HC Deb 01 June 1891 vol 353 cc1373-4
MR. LENG (Dundee)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether his attention has been called to the statement in the Liverpool Journal of Commerce of 27th May, that For several days upwards of 1,000 head of Canadian fat cattle have been detained in consequence of a suspicion of pleuro-pneumonia existing. The suspected animal was slaughtered, and the lungs sent to London for examination. Yesterday afternoon a telegram was received stating that it was not a case of pleuro-pneumonia, and the whole of the cattle have been released; whether he is aware that a similar false alarm, detention, and release occurred last year at Dundee; whether, in the case of the cattle landed ex Lake Huron, they were duly inspected previous to shipment at Montreal, and branded with letters signifying that they were free from disease; whether the evidences of sporadic disease can be distinguished from those of pleuro-pneumonia; and whether, in view of the important interests involved, instructions will be given for a competent officer of the Board to examine the lungs of suspected animals at the port of landing, and so prevent the delay caused by forwarding them for examination to London?


It is not strictly accurate that upwards of 1,000 cattle from Canada were detained for several days in consequence of suspicion of pleuro-pneumonia. Two cargoes of cattle were landed about noon on May 24–603 from the steamship Huron, and 309 from the steamship Mongolian—and placed in the same shed. Upon inspection, one beast was found badly affected with some form of lung disease. The Inspector telegraphed next day to the Department that he had detained the cattle, and sent the lungs for examination to London. Upon the 26th—the day afterwards—the lungs were examined, and the animals were released about noon on the same day—that is to say, after being detained for 48 hours, and not for several days. All cattle coming from free countries, of which Canada is one, are detained by the orders which have been in force for many years for not less than 12 hours for inspection, and very commonly for 24. Some of the cattle were branded, but that would be no guarantee against disease; and sporadic disease, I am advised, can be distinguished by experts from pleuro-pneumonia. It is true that a similar case occurred at Dundee last year; but I am unable to accept the suggestion of the hon. Member to leave the decision in these cases to the unsupported opinion of an Inspector at the port. The question, in my opinion, is so serious—involving, as it does, the prohibition of Canadian cattle on the one hand, or their free admission into the country on the other—that it should only be decided, in my judgment, upon the best and most careful opinions that I can obtain.