HC Deb 10 March 1892 vol 2 cc537-9

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, the importation of cattle from Denmark having been prohibited by Order in Council since 1st February, and it having been clearly shown by evidence officially taken in that country that no foot-and-mouth disease has existed there for many years, or exists now, he will intimate when he proposes to remove the prohibition, and so re-open a very important branch of trade materially affecting the wants of consumers in the Metropolis and elsewhere?


It is true that, according to the latest official information which I have received, there is no evidence of the existence of foot-and-mouth disease in Denmark, and I believe that that country is free from it, and I have received assurances to that effect; but it does not follow that the Danish beasts, among which it was first discovered in the Metropolitan Market, had not contracted the disease before their arrival in England. The disease is known to be extremely prevalent across the Danish frontier, especially in Schleswig-Holstein; and, as hon. Members are no doubt aware, it can be conveyed with the greatest ease in a variety of ways; and I am still of opinion, from all the information I have before mo, that the Danish animals were infected with the disease before landing in this country. I must also demur to the assumption that the wants of consumers in the Metropolitan area and elsewhere are materially limited by the prohibition of the import of live animals from Denmark. The hon. Member is probably not aware how trifling these imports are in proportion to the whole meat supply of the country, and perhaps I may be allowed to state to the House, as it is a matter of some importance, what these imports are. It is estimated that the home produce constitutes nearly 70 per cent. of the whole consumption. Over 22 per cent. consists of imported dead meat. Seven per cent. consists of live importations from other than European countries; the live animals imported from European countries constitute less than 1 per cent. of the whole consumption of this country; and of that 1 per cent. less than one-third comes to us from Denmark. In view, then, of these facts, and of the loss and the inconvenience already entailed upon this country by the return of foot-and-mouth disease, and of the further loss which I am afraid, in spite of every exertion which has been made, and will be made, is still before us in the future, I am clearly of opinion that this is not the time to relax any precautions on the imports of cattle from abroad, and that, on the contrary, if I take further action at all, it must be in the direction of an increase of those restrictions rather than a diminution.