§ 2. Motion made, and Question proposed: "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £5, be granted to His Majesty to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1911, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, and of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, including certain Grants-in-Aid."
I rise to a point of Order. According to the ruling, Mr. Emmott, which you have just now made, any Member of the Government may be put up to reply on these Supplementary Estimates. I should like to point out that it would be for the convenience of Members on both sides of the House that some one who had even some slight acquaintance with the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Ireland was present on the Treasury Bench.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Sir Edward Strachey)
I think it is advisable to make a statement giving the reason why we are now presenting this Supplementary Estimate, and showing how it is we propose to deal with the Grant-in-Aid which we derive from the Development Commissioners. The money can only be spent after 31st March next. I should begin by saying I do not propose to lay details before the Committee of this scheme for horse breeding, which is one of the greatest importance, as we only received Treasury-sanction during the last month; that is to say, not six weeks have passed since we got leave to spend money upon this scheme. The Committee will remember that, up to the present time, all the money available for the promotion of the horse breeding industry was £5,100, which was allotted to the Royal Commission upon Horse Breeding. That was practically out of the control of the House. Now it is thought proper when something like £40,000 is to be allotted for industries like horse breeding that that money should be entrusted, not to the Royal Commission on Horse Breeding, but to the Board of Agriculture, and it is on that account that I shall on this Supplementary Estimate, try to explain the principle on which we propose to deal with that £40,000. I can say at once that the present Board of Agriculture has constituted an Advisory Council, 1453 and have a committee in every county to advise and assist the Board as to the best use of this £40,000 which has been placed at the disposal of the Board.
I should like to take this opportunity of saying what excellent work the Royal Commission on Horse Breeding did considering the small amount of money placed at its disposal, and I am glad to say the Board of Agriculture has been fortunate enough to obtain the services of members of the Royal Commission who will still sit upon the Advisory Council, so there will be continuity as regards horse breeding in this country by having the services of those gentlemen upon the Advisory Council. And we have been so fortunate as to have Lord Middleton in the chair of the Advisory Committee. Lord Middleton's efforts in the interests of horse breeding are well known to every Member of this House, and this nobleman who was a member of the Royal Commission on Horse Breeding will be chairman of the Advisory Committee. As I have already said there will be, besides the Advisory Committee, a committee in every county to assist the Board of Agriculture. These committees, as well as the Advisory Committees, will be appointed by the Board of Agriculture. The best class of stallions will obtain premiums which will be given at the spring shows. The other great stallion shows take place next March, and fifty premiums of fifty guineas each for nineteen districts have been offered, and 119 stallions are to compete for those prizes.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
Yes, the show begins 7th March. Each stallion up to ninety mares served will receive a fee of one guinea, and also a groom fee of 2s. 6d. The owner will also have a right to charge a serve fee of two pounds, and will have a right to receive 2s. 6d. for each foal of the stallion from the Board. Then, if the stallion travels, there will be a grant of half-a-guinea extra for each mare served. As the Committee knows, His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to offer a Challenge Cup to be competed for by winners of these premiums at spring shows. The cup is to be held for one year. The House will appreciate the enormous advantage which will arise from the fact that the King is offering this cup; it will have the result of increasing competition, and of encouraging better stallions for the spring shows. 1454 That is one of the many things that His Majesty has been pleased to do to promote this national industry. I should like to add that the Board of Agriculture intend to give the winners of the King's Cup each year a gold medal in token of their having won that Challenge Cup. Then there is also another premium called the Board's premium, and that will be given to not more than fifty stallions, not necessarily thoroughbred to admit of hunters' stallions. As regards these premiums for each mare served up to ninety the owner of the stallion will receive one guinea, and for each foal up to ninety 5s. When the stallion travels there will also be, up to ninety, the sum of 6s. extra. The owner will be allowed to charge £1 for each mare served in addition. These stallions will be selected locally by the Board with the assistance of the county committees, and the county committees will be asked to arrange for their precise location in their area. The Board wish to do something to encourage the keeping of brood mares in this country, and they will give free nomination to about 800 King's premium stallions at the value of £2 each, and to about 650 at the value of £1 each. There is also another matter which I think will assist the keeping of brood mares in this country, and that is the purchase annually by the Board of some 200 half-bred active working mares, to be placed with suitable persons by county committees, these mares to be served annually at the same fee, up to £2, at the cost of the custodian. Then, again, the county committee will have the option, up to four years old of refusal of purchase of any foal dropped by a mare lent out to any farmer in the district, and due notice will have to be given within fourteen days to the county committee. There is just one other point I will refer to, and it is the question of the purchase of stallions for resale. There was a recommendation made by the Royal Commission on Horse Breeding, and by the Committee of the Hunters' Improvement Society, that there should be power for the Board—and we are taking that power—to buy any valuable stallion which, if not bought, would be exported abroad and lost to this country. It is not proposed until after 31st March to actually spend any money upon that Vote, but it has been put down on the Estimates to enable the necessary discussion to be taken upon it. We do not propose at the present moment to spend any money in that direction. Of course, I have only dealt with the general principles, and many of the details have to be 1455 thought out. I am sure, however, that the House will consider that it is undesirable that the Board should be tied down to any exact scheme or line of action. As I have already explained, our scheme has only received Treasury sanction less than six weeks ago, and the Board desire to receive advice and assistance in every possible direction from the Advisory Council and the County Committees. We shall also be pleased to receive criticism of a helpful nature from hon. Members of this House, and from any outside body. The Board is only too anxious to receive suggestions and even criticisms of their scheme, and I can assure the House that we are only too anxious to do everything we can to carry out this scheme, make it as effective as possible, and bring it into such working order that the owners of stallions and breeders of light horse stock in this country shall be assisted in every possible way.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I am sure hon. Members on both sides of the House will welcome the statement which the hon. Baronet, representing the Board of Agriculture, has just made. I am glad to hear that at last some of the needs of the horse-breeding industry are being recognised so as to encourage that industry. For my part I am only too glad to realise that the money has been provided, and I am certain that the scheme of the Government—although I shall have some suggestions to make upon it—will go a long way towards encouraging the horse-breeding industry. I should like to point out that, as a matter of fact, I think the net sum which is being given for this purpose is £35,000, if you deduct the £5,000 which has been hitherto given for these premiums. I believe that £5,000 was known as the King's Plate money, and was originally taken out of the money given under the Privy Purse of the Sovereign. Therefore, the net amount of the Grant is £35,000, because the original Grant of £5,000 is included in the £40,000 which is being given as the total sum for the encouragement of this industry. I should like to express my gratitude to the Board of Agriculture for inviting me to serve upon the Advisory Council which the hon. Baronet has set up. I am sure that I, and a great many others who have been asked to serve on that Council, thoroughly recognise the spirit in which the Board of Agriculture have set it up, and we recognise that they are doing what they can to make themselves thoroughly in touch not only with the breeders but 1456 with others who are interested in the horse breeding industry. I have had opportunities of making suggestions as to this scheme upon the Advisory Council, but there are some other points I should like to bring before the House on the occasion of these Estimates. The question I wish to raise is that of the King's premiums. The main features of the Government scheme is to increase very largely the number of premiums given. There were originally, on the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Horse Breeding, only twenty-eight King's premiums given each year. There are now to be fifty King's premiums, not to mention the Board's premium, which are, of course, for a less amount. The King's premium system has on the whole answered fairly well. I do not know that it has been the success it might have been, and certainly in the opinion of some judges there has not been an available supply of thoroughbred stallions. I am afraid that for a year or two you will find that the number of premiums being increased will inevitably cause the standard of premium winners to decline. I am afraid that is the danger of increasing the number of the premiums, and I should have preferred the allocation of the money in a different way, which I will explain to the House. I wish to say a word upon the allocation of premiums among different counties.
I take, for instance, the counties in which I am interested, Durham, Northumberland, and the North Biding of Yorkshire, and I find they are to be allowed three King's premium horses. I do not think that is a very liberal allowance, taking into account how much those counties go in for horse-breeding. I can say that the North Riding of Yorkshire still goes in for breeding to a very considerable extent. It is true that in a certain part of the county the King's premium horse which we had last year did not receive much support, and perhaps that is one of the reasons why the Government this time are not allowing a larger number to the county, but that was entirely due—in my opinion—to the fact that the breeders in that county did not consider that particular horse a very good one. It was more due to that fact than to the fact that the stallion was not required that his season there was not the success which I am sure we all should have wished it to be. Three King's premium horses for those three counties, where breeding is very much gone into, is rather a small allowance. If hon. Members have this allocation, 1457 I hope they will not go purely by the numerical appearance of it, and will not judge merely by the number of horses allowed to the number of counties, because it is no use sending horses to counties where breeding is hardly gone into at all, and which are unsuitable for the purpose. I see, for instance, that some of the Highlands of Scotland are given two King's premium horses. I very much doubt—I speak subject to correction—whether two King's premium thoroughbred horses will be much use in the Highlands of Scotland. I do not believe the type of horse aimed at by the Government is raised there at all, and, though I do not wish to deprive the Highlands of anything of service to them, I really do not think they would be of particular service there.
