§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1.
(3.10.) THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) has handed in Amendments to this clause which will more properly form the subject of a new clause.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."580
§ (3.15.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I notice that all the Amendments to this Bill which appear on the Paper are in the names of Scotch Members. There is one, however, which I wish to move in the interests of the cowkeepers and dairymen. In Dublin there is a very large industry connected with the sale of milk, and the persons who are engaged in it represent that their business may be entirely suspended unless provision is made for the immediate slaughter of cattle suspected of suffering from disease. I imagine that what the Government desire is that some time should elapse for the development of the disease, so that the Inspectors may know exactly what a suspected animal is suffering from — whether pleuro-pneumonia or tuberculosis; but it is rather a strong order that a man's business should be suspended, and that he should be deprived of the power of selling milk for an indefinite period. If it is necessary to hang up a man's business for more than a week, in order to enable the Inspector to discover what the disease is, I maintain that the dairyman or cow-keeper ought to be compensated. It is hardly fair that in the Imperial interests of agriculture a vendor of milk should have the whole of his means of livelihood destroyed. If the Government say that they are prepared to consider the point I will not press the Amendment; but, in the absence of such an assurance, I beg to move a proviso to this effect—Provided that the slaughter be carried out within one week from the enforcement of the powers conferred by the principal Act.Let me take the case of London. There are in this City 4,000.000 of people who require to be supplied with milk every morning, and there are hundreds of cowkeepers and dairymen. If the Inspectors are to have the right on mere suspicion of suspending the business of these men, the consequence will be that their means of obtaining a living will be broken and ruined. What ought to be done is to give a week, and then if the cattle are not cured to slaughter them, and compensate the owners. I fully recognise that this is not a contentious Bill, but that it is one which ought to be passed for the general benefit of the community.
Amendment moved, in page 1. line 15, to insert—
Provided the slaughter be carried out within one week from the enforcement of the powers conferred by the principal Act."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ (3.20.) THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. CHAPLIN,) Lincolnshire, Sleaford
The proposition of the hon. and learned Member is one which has already been considered, and I am indebted to him for giving me an opportunity of expressing the views of the Government on the matter. I understand kirn to object to the discretionary power given to the Inspectors to suspend the slaughter of suspected animals, and I admit that in the case of large towns the interests of the cowkeepers and dairymen might be prejudicially affected. But, on the other hand, I must point out that a great many representations have been made to the Board in which the complaint made was that the power of slaughter has not been made imperative and obligatory in all cases. Now, I strongly object to the insertion of the word "shall," for the very reason that the hon. and learned Member has stated. I think it would be very hard for the Government, or the Board of Agriculture, to go into the dairies in the large towns and, without a moment's notice or warning', slaughter all the animals, without having any discretionary power whatever. We have endeavoured to guard against that by providing that there shall be a certain period of probation, with due restrictions for the prevention of contact with other animals.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
That is my principal objection, because the Inspector may put under probation the entire stock of a man, and prevent him from carrying on his business, practically, for an indefinite period. What I suggest is that there should be some limit to the probationary period.
During the time the cows were in the dairy in a state of imprisonment, with a view to ultimate slaughter if necessary, the dairyman would be able to pursue his business, and 582 to sell his milk. It was with the view of not immediately destroying his business that the Bill has been drawn up in this way. It was drawn up expressly to meet the difficulty which the hon. and learned Gentleman has pointed out.
§ (3.25.) MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Isle of Thanet)
As I understand the point which has been raised, it is that the authorities should have power to indicate a certain number of animals which it may be necessary to slaughter eventually, but to postpone the carrying out of the order for an indefinite time. Perhaps it may be worthy the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not desirable to give the owner power to call on the authorities to do one of two things—either to withdraw the restriction or to carry out the power of slaughter at once. I hope my right hon. Friend will take that suggestion into consideration. As the Bill is at present framed the town cowkeeper would not know exactly where he stood.
§ MR. LLEWELLYN (Somerset, N.)
It might be of advantage to the dairyman to have the cash down so as to be able to replace the suspected animals; but it would be of distinct advantage to the farmer that the authorities should not be too hasty in destroying the animals.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
Does the right hon. Gentleman contemplate that this discretionary power should be exercised in the case of country dairies as well as of town dairies'? I hope that ha does, and that he does not entirely exclude from consideration these cases which must arise in the country as well as in the town.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I contemplate no exclusion in any case, either in regard to town or country dairies; and when I prepared the Bill, I had in my mind the case of the farmers' fat beasts, which might be kept for three weeks or a month until they would reach their full value. Before the Report I will consider the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. J. Lowther).
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
As I understand that the matter will be duly considered I will not press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.583
§ Question again proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
May I ask the President of the Board of Agriculture to amplify the answer which he gave to me recently in reference to the movement of cattle? I regret to find that no distinct arrangements have been made to regulate the movement of cattle after an epidemic. If each Local Authority is allowed to legislate for itself, great inconvenince may arise. No county has suffered more than my own from the fact that, although they have been able to frame efficient regulations for themselves, the Local Authorities of other counties have not discharged their duties so efficiently, and diseased animals have found their way into Aberdeenshire. I trust that in future the Central Authorities will frame stringent rules, and that the Local Authorities will not be left to make their own regulations. Unless something of that kind is done I am afraid the Bill will be of very little use.
§ (3.30.) MR. CHAPLIN
I think my hon. Friend misunderstood my answer. The execution of the orders will be carried out, as usual, by the LOCAL Authorities who, of course, will be subject to the inspection of the officers of the Board of Agriculture, and in any case of default in adhering most strictly to the rules and regulations of the Board of Agriculture the Board itself will step in and carry out the orders.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT
I think the right hon. Gentleman has met the difficulty by saying that the rules will be uniform, and will be uniformly enforced throughout the country.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the information he has given us.
