§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. DODSON
said, that, in moving the second reading of this Bill, he should not detain the House with many observations, because whatever discussion there might be upon the details of the Bill it must substantially take place again in Committee. The measure had been introduced in the hope that it would contribute to the extinction of foot-and-mouth disease; that it would contribute to allay apprehension as to the spread of the disease; and, as the Government frankly admitted, as a concession to public opinion and to the wishes of the agricultural 163 bodies. One matter that had greatly weighed with the Government, and which had contributed to induce them to introduce this measure, was that as the, owners of stock in the United Kingdom had given practical proof of their willingness to accept stringent restrictions upon the movement of stock they were entitled to have some Parliamentary assurance that the law would be exercised vigilantly, firmly, and consistently, with the view to their defence against the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease from abroad. With the view of meeting these objects, the Privy Council were willing to assume greater powers and heavier responsibilities. They were willing to come under statutory obligation to prohibit the landing of foreign animals in the United Kingdom from foreign countries where certain securities were wanting against the exportation of foot-and-mouth disease to this country. He believed that if such provisions were kept within reasonable and proper limits, they need not, while affording comparative security to the stockholder, be attended with injury to the consumer, but rather the reverse; and for this reason—because it was obvious that if the risk of disease was such, or the apprehension of disease was such, as to discourage people from embarking their capital in the breeding and keeping of stock at home, it must tend to the injury of the interests of the consumer. On the other hand, the Government had to take care that they did not carry legislation too far. They had to try and hit upon the happy point which gave the maximum of reasonable security to stock-owners at home without unnecessarily hampering trade and raising the price of meat to the consumer. The House would observe that he had spoken of this measure as affording comparative security against the importation of the disease into the United Kingdom; and he had advisedly used the words "comparative security," because, do what they might, absolute security against the importation of the disease was impossible to be obtained. If the Government, to satisfy the extreme claim of a certain class, could prohibit the landing of any foreign animals from any foreign country under any circumstances, they could not guarantee the country absolute security against the importation of the disease. The effect of such prohibition would be 164 to transfer the slaughter markets to the other side of the water, whence infection might be brought over in goods, or by these passing to and fro from, these foreign slaughter markets to this country. In such a case the danger would be greater than would result from a slaughter market upon our own shores; because the foreign slaughter markets would be under the control and inspection, not of British officials, whoso interest it was, and upon whom lay a heavy responsibility, to prevent the escape of infection, but of foreign officials, to whom the escape of infection would be a matter of comparative indifference. As the House was doubtless aware, Amendments had been made in the Bill in the House of Lords, and more especially in the 1st clause of the Bill. Her Majesty's Government thought that these Amendments were of a very grave and serious character, and if they were suffered to stand would materially impair the measure. Her Majesty's Government thought that these Amendments went far beyond the necessities of the case; that they went so far as to risk over-shooting the mark, to defeat the very object which these who moved them had in view; that they went beyond what was necessary for the reasonable security of the stockholders of the United Kingdom; that they restricted trade and would injure the consumer. He did not desire at that moment to enter into a discussion with regard to the comparative merits of the Amendments introduced in the House of Lords into the Bill, and of the clause as it originally stood when introduced by the Government. He understood that several hon. Gentlemen, who were interested in agriculture, took the view that there was practically very little difference between the Bill as it now stood and as it was introduced by the Government. That, however, was not the view of Her Majesty's Government; but he trusted that these hon. Members who took that view would not offer any serious objections to the removal of what, in their opinion, were the unimportant alterations made by the Lords in the Bill, and the restoration of the Bill to its original form. Without entering at that stage into any premature discussion on that point, he would content himself by saying that it would be his duty in Com- 165 mittee to propose Amendments, which would practically restore to the clause its original scope and character. Of the terms of these Amendments he would, of course, give due Notice. There were only two other clauses in the Bill on which he wished to say a few words. The 2nd clause was one which, he believed, had startled some hon. Gentlemen, but he thought unnecessarily. Under the second part of the fifth Schedule of the Act of 1878 it was provided that for purposes of exhibition or for other exceptional purposes thy Privy Council might admit, subject to quarantine, animals from countries which were generally subject to the rule of slaughter. They proposed to extend that exceptional power of admission for the purposes of exhibition, or for exceptional purposes, to countries from which, as a general rule, the admission of animals was prohibited.
§ MR. DODSON
said, technically it would be so; but the hon. Member could hardly conceive that the Privy Council was reduced to such a state of lunacy as knowingly to permit cattle to be imported under any pretext from such countries if they believed there was the slightest risk of cattle plague being brought into the country.
§ MR. DODSON
said, that the Privy Council had the same discretion in regard to the importation of animals from countries infected with cattle plague as from countries infected with any other disease. He now referred to an extension of an exceptional power. He would, give an illustration of the cases which it was intended to apply. For instance, there was a case of this kind. A regiment returning from foreign service had a pet goat. The animal had had a long sea voyage, there could be no question as to its soundness, but it could not be admitted into this country under quarantine or any other regulations. In another case a vessel, having come from a long voyage, had a goat or a cow which was the wet nurse of a child on beard, and there was no means of allowing the animal to be landed. A third case was of a circus proprietor who had two performing bulls, and yet he could not be allowed to land them. Such 166 cases were most unreasonable, and the reductio ad absurdum of a hard-and-fast line of prohibition which must be inflexibly acted upon in all circumstances, no matter How exceptional and inapplicable. The reason and object with which this clause had been introduced was to intrust the Privy Council with a dispensing power. The 3rd clause was one the object of which, was to effect an amendment of the fourth part of the fifth Schedule. Under the fourth part of the fifth Schedule of the Bill, if the Privy Council were satisfied with regard to any country that its laws were good and its sanitary condition was good, they were bound to admit animals freely from that country. This part of the Schedule applied to an entire country, but not to part of a country. There was a strong desire among many persons that there should be a power to admit store stock, under certain precautions, from some countries; and it did seem somewhat absurd that they should be compelled to admit freely from an entire country if they were satisfied as to its laws and sanitary condition, but that they should not have the discretion, tinder any precautions whatever, to admit from a part of that country, However large, and However much they might be satisfied that the laws and conditions of that part of the country wore such as to afford security against infection. He trusted that the Bill might be road a second time that morning; and he would take care, before the Committee stage, to give Notice of his Amendments in sufficient time for them to be seen and considered, not only by Members of the House, but by these who were interested in them outside, He begged to conclude by moving that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Dodson.)
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
, who had the following Amendment on the Paper:—That the recent prevalence of foot and month disease calls for the continued and vigilant exercise on the part of Her Majesty's Government of the powers entrusted to it, not only with reference to the movement of live animals at Home, but also in regard to their importation from abroad, but this House does not consider it necessary under present circumstances to make further provision by Legislation on the subject.167 said, he should endeavour to imitate the spirit of moderation which had characterized his right Hon. Friend's remarks, though he could not congratulate him on the vigour of his criticisms on the Amendments which had been introduced in the House of Lords. If any justification were needed for the Amendment which stood in his (Mr. Arthur Arnold's) name against the second reading of this Bill, it might he found either in the activity of public opinion upon the subject in the large towns during the brief delay which had been the consequence of his Notice, or in the fact that at a time, now some months ago, when the foot-and-mouth disease was five times more prevalent than it was now the House of Commons was substantially agreed upon the policy of this Amendment, which was identical in terms with that which he had submitted to the House as an Amendment to the Resolution of the Hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) in July last. At that time it was contended by the Opposition that the Government had powers, under the Act of 1878, to do all that was demanded by the Hon. Member for Mid Lincoln, and that, therefore, legislation was not needful; while on the Government side of the House the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster expressed the assent of the Government to his Amendment on the ground that the legislative powers of the Duke of Richmond's Act were sufficient. The Government had stated this year that they did not propose legislation in the Speech from the Throne, because they did not regard legislation as "essential." It had been admitted that the Bill in its original form was brought forward to encourage and to pacify the farmers; and he was bound to admit that if the need for legislation be admitted a more harmless piece of work than that proposed by Lord Carlingford had rarely been printed in the shape of a Bill. But the complications of Her Majesty's Government were their own, and independent Members were not bound to change their minds, or account for changes of opinion between July and March. On July 10, when further legislation was not deemed needful, there were 307 places in Great Britain infected with foot-and-mouth disease, and there were 10,939 animals suffering from the disease. Now, when the House was called 168 upon to adopt this most serious and drastic legislation, these numbers had fallen to 166 places infected and to 2,712 animals remaining diseased. It could not, therefore, be said that upon the figures the case for legislation had been strengthened in the interval. There had been no lack of wild statements on the side favourable to further restrictions; but he had not Hoard it alleged by any respectable authority that in the period which had elapsed since the House last considered this subject there had been any infection of the live stock of this country from any animals imported from foreign countries. The case for further legislation was materially diminished by the action of the Government, in regard to France. They prohibited for foot-and-mouth disease all import of cattle, sheep, and swine from France on the 6th of April, 1883, under the powers of the Act of 1878. That step had never been attacked, and it was not a step of doubtful authority. The right Hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had referred to that proceeding as a straining of the law. At all events, it had not been assailed, and there could be no better proof or stronger argument to show that it was not so regarded. There could be no doubt that when the Bill of 1878 was under discussion it was accepted by the Duke of Richmond and by all the special representatives of the agricultural interest that for foot-and-mouth disease slaughter at the port of landing was a sufficient measure. But that was not put in the Act, which was perfectly general in regard to all forms of disease; and the unquestioned proceeding as to France, and the more limited prohibition of cattle from Germany and Belgium, was to his mind conclusive that the Act of 1878 contained all relating to foot-and-mouth disease which could be found in the present Bill as originally introduced. He might be asked, if he thought the Bill of such a harmless character, why raise an objection? He thought the objection to superfluous legislation was sound and strong. But although the Bill in its original shape was comparatively innocuous, it gave a dangerous invitation to the Privy" Council to put its powers in operation. Hon. Members know—How oft the sight of Sight of means to do ill deeds Makes deeds ill-done.169 There was a disposition far more widely spread than foot-and-mouth disease to recover the recent losses of agriculture in bad seasons by some form of policy of restriction, or of prohibition. He did not wish to lessen the responsibility of the Privy Council or the Government in reference to the supply of the food of the people, and he was quite sure they acted on a deep sense of their responsibility in prohibiting the importation from France. But they could not but recognize the fact that any proposal for legislation on this subject was a stem upon which Hon. Gentlemen opposite might engraft new growths and new developments of that policy of Protection for which they were always hankering. But though no protest had been made against the prohibition as to France, they might take note of the result. In 1882 we received 16,000 cattle from France. France was our nearest neighbour. If prohibition were to be followed by import of dead meat, we might expect that from the convenient parts of France such supply would be forthcoming. But the import of beef in January this year from France was only 31 cwt., equal to the weight of about five cattle. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were very fond of the date 1880 as that of the introduction of this disease. It was synchronous with a great political event, and they assumed the outbreak of this disease in 1880. But in 1879 there was foot-and-mouth disease in this country. As another argument against further legislation, he would say, in the words used by Lord Carlingford on the 21st of last month, that—There is no proof that foot-and-month disease was introduced from the wharves in the beginning of 1880, and there is no reason to believe that foreign infection continues to be introduced at the present time, or that the prevalence of foot-and-mouth disease depends in any way upon it.At present, however, the House was not dealing with Lord Carlingford's Bill. The Bill, of which the second reading had been proposed, was not the Bill of Her Majesty's Government. The hands were the hands of the Lord President and of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; but the voice was the voice of the Duke of Richmond and of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin). It had been said of the Duke of Richmond that his policy on this ques- 170 tion was a policy of exclusion; and that unquestionably was the spirit of the Bill now before the House. ["No!"] The principle of the measure had been defined as "total prohibition of free admission; an entire reversal of the present law." These were the words of a greater Minister than the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. They were the words of the Lord Chancellor, and he thought they were bound to accept and to act upon them. According to this definition, the Bill meant total prohibition of the import of live animals from the United States and Holland, and of sheep and swine from Belgium and Germany. ["No, no !"] Well, for his own part, he respected the opinion of the Lord Chancellor; but Hon. Gentlemen opposite did not appear to entertain much regard for it. That definition meant, on the figures of last year, an immediate reduction of 1,061,000 live animals, now imported for the food of the people, with no provision for the consequences. He would ask the House to consider the circumstances of two great centres of about equal population —London and Lancashire. Of the live animals which the proposed prohibition would cut off almost the entire number was consumed in these two centres. About 220,000 were landed and slaughtered for Lancashire, and more than 800.000 at Deptford for the consumption of the Metropolis. This was the general result, although he did not say it was perfectly accurate. He estimated that the immediate loss to Lancashire would be equal to nearly 25 lb. per head of fresh meat for the 3,500,000 of the population; while the loss to the Metropolitan population, according to the estimate of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), would be about 23 lb. per head. That was a very serious matter. Throughout this controversy there had been several estimates of the amount of meat consumed per head by the population of this country. None of them seemed to be based upon very trustworthy authority. But when they talked of cutting off the supply they were on solid ground. The Hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) adopted last year au estimate, which was then in circulation, that the amount cut off would be 100 lb. per head; but whether it would be 100 lb. or 20lb. was a very important matter. 171 The trade of the country could not fail to be gravely affected by such a reduction of supply, which must be followed by a serious rise in the price of meat, which was estimated would be no less than 3d. in the pound. Such an increased price of meat would greatly lessen the surplus of wages for expenditure in manufactures; and, consequently, there would be a decline- of industry and of wages. There was one part of the Bill to which he could take no exception, for it was the adoption of a measure which he himself introduced on the first day of the Session. The Act of 1878 left the Privy Council no discretion in regard to part of any country. The consequences of this hard-and-fast definition of the word country were twofold. Restriction was less likely to be enforced when the extent was of necessity so vast and indiscriminate. Even in the recognized presence of disease the Privy Council might well hesitate when the Order, if issued, must apply from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. If the Privy Council should, even in regard to part of the United States, avail themselves of the provisions of this Bill, the object would be the admission of store stock to be fed and fattened in this country, and the justification would be the freedom of that part of the country from whence that stock came from liability to infection. West of Chicago and between the Great Lakes and Salt Lake City there was a cattle-raising country where pleuro-pneumonia, splenic or Texan fever, and foot-and-mouth disease were unknown; which was, in fact, a vast open common more than four times as largo as the United Kingdom. There -were probably 10,000.000 beasts in that area. Suppose that from that territory the Privy Council permitted export, the route being by Montreal and Quebec for Liverpool and other ports of this country—he wished to show the advantage to the British and Irish farmers in the first place. At present the import from Canada was protected, as against' the import from the United States, by the fact that Canadian cattle, with a free pass into Great Britain, were worth at least £3 a-Head more than American cattle reared on the other side of an imaginary line, which must be slaughtered at the port of landing within 10 days. The United States could supply store cattle ready for the last stage of prepa- 172 ration for market at £4 or £5 a-head cheaper than the British farmer; but the British farmer could add the last 400 lb. or;500 lb. to their weight with far greater advantage than it could be done in the States. Therefore, the benefit to the fanner and to the consumer would be very great. At present the British farmer was suffering from advice compounded of Protection and of panic. There were Gentlemen in the House, as responsible as the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), who informed the farmers that the stock of the country was dying by hundreds and by thousands. It would probably surprise the noble Lord to learn that the actual mortality among the 16,000,000 of sheep in the United Kingdom from foot-and-mouth disease during the past five years had been, on an average, one in 20,000; and that among the 6,000,000 of cattle in the United Kingdom the average mortality from foot-and-mouth disease during the past five years had been 523. He was aware that these deaths did not represent all the loss sustained by farmers by foot-and-mouth disease; but they were an important item in the account. But the real question before the House was whether or not slaughter at the port of landing should be abolished. To say nothing now of the claims for move than £1,000,000 which might be advanced by these who had constructed foreign animals' wharves upon faith in the endurance of the Act of 1878, that was not a proposal which ought to be entertained. All the evidence went to show that if they stopped importation for slaughter it would grievously affect the supply. The Board of Trade Returns for the first two months of this year showed that while the import of live animals from the United States, amounting to 24,000, was nearly six times that of 1882, there was but a trifling increase in the import of fresh beef. Professor Brown had stated that if we had had no foreign import at all since 1868, we should have had very much the same amount of foot-and-mouth disease. He had expressed his conviction that we should never be wholly rid of it, and that that was the experience of the whole of Europe. He would prefer that there should be no further legislation against foot-and-mouth disease; but there was one part of the Bill—Clause 3—which 173 was of great value. He was glad that the principle of the Bill, as it now stood, had been in the clearest terms repudiated by Lord Carlingford, who had said—" We wish that the Bill, if passed at all, should be passed in its original shape." He accepted these words as meaning that the Government did not intend the Bill to pass in its present shape; and, therefore, while reserving all powers of action against the Bill in all stages, He did not propose to move the Amendment; which stood in his name.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he rejoiced to find that the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold did not intend to press his Amendment, since, whatever might be the terms of that Amendment, it meant the rejection, of the Bill. Why had the hon. Member placed this Notice of rejection on the Paper? Manifestly, because He intended to destroy the Bill, as amended by the House of Lords; but found that this opportunity would not serve his purpose, He (Mr. Newdegate) had for many years inclined rather towards the, financial and commercial policy of the United States than to that of the United Kingdom, which He considered exaggerated in the sense of the system of free imports. Nothing would please him as an adversary more than to see the advocates of free imports insist upon the importation of disease, for that would afford him (Mr. Newdegate) legitimate ground of accusing them of bigotry. The hon. Member for Salford bad alluded to the action of the United States Legislature with respect to cattle disease. That policy consisted in the most unsparing use of means to cut off and stamp out disease from their herds. Why did the hon. Member for Salford resist the very moderate imitation of the American process, which the Bill contained? He (Mr. Newdegate) held in his hand the records of the Royal Veterinary College, with which he had been connected for many years. That College, founded in 1790, possessed records of introduction of rinderpest so far back as 1745, when it lasted till 1759, long previous to the last appearance of that disease in 1865. with the circumstances of which he (Mr. Newdegate) had been acquainted. Pleuro-pneumonia appeared in 1841, foot-and-mouth disease in 1839; these diseases had on these occasions been im- 174 ported with hides, offal, or by some accident. The fathers and the grandfathers of the present generation of Englishmen had suffered severely from these diseases; but how did they get rid of them? Simply, as the Bill proposed, by shutting them out. They would not, any more than the Americans, submit to the odious internal restrictions by which our stock-keepers were oppressed longer than they could avoid. The action of the Government in this country was always too late; they never would adopt precautions against the importation of cattle disease, until it had been fairly landed among us. Their precautions had been periodically ineffectual, notwithstanding all the information the Government possessed through telegraphs and otherwise, He (Mr. Newdegate) was old-fashioned and American enough to recommend the policy of absolutely excluding disease.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR
Sir, since 1878. when I took part in the discussion on this subject, the farmers have had sore trials from the ravages of foot-and-mouth disease. At that time it was doubtful whether the disease could be spread in any other way than by immediate contagion from living animals. Experiments since made clearly prove that mediate infection through men or things, is a possible mode of communicating the disease, though, fortunately, it acts in a much less degree. However, the mere fact that the virus of the disease may be occasionally carried through men, animals, or things fouled by it makes it much more important now than it was when we passed the Act of 1878, that strong measures should be taken for the extirpation of the disease. Its evil effects do not rest with the producer of food alone, but are extended to the consumer also. Probably it is more prejudicial to the consumer than we yet know, for much diseased milk does get into the market, and physiologists are just beginning to recognize the serious effects of milk in the production of human disease. I put aside, then, at the outset, the allegation that the demand of farmers for increased powers of extirpating foot-and-mouth disease arises from a desire to impose protection on Home produce. That requires no protection, except protection from disease. Even as against our Transatlantic brethren, with their boundless prairies, 175 the home producer has the advantage of 1d. per lb. in the cost and risk of transport, or four pounds in the price of an average ox. I believe that the motive of farmers in asking this legislation from us is simply to protect their flocks and herds from a depressing disease which seriously interferes with the production of human food, and renders the struggle of farmers to maintain their calling in face of a changed agriculture an exceedingly difficult undertaking. They have experienced onerous restriction on Home produce in their efforts to extirpate a disease which most probably is one of foreign importation, and they are disheartened at seeing diseased cattle not unfrequently landed from tainted foreign countries, knowing that though they are slaughtered on their arrival, the immediate infection may possibly spread beyond the slaughter-house, and reach the meadows on which English cattle graze. The demand is not unreasonable primà facie, and should be discussed with perfect fairness in the interests both of the producers and consumers. There