§ MR. R. MCKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, in compiling the Returns which have formed the basis of the official statements made as to the number of cases of rabies in 1896, 1897, and in the present year, the same methods for identifying the disease in the dogs supposed to have been affected have been used throughout; whether he can state the nature of the changes, if any, which have taken place in the official methods of identifying rabies; and, whether he computes that these changes modify to any considerable degree the inference drawn from the great reduction in the number of cases officially reported of dogs suffering from rabies?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. W. H. LONG,) Liverpool, West Derby
The Official Returns of rabies are based, in each of the years named, upon the results of investigations made by the local veterinary inspectors, and I have no reason to believe that any change in the methods adopted by those officers has taken place. Since the commencement of our operations against the disease, suspected or doubtful cases have, in addition, been closely investigated by our own veterinary officers, it being essential for the success of our operations that every case of the disease should be brought under our cognisance. No change has been made which would render the Returns now received, more favourable than the facts would warrant; indeed, if anything, the reverse is the case.