HC Deb 26 June 1891 vol 354 cc1590-1
MR. LENG (Dundee)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, having regard to the various important interests affected by the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Bill, recently introduced by him, and the impossibility, at this late period of the Session, of fully discussing the objections advanced by a large body of shipowners against the powers it would confer on the Board over which he presides, he will postpone the Second Reading of the Bill, with the view of introducing it in an amended form early next Session?

MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)

Is it not true that a ship has recently arrived at Liverpool, in which more than half the cargo of cattle had been lost on the passage, and is it not desirable that steps should be taken to prevent such suffering to the animals as must have occurred in such a case?


In answer to the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lea), I have to say that it is the case, I believe, that the steamship Hildgarde arrived at Birkenhead on the 17th of this month, having lost no less than 58 cattle out of a cargo of 110. The losses, I am led to understand, arose mainly from the fact of the fittings having given way, and from the injuries received by the animals from being loose and washed about on deck, but I am endeavouring to obtain further information on the subject. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Leng) is entirely mistaken in supposing that the Bill in question confers any new powers whatever upon the Board, except the power of conducting inquiries into the causes of loss among cattle at sea. The Board has full powers already to issue such orders and to make such regulations as may be necessary for the protection of animals from unnecessary suffering at sea. The Bill in question has been introduced in the hope of meeting some of the objections which are entertained by the shipowning interest to the existing powers of the Board, and it is, in my judgment, in the nature of a concession to their views rather than otherwise. But I have no intention at all at this period of the Session of attempting to press any measure on this subject to which serious opposition is offered. In that case, it will be my duty, under the existing powers of the Board, to issue such regulations as may seem to be needed in order to deal with the condition of affairs and the terrible sufferings which have been disclosed as too often occurring among cattle at sea in the Report of the Departmental Committee. I may add that I am, and have been, in frequent communication with representatives of various sections of the shipowning interest upon this question, and although I confess, from the attitude at present of some of those representatives, I am not very sanguine of the result, I have not yet abandoned the hope of arriving at an agreement on the subject.