seems to be little doubt that foot-and-mouth disease, though common in other countries, did not reach England till 1839. It must have entered the country then by mediate infection, and not by immediate contagion, for no foreign animals had been imported for six years. Still, it did reach England; and, as in all first attacks of an epidemic or an epizootic, the disease was virulent in its character as compared with the nine epizootics which have succeeded it. I wish that I could believe that it was still a foreign disease. Syphilis, scarlet fever, smallpox, and diphtheria were once diseases unknown to England, and the time of their importation from abroad is well known. But who would call them foreign diseases now ! Alas! they have become rooted in our soil, and the hopes of their extirpation have vanished. We can restrict their area, we can isolate individual eases, so that they do not spread in common years; but in epidemic years they spread in spite of all our efforts. It is one of the characteristics of an acclimatized epidemic that it is subject to periodic outbursts of greater or less severity. Scarlet fever breaks out in this way every five or six years. In the last century, before vaccination, small-pox occurred as an epidemic every three years. Lessened in intensity by 176 vaccination, it is now a four-year epidemic, with certain variations; occasionally it misses a period, and may have an interval of eight years, and sometimes, also, when the epidemic influence is strong, it occurs again in two or three years. But with these variations the periodicity is a marked feature of all acclimatized epidemics. The same periodicity is observed with foot-and-mouth disease. Usually, as an epizootic, it occurs in four-yearly periods, counting from the initial outbreaks. Between 1853 and 1861 there was a longer interval; and between 1880 and 1883 the interval was shorter—indeed, it was more or less continuous. Commencing with 1839, there have been 10 distinct epizootics of foot-and-mouth disease in England. Beginning in one year they seem to culminate in the next, and then fade out more or less quickly, according to the efficiency of the repressive measures. In the intervals of the epizootic there are isolated cases, which, however, rarely gather the strength of a disease-wave. To my mind this periodic recurrence is a proof that the disease has acclimatized itself in this country just as much as diphtheria, which, when first imported from France, in 1855, we used to call the Boulogne sore throat. The explanation of periodicity is not easy; but it appears, in part at least, to be duo to the accumulation of susceptible animals. As new yearlings and new two-year-olds grow up and get on the lines of traffic, they meet somewhere the lurking virus, and the disease starts again with renewed strength. I fear we must admit that the disease is now settled in this country, and is fitted to thrive in it permanently, unless we can devise means to stamp it out at home, and to prevent its importation from abroad. Both conditions—home extinction and foreign prohibition—are essential for complete success. It is, indeed, hopeless to stamp out acclimatized epidemics like scarlet fever or measles, because you cannot slaughter human beings, or even largely restrict their movements. But with measures as severe, and in some respects more severe, than these employed to stamp out cattle plague, you might succeed in stamping out foot-and-mouth disease. This could only be done by long and persistent effort. It is not the epizootic which produces the disease; but it is the disease that, by accumula- 177 tion, produces the epizootic. So it is only by continued and patient extinction of every individual case of disease at home that it can be rooted out of this country. If slaughter of cattle be absolutely necessary, as experts declare it to be, for thorough extinction, the subject is great in magnitude, both to farmers and to ratepayers. Still, if farmers are firmly resolved to root it out of this country, they have a right to demand that it should not be imported by foreign animals. The Bill, in its original form, contained no such heroic measures. It is based on the old, but abandoned belief, that the Act of 1878 is sufficient to kill the disease at home as well as to restrict its importation from abroad. It is true that we have only a limited experience since the Act of 1878; but the operations under that Act have been wholly insufficient to stamp out the disease at Home. Of the two conditions of the Act—extinction at home and prohibition of foreign importation—the first is left in the present Bill in all its inefficiency; while the second condition, which shall show is much the least danger, has been greatly strengthened in the other House. As to the first condition— home extinction — the Act of 1878 has been useful in restriction of the disease, but has been powerless to extinguish it. The areas of disease and the number of diseased animals have, undoubtedly, been lessened by the Act. In effecting this result, farmers have experienced grave inconvenience and suffered heavy loss. Still, the disease remains with us as before, culminating and fading away according to the habits of acclimatized epizootics. It is not in the least extinguished, and will blaze out again when its fuel accumulates. In restricting the areas of the diseases, the Veterinary Department do not find that support from farmers which is necessary to produce its full effect. Many farmers chafe at the restrictions, which is natural enough; but they use unwise efforts to get them removed when they are doing most good, [Cries of"No, no!'"] Well, I will give hon. Members opposite proofs of my assertions. In the Report of the Veterinary Department for 1881, Professor Brown says—Judging, however, from the events of the past year, local authorities, with few exceptions, failed to realize their responsibilities.178 Instead of submitting to the continuance of restrictions necessary to extinguish the disease in localities, he says—Between 50 and 60 memorials were received by the Veterinary Department from local authorities. Chambers of Agriculture, Farmers' Clubs, and owners of stock generally, to relax the restrictions.Various deputations also came to urge the same object, while there was only a single deputation, and that from the Royal Agricultural Society, to encourage the Department in maintaining the restrictions. No scientific veterinarian would deem the powers of the Act of 1878, even if applied in their full force, sufficient to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease from this country. Professor Brown certainly does not, for he says in his Rcport—It is quite hopeless to expect to stamp out the disease by the measures which are adopted.We thus see that of the two conditions necessary to remove and to prevent the recurrence of foot-and-mouth disease in this country, the extinction at home is hopless under the present law; and, in fact, the Bill before us does not touch this factor at all, for it only deals with foreign imports. The Act of 1878, strengthened in this Bill as originally introduced by the Government, restricted the chances of infection from abroad. From infected countries all chances of immediate contagion were prevented by the slaughter of the animals, while only the chances of mediate infection through men and things remained. Absolute prohibition would reduce to a minimum the chance of mediate infection, though it would not prevent it, as we know from the fact that the disease entered this country in 1839, though no cattle had been imported for six years. Though live animals no longer were imported, infected things, such as tallow, horns, hides, and hoofs, must be allowed to supply the exigencies of largo manufacturing industries. Still, happily, mediate contagion from men and things is only a possible danger. You see this in the common operation of restrictive measures when the movement of cattle is prevented, although you do not interfere with the free movement of men and things. By these measures, not only have neigh bouring counties escaped, but Ireland and Scotland have been free for years in succession. In the Veterinary 179 Report for 1881 there is a statement to this effect—Communication of infection by indirect means is a possible incident, but not a frequent event, in the history of contagious maladies of animals.If it be true, ns experience seems to have established, that mediate contagion from men and things is a much smaller danger than direct immediate contagion, the ports of debarkation stand in the first category, for the animals from tainted countries are there slaughtered. Let us assume that as many as 150 cargoes containing diseased animals arrive in a year, forming 150 centres of mediate infection. This amount of possible danger is insignificant compared with the centres of contagion within the country itself. Compare the risk with a severe epizootic year like 1871, when there were. 32,000 local outbreaks of the disease in England alone. In the year 1881 the disease was bad all over the Continent as well as in England, so 170 cargoes and nearly 5,000 diseased animals were landed and slaughtered. Each of these cargoes was a centre of mediate infection; but the risk was small as compared which the 15,723 localities in which the disease broke out in this country, or with the 183,000 animals which became sources of immediate contagion. So was it last year, 1883. Foreign disease was imported by 136 cargoes, having 1,172 animals suffering from it, and capable of communicating indirect infection through men and things. But Great Britain alone had 19,000 infected centres, with 461,000 diseased animals to convey immediate contagion. How useless, then, is it to attack the very minor evil, when you are taking no efficient steps to extirpate the major evil. Hon. Members opposite, however, assume that there is no possible doubt that the epizootic of 1880 was caused by diseased French animals landed at Deptford; and Professor Brown believes that it was. As mediate infection is possible, these cattle, though slaughtered, might have been the source of the disease; but, to my mind, I see no proof that they were. The year 1880 was the fourth year from 1876 when the last epizootic began, and a new one was due. Fourteen foreign cargoes had arrived with diseased animals before the 15th that is supposed to have introduced the disease, and that 180 blazed up nearly simultaneously in Middlesex, Kent, and Bedfordshire. It is just as possible, and more probable, that the disease started from inside the country as from outside. The readers of The Quarterly Journal of Agriculture will recollect some remarkable experiments made at the Brown Institution with infected matter falcon from diseased animals in the Deptford Market. The worst kinds of virus from them were used to inoculate English cattle without effect, for in no instance would they take the disease. But the very same cattle were readily infected by virus taken from other English cattle having the disease. Strong conclusions from negative experiments should not be too hastily drawn; but, so far as they are worth anything, they do not heighten the fears from foreign importation. The sum of my argument is this—Foot-and-mouth disease is an acclimatized epizootic, which only heroic measures will extinguish in England. Had the farmers come forward to support a Bill such as that of the hon. Member for Bedfordshire (Mr. J. Howard), which treats this disease in the same energetic way as cattle plague, the logical demand for total prohibition of live foreign cattle would have much to support it, at least for a few years' trial. He has experience on his side, for Scotland has at various times stamped out inroads of disease in this way, and so has Australia. That is not the Bill as amended in the other House. It only touches the least danger to which we are exposed, and leaves by far the greatest danger untouched. It simply amends one portion of the Act of 1878 as to importing foreign animals under more strict arrangements; but it leaves untouched the inefficient provisions for Home extinction of the disease. Still, if we are to limit our reliance to the Act of 1878, you may wisely make one section of its powers more efficient, and try experimentally, for a limited term of years, whether in the future the farmers will give more support to the Home restrictions than they have done in the past. Do not expect the extinction of the disease from a Bill in this limited form; but there may be further restrictions of its area, if the fanners will submit to the inconveniences attending a more strict enforcement of the provisions at Home as well as abroad. But, at the best, it is an experimental 181 measure, though, in the other House, it has been made permanent. As it now comes down to us in an amended form, it simply imposes the maximum of interference with the food of the people with a minimum promise of utility. It greatly: prohibits foreign importation, but still: only partially. It does not even include Ireland as one of the countries from which live animals are to be prohibited. though this, of course, must follow if there is to be the slightest chance of success. It is true that England has often given the disease to Ireland; but the latter returns it to Great Britain with compound interest. Part in prohibition is useless to prevent the importation of disease. Cattle may be sent from foreign countries apparently perfectly healthy, and yet they may be diseased when they arrive here. The exporting country may be quite innocent. This occurred when the cattle plague was introduced into Deptford in 1877 by cattle coming from Hamburg, although Germany had no suspicion that the disease was in that country. It might constantly occur with. pleuro-pneumonia and swine fever, for: their early symptoms continue for some time, and are difficult to detect. Foot-and-mouth disease has a short period of incubation, and has even broken out in apparently healthy cargoes during- the voyage. Partial prohibition will never prevent occasional importation of disease among live animals. To be effective, prohibition of importation must be complete. Are you prepared to go this length, which is much further than even the amended Bill goes? Undoubtedly it would be a strong measure to prevent the smaller chances of mediate infection. Still, it would be perfectly legitimate to demand the