§ *MR. R. MCKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
Mr. Speaker, in calling attention to the Orders issued by the Board of Agriculture, I do not think there is any need to challenge the finding of the Committee of 1896, on which the policy of the Board of Agriculture has been based. That Committee came to this among other conclusions, that the amount of rabies fluctuated according to whether the Muzzling Order is or is not enforced all over the country. I cannot help observing that this particular conclusion of the Committee goes somewhat beyond the facts. The Committee found that rabies always increased when there is no muzzling and decreased when there is muzzling, but that conclusion is open to the obvious objection that rabies is a very old disease, and muzzling is a very new remedy; but, in spite of the antiquity of the complaint, its extent has always been very limited. What I would suggest as one reason why rabies has diminished under the practice of muzzling is that the police are able at once to detect stray and homeless dogs. I believe it is the fact that 5,000 stray dogs have been killed since the Muzzling 1738 Order has been enforced. It is an undoubted fact that amongst these curs of the street there have been numerous cases of rabies, and consequently it is quite reasonable to assume that the protection afforded by muzzling is not only a direct protection against rabies, but the provision of an easy method to the police to discover which are the stray and ownerless dogs. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture has laid it down as his policy that he is determined to stamp out rabies. Before such a policy as that can be carried out it is necessary to examine the characteristics of the disease. Taking them quite shortly, I find that they are fourfold. First, the period of incubation of rabies extends ever a time limited between one week and six months, although there have been cases—supposed cases—of a longer period of incubation than six months. Secondly, during incubation no symptom of rabies appears, and consequently the afflicted dog gives no sign that he is a victim of the disease while it is maturing. Thirdly, the disease, when it is finally matured, displays itself quite suddenly; and, fourthly, almost the very first symptom of rabies is an uncontrollable desire of the dog to go upon what is known as the "rabies tramp," which necessarily removes him from the control of his own owner. The usual extent of the rabies tramp is, I believe, 16 miles. I have seen a case of a dog having wandered as far as 80 miles on the first appearance of the symptoms of rabies. Now, Sir, such being the symptoms of the disease, it is obvious that if muzzling is to be efficacious at all there must be universal muzzling. I will not say that you will not get a diminution of disease under a partial system of muzzling, but if we are to stamp it out—and the right hon. Gentleman has laid it down as his policy that he wishes to stamp out all rabies—universal muzzling is absolutely essential. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman would disagree with that as a conclusion. [Mr. LONG: I do.] He does disagree. The right hon. Gentleman thinks partial muzzling is quite sufficient to stamp out rabies. Well, Sir, the evidence of the veterinary experts, and the general knowledge of the House, as to the symptoms 1739 of rabies, would probably lead the House to come to the conclusion, if we had the opportunity to vote on this question, that the right hon. Gentleman is wrong. But there may be, and no doubt there are, certain considerations which determine the Board of Agriculture not to inflict a universal Muzzling Order. So far as we can judge from the terms of the Orders themselves, those considerations appear to take rank in the following order: the first claims to consideration in the mind of the Board of Agriculture are the interests of the sporting community. Whatever the Board of Agriculture does to stamp out rabies, it must not touch the sporting interests of the community. The next, Sir, is a consideration, which I myself do not put forward, because I do not believe that the Board of Agriculture have been guilty of the charges which have been levelled against them. But it is an undoubted fact that throughout the country there has arisen an impression—I conclude it is a fact from the amount of correspondence I have received—that electoral considerations induce the Board of Agriculture from time to time to take off the Muzzling Order when a contest is about to take place. I do not put that forward myself as a reason, as I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman would be influenced by any electoral consideration; but I only warn him that the policy of the Board of Agriculture has given rise to those views very largely. The third consideration which has influenced the action of the Board of Agriculture is the interest of the health of the community, and on that ground partial muzzling is enforced. That is a consideration which naturally appeals to everyone, but it is a consideration which I venture to say this House thinks ought to be put first. It certainly ought not to be subordinated either to the interests of sportsmen or, as has been alleged, to the interests of electoral contests. Last of all, the right hon. Gentleman takes into account the interests of farmers. We find that sheep dogs, which ought to be absolutely unmuzzled in order to carry on their work, are muzzled, and that the interests of the farming community are seriously sacrificed. Now, no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us the reasons why he 1740 has not exempted the sheep dog and has freed the sporting dog from muzzling; but before we accept the views of the Board of Agriculture I think we have a right to complain of the recklessness and ignorance of the Board in regard to muzzling. The House must remember that these Orders are issued solely on the responsibility of the Board of Agriculture. It may have been thought that any Department of the Government which issued Orders of that kind would first have inquired what the scope and purport of those Orders were likely to be. I addressed a question to the right hon. Gentleman, asking him whether, under the exemption allowed to sporting dogs, terriers engaged in rabbit coursing would be included. The right hon. Gentleman did not know. He said whether they were or were not included was a matter for the determination of the lawyers. But, surely, before they issue those exemptions to all sporting dogs, the Board of Agriculture ought to have made up their mind as to the classes of dogs to be included as sporting dogs. An hon. Friend of mine addressed another question to the right hon. Gentleman. He asked whether dogs are to be compelled, under these Orders, to be muzzled in hotels or public-houses, and whether an hotel or a public-house was a public place for the purpose of these Orders. The right hon. Gentleman again did not know. Surely before the Board issue these Orders they ought to be satisfied as to their real meaning; and it is an instance of great recklessness and ignorance on their part not to inquire as to the scope of those measures before they foist them upon a very unwilling public. I will only make one comment upon the disingenuousness of a certain reply made by the Board of Agriculture. I ventured to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman as to the number of cases of rabies that had occurred in the last 10 years amongst sporting dogs. What was the right hon. Gentleman's answer? He answered that no cases had occurred.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. W. H. LONG,) Liverpool, West Derby
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. The hon. Gentleman's question had reference to the 1741 exemptions which applied to sporting dogs.
