HC Deb 28 March 1889 vol 334 cc1037-9

I beg to ask the noble Lord the Vice Chamberlain whether 140 sheep infected with foot-and-mouth disease have been landed at West Hartlepool from Germany; whether sheep or cattle infected with this disease have been landed at any other ports of the United Kingdom; what precautions towards preventing the spread of this disease in the United Kingdom have been taken; and whether the ships which conveyed these diseased animals have been thoroughly disinfected?


It is true that 147 sheep were landed at the Foreign Animals Wharf at Hartlepool on the 21st inst., from Hamburg, among which the Inspector of the Privy Council at that port detected 20 cases of foot-and-mouth disease. The same disease has been discovered among sheep from Germany landed at the foreign animals wharves in Grimsby, Hull, and London. As soon as the disease was detected the whole of the cargoes were ordered to be slaughtered forthwith, and the rules set forth in the sixth schedule to the Animals Order of 1886, which apply when foot-and-mouth disease is detected among animals in a foreign animals wharf, have been strictly enforced. The vessels which brought these diseased sheep to Hartlepool and Grimsby have been thoroughly cleansed and disinfected under the supervision of Inspectors of the Privy Council. It is not known to what extent the vessels which brought the diseased sheep to London have been cleansed and disinfected, but it may be observed that Germany having been added to the list of prohibited countries by the Order of Council passed on the 23rd inst., vessels which have been engaged in carrying animals from that country cannot be again used for carrying animals from any country to Great Britain for a period of 28 days.

MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)

I wish to ask another question which arises out of the one just put to the noble Lord. I will ask him under what circumstances four cargoes of sheep suffering from foot-and-mouth disease have been allowed to land at Hartlepool, Hull, Grimsby, and Deptford, from Germany; and whether, having regard to the fact that the disease must be prevalent in Germany, and the risk of its extending to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Government will consider the propriety of cancelling the Order of March 1st, 1889?


The cargoes of sheep referred to were landed at the foreign animals wharves in the ports mentioned under the conditions set forth in the Animals Order of 1886. Until these animals arrived the Privy Council was not aware that foot-and-mouth disease prevailed in Germany, and the Netherlands Government have satisfied the Privy Council that their country is free from disease, and that every reasonable precaution has been taken to prevent the introduction of disease into their country by the absolute prohibi- tion of the importation into or transit through the Netherlands of all animals from every country on the Continent of Europe. Under these circumstances the Privy Council, after full consideration, came to the conclusion that they had no option, under the terms of the fourth part of the fifth schedule to the Act of 1878, but to admit the claim of the Netherlands Government to have their animals exempted from slaughter at the point of landing.


Can the noble Lord give the House any guarantee that the information of the Government in regard to the condition of affairs in the Netherlands in that matter is likely to be more accurate than their information in regard to Germany?


Will the noble Lord say what steps Her Majesty's Government propose to take to assure themselves that the disease does not prevail in the Netherlands?


We have the fullest information from the Netherlands, and we are assured that they have eliminated the disease at a considerable cost, and there is little doubt that this has been the case for a long time.


May I ask on what information the Government have based their action?


Since 1877 German sheep have been admitted for slaughter, but the right hon. Gentleman had better give notice of any further question he wishes to put. The Privy Council have no desire whatever to conceal anything.


I will put a further question on the subject on Monday to the noble Lord.

Sir W. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)

May I ask the noble Lord whether he knows that the Government of the Netherlands have prevented German cattle from going into the Netherlands?


Yes; I thought I had already answered that point.