absolute prohibition of live cattle, if you are prepared to go all lengths to stamp out the disease at home. But farmers do not seem prepared to go so far, because they fear that the regulations for stamping out foot-and-mouth disease will, perhaps, stamp out themselves as producers of cattle. Nothing less than heroic measures for home extinction would, I contend, justify this House in interfering so largely as this amended Bill does with the food of the people. I can conceive the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) shrinking from a total prohibition, even if combined with severe cattle plague re- 182 strictions at home; but as a sanitarian, believing in the possibility of stamping out the disease, I would not object to such a measure if at first confined to an experimental term of three or four years. But I wholly object to the amended proposals in this Bill, which produce the maximum inconvenience and loss to the consumer, without in any sensible way benefiting the producer, who cannot extinguish home disease by the restrictive powers of the Act of 1878. The hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) denies that there will be any great loss to the consumer. That statement can be examined by the Agricultural Returns which we had since 1876, ranging over 18 years. For the first six years, up to 1872, cattle continued to increase, and at the end of the six years the cattle had augmented about 750.000, though sheep had gone down by more than 2,000,000. If we take the averages of the next two periods of six years, from 1872 to 1877, and from 1378 to 1883, we find that in these two six-yearly periods Great Britain holds its own as regards cattle—or is only 14,000 less in the average of the second period—but Ireland loses largely, so that the loss in the average of the last six years is 105.000 cattle and nearly 3,400,000 sheep. Put into feeding power, home produce lost the power of feeding 500,000 people from 1878 to 1833, as compared with the preceding six years. Now, whatever be the explanation of this —whether it be owing to bad seasons or to the inroads of disease—the fact in itself is one of great gravity. The population of this country is largely increasing; and for the last 12 years the productive agriculture of the United Kingdom, so far as regards meat, has done nothing to feed the increased and increasing population, which has depended wholly on a foreign supply of meat. The manner in which that supply develops is well described in Sir James Caird's presidential address to the Statistical Society in 1881. He compares the supply for the 20 years from I860 to 1880, taking the average of the initial five years and of the final five years of that period. Without going into details, I will give the percentages of the increase of foreign supply. The number of live cattle and sheep increased 240 per cent; fresh and salted meat 220 per cent; bacon and hams 250 per cent. Altogether, the rise has been nearly the same 183 for each class of provisions. The interference with live meat would thus be exceedingly serious, unless justified by a great benefit to producers at home, and this the Bill does not in the least assure to us. This interference also shuts out the higher class of meat supply. I take in proof of this the evidence of the hon. Members for South Leicestershire and West Norfolk (Mr. Pell and Mr. Clare Read) before the Agricultural Commission. They tell us that it only pays to export animals of the best kind from foreign countries; while the dead meat is often from inferior animals, and therefore not so good. Home farmers apparently supply 75 per cent of the meat used in this country; while the foreign supply of live, dead, and salted meat is 25 per cent. But still that represents the supply to a fourth of our population. The importance of the farming interest would justify exceptional legislation for a few years to see whether they can stamp out disease at home, and raise the supply of cattle to the requirements of our increasing population. I would vote for a Bill giving even four years' total prohibition of foreign cattle if I saw it accompanied with effective means of stamping out the disease at home, and if I felt convinced that such heroic measures would be supported by the general opinion and co-operation of the farmers. But the Bill before us, even in its amended form, does not give us one additional security for the home extinction of the disease; and I am not prepared to throw impediments in the way of supplying foreign food to our increasing population when I do not think these will diminish in any sensible degree the spread of the acclimatized epizootic at home.
§ MR. R. H. PAGET
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last had stated that the Bill was weak because it dealt with one part only of the subject. Hiscontention was that the farmers would willingly submit to any regulations imposed upon them if they could only be protected from the importation of disease from abroad. In spite of the theory of periodicity in regard to the visitation of the disease, he believed that with a thorough and ample enforcement of restrictions and regulations they might be entirely free from its attack if its introduction from other countries was effectually prevented. The experiments mentioned in 184 the course of the debate were purely negative ones; and it must be borne in mind that in order to deduce anything like positive conclusions from them they must be very widely extended; and if the Agricultural Department would provide some methods by which these experiments might be made on a larger scale, then, perhaps, results of positive value might be obtained. The facts and figures showed that our flocks and herds had diminished largely on account of disease; and he would gladly support any measure having for its object the application of an effectual remedy to that state of things. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), who, he was glad to see, had at last abandoned his Notice in despair, had referred to the opinion of the Duke of Richmond. Now, the Duke of Richmond had never advocated the policy of total exclusion; he had expressed himself convinced of the absolute need of further restrictions; but he had certainly not gone the length of proposing- absolute exclusion as a remedy. The agricultural interest had felt and had expressed great disappointment at the commencement of the Session, when no mention was made in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne of agricultural legislation. That feeling had produced its natural effect in the Bill now before the House. Reserving to himself the full right to criticize the Bill at another stage, he was prepared now to support the second reading.
§ MR. JAMES HOWARD
said, he had listened with much attention to the interesting speech of the right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh (Sir Lyon Playfair), who had laid down a now doctrine, the periodicity of foot-and-mouth disease, maintaining that it recurred at intervals of four years. He (Mr. J. Howard) regarded that notion as doctrinaire; and, therefore, proposed to turn the light of practical experience upon it. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the fact that in 1879 there were a considerable number of outbreaks in various parts of the country. That statement was true; but it should be remembered that the Act of 1878 had at that time only just come into force, and that before October, 1880, when the first diseased cargo from France was landed at Deptford, the United Kingdom had become free from the disease. His right hon. Friend, as did others, quoted 185 Professor Brown as an authority when it answered their purpose; but when the views of the Professor were opposed to their own he was discarded. Now, Professor Brown, in his official Report upon the present outbreak, had, without the slightest reserve, traced the disease from the cargo of French cattle, landed at. Deptford, to a London cowshed, and to the Metropolitan Market, from whence the disease was quickly spread over the Kingdom. He was not aware that the slightest evidence existed to support the doctrine of periodicity. If one fact had been more completely demonstrated than another before the Select Committee which had sat upon the subject, it was that the disease followed the line of traffic; if the line of traffic was from West to East the disease would go in that direction—it never travelled backward. [The hon. Member then proceeded to give examples and resumed.] when he had the honour of giving evidence before the Select Committee of 1877 he ventured upon a prediction— he asserted that although Ireland had been for several years the hot-bed of disease, and had sent us more of the disease than all the other parts of the world together, if it were once stamped out in that country no fresh outbreak of the disease would again occur until it was re-imported. After 1878 it was stamped out, and not a single case again occurred until January of last year, when it was re-imported from England. So far as he was aware, there was not a tittle of evidence to support the theory either of periodicity or of spontaneous generation. With respect to the speech of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), his hon. Friend would, perhaps, excuse him when he said that he had never listened to a more one-sided speech, for he had never once alluded to the effect of disease in checking the home production of meat, and seemed to forget that the main object of the Bill before the House was to remove obstacles to the increase of the home supply. The hon. Member had said that he could not congratulate the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) upon the vigour of his speech; he (Mr. J. Howard) must say that he had listened to the speech with great pleasure, especially to the opening remarks. with respect to the strong opinions expressed by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster upon the Amendments to the Bill introduced 186 by the House of Lords, like the Lord Chancellor, "in another place," he had not given the House a single reason for these strong opinions. At first he (Mr. J. Howard) was under the impression that the Lords' Amendment did effect a considerable change; but, upon closer examination, he had been led to doubt the soundness of that conclusion. As the clause was originally drawn, it ran, briefly, thus—Whenever the Privy Council are satisfied, with respect to any country, that reasonable, security does not exist against the importation there from of diseased animals, they shall prohibit, &c., &c.In the clause, as amended, briefly expressed, it was as follows: —Whenever the Privy Council are not satisfied, with respect to any country, that reasonable security does exist against the importation there from of diseased animals, they shall prohibit, &c., &c.For the life of him he could not see that the transposition of the negative from the end to the beginning of the clause made the serious change which was alleged. For instance, if he were to follow the language in the original Bill and say—" If I am satisfied that my coachman is not sober I shall prohibit him from driving," &c. If I follow the language of the Bill as amended and say—"If I am not satisfied that my coachman is sober I will prohibit," &c. In both cases the discretionary power would be in the hands of the master. So, let the clause stand either way, the decision as to prohibition would rest upon the judgment of the Privy Council as to the danger or safety of importation from any particular country. He hoped that when the Bill was in Committee the difference would be fully pointed out—he had stated his views in order that both sides might have opportunity to consider the point before going into Committee. Turning to the general aspects of the question, he did hope that this was one of the last occasions on which the House would be engaged in discussing the question of cattle disease legislation. It had been a bone of contention for 20 years past between opposing factions—on the one side had been the producers, the farmers; on the other side a phalanx of cattle importers, cattle dealers, and butchers, who, forsooth, paraded themselves as the disinterested champions of cheap meat. That was a rather ludicrous spectacle to 187 these who knew how large a share of the profits found its way into the pocket of these men before meat was permitted to reach the consumer. His hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) had described the Bill as a needless piece of legislation: but he omitted to recognize that one of the main objects of the Bill was to remove hindrances to the increase of the home production of live animals, and ignored the deterrent effect which successive outbreaks of disease had upon the breeding of cattle and sheep. The total losses sustained by foot-and-mouth disease since the first outbreak in 1839 might be computed, not only by tens of millions, but by hundreds of millions sterling. The Hon. Member for Herefordshire (Mr. Duckham), when before the Select Committee in 1873, handed in a Return, based upon careful inquiry, which showed that in the previous year, 1872, the farmers of Herefordshire sustained a direct money loss of £156.000, and that the total loss to the farmers of the Kingdom in the same year amounted to well-nigh £20,000,000. when before the Select Committee in 1877, he (Mr. J. Howard) put in a Return showing the relative home and foreign supply of meat, and a statement as to the losses sustained by disease, which corroborated the previous statement of the hon. Member for Herefordshire. For many years farmers submitted to the losses they sustained without making any great outcry, and this because they were under the impression that it was an inscrutable visitation of Providence for which no one was to blame; that the disease was in the air, or, as some Veterinary Professors put it. "an atmospheric wave of disease of abnormal character." Professor Gamgee stood almost alone in upholding the germ theory. For his own part, ever since he read the published experiments of the late Dr. Budd, of Bristol, he had been a firm believer in the germ theory. When experience revealed the fact that foot-and-mouth disease was an eruptive fever of a highly contagious nature, and which could only be propagated by contagion, mediate or immediate; when it was discovered that the vigorous measures put in