§ *MR. MCKENNA
I will give the right hon. Gentleman full credit for the ingenuity of his reply. I asked the right hon. Gentleman the number of cases of rabies which had occurred amongst sporting dogs, and the right hon. Gentleman answered, with great accuracy, that no cases of rabies had occurred amongst sporting dogs while they were engaged in sport. Of course, I knew that, and I suppose every person in the kingdom knew it before the question was put. No doubt, if rabies broke out among a pack of hounds, that pack of hounds would not have been engaged in sport. But the right hon. Gentleman's answer, if strictly true, was somewhat disingenuous if the Board of Agriculture are willing—as I submit they ought to be willing—to give to hon. Members in this House the information which they have reasonable ground for asking for. Now, Sir, as to the question whether rabies does occur among sporting dogs or not, I do not think that on the evidence there can be a shadow of doubt. It has over and over again occurred, one notable case as recently as last August, in which a whole pack of foxhounds had to be destroyed because rabies had broken out amongst them. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will reply, "Yes, but when rabies breaks out amongst foxhounds it is always when they are in the kennels, and they are immediately destroyed." If that were the universal effect, no doubt it would be a complete answer; but, unfortunately, there have been recorded cases beyond dispute of foxhounds affected with rabies breaking away from the kennels, or breaking away whilst they were out engaged in sporting, biting other dogs, and spreading rabies far and wide. I would not bring forward such a charge as that unless I had evidence, and that evidence—which I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman has himself—is based upon a statement made by Mr. Sewell, the well-known veterinary surgeon—probably the best-known dog doctor in London—whose authority on such a point as this cannot be denied. As to sporting dogs always being under complete control, 1742 which can be the only excuse for the limited scope of the Orders, it appears in a case which I have seen reported as recently as last March that a foxhound worried a sheep and damages of £5 were recovered against the owner of the dog in the county court. This was a case as recently as the 11th of last March, at Etling Green, Dereham. Over and over again advertisements appear in the papers advertising for foxhounds that have been lost, and it cannot be disputed that these foxhounds—although I admit they are excellently controlled—do from time to time break away, and the risk of spreading rabies by unmuzzled foxhounds is absolutely as great as in the case of any other class of dogs, and much more so than in the case of sheep dogs. Now, I have here the opinion of Mr. G. S. Lowe, who was formerly secretary to the Kennel Club. He states—I have seen absurd replies to letters sent to those in high authority stating that hounds and sporting dogs can well be exempted, because they are under control and less liable to be affected by rabies than others. This is all nonsense, as there has been more rabies in foxhound kennels than elsewhere. I have heard of five authentic cases of hydrophobia in the village or parish in which I have resided, and the animals afflicted by this terrible malady included one foxhound and four black retrievers, and they all did more or less fatal mischief.This evidence cannot be ignored, and the result of it is, to my mind at any rate, to show conclusively that if the right hon. Gentleman is serious in his alleged policy of stamping out rabies by muzzling, then muzzling must be universal. He makes these distinctions in favour of the foxhounds, but he does not make any distinction in favour of sheep dogs. Now what is the claim that the sheep dog should be unmuzzled compared with the claim that the foxhounds should be unmuzzled. The sheep dog is absolutely essential to the carrying on of a very important industry. I know it will be said that sheep dogs will work with the muzzle on. The right hon. Gentleman will, no doubt, state certain facts upon the authority of the inspectors sent out on behalf of the Board of Agriculture. He will, no doubt, say that those dogs can work even when muzzled. But certainly the experience of farmers is altogether against that view. But 1743 even if sheep dogs can be got to work when muzzled, it is impossible to train the young sheep dogs to do their work properly with a muzzle on. I know the muzzling order will not apply to private farms, but in many parts of the country the sheep are almost always fed not upon private pastures, but upon common land. If you take the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean, the land is mostly common land, and the dogs have to be always muzzled there. Again, on the Downs the dogs have to be muzzled, and if there ever was a case in which exemption ought to be allowed in the interests of the business and the welfare of the farming community surely it is in the case of these sheep dogs. But that is not the view of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture. He exempts the foxhound, which I have shown is every bit as liable to rabies as the sheep dog is. He exempts the foxhounds for what reason? I submit that if he did not exempt the foxhounds he would not get the support of a great many hon. Members on his side for this Muzzling Order. [The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of AGRICULTURE: Cannot you find a better reason than that?] No, I cannot. I shall, therefore, leave the right hon. Gentleman to find a better reason. It is the only satisfactory reason that occurs to my mind, but in the case of sheep dogs he is not able to find any grounds for exempting them, and we find in consequence the greatest irritation and annoyance and actual loss occurring to farmers in all parts of the country. While we find that their industry is interfered with and very much affected, they see their better-to-do neighbours daily hunting or coursing with their dogs absolutely unfettered. Sir, I have heard an observation from an authority upon dogs, a very considerable authority with which I shall conclude what I have to say. He puts his case very strongly, and I would ask the House to listen to it.There are certain classes of dogs—farm dogs and the dogs of drovers—for whose exemption from the muzzle a strong plea might be urged. For these dogs are necessary for the carrying on of the most important industries of the country, and the muzzle interferes with their doing so. But strong as this plea is, it has not been allowed. What then, may we ask, is 1744 the still stronger plea that has procured the exemption of the hounds and other sporting dogs? These dogs do not in any way add to the well-being of the country by assisting in its industries as do the sheep and the cattle dogs. They do not, like the dogs of the blind, answer any purpose of benevolence. They are maintained only for the purpose of amusement.That is the true statement, to my mind, of the case, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether his policy is a wise one, for this policy of partial exemption is creating irritation and ill-feeling all over the country, for which, I venture to say, the right hon. Gentleman cannot show any results which are in the least either adequate or satisfactory.
§ *MR. LAURENCE HARDY (Kent, Ashford)
I wish to say a few words on this subject, and I shall approach the question from an entirely different point of view from the speaker who has just addressed the House. It seems to me that the arguments just addressed to us are not very applicable to this question. I wish to point out that the arguments of the speech to which I alluded referred chiefly to the dogs exempted, rather than to a further extension of the exemption. I would plead on the same ground—undoubtedly I do get to the same point—for the exemption to be extended to the sheep dogs. In the southern part of England, as I know the right hon. Gentleman is well aware, at this time of the year we are in an extremely difficult position. The sheep in that part of the country wander in the hills very great distances from the marshes, and at this very moment, during this next few weeks, they are being brought along the roads, and by railways, very long distances. Very often they are driven between 30 and 40 miles along the public highways, and it is often almost impossible for the farmers to carry on their trade in a manner convenient to themselves, or even to the public, in consequence of these restrictions put upon them by the muzzling order. We have to deal with the ordinary sheep dog of the ordinary shepherd, and it is found as a fact that the older dogs, after a certain amount of use with the muzzle on, get sulky, and will not do the work which is necessary; while the younger dogs do not go on learning their trade in order that they 1745 may take the part they are expected to do. At this moment, when hundreds and thousands of sheep are returning from the hills and marshes, the farmers in our district are in very great difficulty to know how to conduct their flocks along the highways. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman if he can see his way to discover some means by which we could get over this difficulty. This is a restriction which, naturally, the people feel very annoying. They look round and they see a large number of sporting dogs unmuzzled which are exempt from the order, for this happens to be a district where sporting prevails very largely. There are foxhounds and hunters; there are staghounds, and others, which, perhaps, there is not so very much to be said for; there are also greyhounds, and all these must be unmuzzled when actually coursing. Naturally, the people who own sheep dogs think it very wrong to make a distinction between a greyhound and a sheep dog in the exercise of his duty. There are these distinctions, and I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman must draw the line somewhere, but it does seem to me to be drawing the line very finely between a greyhound which is unmuzzled at exercise along the road while sheep dogs at work are compelled to be muzzled; and the people whose views I am acquainted with would be quite satisfied if this distinction was done away with. They do not desire to see any restriction put upon the gallant efforts made by the right hon. Gentleman to put an end to rabies, but they do ask him to try and find some means by which they can use their sheep dogs in a satisfactory manner. They would not mind some system of registration, or some certificate being given by a magistrate, or anybody else, provided that while a sheep dog is at work it may be used without a muzzle, so that they may be able to carry out their calling. I do not in any way attack the muzzling order, or attack the very persistent attitude which has been adopted by the right hon. Gentleman, but I will urge upon him most strongly that if he can see his way to devise any means in his department to attain the object which I plead for I am sure that he will not really be doing any injury to 1746 the cause which he is serving, and at the same time he will give satisfaction to a large body of farmers in this country. I hope he will consider this suggestion.
