 the price of meat very considerably. The price of meat in 1879 was, for beef, 5½d. and for mutton 4¼d per 8 lbs. less than it had been during the four preceding years. In 1880, when the Act was enforced with considerable vigilance, there were only 15 cargoes of diseased animals landed in the United Kingdom; but in 1881 there were 143 cargoes. In 1882 there were 66, and in the first six months of 1883 93 were landed containing animals infected with disease. He regarded with great satisfaction the manner in which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had carried out the Act since he came into the position of being, he (Mr. Duckham) regretted he could not say the Minister of Agriculture, but the Agricultural Minister of the Privy Council. If the Act of 1878 had been carried out as it was now being carried out, there would have been no necessity to come there and ask for fresh legislation. But that was not so, and it was manifest from the enormous number of diseased cargoes landed indiscriminately upon our shores during the years 1881 and 1882, and the early part of 1883, that the interest of the English agriculturists were altogether neglected by those whose duty it was to guard the Kingdom, as far as possible, against the introduction and spread of disease. It had been said by some that this was only an attempt to return to the old principles of Protection. Now, if that were the case, he would certainly not be found standing in his place there to say a word in favour of it. But he did feel this—that so long as the farmers of England had to compete with all the world with regard to their produce, they had a right to ask the Legislature of this great country to guard, as far as possible by wise legislation, their flocks and herds from so insidious and contagious a disease. It had been said that the disease had become acclimatized, and that it was indigenous to the soil of the country; but the experience of Ireland from 1879 up to January last year afforded a strong argument against that assertion, as also did the experience of Scotland and various parts of England. It was said also that this was purely a producer's question, and that the farmers were asking for legislation not because they desired to be protected from the effects of disease, but because they wished to enjoy a monopoly. Now, he maintained 330 that it was a consumer's question quite as much as a producer's question; and he would ask the House to allow him very briefly to revert to the position of the country after the cattle plague was stamped out and all disease got rid of. In 1867 the price of meat went down ½d. per lb.; it went down more in 1868, although there were £2,000,000 sterling less animal food imported in 1867 and £3,250,000 less in 1868 than in the average of the three previous years. In 1871, when the disease was rife throughout the Kingdom, the price of beef went up 10½d. per 8 lbs., and of mutton 1s. per 8 lbs. in the Metropolitan Market beyond that of 1868, and £5,000,000 sterling of live and dead meat were imported that year more than in 1868. In 1879, when the country was comparatively free from disease, the price went down 5½d. per 8 lbs. of beef, and 4¼.d. per 8 lbs. of mutton below the average of the four preceding years; and last year, when the disease was rife again, and about 600,000 animals in Great Britain and Ireland suffered from it, £5,000,000 more of animal food was imported than the average of the four preceding years. Nevertheless, as everyone knew, the price of meat, instead of being lowered owing to the enormous increase of importation, was absolutely higher than it had been previously. It had been said that the poorer classes would lose the offal which they were now able to obtain at a low price; but surely the offal of diseased animals could scarcely be regarded as wholesome food. As regarded the interest of the consumers in the offal, it could not be at all compared with that of general reduction in prices when the health of the flocks and herds was maintained as shown in the prices he had quoted. The hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage), in noticing the speech of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), said that last year we imported 700,000,000 lbs. of dead meat, or nearly three times the quantity the right hon. Gentleman gave as the estimated quantity the Bill would deprive the inhabitants of London of. They were talking of meat to supply the food of the people, and whether fresh meat or salt it must be taken into consideration. When writing of our meat supply only last week he had been taken to task in The Daily Telegraph by a gentleman who attempted to show that 331 the calculations he had made in the public Press were inaccurate. He had stated that the Bill, if passed, would only interfere with 6 per cent of the consumption of the food of the people, whereas it was alleged that it amounted to 20 per cent; but when the writer in The Daily Telegraph attempted to prove his case he simply took the cattle and sheep in Great Britain, and gave them as representing the meat supply for the consumption of the country. Nothing was said about Ireland or about the imported dead meat, and nothing was said about the pigs. Those items were not taken into consideration at all by the writer, and such gross misrepresentations he felt could not be too strongly or too loudly condemned. He would not detain the Committee any longer, but he would give a cordial support to the Bill as amended by the House of Lords, and he did so with the firm conviction that it would benefit not only the producers but the consumers of meat throughout the United Kingdom.
§ MR. A. ELLIOT
said, he was of opinion that the view of the farmers upon this very important question had not yet been fully laid before the Committee; and, as the Representative of an agricultural community, he desired to say a few words. The Committee had been told that the farmers were actuated by feelings in favour of Protection in the course they were now taking in supporting the Amendment introduced into this Bill by the House of Lords. If that were really so, he would be one of the last Members of the House to endorse that view; but he knew that among the farmers there were many who strongly entertained the opinion that it was desirable by every means in their power to improve the character of the store cattle. He wished to point out what the feelings of the farmers really were. It might be said that Free Trade was desirable internally as well as externally, or that they might close the country entirely against the importation of foreign cattle; or, in the third place, if they were to have local restrictions, it would be the bounden duty of the Legislature to see that full security was given by the enforcement of those local restrictions against the spread of disease. What the farmers said—and he thought it was the general view—was that they would much rather have no internal 332 restrictions at all, but that they should be allowed to take their own risk of foot-and-mouth disease than be hampered in the way they were. He wished to point out that the agricultural interest, as compared with the consuming interest, was not given to vigorous or active agitation; but, nevertheless, although they were not given to agitation as much as urban communities, they did feel very strongly upon this point. When he came to listen to the argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, he must say, for his own part, he could not help feeling that those arguments depended upon the assumption that the Agricultural Department would not be able to do its work. He was of opinion that that assumption was altogether fallacious. The Agricultural Department would continue to do its work as it had done it during the last two years. What did the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster amount to? If he had taken down the words and figures of the right hon. Gentleman accurately, they came to this—that since the month of May, 1883, no single head of diseased cattle had been landed in this country from foreign parts, except on the 1st of June, when 11 diseased sheep and one swine were introduced. Now, what was the effect of that statement? Surely, the effect of that statement was this—that if proper precautions were taken, a state of things did exist under which cattle could be landed in this country from foreign parts with reasonable safety; and therefore he wished to press upon the Committee the statement which had been made over and over again that it was only necessary to give the Agricultural Department full power to deal with all these cases, and to exclude cattle that were found to be infected with disease. There was no reason to suppose that the exclusion would be very large, or, at any rate, that it would be so large that the price of meat would be enormously raised to the consumer. That argument altogether fell to the country, because the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had himself proved that diseased animals during the last two years had not been landed at our ports from foreign countries; and it was, therefore, an 333 entire mistake to suppose that the prohibition of the landing of diseased animals would raise the price of meat. It was the general opinion of the farmers of the country that, local restrictions having been obtained, it was their duty to endeavour to get protection at the ports of landing; and, unless some such power as that proposed in the amended Bill were intrusted to the Agricultural Department of the Privy Council, the interests of the consumer would suffer very much indeed. He had thought it right to make these few remarks on a point upon which the farmers certainly did feel very strongly; but if he thought for a moment that their case depended in any considerable degree upon the Protectionist argument, he should be one of the first Members in that House to oppose it. He did not, however, believe that their case depended upon that argument; and, therefore, he should be obliged to vote against the Government upon this Amendment.