HC Deb 23 May 1907 vol 174 cc1167-211

1. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £77,840, be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1908, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, and of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, including certain Grants in Aid."

*MR. COURTHOPE (Rye, Sussex)

rose to move a reduction of the Vote by £100 for the purpose of raising the question of the administration of the Hop Act of 1866, and to ask why the Act had not been applied to foreign as well as to British hops. He said that he had discussed the matter to a certain extent with the hon. Baronet representing the Board of Agriculture, and he gathered that a question might be raised as to whether it was a matter of administration or one requiring legislation. He was surprised at the suggestion that legislation was required for the application of the Hop Act of 1866 to foreign hops, because he thought it was quite clear to anyone who had studied the question that the Board of Agriculture not only had power to apply the Act to foreign hops, but had a statutory obligation imposed upon it. He would try and convince the Committee that it was only an administrative matter. It was clear from the Act itself that foreign as well as British hops were included. The first section contained the words "any person, whether a subject of His Majesty or not." He did not think that those words would be there unless it was the intention of the House that all hops wherever grown, no matter by whom, should be included. He did not for a moment contend that Sections 2 and 3 applied to foreign hops, but Section 5, which dealt with mixing, expressly included not only the grower, but "any person who shall sell or expose for sale," and Section 6 imposed penalties "on any person selling or exposing for sale hops which are not marked in the manner prescribed by the former section," and added the words "or place." Those words were quite unnecessary so far as English hops were concerned, and the only raison d'etre for them was to bring in foreign hops grown by people outside our jurisdiction, and to impose responsibilities and liabilities on the vendor in this country. The same principle was continued right through the Act. Section 18, for instance, imposed an express obligation on the vendor. Words were there inserted which were redundant so far as British hops were concerned, and were simply inserted for the purpose of including foreign hops. Section 7, and Section 7 alone, differentiated between British and foreign hops. All the other sections used the word "hops" generally, without any qualification. He maintained, therefore, that the Act was clearly intended to apply to all classes of hops. It was abundantly clear, he thought, that the regulations and restrictions imposed by the Act could be applied to foreign hops. He would, however, go further, and endeavour to convince the Committee not only that it could, but that the Act was intended by the House of Commons in 1866 to apply to foreign hops. If anyone studied the preamble of the Act and read the Second Reading debate on the subject, especially the speech of Mr. Huddleston who introduced the Bill, it would be seen that the Act was no new law, but was an Act simply to consolidate and make effective the law already existing. In order to get a clear view of the object and intentions of the Act, they had to look at the law as it existed prior to the Act of 1866. There were on the Statute Book at that time four or five Acts. The first was dated 1710 in the reign of Queen Anne, and three or four others were passed in the reign of George III., imposing regulations as to the marking and mixing of hops. Those regulations were imposed for the sole purpose of the hop duty. That duty was not only an excise duty, but an import duty, and the marking and mixing Acts which had been passed affected foreign hops coming into this country as well as hops which were British grown. The Act of 1866 merely consolidated the previous Acts. In the old days part of the marking was carried out by the Revenue officials, and part by the grower, the latter indicating the place of growth, whilst the former marked the weight. When the hop duties were repealed in 1861, the functions of the Revenue officials to mark the weight naturally ceased, and that gave rise to opportunities for fraud and false marking which were taken advantage of by certain unscrupulous hop-growers and merchants. In order to do away with those abuses the Act of 1866 was brought in and passed by Parliament. He would point out that when the hop duty was repealed in 1861, the Legislature was careful not to repeal the regulations as to marking and mixing so far as the growers and vendors were concerned, and it was those regulations which were consolidated by the Act of 1866. The Acts which were consolidated applied to all hops, whether British or foreign. Not only, therefore, was the Act of 1866 intended to apply to foreign hops, but it actually did so apply. He was quite conscious that it might be said, "Oh, that is all very well, but it never has been applied. Surely the mere fact that it never has been applied is strong evidence that it could not be applied?" He thought, however, that there was a good answer to that suggestion. The Act was passed in 1866, and that was a time of great prosperity for the British grower. From 1859 to 1878, with the exception of one year, there was a steady and material increase in the prosperity of the British hop-grower. That might, to a fairly accurate degree, be measured by the acreage under hop cultivation. In 1859, when the period of prosperity began, the hop acreage totalled something over 45,000, and in 1870 it had risen to just under 72,000 acres, so that there was an increase of over 26,000 acres during that period. At that time also, not only was there great prosperity at home, but there were no prohibitive tariffs against British hops in the markets of competing countries. British hops could and did hold their own not only in our own market but in all the hop markets of the world. The foreign growers then could not dump their surplus rubbish in our market, as they did to-day, without any liability of reprisal on our part. They sent us their hops, it was true, but they sent only their best, and then, as now, they marked their best hops. The influx of the worst type of foreign hop—the rubbish—did not commence until a long time after the Act was passed, and there was absolutely no occasion for the administrative powers placed in the hands of the Board of Agriculture to be set up as far as foreign hops were concerned. In 1879 the period of prosperity ceased and the period of depression set in. In that year came the heavy German tariff, and from that time might be dated the collapse of the British hop industry. Matters were made worse in 1883 when the United States passed their Tariff Revision Bill, which increased the tariffs in America as they had been increased in Germany. The McKinley tariff of 1890 and the Dingley tariff of 1897 did not improve matters, so that our hop industry went from bad to worse. In those early days the foreign markets were open to us in the same way as our markets were open to foreigners, and we were able, as he had said, to hold our own, so that no occasion arose to take any steps against the influx of foreign rubbish which was now dumped down here. Under the protective system which existed in other countries, foreign markets were secured from our competition, but they were able to send all their rubbish over to us, unmarked and mixed just as it suited them. We had cheap Belgian hops mixed with Bavarian hops, coming over to us in consignments unmarked, undated, and with no sort of warranty or guarantee, and the result was great injury to the British hop-growers and, indirectly, to many other classes of the community. The result of this "dumping," which began in 1879,and which had been gradually getting worse, was that the acreage of hops, which was nearly 72,000 in that year, had fallen to 46,000 acres, and was still falling, whilst British growers were absolutely powerless to prevent foreign rubbish coming into our markets and taking the bread, so to speak, out of their mouth. It might be said, as no doubt it would be said by the hon. Baronet, that the Select Committee which sat on the hop industry in 1890 reported against the marking of foreign hops. He would read the section of the Report in question. They said— Evidence has been given as to the expediency of compelling the marking of foreign hops in the same manner as English-grown hops are marked. The foreign hops which are imported into this country come without any special marks guaranteeing the districts in which they are grown. Your Committee, however, are unable to see that the interest of English hop - growers can be promoted by requiring any certificate of origin of such foreign hops, thus giving greater security to purchasers of them. He maintained that the reasoning there was absolutely false. Moreover, while the Committee based their opinion on their confidence that more prosperous times were at hand, matters had been steadily getting worse. The acreage figures before the Committee showed 57,700 under hops in this country, and it had now fallen to 46,000. That showed that the Committee were entirely wrong in their expectations, and he maintained that they were wrong in reporting against the marking of foreign hops. Another thing was that the relation of imports and exports had entirely changed. At the time the Act of 1866 was passed the imports of hops were 82,479 cwts. and the exports 21,012. In 1904, however, when the depression reached its climax, the imports were 313,667 cwts. and the exports only 13,878. The imports, therefore, were now more than twenty-four times the exports. That showed that the whole conclusions upon which the Select Committee based their Report had been falsified, and all their expectations had come to nothing. He maintained also that the reasons on which they based their expectations were quite wrong. Foreign hop growers were no fools, and if it had been to their advantage they would have marked their consignments voluntarily. He was perfectly aware that a number of them did so, but the hops so marked were only the best quality, and it was not the best quality that the British growers feared. What they objected to was the "dumping" of foreign rubbish on our markets. The allowing of foreign hops of inferior quality to come into our market free of restrictions had given rise to a most mischievous system of gambling in futures. That system, as far as hops were concerned, had struck the hardest blow that had ever been struck at the British industry. Forward contracts were made on foreign hops which it was impossible to make with British hops, because British growers could not guarantee to produce a certain amount of hops in any year. They might have a bad year and produce next to nothing, or they might have a good year and produce a heavy crop. Forward contracts, however, were freely entered into by foreign producers and were a source of much of the inferior hops which came into the British market. It was the opinion of many experts that if the regulations of the Act of 1866 were impartially applied to foreign and British hops it would have the effect of very largely checking that mischievous gambling, and stopping much of the inferior grade of hops coming into this country. The question was how were those regulations to be applied. The provisions of the Act imposed a liability on the vendor. Surely the vendor could look after himself, and see that the hops supplied to him were marked in the right way, and that they were up to the quality required. He would not take the risk of being liable for a fraud committed, not by himself, but by the foreign grower who had supplied him. They need not, therefore, consider the vendor. The obligation to mark the hops was there, and all he asked the Board of Agriculture to do was to apply it, and thus confer a lasting benefit upon the British hop industry. The Hop Trade Association was a powerful body in this country, and perfectly capable of testing the quality of foreign hops, and seeing that they were up to sample. At present, they could not do so, because they had received no assistance from the Government in the matter. If the Government would administer the Act of 1866 impartially, the Hop Association would be quite capable of meeting all the difficulties which might arise. He believed that the vast majority of the hop growers and hop factors, and a great many of the hop merchants in the country desired such a change. He had a letter from Mr. Griffiths, the Chairman of the Hereford and Worcestershire Hop Growers' Association, assuring him of the cordial support of all the growers in those counties, and asking if there was any way in which they could assist him in his efforts to get the Act applied impartially. Similar resolutions had been passed by innumerable farmers' clubs and agricultural associations throughout the various hop-growing counties, and he thought the vast majority, if not the whole, of the growers in this country approved of what he was doing. He did not pretend that there was no opposition, but opposing suggestions had all taken the same line as the Committee of 1890 took, saying that if marking regulations were imposed on foreign hops it would do the foreigner good rather than the English grower, because it would be a sort of Government guarantee. He had never heard such a ridiculous suggestion. When the Government imposed marking regulations with regard to margarine they did not make themselves liable. They merely said that the producer should state what the package contained, and should be liable if he made a false declaration. That was all they asked with regard to hops. There was no question of a Government guarantee. A very few words were sufficient to deal with the objections to his suggestion. It was not only a hop-growers' question; it was also a labour question. The hop industry was the most important industry as far as the agricultural labourer was concerned, for it employed more hands per acre than any other agricultural industry in existence. Anything which could be done, therefore, to help the hop industry would go far towards helping that movement which both sides of the House were so keen upon, viz., that of getting the people back to the land. It would also mean the employment of hundreds of thousands of people who lived in the slums of the great cities. At the time of hopping they went down into the country for six weeks, and had not only healthy, but profitable, employment. It was good for their pockets, for their health, and for their physique, and anything which could be done to re-establish the hop industry upon anything like its old basis would tend to improve the health of the people in the slums. He thought he might say on behalf of all sections of the community that anything that could be done to help the hop industry should be done. He only reminded the Board of Agriculture of a duty which already rested upon them, but which they had never discharged. He was sure the hon. Baronet representing the Board in the House of Commons would give the matter his consideration. It was not a Party question. He knew it might be suggested that he was asking for protection, but he could assure the Committee there was no question of Party in the matter at all. The movement was supported by all classes and parties in the hop-growing districts. He would read one letter he had received from a prominent Liberal and free trader in his own constituency. He was the Chairman of the Liberal Association there, and as such fought strenuously against him at the last general election, so that any accusation that this was a Party or protective matter fell to the ground. That gentleman had assisted him very largely in the movement, and, in fact, suggested that he should take action in the matter. He said— If marking hops would prove an advantage to the foreigner, why does he not and why has he not marked them long ago? Is there anything to prevent him? Is he lacking in shrewdness? I think not. There is but one deduction to be drawn. The fact is that marking would prevent the mixing, and this is an all-important point which Mr. Amos has apparently lost sight of altogether. Our foreign competitors are free to mix hops of various qualities and sell them under the best name they can find, and they do so. Merchants and factors buy them and brewers use them. I have before me a circular issued by a large foreign firm where the lowest grades of continental hops are offered to their customers 'fit for mixing,' and showing a great saving in cost. Can such a thing be done here? I am glad to answer, No. And I contend that, just as margarine must be sold as such, and not as butter, so these hops should be sold for what they are, and nothing else. The 'forward contract' system would receive an effective blow, in my opinion, and brewers would buy English hops and consumers would drink good old English beer. I close with a recent quotation from Mr. Lloyd-George:—'Many a British industry has been completely wiped out by privileges conceded by our own institutions to foreigners.' Let us have fair play which is the essence of free trade. This was a very pressing question, and he appealed, nay, more, he demanded, on behalf of the hop-growers of this country that the statutory restrictions which were applied to British hops should in future, as they ought to have been in the past, be applied to foreign hops.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries and Wages) be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Courthope.)