§ MR. R. B. ROBINSON (Dudley)
I desire to say a few words upon this question. I speak upon this subject with perfect impartiality, because, wisely or unwisely. I keep dogs myself, which, being for sporting purposes, are not required to be muzzled by this order. The poor man living close by me naturally feels aggrieved, and cannot understand why his diminutive Yorkshire terrier should be compelled to wear a muzzle for the safety of the public, while at the same time he sees a pack of hounds walking past his door free altogether from any such restriction. I think that my friends in the Midlands take a wider view of this matter than the view entertained by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture. They believe—and I quite agree with them—that the object which the right hon. Gentleman has in view can be better achieved by the collar order, which is universally popular, than by the muzzling order, which is universally unpopular. The very greatest decrease ever known in the Metropolis took place six years ago, when every dog was wearing a collar and none were wearing muzzles, but that fact was not brought before the Departmental Committee. Now, what are the facts? In 1890 the Board of Agriculture muzzled the Metropolis, and at the end of that year they exempted from the muzzle any dog wearing a collar, with the result that in 1891 not a single dog was wearing a muzzle. Now, that went on, and what was the result for this period when the order was entirely withdrawn? Here are the figures:—In 1890, when the Metropolis was muzzled, there were 32 cases of rabies in London; during the year 1891, when every dog was wearing a collar, there were only eight cases of rabies; and during the next year, when the collar regulation was still in force, there were only three cases. I only hope that the muzzling order will shortly be withdrawn, because I am sure that its withdrawal would give very great 1747 satisfaction. I say this because if there is one thing more than another which may be repeated it is that the muzzling order is no use whatever unless it is in conformity with public opinion. I do not profess to have any experience of any particular locality beyond my own, and what I do know is that the feeling of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire is utterly opposed to this muzzling order. Throughout the whole of the three counties resolutions have been passed asking for the withdrawal of the order. It has been condemned by magistrates, including the Chairman of the Quarter Sessions for Worcester. In conclusion, I only hope that at the end of this Debate we shall hear from the President of the Board of Agriculture that in a very short time the muzzling order will be withdrawn.
§ DR. R. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Unlike other speakers, I do not believe in the failure of the muzzling order to stamp out rabies. This disease does not spring up spontaneously, and it can only be stamped out by wise, firm, and judicious legislation, such as he has proposed. I think, however, the right hon. Gentleman would be more consistent if he made absolutely no exemption at all, but if we are to have any exemptions I think it would be necessary that exemptions should be made in the case of sheep dogs. If we have exemptions for hunting dogs, which are practically useless, I do think the same amount of favour ought to be extended to those dogs which are necessary to a great industry, seeing that under this muzzling order great inconvenience has been caused among the agricultural community. I think it is very important in the interests of my hon. Friend, and in the interest of the muzzling order, that it should be as popular as possible, and I cannot conceive anything less calculated to make this order popular than to cause this amount of irritation, which my right hon. Friend has described, among the agricultural population, on account of the muzzling of an animal which is so useful for the agricultural interest. My right hon. Friend will be able to tell us whether 1748 there has been many cases of rabies amongst sheep dogs, and if they are in the habit of meeting animals from whom they are liable to get the infection. My right hon. Friend will no doubt be able to give us some satisfactory assurance. Really, I am inclined to join with my hon. Friend who introduced this subject in appealing to the right hon. Gentleman in the interest of the popularity of the Measure, for which I am bound to say he is working so well, so skilfully, and so resolutely, to make this exemption, which I do not think will eventually do any harm to the great interest which he has so much at heart.