I do not wish to unduly criticise the system of premiums, and indeed, a beginning is made by the Government scheme, as far as I understand it, with what we suggest; and that is that you should allot money more to free nominations for mares. The hon. Member has described how the Board are going to make a beginning in this way by alloting a certain amount for free nominations to mares for the service of registered and approved stallions. I think that is a better way of encouraging breeding than the premiums. I know there is a difference of opinion on this point, but it is my own view. It seems to me you should first of all allow only approved and registered stallions to travel for public service, and that you should ensure as far as you can that your stallions are good, sound, serviceable, useful animals. Then what you want to do is to encourage breeding, and it seems to me you can encourage it more directly by giving a free nomination to the owner of the mare. Of course, the money finds its way equally into the stallion owner's pocket, but it goes through the process of encouraging the owner of the mare instead of going direct to the owner of the stallion in the shape of a premium. Therefore, I think, as time goes on, the Board and the Advisory Council which is being set up, will gradually alter the system and increase the number of free nominations to mares, and, in order to do that, diminish the amount of premiums. I cannot help thinking that would be a more satisfactory way of encouraging the breeding. The hon. Member who represents the Board of Agriculture was good enough to refer to a report of the Hunters' Improvement Society, which is drawn up 1458 by a committee over which I presided, and a good many suggestions contained in that report have been adopted by the Government, and we are grateful to them, but I think there were some other valuable points to which they might have given attention, and which, indeed, follow closely upon precedent; because some of them are based upon the system which is at present in existence in Ireland, and which I am told is doing a great deal of good there. One is that there should be a system of loans to breeders. I think this £5,000 to be spent in buying high-class thoroughbred stallions is excellent. It is not supposed it will buy many in the course of each year, but it will buy three or four which would otherwise go abroad and be lost to the English breeders. It is admirable; indeed, it is one of our suggestions. It would also be a good thing if means could be adopted, as in Ireland, for facilitating the acquisition of stallions by private owners. In Ireland a man who wants to buy a stallion can do so by loan, repayable by instalments on a very easy system, and the result is that people are encouraged to keep good stallions, and there are therefore more available for the owners of mares. I wish the Government could have seen their way to have adopted some such proposal as that; I do not know that anything is being done by the Government scheme, as far as we know it at present, to increase the number of stallions available. Something must be done to increase the number of stallions available. The premiums by themselves will do nothing to increase the number of stallions. I do not mean the number that are shown at the show, of course, they will increase that. What we want is to get another type of stallion as well as the thoroughbred, that same type of high-class horse which is bred now in Ireland. Very little progress has been made in this direction. The hunter, which is the Army type of horse, is really the only horse which, I think, exists as a breed which is not a distinct breed in itself. It is a cross between the thoroughbred stallion and probably some half-and-half-bred mare. I cannot help thinking that, however valuable the thoroughbred stallion may be, and I should be the last to wish in any way to take away from the qualities of it, we ought at the same time to encourage in this country a regular breed of light horses which, of course, will need occasional reference back to the thoroughbred stallion, but which at the same time will reproduce 1459 themselves. It is only the Government that can encourage the keeping of half-bred horses entire until they are old enough to become stallions. We suggest that with this view the Government should begin in a small way, that they should only have one stud farm, that they should keep half-bred colts, with a considerable quantity of thoroughbred blood in their veins, until they are three or four years old, and that they should draft from that stud all that are not good enough, and that those that are good enough they should sell to private owners. The advantage and profit to the breeder would be that he would not run the risk of keeping this kind of animal entire, be-cause he would know that if it turned out to be not good enough for a stallion there would be no market whatever for it. That certainly is a point in which the Hunters' Improvement Society takes a very great interest, and in which they think that the Government in their schemes ought to have paid a little more attention. We think that the cost would not be great, and would not be more than about £2,000 a year in the total, and I think that one of the advantages would be that it would be more reproductive. Of course there would be a loss, but the loss would not be serious.
I should now like to deal with another part of the question which I think is rather important, and that is the relationship between what is done by the Board of Agriculture and what is done by the Army authorities, and I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War in his place. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman would expect the breeders of this country to go in purely for breeding Army horses. I think he would be the first to say that the quantity of army horses required, at all events in peace time, is not sufficient inducement to the breeder to go in for them solely. I think he will agree with me when I say that it is of great importance to his Department that light horses and high class horses should be in good numbers upon the market, and that their production should be encouraged in order that there might be more for his Department, and that there should be a greater chance of a good supply. I have raised this point before. I think the Army Authorities should do a great deal more to encourage the breeding of these horses, by using the sums which they have available for the purpose, in a way which would be advantageous to the breeder. Now the first of these is in regard 1460 to the purchase of horses at a younger age than that at which they have been purchased hitherto. The right hon. Gentleman gave us the gratifying assurance, a year ago, I think, that it was the intention of the Army authorities to purchase horses, or a certain proportion of horses, at three years old. I should like to hear from him what progress has been made with that and how many of the horses which are now bought annually for the Army are going to be purchased at three years old. It is a point which has excited considerable interest among the horse-breeding community, and it would be very interesting to have some information and have the point cleared up. It seems to me that from the Army point of view alone it would be far better if horses could be purchased at that age and could be properly broken, until they were gradually brought into the Army service as they got older. When they are bought older, very often they have had a certain amount of wear taken off them and they are not so suitable for Army purposes.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I think so. They have the riding school at Canterbury and a depot at Melton, where the horses could be kept, and they have, also, the whole of Salisbury Plain, where there is a very huge extent of ground, and a depot there would be a very feasible project, and it would be a very cheap project to keep these horses there. Leaving that point about the purchase of horses at an earlier age, I come to another. We think the Government might do a great deal to get into closer touch with breeders. Whenever I have had an opportunity of discussing the matter with farmers I have found that this is one point to which they attach the most importance of all. They say that "It is all very well, but we never get a chance of selling our horses to the Government, buyer. We know that the dealer, or the Government buyer, wherever he usually goes to, usually makes a profit of £10 or £20 out of the animal, and we consider that we might get more of that ourselves." Now, I do not hold altogether with doing away with the middleman. Very often he is most useful. At the same time I agree with the farming community that the Government might do a great deal towards buying more directly from them. I know, and I give credit to the right hon. Gentleman for it, that he has begun to do this to some extent, and that there has been 1461 a certain amount of buying direct from the breeder, but I wish to ask him to persist in that course, and not to be discouraged at the outset. It is very natural that a Government buyer should prefer to go to a dealer who knows exactly what he wants and has them all collected together; but I would advise the right hon. Gentleman and the War Office to persist in the plan of having gatherings of horses for certain districts periodically, and to let the buyers attend and meet the seller direct, and the time will come when they will find that the horses they want are there, that they are suitable horses, and that they will become more and more suitable every year, and the buyers will be able to buy a larger proportion in this way every year. I know that at present the buyer goes down and finds a lot of produce collected which the Army could not buy, and he may report that it is a horrible system, and advise the authorities not to go on with it, but I ask you all the same not to be discouraged and in time the owners of the horses will get to know what the Government want, and you will have what you want there, and you will find that these gatherings of horses are more and more successful. Another point is that it is no good sending Government buyers to these horse-breeding centres unless they have something to buy. There is an impression among the farmers that the Government buyers are sent down simply to have a look at the horses, and pretend that something is wanted, and, although really seeing fifty or sixty horses the buyer is only able to buy one or two. That is an unfortunate impression to get about, and I think that if there are suitable horses presented to them they ought to be able to buy a considerable number. A further point is that the Army use a great number of mares. I believe a large proportion of the horses used for the country are mares, and it seems to me that greater use could be made of this fact. Would it not be possible for the Government to buy a few mares of a rather better type and higher class than those usually bought for the Army at three years old, and leave them for a year with the breeder, and it might be practicable very often to get a foal from that mare whilst she was in the hands of the breeder, and whilst she was young you might let the breeder keep the produce of the mare for that year as a set-off against the cost of her keep which he would have incurred. That would have many advantages. It would in the first place ensure that the horse population 1462 would be kept up to that entent, and whether the mare bred afterwards or not, after passing through the Army service, she would at all events have left her progeny behind. Again the mares could be drafted earlier from the Army—such as are not good enough for that—and distributed among the breeders. If a mare of the better type is bred from at three years it will be more probable that she will breed again after she is cast from the Army. It is well known that if a mare is bred from at an early age she is much more likely to breed again when she is older. Therefore you would be doing something to provide suitable horses for the Army and also to encourage breeders and saving the country a considerable sum of money, because it would provide a certain number of mares to carry out your scheme, and the scheme of the Board of Agriculture. That is a very admirable scheme, I think. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give attention to the point as a very practical suggestion which would encourage breeding, keep up the horse population of the country, and provide for the time when an emergency arises.
I would like the hon. Member for South Somerset representing the Board of Agriculture to tell us whether it has been thought out at all what addition would be made to the produce, whether it would remain the property of the county committee, or whether it would be sold or allotted to the breeders. I am personally rather against the system of making very stringent conditions. Of course, if the mare remains the property of the county which has only lent it as it were, then you must have some conditions, such as the refusal of the produce, but do not keep that refusal of the produce hanging too long over the owner of the mare. Let him make an offer to the Government at any time that he wishes, so that if the Government do not want it, he may be then free to get rid of the produce.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
Do I understand that after that he is able to dispose of it at any time he likes?
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I did not understand that. Then the question of price arises. There I think that the allocation of mares is an admirable scheme, and it follows closely upon the lines of that of the Brood Mares Society, which has 1463 worked very well, and I think it may become profitable. I should like to tell the hon. Member that I think he should try to get private enterprise to help him in this matter, and that he should try to get mares from other sources, which would save the country a great deal of money. A great many people have mares which they do not want to breed from, but they would be able to put them at the disposal of the County Council, who would thus save money. I do not wish to be thought to be in any way criticising adversely this scheme, although there are certainly some points in it which I should have preferred to have seen somewhat different, but we welcome the fact that this money has been given to this industry, and we think that considerable good ought to come from it.