§ (3.31.) MR. CRILLY (Mayo, N.)
I trust the right hon. Gentleman will give such an answer to the appeal of my hon. Friend the Member for North Longford as will render it unnecessary for me to propose the new clause which stands in my name. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet that as the Bill now stands the owners of cattle in towns will not know their exact position. My hon. Friend has suggested that suspected cattle should 584 be slaughtered within a definite period— say, seven days. The owners of cattle in Dublin desire to have some finality in this respect, and if the Bill passes, as framed, it will be perfectly optional for the officers employed under the Act to do as they like; the owners of dairies will be entirely at the mercy of their whims and fancies. Again, the Bill provides that the authorities may declare a place free from infection after 56 days. They may not do it sooner, but the declaration that the place is free from pleuro-pneumonia may be delayed for months, owing to the caprice or the laziness of the officers appointed under the Bill. We think the Bill should be more definite on this point. I know of one case in which the declaration of freedom from infection was delayed for three months, and all that time, although it was winter, the cattle had to be kept in the field instead of being properly housed, and the owner sustained considerable loss. The owner ought to know his exact position. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will consider this point.
§ (3.35.) MR. CHAPLIN
I will with pleasure. I want clearly to understand one thing. I assume that the hon. Gentleman contemplates a condition of things where all the cattle have been slaughtered. In such a case a specific time might be mentioned for declaring the place free from infection. But if any of the cattle are left alive it will be quite impossible to fix a specific time.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I think it would be interesting if the right hon. Gentleman would give the Committee some information as to the officers to be appointed under the Bill. What will be the relations between the staff at headquarters and the Local Authorities, and what, approximately, will be the expense to be incurred? Of course, I am aware we cannot expect to have details, but I should like, if possible, a rough outline.
§ (3.36.) MR. CHAPLIN
I will with pleasure give what information I can. According to the estimates made by the Department of Agriculture, the additional sum required will be about £10,000 a year. It is impossible for me to take any steps for the creation of the staff until the Bill is passed; and it will be a month or six weeks after the Bill be- 585 comes law before everything can be satisfactorily arranged. I have in contemplation a staff that would be sufficient to carry out the instructions of the Board, as a reasonable forecast would estimate them to be. It is expected that the benefits to localities from the Bill will be so great that the cordial assistance and support of the Local Authorities will be given. We hope that our officers will work in perfect harmony and co-operation with the Local Authorities, but, at the same time, it will be necessary to be prepared for any opposite result; and in any case the work of inspection must be heavy.
§ *(3.38.) MR. WHARTON (York,W.R., Ripon)
I should like to ask whether the Board of Agriculture intend to employ the existing County Inspectors, as by doing so a considerable economy might be effected, and their local knowledge would be of great value. I think the Board of Agriculture will lose a great deal if they pass over these gentlemen in their appointments.
(3.39.) MR. USSLEMONT
I agree with the hon. Member who last spoke, but I should like to add that it is necessary that the Inspectors should be men in whom the counties have the greatest possible confidence. It would be a very unwise economy to appoint local Inspectors merely because they are such.
§ (3.40.) MR. T. M. HEALY
Might I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will consider, when the slaughtered animal has been found not to be infected with pleuropneumonia, the possibility of declaring the place free within two days? In such a case surely 56 days is too long a period to elapse before making the declaration.
§ *(3.41.) SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)
I think my right hon. Friend is quite right in saying he wishes to consult the views of the Local Authorities. I believe if he takes that course he would get from them valuable information as to who are the men likely to be most trusted by the county. I know that in my own county we have often wished for the opinion of a Government Inspector, because, however excellent a man the local officer may be, he is liable, like other people, to make mistakes. In all counties, however, there 586 are men pre-eminently qualified to carry out these duties, and if the right hon. Gentleman gets his information locally from the best men I hold it will be of great advantage, not only to his Department, but also to the country.
§ (3.43.) MR. CHAPLIN
I hope that the hon. Member for Longford will not ask me to bind myself at present to a specific number of days for the cases which the hon. Member has mentioned. I certainly think, however, that where all the animals have been slaughtered a place might be declared free within a much shorter period than 56 days. The Board will certainly endeavour to consult Local Authorities, whose local knowledge will be essential to the effective working of the Act but I recognise the importance of having men upon whom the Board can thoroughly rely. Every endeavour shall be made on the part of the Board to see, that this is done. We are already taking measures to ascertain every centre of the country in which pleuro-pneumonia exists, and where we are likely to get the most effectual assistance.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2.