force for the extermination of cattle plague had the effect of stamping out foot-and-mouth disease at the same time, the farmers woke up 188 from their delusion and apathy, and demanded legislative measures for preventing both the introduction and the spread of a disease, which had for 20 years been allowed to spread itself over the country unchecked, and this led to the passing of the Act of 1869. That Act was a compromise, and experience soon showed its inefficiency; it neither prevented importation of disease, nor checked its spread after it had been imported; for some years after the Act was passed the whole country, including Ireland, reeked with disease. After considerable agitation the Act of 1878 was passed; the principle of this Act was slaughter at the port of landing; but, again, experience stepped in, and showed that it was unsafe to land diseased animals upon our shores, even if intended for immediate slaughter— the animals might be killed, but the germs of disease remained alive, and were capable of being conveyed by human beings from the ports to animals at great distances. The present outbreak unquestionably had its origin in this way—the disease was convoyed from the Deptford Foreign Cattle Market and spread all over the Kingdom. The direct money loss to the farmers of the United Kingdom of this outbreak could not be estimated at less than £5,000,000 sterling, to say nothing of the vexations and costly restrictions to which they had also been subjected. He would ask, ought it to cause surprise? Could the farmers be said to be unreasonable when they demanded better security against similar outbreaks in the future? But he would not argue the matter simply as a farmer's question. Surely to draw our meat supply from pure sources was a matter of national importance; healthy animals were surely more desirable for food than animals suffering from an eruptive fever, which poisoned their blood, if not their flesh. He could not imagine that even his hon. Friend (Mr. Arthur Arnold) would enjoy his frugal beefsteak the more if he knew that it had formed part of an animal afflicted with this loathsome disease. The importation of disease, moreover, struck at the very root of home production of animal food; and, therefore, a state of law which permitted its importation was an economical blander as far as food production was concerned. Exact statistics are not forthcoming; but there 189 can be no questian that, in the past, for many years the losses sustained at home amounted to far more than the total value of all the live animals imported. But, serious as had been the direct money loss, it was not the most serious, for the loss of the female animals was one that could not be repaired—the loss was cumulative in its effect. In a brief letter to The Times last week, Mr. King Fordham forcibly illustrated the effect of the disease. He stated that his own herd of cows had recently been attacked with foot-and-mouth disease, and described How upon their recovery it was discovered that their milk had gone, and the animals were therefore turned into beef. This was a process which had been going on throughout the country for the past 40 years. Who, he would ask, could describe the cumulative effect of thus killing their breeding animals and keeping down home production? The loss was so much greater in a herd of breeding cattle than in neat stock that hundreds, he might say thousands, of farmers, instead of incurring the frightful risks which attended breeding cattle, had preferred to buy store stock and fatten them for the meat market. He was as firm an upholder of Free Trade as any Member of that House; but he failed to discover any connection between sanitary regulations and the principles of Mr. Cobden. When discussing the subject with the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. T. B. Potter) he had propounded to him the following question:—Suppose the cotton from a certain country—for instance, the Soudan—was liable to be infected with parasites, which upon their introduction to this country had the faculty of multiplying themselves indefinitely, and finding their way from one cotton store and one cotton mill after another, and inflicting immense damage upon the stores of cotton, what would the cotton spinners and cotton brokers say if they were told that the losses were very lamentable, but the doctrines of Free Trade must be upheld? And what would the woollen manufacturers of Bradford say if wool from any particular country was liable to be infested with a destructive parasite? Would not cotton spinners and woollen manufacturers laugh to scorn any exhortation addressed to them to uphold the principle of free imports? Whilst upholding free imports, he firmly 190 believed that if the people of this country were to be more cheaply fed than they were at the present moment, as far as animal food was concerned, it was indispensable that our own flocks and our own herds must, as far as legal regulations were competent, be kept free from disease.
§ MR. CLARE READ
said, in the year 1865 he sat on a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the cattle plague, before which all sorts of evidence was given. A strong opinion was expressed by several of the witnesses that the germs of the disease were conveyed to this country in such a way that the evil could not be combated by any legal restrictions; but, as a matter of fact, the restrictions which the Government of the day placed on the movement of cattle in consequence of the Report of the Commission got rid not only of cattle plague, but also almost entirely of pleuro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease. The epidemic theory which was advanced by the right hon. Gentleman could not be maintained by evidence, inasmuch as there was no foreign cattle disease in Ireland, until it was imported from England. The Bill which the House was now asked to read a second time had been strengthened in the House of Lords, and he thought it was very much more likely to effect its purpose in the present form than as it was originally introduced by the Government The Bill, as it originally stood, simply extended the permissive powers of the Privy Council; and he must say that he would be against giving them any permissive power at all. It was the permissive character of this legislation which had been administered by the Privy Council that had been the greatest curse the agriculturists had had to contend with. At the time of the last outbreak the Privy Council had power to stop the importation of disease from any country where they knew it existed. But how had they exercised their permissive power? They knew the disease existed in France, but they allowed the importation of animals from that country to continue until all the mischief was done. Then they stopped the importation. They had the power of slaughtering the cows which contracted the disease from Deptford; and if they had put their powers in force they would have saved during the last few years many millions to the agri- 191 culturists of this country. But they allowed these animals to be sent into the Metropolitan Market, and instead of drawing a cordon round it they allowed the animals to carry the disease into different counties, and then they put a cordon round the market. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Sir Lyon Playfair) had stated that the disease sprung up simultaneously in different parts of Norfolk and Middlesex; but it was notorious that the disease was known to have existed in the cow-houses of the Metropolis before it was discovered in the Metropolitan Markets, and that it was from that market that it spread to all parts of the country. It was an extraordinary tiling that the right hon. Gentleman could quote the opinions of Professor Brown when they suited his purpose, and took no notice of them when they did not. Professor Brown said that the last outbreak was to be attributed to the importation of cattle from France. Then they had the heroic theories of the right hon. Gentleman to stamp out the disease; but, if these wore to be accepted, they must not trust too much to the permissive powers of the Privy Council. In the case of an outbreak in Norfolk they had telegraphed to the Privy Council for instructions to slaughter a diseased animal; but they did not get an answer for a whole week, and meanwhile the animal had recovered, but had spread the disease through the herd. Something more definite and exact and vigorous in its operation was wanted than the Privy Council. He thought they should be fairly satisfied that the various legislative measures had been more or less successful. He did not think it was fair to say that the disease was indigenous, as the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W E. Forster) seemed to say in a letter to a newspaper a few days ago. It might be in the recollection of the House that in the autumn of 1882 the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Thorold Rogers) paid a visit to the United States; and in the course of a speech there he said that in his view the British farmers were the most ignorant, credulous, and obstinate class in the country, and that they believed in the theory of importing foot-and-mouth disease from abroad. The hon. Member then went on to tell his audience that 192 the origin of the disease was to be found in the fact that the feet of the cattle got into a dirty state, and that the disease thus generated was communicated to the mouths of the cattle by the fact that they licked them. That was on a par with much that was said by other persons who professed knowledge on the subject. His hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire (Mr. J. Howard) had shown the whole nature of the agitation got up by the cattle salesmen and butchers of the Metropolis. It was wonderful what powers the butchers had—what influence they could bring to bear upon the House; and, still more marvellous, what influence they could bring to bear upon the Privy Council. Farmers might go there in any numbers, but they did not get what they asked for. The moment, however, that the butchers went there, not only were they received with open arms, but their wants were attended to. The late Sir Robert Peel passed an Act, which in 25 years would have abolished every London slaughter-House, for it said that there should not be a slaughter-House within a quarter of a mile of a public thoroughfare. But 10 years ago the butchers came to the Government, and they showed what a pleasant, sweet, and healthful resort a slaughter-House was; and the result was that Parliament passed an Act perpetuating them, and they existed to this day as a standing nuisance in the Metropolis. When the hon. Gentleman the Member for South-wark spoke of the farmers in the manner alluded to, he might have applied some of his language to the butchers. They appeared to be no more advanced than in the days of Abraham, who fetched from his fold a calf tender and good, and killed it in the same manner the butcher in the Metropolis insisted on doing, with his pen full of cattle and sheep in the vicinity of a number of other animals which were slaughtered. He (Mr. Clare Read) had seen in the month of August in Now: York cool stores in which meat was kept which had come from Chicago, and would not be used for three weeks. It was the butchers here who objected to coolstores. In these days, when ice could be made here almost as cheap as the American people could store it, it was a disgrace to science that we did not try to introduce some means of keeping meat, especially in hot weather. If 193 these wore established in most of our great towns they would develop the dead meat trade more than anything else, and the importer would not be at the mercy of the wholesale butcher when there was an over-supply of meat. In a remarkable speech which the Prime Minister made to his tenants when they had the pleasure of paying their Christmas rents, he said that the farmers of England should endeavour to grow more fruit. he (Mr. Clare Read) said so, too, as regarded these localities which were adapted for fruit-growing; but He feared that if the experiment was to be extended to cold and bleak regions like Norfolk, it would not be very successful. The right Hon. Gentleman had gone on to say that he thought there ought to be a greater production of milk; and he entirely endorsed that; but he asserted that nothing hindered the cheap and plentiful supply of milk in this country more than this foot-and-mouth disease. Milk from animals infected with foot-and-mouth disease was very injurious to human health. He had received yesterday morning a letter from Dr. Eade, Mayor of Norwich, who was a gentleman of high medical and scientific attainments, in which he mentioned that a Norfolk farmer had recently died from the effects of foot-and-mouth disease, complicated with some other ailment; and an official of the Privy Council had stated that one might as well drop prussic acid into the mouth of an infant as feed it on foot-and-mouth diseased milk. This was a subject of whish he knew nothing personally; but he did know that the medical officer of the Norwich Union, in the autumn of last year, when foot-and-mouth disease was rampant round Norwich, stated his belief that the prevalence of sore throats was entirely attributable to drinking diseased milk. he would not stand any longer in the way of the right Hon. Member for Bradford; but he thought he had adduced some facts and arguments to which the right Hon. Gentleman could not reply.