HC Deb 10 July 1908 vol 192 cc267-9

Order for Second Reading read.


said that the object of this Bill, the Second Reading of which he now moved, was to meet the ravages of a disease which had broken out in Ireland and had almost put an end to the industry of bee-keeping in that country to which attention had been given by a large number of small cottars and farmers. In County Down alone there were 1,500 bee-keepers. The disease was very infectious, and was spreading everywhere. County councils, district councils, and the Council of Agriculture had all united in asking for legislation to deal with it. The only way of dealing with it was to destroy the hives of diseased bees, and the Bill provided for the notification of disease, for the right of the Agricultural Department to declare that an area was infected, for the destruction of the bees, and for compensation to be given to the bee keepers. The compensation would not be provided out of public funds in the ordinary sense, but out of the rates and the funds supplied by the Department for agricultural education. The compensation was limited to one-half of the value of the bees. Inasmuch as the whole public bodies in Ireland were agreed as to the necessity of the Bill, he hoped the House would give it a Second Reading.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. T. W. Russell.)

MR. R. DUNCAN (Lanarkshire, Govan)

said that the Scottish Members strongly desired to help Ireland in this matter, and hoped that the Bill would be passed.

MR. CARLILE (Hertfordshire, St. Albans)

said that under Clause 5, sub- section (3) the local authorities were apparently to have the power of the destruction of property, and to decide whether they were to pay or not. That was to say, they were to be judges in their own cause. That was a curious position. Then, in the next subsection there was another extraordinary provision. He did not remember any similar case where, property being taken and destroyed, compensation to half the value of the property destroyed was to be paid only if the authority had the money to do it with. If they had not the money they need not pay. That was a most extraordinary proceeding. He maintained that the clause was very incompletely drawn, and the hon. Gentleman would do well to have it altered. Further, he asked if there was any reason why the Bill should not be extended to England, Scotland, and Wales. Were there no diseased bees in these countries? If there were, why should they not have the benefit of this legislation?


asked whether the hon. Gentleman would give the House an undertaking that when the Bill went into Committee upstairs, the Government would pay some attention to the subject of compensation. The hon. Gentleman was aware that in destroying cattle on account of tuberculosis or pigs on account of swine fever, compensation was paid to the amount of half the price of the animal, but in this case, because the men were humble beekeepers, whose livelihood depended upon the industry, the compensation was to be left open. Clause 5 ought certainly to be amended and the hon. Gentleman should consider the hard cases which must necessarily arise in the case of the poor man who tried to make his living out of bee-keeping and whose skeps were destroyed, perhaps, through the spite of a neighbour who gave inaccurate information. As a bee-keeper himself he took very great interest in this subject. In County Down a great deal of money was made out of bee-keeping, and while he quite approved of the Bill he could not understand why the hon. Gentleman, when introducing measures of this kind, should leave such wide powers in the hands of the authorities. Not only could they seize infected skeps, but they were to have the power of saying whether the compensation should be a few shillings or nothing at all. He submitted there was something wrong in the drafting of the Bill; that the Government had not considered what was the real meaning of Clause 5 which was really the bulk of the Bill. They were aware that the hon. Gentleman with his multifarious duties might not have had time to consider the full effect of this clause, and he suggested that after the legal advisers had considered it, some alterations might be made in it in Committee on the lines he had indicated.


asked whether the hon. Gentleman would give an undertaking that in Committee he would consider some Amendments to this particular clause.


said he would ask that the Bill should be committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.—(Mr. T. W. Russell.)