§ (3.46.) MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
The Amendment I have to move raises a very important question. The amount to be paid out of the Imperial Exchequer is £140,000, but, in the event of there being a deficiency, it is to be supplied out of the local taxation accounts of England and Scotland. Now, there is a very important principle involved in this. The local taxation funds are already the property of the ratepayers, and it has always been held that the expenditure of such funds should be managed by the representatives of the locality. But, according to this Bill, the rnoney required to make up the deficit will be taken from the rates by the Board of Agriculture, a Board over which the ratepayers will have no control. The result will be that as there is no limit placed on the expenditure of the Board, it may spend £300,000, of which £160,000 will be taken out of local taxation. Grants were given to localities on condition that they should be hypothecated by Parliament to purposes that were new. It is contrary to the principles of representative Government that localities should be assessed by the 587 Imperial Government for Imperial purposes, and that they should be called upon to pay sums out of local taxation by a Board which they have no right to call to account. Hitherto the money has been found by the Local Bodies, but then those bodies had control over its expenditure, and, as a result of their good management, the expense was small. In Glasgow, for instance, we have during the past five years spent only £400 a year under the Contagious Diseases Animals Act. Now, if you are going to take the management out of the hands of Local Bodies, it is only reasonable that the Board of Agriculture should bear all the cost. Under the Bill the assessment to make up the deficiency will fall equally upon the boroughs and counties: but in the past only one-fourth of the cost has fallen upon the boroughs, while the counties have had to bear three-fourths, which shows that this is a matter which affects the counties much more than it does the boroughs. In Scotland the rental of the burghs is exactly equal to the rental of the counties, so that the proposed arrangement will give three times as much to the counties as to the burghs. We, who represent the burghs in Scotland, know very well that nearly all the Conservative Members represent counties in Scotland, and we can understand a Conservative Government granting more relief to the counties than to the burghs. Indeed, one of our great complaints in regard to Scotch legislation is that the burgh ratepayer is always worse treated than the county ratepayer. I, therefore, move to omit Sub-section 4, on the ground that the whole expense of the working of the Act should be paid out of Imperial funds, and that the sub-section imposes the burden to an unfair extent on the boroughs.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 13, to leave out Sub-section (4).—(Mr. Caldwell.)
That the words, 'if in any financial year the money standing to that account is insufficient to defray the execution of this Act in Great Britain,' stand part of the Clause.
§ (3.53.) DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
I have a suggestion to make which, I think, if adopted, will facilitate the progress of this measure. This is 588 the clause which raises the question of the mode of payment. So far as Scotland is concerned, the Government is not satisfied with the mode of payment provided in the clause, and the Lord Advocate proposed that, instead of the deficiency being made up out of the funds for pauper lunatics, it should be made up out of the new taxes on beer and whisky. The House has not agreed to that yet; and on the very sound principle affirmed last night, that until the House has had an opportunity of discussing the purpose for which a tax is to be levied, it. should not be imposed, it is obvious that it is premature to apply to the expenses to be incurred under this Act taxes which have not yet been agreed to. I, therefore, suggest that the House should defer the consideration of the machinery for the payment of the expenses, for which, if necessary, the Bill can be recommitted before the Third Reading. This would probably save time, because there are a number of Amendments on the Paper, and if the Government persist in pressing this clause, we shall be obliged to discuss those Amendments.
§ *(3.58.) MR. D. CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
I think there is a good deal of reason in the suggestion of my hon. Friend. As the Government are well aware, the proposal to supply the deficiency in Scotland out of the grant for pauper lunatics has caused a great outcry, and it is now admitted to be indefensible. The Government have, consequently, made a fresh proposal to set apart certain Customs and Excise Duties for the purpose. But the Bill appropriating these duties to the purpose is not before the House, and, that being so, I submit that the position to-day is analogous to the position yesterday, when the Government postponed the consideration of certain clauses.
§ *(3.59.) MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
The hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division seems to think that there are no Liberal Members for Scotch counties. Whatever may be the case in the West of Scotland, it certainly is not so in the East. If the proportions in which the counties and burghs have contributed in the past has been correctly stated, my contention is that the burghs have paid too little, for they are directly benefited, and they are the points of 589 entry through which the cattle reach the districts in the counties. Therefore, I say the counties have aright to expect that the boroughs shall bear their share in securing that the cattle shall be introduced in a good, sound, and healthy condition. The boroughs derive almost the entire benefit of the trade carried on in foreign cattle, inasmuch as the middleman and the consumer, as well as the Dock Companies and the shipping trade, that obtain the advantage derived from that traffic. Therefore, if the counties pay three-fourths of the cost of slaughtering deceased cattle they pay too much, and have a right to demand that the boroughs shall have a fair charge laid upon them in connection with the enforcement of the Act. I have no objection to foreign cattle coming to this country; but we know it is the foreign competition that has brought down the price of home-grown cattle. This is a very good thing for the consumers, the bulk of whom reside in the boroughs, and who, therefore, ought to pay the greater portion of the charge.
§ *(4.2.) MR. HOZIER (Lanark, S.)
I wish to emphasiza the arguments which have been put forward by my right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Marjoribanks). We, in the County of Lanark, have suffered more than any other part of Scotland from pleuro-pneumonia, and we attribute that to a great extent to the fact that deceased cattle are landed in Glasgow, whence the infection is distributed through Lanarkshire and the rest of the kingdom.
§ (4.4.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
In my opinion, the whole cost should be thrown upon the counties; but before entering on that question I wish to call attention to the position in which we are placed. I hope the Government will tell us what course they are going to pursue. We are in this difficulty, that the proposal of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell) has completely changed the original character of the Amendment of which the Lord Advocate gave notice at Sub-section 6. The Amendment put down at Sub-section 4 of this clause is, in some degree, met by the Amendment of the Lord Advocate to Subsection 6. The difficulty is that we cannot discuss Sub-section 4 without also discussing the Lord Advocate's Amendment, which comes at a later stage of the Bill. 590 I think it would be an advantage if that part of the question could be postponed. The matter is one of great importance to Scotland. We have four proposals before us; one proposal is to take the expenses out of the Consolidated Fund; another is to take it out of the rates altogether; another to take it from the county rates; and the fourth, that the Government is to take it out of the new tax which is to be created by a Bill which has not yet been read a second time, and posssibly may never be passed. I think it would be highly inconvenient that the proposal we are discussing should be carried, and then left in the air because it is entirely dependent on the passing of another Bill. If this Bill is passed, which is very likely, inasmuch as it is supported by the Government, it would leave this Committee proposing to supplement any deficiency out of moneys to be levied by a tax not yet imposed; and if that tax be not imposed this Bill will have no effect as regards Scotland, or could only be made effectual by throwing the whole amount on the General Fund. I doubt very much whether that could be done; and I suppose it would be necessary at the last moment to re-commit the Bill for the purpose of dealing with the matter, or else to insert a provision when the Bill reaches the House of Lords. I should like to hear from the Government how they propose to obtain the money, and whether they do not think the best course would be to leave the question of Scotland out of the Bill altogether, or to postpone this clause until the money can be found under the Lord Advocate's-Bill.