§ MR. J. W. CROMBIE (Kincardineshire)
While I cannot agree with all that the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire has said, I do think that in one point he is right, and that is that there is a great deal of public feeling against any general Muzzling Order. I think, Sir, that we are entitled to congratulate most heartily the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture in having, pursued the Order with so much firmness. The Government, although it has not been successful in ruling Europe, has certainly been successful in muzzling dogs. It certainly has shown a strength that might hardly have been expected from them on other grounds. I was one of the Members of the Committee which was appointed to examine into this question of muzzling. I do not want to go into the question at present—it may be in order or it may not—but I will only say this, that when I entered into that Committee I believed that muzzling was perfectly superfluous, and that some Collar Order would do all that was required. After hearing the evidence, I came to the exactly opposite conclusion, and I agree with the Committee that this evil of rabies, which is, perhaps, not a very great one, but still is a serious one, can be effectually stamped out in this country in some four or six months if that Muzzling Order were applied universally. To a very great extent that is what we recommended to the Board of Agriculture. They have carried out the recommendation fairly well, although they might have carried it out better. At the same time, I give them every credit for 1749 what they have done. Now, the present complaint seems to me to be this: that the Board of Agriculture has exempted from muzzling sporting dogs and not shepherds' dogs. As to sporting dogs, I confess that I am not myself a sportsman or particularly in favour of sport; therefore, personally, I have no feeling whatever in the matter of the exemption of sporting dogs; but I do think this, that, as has been admitted by Members who have spoken on this subject, the enforcing of the Muzzling Order is exceedingly difficult, and that concessions have to be made. I have no doubt that had I been in the place of the right hon. Gentleman I might have found myself, perhaps against my inclination, compelled to exempt sporting dogs. I do, however, think that it is rather unfortunate that a parallel exemption has not been made in the case of shepherds' dogs. At the same time, I cannot help thinking, although I speak without the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman, that the feeling is not quite so great as the hon. Member who introduced the Motion has made out. I should think that in almost all the districts where sheep dogs are universal the Muzzling Order is not enforced. I believe that is largely so in Scotland, and I have heard of no complaint whatever in this matter in the North. I daresay that there may be some cases down in the South of England such as have been described, and, if there are, I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some sort of assurance that he may be able to deal with these cases to the satisfaction of those who have brought up this question. However this may be, I do think it is fair, as a Member of the Committee, to state that the hon. Gentleman has dealt in an exceedingly fair and plucky manner with the recommendations of that Committee, and, however right or wrong he may be in general matters, I think that his conduct in this particular case deserves very great commendation.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
The hon. and learned Member who has introduced this Motion has referred to the fact that he would be unable to take the opinion of the House upon it by a Division. I must say that I congratulate the hon. and 1750 learned Gentleman upon his misfortunes, because I cannot conceive a Motion better worded for an academic and inconclusive discussion than the one he has introduced into the House to-night. Although his Motion is as "milk-and-water" as it is possible to have a Motion, he has contrived to introduce into his speech a totally different element. I must say that having regard to this question of muzzling, with which, by this time, I am probably as familiar as the hon. and learned Member, or any of those who support him—familiar with it in all its aspects, from the aspect in which he he has approached it to-night, to the aspect of the lady who has special interest in a dog from which she cannot be separated without fear that the separation would cost her her existence. I must say that, failing altogether to possess either the capacity or the ability of the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced this Motion, I think that I could nevertheless have made, at least, as good a case, if not a better one than he has done, without descending to the form of attack which he has thought necessary to adopt with regard to myself and my Department, and in support of which he did not advance one single argument or statement of fact. The hon. and learned Member said, in making some comments upon muzzling generally, that he and his friends thought that electoral considerations had governed me. [Mr. MCKENNA: I repudiated it altogether.] Oh, yes! We are all familiar with the old advice, "Don't nail his ears to the pump!" and, of course, although other people said it, he did not. We are all familiar with that sort of gossip. You know what so-and-so has said about somebody else. Of course, I don't believe it. That is the position which the hon. Gentleman assumes to-night. He does not believe these base insinuations, but although he desires to dissociate himself altogether from them—and I am glad to hear that statement—yet he will admit that, as he has made them, I am entitled to repudiate them altogether, and to say that he has not advanced one single argument in support of that contention. Whatever the faults of the Department may be, and I daresay we have plenty of faults, I should like to dispose of one minor point. The hon. Gentleman suggested that I had 1751 made an answer to a question which was not altogether an exposition of the exact facts, and, in order again to save himself, suggested that the answer emanated from the officials of the Department. I think the hon. Gentleman must know perfectly well that that is a position which no Minister could take up; it is an utterly impossible position, and it is an altogether unworthy attack to say that the answer to a question is the work of an official, and that, therefore, the Minister is not responsible for its inaccuracies. Whatever the answer to a question is—whether it is a written one which the Minister reads, and as to which he has not exercised any discretion himself, or whether it is not—everybody in this House knows that no man is fit to stand up on the floor here as the representative of a Department, and say one word or write any communication in the name of that Department, and everything and anything connected with that Department, for which he himself is not responsible, or in respect to which he is entitled to say that he is not bound to accept, and cheerfully accept, the full responsibility. Therefore I say it is an unworthy argument to say that a Minister makes a reply which is not his own, but is merely a written one, for which he is not responsible, because it emanated from the officials. The hon. Gentleman has got a very good case. I could have made a very good case, and so far as I am concerned, if it were not the practice of Parliament to reply, I should have been contented to have listened, and, had it not been for these unworthy insinuations, to have said "agreed," and to have passed on to the next business. What does the Motion say—That this House regrets that the President of the Board of Agriculture has not found it desirable to extend to sheep dogs the exemption from muzzling under the Rabies Orders which has been allowed in the case of sporting dogs.I quite agree; we all agree, I imagine. I do not suppose that there is anybody in this House who would dissent from the views expressed by my hon. Friends behind me that the Muzzling Order is extremely unpopular. Of course, it is unpopular. If the hon. Gentleman had as much experience as I have of the administration 1752 of an Act of Parliament in the extermination of diseases of animals, he would know perfectly well that it is impossible, however careful the Department might be, to stamp out these diseases without interfering with the trade and comfort of the people, and with what they believe to be their rights and privileges. That, of course, makes any Order of that sort unpopular. But is that a reason why a Minister should not try to do what has been done on this occasion? The position of this country with regard to diseases of animals was at one time absolutely deplorable, and the annual loss amounted to millions of money. The position of many foreign countries at this moment is one we should regard as deplorable, and which even they regard with great concern, because they have not made up their minds to face the position and go in for a restrictive policy. We are now dealing with a disease which is not only serious with regard to animals, but also more serious still with regard to human beings, who suffer from the effects of it; and the hon. Gentleman says, and my hon. Friend behind me suggests, that the policy