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Haldane)
Perhaps it would be convenient if I gave some answer to what has been said by the Noble Lord who has just sat down on points connected with the Army, and then leave the discussion to go on on points connected with other departments. I think my hon. Friend and myself have every reason to be grateful to the Noble Lord for the moderation of tone of his speech, and the manner in which he received the general scheme. My hon. Friend explained that the Government is called upon to learn in this matter. It is a new departure, this procedure of the Board of Agriculture, and there are points on which no doubt criticism and experience will bring further light upon this very complicated subject. I wish, however, to say the same thing about the Army part of the scheme. I do not know any subject connected with the Army which is in a more chaotic condition than that of the horses. For some reason or another nobody seems ever to have thought it worth serious effort, and it is only very slowly that one can get anything done. The steps that are being taken are only part of other steps which ought to be taken to put the horse question on a proper footing, and here again it is necessary to go very tentatively, and it is very evident from the state of our knowledge that we shall learn a good deal, not only by experience, but by discussion. What is the necessity of the Army in regard to this horse breeding scheme? It is that we should get a large reserve of horses in the country. The tendency undoubtedly is for the number of horses to go down. Motor 1464 traction is making a great deal of difference, but I may observe that in some branches of the Army Service that is making a difference in another way which would reduce the cost of motor traction. There are questions in regard to horse supply which may be affected by the application of motor traction to the Service. Some of these savings will come before the House. Whether it is the climate or the soil or a combination of both, I do not know, but we have in Ireland and Lancashire places which seem to be unrivalled for horse breeding, and that being so, it is necessary that we should take all the advantage of it that we can. That is the reason for this scheme, and so far as I can see, I hope we shall breed more and more horses, and one reason why I say that, is that it helps us in another direction in the Army. Our demand is not a large one. We buy something under 3,000 horses a year. That is not a very large item, and is not enough to keep up the market in itself. What we want to do is to buy if possible in the best possible way to stimulate breeding.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I think practically all of them come from this country, unless my Noble Friend refers to Ireland as a foreign country.
§ Mr. HALDANE
So far as we know these are Irish-bred horses. I believe that to be so. I do not know that they are imported. I never heard of it. But the difficulty we have is that our demand is so small, and that we cannot carry out a scheme in the comprehensive way sometimes demanded of us. For instance, when you are buying horses, if you were buying an enormous quantity, it would be easy to deal with the breeders direct, and it would be worth their while to bring their horses to the market, but when you are only buying a few at a time then it is not convenient to the breeder to come to the market for the sake of selling one or two horses. The system of buying from middlemen is not so bad a one as it seems, for they understand the requirements of the Army much better than the average Army officer, and the latter does not deal so well with the breeder as the middleman. The reason is that the two 1465 classes of men are not talking the same language. It is not in the least bad business to deal with a middleman, but I would not discourage the policy which the Noble Lord advocated of dealing direct with the breeders. We deal when we can with the breeder. All I wish to guard myself against is the supposition that it is likely to be a process, on account of the compratively small number of horses that we buy, that we can carry out on an extensive scale without some change in the system. The suggestion at once arises what are we going to do with the foal when we have got him, where are we going to put him? The Noble Lord has spoken of roaming over Salisbury Plain. That is a very nice place, but it is not always a good place for foals. There are all sorts of things going on there—artillery practice, for instance—and foals would be very much in the way. It might be the worse for the foals. It seems to me that if we did this on a very large scale we should have to set up farms to breed on a considerable scale. What we contemplate is leaving the young horses which are purchased with the farmer, and paying him to take charge of them; and getting over the difficulty in that way. I do not want to commit myself to embarking on a plan of establishing dépôts for young horses, which may be a costly process out of all proportion to the result which they get for it. On the other hand, it may well be, though I do not want to pledge myself to details, that under this scheme we shall be able to buy foals at a comparatively young age, and to board them out in such a way that we can get them when they are wanted.
I am convinced that we do not train our horses, particularly our cavalry horses, anything like up to the standard that they are trained on the Continent, and we have that question under consideration. It might involve that we should not use our horses till a later stage than we use them at the present time. My impression is that there is considerable wastage in horseflesh at present by our putting horses to the annual manœuvres when they are too young for the purpose. That is under close consideration at present, but hon. Members will realise that it opens up a very thorny and complicated problem with which we shall have to deal somehow, and we want to survey the question as a whole before committing ourselves to any detail. What we want to do is, if possible, to get some system into the whole matter, particularly as regards cavalry horses. It is 1466 there that I think there is most to be done. It is plain from the investigations we have made that there is, and is likely to remain, an ample reserve of horses for all our Army purposes unless some very great further change takes place, but it is not plain that it is easy to get saddle horses of the kind which we want for the cavalry. We get enough artillery horses, but as for the cavalry horse it is by no means so clear, and therefore this breeding scheme is one which we are watching with close attention because it may help us to a solution of the problem of how to get a proper reserve of saddle horses for the Army. The Noble Lord (Viscount Helmsley) suggested that when the three-year-old horse is left with the breeder we should utilise that year for the mare to have a foal, and then let the foal be the property of the breeder, and not of the Army, to see that it is bred from. I think that is a very valuable suggestion, and I will take it into consideration with the experts. It will encourage the breeder. We have under consideration the other suggestion as to casting off the mares. I believe in other countries casting takes place earlier than it does with us. That again will be the subject of investigation. The whole matter is bristling with subsidiary problems, and I hope we shall be able to make some progress towards solving them. When the Estimates come we shall be in a position to state what we are actually doing, but I think I have said enough to show that the War Office is working cordially with the Board of Agriculture.
§ Mr. SPEAR
I appreciate the action of the Board of Agriculture in making this attempt to encourage the breeding of horses. I think the scheme which has been put before us by the representative of the Board of Agriculture is a wise one, and as a practical man I hardly feel it necessary to say a word in criticism of it. I think the proposal with reference to the stallions is very good, and, with reference to the mares, generally speaking, I think it will be of considerable advantage. The Noble Lord's proposal about the use of cast-off mares is most valuable, and if the Board will consider how best to place them in the hands of breeders it would be a still further improvement on the scheme as foreshadowed to-day. I think the registration of stallions is a step in the right direction, but I should like to see a still further step taken and that it should be made illegal for any owner of a sire to use it for fee unless with a certificate of soundness from a recognised veterinary surgeon. I 1467 feel that only thus shall we have a sufficient remedy against the propagation of unsound animals. There are two reasons which leave me to make that, perhaps, drastic proposal, somewhat interfering with the liberty of the subject, but this question of a better horse supply is so important from a national point of view that I think we are justified in taking strong steps to prevent the use for fee of animals which are unsound. The very fact of a limited number of these horses being registered makes their use much more common. They have such an extended use that often it leads to unfruitfulness, and consequently a farmer, rather than run the risk of paying a fee for a fashionable horse of this kind, is apt to use an inferior animal, which he can obtain at a lower fee, in the hope that it will be more fruitful.
Therefore I do hope that the Board of Agriculture will consider whether it is not desirable to take a still further step and make use of stallions with a certificate of soundness. I believe it would do far more than anything in improving the breed of horses in this country. I know very well that a farmer when for £1 he can get the use of an animal which may on the face of it look sound, will use that animal rather than pay two guineas. Although animals can be got at the lower fee, there is great danger of the propagation of unsound and diseased animals. It is quite clear that the Secretary of State for War was never the owner of a farm, otherwise he would not talk of three-year-old foals. Three-year-old foals cost us a lot of money in recent years. We do say that it would encourage the breeding of a larger number of horses if the Army could buy some of these animals at three years old, but it seems to me that it would be expensive. I believe a farmer can keep an animal until it reaches a mature age better than can the State. If farmers do that and keep the animal until it is five years old, we have a right to expect that the Government will pay a remunerative price for the animal. I think it is still more important that the War Department should give to the producer of a sound, suitable horse a remunerative price for his labour, risk and expense in producing it. That would be a real encouragement for the production of the right class of horse. I quite agree with the Noble Lord that it is most important that producers of horses should be brought into closer touch with Army buyers. On a previous occasion I laid before the House a scheme which I believe 1468 would effectually secure this. I recommended that veterinary surgeons in their districts should keep a register of animals suitable for Army purposes, so that when horses were required for the Army notice could be given to the owners of the animals that they might bring them to a given point to meet the Army buyer. In that way the buyer and producer would be brought into close touch. Attempts have been made by the War Office in that direction, and their buyers have come down on two or three occasions to deal with the farmers. Notice was given that the buyers were coming, and the farmers in the neighbourhood brought in their horses. A farmer with his limited experience may think that he has an animal suitable for the Army, although it is not really so. Very few of the animals were purchased for Army purposes, and those whose animals were not bought had to go away disappointed and disgusted, and they were not quite so polite in their criticisms of the Government Department as they ought to have been. I want to see established some system of local registration of horses by veterinary surgeons. Owners could pay a small fee for registration of suitable horses, and then when the Government wanted animals they could communicate with the owners and inform them to bring the horses to a given point on a certain day. That would ensure that the horses brought for the inspection of the buyer would be horses fit for the purpose, and I think the system would be mutually advantageous. I would not presume to dictate to the Army buyers, but what we do want, as the representative of the Board of Agriculture knows full well, is that the gentlemen who come down to look at the horses should be judges of horses. The Secretary for War said just now that there was an advantage in dealing with middlemen, because they know more about horses than the Army buyers know. That is rather a confession to make, but I am afraid it is true. I say that the buyers who come down should know a horse in the rough. He should know a horse if it has not been doctored and gingered to win the notice of the Army buyer. The Army buyer should be able to detect a beautiful animal, and know that a horse which has not been docked and trimmed may be superior to another which, though it looks superior, is not worth half the money.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Acland)
I do not 1469 think that my right hon. Friend meant that an Army buyer was a less capable judge of a horse than a middleman, but the Army buyer finds it more difficult to deal with the farmer than the middleman. From my own experience, I can say that it is absurd to ask a middleman to pay forty guineas for a horse which is not worth that amount, but if an Army buyer tries to purchase the animal the farmer will try to prove that it is worth between sixty and seventy guineas. Therefore, it is more difficult to buy direct from the farmer than through the middleman.