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he thought that the debate had been useful in having removed from the minds of hon. Members the impression that there was very little difference in the Bill as it had been brought in by the Government and as it was brought down to the House of Lords, with the Amendments which had been inserted in it by the House of Lords. It certainly showed that hon. Members fully appreciated the nature of the difference. His hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Heneage), in the effective speech he had made, asserted that the difference was so great that the Bill, as originally introduced, was only a sham Bill, and it had been converted into a real Bill by the Amendments introduced into it. He could not agree with one passage of the speech of his hon. Friend, although he only desired to refer to it in a kindly spirit. He quite agreed with his hon. Friend that there was not an intention on the part of the agricultural Members to restore Protection in this matter. He was quite sure that that was not their intention. But while he gave credit for honourable motives to one set of persons, he did not think, at the same time, that dishonourable motives ought to be imputed to others. He had, therefore, been surprised and sorry to hear the remarks his hon. Friend had made in connection with a large class of people—the foreign 334 traders. He understood his hon. Friend to say that it was their object to keep up the disease. Now, that was a very strong statement to make.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he had not stated that it was the object of foreign traders to keep up disease, but that it was to their interest to do so.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he thought his hon. Friend had given the idea that foreign traders were actuated by that motive; and he was glad to hear his hon. Friend state now that he did not think so. As far as he (Mr. W. E. Forster) was able to see, a charge of that nature was absolutely without foundation. The hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) showed clearly that there was a considerable difference between the proposal of the Government and that contained in the Bill as amended by the House of Lords. The hon. Member pointed out that in one case a discretion was given to the Government, whereas in the other it was not. He thought the Committee were able to see from the debate which had taken place what the difference had been. He imagined that hon. Members who were in favour of the Bill as it had been amended would be prepared to exclude the importation of any live animals from any foreign country in which foot-and-mouth disease might be said to exist. He understood that that was what hon. Members who supported the Lords' Amendments were aiming at. [Mr. CHAPLIN: A part only.] He (Mr. W. E. Forster) thought that such a safeguard should not be given if satisfactory arrangements were made against the spread of disease. He understood that the expectation was that no animals would be allowed to come from any country in which there was foot-and-mouth disease; but the words of the clause as amended would allow the matter to go a good deal further. They really said that from no country throughout the length and breadth of which a case of foot-and-mouth disease might be discovered after the most minute search should any animal be allowed to be imported into this country. In fact, a sort of search and report would have to be made by the Government in, every country as to the existence of the disease before any live animals were allowed to be imported from any of them into this country. Upon a mere rumour that disease prevailed the importation of 335 animals would be excluded, although it might be almost immediately discovered that the rumour was altogether without foundation. The effect of that would be, as the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) had frankly admitted in his speech last year and also now, that it would exclude the importation of all live animals from what were called the scheduled countries. It would, therefore, exclude a large and important part of the food at present provided for the consumption of the people. The hon. Member for Roxburghshire (Mr. A. Elliot), who had just sat down, had made use of an argument which he (Mr. W. E. Forster) thought was in favour of the course taken by the Government. The hon. Member admitted that the precautions taken by the Government had been successful in grappling with the disease; and he had congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on what he had done. Nevertheless, his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had not adopted the principle of stopping the importation of animals from every country where it could be shown that a case of disease existed. His right hon. Friend had gone upon the principle of excluding the importation from all countries in which there was reasonable ground for the belief that the disease might be imported. That was the principle on which the Committee desired to work. They admitted that there was a change of opinion in regard to foot-and-mouth disease, and that they would be quite justified in stopping the importation of live animals where there was any real danger of spreading the disease; but, at the same time, they thought the Government ought to have a discretionary power to judge whether the regulations at the port of embarkation were not such as to afford a reasonable prospect of preventing the spread of disease. He was quite sure that if the Bill were passed as the Lords had sent it down, the Government would not be able to do that; and he was also quite sure that what the Lords intended was that the Government should be able to use a fair discretion. The matter was a very serious one. There had been a good deal of talk about figures, and some hon. Members had attempted to prove that the price of meat went down according 336 to the number of animals imported into the country. They were all of them sufficiently men of business to know that if they diminished the supply of an article the price, as a general rule, would rise. There was no doubt whatever that, taking 4,000,000 of people in London, the stoppage of the importation of live animals from the scheduled countries would stop the importation of about 23 per cent of all the meat now consumed in London. The dead meat trade was; not equal to 50 per cent of the live importation; and if they were to depend upon the dead meat alone it would take a very long time, indeed, before they filled up the gap. The increase in the dead meat trade from the Australian markets was, no doubt, most satisfactory; but it was still the merest bagatelle possible in comparison with the consumption of the country. He failed to see upon what ground they ought to abandon all the importation of live meat. It could not be on account of the disease, because, although it was a serious disease, it had not yet been so considered by the agriculturists themselves, and it was regarded as of so little importance at the time he passed his Bill on the subject that he had some difficulty in getting the mention of the disease inserted in the Bill, and yet the ravages of that disease had been greater before that time than they had been since. In 1878 no one thought of slaughtering animals at the port of debarkation. It was admitted that the experiment should be tried for two or three years. His full belief, however, was that no regulations they could make in regard to importation would banish disease from the country, and the statement which had been made by his right hon. Friend fully bore him out in that assertion. He was quite willing that there should be restrictions when necessary; but he was convinced that to lay down a rule that no animals: should be imported from any country in which by chance disease might be found to exist was altogether unnecessary, and would be a most wanton interference with the food supply of the country.