MR. ROGERS (Wiltshire, Devizes)

said he wished to bring before the notice of the Committee the method in which the present swine fever regulations of the Board of Agriculture were operating in a number of counties. They were so restrictive in their character as to amount almost to prohibition of pig-breeding in many country districts. At present, anyone who wanted to move swine had to obtain an order, and it could only be obtained after a lapse of twenty-eight days. The conditions governing the industry, however, made it necessary to move swine at periods of twenty-one days, and the statutory period of twenty-eight days caused very great inconvenience, and in some cases hardship, upon a large number of deserving agriculturists, particularly small holders and farmers. He knew the Board of Agriculture were animated by great zeal in their crusade against swine fever, and he entirely sympathized with them in their object, but the regulations and restrictions which in the past the Board had put into force had been sufficient without their going to the present rigorous lengths to reduce swine fever. In 1892 there were 16,068 cases, and in 1905 there were only 817. In his own county in 1894 there were 256 cases and in 1905 there were only thirty-one cases. He therefore contended that the moderate restrictions the Board of Agriculture had hitherto imposed had been sufficient to effect an enormous improvement, and that it was quite unnecessary to go to any further length to stamp out the disease. The breeders themselves would very much welcome the eradication of the disease, but he submitted that the Board in approaching the question should give full value to the work done in the past. At present a number of people were bound to give up the breeding of pigs, and a large number were also saying that it would pay them very much better to defy the Board, move their swine, and pay the fine rather than incur the great pecuniary loss of keeping their swine without moving them. That, he submitted, would be a very undesirable state of things. He earnestly asked the hon. Baronet to see if he could not remove the more rigorous restrictions and continue to fight swine fever by the methods which had been so successful during the last fifteen or twenty years.

SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)

said he wished to confirm the remarks made by the hon. Member for Devizes. The question had excited a good deal of feeling in Wiltshire, and he had been approached by several important farmers in that county, who had asked him to bring the matter before the hon. Baronet. The hardship upon the farmers was undoubted. If they sent away a sow they were unable to move it again within a certain period, and consequently they were unable to obtain that number of litters in a year which made pig-breeding profitable. They asserted that that particular regulation did not assist the stopping of swine fever. The moving of the sow at twenty-one or twenty days instead of twenty-eight or twenty-nine days would not, they said, interfere with the eradication of swine fever; in fact, swine fever was generally propagated by store-pigs, and not by breeding sows. He did not know whether there was anything in that contention, but the feeling of the farmers of Wiltshire was so great that he was inclined to think they were correct. He gave the Board of Agriculture every credit for their endeavours to stop swine fever, and he recognised that certain inconveniences must arise; but he suggested that this particular regulation was not necessary, and that if the Board went back to the regulations which had hitherto existed with regard to breeding sows they would not spread swine fever, whilst they would assist farmers to carry on their business as pig-breeders. Pig-breeding was one of the most profitable agricultural industries, and, if they were to have small holdings, anything that would foster that industry should be carefully considered. He hoped the hon. Baronet would reconsider the regulations in question.

*MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)

said he wished to ask the hon. Baronet if he had had under his consideration since the Estimates came on last year the question of sending to Wales Welsh-speaking inspectors, a matter on which he had spoken last session. He had now just returned from Wales, and knew this was a subject which very much interested his constituents. It was really a question of the first importance to them, or rather to certain localities in the district, because, as a matter of fact, the Welsh people were so constituted that they did not readily take to strangers, and in the remote districts where Welsh was perhaps the only language spoken they thought they ought to have a Welsh inspector. He urged the hon. Baronet, therefore, if it was impossible to send Welshmen, to send only non-Welshmen who could speak Welsh. Of course the majority of his constituents spoke both languages quite well, but in dealing with Welsh farmers and others inspectors could not supply satisfactory reports unless they could get into sympathy with the people amongst whom they had to work, and it was notorious that it was difficult for an Englishman to get on as well with people who did not understand Englishmen and their ways, or perhaps he should say preferred Welshmen and Welsh ways. The hon. Baronet had sympathetically replied to one or two questions he had asked him on this and on kindred subjects, and the question of issuing sheep- dipping notices in Welsh and other matters relating to Llanidloes had, he thought, been satisfactorily settled, but they felt that more could be done by making it certain that they did not send a man down to inspect their agricultural and other operations who could not speak the Welsh language. If the hon. Baronet would consult his colleague, the President of the Board of Trade, he was sure he would confirm what he (Mr. Rees) had said.