§ Mr. ACLAND
The farmers have got to learn that they must try to sell to the representatives of the Army on more reasonable terms than they are at present generally accustomed to ask.
§ Mr. SPEAR
I venture to say that, although farmers do not know everything, they do know how to conduct their business. It would be better all round if in some sensible businesslike way we could bring the buyer and seller into close contact. The encouragement of the breeding of horses for the Army should be carried on not only in the interests of agriculture, but in the interests of the State generally. If, unhappily, in time of crisis we should have war, the possibility of a deficiency of suitable horses for the Army must alarm every patriotic man. We all know what had to be done some years ago during the South African war. We had to go all over the world for horses. Motor power is becoming more in use not only in towns but in the country districts, and in consequence the number of available horses is declining to a most alarming extent. For the encouragement given by the proposed scheme I venture to thank the Board of Agriculture. By this proposed scheme they are rendering assistance to an industry which is none too well remunerated, and encouraging people to remain in country districts. I thank the hon. Baronet for his action in this matter, and I am satisfied that if we could brace ourselves to an interference with the liberty of the subject to such an extent as to make it penal for an owner of a stallion to have it used for a fee, unless he could secure a certificate of soundness, it would have a more general 1470 effect throughout the country than even the valuable but limited proposal of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
I think that the discussion has wandered from Board of Agriculture to Army Estimates. It is better to come back to the exact purpose for which this money is asked.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
I merely ask for the convenience of the Committee whether, seeing that the statement of the Minister for War covered a very considerable ground, and the supply of horses to the Army is so closely linked up with the breeding of horses, of which the Secretary for Agriculture spoke, it would not be for the convenience of the Committee to allow the same latitude also to Members who realise the relation between the breeding of horses and the supply of horses for the Army? Many members of the Committee would be grateful for the opportunity.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I allowed the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Spear) to reply to the point made to the Secretary for War, and there will be an early opportunity of dealing with the other question. This is a Supplementary Estimate for the Board of Agriculture, and I do not think we should discuss the other question. Therefore I hope the Committee will confine itself to the breeding of horses.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
I certainly intend to confine myself to the subject of agriculture. My contention is that this Supplementary Vote ought to appear in the Army Estimates, rather than in the Board of Agriculture Estimates. The Noble Lord opposite referred to this scheme as inapplicable to certain portions of Scotland. That that is so I think my hon. Friends on the other side of the House will corroborate. Applicable as the scheme may be to the light horse breeding districts of England and Ireland, it is inapplicable, in the opinion of the most competent of agriculturists to Scotland. Horse breeding, no doubt, is carried on with great success by different Members of this House in Scotland, but light horse breeding is not, in the opinion of Scottish agriculturists, of sufficient importance to warrant this money being taken from the Development Grant for this purpose, instead of being devoted to the interests of 1471 agriculture. We have heard a great deal—and I cordially agree—about the immense advantages the Development Grant must confer upon agriculture. Those advantages may be conferred by this scheme in Yorkshire, Meath, and other light horse breeding districts, but it is not applicable to Scotland, and is severely criticised by Scottish agriculturists. This is a War Office scheme, and we do not need the reassurance of my right hon. Friend to convey to us that it is the War Office which has come to an agreement with the Board of Agriculture. Under this scheme the County Committees are springing up like mushrooms all over the country, but unknown to the agriculturists of the country, except, perhaps, in those parts where light horse breeding is a considerable industry. The Development Committee consulted agriculturists, sylviculturists, and all connected with land as to the way in which the Development Grant was to be distributed, but I am quite unaware of any agricultural authority in Scotland having been consulted as to this particular scheme. No doubt agriculturists in Scotland are at a great disadvantage in having no separate department, or board, to whom we can convey our opinions. Therefore, the Board acts, unfortunately, too often in ignorance of Scottish opinion. I quite agree with what the Noble Lord said that some parts of it are absurd as applied to Scotland.
This is a very large vote, £40,000, and I think that as in the spending of this development money agriculturists and others connected with the land were consulted, so also they should have been consulted with regard to this scheme, which originated, no doubt, in the War Office, and which has been agreed to by the Board of Agriculture without any consultation with agriculturists. I am not speaking my own view in this matter. I am giving simply what is the agricultural opinion in Scotland, and I urge that even now the scheme should be reconsidered as regards that part of the country. As it stands, it is a very great waste of money. The Development Grant, in itself, represents a feature which may be of enormous interest to agriculture in this country, but all depends on how the money is spent, and no scheme of this kind should have been embarked on without consulting the agriculturists of the country. It is absurd for the War Office and the Board of Agriculture to hatch a scheme of this kind without reference to the practical men 1472 interested in agriculture. I am always ready to assist in voting money which I consider necessary for the Army, and I should like to see the Army Estimates increased with respect to remounts, and in some other respect also. What I do protest against is that the Development Grant, which ought to be allocated to agriculture, is being used now in an indirect way to supply Army needs, which ought to depend on the Army Estimates. That is one of the chief grounds on which I enter my protest.
§ Captain GILMOUR
I should like at the outset to say, so far as I am concerned, that I fully appreciate what the Board of Agriculture have done in this matter, and, so far as the Royal Commission are concerned—speaking as a member of that body—I must say we are very grateful to the Board of Agriculture for the steps they have taken to realise our hopes. I confess that, like my Noble Friend, I look upon this scheme as being in its infancy. We recognise that, so far as it has gone, the Board of Agriculture have not shown themselves very ready and very willing to ask the views of Members of the Advisory Board, and, through them, the opinion in various parts of the country. The scheme is divided into two parts, one more particularly for the encouragement of breeding from the point of view of stallions, and the other for the encouragement of breeding from the point of view of mares. So far as regards the breeding of horses, I think it is advisable that continuity should be adopted in regard to this scheme. I am inclined to disagree with some of the remarks which fell from my hon. Friend the Member for Leith on the subject, as far as Scotland is concerned. I would only point out, of course, that Scotland was included in this scheme because of the fact, and I think rightly, that the Royal Commission is extended to Scotland. I quite admit that this question of horse-breeding in Scotland is closely connected with the supply of horses for the Army and Territorial forces—and it is for that reason I support it—still I think that in any scheme of horse-breeding in this country it would have been lamentable if it had not been a scheme which embraced the whole of the country. My only regret is, as regards Scotland, that there should be found at the present time, in connection with this scheme, two bodies distinctly connected with horse-breeding in Scotland itself.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
I did not object to the inclusion of Scotland in the 1473 scheme. My point was that the scheme itself ought to be based on Army Estimates and not on the Development Grant.
§ Captain GILMOUR
That may be so, but I think my hon. Friend will agree that there are still certain parts of Scotland where horse breeding, from the farmers' point of view, may be quite profitably extended. I know myself that a number of dealers in England buy some of the very best horses for hunting and other purposes from Scotland; and, so far as that goes, I think it is very desirable that the scheme should extend to Scotland. I think it would have been well had the efforts of the Congested Districts Board in the Highland districts been under this one scheme. Of course, I am quite prepared to admit that the Congested Districts Board are, perhaps, under rather different circumstances; but, looking to the fact that there will be an overlapping in the Highland districts between the two bodies, I think the work might be more efficiently done were it under one authority. In regard to this point I should like to have an assurance that the inspection of horses by the inspectors under the Board will also extend to horses under the Congested Districts Board. I think it would be very desirable that such a course should be followed. I am aware that there has been considerable criticism of the quality of some of the horses which have been used under the Congested Districts Board's scheme. In regard to premiums under the scheme, I think it very desirable that those premiums should go only to horses registered in the numbered stud-book. It is only by keeping that point clearly in view that we shall have security in breeding operations. I am aware that there is a difference of opinion between breeders in this country as to the utility of the half-bred horse. In making use of the half-bred horse you have not a certainty as to his breed, and only a limited knowledge of it.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I never urged the use of half-bred horses. When I talked of half-bred horses, what I had in my mind was one eligible for the Hunters Stud Books. I did not mean any mixture of cart-horse blood.
§ Captain GILMOUR
I think this scheme is a very desirable one, but I am still of the opinion that it must be treated with great caution. There is no doubt that it would do a great deal to provide a good breed of horses by giving mares of a suitable type to the farmer. By doing that, 1474 we would also educate the farmer as to what type was most sought by buyers, particularly for Army purposes. What we do want is to have some acknowledged type, and to have continuity of type which will be recognised in the country. In regard to that, I think it is very desirable that in the judging of premium horses there should be some scheme whereby to choose and judge horses of very similar type. Unfortunately we have seen judges in one year adopt one type of horses, and next year, when the judges have been changed altogether, horses of another type have been adopted, so that there has been a lack of continuity in choice of type. I think that is a point which might very well be considered. Speaking generally of the scheme, I am sure that we who are interested in the subject on both sides of the House are very glad to recognise what the Board of Agriculture are doing, and so far as we are concerned—I am speaking for those with whom I am associated—we shall be only too ready to do every thing we can to make this scheme a success.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I have listened to what is no doubt a very interesting discussion for those who are experts in these matters, but I must confess that the difference between the Debate to-day and that of last Friday certainly shows this House to be a very strange place. Last Friday we were discussing the question of arresting the physical deterioration of men, women and children suffering through unemployment, and to-day we are discussing the problem as to how best to improve the physique of horses. I could not help being struck by the remark of one hon. Member to the effect that there is grave danger of a lack of the supply of horses for war purposes. I should think that the greatest danger is the lack of supply of men for Army purposes. Although I disagree with that kind of thing altogether, that is the fact we have got to face. I rise primarily to protest against this Estimate. As I understand, this Estimate is given by the Development Commissioners set up by the Development Act, but I fail to see with what respect it can be properly or rightly given by the Commissioners for the purpose of Army horse breeding. I want to say emphatically that if the War Office or War authorities want horses do not let them get money by this means, but let them put the money into the Army Estimates, and let us have it discussed fair and square in that sense. We were parties on these benches to the 1475 passing of the Development Act, and we understood that the money that was to be given by the Treasury was to be devoted for the purposes of agriculture and for the purpose of trying to find employment for our own people upon the land, and with regard to those purposes of public utility in which we are so much interested. Does the Noble Lord suggest that this will do that?