§ MR. KENNY
said, that his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan), in addressing the Committee a short time ago, had made reference to a previous statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of 337 the Duchy of Lancaster, that the Government would he prepared to limit the power of the local authorities in regard to the exclusion of animals. His hon. and gallant Friend had asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps were proposed to be taken by the Privy Council; whether they proposed to act on their own authority, or to accept the Amendment which he (Mr. Kenny) had placed lower down upon the Paper? He should be very glad, before the Division took place, to receive an answer to that question from the right hon. Gentleman. It was only fair to his hon. and gallant Friend that that reply should be given.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he could answer that question at once. The Government were prepared to accept the Amendment of which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Kenny) had given Notice; but he might also state that they had it in contemplation to issue an Order in Council limiting the power of the local authorities to prohibit the introduction of animals into their districts from parts of the United Kingdom which were ascertained to be free from disease.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
said, he had no doubt as to the direction in which the interests of the people he represented ought to induce him to vote. He thought that a most extensive and significant demonstration had already been made against the modification which the House of Lords had introduced into the Government Bill. In the course of the debate some allusion had been made to Protection. They had to thank the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) for charging the Liberal Party and Her Majesty's Government with caring for nobody but the foreign producer. Seeing that the charge had been made, it was only natural that some answer should be given to it.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
hoped the hon. Member (Mr. Thorold Rogers) would excuse him. He had not used the expression attributed to him. What he had said was that the Liberal Party had been the representatives of foreign interests in thwarting the agricultural interests of the country.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
said, he could not help thinking that there was very little difference between the two positions. He found that the supply of dead meat brought into this country 338 averaged over £3,000,000 sterling a-year; and he was bound to say that it appeared to him to be almost an insult to the intelligence of the people to imagine that a very long time, indeed, must not elapse before the £3,000,000 now representing the importation of dead meat were made to counter-balance the £12,000,000 sterling expended in the importation of live meat, and if a scarcity arose there must necessarily be a rise of prices in geometrical proportion to the restriction of the supply. There would not only be a decline in the importation, but a corresponding increase in price; and they were bound to take into consideration the effect which those two operations would produce upon the condition of the people when the decline of the supply took place. The working classes of London fully appreciated the result of any limitation of the supply, and knew very well that it would have a material effect in increasing the price, and thereby diminishing the comfort and injuring the health of the general mass of the population. He could assure the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) that the repentance among the working classes on the subject of Free Trade was very small indeed. Allusion had been made to the Petitions which had been presented to the House. He was well aware of the way in which those Petitions were got up. They were got up in the back rooms of the public-houses of London, with only 10 or a dozen people present, who had no title, or claim, or pretension to represent the feeling of the general public. In no way did they represent the feelings of the working classes, which, if it were necessary, he could show were entirely in favour of the course taken by the Government in regard to the Bill. The result of adopting the Amendment introduced into the Bill in the House of Lords would, he believed, be that a very considerable reduction in the amount of live stock imported into England would be effected. Everyone knew that at the present moment the greatest possible precautions were taken to prevent the spread of disease in the country, at Deptford, and at the other cattle markets. He should like to know what precautions were taken to prevent the spread of the disease in the country itself? Only last year he happened to be at Croydon, and he passed by an inclosed field containing 339 50 steers and calves, which were suffering from foot-and-mouth disease, in the immediate neighbourhood of the high road. Surely, if the working classes were to be deprived of a foreign supply, some restrictions should be placed on the dissemination of disease at home. If such things as these were allowed he could well understand how a cargo of cattle perfectly free from disease might be landed at Liverpool, and seven days afterwards be found suffering from disease in Cambridgeshire. The disease would have been acquired simply by passing through an infected district. He did not believe that the administration of the regulations for the prevention of disease had been neglected by the Government, who had always had at heart the good of the community. Her Majesty's Government were fully aware that until the agricultural interests were prosperous and properly developed, the general prosperity of the country would be retarded; but he did not think they would be assisting in developing the prosperity of agriculture by imposing restrictions on the importation of food, which would be invidious in the eyes of the people generally.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he wished to correct a misapprehension which he was afraid might arise from the answer he had just given to the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Kenny). He had not observed that the hon. Member had two Amendments on the Paper; and when he said that he would accept the Amendment of the hon. Member he referred to the first Amendment only. The subject of the second Amendment was one which should be dealt with by Orders in Council.
§ MR. KENNY
said, that his question had been principally directed to the second Amendment, which was the Amendment referred to by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan). He wished to know from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what course he proposed to take in regard to that Amendment?
§ MR. DODSON
said, that in regard to that Amendment he had just stated that it was in contemplation to deal with the subject by an Order in Council. He had every reason to believe that the alarm of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) in regard to Ireland would prove to be altogether unfounded. 340 The Order in Council would, he hoped, be issued shortly, and he believed hon. Members would find that it met the case they desired to raise.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, he must protest against the proposed limitation intimated by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster of the power of the local authorities in relation to the importation of cattle from Ireland. There was reason to believe that a good deal of the disease had been introduced into this country by the importation of cattle from Ireland. He would not say that they brought the disease from Ireland; but, as a matter of fact, cattle had been, brought into the county of Forfar, which he represented, from Ireland which had introduced the disease into that county, and the farmers of Forfarshire had suffered considerably in consequence. It was to their interest to have Irish cattle; but, considering the necessity of preventing the spread of disease, they had had to deny themselves the advantages which might be derived from the introduction of Irish cattle. On that ground he took objection to the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, that it was the intention of the Government to limit the powers of the local authorities in relation to the importation of cattle from Ireland. A considerable majority of his constituents, and of the farmers of Scotland, were in favour of the importation of store cattle from abroad. They had had considerable experience of store cattle from Canada, which had, to a considerable extent, supplied the deficiency in this country. They hoped still, by some modification of the present Bill, to be able to obtain store cattle from the United States of America, reasonable security being given against the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease. There was one point which had not been raised in the course of the debate, with regard to which he wished to obtain some opinion from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He was anxious that the Government should indicate what course they intended to pursue in regard to the disposal of animals at the port of debarkation. At the present moment there were three methods adopted in reference to foreign cattle. In the first place, the importation might be prohibited altogether; in the second place, they might be slaughtered at 341 the port of debarkation; and, in the third, there was free admission into the country. He wished to know from the right hon. Gentleman what position the Government would take, when the present Bill passed into law, with respect to the slaughter of cattle at the port of debarkation? That was a very important point. If the Bill remained as it stood now, and such circumstances arose as the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) had referred to, he understood that it would be the duty of the Government, on first hearing of a rumour of disease, to prohibit the importation of all animals from America, for instance, or from any other foreign country, because they could not be altogether satisfied that there was no truth in the rumour. Then, after a little time, it might be found out that though a disease of some peculiar kind might affect certain classes of cattle, it was not at all contagious. If, however, they were to carry out the proposals of hon. Members opposite, they would entirely prohibit the importation of live foreign cattle into this country. By the active administration of the present system of administration the Government authorities in Scotland had prevented a spread of the disease to any extent in that country, although it had been frequently introduced into various counties in Scotland. The county which he had the honour to represent had had the disease introduced into it eight times by distinct outbreaks; but by the exercise of vigour on the part of the local authorities in putting the provisions of the Act into force, they had succeeded in preventing the disease from spreading. The question, therefore, at once rose, why was it that in certain counties in England the disease was allowed to spread to such a great extent when it had been effectually dealt with in other districts? He invited the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) to explain what natural causes existed in the county of Lincolnshire that caused the spread of disease to such an extent as had actually been the case in that county, whereas in other districts equally exposed to infection the disease had been satisfactorily dealt with. It appeared to him that if the local authorities dealt energetically with disease when it was first introduced into a district they would be able to prevent 342 it from spreading. He placed more confidence in such action than in attempting, by any measure of legislation of this kind, to prevent the introduction of disease, even if the importation of cattle were altogether prohibited.