*DR. COOPER (Southwark, Bermondsey)

thought he would be able to point out to the Committee that the Government itself was opposed to free trade and was supporting protection. Notices were issued prohibiting sheep and cattle from all other countries, except the United States and Canada, entering our markets even if they were killed on importation. That prohibition was very serious. It was very bad for the London worker and for the London consumer. The Deptford cattle market, like the Birkenhead cattle market, was established for the reception of cattle from abroad for immediate slaughter, and the large number of cattle and sheep coming into the market gave work to a large number of men, and the London consumer had fresh meat properly inspected placed before him. Butchers could go to the market and select from the stock the number of beasts and sheep they required, have them killed when they wanted and kept in the cool chambers until the Thursday or the Friday when they could be brought to the shop, so that the consumer had the meat placed at his disposal in the best possible condition. The existing prohibitive regulation had stopped the whole business of that market. It prohibited the importation of cattle and sheep from any European country, and hundreds of men who got their living from that market had been thrown out of work. It was a matter of great importance also to Bermondsey, whither 80 per cent. of the hides were sent, and where the result of the regulation had been to stop the supply of a large and regular supply of raw material. In that district the effect of the regulation had been disastrous, having resulted in the closing of several yards. He believed a Committee had, after a careful computation, arrived at the fact that as the result of the prohibition regulation at least 1,200 men had been thrown out of work, and it was stated on very good authority by persons who had looked into the matter that it meant that £200,000 a year had been lost in wages in consequence of the order. It was said by the Board of Agriculture that the farmers had lost £2,500,000 through foot-and-mouth disease. If the annual loss of wages arising from the closing of this market to sheep, etc., was multiplied by the years the market had been closed it would be found that labour had lost £2,000,000. It was true that cattle and sheep entered that market from the United States and Canada, but although a trade had been built up with those countries it was chiefly confined to cattle. Very few sheep came across as compared with the number that used to come from European countries. Last year only 2,375 came into that market from the United States and Canada, instead of the 800,000 which used to come before all sheep and cattle from European countries were prohibited. As cattle were now only allowed to be imported from the United States and Canada the control of the supply of beef had practically passed into the hands of the beef exporters in the United States, and the price of beef in London was controlled by about six firms in New York. His statements in that regard were confirmed by the market reports. If hon. Members looked at those they would find the statement "Deptford market, 17th April. No market to day; 1,500 U.S. beasts kept back," and that occurred on several occasions. That was the case with regard to cattle; but it was very much worse with regard to sheep, when only 2,375 came into the market instead of 800,000. The consumers of mutton had to depend upon either the English supply or chilled carcases sent over from Holland, or frozen mutton, which was a very poor substitute for that killed at Deptford. Never was the price of mutton so high as at the present time. He found, upon looking at his paper, that the Scottish mutton on the previous day had been fetching in the market from 5s. to 6s. a stone by the carcase. That was from 8d. to 9d. a pound, which was an exceedingly high price by the carcase, and meant that a. leg of mutton would be about 1s. 1d. a pound. He contended that the consumer suffered by the prohibition regulation, because it restricted the area of supply. There was, and could be, no legitimate reason why sheep and cattle from European countries which were officially declared to be free from foot-and-mouth disease should not be allowed to enter the country. In point of fact a preference was being given to the United States and Canada which amounted practically to protection. In his judgment, to maintain such a preference was a violation of the free-trade principle upon which the Government came into office. It was also protection for the British producer at the expense of the London consumer and the working man. The regulation was put into force in order to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease, and it was said that no cattle should come from any country where foot-and-mouth disease existed. Nobody desired that they should. All he contended was that cattle and sheep should be imported from European countries, where foot-and-mouth disease did not exist, in the same way as they were from the United States and Canada. The hon. Baronet last year stated that a case of foot-and-mouth disease was found in the Islington Cattle Market, and thirty-six hours afterwards another case was found in the Edinburgh Market and declared, although there was not a tittle of evidence to go upon, that the disease, in some mysterious way, was not only carried from Islington to Edinburgh, but had developed in thirty-six hours. Had the Board of Agriculture only consulted the veterinary surgeons on their staff, they would have known that the period of incubation of foot-and-mouth disease was from forty-eight hours to six days. It was true that the baccillus of foot-and-mouth disease had not been isolated, but neither had that of small pox, and no one disputed that the incubatory period of small-pox was not well known. Still, he could not see why the Board of Agriculture should not accept the veterinary opinion that the period of incubation was from two to six days, and that the ordinary time was three days. He contended that no case had been made out against Deptford. The Board of Agriculture had never been able to trace the outbreak of a single ease of foot-and-mouth disease that came from Deptford. It could not occur at Deptford. In the first place the cattle and sheep had to pass a veterinary inspection in the countries from which they came; they then had to be inspected here; and they could not leave the market alive, because the Act required them to be slaughtered within ten days. Besides which, in the countries from which, he contended, cattle should come the method of dealing with foot-and-mouth disease was much more strict than in this country. When a case of foot and-mouth disease was found in Holland, the military were called out, a cordon was drawn round the farm, and no man or woman or living thing was allowed ingress or egress until the matter was dealt with. They disinfected the farm and burnt the hay and not oniy the cattle which had the disease, but those which had been in contact with them. But we were not allowed to import cattle from such a country as Denmark, where the rules in respect to foot-and-mouth disease were still more stringent because of their dairy industry. Upon all these grounds he could see no reason why the Board of Agriculture should not withdraw the existing prohibitory order and allow cattle and sheep exported from countries officially declared to be free from foot-and-mouth disease to come over for immediate slaughter. It was not asked that those cattle should come over for stock purposes, but that they should be admitted under the same conditions as those from the United States and Canada, and that the London consumer should have the advantage of active competition. Lord Carrington would serve a very useful purpose if, by a stroke of the pen, he allowed those cattle to come in, and by so doing put again a large number of men into employment.

*MR. BOWERMAN (Deptford)

said he desired to appeal to the hon. Baronet from a purely labour point of view, and in making that appeal he believed he would have the support of the President of the Board of Agriculture, who in conjunction with the hon. Baronet had lately inspected the Deptford Cattle Market. During the inspection he had ascertained that so far as disease was concerned, it was not possible for any disease to come out of the market. The system of inspection was so stringent that he was assured that it would be impossible for any such risk to arise. The market was a city market, and cost nearly half a million to build, and he appealed strongly to the hon. Baronet, having regard to the unfortunate conditions prevailing there, to give the reasons advanced by his hon. friend fair consideration. He did not wish to suggest that it was a question of protection, but the fact remained that in both Holland and Denmark every precaution was taken to ensure that the cattle exported were free from disease, and he believed both countries had for some four or five years been officially declared to be free from disease. If that was so, combined with stringent inspection on this side, he failed to see how any possible risk could be ran of spreading foot-and-mouth disease in this country. He asked the hon. Baronet for his favourable consideration, and trusted that, in the interests of labour, the Board of Agriculture would remove the restriction at the earliest possible moment.

*MR. JACKSON (Greenwich)

said that although his hon. friends the Members for Bermondsey and Deptford had rather anticipated what he wished to say, he would venture to intervene in the debate, because he had the honour of presiding at a public meeting convened in November last, consisting of representatives of the neighbouring constituencies of Lewisham, Greenwich, Deptford and Woolwich, at which a resolution was passed urging on the President of the Board of Agriculture the immediate necessity of removing the restrictions on the importation of live cattle and sheep for the Deptford Cattle Market from countries which had been officially declared to be free from disease. Upon that occasion in the course of the discussion reference was made to a deputation which had waited on the President of the Board of Agriculture with regard to those restrictions. The deputation pointed out that they were prohibited from importing cattle from countries although those countries were officially declared to be free from disease, and that they desired the restriction to be removed. In reply the President of the Board of Agriculture said he did not think they would have to wait very long before they realised their desire. Some thought the time had now arrived when their desires in the matter should be realised, for it appeared from a letter from the Danish Minister to the Association for the Repeal of Unnecessary Restrictions at Deptford Cattle Market that there had been no case of foot-and-mouth disease in Denmark since July, 1904, and they were looking to the hon. Baronet for some encouragement in that direction. When they could refer to countries which had been declared officially to be free from disease they had a right, not in the interest of Bermondsey, or of Deptford, or of Greenwich, but of the whole country, to ask that the prohibition should be removed. The present system was one of absolute protection in regard to the cattle coming in from the United States and Canada He quite agreed with the Minister for Agriculture that where a country was not officially declared to be free from disease it was necessary to continue the restriction, and that it would mean a great expense to stamp out the disease if it was again brought in, but he thought the Minister for Agriculture should take upon himself the responsibility of allowing cattle to be imported from countries like Denmark which had been officially declared to be free from disease. There were several other countries in a similar position. There was no foot-and-mouth disease in Sweden, Denmark, Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Oldenburg, Westphalia, Holland or the Rhine provinces. His contention was that the question affected the whole country, and that anything of a prohibitive character where no danger was likely to arise from the importation of live cattle was nothing more nor less than protection. It was no local question, although incidentally it affected many trades—fellmongers, tanners, and others—which were only matters of local importance; it affected the population of London and prevented them having a large and proper supply of food. As Lord Carrington had already expressed the view that if any place was officially declared to be free from disease there was no reason why cattle should not be imported there-from, then so far as Denmark and the other countries he had mentioned were concerned they had made out a case with regard to which he hoped they would get some satisfactory reply from the hon. Baronet.