§ (4.8.) MR. ESSLEMONT
I must join issue with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell). It ill becomes him to taunt counties for representing Conservatism, seeing that Glasgow, with her seven Members, send three to vote with the Government. I must also join issue with my hon. Friend the Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce), in respect to the apportionment. It would be easy to show that the burghs are equally if not more benefited than the counties.
§ (4.9.) MR. JEFFREYS (Basingstoke)
I trust the Government will not give way on this clause. Hitherto the counties have paid more than their fair share of 591 the cost of the Act, and it appears to me to be a matter in which the boroughs are much more interested than the counties. We in the counties have to supply the boroughs with milk, which is a very important article of consumption, and cannot be imported from abroad. If pleuro-pneumonia once gets into the dairies it stops the supply of milk, to the great detriment of the town consumers. The counties already have spent enormous sums in endeavouring to stamp out this disease, and I think it quite time that the boroughs should be called upon to pay their fair share.
§ (4.10.) MR. J. MACDONALD CAMERON (Wick)
I think there is a great deal in what has been said by my hon. Friend (Mr. Bryce) in regard to the Amendment of the Lord Advocate for providing the money. I have an Amendment of my own upon the Paper, but I do not propose to move it now. I hope, however, the right hon. Gentleman will concur in the proposal that the chaise should be postponed, so that it may be brought up for subsequent discussion. If it be true that the counties have hitherto paid three-fourths, and the boroughs only one-fourth of the cost of enforcing the Act, the difference is exceedingly unfair to the counties; and I hope the Government will persist in their endeavour to make the burden as equable as possible. In Gloucestershire there can be no doubt that 9–10ths of the disease amongst our cattle is disseminated through the Port of Bristol. That being so, it is monstrous that the Gloucestershire dairies should have to bear the whole of the burden. This is not, and must not, be allowed to be a Party question.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I must express my surprise that the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Bryce) should have suggested that Scotland should be omitted altogether from the operation of the Bill.
§ (4.12.) MR. CHAPLIN
Every Amendment on the Paper refers to Scotland, and to Scotland alone, and in making such a proposition the hon. Gentleman is practically asking us to postpone the whole Bill. I admit that it is something of an anomaly that we should be looking for a portion of our funds to a Bill which 592 has not yet been read a second time. I must decline to contemplate the possibility of that Bill not being carried during the Session, but I admit the force of the objection taken by hon. Gentlemen. My alternative will lie either in limiting my expenses, or in taking some measures before the final stages which would admit of the introduction of another Bill. The explanation which I have to give will, I hope, bo satisfactory. I am not going to enter into any controversy between the boroughs and the counties, further than to say that, although in times past it might be the case that the boroughs had to pay only only one-fourth and the counties three-fourths for all the animals slaughtered in consequence of pleuro-pneumonia, that was no guarantee of what their relative position might become under the Bill. The information which I received from those gentlemen who assist me, and whose opinions are more to be relied on than those of any others, is that the cost to the boroughs might, in the future, be very heavy, because; in the large boroughs pleuro-pneumonia undoubtedly prevailed more than anywhere else. Whatever may be the case with regard to the past, the boroughs will find that they will no longer occupy the same advantageous position with respect to the counties. But the whole of the additional cost to be raised from local resources is so comparatively small and trivial that it is not worth while to discuss the matter at any great length. I stated on the Second Reading that this was a question upon which it was impossible, from the nature of the case, to obtain an accurate estimate. But I have had a great many estimates made with great care, and the most extravagant estimate is from £200,000 to £250,000, at the outside. I am provided with £160,000, to begin with, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, in addition, I shall have all the money derived from the sale of the carcases of the animals slaughtered. I cannot say how much will be derived from that source, but I shall be greatly disappointed if I do not receive a considerable sum. I cannot conceive, even at the worst, that I shall have to ask for more than £50,000 from local resources; and I believe that sum to be an extravagant one. Supposing we are called upon to provide 593 that sum, how could it fall upon Scotland? It is to be provided at the rate of 18 per cent. by England, and 12 per cent. by Scotland. So that, really assuming the worst, I estimate that the sum Scotland will be called upon to pay will range from £5,000 to £7,000, and that would have to be distributed among the whole of the Local Authorities of the country. Really and truly, regarded in that way, the cost which is to fall upon the counties and the boroughs becomes inappreciable. I hope, and still think, the small call will not be required, and under the circumstances I hope the Committee will allow the Bill to proceed. This Bill is accepted by all sides of the House, and hon. Members are anxious to see it pass; but, knowing the state of public business, suppose it was not possible to find a further opportunity of discussing this measure do you think that the constituencies, which have been so ably represented by the Members for Scotland, would be very well pleased at the loss of the Bill? I would remind the House that the Board of Agriculture has power at the present moment to insist on the Local Authorities carrying out the Act with regard to slaughter; and if they do not do it, then the Central Authority can do it at their expense. I thought that was a position which ought to be remedied, and, therefore, I introduced this Bill, which, accepted by all who are specially interested, will be a great gain to the country, and I think, therefore, ought to be allowed to proceed.