of muzzling is unpopular, because people do not like to have their dogs muzzled, or because they think their dogs are muzzled and that other people's dogs are not muzzled, then the policy is unwise and unfair, and that, therefore, the Government of the day should give up its attempts to stamp out a disease which is unquestionably one of the most deplorable from which the human race has ever suffered. I altogether repudiate that suggestion, and, so far as the general, policy of muzzling goes, I maintain that however unpopular that may be—and I am as good a judge of its unpopularity as anybody else—if we believe that we are pursuing a policy which is likely to succeed in exterminating this dreadful disease, we are bound to go on with it, even although the effects of our policy may cause inconvenience and discomfort to our friends in the country; and permit me to say, in regard to a matter of this kind, that when I use the word "friends" I do not mean friends who support us in polities, but people generally who are attached to dogs, and who, naturally, resent a policy which interferes with the comfort of their pets. If we believe it to be a wise policy, and a successful policy, we are bound to pursue it. 1753 Now the hon. Gentleman dealt with two fallacies which have been often used as arguments against the muzzling order by the opponents of muzzling. One is that the muzzling of dogs is not a direct, but only an indirect cure for rabies. That is to say, it is not the imposition of the muzzle upon the dog itself that has the effect of stamping out the disease. Now I venture to say that no one who has taken the trouble to study the course of this terrible malady has ever come deliberately to that conclusion. So far as I know, it is admitted by all scientific persons, whether they be medical men or others, that rabies cannot be acquired in any other manner than by subcutaneous injection. By the constant spread of disease from dog to dog, you get the condition of things you had in this country a short time ago, under which rabies became not only general, but almost universal. What becomes of the contention against muzzling, if that be the fact, and I believe it is admitted, and so far as I know it is the fact, that it can only be communicated in that particular way. If that is the case, how can any sensible person get up and say that you can cure rabies by a collar and badge. You can only prevent contagion from a diseased dog being spread to a healthy one by muzzling all dogs, and that is where the policy of my hon. Friend behind me comes into force. The hon. Gentleman put the period of the incubation of the disease at six months, and, although there have been some extreme cases where the infection of the disease has lasted for a longer period than that, I believe, on the whole, that six months should be the minimum, and when we have destroyed all possible means of communicating the infection, and have done all we can, we shall follow with the collar and badge order, with the object of detecting the stray and wandering dogs, and carry out their necessary destruction, although they may not be diseased. When the hon. Gentleman stated that universal muzzling was necessary, I understood him to mean over the whole of the country, but I gather that he means the universal muzzling of all dogs, and that he was not dealing with the muzzling area. I can only say, with regard to universal muzzling, that in our opinion, when it is necessary to muzzle, 1754 Parliament must trust to the discretion of the Department called upon to administer the Act in connection with this disease. The Privy Council are well aware that the Board of Agriculture have had considerable experience and success under the Act, and are of opinion that universal muzzling would not improve the position we are now in in any way. The policy of the Board of Agriculture is to take the spot where disease is indicated by the outbreak of rabies, and then draw around the radius a circle, varying in size from 15 to 20 miles, and it may be larger, in radius. That is how we commenced, and we varied it a little for this reason, that, after a time, the inspectors brought to a state of high perfection the tracing of mad dogs and their history, and thus we have been able to follow the course taken by the dog, and in some cases it has not been necessary to draw the circle at all. We found that the trend of the disease has been in a certain direction. I do not know whether any hon. Gentlemen have seen a copy of the maps which the Board of Agriculture have published with regard to this matter, but if they have studied them they will observe that, in the various districts where the disease has been most prevalent, it has almost universally followed a recognised course. These unfortunate animals have invariably taken one direction, and no doubt scientific reasons can be found for that trend. We found that by drawing these cordons round the diseased areas, and by imposing the muzzling order, we have been able to clear those districts altogether, and having cleared them we shall be able to keep out the disease. But by suggesting that you can do so by substituting the collar and badge for the muzzle is, to my mind, absurd. The whole point is that the disorder can only be communicated from one dog to another by subcutaneous injection, and if you are going to stop that you can only do it by stopping the diseased dog for a certain period of time sufficient to kill the disease. The main part of the hon. Gentleman's speech was not so much an attack on the muzzling policy as an argument in favour of increased exemption. The hon. Member for South Kent based his speech on the policy of increased exemption, but if that is accepted by the Government at all, it must be taken as 1755 leading to increased muzzling. He did not show that muzzling sheep-dogs caused a serious loss to their owners, but he showed that rabies was as common in sporting dogs as in others. No one denies that the disease is common in foxhounds or beagles. One hon. Gentleman, who was a member of the Committee upon this question, and who, one would suppose, was a believer in the policy, was good enough to express approval for the courage of the Board of Agriculture in dealing with this matter in this way; but, although he was a member of the Committee, and was himself responsible to a large extent for our policy, be could not help saying something in the form of an attack upon the Department. He said the Government was strong enough to muzzle England, but was not strong enough to muzzle Europe. I am one of the strongest admirers of the great national sports of this country. I think they have a great deal to do with the moulding of the English character, and I also think put a large amount of money into the pockets of the working men; but, apart from that, hon. Gentlemen opposite think that they are in a great minority, and they are in a great difficulty in finding something upon which to attack the Government, and so they set themselves up to attack us. It is the old story of the rich man and the poor. My hon. Friend told us in touching accents about the poor man by the roadside who, having had to muzzle his dog, feels a spirit of discontent rise within his breast when he sees the unmuzzled foxhounds go by. It is a very simple way of heckling the Government of the day, but it is not on the whole, in my opinion, a respectable one, and I am not quite sure that it is quite so effective a method as hon. Gentlemen are inclined to think it is, nor that it has the effect which they believe it has. There is an association called, I understand, the National Canine Defence League, and I believe it to be an absolute fact that they hold that, wherever a bye-election has been 1756 lost by the Government during the last two years, or wherever the majority has been diminished, it has been entirely due to the Muzzling Order, though in some districts where this has been the case there was no Muzzling Order. [An HON MEMBER: York.] The hon. Gentleman spoke about the correspondence he had received. If the correspondence I have received is at all to be believed, the opinion is not confined to York. There is not an election that has taken place in this country within the last year, where we have either lost the seat or had our majority reduced, which has not been traced to the effect of the Muzzling Order. They say here are the rich man's foxhounds or greyhounds on the one side, and on the other there is the poor man's sheep dog. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite was very severe upon me because he said I was not prepared to say what the exemption was going to be, or because I am not prepared to say what is a public place, [Mr. MCKENNA: Only for the purposes of this Order.] The hon. Gentleman is a high authority upon legal questions, and I am not sure about it. So far as I remember, however, he asked me whether a man was to have his dog muzzled in a public-house during open hours, and whether a public-house was a public place, and he attacked me because I was not prepared to say whether a public-house was a public place.
§ *MR. MCKENNA
That was a supplementary question which I put, as to whether, in the opinion of the Board of Agriculture, when they considered the question before they issued the Order, a public-house was a public place or not, and the right hon. Gentleman said "No."