MR. PARTINGTON (Derbyshire, High Peak)

said he desired to draw attention to what had been done in the way of co-operation in regard to small holdings. He recognised what had been done by the Board of Agriculture for the promotion of small holdings, and he believed that a Bill was shortly to be brought in which would facilitate matters in that respect. But he could not help thinking that such a Bill would not be very beneficial unless something was done to start co-operative societies among the smallholders who were to be set up. Co-operation had done much in the past in helping such men to dispose of their produce and in giving them an opportunity of purchasing seeds and manures in the best markets, and without co-operation they could not expect small farmers to solve the difficult problem of marketing their produce. Denmark and Ireland supplied proofs of that contention. The great agricultural prosperity of Denmark was due to a very large extent to the system of co-operation in that country. In Ireland the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society had, as a result of its work in that direction, about ninety branches in different parts of Ireland and a turnover of something like £2,000,000. The Irish Department of Agriculture had given valuable assistance and several grants of money to that Society, and he hoped the Board of Agriculture would give equal assistance to a similar organisation in this country.

*SIR F. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)

said it was a fallacy to place reliance altogether on official declarations that any particular country was free from cattle disease, unless there was a guarantee that along the entire frontiers of the country from which these cattle were exported there was no risk of infection. An official declaration that an area was free from disease at a particular moment would not be sufficient reason for cancelling existing regulations. That would be a most dangerous ground for the Board of Agriculture to adopt for doing anything of the kind. The matter, it was said, had been brought before the House both in the general interest of the community and in the interest of localities in which hardships had been caused by the existing regulations. By those regulations it was extremely probable that losses and hardships were inflicted on groups of individuals and certain districts, but in determining a national policy upon a matter of supreme importance the interests of the whole country had to be considered. Looking at the question from that point of view, he could not but consider it would be inexpedient and unwise to relax the regulations and allow the possibility of a return of such a disaster to the agriculture of the country as occurred in the seventies. Any one who had gone into the history of those times and had considered the enormous losses that had been inflicted on agriculture and the community generally must have come to the conclusion that anything approaching the condition of things which existed then would be an incalculable disaster. But they had to look further and consider the whole of the interests of the community, as well as the prosperity of agriculture. As corn growing became unprofitable, agriculture had only been able to hold its own by the rearing of fat stock and dairy farming. Let Members consider the effect of the admission of the seeds of foot-and-mouth disease into the areas from whence London drew its milk supply and dairy produce. He knew some of the large farmers in Wilts and elsewhere, who sent anything from 1,000 to 3,000 gallons of milk every day to London. To run the risk of starting an epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease or pleuro-pneumonia on the farms from which those quantities of milk were supplied to our great centres of population would be ruinous to the farmers concerned, but more serious still would be the result to the population of London and of our large towns. To the community at large it would be disastrous.


said he thought the hon. Member had misunderstood his argument. He was only asking for repeal of the regulation affecting cattle for immediate slaughter, not for cattle generally.


said he understood hon. Members had been arguing for the cancellation of the regulations. He would press his point no further than saying that the Board of Agriculture, if it yielded to the pressure for relaxation of the regulations, would commit a very serious and dangerous blunder. He was not aware that any regulation seriously interfered with the supply of cattle for immediate slaughter. There were one or two other topics upon which he hoped to obtain some information from the Department. He found fault with the Treasury for withholding the financial support necessary for dealing with the outbreak of glanders. On the other hand, he was glad to notice that the Board of Agriculture had carried out valuable experiments with a view to obtaining control over the ravages of anthrax. He desired to know whether those experiments and the inferences to be drawn from them as detailed in the important Report issued by the Board last summer were being carried further, and were likely to result in practical action in the way of legislation or administrative orders for the better protection of cattle from that scourge. The suggestions made in the Report that the disease was caused in some cases by infected feeding stuffs and cakes, and in other cases by the contamination of many refuse materials by which presumably human beings also were being infected, pointed the way to further inquiries and to more effective measures of stamping out. If that were not so, he thought the time had arrived for a departmental scientific inquiry into anthrax. He wished also to ask as to one of the most urgent and pressing questions of the day—agricultural education—whether the Board was attempting to arrive at a working arrangement with the Board of Education. It was essential that there should be a Joint Committee of the two Boards to direct the development of agricultural education. As it was now there was no real co-ordination and the institutions subsidised by the Board were deprived of half their utility. He was glad that the Government were about to introduce legislation for the encouragement of small holdings, but he feared that, without a wider and more thorough system of agricultural education, their efforts would be almost fruitless. The money at the disposal of the Board of Agriculture for educational purposes was wholly inadequate; and he hoped pressure would be brought to bear upon the Treasury to give a larger grant for the purpose.

MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)

said that, as the representative of a county where swine-feeding was one of the most profitable parts of agriculture, he joined in the hope which had been expressed that the Board of Agriculture, in dealing with swine fever, would endeavour to cause as little inconvenience as possible to farmers engaged in the industry.

MR. E. GARDNER (Berkshire, Wokingham)

said there was no matter of greater importance or upon which the agricultural industry of this country felt more keenly than that of protection against disease. He thought the right hon. Member for Wimbledon, if he were rightly credited with having by a stroke of the pen brought about the condition of affairs under which we had lived for the last three or four years, ought to be very proud of his achievement. Those who brought forward that scheme had no idea or very little of what an outbreak of foot-and-mouth-disease really meant. The hon. Member for Southwark had said that if the restriction were removed by the Board of Agriculture, disease could not be spread from the market, because the beasts would be killed there. How could anyone make a statement of that kind unless he proposed to disinfect every man who had anything to do with the market? It was well known that the disease could be carried out in the clothes, and if that was so, and the disease made its appearance in Deptford Market, it was impossible to say that it could be isolated there. He was sorry to be in opposition to the hon. Member for Bermondsey or to any of those people who might by regulation of the kind complained be hampered in getting their living; but in this case they came into competition with the great industry of agriculture, which employed the largest number of people of any industry in the country, and the interests of Bermondsey were not to be compared with the interests of agriculture as a whole. It might be true that there was little danger of foot-and-mouth disease being introduced by live cattle from such countries as Belgium, Holland or Denmark, but if the disease were once introduced the danger would be enormous, and it was the dread of the introduction of the disease and the amount of mischief it would do if introduced that led him to urge upon the Board of Agriculture that they should stand firm against any relaxation of the provisions against the importation of live cattle. One hon. Member had spoken of the great industries which had grown up during the last twenty years round the Deptford Cattle Market, but there was nothing of more importance to the population of the country as well as the agricultural industry than that the dairying industry, which was valuable, should be carried out on lines that would enable those who were engaged in it to produce an article under conditions which the medical authorities could approve. In the little homesteads, where five or ten animals were kept, they could never have that sanitary condition of things that was to be found in larger places. The owners of the small places could not afford the sanitary appliances which the larger places could. If the regulations were relaxed, and it got into the minds of those engaged in the dairying industry that disease might ensue, we should never again secure the existence of the large herds of cattle which had hitherto existed, and he could conceive nothing more disastrous to the growing population of the country than that they should in that way be deprived of their milk supply. What was the main desire of all those who looked for the welfare of the race at the present day in regard to the physical bringing up of the people of the country? It was that they should have a plentiful and cheap supply of pure, good milk. He had ventured to assert in other assemblies, and he now did so in the House of Commons, that if they could get half a pint of good, pure milk into the stomachs of the children in the towns as well as of those in the country, they would be doing them more good than by the education they were trying to stultify them with. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laughed at that, but they should see the difference between the two classes of children—those who got the education and those who got the milk. They would not be able to get a sufficient supply unless there was a sense of security on the part of those who were able to produce it, and that they would not get if they adopted proposals such as that brought forward on that occasion. Although he differed from the hon. Baronet in polities, he was sure from what he knew of him that he would protect the various interests of agriculture which had been brought before the House that afternoon.

*MR. BECK (Cambridgeshire, Wisbech)

wished to associate himself with what had been said about any relaxation of the regulations as to the importation of cattle. He was sure that any feeling of insecurity among stock-breeders would be a calamity to agriculture. The matter which he, however, was immediately concerned in bringing forward was as to whether some steps could not be taken to carry out the recommendations of the Committee upon fruit culture which reported in 1905. It was urged by that Committee that a sub-department of the Board of Agriculture should be appointed for the purpose of dealing with that subject, and that the interests of fruit growers should be dealt with by a bureau which should give information in regard to markets and so forth. He was convinced that the industry of fruit growing was one which deserved the earnest support of the Board of Agriculture. He knew that the Board had had the matter at heart. He pointed out, however, that it was not only a growing industry, but one which employed a large number of people and therefore did something to check the flow of the rural population into the towns, a tendency which they all so much deplored. He brought the matter forward on the same Estimates last session, and the hon. Baronet promised to consider it. He hoped that that consideration had led to something which would result in the recommendations of the Committee of 1905 being carried out. He also called attention to the hardship which resulted in cases of swine erysipelas. That not being a scheduled disorder, farmers received no compensation when animals were destroyed. Cases of that kind had occurred in his own constituency and he urged that the disease should be scheduled. He feared it was too late to do anything for the Chatteris sufferers, but hoped no other pig growers would be exposed to similar hardship.