§ MR. JAMES HOWARD
said, he desired to trespass upon the attention of the Committee for only two or three minutes, mainly for the purpose of explaining the vote he was about to record. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a few moments ago, stated that very few animals had been landed in this country which were suffering from foot-and-mouth disease during the last twelve months. That was a matter for great satisfaction; but it was rather an argument against the importation of diseased animals altogether, because it must be admitted that a single spark might set on fire a whole city. The present outbreak, which had occasioned so serious a loss to the country, was entirely due to the importation of a very few diseased animals from France. He had at first been under the impression that the simple transposition of the negative, from the end of the clause to the beginning, would not practically make a very wide difference; but after the very strong views expressed on that subject by the Chancellor of the Duchy, as he was in favour of the most vigorous measure that could be adopted for stamping out the disease, he felt compelled to vote for the Bill as it had been sent down from the House of Lords. He did so because, as he had stated, he was in favour of the most effectual measure for stamping out the disease in the country. He would not go over the arguments which had been used inside and outside the House as to the effect and spread of the disease. He contended that it was quite as great an evil to the consumer as to the producer. None of them could experience satisfaction from anything that tended to raise the price of meat and check the supply of the dairy produce of the country, which, by the introduction and spread of foot-and-mouth disease, was the case. His hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) had alluded to the fact that he had presented a Petition from his (Mr. J. Howard's) constituents against the Lords' Amendments in the Bill. He had discussed the matter with 343 many of his constituents who were not concerned in agricultural operations, and he had found that their objections to this legislation were founded entirely upon ignorance. He also believed that the general opposition which was given to the Bill among the artizan class of the country was also founded upon ignorance; and he was of opinion that no class had more interest in keeping the cattle of the country free from the ravages of disease than the working men, for if the people were to be more cheaply fed our own flocks and herds must be maintained in health.
§ MR. HASTINGS
said, he only desired to say a very few words in order to explain why, as representing a large constituency, which was not only a large agricultural constituency, but one also containing a large urban and semi-urban population, he considered it his duty to support the Bill against the Amendments proposed by Her Majesty's Government. It seemed to him that they must do one of two things—either carry out strictly provisions for restricting the importation of cattle from infected countries or not. If it were intended to carry out those restrictions, there surely could be no reason why the Bill as it had come down from the House of Lords should not be passed. If they refused to adopt the Lords' Amendments, it could only be because they had no desire to carry out the restrictions with vigour and in good faith, and that was just what he feared, and exactly what those who represented constituencies that were largely interested in the production of the food supply dreaded. They feared that the restrictions which all persons considered to be necessary were not about to be adequately worked, and that a loophole was to be left by the amendment of the Bill which would practically allow them to be disregarded. Under those circumstances, they felt it incumbent upon them, in the interest of their constituencies, and in discharge of their duty to the large class of consumers throughout the country, to vote against the Amendment of Her Majesty's Government, and in favour of the Bill as it had come down from the House of Lords.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he would not trouble the Committee with many further observations; but it was desirable 344 that he should say a word or two upon the debate which had taken place. In the first place, his hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) had made a very severe attack upon the Privy Council for its action before that period in May, 1883, to which he had referred in his speech. Now, in what he (Mr. Dodson) had said he had not the slightest wish to lead the Committee to suppose that his noble Friend the President of the Council had in any way neglected his duty before that period. Lord Spencer, in the first instance, carried out faithfully and loyally the Act of 1878, in the spirit in which it was intended by those who framed and passed that Act; and his noble Friend (Lord Carlingford) had carried on the administration of the Act in the same spirit of fidelity. It had been alleged that if the Bill were amended in the manner he proposed, it would be so weak as to be almost a sham. Well, however weak it might be in the eyes of some hon. Gentlemen, at all events it would be stronger than the Act of 1878, which was the Act introduced by the late Government, and the Act under which they had hitherto proceeded. Moreover, the Act had never been so stringently administered by the late as by the present Government, more especially since the period in last year to which he had referred. And yet the demand for stringency had been louder than ever. They had found, as he had stated in moving the second reading of the Bill, that there was a very strong feeling in the country on the subject. The apprehension of foot-and-mouth disease had had a discouraging effect in the agricultural districts, and they were anxious to give a reasonable security in order to allay that apprehension. They, therefore, thought it right to exercise the powers of the Act of 1878 more stringently than they had ever been exercised before, and he ventured to say more stringently than the authors of that Act contemplated their being exercised. The hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) had asserted that he (Mr. Dodson) had given no reason for apprehension which he said existed in the mind of the Government as to the effect of the Bill as it had been sent down by the House of Lords in hampering and restricting trade. The Government considered that if the clause were 345 retained in the form in which it came down from the other House, they would be running a serious risk, not only of hampering trade, but of raising the price of meat to the consumer, without any adequate addition to the security of the producer. It was suggested by the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) that there would be a corresponding increase in the trade in dead meat. No doubt the trade in fresh dead meat was a large and increasing trade; but the trade in live meat was a much larger and more important trade; it was also a rapidly increasing trade. He wished also to point out that while, on the one hand, the trade in live animals was steadily increasing, that in dead meat was a fluctuating one. There were some hon. Gentlemen who seemed to think that it was only necessary to prohibit the importation of live animals in order to insure a corresponding increase in the supply