§ DR. CAMERON
I think the right hon. Gentleman misapprehends the position we take up. Nothing is further from our thoughts than to prevent the Bill proceeding. When the Bill was drafted the right hon. Gentleman proposed to deal with a small surplus in a manner which may be satisfactory to English Members; but in the case of Scotland he proposes that a deficit, which may possibly amount to £7,000, should be taken out of the sum at present allocated to the maintenance of pauper lunatics. That was so very questionable a proposal that an outcry was raised in Scotland, and it was abandoned. I do not enter into any discussion about counties and boroughs. The right hon. Gentleman says they should bear the expense equally, and upon that point we are at one. But the Government have been obliged to 594 make another proposal for obtaining the residue of the money required for carrying out the Act, and the Lord Advocate proposes to allocate a sum from the new duty on spirits and beer. I believe almost every Scotch Member is opposed to the imposition of the new Whisky Duty. But we protest, from independent and Constitutional considerations, so far as Scotland is concerned, against being committed to the expenditure of a tax which we consider to be most unjustly levied upon Scotland. The injustice of it has only become apparent since yesterday, when the Government issued a Return intended to show the equity of their proposal. We were told on Friday night that Scotland was receiving £18,000 more than she contributed as her share to the Probate Duty, but the Government Return issued yesterday shows that she will have to pay £52,000 more than her share in connection with this new tax. Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a fair-minded man, and when these figures are pointed out to hirn he will incontinently abandon his proposal as indefensible. Then what becomes of the financial provisions of this Bill, so far as any deficit is concerned, if the Government have to rely upon the Amendment of the Lord Advocate, which would then not be worth the paper it is written on? The proposal I make does not mean the discussion of the whole question again. My hon. Friend (Mr. Caldwell) might object to the incidence as between the counties and boroughs, but that is the only point that would be left for discussion. But if you proceed with this now, we shall be obliged to discuss the whole of the Amendments, which will be absolutely useless, and we shall be obliged to discuss the Lord Advocate's Amendment, and certainly in nine cases out of 10 it will simply be a waste of time. On these grounds I urge the postponement of this sub-section.
§ (4.26.) MR. LLEWELLYN
The hon. Member for St. Rollox has used the argument that the money has not been voted, and last night the argument was used that the money could not be voted until we had the details. Looking at the Amendments on the Paper, it is clear that the opposition is from the Borough Members. If we are to vote on this Amendment, I see no 595 reason why we should not at once go to a Division.
§ *(4.28.) MR. J. WILSON (Goran)
I find by the Returns that the expense connected with pleuro-pneumonia in Scotland, in 1887–8—
§ MR. CHAPLIN
As far as the expenditure of the money is concerned, England and Scotland share alike in all cases in the Common Fund. Scotland, in the event of a deficiency, is only called upon to subscribe 12 per cent., and England 18 per cent.
§ *MR. WILSON
So far as Scotland is concerned, the cost of stamping out this disease was £38,707 in 1887–8, but the actual amount spent in that year was £54,756. The proportion of the grant referring to Scotland under the new-arrangement would have been £16,800, the difference being, in round figures, the sum of £37,000. Therefore, the estimate of £7,000 as the whole of the amount that we would be called upon to pay out of the rates, is, I am afraid, rather fallacious. However, it is a good Bill; and I am sure the people will welcome it, but we really ought to see where the money is to come from, and the burden should not be laid upon the boroughs more than in the past. If the right hon. Gentleman requires more than the £140,000, it should be obtained from the rates as heretofore.
§ (4.30.) MR. C. GRAY (Maldon)
There would be no difficulty as to the money. I respectfully submit that you may meet the case by a 1s. poll tax on all foreign cattle.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 233; Noes 102.—(Div. List, No. 79.)
§ *(4.42.) MR D. CRAWFORD
I beg to move to insert in line 15, after "Great Britain," the words"(a) in England." The object of this Amendment is to give a different method of providing against any possible deficiency instead of that in the Bill. It is provided in the Bill that any deficiency that may occur is to be made good both in England and Scotland out of the local taxation accounts. That may be a very good plan in England, and I propose to distinguish the case of England by inserting these words. But it is not a good plan in Scotland, and accordingly, by consequential Amendments, I propose to provide the funds in another way. In the discussion it has 596 been said that the Government are not adhering to the plan for providing for this deficiency which they themselves suggest in the Bill. They first suggest that the money should be taken from the local grant in aid, conferred only last year on the Local Authorities for the benefit of pauper lunatics, and now they have departed from that and propose that the deficiency should continue to come out of the Local Taxation Account, but that instead of being derived from the grant for pauper lunatics it is to be derived from the proceeds of the Spirit Tax which the House has not yet assented to. Though that plan is free from the objections which might have been urged against the proposal to take the money from the grant for pauper lunatics, it is open to other objections of its own. What I would suggest is that the deficiency might very well continue to be levied both in counties and in burghs in the same way as the assessment under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act. The President of the Board of Agriculture says the sum required will be exceedingly small, and I hope his estimate will turn out to be correct. The machinery is there, and I think that would be the simplest way of making up any deficiency. I would not be a party to laying a new burden on the counties— as a County Member myself. This is not laying a new burden on the counties. Prom the enormous proportion of the tax the counties will be relieved by this Bill which we welcome and desire to see passed. The objections to the method of supplying the deficiency proposed by the Government are much greater than those to the method I now propose. The objections to the Government plan are these: We object to meeting the deficiency by a Bill which has not yet passed—and however inconvenient it may be, I find it necessary to make some reference to the provisions of the Bill itself. A share of the Spirit Tax will be granted under it to the Local Authorities in Scotland, and that money will be apportioned in a particular way. It will give so much for the superannuation of the police and so much for compensation to be paid to holders of licences which are to be abolished; and, finally, it will say that the rest of the Spirit Tax is to be chargeable with the deficiency we are dealing 597 with in this Bill. There is a great deal in that Bill which almost all of us object to in toto; therefore, we do not want to make it a vehicle for enacting the necessary provision required under the present Bill. But we have a more specific objection than that. It says that a sum of £40,000 is to be given for the completion of the free education system in Scotland. We know that that sum is not sufficient, and we are at a loss to know why the Government—after having, as we thought, given us free education in Scotland last year—should tinker with the question by giving us another driblet instead of completing the edifice. We arc exceedingly anxious that sufficient money should be got for the purpose now that we have entered upon the policy of freeing education in Scotland. On that ground I object to the proceeds of the Spirit Tax being diminished for an unnecessary purpose, such as is contained in this Bill. I should think that nearer £70,000 than £40.000 will be required for freeing Scotch education, and I object to any deduction for other purposes from sums which can be made available to complete the system of free education.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 15, after "Britain," insert "(a) In England."— (Mr. Donald Crawford.)