In discussing the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rye in regard to the hop industry, I must say at the outset that it is a question whether it is not more a subject of legislation than of administration. I do not wish, at the same time, to raise the technical question that the Board of Agriculture has no power to consider and deal with the conditions of this industry; I merely wish to enter a caveat against, the ideas that there is any obligation at all under the present Act imposed upon the Board of Agriculture, or that the Board has in any way departed from any duty imposed upon them by legislation. The hon. Gentleman has referred to the question of marking imported hops, and of course it is very possible that when there was a duty upon imported hops there may have been some necessity for the marking of them. The hon. Member also referred to the decrease of acreage under hop cultivation, but that is due to the fact that in very prosperous years a great deal of land was planted with hops which was entirely unsuited for their cultivation, and which cannot compete with the best growing land abroad or in this country, just as is well known a great deal of pasture was ploughed up during the time of the Corn Laws which has been returned to pasture simply because it is not fitted for corn. The same thing may be said about the growing of hops upon unsuitable land. My hon. friend also referred to the Report of the Hop Industry Committee, but with his usual acumen and acuteness he saw at once that that Report disposes of a considerable portion of his argument. But he went on to point out that the prophecy of the Committee of more prosperous times has been falsified. It is a very dangerous thing indeed to prophesy, because as a rule prophecies turn out to be wrong, but it is quite a different thing to make a statement upon evidence. The Hop Industry Committee reported as follows— Evidence has been given as to the expediency of compelling the marking of foreign hops in the same manner as English grown hops are marked. The foreign hops which are imported to this country come without any special marks guaranteeing the districts in which they are grown. Your Committee, however, are unable to see that the interest of English hop growers can be promoted by requiring any certificate of origin of such foreign hops and thus giving greater security to purchasers of them. There were some gentlemen of great knowledge and experience of the industry on that Committee. Mr. Shaw Lefevre was the chairman, and the members were Mr. Agg-Gardner, Mr. Biddulph, Mr. (now Sir Francis) Channing, Sir Guyer Hunter, Mr. Edward Knatchbull-Hugessen, Sir Wilfred Lawson, Sir Edmund Lechmere, Sir Roper Lethbridge, Mr. Long, Mr. Jasper More, Mr. Norton, Mr. O'Keefe, Mr. Pomfret, Sir Henry Roscoe, Mr. Stack, and lastly Mr. Brookfield, who had the honour to represent the division which the hon. Gentleman now represents. All of us who sat in this House with Mr. Brookfield know what an expert he was, and what a thorough knowledge of hops he had, and yet he concurred in the Report of that Committtee. I do not think therefore that the Board of Agriculture can be expected to agree with the hon. Member in holding that the Committee was probably wrong. I very much doubt, also, if the marking of foreign hops will prevent gambling, which takes place on the corn market just in the same way as on the hop market. The hon. Member said that the vast majority of hop-growers desired this change, and he said that the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Hop Growers' Association were in favour of it. If that is the case, I cannot help thinking that it must be a new development, and that their interest in the matter cannot be very great, for they have never made any representation to the Board of Agriculture on the subject. I cannot agree with the hon. Member that the vast majority of hop growers desire a change, when we know that in the county of Kent some of the principal hop growers have declared that they do not want any alteration of the law. As far as it is possible to judge from private investigations, from statements at meetings and in the Press, the growers of Kent, which, after all, it will be allowed is the great county in regard to hops, do not want any alteration. When great hop growers like Mr. Amos and Mr. Berry declare that they do not want any alteration of the law, that is apparent. It is being stated at meetings in Kent, and I am not sure it is not being said in Sussex also, that so far from a change being of any advantage it will be a disadvantage and do harm to the trade of the English hop grower. It is thought that it will have very much the same effect as the Merchandise Marks Act, and that its only effect will be to advertise foreign goods, and that is the reason why hop growers in Kent think that instead of this marking being of any assistance to them it will be the reverse. I do not think the arguments which have been advanced will receive very much support from hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, when one remembers that though there is a great deal of labour in the hop industry, it is of a casual character, and I do not think Labour Members would wish to encourage casual employment, which leads to periods of misery and distress. As regards the question of swine fever, raised by my hon. friend the Member for East Wiltshire, I can assure him and the hon. Baronet opposite that the Board of Agriculture is taking the greatest possible interest in it. Indeed, if it be any satisfaction to the hon. Gentlemen, I may state that I am personally interested, because in my own county of Somerset there has been a serious outbreak of swine fever, and the whole of the county has been declared an infected area. Therefore, the Committee may feel assured that in reference to this matter I am not only as anxious but as sympathetic as I can be, and I can only say that the restrictions imposed will be such as are absolutely necessary for the purpose of stamping out the disease. My hon. friend the Member for East Wiltshire has referred to the question of sows sent to a farm for breeding purposes. I think the hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension on this subject. Another hon. Member wrote to me the other day to the effect that suppose a sow were sent to a farm for breeding purposes, then until after twenty-eight days no other sow might be sent to that farm. That is not so. The fact is this. If a sow is taken to a farm no other pigs may be removed from that farm until after twenty-eight days; but that does not prevent another sow from being taken to the farm. And very often, at any rate in the case of large farms, the landlord, anxious to benefit his tenant and the people living around, and at the same time not to hamper his own business as a seller of pigs, takes moans to isolate the boar at some distance, so that there is no necessity for isolating the whole of the premises. I think difficulties can be got over, but at the same time the Board are strongly of opinion that the restriction that no sow should be sent off a farm until the lapse of twenty-eight days after other pigs have been sent to it, is one that ought to be retained. Of course, I am aware it is said that the present orders are too stringent, and that the older orders were quite sufficient. I might have been inclined to think that, also, some few weeks ago but for what has taken place in my own county of Somerset. The restrictions which existed have not been sufficient to prevent a very serious outbreak indeed in that county. I would refer my hon. friend the Member for East Wiltshire, who thinks these restrictions have been sufficient for the whole country, to the figures which boar on the matter. In 1905 there were 292 outbreaks of swine fever, and 1,399 swine were affected. Last year there were 474 outbreaks and 2438 swine were affected. Taking twenty weeks in 1907, there had been 874 outbreaks, and 4,419 swine were affected. It will be seen from those figures that, whatever the cause, undoubtedly swine fever has increased in a very unsatisfactory way; and, therefore, it will be necessary for the Board of Agriculture to maintain existing restrictions. But I can assure hon. Gentlemen that neither the Board, nor, I think, the local authorities, have any desire to make those restrictions more stringent than is absolutely necessary to meet the outbreak. We have every reason to hope, however, that with stringent precautions we shall be able to combat and stamp out the disease, which, for some reason or another that we cannot at present account for, has again broken out. We hope to get a thorough grasp of the disease, and, after a time, we may possibly be able to relax the more stringent regulations of which hon. Members to some extent complain. But I can hold out no hope of that at the present moment.


said the hon. Gentleman had not understood, apparently, their point with regard to sending a sow to the boar. Their point was that it might be necessary to send the sow again, and, though they had been able to do that hitherto, now they could not do it.