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he must congratulate the House on the return to it of his Hon. Friend, for not only on this subject, but on all agricultural matters, his hon. Friend spoke with great experience and with great power of expression. Perhaps it would have been an advantage if, in addition to so intelligent and powerful a member of the 194 farming interest, they had also a butcher in the House. This debate was a very important one. and it had been conducted with good temper on both sides, although it was rather anticipating the debate in Committee. The Government Bill had been much changed in the House of Lords; and although he thought the hon. Member for Sal ford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) was right, in the circumstances, in saying that he would not oppose the second reading, yet he confessed that the Bill, as altered, went so much further than it ought to go, that if it had not been for the declaration of the Minister ill charge of the Bill that he would do his best to restore it to something like its original shape he, and those who agreed with him, would hardly have assented to the second reading. He was glad he had not been obliged to take that course, for he admitted that a Bill was necessary, and if a measure of this kind were introduced it was desirable that it should be passed with as little delay as possible. He hoped they might look forward to the second reading being agreed to without delay; but that did not imply that they would give up the right to a full discussion in Committee. The question before them was what the Bill, as amended, would do, and what it was necessary that it should do. He would briefly state why he thought the Bill, as amended, would have a very considerable effect. First of all, there was the declaration of the Lord Chancellor. The hon. Member for Mid Somerset (Mr. R. H. Paget) asked what the Lord Chancellor knew about foot-and-mouth disease. He did not suppose that his Lordship did know much about it, but he understood how to interpret an Act of Parliament, The Lord Chancellor did not say whether a Foot-and-Mouth Bill was necessary, but merely gave his opinion as to what would be the effect of the Amendment brought forward by the Duke of Richmond. His Lordship said that the Amendment went a thousand miles be yond his noble Friend's Bill, that it meant total prohibition of free admission, and was an entire reversal of the law. Again, the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin), who did know a good deal about foot-and-mouth disease, and who also know what he wanted, stated, in a speech which he delivered to a Chamber of Agriculture a short time 195 ago, that the Amendment on the 1st; clause was practically the same in its nature as the Resolution which was carried in the House of Commons last Session. [Mr. CHAPLIN: Hear, hear!] Well, it was almost precisely the same. It had precisely the same meaning, and was almost identical in words. Now the hon. Member said the Resolution carried last year would have the effect of excluding the landing of animals from all the present scheduled countries. That meant that the landing of animals would be prohibited from all countries except Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Canada, and he had no doubt that if the Bill were passed the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire would insist upon its being carried out. His (Mr. W. E. Forster's) hon. Friends, who seemed to think that there was no great difference between the Bill as it was brought in and the Bill as it was amended, must take the interpretation given to the Amendment by its advocates. Then there was another autherity—namely, Lord Camperdown, who said—It will be observed that under the above provisions animals will no longer be slaughtered at the port of landing. Either they will land free or they will not be allowed to land at all.[An hon. MEMBER: He has withdrawn if.] No doubt the noble Lord had withdrawn the statement in regard to animals affected with pleuro-pneumonia, but the words still applied to animals affected with foot-and-mouth disease. If this Bill were carried, the practical effect of the Amendment would be that no animals would be allowed to be landed alive in this country that came from the present scheduled countries. There would be a marked distinction between slaughter at the port of embarkation and free passage throughout the country. The effect of the prohibition would be that the supply of eatable meat to the United Kingdom would be.250.000.000 lbs. less than it was row. It must not be supposed that Hon. Members were led away by the interest of the butchers find cattle importers when they said that that would be a serious interference with the food supply of the country. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think it did not much matter what was done with the live animals, because an overpowering quantity of dead meat came in and filled up the gaps. He, however, did not snare this opinion. 196 Dealing with beef alone, he found that in 1883 there were imported 287,000 cwt. of salted and 801,000 cwt. of fresh beef. A good deal of preserved meat was now coming into the country, and, allowing that two-thirds of it was beef, last year there came in less than 75,000 tons of dead beef; while the eatable food from the scheduled live cattle which would have been excluded under this proposal, excluding the offal from them, would amount to more than 86.000 tons. He therefore put it to the House whether they must not consider they were dealing with a very considerable matter when they were asked to interfere to that extent with the food supply of the country? It was a matter of great importance to the Kingdom generally, and of especial importance to large towns. Taking the consumption in London at 140 lbs. a-head, man, woman, and child, poor and rich, sick and well, and estimating the population of London at 4,000,000, it would amount to a loss of 32½ lbs. a-head. If this proposal were carried out it would stop much more than one-third of the cattle imported into the London market, much more than half of the sheep, and nearly all the pigs, he did not think he was using too strong an expression in calling it playing with the food supply of this vast Metropolis unless absolute necessity obliged it to be done. When he was in the Privy Council Office he used to feel the responsibility during the cattle plague of these interferences from day to day as most serious, but at that time they were absolutely necessary. It had been said the dead meat trade would grow. No doubt it would grow, and it was a very encouraging fact for the country, He was perfectly surprised at some of the facts he had heard in connection with that trade. One of the largest cattle owners in Australia, for instance, had told him that it paid to drive cattle 1,000 miles to the port where they were killed, and to take six months about it. That was, no doubt, a very encouraging thing for the future; but the dead meat trade had not been growing so fast as the live cattle trade. He by no means ignored the dead meat trade; but they had now to do with the food supply of the country for the next few years, and to consider the immediate effect of this proposal. The dead meat trade would take care of itself, 197 and if let alone would be a very great help to the people; and, indeed, he thought that the enormous import which was expected was the greatest danger of the future which touched the farming interest. He came now to the second point—Was the proposed stoppage necessary? And that must be completely proved by the advocates of the proposal. He thought what the Government were doing was really all that was necessary. He could not forget two or three facts. Foot-and-mouth disease was no new thing. The epidemic lately experienced had not been either as bad in extent or virulence as it had been before. They were all very sorry, of course, that farming had been a bad business, and that stock-farming had consequently become of more importance to the farming interest generally than it used to be. But the disease was not the only thing that affected stock-farming. When they came to this matter of disease there always arose the question, how did the disease first spring up, and what was necessary to cope with it? There must have been originally some animal with which it was spontaneous, and he did not suppose the world was created with diseased animals. The real question in the ease was, was it necessary to take this strong measure of interference with the food supply? There was a great deal in what had been said in not Laving all the heroic measures on one side. The hon. Member for Bedfordshire (Mr. J. Howard) asked what he (Mr. W. E. Forster) believed he would not get — that all animals affected with foot-and-mouth disease should be slaughtered in any future outbreak. That would be a very heroic measure; but what was proposed with regard to foreign animals?—that all the animals should be slaughtered at the port of debarkation, not only those affected with foot-and-mouth disease, but all. He did not underrate the importance of this question, and he especially admitted that it interfered with the supply of milk. But did anyone suppose that the farmers would submit, as a general measure, to have all the animals affected with foot-and-mouth disease slaughtered? He was a small owner of cattle himself, and out of his herd of less than 40 only four had escaped the disease last January, but only two calves had died. If anybody had 198 proposed that in consequence of this all his animals should be slaughtered without his being compensated, he would have been most indignant with them. Some hon. Members held that the ratepayers should pay in such a case; but the ratepayers in his parish would have been still more indignant at having to pay than he would have been. The Bill, as it. was brought in, made it clear that the Privy Council had the right to prohibit the importation of live animals from countries where foot-and-mouth disease prevailed. That was satisfactory, and it was undoubtedly well to encourage and stimulate the Privy Council to exercise the power of prohibition. But if the Bill were passed as amended, it might have the effect of stopping importation altogether; and he, therefore, thought that the Bill should be restored to the form in which it was brought in.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, the Bill was hailed with great satisfaction by Members on the Opposition, and equally, he was sure, by Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House, not only because they believed it to be in the interest of one particular class of the community and of the great industry of agriculture, but also because they were convinced it would do something to provide for the comfort and the necessities of all classes in the country. He would take that opportunity of expressing his acknowledgments to Her Majesty's Government for the introduction of the measure, although he considered that they had been somewhat tardy in their action. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the second rending of the Bill had informed the House that absolute security against the importation of foot-and-mouth disease, whatever precautions were adopted, was unattainable. So far as that observation was an argument at all it was an argument against the introduction of the Bill. No one supposed that absolute security was attainable. Perfection was very rare in, anything in this world. At the same time, however, Members sitting on the Opposition side of the House believed they were justified in asking for the greatest security which could be obtained by legislation against the importation of this insidious disease. Very beneficial effects had followed on the legislation with regard to the importation of cattle plague. It might be that 199 there was not perfect security against the cattle plague; but the legislation on that subject had kept the country safe from it for a great many years, and he hoped it would keep it free from it for many years to come. If similar security against the foot-and-mouth disease could be obtained they would not be dissatisfied. He desired to remove a misapprehension which prevailed among Members representing Irish constituencies. He referred to their belief that the Bill would place Ireland in the same position in which it would place foreign countries. He assured them that there was nothing in the Bill which could have that effect, and if he thought otherwise he would resist any such provision to the utmost. His desire, and that of the Government, was that Ireland should be placed on precisely the same footing as would be occupied by England, The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had informed the House that important Amendments would be moved in Committee. He trusted that the House would have time to consider these Amendments, and also that fair Notice would be given of the days on which they would be taken. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) had argued that the Bill should not be proceeded with, because the epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease had, to a lage extent, subsided in this country. Surely, however, that was an argument not against the Bill but in its favour, for if the disease had been almost stamped out every effort should be made not only to stamp it out altogether, but to prevent any renewal of its ravages in the future. It was not correct to say that one effect of the Bill would be invariable slaughter at the port, although in the case of countries in which pleuro-pneumonia existed animals would, of course, be slaughtered as they were at present. He had had considerable difficulty in following the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Sir Lyon Playfair) to his conclusions. If the right hon. Gentleman's theory with regard to periodicity was in any degree correct that was a powerful argument against proceeding with the Bill at all, and yet he intended to vote for the Bill, and he even asked for measures of a much more stringent and heroic character. Surely the reason 200 why farmers were at present opposed to the restrictions referred to was that they had suffered immense loss and inconvenience from them for years; and yet no sooner was the diseased stamped out than they found it was reintroduced, so that the restrictions proved to be of no good whatever. If the best security possible against the introduction of disease from abroad were given to them, the farmers were willing to submit to the most severe restrictions; but they objected to restrictions which, while they harassed them and interfered with their business, were really ineffective. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had said that the amended Bill practically amounted to the Resolution proposed by him 'Mr. Chaplin) and passed by the House last Session. He was, of course, very glad to find that such was the case; and it must be remembered that the Resolution in question had been deliberately adopted by the House after a prolonged debate. It was a matter of additional satisfaction to find that the House of Lords had been engaged in vindicating the rights and privileges of the House of Commons against an inaction on the part of the Ministry which he could only characterize as unconstitutional in the highest degree. He was glad that there was one ground of agreement between the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E Forster) and himself. Not many days ago the right hon. Gentleman made a statement to the effect that when the farmers said that they were ready to submit to the severest restrictions for the purpose of stamping out disease at home they ought to be listened to, and all parties ought to assent to whatever might be necessary for that purpose. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman; and the only difference between them and the right hon. Gentleman was as to what was necessary for stamping out the disease. It followed, from the right hon. Gentleman's argument, that if it could be proved to his satisfaction that the Bill in its amended form was necessary for the purpose, the right hon. Gentleman would support it. He had therefore to show, in the first place, that the Bill was necessary for the purpose; and, secondly, that the great fears which the right Hon. Gentleman had expressed of the consequences on the food of the 201 people were groundless. The right hon. Gentleman would prohibit the importation of foreign live animals if he was satisfied that there was danger of importing disease. These who supported the Bill in its amended form contended that such importations ought to be prohibited, unless the Government, were satisfied that we were safe from the importation of disease. At first sight it might appear that there was no very great difference between the two. But there was a great difference, because there was an alternative course which had to do with these eases in which the Government was uncertain whether there was danger or not. In such eases there was nothing whatever to make the prohibition compulsory if the Bill passed in its original form, and we should be liable to the risks which such an omission implied. That was a most material distinction if we desired to promote the large increase of our own herds, as to the supreme importance of which upon our food supply the most over whelming testimony had been given before Committees and Commissions. He came now to the second point—namely, the grave consequences which the right hon. Gentleman anticipated, especially with regard to the Metropolis, for he observed that out-of-doors the main opposition to the measure was grounded upon its effect upon the Metropolis alone. The alarm of the right hon. Gentleman on this subject was nothing new. As long as he remembered any discussion on the question it had been always the same. When the Bill of 1879 was passed, they were continually told by the right hon. Gentleman that, it was upon his ability to prove that the food supply would be restricted that he based his opposition.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, that if it had not been modified we should not be dealing with the subject now. The right hon. Gentleman had given his figures for 1883, and he said that instead of a loss of 150,000,000 lbs. of meat, we should incur a loss of 250,000^,000 lbs. by the passage of this Bill. Now, he had ascertained that the importation of live cattle was rather larger in 1882 than in 1883; and there was another important matter—the importation into London from clean countries, which would not be interfered with, had increased from 202 28,000 to 37,000. It was, no doubt, a very serious thing to interfere with such a large supply, unless they came to consider the whole annual consumption. It had been estimated that the whole annual consumption represented 1,750,000 tons of meat at present; but the foreign supply was not more than 6½ per cent at the outside of the whole annual consumption. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was an exceedingly serious thing to interfere with one-third of the whole consumption in London. Well, London was the best market in a country which, in itself, was the best market for meat and everything else at present, and it was as certain as anything could be, that if they interfered with the London supply the void would be filled up from other quarters. Whatever other parts of the country might suffer. London was certain to be supplied. It was said that a slight decrease- in the foreign live supply would largely increase the price of meat. He denied that this followed as a matter of necessity; experience, on the contrary, contradicted it. He found that in 1867, 121,000 live cattle were imported into London, while- in 1868 the imports had fallen to 97,000. According to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) there ought to have been a great increase in prices as a consequence of this, and a great dearth of meat. As a matter of fact, However, prices fell from 6.33d. per lb. in 1867 to 6.14d. per lb. in 1868. But there was a still more striking illustration. In 1867 there were imported 420,000 foreign sheep, and in 1868 only 183,000, and yet the price of mutton fell from 6¾d. to 6½d. per lb., whereas, according to the right hon. Gentleman, it ought to have increased enormously. How was that to be accounted for? By the increase of the home supply, which rose from 166,000 live animals in 1867 to 192,000 in 1868, while the sheep sprang from 1,000,000 to 1,500,000, or an increase much larger than the whole foreign supply in 1867. These were facts which the right hon. Gentleman could verify. But there was another argument. According to the Registrar General's Returns the population of London in the last 20 years had increased by something like 1,000,000. Twenty years ago it had 3,000,000 of inhabitants; it had now more than 4,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman had said that London depended in the main on the supply of live animals. The 203 Agricultural Returns for 1883, however, showed that while in 1864 there were 371,000 live animals imported alive into London, in 1882, by which date the population of London had increased by 1,000,000 souls, the number imported had decreased to 314,000, and in 1882 to 288,000. The number of sheep in 1864 was 1,500,000, in 1882 it was 1,300,000, and acccording to the last Returns 1,269,000. According to the right hon. Gentleman, the additional 1,000,000 of people would require an additional supply of one-third, or one-fourth. That had been made up without difficulty by the dead meat supply. He admitted that the dead moat trade had not made great strides of late. That was due to the fact that there had never been any guarantee as to its permanence, and also to the fact that it paid better to send meat here alive than to send it dead. But suppose all that live meat was prohibited, the result would be a vast increase in the dead meat supply, Was it to be doubted that there was an ample supply of dead meat for every purpose? From Australia the dead meat trade in the two months ending in February rose from 7,000 cwt. in 1882 to 44,000 cwt. in 1884. In America the dead meat trade was cleverly managed, He knew of one farmer alone, within 16 miles of Chicago, who slaughtered 4,000 animals a-week for the dead moat trade, and another who slaughtered 314 weekly. A third farmer had just commenced work on a gigantic scale in the same country. The fact was that the trade in dead meat was absolutely killing the trade in live animals in America itself. That being so, how was it that the American dead meat trade was not killing the trade in American live animals in England? The answer he received to that question carried conviction to his mind, though he did not know whether it would do so to the minds of these who were championing the agitation in England. It was that the American dead meat, although in perfect order, was slightly discoloured by the voyage, and it was impossible to palm it oil as English meat, whereas the live animals were killed, and the beef sold as English beef at English prices. Now, there were great interests opposed to the future progress of this country. There were the butchers and salesmen, who were making large profits not in the interest of, but to the detriment of, 204 the consumers. The House ought to consider that before it was led away by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) or the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) and ascertain for themselves what was the nature of the agitation that was now going on outside. The agitation was a sham agitation; it was an agitation not in the interests of the consumers of this country. The right hon. Gentleman and others, who had been posing before the country as the consumers' champions, were really occupying a totally different position, as they were merely champions of what they might term the "Butchers' Ring." He did not mean to say they intentionally occupied that position; but they were the tools and the dupes of that confraternity. He (Mr. Chaplin) believed that the foot-and-mouth disease should be eradicated in this country, and that if adequate legislation was passed, but a very short time would elapse before we were entirely free from it. But if that were to be done, it was necessary that the Bill should be carried in its amended form, in which he should vote for it. He believed that the Bill so amended would meet with the approbation of many Members on the other side of the House, and that the conviction was rapidly spreading that the usefulness of the measure depended on its passing in its present form.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, he would not discuss the question of what might be the effect of the Bill. The Scottish farmers had taken the lead in showing how the disease ought to be dealt with. In his own constituency, the farmers had come to the conclusion that it would be for the advantage of agriculture generally if store cattle were imported from abroad, provided it could be done with reasonable security. The House must remember that there were two classes of fanners, whose interests were divergent on the question of the importation of cattle from abroad. There were the breeders, whose interest it was not only to prohibit the importation of disease, but the importation of all cattle; but there was a larger class of farmers who desired to have store cattle imported from abroad if it could be done with reasonable safety. Store cattle could be imported cheaper from the Western States of America than they could be brought from Ireland or bred at Home; 205 and the farmers, pressed by their necessities, were very anxious that they should have the opportunity of supplying themselves with store cattle at the cheapest market. If the principle of the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) was to be carried out, they ought also to prohibit the importation of store cattle from Ireland if foot-and-mouth disease prevailed in that country. In his opinion, it was of very much more practical importance to the farmers that in England the existing law should be administered with greater efficiency than had been the case hitherto. What was the reason that in certain counties in England the spread of the disease had been so alarming, and that in other counties in England, and in the counties in Scotland, the spread had been comparatively small? He did not know any other reason except that the local authorities had not acted with the same promptitude and decision as in Scotland and many counties in England. The local authorities had neglected to take prompt action, the disease had spread, and then the Privy Council had been called upon to put a general stop to the movement of cattle. If the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln had devoted part of his energies to stimulating the local authorities of his county to prompt action in respect of foot-and-mouth disease, he would have done more service towards the extermination of the disease. In Scotland the local authorities were composed one-half of landlords, and one-half of tenant farmers elected by tenant farmers. In England the local authorities consisted of Justices of the Peace. ["No, no!"] He repeated that they were Justices of the Peace, although he knew it was quite open to the Justices of the Peace to select farmers to go upon the local authority; but there was a difference between men who were chosen by Justices of the Peace and farmers elected by their fellow-farmers, to whom they were responsible for the manner in which they carried out the Act. He did not see any reason why the same character of local authority should not be appointed in England as in Scotland; and He begged to give Notice that, when the proper time came, he would move Amendments on the Bill to constitute the local authorities in England upon the same lines as they were constituted in Scotland, and also for the purpose of giving the Privy 206 Council more authority for seeing the Act carried out efficiently in these countries where the work was neglected by the apathy of the local authorities. He was satisfied that it would have been of far greater importance if the Privy Council had devoted their attention more to the carrying out of the Act efficiently in this country, than to attempt to exercise more control in regard to the importation of cattle from abroad. He knew that many farmers in England felt very strongly upon this subject. He was quite satisfied that although the total importation of cattle was prohibited, there would be no security against the disease over-running the country, unless the internal administration of the Act was made more efficient. The great difficulty in administering the Act was that there was no intermediate proposition for allowing the slaughter of animals at the port of disembarkation. That was one of the practical difficulties. What were they to do with a cargo of animals coming from a country where the disease was not known to exist, but amongst which it had broken out during the passage? Were they to be thrown overboard? If not, then the same difficulty would arise as to the spread of the disease. He thought the importation of cattle ought; to be prohibited from countries where the disease was known to exist; but where there was uncertainty the Privy Council ought to have power to say whether importation would or would not be allowed. He should support the Bill as originally introduced by the Government, believing that it would be of advantage to the country generally, as well as to the farmers, who desired to have an opportunity of obtaining store cattle when he could do so with safety.