§ (4.53.) THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON,) Bute
I must say the hon. Member has introduced into the Debate very various and very controversial subjects, and I must deprecate the tone of his remarks. I have noticed that several speeches which have come from the opposite side have been characterised by the warmth of their controversial tone. The object which I have in view is to facilitate the Committee in coming to a decision on what is, after all, a very small practical question. It should be borne in mind that the amount that has to be provided for is contingent, and is almost certain to be very small. It will probably be £4,000 or £5,000 at the outside. The amount is to be distributed over the whole of Scotland, and what we have to do is to find a ready means of enabling the President of the Local Government Board to put his hands on the money without delay or embarrassment. That points to a Central Fund. The first objection 598 I have to the Amendment is that it will, for this wretched sum of £4,000 or £5,000, make the President of the Local Government Board creditor for all the counties and burghs in Scotland, and will require him to go down and pick up the wretched fragments pertaining to each community. That is altogether inconsistent with the scheme of the Bill, which is approved by both sides of the House —that scheme being that the question should be dealt with as a matter of administration in which the whole community is interested. It is true that the proposal of the Government is to attach a fund which has not yet come into existence, and I admit that the objection to the proposal on that ground is plausible. It is said that it is problematical whether the Whisky Duty will really be imposed; but, to say the least, there is certainly an even chance that the duty will be imposed and that the fund will be available. However, to meet the objection of the hon. Member opposite, I am willing, if the Committee will now agree to the proposal to attach liability to the proceeds of the Whisky Tax, to undertake that the Bill shall not be passed until a decision shall have been come to upon the question of the imposition of the tax.
§ (4,56.) SIR G. TREVELYAN
I think there is a great deal in the contention of the Lord Advocate. I am one of those who hold in the strongest manner that the liability for any deficiency ought to fall on the counties where diseased animals are killed; but, as the principle of local liability has been abandoned, it is useless to attempt to revive it when only such small sums as will be required to make good deficiencies are in question. If they have recourse to the county and burgh rates in order to make good the deficiency of £5,000 or £7,000 in Scotland, the work of collection will be quite disproportionate to the sum collected. The Government, I understand, having undertaken the duty of suppressing pleuro-pneumonia, are prepared, in the last resort, to throw the whole expense on the Treasury.
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
Nevertheless it must be the inevitable result of the course which the Government are 599 pursuing. Supposing that the Spirit Duty proposal is not agreed to, there will be very good grounds for urging the Government to supply the deficiencies in respect of the slaughter of diseased cattle from other Imperial sources. I should myself strongly oppose the additional duty on spirits; but pending the decision of the House upon that question, I think we might well leave the matter under consideration as it stands at present.
§ (5.0.) MR. MARJORIBANKS
I think it is utterly unreasonable that we should go on wrangling about a small remnant which is mere surplusage. If this is going to be a large amount, the more reason why it should be borne by the Imperial Exchequer. All these new proposals should be charged upon Imperial Funds, and this is recognised by the proposal for the new Whisky Tax. It is useless to discuss now whether that proposal will pass the House or not. If it does not pass, then the Government must find some other means of meeting this remnant. County Members cannot submit to the proposal that this remnant, be it big or small, should be charged on the county rates. I shall certainly give most determined opposition to any proposal to charge the deficit on county or borough
§ (5.1.) MR. BRYCE
I do not think my right hon. Friend quite appreciates the position taken up by the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Crawford). This is not a question as between burghs and counties. This Amendment is the first of a series leading up to the proposal to provide this compensation from local taxation accounts.
I should here mention that it appears to me that the decision of the Committee upon the Amendment now before us will decide all the other Amendments on the Paper involving the question of differential treatment.