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
I am quite prepared to allow the hon. Gentleman to frame his own attacks, but I am not prepared to let him frame my answers. I said I had not considered the matter at all. What I said was that it was not the business of the Board of Agriculture to define the legal question as to what was a public 1757 place, and the minor question which was put to me, as to when dogs were at exercise or when they were not at exercise, or when a dog was a sporting dog, or when it was not a sporting dog. It is not my business to give answers to those questions, and if I were to do so it would deprive hon. Gentlemen opposite of half the amusement they derive from asking them. Now, occasionally, hon. Gentlemen get a good attack against the Government, and if I were to accept the suggestions of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and remove the Muzzling Order, what would become of them at the next bye-election? Their occupation would be gone, and the elections would once again revert to their proper direction. The real answer to the objection of the hon. and learned Gentleman is not that we desire to give exemption to British sport—although I am not afraid to defend that if necessary. The policy of the Department is based on the conditions under which sporting dogs are kept, whether the dog forms part of the best pack of hunters in the country or whether it is the terrier of the rat-catcher; everybody knows that a sporting dog is taken great care of, and if he is not well in the morning, he is not taken to work. Why? Because everybody who has anything to do with hounds knows that any dog who is suffering from any form of indisposition is not up to his work, and so it is in the case of the terrier, which is kept for the sole object of his master's business, and the rat-catcher knows that, without his dog, he cannot carry on his trade. What we contend is that there is over those dogs a supervision, a constant survey, which ensures, if the dog displays any symptoms of ill-health, especially of rabies, that the symptoms will be discovered, and the dogs kept under control until the cause of their malady is ascertained, and, if possible, has been removed altogether. The hon. Gentleman asks. What about sheep-dogs? I will tell him something about sheep-dogs. The right hon. 1758 Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean is a great, authority on statistics and details, and, as a rule, looks into a question very closely. I would like to know if he has looked into the question of sheep-dogs. [Sir C. DILKE: Only in my own constituency.] Then we shall have the pleasure of hearing what is a sheep-dog in the Forest of Dean. But I shall not be surprised at all if, when he looks a little closer into the question, he finds that sheep-dogs there are very much the same as all over the rest of the country. I quite agree that the muzzle might mean a difficulty in the way of a dog doing his work. I am not going to say that they can work as well with a muzzle as they can without. Now, I sent my inspectors about the country to see the sheep-dogs in different parts. I sent them to farms and other places all over England, and I have done my best to obtain reliable information. I have actually visited the country myself. I happened once to be in Devonshire, and somebody put a paper into my hands, saying that the worst hated man in the country was Mr. Long, and that, if he showed his nose in Devonshire, it would be very much the worse for him, and I was actually in the middle of the county at the time. Well, I saw them driving sheep and cattle in many cases, and I observed no great difficulty or inconvenience from the use of the muzzle, and the reports of my inspectors point in the same direction. Of course, one knows perfectly well a dog docs not wear a muzzle for choice; nobody believes that a dog driving sheep or cattle is as useful with a muzzle on as without. I know it is a great inconvenience, and in many cases inflicts considerable loss on the man driving sheep and cattle; but the hon. Gentleman asked me just now whether sheep-dogs were not its carefully watched as sporting dogs. I appeal to the hon. Gentlemen who are familiar with owners of sheep and sheep-dogs of this country. We know that every dog which is used for the purpose of 1759 driving sheep and cattle, not continuously or regularly, but at one time or another, is a sheep-dog, and it mast be remembered, too, that sheep-dogs were the dogs that were granted exemptions from the ordinary licence. Now, when this matter was first brought before me I carefully examined it, and I will give the House a few of the figures which I have had taken out, and which show the proportion of sheep-dogs to the dogs of the entire district. In the district of Inverness there are 2,804 dogs for which licences have been taken out, and 10,704 for which exemptions were claimed; in Aberdeen, 2,685 for which licences were taken, and 11,520 exemptions. In another county, in Wales, there are 1,854 licences, as against 5,963 exemptions. On one occasion I instructed an inspector to make a careful local inquiry into the various breeds of dogs for which exemptions were claimed as sheep-dogs. This is a point, which I respectfully commend to the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. In one county, I will not mention the name, with regard to the exempted dogs under the head of sheep-dogs, and from the Returns made to me, I find that there were 122 lurchers, six setters, 12 pug dogs, six mastiffs, and, worst of all for the hon. Gentleman, 35 retrievers. Now, according to that, the hon. Gentelman appealed for the sheepdogs as against the sporting dog, and he says if the retriever cannot be exempted as a sporting dog, he will be as a sheep-dog. If we do that, we shall have to give up muzzling altogether. This is the case with the hon. Gentleman opposite, that it is better to put up with this disease than to put up with the unpopularity at the moment. I will not trouble the House for more than another minute. The hon. Gentleman said there was another method. We cannot do more than point to the facts as they stand. At all events, the figures are very remarkable. If any hon. Gentleman will look at the figures published he will see that for the quarter ending 1760 March, 1896, there were 200 cases of rabies in the country; for the quarter ending June, 123; for the quarter ending September, 67; for the quarter ending December, 48; and so on—every quarter the number decreasing until we get to the quarter ending March last, when the total number of actual cases had fallen to six, as against 200 in the quarter ending March, 1896. There are some suspected cases, with regard to which I am not in a position to say whether they are rabies or not; but there are only three, and if they are certified to be rabies the figures will stand as follows; 200 cases in the quarter ending March, 1896, against nine in quarter ending March, 1898. I do not want to excite the passions of the House by referring to morbid cases, but there is no disease from which man suffers which brings with it more real horror than this disease of hydrophobia. Not only is there the physical suffering, but there is also the mental suffering which goes on for months, while the unfortunate victim is waiting to see whether he is afflicted with the disease or not. Only the other day the wife of a prominent tradesman in Stockton died in great agony from the bite of a dog inflicted in the previous September. The symptoms only developed before her death.
§ *MR. MCKENNA
With reference to the right hon. Gentleman's statistics of exemptions in Aberdeenshire and Inverness-shire, is it not a fact that there is no Muzzling Order in force, and no rabies in these counties?
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
What on earth has that to do with it? Docs the hon. Member ask that exemptions are to be made in certain places where the figures suit him, and not in other places where the figures do not suit him? His argument is that sheep-dogs are to be exempted all over the country. I have endeavoured to give the House the reasons which have governed us in 1761 refusing to adopt that policy. I think I have shown that if the hon. Gentleman's suggestion was accepted it would involve the total destruction of the Muzzling Order. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might make use of this question for Party purposes. Of course it is perfectly fair to say, "Here is the brutal Tory Government muzzling the poor man's doe-s and leaving the rich man's hounds to go free." ["No, no!"] Well, that is a very good argument, and although hon. Members opposite say "No," I have a shrewd impression that this is an argument they are very likely to use. I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite, apart altogether from the idea that muzzling is carried out in order to please a particular Department, or an individual, to ask themselves whether rabies is not one of those diseases which it is the absolute duty on the part of the Government to exterminate, if they are able to do so, by a certain policy. It is a policy founded on vast experience; and holding that view they are compelled to adhere to that policy, believing that, if able to carry it out, it will result in eradicating altogether this appalling disease.