§ Mr. O'GRADY
It may find work, I dare say, for a number of men who are interested in horse-breeding, but I very much question whether it will be very economical for finding much work for men in other directions. That is my point. I protest against this money being allocated in this direction, and I say as far as I am concerned, speaking personally, that I am going to vote against this Estimate altogether, and I want to protest, and I believe I speak the mind of my colleagues, against this money being devoted to the amount of £40,000 to supply grants to men who are going to breed horses. I know that the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) very often criticises suggestions made on these benches with regard to money being found for other purposes, or for the unemployed. We are now discussing State socialism in the interests of horses.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not quite understand where the £40,000 comes in. The amount mentioned is £7,500.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
This is a Supplementary Estimate, but I understand that the hon. Gentleman, in submitting this Vote to the House, mentioned the fact that a sum of £40,000 was given by the Development Commissioners for the purpose of horse breeding. It is that point I am discussing. I want to see the money devoted to the purposes of the Development Act. Those purposes are defined in the Act itself, and I can find no single mention with regard to the question of horse breeding. It may be true that you can bring the question inside that of agriculture, but, for the life of me, I cannot understand how you can. The purpose of the Act is for the economic development of our own country. I suggest the question of economics with regard to making Grants to horse dealers for the purpose of supplying Army horses is a totally different matter, and one which ought to be dealt with on the Army Estimates, which the right hon. 1476 Gentleman the Secretary of State for War will be submitting to the House. I want to declare on behalf of those with whom I am associated on these Benches that it would be much better for the Development Commissioners to allocate the money for its true purposes. I think that the House ought to protest against this money being given in the direction in which it is being given. I hope the Vote will be contested.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
I am sorry for the attitude taken by the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken with regard to this question, because I was one of those who sat during the Debate on Friday last and was greatly impressed by the speech that the hon. Member made on that occasion. The speech which he has delivered this afternoon is one which, I think, when he looks into the question very carefully, he may regret having made. The association of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War and the hon. Gentleman who represents agriculture in this House is a matter on which we all extend our heartiest congratulations. We have seen agriculture in this country in the last few years going through varying phases, and we have seen a great deal of land developed which is now beneficial for the breeding of cattle and of horses. I think if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. O'Grady) would travel about the country and interview a great many tenant farmers that he would ascertain that their means of livelihood is in the breeding of horses. As to the right hon. Gentleman's statement, I may say I think that as the whole horse supply of this country depends on its best customer, which is the Army, that it is necessary that we should have the co-operation of the right hon. Gentleman in doing what he can to assist horse breeding in the country.
§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
When the Noble Lord says the Army, does he mean the British Army or foreign armies?
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
We must all realise that the great difficulty which lies before us in horse breeding is the question of price. The right hon. Gentleman is handicapped by the price he is ready to give for horses for the needs of the Army. I venture to say that a great many of the horses supplied to the Army came from abroad. That hinges on a question of economics, which I do not feel justified in going into at this present moment. It is obvious the horses do come in at a much 1477 lower price than horses could be profitably supplied for the Army in this country. The price paid for Army horses ranges from £40 to £45, and it is therefore a matter of difficulty——
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think the Noble Lord was not in the House when I ruled on that point. We are now discussing the breeding of horses and not the buying.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
I quite bow to your ruling. I should like to add a word to what was said by the Noble Lord (Viscount Helmsley) on the subject of mares with a view to retaining the mares for the purposes of breeding. The Noble Lord also urged on the right hon. Gentleman the question of breeding from mares when they were three years old. That is to my mind a matter of great importance, because the mares, when drafted from the Army for breeding purposes, if that is the scheme, are more likely to breed suitable foals if they have had foals at the early age of three. With regard to the question of stallions, I do not believe that sufficient care is taken in the matter of choice. It is true that premiums and prizes are given, but I do not think that sufficient care is taken as to the qualifications of the horses, their merits, and their suitability to the localities in which they are placed. Various Members have expressed a desire to see facilities for the use of stallions extended in all parts of the country. I have seen some curious points arising from that. The tenant farmer frequently estimates the value of the stallion by the amount of the fee charged. In various parts of the country, where owners of stallions have done their best to place the services of those stallions at as low a price as possible, farmers have sent their mares to stallions near by because the fee charged was higher. I do not know what steps the hon. Baronet proposes to take in that matter. The systematisation of horse breeding in this country is a matter that must be very closely gone into, and all stallions must be registered.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ The question of mares is, in my opinion, the most important part of the whole question. The brood mare is the capital of the horse breeding industry. There is a large export of brood mares continually going on from this country; they are purchased by foreign buyers at prices which are very profitable to the sellers. This s a mattter which perhaps before all others connected with horse breeding, should engage the attention of the right hon. 1478 Gentleman. These well bred mares, of which there is a very large supply in this country, leave these shores for other countries, where they lay the foundation of those studs which at present bid fair to rival the studs in this country. The question to be considered is, how will it be possible to keep these mares in this country, so that their progeny may be made use of for the benefit of the light horse breeding and also for the purposes of the Army. The fact must be faced that this is a question of money. The tenant farmers who own the rood mares must be encouraged to keep them, and, if they happen to throw filly foals, an inducement must be held out to the tenant farmers to retain those foals in this country. A large landowner living in the Midlands made it a practice to make a present of brood mares to the tenant farmers on his estate, and after about ten years, when he made a census of the brood mares he had given, he found that the number had decreased. That is a significant fact, because it shows that every filly foal produced by those brood mares had disappeared, and I do not think I should be exaggerating when I say that those mares had undoubtedly gone to Austria and other foreign countries. That, I say, is a most important part of the question.
§ Something has been said with regard to breeding from what are called half-bred horses. That is a matter of great importance, but it touches a larger question than I am entitled to deal with this afternoon. We are dealing with breeding from thoroughbred horses. With regard to the thoroughbred horses from which we are breeding at the present moment, there are naturally a great many good horses; but I think that anyone who has studied the intricacies of the breeding question will realise that it has been the object of those who have gone in for horse-breeding to breed for speed at the expense of the various other attributes which are necessary in light horses and Army horses. I believe that if every care were taken by the horse-breeding establishments in the country, and by those interested in the question to establish a permanent and efficient light horse supply, and to establish it as a breed of its own, a great deal could be done in that direction. It is for the purpose of urging the right hon. Gentleman to use his utmost endeavours to husband the supply of mares in this country, to make it to the interest of the 1479 tenant farmers to keep those mares, and to encourage them by facilitating the sale of the progeny, that I have risen to-day. I do not think that adequate steps are being taken to assist the tenant farmer to realise that his livelihood in future will be to a large extent dependent upon his successful horse-breeding operations.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
I am sorry there should be dissension on the Labour benches with regard to this question. The last time the hon. Member (Mr. O'Grady) spoke he was dealing with a matter he thoroughly understood, and he did himself credit; whereas to-day, when he is not so well versed in the subject under discussion, he has made remarks which he will, perhaps, regret rather. This is not a question of taking money from some good purpose of helping our own population in order to subsidise horse-breeders. Labour Members will admit that we have an Army; and as long as we have an Army we must have Cavalry, and as long as we have Cavalry we must have horses. I believe that all through the country there is a feeling of gratitude to the Board of Agriculture and the War Office for the way in which they have embarked on this scheme, and particularly for the manner in which they have endeavoured to secure local sympathy for the carrying out of the scheme. I think I can assure the Government, as far as the country goes, if they will only allow the local committees, which they propose to set up, to have a fairly free hand—not, of course, absolutely, to control the money to be spent—but if they will give them so much money to deal with, and then leave them as far as possible a really free hand as to the manner in which to spend it, they will find that they will get excellent results. All those concerned will do their utmost to make the scheme a success. A great deal has been said about the difficulty of bringing the buyer and the producer into closer connection. This Debate must not turn too much upon the question of buying; but I should also like to thank the War Office for the proposal they are making to give prizes to local shows. There may be a difficulty in making this a success, because there is a marked shyness on the part of those controlling local shows to embark on new developments. I have been trying very hard to get secretaries of local shows to take the matter up. For many years the same schedule and the same prizes for 1480 the same class of animal have been issued, and in many cases those concerned are not very anxious to depart from the methods they have adopted and go to the trouble of issuing new schedules. But I believe if the War Office will persist that they will certainly have the support of a good many people who will do their very best to help them in their scheme for bringing the buyer and the producer together, and that ultimately their object will be achieved. I need hardly criticise the remarks which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War made as to the difficulties of Army remount officers who go round buying horses. Anyone who has attempted to buy a horse knows what that difficulty is. First of all you arrive at a man's farm. Then you have to find the man. Then there is a great deal of preliminary conversation. There, is, perhaps, a drink to be partaken of. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh."] At any rate, the whole thing takes a very considerable time. You are dealing with a man who has got not only that day to spare, but possibly weeks and months of leisure, whereas the Army remount officer is a busy man. Everyone knows that it is practically impossible to carry out these transactions on a large scale. Farmers themselves are beginning to see it, and they will help until this system develops into something of a regular system. The Government are giving prizes to various local shows, and the results are already beginning to be seen. The producers have the opportunity of bringing their animals before the Government buyers, and of dealing direct. A great deal has been said also about horses going out of the country. Again, I want to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the persistent stand he has made, and also the Board of Agriculture for the stand they have made against doing anything to stop the exportation of horses. I believe that the foreign buyer is at the bottom of the success of our horse trade. If you discourage the foreign buyer you will do more harm to the trade of horse breeding in this country than, perhaps, is generally thought. We hear a lot about good horses going out of the country. Well, the more horses the foreigner will come and buy the more good horses we shall breed. As to the difficulty of the right mares—in this country it is purely a matter of money. If we find we have not the mares left in the country it will be necessary for the Government to make an offer to buy the mares—against the 1481 foreigner. So long as we can go on breeding good horses we shall always find the mares; they will only need buying. We can increase the supply by merely spending money on them. I am very glad that nothing has been done to stop the exportation of horses, and I certainly hope that nothing of the sort ever will be done. As regards the horse-breeding scheme which the hon. Gentleman who represents the Board of Agriculture has been speaking about to-day, I believe that one thing which will ensure the success of the horse breeding industry of this country is that it shall be made commercially successful. That is the sole test of any industry. So long as there is a market for horses so long horses will be bred. That is one reason why the continuance of this foreign horse trade should be encouraged. But it will not be possible for farmers—who are not philanthropists, and who cannot afford it—to breed horses unless they can get a fair price for them. That will always be at the bottom of our difficulty. So long as it is possible for farmers to make horse breeding pay, so long will they go on breeding. I only hope that the right hon. Gentleman who is responsible for the Board of Agriculture, and his Department, will not be discouraged if their new scheme is not an immediate success. To a certain extent they are attempting to revive what is rather a dying industry. Therefore, for a few years there may be some difficulty in receiving that response to their scheme which they would like to see. There may be a difficulty in finding suitable mares for the stallions without a proper premium. That will be the first difficulty, I think, which will be encountered. The first thing the Departments want to do is to get this scheme started and on its legs with a view to its becoming popular, and to making the farmers themselves interested in it. If I may venture one piece of criticism upon the scheme, I think rather too much is done in the way of encouraging the stallions, and hardly enough in the way of encouraging the mares. It is a proper system up to a certain point, but you are making the premiums dependent upon the breeding of the mares. The question will be whether you will find the requisite number of mares; therefore whether the premiums will be paid. That is a difficulty which many owners of stallions are now beginning to see. It is a very good system to be paid by results if you are certain that those results can be secured, but there is a danger that you may have a really 1482 greater proportion of stallions than mares payable under this scheme. I should have preferred to see less go to the stallions and rather more go to the mares. Later on, when the system has progressed and you have a larger number of mares and the industry has benefited by what you have done, then it might be possible to increase your number of stallions. The initial difficulty which the Government are going to find is to start the thing. Once we can get the farmer to become interested, take the matter up, and to breed more animals than at the present time, then, undoubtedly, more stallions will be wanted, and more will be employed. At the present time, I am afraid that it may be difficult to find the requisite number of stallions, but I do not believe you can get a stallion worth breeding from without paying £600. As regards half-bred horses, this price would not apply. May I say one word more about a most valuable part of the scheme—that of registration. I think the proposal of free legislation is a most valuable one in the interests of the horse-breeding of the country. I hope that it may result in a system by which every man will know in his own district that there is probably some horse that is certainly trustworthy for siring purposes. By that means things will be better for the farmers and better for the country, and the danger of unsound stallions will be altogether eliminated from our stables. I want again to express the gratitude of all who have come in contact with it at the way in which this scheme has been conducted. Every scheme of this kind is no doubt liable to criticism, but the criticisms which may be passed upon this scheme will be thoroughly friendly, and will not, I hope, be unfair. The Government has shown itself in an extremely accommodating spirit, and has shown a desire to really take advice from those interested in, and thoroughly acquainted with, the details of this work, and I am perfectly certain that in a very short time such defects as may be in the scheme now, will be soon remedied, and I think we all ought to thank the Government for the way it has acted.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
The hon. Member who has just spoken, in his opening remarks, in answer to the speech of the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. O'Grady), who asked whether it was necessary that a scheme should be financed from the Development Fund, for the purposes of supplying horses to the Army, declared that on patriotic grounds we ought to support a proposal of this kind. One soon 1483 learns in this House that a great many things are put forward in the garb of patriotism that have nothing whatever to do with it. It is quite clear from the discussion of this scheme that the landlords have stolen a march on those who thought the Development scheme was to be utilised for the benefit of the country. I think that the evidence which we have had in this discussion shows that the Labour party in this House has yet a lot to learn. When schemes are proposed in this House for the benefit of the people they are opposed by the Tory party, but the moment they are carried into law the Tory party immediately claims the whole of the benefits of these schemes. That is exactly what happened on this occasion.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
I should like to know whether the hon. Member objects to horse-breeding on principle; because it cannot be conducted without financial State aid?
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I call attention especially to this matter, because I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War told us a little while ago that the Army never required more than 3,000 horses a year. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about war?"] We are not always at war; we are not anticipating war to-morrow, and we are not making provision in these Estimates for war. It will be time enough to prepare for war when it is likely to occur. There is no man here who pretends that this is a provision for war. It would be absurd and ridiculous to make any such suggestion. The Secretary of State for War told us that at the outside not more than 3,000 horses a year were required for the Army. I dare say the right hon. Gentleman knows what he is talking about, yet this scheme which we are asked to sanction to-day is a scheme which draws from one fund no less than £40,000, which I believe was intended for other purposes; and for that reason I think we are entitled to protest, and more especially as this is the first time since I have been a Member of the House that such an item has been put upon the Estimates. It is our duty to oppose it now if we intend to raise any objection at all. As I said, we have a lot to learn. We thought that this Development Commission was going to deal with agriculture, reclamation, and things of that kind to assist agriculture. We thought the Board of Agriculture itself would be more interested in matters of that description, which would really give employment to 1484 men on the land following agricultural pursuits. Now we find that the first raid upon the Development Fund by the Board of Agriculture is a raid for the purpose of the landlord interest rather than for the economic development of the country. It looks, if we go on at this rate, as if the Development Commission was going to be a sort of relief station for the landed interest rather than of any real benefit to agriculture generally. We were told that this was to assist the breeding of 3,000 horses for the Army, and now £8,000 is down on the Estimates, with an expenditure of something like £40,000 on this particular scheme; and I have seen it somewhere suggested in the public Press that this £40,000 is only about half of what is to be spent upon the scheme by the Development Commissioners. I should like to know from the Board of Agriculture whether £40,000 is the actual outside limit that the Development Commission and the Board of Agriculture propose to demand from the Commission in support of this proposal of theirs for horse breeding. For myself. I think it is a great mistake to raid the Development Commission for a purpose of this sort, and as to the 3,000 horses for the Army, the Secretary of State could secure these horses without this fund or scheme at all. I do not wonder that the hon. Member for Leeds protested. It was often suggested that this money should be used for the purpose of developing what is best in the character of our population. I know the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) thinks that the people should look after themselves, and that they have no business to ask the State to help them. That is when we apply for assistance not when the friends of the hon. Baronet on the other side apply for assistance.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I should like to explain that I was always against the Development Grant. I voted against it, and did all I could to stop it. I believed that it would do no good because the hon. Member and his friends wanted everything and nobody else would get anything.
§ Mr JOHN WARD
The difference between us is that we want everything and you get everything, and that is exemplified in the proposal now before the Committee. If we have public money to use I think we ought to use it for the real development of the country by the employment of labour, developing our industries and 1485 trade, and creating more opportunities for industrial enterprise.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The question of the allocation of this money by the Development Commissioners does not arise here. The only question we are considering is whether this is the proper way to spend the money.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
Am I to understand that for the future, beyond merely criticising the objects for which the various sums are granted by the Development Commissioners we shall never have any right to question what they do.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
May I draw your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the fact that Mr. Whitley has ruled that the purposes for which this money has to be spent has so little to do with the Board of Agriculture that the less said about it the better.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Deputy-Chairman did not tell me that he had ruled in that way. The hon. Member for Stoke has asked me when the opportunity will arise to discuss the allocation of the money. That opportunity will arise when the vote for the Development Fund Grant comes up in the Estimates of next year.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
As this is a fresh item altogether may I submit that it would be in order to discuss the purposes to which this new item is going to be devoted.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That does not contradict anything that I have said. I simply meant that we must not discuss what other subjects this money might be used for. The particular purpose for which this money is allocated here does arise.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
That is the very point. The purpose for which the money is to be spent is supplying remounts for the Army, and that was the very subject Mr. Whitley advised us not to discuss.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
I question whether by this vote we are proceeding in the right way to carry out what is supposed to be the object of the Development Fund. I 1486 hope we shall hear from the Secretary of State for War some clear explanation as to why this money has been taken out of the Development Grant to be used for Army purposes. I certainly did not understand that any portion of this Grant was going to be used for the preparation for war.
§ Mr. HALDANE
That is not so. The purpose of this money is to create a larger supply of horses, not merely for the Army but for everybody else concerned. If the Army steps in and adds to the market so much the better.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
I understand that the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman is that what he said had no particular relation to his position of Secretary of State for War. If that is so I shall vote for this grant without any difficulty, but I strongly object to money intended for increasing employment and dealing with great social evils being spent on what ought to be an Army Vote.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The hon. Member for Stoke and the hon. Member who has just sat down do not realise that, if you have a good supply of horses, it is useful to the Army. Their opinion is that if you encourage the breeding of horses you are doing something that is useful to the landlords. This is an extraordinary dog-in-the-manger conception, like the ill-tempered child who has got a cake and will not share it with anybody else. The delusion which comes up in this House over and over again that all profit is created by the community is ridiculous, and it is all nonsense from beginning to end. You cannot help the owners of land being part of the community and benefiting by the prosperity of the community. It cannot be done, and it is quite impossible.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
All I want to do is to point out that you cannot do things in that spirit. If you wish to do good to the community you must do it in a large and generous spirit, and not grudge the good which comes to one part of the community.