§ MR. BRYCE
I thank you, Sir, for explaining that. I was going to point out what I conceive to be the effect of the Amendment. It is really a question as to taking the money as regards Scotland as well as England out of local taxation accounts, and not whether we should treat it differently in England and Scotland. The Lord Advocate anticipates that the deficiency will be small in 600 amount, and he has suggested that the House should reserve its control over the Bill until the question of the imposition of the new Spirit Duty is decided, and that, I think, is a fair offer. There is, however, one difficulty. After the allocation of the proposed tax to the purposes set out, the "residue" is to be applied for purposes of pleuropneumonia, in conformity with an Amendment which the Lord Advocate has yet to move to the Bill. But suppose, for the sake of argument, we withdraw our Amendments, that we agree the money shall come from local taxation, that the proposal of the Lord Advocate is accepted, and that the Customs and Excise Bill is read a second time; and we on this side of the House—I think I may say universally—are prepared to urge in Committee that the sum allotted for the relief of school fees is inadequate; if we have assented to taking the "residue" for pleuro-pneumonia purposes, are we thereby precluded from insisting that all the money that can possibly be taken shall be devoted to freeing school fees? Either we must oppose the proposal of the Lord Advocate now with a view to the contention we intend to raise on the Customs and Excise Bill for the purpose of free education, or we must have a complete and explicit declaration that the question shall be considered entirely res Integra, and that we shall not be met with the objection that we cannot increase the sum for free education, the residue having already been appropriated.
§ (5.6.) MR. ESSLEMONT
I hope the question of differential rates will not be pressed now upon such a small sum, but I would ask the Lord Advocate, with whose opinion and remarks I agree so far, whether it is worth while to ask the Committee to commit itself to his proposition now? If we understand that the deficit shall be raised from some Imperial rate, we shall be quite content to leave the matter open, and the passing of this Bill will be facilitated.
§ (5.7.) DR. CAMERON
That, I think, is a sensible suggestion; it is, in fact, the suggestion I made before the last Division, and which, if the Government-had accepted it, we might have been fairly through the Bill by this time. Let the Lord Advocate leave the Bill, as, regards Scotland, in the position in which 601 it now stands for the present, deferring the proposition he is pledged to make to a later stage.
§ *(5.8.) MR. D. CRAWFORD
I am anxious to take the course suggested by my hon. Friends, and I do not wish to press my Amendment, but I hope the Government will give an assurance that our position on the question of payments in relief of school fees under the Customs and Excise Bill shall be considered as intact.
§ (5.9.) MR. CHAPLIN
There is one consideration that presses in this matter, and which, perhaps, I should have mentioned before. As a matter of fact this disease is spreading rapidly; the Committee will regret to learn that the last Returns are most unfavourable. This means that every day I am denied the power of dealing' with this disease the loss becomes greater. If the Bill is held over, as hon. Members desire, I trust it may not be for any considerable period, for ultimately it means greatly increased cost to Scotland as well as England; the loss will certainly be greater than anything you can hope to gain. I am, therefore, anxious to come to an understanding which would facilitate the passing of the measure. The utmost limit to which I feel disposed to go is this—that while I decline to admit the possibility of the other Bill not passing, I would undertake that until that Bill does pass, or other means are provided, I will not exceed the amount to be received from Imperial sources.
§ (5.11.) DR. CAMERON
But what are we to understand? The Lord Advocate gave us an assurance that the Bill should not leave our control until the principle of the other Bill was affirmed, but the right hon. Gentleman throws over his Colleague, and says, "I must make progress with the Bill." Are we to place upon the words of the Lord Advocate that reliance which on Scotch matters we usually attach to anything he says on behalf of the Government, orare we to consider him as subordinate in this matter to the decision of a Cabinet Minster? I certainly think the proposal for meeting the residue should be left in skeleton, as it stands, to be filled in afterwards by the Lord Advocate's proposal, or in some other way that may 602 suggest itself. If that is done we are ready to forego contention now.
§ (5.13.) MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
As an English county member I would just say a word in support of the suggestion of the Minister for Agriculture. This is a Bill for the prevention of a disease that does infinite injury, and it is very important that it should be carried into law, and I think that the offer of the Government ought to be accepted.
§ (5.14.) MR. ESSLEMONT
I must say the discussion is being carried on at needless length. Now, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin) has said that if the worst comes to the worst he will do without more money, and, under these circumstances, I again appeal to the Lord Advocate not to press his proposal with regard to the Spirit Duties now, but to leave it open, and the Bill will proceed fairly and smoothly.
(5.15.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNER-MAN (Stirling, &c.)
I quite agree that would facilitate matters, but unfortunately some sort of Amendment of the kind is absolutely necessary, unless we are to fall back upon the Pauper Lunatic Fund. All that we want on this side of the House is that it shall be explicitly understood that we are not, either technically or, as I might say, morally disqualified from discussing this matter fully when we come to deal with it later.
§ (5.17.) MR. CHAPLIN
I think we have made every effort to meet hon. Gentlemen opposite. My right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate made a proposal which, I understood, was not accepted by hon. Members opposite and I then made another. As I said before, I decline to admit the possibility of the Licensing Bill not passing, but I have no hesitation in repeating my undertaking to confine the money spent for the purpose of the Bill to £160,000, until that Bill is passed or some other way settled.
§ (5.19.) DR. CAMERON
In that case I do not see that we want the Amendment of the Lord Advocate to Subsection 5 of Clause 6, and the simplest plan will be to strike out the Subsection, leaving the matter practically open. I do not think that the proposal of the Lord Advocate that we should retain control of this Bill, pending the decision of the House on the other Bill, was objected to except by the right hon. 603 Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin) himself who seemed determined to push his Bill through. [Interruptions.] I have no wish to impede the Bill, and did not impede the Second Reading; but there are matters of detail which closely affect our constituencies. Our best plan, I think, will be to drop the Amendments relating to Scotland until we come to Clause 5, and then take a Division on Sub-section 5 of that clause.
§ (5.25.) MR. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)
Delay in passing this Bill will be a public misfortune, and I hope the Government will not agree to indefinitely postpone its discussion. A few days' delay will cause a greater expenditure than the whole of the sum which is now being discussed, which only amounts to some £4,000 to £7,000.I hope and believe that, if the Act is vigorously carried out, the sum required next year will be much smaller.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 5.