*MR. M. VAUGHAN DAVIES (Cardiganshire)
I know that there are a number of Members of the House not present who are particularly anxious to take part in this Debate, who have been looking forward to such a Debate; but unfortunately the Debate is not going to take place, from what I hear. The right hon. Gentleman says we wish to make Party capital out of this. I, for one, wish to dissociate myself from anything of the kind; it never occurred to me to make political capital out of it. I join issue with the right hon. Gentleman on that question. If we wish to make Party capital, we have only to look to the north, to the south, to the east, and to the west, to find ample material in that direction. I have some little knowledge of dogs, having been brought, up, more 1762 or less, in the kennel for the last 50 years of my life. I should cordially congratulate the right hon. Gentleman if he can eradicate from among man's best friends the most hateful of all diseases—hydrophobia. The question is, Is this the best way of dealing with hydrophobia? I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he says that rabies is a disease that must be given by one dog to another. I join issue with hint there; I do not believe it. I believe that rallies with a dog is just the same as small-pox, or scarlet fever, with a human being. You might as well muzzle all of us for influenza. I believe that 90 per cent. of the dogs destroyed as mad are not actually mad. I have had instances brought under my personal notice. When I was in Russia I brought home a very large retriever. A man told me he was mad, for the dog was foaming at the mouth, and was anything but a pleasant object to look at. I carried him up to my own room, and kept him there for about eight or nine hours, and he got over that attack. Everybody said he was mad, but in a week's time that dog was as well as ever he was. I had another instance of a foxhound. I went into the kennel and took hold of him and had him shut up. That dog, in three weeks time, was perfectly well again. There is no child in any family who is so carefully watched over as a hound; morning, noon, and night, they are watched over. Ninety persons out of 100 would have said that hound was mad, and yet he got quite well.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
I am not going to challenge the high authority of the hon. Gentleman; but our facts are absolutely ascertained. We do not deal with doubtful cases; we only deal with cases that are ascertained on the spot and confirmed by evidence.
§ *MR. VAUGHAN DAVIES
Do I understand that till these cases have been dealt with by one veterinary surgeon?
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
No, no. The cases are discovered in the locality, and they are generally examined by the local veterinary surgeon. Some cases of rabies are forwarded to an institute the hon. Gentleman knows well, and there the investigations are made and the decisions announced. The statistics I have given refer only to cases which are verified.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
I struck them off—I may say, to be accurate with the House—up to the 31st of March, when the number of cases was six, and, in order that I might not misrepresent these cases, I said there were three doubtful cases.
§ *MR. VAUGHAN DAVIES
What I was trying to bring before the right hon. Gentleman was the question of the number of cases of hydrophobia. That is a matter of great consequence, and it is the crux of the whole business. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us how many cases of hydrophobia have been laid before the authorities? The question is, what is the best way of dealing with hydrophobia? I quite disagree with the right hon. Gentleman that rabies is a disease that may be given by one dog to another. I do not think anyone takes the opinion of a veterinary as to whether a case is hydrophobia or not, because you have only got to find two veterinary surgeons, and they are sure to differ. Take them a horse, and one of them will pass it as sound, and the other will condemn it; take them a dog, and one will say it is mad, and the other will say it is not. Certainly, anyone who has had to do with the buying and selling of horses as I have had, will know the value of the advice of a veterinary 1764 surgeon. [Laughter.] I do not see why hon. Gentlemen should laugh, because if they had sold horses as I have done they would find it out, and very quickly too. But the matter before the House is the question of exempting sheep-dogs. Now, I can speak with some authority on sheep-dogs, because I have had a long experience of them. Sheep-dogs are the right-hand of the shepherd, and when they are muzzled they cannot possibly do their work. We have thousands of acres of land devoted to sheep farming, and these shepherds cannot possibly look after their sheep without these dogs, and it is of the greatest importance to the shepherd that sheep-dogs should be exempted from the muzzling order. No dog living could look after a large number of sheep with a muzzle on, because everyone knows that a dog breathes and sweats through his mouth, and no dog can breathe freely with a muzzle on. The placing of a sheepdog and a foxhound in the same category is all nonsense. A foxhound is looked well after, while a sheep-dog is whistled for when he is wanted, and kicked out of doors when he is not wanted. With regard to the putting down of rallies, I am just as anxious to do that as the right hon. Gentleman is, but the question with me is whether the keeping of this Muzzling Order in force in the country is the best way to do it. I do not believe it is, for I believe the only way to put down rabies and do away with these sheep-killing dogs, which prevail so terribly in the sheep-growing countries, is by making the owner of the dog answerable for all that his dog does. [Laughter.] I really see nothing to laugh at in this matter. To make the owner of the dog answerable will, if I may use the expression, "pin the dog to the owner," and you can only do that by having a collar on the dog with the man's name on it. We know that in Wales, where almost everybody keeps dogs, they are turned cut at night, and they have committed all kinds of havoc 1765 among the sheep, but you cannot find the owner of the dog which has done the damage. You cannot trace him, and if you do find him, he will say the dog is not his, although you may know very well that if is. He will swear that it is not, and you cannot prove it. We want to be able to prove the ownership of dogs to certain individuals, and I am perfectly certain that if you were to put a collar on every dog with the owner's name on it, and make the owner answerable for all the dog's acts, the people would look after their dogs very much better than they do now. There are people who do not care a straw for dogs or what they do, and they simply whistle for them when they want them. But, if you make the owner responsible, and if you are able to trace him and make him answerable for everything that dog look after it. [Laughter.] laugh if you like, but you will never put down rabies if you go on muzzling every year. It has been tried in other countries, and the right hon. Gentleman is not the first who has adopted muzzling. If has been tried in foreign countries, and they have had to give it up because it did not succeed. [The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of AGRICULTURE: They have not tried it on the principles tried here.] But the muzzle in Germany is the same as in England. I will take another point, and I will challenge him on this. If a dog be mad in one of these muzzles, he will get it off like a shot. A dog coming down the street with a little bit of thin wire on his mouth can instantly break it if the dog be mad, and I will undertake to say that a mad dog will break any of the muzzles I have yet seen. It is nonsense to talk to any practical person and say that these muzzles, will keep down rabies, and stop dogs biting. I believe that half the people who are said to die from madness really die more from fright than mad ness. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but I believe if. If a person gets bitten by a dog now, all the rest of the 1766 family at once begin to wonder why he is not taken ill. I have been bitten myself by foxhounds and dogs of all kinds. I am certain of it. You may laugh as much as you like, but the idea has got abroad in this country that the moment a man is bitten by a dog he must be sent off immediately to Paris, and if he does not go mad, then people are disappointed, and wonder why he did not go mad. But the question is, Is this Muzzling Order dealing with the matter in a really practical way? I do not suppose for a moment that there is a man in this House who would not look with the greatest pleasure on any practical scheme which would put down this horrible disease; but if you are going to attempt to do it in a way which a great many of us think is not the best way, why, naturally, we shall get up and tell you so. Well, why not? Perhaps hon. Members opposite do not own dogs If they did they would not laugh. These ore matters which want to be driven right home, and move particularly in Wales where we have all got dogs. I understand you are going to muzzle all the dogs. [The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of AGRICULTURE: Certainly not.] Well they are either to be muzzled or branded. [The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of AGRICULTURE: The hon. Gentleman is entirely inaccurate.] Well, if the right hon. Gentleman is going to drop the Bill, I suppose he will drop the muzzle, and that is the best thing he can possibly do. I believe people would sooner run the risk of rabies than have their dogs muzzled.
