HC Deb 16 August 1895 vol 36 cc149-51
MR. R. J. PRICE (Norfolk, E.)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture if he is aware that the present exclusion of Canadian store cattle has caused and is causing severe loss in some of our agricultural districts; and if he can see his way to removing the restriction?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask whether he is aware that cattle owners in all parts of the United Kingdom, with the exception of those in the constituency of the hon. Member for East Norfolk and some graziers in the north-east of Scotland, who are in the habit of importing Canadian store cattle and selling them in the market as the "best Scotch"—[Cries of "Order!"]—view with apprehension the removal of the restrictions?


I beg also to ask whether at this moment the right hon. Gentleman has information as to the existence of a single case of pleuro-pneumonia in the Dominion of Canada, and, if he has not, why is the restriction maintained?


I feel considerable difficulty in deciding which of the three questions should be answered first, because the two latter rather overshadow the question on the Paper. With regard to the question of my hon. and gallant Friend, I believe that as regards the greater part of the country what he states is absolutely accurate. I think the hon. Member for Dundee will find a reply to his question in the answer I am about to give to the question on the Paper. I am aware that in certain districts a desire is felt that the free importation of Canadian store cattle should be again allowed, but the question is one which I am bound to consider from the point of view of the interest of agriculturists generally, which, in my opinion, imperatively requires that every possible safeguard should betaken against the introduction of disease. So recently as the 10th ult. two animals landed in this country from Canada were found to be affected with pleuro-pneumonia, and, in view of this fact and of all the circumstances disclosed in the printed Papers which have been laid before the House, I have no alternative but to maintain in force the requirement that Canadian cattle shall be slaughtered at the port of landing.


Arising out of that answer, I beg to ask whether the representatives of the Government of Canada received any information with regard to the cases at Deptford, so that the agents could inquire as to the authenticity of those cases?


I am afraid I cannot tell whether the Board of Agriculture communicated the facts to the representatives of Canada, but we are in constant communication with the representatives of the Dominion both here and in Canada. No attempt is made to conceal in the smallest degree either the opinion of the Board or the facts they possess; and I believe the evidence will conclusively prove the facts to be as I have stated.