§ (5.30.) MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to this clause. There is nothing in the Bill which would prevent the expenditure of £140,000 in England, but I notice that the contribution from the Treasury to Ireland is restricted to £20,000. That is not equality of treatment. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture may be aware that in March an enormous number of cattle were slaughtered in Dublin with the object of stamping out the cattle disease. If the compensation for these cattle is to come out of the £'20,000, the sum may be exhausted, and any further amount required would have to come out of the rates. I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should make some provision in this clause for an additional grant to cover the amount that has already been expended.
§ (5.32.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
As the learned Attorney General for Ireland has entered the House I wish to press on his attention the point raised by my hon. Friend. The slaughter of cattle for disease in Ireland takes place almost exclusively in Dublin, and the result is that a very oppressive burden 604 has fallen on the North and South Dublin Unions. I wish to ask whether those Unions will be compensated out of the £20,000 for the special burden that has fallen on them in this respect; and I desire also to know what security we have that those Unions will in the future be saved from loss?
§ (5.34.) MR. CHAPLIN
The £20,000 will go on from year to year, and, if it be not all spent in the first year, it will mount up. It is quite true that a large number of cattle have been slaughtered in Ireland, but I apprehend that the expenditure next year is not likely to be as great as it has been recently. The £20,000, therefore, will not probably be all spent.
§ (5.37.) MR. SEXTON
The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to have understood our contention. What we desire to know is whether any special step will be taken by which the amount spent by these two Unions out of the rates will be made good to them?
*(5.37.) MR, MADDEN
No doubt the greater amount of the cost of stamping out pluro-pneumonia has fallen on Dublin. I think I can promise that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary will give his attention to the subject and will consider whether the clause in the Bill is adequate and gives the necessary relief.
§ (5.38.) MR. MAHONY (Meath, N.)
May I point out that, as the clause is drawn at present, the first year is unfairly burdened? The £20,000 to be given for the first year will really be required to meet the debts of pre-the clause in the Bill is adequate to join the necessary relief.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 6.
§ (5.39.) DR. CAMERON
I beg to move the omission from this clause of Sub-sections 4 and 5. If my Amendment be accepted, the result will be to enable the Bill to come into operation at once. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin) has told us that he does not propose to exceed the expenditure of £160,000, and that it is of the very first importance that he should be able to incur that expenditure. There is no reason why, if these two sub-sections were omitted from the Bill, the measure should not come into force to-morrow.
605 The Government propose to provide for the deficit in a manner that must necessarily give rise to a considerable amount of controversy. They propose to levy a tax to which a large number of the Scottish Members are opposed. The Lord Advocate proposes to divert from free education a sum of money with which to pay compensation to landowners for the slaughtering of their cattle arising from pleuro-pneumonia. It is all very well to say the Government fully agrees to the understanding that nothing contained in this Bill is to be held as prejudicing us when we come to discuss the provisions of the Licensing Bill. But if we have spent the money here we may discuss until we are black in the face and we will not be able to get it back. The obvious cause to prevent any complication is to oppose now the application of this money. I beg to move the omission of Subsections 4 and 5.
§ Amendment proposed, page 4, line 14, leave out sub-sections 4 and 5.—(Dr. Cameron.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out; stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. CALDWELL
I think the Government might readily accept this Amendment, which is really proposed with the view of carrying out their intentions. The deficiency is to be debited to the Local Taxation (Scotland) Account, and these sub-sections state what accounts are to be debited with the deficiency—one is the Probate Duty, and the other is the sum paid to Parochial Boards in respect to lunatics. The Lord Advocate's proposal is that neither of these two accounts are to be debited with the deficiency.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON,) Bute
Sub-section 4 has nothing whatever to do with Scotland.
§ MR. CALDWELL
With regard to Sub-section 5. the Government have pledged themselves to find the money in another way. Certainly, the Scotch Members have only one course to adopt, and that is, to resist the taking of the money from pauper lunatics.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out subsection (5).—(Dr. Cameron.)
That the words 'All moneys paid under this Act out of or into the Local Taxation (Scot-laud) Account shall in account be charged against' Stand part of the Clause.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I am afraid I cannot agree to the omission of Sub-section 5. Personally, I look forward to the passing of the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill.
§ MR. BRYCE
The matter is left in a very unsatisfactory position. The right hon. Gentleman wishes to retain the subsection because he is convinced the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill will pass. We intend to oppose that Bill, and we think it is very likely we shall defeat it, or, at any rate, very largely modify the application of funds under it. By accepting the Lord Advocate's Amendment we put ourselves in the position of assenting to a provision which we do not intend to carry out and which we intend to oppose. The best suggestion made so far is that we should pass the Report stage of this Bill until after the other Bill has been disposed of.
§ DR. CAMERON
The right hon. Gentleman is a young Minister, but he is already an adept in the phraseology of office. I am an old Parliamentary hand, and have heard too many vague declarations by Ministers to be satisfied with the promise of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. MARJORIBANKS
We want to bind the Government to find the money by a particular method of taxation of some sort or other, and, therefore, I shall support them on this occasion.
§ (5.50.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 26]; Noes 110.—(Div. List, No. 80.)
In page 4, line 18, to leave out from the word "against" to the end of sub-saction (5), and insert the words "or credited in manner
provided by any Act hereafter passed respecting the application of any Customs or Excise Duties paid to the Local Taxation (Scotland) Account.—(The Lord Advocate.)
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be loft out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ (6.10.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 253; Noes 108.—(Div. List, No. 81.)
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Friday next, at Two of the clock.