of fresh dead meat. But this was not the case, and the experience of past years showed that it was not so. He should like, upon this point, to call the attention of the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) to a few hard facts. The Privy Council last year prohibited the importation of live animals from France. And what had been the result? Had France sent a larger quantity of fresh dead meat in lieu of the live animals it had previously exported? Nothing of the kind. On the contrary, we had scarcely received any fresh dead meat from that country. Again, for a considerable number of years live cattle had been admitted to this country from Germany and Belgium; but some years ago the landing of live cattle from those countries was prohibited. What had happened? Did Germany and Belgium send fresh beef instead of live cattle? Not at all. The fact was that Germany and Belgium had sent us more fresh beef during the three years preceding the prohibition of live animals as was recorded in the Returns than in the following years. No doubt the trade in fresh dead meat had increased largely of late, principally from New Zealand; but, for some reason he was unable to state, the trade in dead meat from Holland and other countries in Europe had considerably diminished in 1883. He remembered that when the Act of 1878 was passed some hon. Gentlemen wanted to prohibit the landing of live animals 346 from the United States, and asserted that the fresh dead meat trade would, in consequence, be largely increased. But the fact was that the live meat trade from the United States maintained a great superiority over that in fresh dead meat from the same country. In conclusion, he had only to repeat that Her Majesty's Government did not share the views of those who regarded this Amendment as an unimportant or immaterial one. They considered, on the contrary, that if the clause were retained in the Bill in the shape in which it had come down from the House of Lords it would be at the risk of very seriously hampering trade and raising the price of meat to the consumer, without in any degree making an adequate addition to the security of the home produce against the importation of disease from abroad. Her Majesty's Government looked upon this question as one of the utmost gravity, and as involving consequences of importance.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 185; Noes 161: Majority 24.349
|Alexander, Major-Gen.||Colthurst, Colonel|
|Allsopp, C.||Compton, F.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Coope, O. E.|
|Archdale, W. H.||Corbet, W. J.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Cowen, J.|
|Baring, T. C.||Cowper, hon. H. F.|
|Barry, J.||Crichton, Viscount|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Curzon, Major hon. M.|
|Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-||Dalrymple, C.|
|Davenport, W. B.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Dawnay, hon. G. C.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Digby, Colonel hon. E.|
|Bective, Earl of||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Bellingham, A. H.||Duckham, T.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.|
|Beresford, G. De la P.||Edwards, P.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Blackburne, Col. J. I.||Egerton, hon. A. F.|
|Borlase, W. C.||Elliot, hon. A. R. D.|
|Broadley, W. H. H.||Elliot, G. W.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Elton, C. I.|
|Ennis, Sir J.|
|Bulwer, J. R.||Estcourt, G. S.|
|Burghley, Lord||Feilden, Lieut.-General|
|Buxton, Sir R. J.||Fellowes, W. H.|
|Cartwright, W. C.||Finch, G. H.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G.|
|Christie, W. L.||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Clive, Col. hon. G. W.||Floyer, J.|
|Close, M. C.||Foljambe, F. J. S.|
|Coddington, W.||Folkestone, Viscount|
|Collins, E.||Foster, W. H.|
|Fremantle, hon. T. F.||Moreton, Lord|
|Freshfield, C. K.||Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.|
|Garnier, J. C.|
|Gooch, Sir D.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Gore-Langton, W. S.||Nicholson, W.|
|Grantham, W.||Nicholson, W. N.|
|Gregory, G. B.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Gurdon, R. T.||North, Colonel J. S.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.|
|Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.|
|Northcote, H. S.|
|Hamilton, I. T.||O'Beirne, Colonel F.|
|Harrington, T.||O'Brien, W.|
|Harris, W. J.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Harvey, Sir R. B.||Onslow, D. R.|
|Hastings, G. W.||O'Sullivan, W. H.|
|Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.||Palmer, C. M.|
|Peek, Sir H. W.|
|Healy, T. M.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Hicks, E.||Pell, A.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Pemberton, E. L.|
|Hill, A. S.||Percy, Lord A.|
|Home, Lt.-Col. D. M.||Phipps, P.|
|Hope, right hon. A. J. B. B.||Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.|
|Pugh, L. P.|
|Howard, J.||Repton, G. W.|
|Jackson, W. L.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Kennard, Col. E. H.||Ross, A. H.|
|Kennard, C. J.||Rothschild, Sir N. M. de|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Round, J.|
|Kenny, M. J.||St. Aubyn, W. M.|
|King-Harman, Colonel E. R.||Salt, T.|
|Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Kingscote, Col. R. N. F.||Scott, M. D.|
|Knight, F. W.||Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.|
|Knightley, Sir R.|
|Lambton, hon. F. W.||Sexton, T.|
|Lawrence, Sir T.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Leahy, J.||Smith, A.|
|Leighton, Sir B.||Stanhope, hon. E.|
|Leighton, S.||Stanley, rt. hon. Col. F.|
|Lennox, right hn. Lord H. G. C. G.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Levett, T. J.||Strutt, hon. C. H.|
|Lloyd, M.||Sykes, C.|
|Loder, R.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Long, W. H.||Thomson, H.|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Thornhill, A. J.|
|Lowther, rt. hon. J.||Thornhill, T.|
|Lowther, hon. W.||Thynne, Lord H. F.|
|Lowther, J. W.||Tollemache, hn. W. F.|
|Lynch, N.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Macfarlane, D. H.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|M'Carthy, J.||Tottenham, A. L.|
|M'Kenna, Sir J. N.||Vivian, Sir H. H.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Vivian, A. P.|
|Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Warburton, P. E.|
|Marjoribanks, hon. E.||Warton, C. N.|
|Martin, P.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|Master, T. W. C.||Winn, R.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Milbank, Sir F. A.||TELLERS.|
|Miles, C. W.||Heneage, E.|
|Molloy, B. C.||Read, C. S.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Anderson, G.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Armitage, B.|
|Agnew, W,||Armitstead, G.|
|Arnold, A.||Hibbert, J. T.|
|Asher, A.||Hill, T. R.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Holden, I.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. J. B.||Hopwood, C. H.|
|Balfour, J. S.||Houldsworth, W. H.|
|Barclay, J. W.||Howard, E. S.|
|Barran, J.||Illingworth, A.|
|Baxter, rt. hon. W. E.||James, Sir H.|
|Bolton, J. C.||James, C.|
|Boord, T. W.||James, W. H.|
|Brand, hon. H. R.||Jenkins, D. J.|
|Briggs, W. E.||Jerningham, H. E. H,|
|Bright, J.||Lawrence, W.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Brogden, A.||Leake, R.|