I perfectly understood the hon. Baronet's point. If when a sow has been sent to a farm, other pigs are brought to the premises, then it cannot be removed until after the lapse of twenty-eight days; but if no pigs have been brought to the farm, then it can be removed. That is where the difficulty arises. It is curious to note that it is not only in this country that there have been outbreaks of swine fever, but there has been a case in Ireland. I can assure hon. Members that the Board of Agriculture are anxious, and I personally am anxious, that the restrictions shall be worked with as little friction as possible. We are desirous of working hand in hand with the local authorities, and of giving as little trouble as possible to agriculturists, in our efforts to stamp out the disease. In reference to the question raised by the hon. Member for Montgomery Boroughs, in regard to the appointment of inspectors who know the Welsh language, my hon. friend is doubtless aware that advertisements have been inserted in the Welsh papers, and every effort made to meet the feelings of the Welsh people on this particular matter of appointing inspectors who have a knowledge of the Welsh tongue, if those appointed are properly qualified in other respects. [An HON. MEMBER: Are there enough of them?] If there are not enough of them, that raises an entirely different question, and it is one which shall be looked into. I can assure the hon. Member that no one is more anxious than my noble friend the President of the Board of Agriculture to meet the feelings of the Welsh people on this point. Reference has been made to the restriction of the importation of foreign cattle, and I should like to say at once that nobody can be a stronger free-trader than I am but I think my hon. friend who raised the point is entirely under a misapprehension with regard to it, and I think he must realise, after the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Northamptonshire, who is one of the strongest free-traders on these benches, that this is not at all a question of free trade or protection in the ordinary sense of the word. The only way in which it is protection is that the protection is against disease, and I hope the hon. Member is sufficiently a protectionist to desire protection against disease. In regard to the question as to the number of cattle and sheep coming into Deptford market, I have a Report made by the Corporation of the City of London Cattle Markets Committee, which contains a Return showing in 1897 an increase of 3,716 cattle, and a decrease of 12,121 sheep. It is doubtful whether there is any large supply of Continental cattle available for import into this country at the present time—that is to say, if there was no restriction as regards European cattle. It is quite true that at one time Germany sent large numbers to this country, but at the present time she now imports from Demark and the Netherlands, and takes all the cattle which we formerly got from Schleswig - Holstein. American cattle slaughtered at Deptford are sent to Germany at a profit notwithstanding the duty. Denmark is now much more a dairying than a grazing country. Taking the average of the years 1883–4–5, we imported from Denmark 94,376 cattle as against an average for 1889–90–91 of 63,873. If we take the case of sheep for the last twenty years, we find that the average for the three years, 1883, 1884, and 1885, was 84,000 imported from Denmark, and that total fell in the three years 1889, 1890 and 1891, to 70,000. In the year 1876, when there was no transatlantic competition, we imported from the Netherlands 86,000 cattle, and 412,675 sheep. The average for the throe years 1883, 1884 and 1885 was 42,000 cattle and 223,000 sheep. During the three years, 1889, 1890 and 1891, when the importation from the Netherlands was free we imported an average of 40,959 cattle and 175,431 sheep. Now what has been the cause of the falling off in the supplies from Europe, when there was no prohibition? I believe it is entirely owing to the Transatlantic competition, as well as to the growing population and wealth of European countries. In 1876 we imported from the United States for slaughter and distribution 392 cattle, and no sheep at all; from Canada 2,557 cattle and 1,826 sheep. In 1881 we imported from America 103,673 cattle and 49,223 sheep; and from Canada 44,383 cattle and 66,487 sheep. The last year in which there was this free importation was 1891, and in that year we imported 314,838 cattle from America, and 10,550 sheep, and from Canada 108,286 cattle and 31,664 sheep. These figures show that in the year 1876 Continental countries, with no competition from the United States or Canada, imported 266,849 cattle, whilst in the year 1891 with competition they only imported in round numbers 79,000 cattle, or a decrease of 186,869 cattle from America and Canada. America and Canada imported in 1876, 392 cattle, and in 1891 that total had increased to 425,824 in cattle alone. But this is not only a question of importation of live cattle and sheep for slaughter, but we have to consider the importation of dead meat as well. This becomes a very important factor when it is said that we are by these regulations restricting our food supplies and causing the price of food to go up. In 1876 the amount of dead meat imported was 788,973 cwts., the proportion of sheep not being distinguished. In 1891 the total was 4,450,572 cwts. of cattle and 1,728,067 cwts. of sheep. In 1896 we imported the enormous total of 10,112,672 cwts. of cattle and 4,131,199 cwts. of sheep.


Does that include frozen meat?


There is no doubt that a large amount of that is frozen meat, but there is a good deal of it chilled. I have heard it said that frozen mutton is a very poor substitute indeed for English meat. I think, however, that the Committee will agree with me that there is a good deal of very good frozen and chilled beef consumed in this country which has been an enormous boon to the working classes. Not only is this meat good, but the poor people are able to buy it at very low and reasonable prices, and I am only too anxious to see that the working classes get the fullest possible benefit from its importation. The only objection which the President of the Board of Agriculture takes to the suggestion that these restrictions should be removed is that the Disease of Animals Act of 1894, which was passed by a Liberal Government, lays the obligation upon the Board of Agriculture to prohibit the importation of animals for slaughter from any country in which foot-and-mouth disease exists, or in which the sanitary regulations are such as not to afford reasonable security against the risk of the introduction of the disease. The reason why the President of the Board of Agriculture at the present moment refuses to allow cattle to come in from Europe to be slaughtered is because he feels that the obligation laid upon him is one which he must abide by, and until my noble friend is satisfied that the importation asked for from Europe, where foot-and-mouth disease exists, can take place without the risk of introducing disease it is the duty of the Government to maintain the present exclusion. A reference has been made to a deputation which was received by Lord Carrington last year, but the interpretation which has been placed upon what ray noble friend said upon that occasion has given a wrong impression, and in justice to him I think it is necessary that I should read what he did say. His actual words were— I quite understand your point. I sympathise with the desire of the Deputation, but I feel that I cannot take upon myself the responsibility of holding out any hope of doing what you wish. During the autumn session of 1906 I was asked a question about allowing cattle to be imported from the Netherlands, which at the time was altogether free from disease. I then pointed out that there was no effective boundary between the Netherlands and other parts of Europe where foot-and-mouth disease was prevalent, and, as at any moment there might be an outbreak in those other countries, it was impossible for the Board to run the risk of introducing foot-and-mouth disease into this country. It so happened that a very short time afterwards there was a serious outbreak in the Netherlands. From 1892 to 1902 foot-and-mouth disease was continuously prevalent in all parts of the Netherlands, the highest number of animals attacked in one year being 868,215 and the lowest 917. From 1903 to 1905 the disease almost entirely disappeared, but it suddenly recurred in November, 1903, when no less than 106 animals were affected during the months of November and December in the province of Limburg. It is important to remember that across the border, in Germany, foot-and-mouth disease is almost continuously prevalent, although there has been no cases of the disease in Denmark since 1904, when twenty-one animals were affected in the province of Praesto. Taking Europe as a whole, it may be said that foot-and-mouth disease is indigenous; there does not appear any reasonable prospect in the near future of stamping it out altogether, and therefore it is obviously necessary that the Board of Agriculture should maintain the restrictions. Foreign countries generally are rather inclined to recognise that we are justified in taking these precautions. Hon. Members may be certain that Lord Carrington is only too anxious to meet the wishes of London and London Members, with whom he has worked on the County Council, and it is only a sense of duty that com- pels him to keep the regulations in force at the present moment. There would be great risk of disease if the regulations were removed. There is a great deal of risk to be feared from men going about among diseased cattle and spreading the disease. This danger is not confined to animals, but distress and suffering are often caused to human beings through the transmission of disease. I know a case in which a man, after visiting an infected area, came back to his farm and went into his dairy and cowshed without changing his clothes, and in that way brought foot-and-mouth disease to his farm. The Edinburgh case which was referred to by my hon. friend is a small matter. We said thirty-six, and it has been stated that we ought to have said forty-eight. I would say to my hon. friend that that is a case in which doctors differ. It is certainly not for laymen like the noble Earl and myself to say that we refuse, or object to continue, to act on the advice of our advisers. We say that the risk of infection being carried is very great. This terrible disease may be carried to different parts of the country by the men and the customers who are going among the cattle. There can be no doubt that it is a most infectious disease, and it brings a great deal of distress and suffering not only to the animals themselves, but sometimes, as is well known, to people, who manifest the symptoms of the disease and suffer in the same way as the animals do. It is, therefore, a question which in crests not only farmers, but the general population, and it is of the greatest importance that we should not allow the disease to spread. It has been said that in this particular case we should relax the regulations, because of the difficulty in connection with the want of employment. When the noble Earl and myself went down to Deptford we were sorry to find that there were 600 unemployed men who might have been in employment if this leakage, or rather this shortage of sheep, could have been filled up by the importation of sheep from abroad. But my hon. friend did not bring forward any proposal to show how a larger number could be imported. At the present moment I think the real difficulty in regard to the men at Deptford is that there is a general shortage of sheep in America and Canada, and, that being so, fewer are being imported. On the other hand, I would remind my hon. friend that on the question of labour there is a better outlook. It is expected that more sheep will be brought when the Panama Canal is constructed. Hon. Members may say: "That seems to be a long way off;" but I may tell them that agents representing dealers and producers have been making inquiries at the Deptford market as to the bringing of sheep from Australia and New Zealand by ships using the Panama Canal when it is opened. In that way the passage will be shortened, and it will be possible to bring a large number of sheep to the market at Deptford. No one can regret more than I do the want of employment at this particular place owing to the shortage of sheep. But, supposing that foot-and-mouth disease were brought into the country in consequence of the importation of animals from abroad, it would mean want of employment, not to 600, but to thousands of men. It is generally admitted that the agricultural interest is not in a very flourishing state, and if you had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease all over the country you would have farmers ruined, and that would mean to agricultural labourers being thrown out of employment. They would be hard hit, and they are a class the Government are anxious to benefit. I venture to say to my hon. friends of the Labour Party that if they went in to any meeting composed of agricultural labourers, people dependent on agriculture, and suggested the mere idea of running the risk of bringing foot-and-mouth disease once more into this country, the idea would be received with the greatest horror, because many of them, unfortunately, have had experience of what the disease means. They know perfectly well that, in the present state of things, if there was a serious outbreak it would mean ruin to the farmers and also to them. I venture to say, without fear of contradiction, that you could not get any meeting of people connected with agriculture to support any such proposal. My hon. friend has referred to the case of butchers who used to go and buy small lots, and he rather suggested that it was owing to the restrictions on cattle coming from Europe that the system on which they conducted their business had been interfered with. That has nothing to do with it. It arises out of the action of the companies who have control of the cattle trade at the present time. They have been able to squeeze out those who buy on commission. I have been told that these people—they are a very small number in America—arrange not only to send over cattle to this country, but that if they cannot be sold at the prices they expect they are withheld. It may be said that under the regulations they must be slaughtered within ten hours. That is true, and they are slaughtered and put into cold storage rooms and kept there, and so thoroughly organised are the great trusts that they are even ready to send out portions of the carcase to small traders in different parts of the country. There is another point in regard to the price of meat to which I wish to refer. If you take the index number as 100, you will find that in the year 1876 the price of beef was 111.6, and the price of mutton, 118.3. If you take the year 1896 the price of beef was 82.2, and the price of mutton 81.5. Another year afterwards the prices were: beef, 83.7, and mutton, 95.8.


