§ SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether the recent restrictions placed on the movement of animals in the Metropolis, involving 302 enormous loss to the home cattle trade of the Metropolitan market, were imposed upon the mere assumption that foot-and-mouth disease existed in the London cowsheds; if the restrictions were imposed upon the suspicion of the disease existing in the London cowsheds, what reason exists for the recession of the safeguard adopted against the spread of disease from such sheds—namely, the order prohibiting the removal of cows from the sheds without an order from ail inspector; and whether any assurance can be given that in future the Board of Agriculture will return to its former policy of not imposing restrictions upon a market or district until disease has actually been discovered within dangerous proximity.
§ MAJOR F. C. RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
May I ask before the question is answered whether a certain amount of disease does not exist within 20 miles of the Metropolitan market?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. GARDNER, Essex, Saffron Walden)
Yes, Sir. Towards the end of last year outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease occurred within a few days of each other at Rainham, in Essex, Linton, in Cambridgeshire, and Sittingbourne, in Kent. It seemed reasonable to conclude that these outbreaks had a common origin, the metropolitan area being the most probable centre of the disease, and I therefore felt it my duty to prohibit the movement of animals out of that area until such time as a thorough examination of the London cowsheds could be made. I am well aware of, and much regret, the inconvenience and loss occasioned to the Metropolitan dealers and others in consequence of the order, but I felt bound to do everything in my power to prevent a general epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease, a disaster which at one time seemed imminent. The cowsheds order, to which the hon. Member refers in the second paragraph of his question, was directed against pleuro-pneumonia, and it was not revoked until some weeks after the danger of foot-and-mouth disease had passed away. I have not in any respect changed my general policy in these matters, but the precautionary measures to be taken must depend upon the circumstances present in each particular case.