|Brown, A, H.||Leatham, E. A.|
|Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C.||Lee, H.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.|
|Buszard, M. C.||Lusk, Sir A.|
|Buxton, F. W.||Mackintosh, C. F.|
|Buxton, S. C.||Macliver, P. S.|
|Cameron, C.||M'Arthur, Sir W.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||M'Arthur, A.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, H.||M'Intyre, Æneas J.|
|M'Laren, C. B. B.|
|Causton, R. K.||Maitland, W. F.|
|Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.||Marriott, W. T.|
|Cheetham, J. F.||Martin, R. B.|
|Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E.||Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-|
|Churchill, Lord R.|
|Clarke, J. C.||Mellor, J. W.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Monk, C. J.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.|
|Cotes, C. C.||Morley, A.|
|Courtauld, G.||Morley, J.|
|Courtney, L. H.||Morley, S.|
|Cropper, J.||Mundella, rt. hn. A. J.|
|Cross, J. K.||Muntz, P. H.|
|Currie, Sir D.||Noel, E.|
|Davies, W.||Norwood, C. M.|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Paget, T. T.|
|Dilke, rt. hn. Sir C. W.||Palmer, G.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Pease, A.|
|Dodds, J.||Peddie, J. D.|
|Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.||Pender, J.|
|Duff, R. W.||Playfair, rt. hn. Sir L.|
|Earp, T.||Potter, T. B.|
|Eckersley, N.||Pulley, J.|
|Egerton, Admiral hon. F.||Ralli, P.|
|Fairbairn, Sir A.||Reed, Sir E. J.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||Reid, R. T.|
|Fawcett, rt. hon. H.||Ritchie, C. T.|
|Ferguson, R.||Roberts, J.|
|Findlater, W.||Rogers, J. E. T.|
|Firth, J. F. B.||Roundell, C. S.|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord E.||Russell, G. W. E.|
|Forster, Sir C.||Rylands, P.|
|Forster, rt. hn. W. E||Seely, C. (Lincoln)|
|Fort, R.||Seely, C. (Nottingham)|
|Fry, L.||Sellar, A. C.|
|Giles, A.||Shaw, T.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Simon, Serjeant J.|
|Gladstone, H. J.||Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.|
|Gordon, Sir A.||Smith, E.|
|Gorst, J. E.||Smith, S.|
|Grant, Sir G. M.||Stanley, hon. E. L.|
|Grey, A. H. G.||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
|Harcourt, rt. hn. Sir W. G. V. V.||Stanton, W. J.|
|Hartington, Marq. Of||Thompson, T. C.|
|Hayter, Sir A. D.||Tillett, J. H.|
|Herschell, Sir F.||Torrens, W. T. M.|
|Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-||Wilson, I.|
|Wolff, Sir H. D.|
|Trevelyan, rt. hn. G. O.||Woodall, W.|
|Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Waddy, S. D.|
|Whitley, E.||Grosvenor, right hon. Lord R.|
|Wills, W. H.||Kensington, rt. hn. Lord|
|Wilson, Sir M.|
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. DODSON
After the very serious vote the Committee has just come to the Committee will, I trust, not be surprised at my stating that Her Majesty's Government request time to consider the course they should adopt. I, therefore, move that the Chairman do report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Dodson.)
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
The proposal of the right hon. Gentleman is somewhat extraordinary. This is not the first time that an Amendment to the propositions of Her Majesty's Government has been made in this Bill. In "another place" the Bill was amended to the shape in which it now stands. Her Majesty's Government took ample time to consider their position with regard to that Amendment, and after that consideration they decided to go on with the Bill. Have they really been playing with the time of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons, and also with the opinion of the country, on this important subject; and do they come down now, when all that this House has done is to retain the Bill in the shape in which it has stood for the last two months, and ask the Committee to report Progress in order that they may reconsider their position, as if we had made some serious alteration in the measure? Sir, I venture to say that, if this Motion be a preliminary, as it would seem to be, to the decision of Her Majesty's Government to withdraw the measure, it will be accepted by the country as a proof that they have not been sincere in proposing it; but that they have merely brought it forward as a means of catching the votes of their supporters behind them, and of the agricultural interest, and not 350 with any real intention of dealing with this great subject.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I certainly think that the doctrine laid down by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) is one of the most extraordinary I have ever heard. He has charged Her Majesty's Government with playing with this question, because, after the opinion of the House of Lords was obtained, the Government thought it desirable that the opinion of the House of Commons should also be obtained. Does the right hon. Gentleman suppose that with the majority his Party has in the House of Lords the Government are not to give the House of Commons an opportunity of forming a judgment on this question? Then the right hon. Gentleman says that, of course, the Government ought to go on with the Bill, notwithstanding the vote that has been come to. But the Committee will doubtless see that Her Majesty's Government have not merely to consider whether they have obtained the success of a vote or not, but whether that vote is in accordance with what they think to be right. When we know that the Department which will be responsible for the working of the measure has stated, both in this House and out of it, that the Bill, as sent down from the House of Lords, and which, I regret to say, is now supported by this House, would be mischievous, and do harm, and is unnecessary, then I say that to suppose the Government is at once to proceed with the measure after such a statement as that seems to me to imply the most extraordinary forget-fulness on the part of the right hon. Gentleman as to the duty of the Government to consider whether they think the decision come to by this Committee is right or not.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Sir, I think we ought to remember that this is not the only case within the present Session, or within a recent period, as to which Her Majesty's Government would appear to have set at naught the feeling of the majority of the House of Commons on questions deeply affecting the agricultural community. My hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), only the other day, carried a Motion of the greatest importance, but with regard to which absolutely no attention 351 has been paid, and, indeed, to which: Her Majesty's Government say it would be practically absurd that they should be expected to pay any attention; and now, upon a matter also of the gravest importance, upon a Bill which has not been discussed on Party lines, but on principles upon which Members on both sides of the House have come together, and which everybody in the House agrees to be of the greatest possible importance—when the House has decided by an exceptional and decisive majority a very important point, Her Majesty's Government say they are going to reconsider their position, which would seem to imply that they may drop the Bill. I want to know whether this is the spirit in which questions of this kind, affecting a large and important class of the population, are to be treated?