§ Sir RANDOLPH BAKER
Hon. Members opposite seem to confuse the tenant farmer with the landlord on this question, and they think the landlord is going to get all the benefit. May I point out that 1487 this horse-breeding question affects much more the tenant farmer and the small occupier than the landlords. It may be news to some hon. Members opposite that a large majority of the horse-breeding establishments are kept by tenant farmers themselves, and only a very small proportion by land owners. To say that a scheme proposed by the Board of Agriculture for the benefit of horse breeders is going to benefit the owners of land is simply absurd. The hon. Member opposite said three thousand or four thousand horses are all that would be required for the Army, and because of that he seemed to think that this is all the horse supply needed for the purposes of the Army under any circumstances. May I point out that it is necessary to have a very large reserve of horses as well. The hon. Member for Stoke does not seem to realise that it takes four years before a horse can become fit for Army purposes. It is no use thinking you can breed a horse one day and have it fit for drawing guns or cavalry purposes the next day.
You cannot see four years ahead that there is going to be no war, and it is perfectly obvious you have to prepare for any eventualities of that nature. You have got to do your best to build up a big reserve of horses in this country. I might point out that there is also a very serious shortage of horses in the Territorial Force at the present time. I have no doubt it is also because the Secretary of State for War has got his eyes upon them that he is anxious to encourage horse breeding. Hon. Members may not be aware of the fact, but two or three Yeomanry regiments are entirely dependent upon the same set of horses. It is a very exceptional thing that even half of the horses which a Yeomanry regiment brings out for training belong to the members of that regiment or even come from the county in which the regiment is raised. One of the most serious things the Secretary of State for War has to face with regard to this Territorial Force is how to secure a sufficient supply of horses in time of war. At present, I think it is unquestionable that we have very much too short a supply. In all probability you would find that most of the horses used for the Territorial Force would be taken by the Regular Army upon mobilisation, and it is very desirable indeed, that everything should be done to increase the supply. Some three or four years ago the Army Council sent down 1488 certain officers to see the yeomanry horses with a view of purchasing some at the completion of the training. A Remount Officer came to the regiment to which I belonged and I think he said he could only buy two horses, though he was shown fifty or sixty. It would encourage the farmers who join the yeomanry if the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether it is not possible to buy more horses on the completion of the yeomanry training. It would encourage them to bring up a better class of horse if they thought there was some possibility of it being purchased at the conclusion of the training for Army purposes, and you would also give them some slight advantage for their patriotism. It is a thing which might well be considered, because you can get a very valuable class of horse even at the present time. The squad to which I belong last year took out ninety-three horses, and ninety of them marched back. I am sure some of them would have been very valuable, and such a scheme would encourage the farmers in yeomanry regiments to keep better horses.
We see in the Supplementary Estimates that some £8,700 is being allocated at the present time for the purpose of encouraging the breeding of light horses. I understand there was some £40,000 given by the Development Commissioners for this purpose. The Board of Agriculture and the War Office—I suppose acting together in this matter—have a large sum of money still at their disposal, and I hope the suggestion which my Noble Friend (Viscount Helmsley) made earlier in the Debate will not be lost sight of, and that it may be possible to have some sort of experimental breeding station where experiments may be made. I am inclined to think that for Army purposes, at any rate, we want a rather heavier class of horse than you can get from pure hunters. I have the misfortune to ride a weight which is somewhat more approaching what the unfortunate cavalry horse has to carry in time of war or when on manœuvres, and I know you want to get a very large horse indeed to carry a large weight. I think it is almost impossible to get the result from a thoroughbred stallion to carry very big weights, and I think it would be desirable indeed if some experiments were made in the direction of increasing half-bred stallions or stallions not thorough-bred, and that could only be done by some Department taking up this question and having some stud farm where they could make experiments. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider whether 1489 it will not be possible to start some experimental station to really discover what would be the most valuable horse for this purpose.
There is one other thing which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will keep in mind. I heard him say that the Army Council were discussing the question of not using horses so young. My own experience is, that if you put a very big weight on a four-year-old you will break it down. I consider that even a five-year-old horse ought not to be given very long or arduous work with a great weight on his back. I do not think a young horse sufficient to carry seventeen or eighteen stone, which I believe is somewhere about what the ordinary trooper with all his equipment weighs, should really have the arduous work of divisional cavalry training and army manœuvres coming one after another. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to leave some of the mares, which are often used and broken down with some farmers, for the purpose of breeding for a year or two. He will then get a horse much more useful for his purpose, and he will also be increasing the light horses in this country. I am sure everybody interested in this question has welcomed very much the steps that are being taken. We hope these steps will be continued and that some of the criticisms offered to-day will be accepted.
§ Sir FREDERICK CAWLEY
I am inclined to agree with some of my hon. Friends that this money to increase the remounts for the Army should not come out of the Development Grant at all, but that it ought to come out of the Army Vote. I am not going to criticise the scheme, but in my opinion the best way to increase the breeding of horses is to give a higher price for them. The farmer breeds his horse in the first instance because he thinks it may be a valuable hunter and he may get £150 or £160 for it; but, if he had a second string to his bow and thought he could get £70 or £80 from the Army for it, it would do far more to encourage him than the scheme put before us to-day. The real reason why farmers do not breed horses is because it does not pay. My hon. Friend (Mr. John Ward) thinks it is for the landlord's benefit, but I do not think so at all. If a man does not breed horses, he turns his attention to cows or sheep. He wants another alternative, and the only way in which you can encourage farmers to breed horses, in my opinion, is to give him a second string 1490 to his bow and for the War Office to give a higher price.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
It is quite clear that some members of the Committee are under a total misapprehension as to the object of this Vote. I can assure my hon. Friend sitting below the Gangway and the hon. Baronet who has just spoken that the object of this Vote is an entirely agricultural one and is not to provide remounts for the Army. It is only to a very small extent that we consider it from the point of view of the encouragement of the breeding of light horses for the Army, but it is perfectly right, in considering whether a matter would be a commercial success, that you should consider your likely customers, whether at home or abroad. It is only to that extent that the Board of Agriculture consider the question of remounts, and, speaking as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture, I can assure the Committee that the whole object of the scheme, as far as we are concerned as a Board, is to do something to improve horse breeding in this country, from the point of view of the farmer being able to make a larger profit. I can assure hon. Members, if they went to agricultural dinners, they would find that the improvement of light horse breeding in this country, and being able to get the use of sires at a small fee, as would be the case under this scheme, is a matter of the very greatest interest to farmers, both small as well as large. It is a matter of great importance to farmers, in the view of those who wish to carry these schemes into effect. And there are others concerned; for if you increase the number of brood mares in this country you must increase the number of men employed in looking after these horses, and it follows that you must increase the amount of work provided in the agricultural districts and so benefit these districts. Also, one of the effects of this scheme will be to encourage the trade in the exportation of horses, and by giving the farmers a better quality of horses they will get a better price. I have been informed by those who have knowledge that the mainstay of the breeding and the trade in light horses in this country depends upon the foreign demand, and I am also informed that if something is not done to encourage the breeding of light horses, agriculturists are likely to give it up. Objection has been taken by hon. Members on this side to the Army aspect of the question, but the whole object of 1491 the Board of Agriculture is not to provide horses for the Army, except indirectly, as a result of the scheme. Our object is to increase the number of horses and to increase the profits of the agricultural people of this country. The Noble Lord, the Member for Yorkshire, has raised a point about not increasing the number of stallions. I wish to point out that there is an option for the Board to take a certain proportion of mares; there are 200 lent out every year for that purpose. The question was also raised whether these 200 would be the property of the Board of Agriculture. Of course they would be their property, being in their hands.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
That is a matter for consideration later on. All these details are more or less open to consideration, and I am sure the Noble Lord would not wish to criticise us too much on matters of detail. Then there was an objection to this Vote not appearing upon the Army Estimates. I think I have already given an answer to that when I pointed out that the development of light-horse breeding would benefit agriculture. I think I have made that clear.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
There is an Advisory Council, which the hon. Member for East Renfrew sits upon, and there are also the county committees in Scotland. I suppose that in consulting them we get Scottish opinion.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
My point was with regard to the scheme what recognised agricultural authorities in Scotland were consulted?