§ MR. HASTINGS
, while avowing himself to be as stout a Free Trader as either the right Hon. Member for Bradford or the hon. Member for Salford, said, he was strongly in favour of placing further restrictions on the importation of cattle into this country from abroad. During the five years that had elapsed since the passing of the Act of 1878, he had been Chairman of the local authority for the county of Worcester, which had acted in unison with the neighbouring county of Hereford. The two counties had enjoyed freedom from disease as compared with Warwickshire, Shropshire, and 207 Staffordshire, and the reason was that the two counties had carried out the most stringent restrictions with regard to the importation of cattle. Importation was really the cause of the few outbreaks that had occurred in the two counties he had mentioned, and Bristol was the port from which the most serious cases had come, He ventured to assert that if more stringent restrictions had been carried out with regard to importation during the year 1883, the two comities of Worcester and Hereford would have been almost free from disease. He saw the absolute necessity of the measure before the House, and was prepared to support every line of it, and should be very sorry if it were in any way weakened. It was said, "Look at the effects of preventing importation;" but there was another side to the question, and it might be said, "Look at the effects of allowing disease." Had that no effect on the meat market, and did it do no damage to the consumer? The stoppage of fairs and markets raised the price of meat; every beast temporarily diseased, was taken out of the market; nearly every cow that suffered from the disease became barren, and reproduction was thus largely stopped and the milk supply was largely reduced. He quite admitted that it was an evil, as far as it went, to stop meat coming into the country; but it was the lesser evil of the two, the greater being to stop the home production. We did more damage to the meat-consuming classes by allowing foot-and-mouth disease to spread than by stopping importation; and for these reasons, which were strictly compatible with Free Trade, he should support the measure before the House, and thanked Her Majesty's Government for having introduced it.
said, that scarcely anyone had spoken from the point of view of the Bill as originally proposed by the Government, and, as representing an agricultural county, he should support the Bill as originally introduced. He was very grateful to the Government for having brought it in; but he did not sympathize with those who wished to go still further in the direction of prohibition. He agreed that a great deal — indeed, almost all — could be done by internal measures of restriction in stamping out the disease. This was shown by the condition of Westmoreland, Cum- 208 berland, and other counties. He did not share the feelings of these who acted with the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) in imputing negligence and unconstitutionalism to Her Majesty's Government, for he would much prefer intrusting the interests of the farmers to the present Government rather than to the late Administration. During six years of Conservative administration nothing was done for the agricultural interest but the passing of the Agricultural Holdings Bill, and some small concession in the matter of local taxation. But what had been the result of the three or four years during which the present Government had been in power? They had repealed the Malt Tax and passed a Ground Game Act and an Agricultural Holdings Act. He did not share the feeling of these who regarded the Bill simply as a matter between the consumer and the producer. The question concerned every class in the country. He hoped the House would leave the Privy Council free to exorcise their responsibility as best they could.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, he felt bound to enter a decided protest against the language used by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), which was entirely improper and uncalled for. No hon. Gentleman who had spoken in support of the Bill, except the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire, had imputed bad motives to these who were opposed to the measure. But the hon. Member stated that the agitation was promoted solely in the interests of the "Butchers' Ring."
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I rise to explain. I said nothing of the kind; but I denounced the agitation out-of-doors as having been got up by interested parties, and that the right hon. Gentleman, in advocating this cause, was really championing a "Butchers' Ring."
§ MR. BRYCE
said, these were exactly the words he objected to. What was involved was the interest of a vast body of consumers. He represented a constituency which was more affected by the Bill than any constituency in the United Kingdom, because it was mainly composed of poor people who depended to a large extent for their food supply on the importation of foreign cattle. The food of a very great number of the poorer class consisted of parts of the animal which were never imported dead, 209 because it would not pay so to import them. He referred to the head, lungs, liver, and other parts, which went by the name of offal. If, therefore, they prohibited the importation of foreign live animals, that source of supply would be cut off, and the poor would suffer by the loss of all this meat, as well as by the enhanced price of other parts. He hoped the House would act cautiously in this matter. ["Cries of Divide!"]
§ MR. HEALY
wished to say a few words upon this subject. He had expected that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster would have brought forward an array of facts and figures in support of his Bill. which they certainly did not get. His anxiety was with regard to the effect of the Bill upon Ireland, and he might just state his objections to the House. He was not prepared to vote against the Bill; but he would inform the House of the nature of the uneasiness which prevailed among Irish Members with regard to it. At the present moment cattle coming over from Ireland to England were dealt with in a very stringent way, and slaughtering and everything of that kind went on daily. If a Bill was passed giving power to exclude all cattle from either England or Ireland, by-and-bye when a Tory Government would be in power, for all they knew, an agitation would be got up asking that cattle might be excluded from Ireland, and their country would be ruined by a provision of that kind. They had no guarantee or any statement at all made with regard to Ireland; and although he was of course, perfectly aware that they would have nothing in regard to Ireland in that Bill, still he thought they should have received some explanation or assurance that nothing of that sort would occur in the future. The question was a most difficult one, and he did not believe that there were any interested motives actuating the farmers, who merely endeavoured to prevent the terrible losses from which they were suffering through foot-and-mouth disease. He thought the farmers were perfectly right to endeavour to check it, as he was aware that the farmers in Ireland had lost over £ 1,000,000 within the last few months owing to the ravages of this disease. However, he did not ask the Government to run from one extreme to another upon this ques- 210 tion. Towards the close of last year, an extraordinary pressure was put upon the Lord Lieutenant in order to induce him to exclude cattle from certain districts, and a deputation from Glasgow—a very important deputation—had waited upon him, asking for the entire exclusion of Irish cattle; and he understood there had not been an Irish beast allowed into Newcastle-on-Tyne for the past 15 months. They had no guarantee from the Government as to the future agricultural relations between Great Britain and Ireland, and they would like to have some statement from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster upon the subject. They would like to be assured that they would not treat Ireland on the principle applied to foreign countries. Farmers were always greatly alarmed about this disease; and, therefore a panic-stricken Government might be easily frightened into preventing Ireland totally from exporting cattle by putting Ireland under the Bill. There was another point which he wished to mention, the definition "Privy Council" was not satisfactory; did it include the Irish Privy Council? ("Mr. DODSON: The Irish Government.], He (Mr. Healy) imagined that the Irish Privy Council would be guided very largely by the English Privy Council. He was compelled to say that they were greatly dissatisfied with the action of the Irish Privy Council. They had acted very stringently, and He did not think they did very much good. In the Lower Castle yard Dr. Kaye prevented farmers from selling their cattle at fairs by a stroke of his pen. He had known cattle to be led into trucks on Wednesday for removal to the cattle market, and when the unfortunate farmers had them on the railway, they were at the last moment obliged to take them out of the trucks and drive them home, after having disposed of all the fodder. They were then obliged to go and borrow fodder, simply to keep the cattle alive. Fairs had been prohibited in the most arbitrary and unfair manner. In conclusion, he suggested that the Bill should be passed for live years, and that steps should be taken to provide a more satisfactory tribunal in Ireland than the Privy Council.
§ MR. KENNY
said he concurred in the observations made by the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy). He 211 thought it, was the duty of hon. Members from Ireland, who were vitally interested in this measure, to secure a full and free discussion of the subject. The Bill was too important to be hurried; through the House in four or five Hours. In his opinion it would fail to accomplish the object sought after. So long as importation from infected countries was permitted, there would be no preventing the spread of the disease. He entirely disagreed with the opinion that the proper method of stamping out the disease was to slaughter the infected cattle. It was simply a monstrous waste of public wealth to slaughter animals that had become infected with foot-and-mouth disease. They all knew that store animals very soon got bettor of the disease, and became as valuable as ever within a comparatively short space of time. Instead of this barbarous method of slaughter, he would advise the isolation of infected animals, and the use of disinfectants. So far as the moat supply of largo constituencies was concerned there was nothing to fear, as he thought a system of importing dead meat from Australia, America, and other places might be so developed as to meet all the requirements of the industrial centres.
§ It being ten minutes before Seven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.