The right hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford Northcote) says that this Bill has not been considered on Party lines. I think, Sir, that when the right hon. Gentleman made that statement he could not have heard what was said by the right hon. Baronet the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) who sits near him. The right hon. Baronet, although we have now been told that this Bill has not been discussed on Party lines, contrived to introduce into a very short speech on a matter simply relating to common usage and procedure, charges as odious and offensive as I have ever heard made from one side of the House to the other. I rather presume that hon. Gentlemen are aware that people may think they have characters even when there are others who think they have not; and consequently the epithets which I have applied to those charges turn upon this—that the right hon. Baronet chose to accuse us, in the event of our taking a particular course in regard to which he does not know whether we shall take it or not, but as to which he anticipated a conclusion which he wishes it to be supposed will be taken—the right hon. Baronet accuses us of taking a course which will be regarded by the country as a proof of our insincerity, and insinuates that we have been making false professions to the country. Well, Sir, that is pretty well for a proceeding on a Bill which has not been discussed on Party lines. I should like to know what would be the language that might be 352 used upon a Bill which is discussed on Party lines, if this be a specimen of the most impartial and most judicial temper in which the right hon. Baronet discusses this question. With regard to the question itself, I think his contention has been effectually disposed of by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). But let us consider what the case really is. It is simple enough in regard to its facts. The right hon. Baronet appears to admit that it is a common and useful practice, when the Government have failed on an important Motion in respect to a Bill in Committee, to take time to consider their course. But he says that that will not hold in the present case, because after the Motion had been carried in the House of Lords the Government acquiesced in it, and did not abandon their Bill. Certainly not; but was there any fraud practised on the House of Lords? Let anyone read the language used by my noble Friend, Lord Carlingford—perhaps, Sir, I have made a slip of the tongue in my reference to him—but language was certainly used on the part of the Government which made it perfectly clear that their intention was to try the judgment of the House of Commons, and, in the event of their obtaining a favourable judgment in this House, they hoped the House of Lords might be disposed to defer to that decision. That being the case, were they right or were they wrong? Was it their duty to abandon the Bill in the House of Lords if they thought the Amendment would be fatal? It might have been convenient to abandon the Bill in the House of Lords, and to say—"We have fulfilled our pledge; and now you may shift for yourselves, and take your own course." But we did not do that; on the contrary, at great inconvenience, we carried forward the Bill, and brought it into this House. We have done all we could, and we rather stretched a point for the purpose of giving time to the House for the consideration of the Bill, in order that we might obtain the judgment of the House upon it. I contend that we are entitled to exercise our own deliberate and conscientious judgment on the effect of the vote of the House of Commons, just as if the Bill had been introduced by us in this House, and just as if the Amendment carried in the other House had 353 been carried in the House of Commons. I hope the House will see that this is not unreasonable. I have stated how far this differs from other cases—they are not perhaps many; but certainly I have cases in my mind in which the Leader of the Party to which the right hon. Baronet belongs, having been defeated in a course which he thought serious, has asked for time, and it has been granted without a word. That is what I should have expected in this case, and that is all we ask to be done on the present occasion. Gentlemen will lose nothing by assenting to that course, and will only be conforming to the usage of the House. Our desire is that we shall take a reasonable, and not a long time to consider whether we can come to terms with the Amendment, which, on the whole, according to the declarations we have made "elsewhere," bears an aspect most formidable, and possibly fatal to the Bill. Our object is to see whether it is possible for us to so come to terms as to, in fact, fulfil the covenants we have given to the House in the most rigid and ample manner. It is for that purpose that we ask the House to report Progress, and we have some confidence, that our proposal will be agreed to.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he felt bound to say that whatever the right hon. Gentleman might think of the observations of his right hon. Friend (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), those observations were fully warranted by the circumstances; and he wished to remind the Prime Minister of a fact of which he and his Colleagues seemed to be totally oblivious. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had stated that this Division had been of so grave and serious a character that it was necessary for the Government to take time to consider their position with regard to it. Why, what had been the effect of the Division? Simply to reinsert in this Bill words which carried out literally, and word for word, the Resolution which was carried in this House last Session. He desired also to remind the Prime Minister of what occurred at the commencement of the Session. At that time, in the debate on the Address in answer to the Gracious Speech from the Throne, he gave Notice of an Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged would, if carried, have been a Vote of Censure on 354 the Government, and would have insured their retirement from Office. Why was it not proceeded with? Because the Government came down to the House in a hurry and announced—although no mention was made of the matter in the Queen's Speech—that they intended to deal with this question, and in a manner which everyone understood they intended loyally to carry out the Resolution of last year. The House of Commons had now, for the second time, declared its judgment on the matter; and now the right hon. Gentleman thought it necessary, under the circumstances, to have time to consider the position of the Government. Their duty was clear—it was either to carry out the Resolution twice passed by the House of Commons, or to make room for others who would do so.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he strongly objected to the language used by hon. Gentlemen on the other side. They seemed to think that this had been a Party Division; but it was no Party Division whatever, Those on this side who voted against the Government did so because they believed they were doing the best for the country; but they did not so vote in order that they might bring charges, which they believed entirely false, against the Government. He looked on the declaration of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster exactly in the opposite way to hon. Gentlemen opposite. The right hon. Gentleman said he thought it would be a very serious matter indeed if this Amendment was carried; but now he offered to take time to consider the matter, and that, he thought, showed that the Government were sincere in trying to go on with the Bill. If any attempt was made to prevent their Motion being acceded to he should vote with the Government.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, if the Motion to report Progress was to be understood as meaning the resignation of the Government he imagined it would be acceded to unanimously. If, on the other hand, no such fortunate result was to be anticipated from the Motion being agreed to, he would like to explain the vote he should give upon the Motion. He had supported the Government in the last Division, because he had grave doubts as to the manner in which the Amendment of the House of Lords might affect the 355 urban populations. The House of Commons in its collective capacity, being of opinion that those doubts were not well founded, and having expressed the opinion that no danger need necessarily arise from the Amendment being agreed to, he should certainly not imitate the example of the Government by endeavouring to repudiate the decision of the House of Commons. He should be prepared to accept the decision of the House, and in order that a most valuable piece of legislation might not be lost to the country he should vote against the Motion to report Progress; because, undoubtedly, if what had fallen from the Government indicated that they would consider whether they would part with the Bill or not, it was important that the House should give them to understand that they must proceed with the Bill. Under these circumstances, he thought many borough Members who had supported the Government in the last Division must now oppose them.