§ MR. GEORGE LAMBERT (Devon, South Molton)
As the representative of a constituency where the Muzzling Order has been in force six months, I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon his courage in having put this intensely disagreeable Order in force. I do not wish to deal with it from a political point of view, as the right hon. Gentleman seems to imagine we have done. He has slated that the Muzzling Order has been a great success. I hope it has, 1767 but if it has been a great success, with the exemptions that have hitherto escaped the Muzzling Order, how much greater would that success have been if all dogs had been muzzled. What I object to is that a sporting dog, which a man uses for his enjoyment, is not muzzled, but a sheep-dog, which is used for business is muzzled. If the Order has been a success with a portion of the dogs, how much more would it have been if all dogs had been muzzled. I do object most strongly to this invidious distinction between dogs which are kept for pleasure and those which are kept for the purposes of business. The right hon. Gentleman opposite seems to treat this matter purely or almost as a joke, and he ridicules us on this side of the House—in fact I almost thought that he had put on the Muzzling Order in order to give us something to talk about or something with which to abuse the "brutal Tory Government." I do not intend to do much in the way of attacking this Order. I will leave that to the Tory Party, of which the right hon. Member is so distinguished a supporter, for his Party is criticising the Government on this matter more than we are. If the hon. Gentleman will only allow me, I am merely answering the right hon. Gentleman's argument about the "brutal Tory Government." He said distinctly that that was the only stick we had got to beat the "brutal Tory Government" with. [Mr. LONG: NO. Not the only one.] Well, I do not intend to attack the Government, but I will let their supporters do that themselves. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to imagine that this Muzzling Order had no effect upon the bye-elections. Well, I remember a bye-election in Devonshire which this-Muzzling Order seems to have had a great effect upon. When the Plymouth election took place the Muzzling Order had been in force for six months, and two days before the election was decided the Muzzling Order was withdrawn.
*THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OE AGRICULTURE
Now, the hon. Gentleman has made a distinct and definite accusation against my Department, and I will state the facts. He has stated in so many words that the Muzzling Order had been in force six months when the election was pending; that that Muzzling Order was withdrawn two days before. Now, as the hon. Gentleman has made this charge I wish to answer it. The charge is so ridiculous that I think it only fair to myself to state what actually happened. The Papers from my Department came forward to me in the ordinary course, informing me that the Muzzling Order had run its full course in Devonshire, that the disease had been exterminated, and that the time had come when the Order must be rescinded. It was suggested to me at the time that a charge like the one which has now been made—and which I call a most unworthy charge—would possibly be made. I said, that if such a charge be made, it will not be necessary for a man in my position to condescend to answer it.
§ MR. LAMBERT
Well, it was a very curious coincidence that when the election was going on in Plymouth a letter came down from the right hon. Gentleman, to a Unionist Member in Devonshire, to state that the Order would be withdrawn. He defied the right hon. Gentleman to contradict that.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
An hon. Friend—I think it was one of the Members for Devonport—wrote to me asking when the Muzzling Order was to be withdrawn. I wrote to him as soon as the Order was out, and with no more regard to the Plymouth election than I had to the elections in Maidstone and Berks, in 1769 both of which districts the Order was in force.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said the right hon. Gentleman had risen twice to interrupt him on a question of fact, and he maintained that he had not contradicted in one single particular any statement he had made. He said, and repeated distinctly, that while the Plymouth election was going on a letter came from the right hon. Gentleman, addressed to a Unionist Member in Devonshire, telling that Unionist Member that the Muzzling Order would be withdrawn.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
I have not charged my memory with the facts, but, was it not the case that this rescinding of the Order was made on the last day of the Plymouth election? If my serves me, the election took place on the next day.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said he did not wish to pursue the subject, because the right hon. Gentleman was in a fog, and did not know when the Order was withdrawn. He would say this, that the rigid, hon. Gentleman began the controversy himself by saying this question was used in many bye-elections. It was used, undoubtedly, to make bye-elect ions go for the Liberal Party. The right hon. Gentleman also said he had had statistics of dogs that were exempted from having to pay licences under the name of sheep-dogs. He said there were sheepdog exemptions granted to mastiffs, retrievers, pugs, and setters. He could not help thinking some inspector might be playing a joke upon the right hon. Gentleman. No man in his senses would have imagined that retrievers or setters, or pugs or mastiffs, could have been used for any such purpose as driving sheep. [The PRESIDENT of the BOARD 1770 of AGRICULTURE: I never said so.] All he could say was that if they were not used for driving sheep they were not entitled to the exemption. Some one had not done his duty. Either the inspector had been playing a practical joke, or the Excise officers in the country had not done their duty. He did not believe the Excise officers were such fools as to take a mastiff or a retriever for a sheep-dog. It was one of the most ridiculous things he ever heard in his life. The right hon. Gentleman had been asked other questions. Many of them wanted to know what was a public place, but the right hon. Gentleman said, "I am not here to answer conundrums of that description." But he was the legislator in this matter. He made laws, and they had to obey them. They wanted to know what was in his mind when he defined a public Place. They wanted to know whether a public-house was a public place. The right hon. Gentleman put those conundrums for them to answer in the country. They had to answer them or be hauled up before a magistrate, and he thought it would be better if a definition of a public place were given. He most strongly protested against the system of muzzling which had been enforced, and which had allowed the rich man's sporting dogs to escape, but not the working farmer's sheep-dogs, and it was to raise his voice in this protest that he had addressed the House.
§ MR. W. LUCAS-SHADWELL (Hastings)
said he wanted to say a few words on the question of the Muzzling Order. He was disposed to think that if it had been made universal throughout the country it would have done much more good than it had done at the present time. At any rate, there was a strong feeling in the constituency which he represented upon this question. The Town Council of Hastings had, he believed, petitioned the Board of Agriculture to withdraw the Order in Hastings. It had been enforced there for a considerable period, and, in the opinion of the local authorities, the time 1771 had come for it to be withdrawn. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider the recommendations of local authorities in this matter.
§ The Motion, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," was then put and agreed to.