HC Deb 22 July 1910 vol 19 cc1612-4

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture if he could give any information regarding the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease near Ripon; when was the disease discovered; when was it reported to the Board; how many animals were attacked; how many animals had been slaughtered; when were they slaughtered; what area had been scheduled as infected; and what was the source of the disease?


The hon. Member for North Shropshire was so obliging as to give me notice of his question last night, so I was enabled to submit it this morning to the President of the Board of Agriculture. I am therefore able to state the course the President is adopting in regard to this matter. I regret to say that foot-and-mouth disease was reported to the Board by the police on Wednesday last on the farm of Mr. William Richmond, about eight miles from Ripon (West Riding). At once the Board's superintending veterinary inspector proceeded there, and the outbreak was confirmed by him. On "Wednesday an Order prohibiting movement on or off the farm was served by the police on the occupier. Yesterday the Board made an Order declaring the farm to be a place infected with foot-and-mouth disease. I may here explain, for the information of the House what "a place infected with foot-and-mouth disease" means. It means that the farm where the disease is is an area to which Article 4 of, the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Order applies.

Briefly, that article prohibits the removal of fodder, litter, dung, utensils, or things without permission in writing of an inspector of the Board or of the local authority, and then only when such things have been properly disinfected. Further, "no person (except the person tending the animals) shall, unless authorised in writing," as before mentioned, "enter sheds or fields in the infected area." All persons entering such infected area on leaving have to be properly disinfected. In fact, the same precautions have to be taken as if it was a case of small-pox or scarlet fever affecting human beings. The chief veterinary officer yesterday proceeded to the spot. One cow, nine yearlings, one pig, are affected on the farm; in addition are twenty-five cattle, ninety-four sheep, three pigs, all of whom have been in contact with animals affected. By direction of the President of the Board, Mr. Stockman went up last night. He has a perfectly free hand to order slaughter at once, and as many animals as he thinks fit, and the President will take any measures, however drastic, which may be necessary. The President is acting on the same lines as at Edinburgh two years ago, when he was fortunate enough to stamp out a serious outbreak completely. An area of fifteen miles is scheduled. No report has been received up to the present. No information as to source of disease is available.


Will the Board press forward the slaughter of all these infected animals? And will the hon. Baronet ask the President of the Board if these important announcements cannot be made in this House in the same way as they are made in another place?


Will full compensation be given for the animals which are slaughtered?


In view of the special gravity of the outbreak, owing to its occurring in a most important cattle-breeding area, will the Board give special instructions to the police in a larger radius than the fifteen miles to which the hon. Baronet has referred to act promptly in the event of any suspected outbreak in such larger area?


May I ask when the Board propose to issue the Order dealing with the importation of products to which the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United States was attributed—


That does not arise out of this question.


Certainly I will bring before my Noble Friend the view of the hon. Member as to statements being made at the same time in both Houses. As regards the question of compensation, in this case, as in all like cases, full compensation will be paid, as provided by the Foot-and-Mouth Order, 1895. As to the question of a larger area, every precaution will be taken and the area extended if necessary. The House will also be glad to hear that all local authorities have been notified of this outbreak and put on their guard against any suspicious cases anywhere in Great Britain.


May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether this experience does not teach that the most effective way of stamping out the disease, and the cheapest in the long run, is the immediate slaughter of the animals which may become a source of infection on the farm; and if, any have escaped from the farm by sale or by removal since or immediately before the outbreak, whether it is not necessary to trace and slaughter these animals in order that, if possible, the disease may be checked and confined to the existing area?


Certainly, that is my opinion.