asked the hon. Gentleman to state why the Board of Agriculture had given a preference to the United States over European countires in the importation of cattle. It was a well-known fact that outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease had occurred in the New England States, and yet the Board of Agriculture had not prevented the importation of cattle from those parts.


The Board of Agriculture has given no preference at all to America. The only difference between America and countries in Europe is that in America you may have an isolated case a long way off, whereas in the case of European countries the danger is more immediate. If the Board of Agriculture thought that there was the slightest danger of the disease being brought to this country through the importation of cattle from America, they would have the same restrictions imposed on American imports as on those from European countries. At the present moment the Board of Agriculture are perfectly satisfied that as regards Canada and the United States there is not the slightest danger in importing cattle for slaughter from these two countries. As regards the question raised by the hon. Member for Derbyshire, I can assure him that it will be considered. As regards what has been said by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire, he is perfectly well aware of the present state of things as set out in the Report of the Committee. My Board are considering the present situation and what should be done in view of the fact that the Treasury has refused to make any grant in connection with the matter. As regards the question of anthrax and the various sources from which it arises, I have to say that the question is being very carefully considered. The hon. Member praised the valuable Report which has lately been issued, and asked whether I could do anything to carry out greater preventive measures than are in operation at the present moment. I do not think it desirable to say anything further about what is said in that Report except that the Board will consider whether anything can be done by legislation or administration. At the present moment experiments could be made at the experimental farm at Sunbury. The question of making experiments is being considered. I think the hon. Member will see that there again it would be very difficult for the Board of Agriculture with its small resources to go in for investigation and experiment. I can only hope that the hon. Gentleman will press the Treasury to provide funds, for the Board of Agriculture are perfectly well aware of the necessity and the importance of being furnished with greater funds for the purpose of carrying out these experiments in the interest of the protection of the flocks and herds from a disease which is also very dangerous to human beings. As regards the question of a Departmental Committee, I do not think the hon. Gentleman can expect me to say am thing on that point at the present moment. I can assure him that the question will be fully considered. I do not think we could do much through a Departmental Committee in inquiring into questions in relation to the disease unless more funds are placed at our disposal. There is no doubt that the Board would be only too glad to carry out experiments if they had the necessary funds. My hon. friend asked a question as to whether a separate section could not be created to look after the interests of the fruit industry. That might be done if all the officers of the Department were under one roof. That is not the case at the present moment; but we are anxious to do all we can to advance the interest of the British fruit industry. I think I have now dealt with all the questions which had been brought before the Committee; and I trust that as regards this specially important matter in relation to foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia, I have shown the reasons why the President of the Board of Agriculture cannot hold out any hope of the restrictions being relaxed at present. That was from no want of sympathy with the views of hon. Members, but because of the difficulties that have arisen in connection with the introduction of live cattle and sheep for immediate slaughter in our ports.


said he was not at all content with the hon. Baronet's answer. He had said that one reason for upholding the Report of the Committee of 1890 as to the marking of foreign hops, was that Colonel Brookfield, who was a great export on the subject, sat upon that Committee. That was true, but the hon. Baronet forgot that Colonel Brookfield himself proposed an alternative Report to that presented by the Committee, which he strenuously opposed by voting against it on every possible opportunity.


Not on this particular point.


said that Colonel Brookfield was not present on the day that particular paragraph was carried. The hon. Baronet had further said that the hop growers of Kent did not desire the Board to take action. He believed they would soon take steps to convince the Board of their demand. Although not satisfied with the Government's answer he would not press the proposed reduction.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.


moved the reduction of the Vote by £100.


said that the hon. Member had bettor move a reduction on the whole Vote, and not one of the same amount on this particular item.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the reduced sum of £77,740 be granted for the said service."—(Dr. Cooper.)

MR. CARLILE (Hertfordshire, St. Alban's)

congratulated the hon. Baronet on the firm attitude he had taken up on the subject of foot-and-mouth disease. All those who were really interested in agriculture, which was the greatest industry in the country, must feel that the hon. Baronet had done the right thing. He was sure that every hon. Member felt that money spent on the support of agriculture was well invested; but he wanted some explanation as to why there had been increases in the clerks on the staff and why two map-mounters had been appointed at a salary of £172. Map-mounting used to be done by the printing contractor.


said that the question raised by him was very important and he was afraid that the answer of the hon. Baronet was by no means satisfactory. The hon. Baronet had said that when he went to Deptford no information was given him as to any importation of sheep into that port.


said that what he had stated was that the hon. Gentleman in the House had not given the Department any idea of the amount of importation of cattle and sheep at Deptford.


asked whether they could give information of that kind until merchants had the opportunity—of which the Order of the Agriculture Board deprived them—of showing what the importation would be? If facilities were given by a relaxation of the order, the trade from continental countries would spring up to its former proportions. The hon. Baronet had said that frozen mutton was not a bad sort of food. Why then was it not provided in the House? If it was so good, why should not the Chairman of the Kitchen Committee immediately order a supply for hon. Members in the dining-room? And why not buy chilled meat. At the same time he had no doubt that hon. Members ate chilled meat when they imagined they were eating English fresh-killed meat. However, whether it was as nutritious or not, chilled moat did not fetch the same price in the market as fresh beef and mutton killed at the Deptford and Birkenhead foreign cattle market which was a fair test of what the trade and consumer thought about fresh as compared with chilled or frozen meat. He could not see why European countries, which had the most drastic regulations as to the spread of disease either amongst cattle or sheep, should not be allowed the privilege granted to the United States and Canada, of importing cattle and sheep into our ports for immediate slaughter. The meat market was at present in the hands of an American meat trust. They might have1,500 or 2,000 head of cattle on hand, but if their price could not be obtained they killed the animals and sent the carcases to cold storage. If there was no danger of foot-and-mouth disease as in the case of Holland and Denmark, their cattle ought not to be excluded in favour of those coming from America. Cattle from those countries went into Germany and other cattle-breeding countries. All he asked was that the same facilities should be offered to European countries which were officially declared free from disease as were given to the United States. The hon. Baronet had said that serious damage might arise to the agricultural interest, but, meanwhile the sum of money the town worker lost in wages and the increased price the consumer had to pay more than counterbalanced that loss, and the total represented the sum the consumers of London alone had to pay to protect the land-owners' interests. He was surprised to hear that the present Government, which got into office on a free-trade policy, should actually support protection of the agricultural interest.

Question put, and negatived.

Original Question again proposed.

MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)

said he wished to move to reduce Item H by £100 in regard to Kew Gardens.


said the hon. Member would have to move the reduction of the whole Vote by £200 or £500. He had already put a reduction on the whole vote of £100 which had been negatived, and a reduction on an item would not now be in order.


said that in that case he would move to reduce the Vote by £500, in order to call attention to the position of the gardeners at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and to the appointment of an assistant director there at a salary of something like £500. There were, he said, about twenty-four officials at the gardens already, and he would like the hon. Baronet who represented the Board of Agriculture to explain why it was necessary to make this further appointment. He complained that the gardeners, who did highly-skilled work, received only 21s. a week wages, as compared with the 24s. given to the labourers and the 27s. received by the gardeners in the Royal parks. These men had a legitimate claim to some consideration. He begged to move.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £77,340, be granted for the said service."—(Mr. Summerbell.)