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, he was glad that this Motion had been made, for otherwise he should have deemed it his duty to make the Motion himself, because certainly not fewer than 1,000 resolutions had been passed not merely by urban populations, but by populations in counties, praying the Government, if they could not pass this Bill as it was introduced, to abandon it; and that was the expectation of the country generally. He, himself, had to-day presented a Petition from the county of Bedford, urging that that step should be taken; and he was certain that that was not the desire only of the urban populations, but of the counties. Hon. Gentlemen opposite could not forget that with regard to the Bill, as it had come from the House of Lords, it had been stated by the most important organs of their Party that if the Amendment of the House of Lords was adopted so serious would be the condition of things with regard to the probable rise in the price of meat, that it would be the duty of the Government to consider what measures should be adopted to avoid so grave and serious a result. This had been stated by the The Standard, and he was therefore glad that this Motion had been made.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the statement in The Standard, which had 356 twice been quoted to-day, was made, he did not know how many months ago. The hon. Member having twice quoted the statement, he assumed that the hon. Member seriously believed that the Conservative Party would have to consider what course they would pursue if the Amendment of the House of Lords was adopted. The hon. Member was, however, labouring under a complete delusion. With regard to what the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) had said, he had stated that this question had been described on this side of the House as a Party question.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, that had been stated lately by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and he had not heard anybody deny it.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he was speaking of the debate on the Amendment proposed by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; and he ventured to assert that never was a debate which partook less of the character of a Party debate than this had, and he understood that the hon. Gentleman himself assented to that view. All, then, that the hon. Gentleman meant was that his right hon. Friend (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had shown some warmth in dissenting from the view of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. It was perfectly open to the right hon. Baronet to take that view, which he had expressed in terms not unbecoming his great reputation in that House. If the hon. Member for Great Grimsby differed from that view he was perfectly at liberty to express that difference, and he had done so. With respect to what had fallen from the Prime Minister, he would put the question from this point of view. The right hon. Gentleman had asked whether the Government, when they were defeated in the House of Lords, were to turn round on the House of Lords and the whole agricultural interest, and say—"We will not go further with the Bill, but will leave you to shift for yourselves." Would that have been a proper position for the Government to take on so important a question? Would that have been fair to the agricultural interest? He answered—It would have been infinitely fairer to the agricultural interest than the course which the Government had actually taken, if they intended now to abandon the Bill, and for this reason. He must 357 remind the Prime Minster how it was that the Government had proposed legislation in the House of Lords at all on this question. It was not until the Duke of Richmond introduced a Bill on the subject, and that Bill was passing, that the Government undertook to introduce a measure at all; and if the right hon. Gentleman had acted in the way in which he said he had not acted, and in which he should have acted—namely, said he repudiated all further legislation on the subject, then the Duke of Richmond would have proceeded with his Bill. It would have come down to this House, and this House would have had to decide upon its principles. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman had not stated fully or candidly the real position of the question as it presented itself when the House of Lords passed this Amendment. That being the position, the House of Commons had now expressed the same opinion as the House of Lords, and the Government at this moment stood in this predicament—that they had against them the opinion of the House of Lords; that they had against them the opinion of the House of Commons, as expressed last year on the Motion of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin); and that they had against them the opinion of the House of Commons as expressed in a full House, and after a full debate this afternoon; that was the position of the matter, and if the Government required further time to consider what they ought to do in the matter, he for one should not be disposed to interpose any impediment in the way of their doing so.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he was glad that the noble Lord, as representing the Front Bench opposite, had shown a disposition to treat the Government with some little courtesy, which previous speakers on that Bench had not shown. Of course, hon. Members on this side of the House admitted that owing to a combination of votes in the House they had been defeated; but they none the less knew that they represented millions of the population of this country whose interests and industrial advantages were struck at. Knowing that a most serious change had been made in this Bill, they were perfectly ready to support the Government in asking for time to consider the course they might think it necessary to take; and he thought he might say, 358 with perfect confidence, that the Representatives of the manufacturing populations of the country would rightly express their opinion by saying that the Government should not allow this Bill, in its present shape, to pass.
MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he thought the Committee was disinclined to proceed unnecessarily to a Division on this question; but he also thought the Prime Minister would effectually avoid any risk of such action being taken, if he were to give some indication of the course the Government intended to take in the future in respect to fixing a day for the further consideration of this Bill, and for making their announcement with regard thereto. He fully agreed with his noble Friend that this had never been treated as a Party question from first to last by anyone sitting in that part of the House; but, at the same time, he fully and heartily concurred—as he believed nearly every Member on that side of the House did—with his right hon. Friend (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) when he stigmatized the conduct of the Government in terms which he (Mr. Lowther) heartily endorsed. He did not wish to divide against the Motion to report Progress; but what they had a right to ask was this—three-fourths of the time which the Prime Minister was never weary of telling them was invaluable had been, taken from them this afternoon. When the Government proposed to report Progress at a quarter-past 6, they had a right to ask what further facilities the Government intended to give for the discussion of this subject? Did the Government, having deprived them of a portion of the afternoon which was set apart for the consideration of this subject, intend indefinitely to hang this Bill up, and practically withdraw it from the cognizance of Parliament? He had not hesitated to say elsewhere, and he would repeat here, that he had a firm conviction that the Government were trifling with this subject. As he had said not long ago, using the words in a Parliamentary sense, he believed that the Bill had been introduced upon false pretences. That opinion he now repeated in the presence of the Government; and he thought the Committee had a right to insist that an early opportunity should be given of resuming this debate.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
said, he hoped the Committee would assent to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, and allow Progress to be reported. He had supported the Billon its merits, and how did the matter now stand? Further procedure with the Bill at this hour was impossible; but apart from that the Government had not said they would abandon the Bill, but that they would consider their position. It was reasonable to allow them the time they asked for, and possibly that might result in their accepting the course which the Committee had decided upon. At all events, it was not fair to assume that they would not do so, because they were defeated in "another place," and they had then considered their position. If they did not do so, then the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) would have a strong case against them for refusing to act on a decision which had been twice recorded. Under these circumstances, he thought it would be a mere act of fairness to the Executive to agree to the Motion, and allow them time for reconsidering their position.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he proposed to put the Bill down for Friday, and he would then state what course the Government intended to adopt.
MR. J. LOWTHER
said, there would not be any chance of taking the Bill on Friday, as there was other Business on the Paper for that day. What he wished to know was, whether the Government would afford any indication as to when they would put the Bill down for practical consideration?
§ MR. DODSON
replied, that he had answered that question by anticipation. He would put the Bill down for Friday, not with any intention of proceeding with it then, but with a view to stating what further course the Government would pursue.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Friday.