HC Deb 21 July 1884 vol 290 cc1738-9

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether there is any truth in the statement contained in The Daily News of the 18th instant, that a cargo of rags from Marseilles to Goole, forbidden by the sanitary authorities to be landed at that port, have been landed near Hull?


said, a Goole newspaper correspondent stated that the announcement that the steamer Baron Hambro had arrived at Hull with rags from Marseilles for Goole caused much excitement, Goole having suffered terribly from previous epidemics of cholera. The authorities in London promptly warned Goole, and steps were taken by the local authorities to prevent the landing of the rags. It was further stated that the rags had been landed near Hull. The Board, as soon as they were aware that the rags in question were on their way to the port of Hull, issued an order conferring powers on the Hull Port Sanitary Authority for the purpose of taking the necessary precautions in the event of its being proposed to land the rags at Hull. The Board telegraphed to Hull on Saturday inquiring whether the rags had in fact been landed. It was stated in a letter received on Saturday from the Town Clerk that the medical officer of health considered it impossible to disinfect the rags, assuming that they required disinfection, and that they must either be destroyed or sent back to Marseilles. The consignee alleges that the rags are woollen, and partly new tailors' cuttings, and that they were baled and on board the steamer before there was a case of cholera at Marseilles in a form which can be called an epidemic in the town. He had just received a telegram which stated that if the consignee declined to take back the rags they would be destroyed.


asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would consider the advisability of issuing a General Order prohibiting the importation of rags from any French port whatsoever?


said, that it had been ascertained that rags had conveyed small-pox and other infectious diseases; but all inquiries had hitherto failed to discover that cholera had ever been conveyed by rags. Although he had issued a General Order against importation from Marseilles and Toulon—which he had taken upon himself, not supported by medical authority — he should not feel justified in applying that Order to French ports generally. French rags, as a rule, were clean, and the greater portion came from Dieppe, and were supposed to be Northern rags. Out of a total annual importation of 19,000 tons into this country, between 12,000 and 13,000 tons were French rags. Under these circumstances he did not think he would be justified in prohibiting the whole importation.