DR. RUTHERFORD (Middlesex, Brentford)

hoped the hon. Baronet would see his way to entertain the appeal which had been made to him on behalf of the gardeners at Kew. At the present time they were receiving only 21s. per week although they were skilled scientific workmen, whilst the labourers at Kew were receiving 24s. per week. In the Royal Parks the gardeners received 27s. per week, and the London County Council paid their gardeners 27s., rising to 30s. per week. He thought it was very discreditable for the Government to lag behind the London County Council in the matter of wages. Although there was now a Moderate majority on the London County Council they had not heard that there was any intention of reducing the wages of the workmen. The gardeners at Kew were not getting even rough justice, and the moral effect of that must be even more serious because such long hours and poor pay were demoralising. The present scale of payment was entirely indefensible. They had heard a good deal about sweated industries, and he was inclined to think that those gardeners came under that heading. He hoped that every suspicion of sweating would be removed from the department, and that the Government would take up their proper position as model employers of labour.

MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)

said a great deal of clerical work had to be done at Kew, and at present the director had to give almost the whole of his time to that clerical work and had little time left for the scientific research work which was expected of him. It was not fair to expect a man who had supreme control of that scientific work to give many hours daily to routine work. An assistant ought to be appointed. The sum had been voted before, but the post had not been filled up. He hoped the wages of the gardeners would be increased. Even if it were admitted that they went to Kew for the purpose of getting further training, a wage of 21s. was too low. Rents in the neighbourhood of Kew were rather high, and the men could not get a house or rooms unless they paid a high rate. Under those circumstances it was not possible for a man to maintain himself in comfort upon such a low rate of wages as 21s. per week. He would like to know the opinion of the director himself upon that point. He thought hon. Members who had spoken on the subject were quite justified in calling attention to the question. If the gardeners' wages were increased the wages of the sub-foremen ought also to be increased.

MR. C. DUNCAN (Barrow-in-Furness)

did not think these gardeners could live decently upon 21s. a week. It was a very strange thing that whilst the labourers at Kew were receiving 24s. a week the gardeners were paid only 21s. He thought a good case had been made out for increasing their wages. The present scale of payment debarred these men from even considering the possibility of married life. That was a point which was worth considering by the hon. Baronet. He thought the best course to pursue would be to give the gardeners a small advance this year, and continue it each year, so that the men would be gradually placed upon the same level as the labourers employed at Kew.


The present director of Kew Gardens is overworked, and, in the interests of scientific research, it is absolutely necessary that he should have an assistant. I am sure that my hon. friend who raised this question does not desire that exceptionally long hours of labour should be imposed upon any man. My hon. friend believes in short hours of labour, but I can assure him that the director at Kew works a great deal more than eight hours a day. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary that he should have some assistance, and the appointment of an assistant director is necessary. It is on that ground alone that the appointment of this assistant is asked for, and it is in the public interest that this recommendation is made. The Treasury have sanctioned it, and before doing so they satisfied themselves that the appointment was absolutely necessary. With regard to the gardeners employed at Kew, it is a question to be considered entirely by itself. "Gardeners" is a wrong name to give them, because they are not gardeners in the ordinary sense. They are really apprentices learning their work, and fitting themselves for good and remunerative employment elsewhere. The position of things is that in 1906 and 1907 the Treasury refused to sanction an increase in their wages. These young gardeners must be unmarried and can only stay for two years at Kew. This 21s. is not really a wage but a subsistence allowance. The most valuable part of their wages is the experience in scientific horticulture which they gain; they receive a course of lectures, theoretical instruction, and a leaving certificate, and this is all paid for at the expense of the country. No less than 160 of the gardeners who have been trained at Kew now hold official and other posts in various parts of the Empire. There is the greatest competition amongst gardeners to come to Kew in order to get the knowledge to be obtained there and also the valuable certificate which is granted to them upon leaving and enables them to get another appointment. The hon. Gentleman below the gangway said that they ought to have some prospects before them. They do not go to Kew without some prospects of promotion and of higher salaries. They go to Kew to fit themselves for work in other parts of the country and other parts of the Empire. They merely receive their salaries as apprentices; the 21s. is subsistence money and allowance for any out of pocket expenses. It is not paid as wages; otherwise the amount would be such as ought not to be paid, being lower than the ordinary day labourer's wage. It is entirely a misapprehension on the part of hon. Members to suppose that the 21s. is paid as a wage, and that those who receive it ought to be put in the same position as those who receive 24s. a week. They have not to look forward to making their living at Kew; they are acquiring that knowledge which will enable them to get places in England or Europe or in various parts of the Empire. These men are learners, and the wage they receive is an increase on what they received some few years ago, my right hon. friend having raised the amount paid to them. It is a subsistence allowance, and, as I have said, there is no reason why it should be changed at the present moment. My hon. friends will agree with me that the Government have been very liberal in their concessions this year to the foremen, gardeners, ordinary labourers and others on the question of wages, and the reason why we refuse an increase in this instance is because the payment is not a wage in the ordinary sense. Those men, in fact, are receiving great assistance. Young men go to private establishments for a year or so to acquire knowledge which will be useful to them in the future, and they do so without receiving any wages. Yet the advantages they obtain in that way are not so great as are those gained by the learners at Kew, who go into the world bearing the imprimatur of that great institution and armed with the certificates which are given to them.


said he was surprised at the reply of the hon. Gentleman, for so long as men were paid 21s. a week there would always be discontent. They talked of these men being apprentices and learners, but what sort of an industry was that where a man had to serve five years before they would take him as a first class gardener? And to say that his wage, from the age of twenty to twenty-five years should be 21s. a week was to give him far too little. The men had to go to lectures in their own time. They had to work from six o'clock in the morning to six in the evening, and they were not disposed after such a day's work to attend lectures in the evening. It might have been in the past that these men filled appointments; but it was common ground that, after having been the pioneers in these appointments abroad, they had been put aside for others who had done a little book study and been pitch-forked into the positions. The hon. Baronet might rest satisfied that the matter would be raised again and again, year after year, until something was done to improve the position of these men, which was at present a disgrace to the Government.


said the hon. Baronet had mentioned that the wage had been raised from 18s. to 21s., and yet he turned round and said that it was not a question of wages at all. It seemed that that entirely knocked the bottom out of the position of the hon. Baronet. When they considered that the men worked from six in the morning to six in the evening, it certainly appeared that 21s. a week was not even a bare subsistence. He knew something of what it was to live in London, and he found it difficult enough to make ends meet on £2 a week. He had no family to keep, and how a man could be expected to keep a wife and family on 21s. a week he did not know. It was a mystery to him, and he was sure that it must be a mystery to the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote. The matter was really worth more consideration than had been given to it, and he hoped that this blot on the record of the Government would be wiped out, and that further consideration would be given to the subject.


agreed that these persons to whom reference had been made occupied an exceptional position. It seemed to him that the explanation given was an entirely satisfactory one. The number of the men was small, probably not more that fifty, and the appointments were open to young and enterprising men. If they succeeded in obtaining those positions they had an admirable opportunity of learning the higher parts of a gardener's work. Added to that, they had the privilege of acquiring scientific knowledge as well. The mere fact that there was a large number of persons who were willing to undergo this period of training in the hope of securing more valuable appointments showed, as the hon. Baronet had said, that the 21s. a week was regarded as mere subsistence money, and it was an arrangement which was hold in the main to be satisfactory. They were quite young men who received this pay, and if they were thrifty and wise they certainly would not marry before the age of twenty five. It was certainly unwise to marry before twenty-five, but evidently young men considered that no hardship at all. Not only had they the allowance of 21s., but they had an opportunity of acquiring positions which, but for their training at Kew, would probably never come within their reach at all. Therefore, he hoped that the Committee would not encourage the hon. Baronet to incur extra expenditure for that particular class of persons. He congratulated the Government on one or two items of expenditure, among them the increased outlay on experimental research. He was sure that money spent in that way was usefully employed. The grants to colleges and to institutions had been increased to £750, but he believed that if that expenditure had been £7,500 instead of £750 it would have been approved by the Committee. Money spent in that way was well invested and would redound to the advantage of agriculturists as well as to the welfare of the country. Such institutions as that of Rothamstead, in Hertfordshire, should be encouraged by a larger grant, and he trusted that that and other institutions which were doing a great work in the way of research would meet with adequate acknowledgment from the President of the Board of Agriculture. He noticed that the cost in connection with swine fever had gone up by £3,000. Last year it was £38,000, and this year it was £41,000. While he deplored the outbreak of swine fever in Somersetshire, he could not think that that outbreak could be held responsible for the whole of that increase. He would be glad if the hon. Baronet could give him some information about that increase of £3,000. Might he also ask why the forecast under the head of appropriations in aid had been reduced from £6,500 to £5,500, the estimated receipts for fees chargeable under the Enclosures, etc., Act? It seemed a very serious loss to contemplate, and he would be glad to know why the hon. Baronet anticipated a smaller income.

*MR. MCCALLUM (Paisley)

said he desired to call attention to Sunday labour in Kew Gardens. He thought some arrangement should be made whereby some of those employed by the Government should not be kept away from their families every Sunday. Under the

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