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
I don't know that I can tell the right hon. Gentleman the names of any particular gentlemen who have been consulted in Scotland, but I gather that the Board of Agriculture is in touch with agricultural opinion and feeling in Scotland. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has views upon the matter, and on another question whether there should be a Board of Agriculture for Scotland.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
The only reason why I intervene in this Debate is that I 1492 wish to criticise the amount of money allocated between the provision of stallions and to the keeping of brood mares. I am afraid that if you devote the money in the way proposed it may form a precedent to the Agricultural Board in Ireland at a later date. So far as Ireland is concerned we do not want so large a proportion of whatever grant may be made to be devoted to stallions, and we want a very much larger grant for brood mares. I entirely agree with what was said by the Noble Lord the Member for Yorkshire and by other Members that a larger proportion of the grant should be applied to the purpose of encouraging farmers to keep brood mares which will be necessary for the object you have in view. I am prepared to agree with something that has been said on the other side. There is a scarcity of horses for the Army, and, in my opinion, the reason is that they are mostly bought up at better prices by the foreigner. Go to any of the horse fairs in Ireland, say to my own county of Kildare, and you will see the Hungarian, French, Belgian, and Italian agents there, and they give a better price for the untrained colt or filly than the British do, and these are the very animals you require most. The object of the right hon. Gentleman, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture should be to encourage the fanners to keep these horses in the country. You cannot expect to do that so long as the foreign buyers pay bigger prices than the representatives of the British Government do. You cannot expect farmers to be so patriotic as to keep these animals for the British Army and to take a lesser price. I quite agree also with the view of the hon. Member who sits below me (Viscount Helmsley) that the whole of the premiums to owners of stallions should not be given to thoroughbred horses. Everybody will agree who has a practical knowledge of this question. A great many Irishmen know something about horses. At any rate, I have never met a Kildare man, whether he knew or whether he did not, but what he always pretended to know. He generally did know. The difficulty of horse breeding in Ireland is that we breed too many horses which are not suitable for this purpose, and hon. Members should not leave altogether out of their mind the well-bred horse which is not thorough bred. If you encourage the farmers to breed colts which are afterwards increased up to horses of between 14 and 15-stone in Leicestershire; if you encourage them to keep their colts, 1493 and to think that they will get a market for them, they will produce some of the best weight-carrying hunters that were ever produced in the country. The best horse that I ever saw—a 14-stone hunter—was one which on neither side was bred from thoroughbred horses. He was reared in the way that the Noble Lord suggests, and that is the way to produce horses such as you require. He had plenty of bone and sinew as well as courage. If the money was divided in the way proposed £3,200 is poing to premiums on stallions, while £4,000 will be devoted to the keeping of brood mares, and I think that a far larger sum ought to go for the purpose of keeping brood mares. It is because I object to the distribution of the money that I wish to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman particularly to the fact that in my country we would desire that a much greater proportion of the money should be given to the farmers for the purpose of encouraging them to keep brood mares. The Boer War has had a very bad effect in Ireland on the question of horse breeding, because mares from which this class of horse that you want may be produced were largely taken out of the country at the time of that conflict. They were the very animals that suited the War Office demands, and were most useful at the time of the South African War. There has been since a great dearth in Ireland of that particular class of brood mares. Ofcourse, everybody knows that if you denude a country of a particular class of animal because of the price that has been given for it, and the run upon it, it takes a good many years before you can supply its place.
For that reason the very class of mare that we should desire to have in Ireland is scarce, the country being denuded of them by the campaign. The right hon. Gentleman will, therefore, see at once that the greater portion of the money that we get in Ireland ought to be devoted to supplying the mares that that country was denuded of at the time of the Boer War. It is for that reason that I have intervened in this Debate.
I desire to associate myself with those other hon. Members who have spoken in such laudatory terms of the proposals for developing horse-breeding, and I wish to draw attention to the necessity, as far as possible, of retaining a large, or at any rate a considerable 1494 number of those half-bred colts in the country for the purpose of encouraging a larger breed of horses. I would, too, call particular attention to the fact that it is almost impossible for any man who has a small holding, or a comparatively small holding, to run a large number of these colts at his own risk, and, therefore, I think it is necessary that there should be collecting depots for them. Nobody who has had experience of keeping young entire horses until they are two years old wants to try the experiment of running them until they are four years old. Therefore I hope that in the future—I do not say the immediate future, but in the future—some scheme may be adopted by which, in order to produce desirable horses they may be run at the expense of the State rather than at the expense of the individual. Again, I would ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he would consider once more the ageing of horses in the Army. You have one scheme for ageing horses in the Army which, so far as I know, is applicable to the Army only, and if you are going to buy horses at three years old I hope it will be a universal three years old, and not an Army three years old. The Army age starts on 1st May, whereas practically the universal age starts on 1st January, and I hope that the time has come when the War Office can adapt themselves to the same system which applies throughout the country. I wish to support the suggestion that has been made in regard to providing suitable horses for the Yeomanry, that the owners of them should be notified beforehand. A large number of horses could thus be brought together, and a good many among them could go to provide the Army. There is one other matter that I will refer to, and that is the placing of horses on farms that are not suited for the purpose. Nothing would be more dangerous to the interest of horse-breeding than to run too many horses on one farm. I hope every step will be taken to encourage the distribution of horses upon farms where mixed farming is carried on. So far as that is concerned, I am sure we have had to-day an interesting and practically unanimous debate, at any rate on the part of those who understand anything about the question. On another subject I should like to ask the hon. Baronet if any steps have been taken with regard to a terrible disease which affects dairy herds, especially in England.
§ The CHAIRMAN
But that is for a special purpose, and in reference to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in July, 1910.
§ Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
I should like to associate myself with those hon. Members who welcome this Grant. I think it is a very great step in the right direction. It will certainly help horse-breeding, and encourage our farmers and small holders throughout the country. Anyone who walks through the streets of London will be struck now by the enormous proportion of mechanical traffic contrasted with the horse traffic of old days. The horse is disappearing in London, and unless some steps are taken to encourage the breeding of horses we shall very soon be faced with a serious dilemma. With regard to the purchase of these horses by the Army——
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not see how the question of purchase for the Army arises at all. This is money given for the purpose of improving the breed of horses.
§ Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
I would submit that the fact that the Army may and will become purchasers of these horses should allow me some latitude in my remarks.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It only affects the matter in regard to what is being done in the improvement of breeding. The question of purchase for the Army does not arise on this.
§ Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
With regard to keeping mares in our own country, I remember when I was quartered in India it was quite impossible for us to buy an Arabian mare, because the Arabs had the sense to keep their mares in their own country. I think if we could in some way encourage our own people to keep our mares from being sold abroad it would be a very good thing. I do not want to see this £40,000 spent in supplying horses for the troops of foreign nations, and, so far as I can see, there is no precaution taken to prevent that happening. If that happens we are stultifying ourselves, we are mis-spending the grant and we are only wasting the money which we are spending. If we can encourage mares being 1496 kept in our own country it will be at any rate a step towards remedying the shortage of horses for the Army.
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
I feel that the speeches of the two hon. and gallant Members who preceded me are a sufficient answer to the statement of the Secretary of the Board of Agriculture that this matter is not one that should be on the Army Estimates. All through the discussion we have had the matter treated, and rightly treated, as primarily an Army question, and if there was any doubt on that point, I think the presence of the Secretary of State for War, and, in his absence, of the Financial Secretary to the War Office, may be regarded as proof enough that this is primarily an Army question. I think the House will be perfectly prepared to pass this Vote if it is convinced that it is a desirable thing in the interest of the Army. But I think there should be from these Benches a protest against the fund which is administered by the Development Commissioners being used for a purpose for which it was not primarily intended. The time of the Board of Agriculture is being taken up by what is primarily a War Office matter.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
I have already assured the Committee that this is not primarily a War Office matter, but a subsidiary one. We wish that the War Office should be good customers to ourselves.
Mr. E. HARVEY
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is convinced that the scheme will be a benefit as a whole, but I think he will admit it is primarily——
Mr. E. HARVEY
I am sorry he will not admit that, but I think the speeches on both sides of the House show that the majority of the Members feel that is the case, and I am convinced that will be the opinion of the country as a whole. The time of the Department is being taken up in promoting this scheme, but I think it should be occupied in dealing with other schemes such as afforestation, for which we are waiting.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is a question as to the allocation of the fund by the Development Commissioner. It does not arise here.
Mr. E. HARVEY
I would simply content myself by entering a protest, and expressing the regret which many of us on this side feel in reference to the matter. In 1497 this case, as in so many others, the action of the Department has been an ironical commentary upon the saying, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given."
§ Mr. G. GIBBS
I think the giving of encouragement to the keeping of brood mares is a matter of enormous importance at the present moment. A scheme has been started in my part of the country for that purpose. It has been set going and encouraged by the landlords, and, although the scheme is at present in its infancy, we are hopeful that good results will follow. There are too many good horses going abroad, and the reason of that is that the owners cannot get good prices in this country. We find that a great many horses have gone abroad from our part of the world in the last few years. It is most important that encouragement should be given to farmers in order that they may get higher prices at home. We hope that encouragement will be given to tenant farmers, who are by a long way the greatest breeders of horses.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I think the principle of this grant is entirely wrong. It is a grant to individuals with the view of promoting an increase of the number of horses. A grant to produce any other article would be upon the same principle. It is of infinitely more importance to the agricultural interest of this country to teach agriculturists than to supply them with money. I think the function of the State is to teach and to demonstrate. If you can demonstrate to horse breeders what is the best kind of animal to breed you will do infinitely more good than by grants to individuals, which are sooner or later abused. It is a very expensive thing experimenting in horse breeding by individuals here and there throughout the country, and does not lead to any general knowledge of the value of breeding experiments. But if the money were granted to a central school or experimenting station, where it could be demonstrated what was the best kind of horse to breed, much better value would be got for the money. In all the great countries of the world now experimenting stations are established, where fanners, horse breeders, and agriculturists can go and get full information upon all the salient features in their particular industry. My own opinion is that we want a system of judicious crossing. If we want docility, courage, endurance, and spirit in a horse, we must get it by judicious crossing. I believe we have to go back to the Arab 1498 strain before we can get all those qualities. I think if an experimenting station introduced Arab stallions and mated them with upstanding hunters that stood about sixteen hands high, or perhaps a little more, you would get the cross that would fulfil the requirements of the Army infinitely better than any animal to be found in Britain to-day. I have watched this process of crossing. I have studied the Orloff trotter in Russia, which is a cross between the Arab and a little Dutch mare, and I believe that it is the finest animal that man ever rode. There you have the Arab strain for docility and spirit, and the Dutch strain for sturdiness, strength, bone and quality. These things can be demonstrated only in an agricultural station. This money set aside for teaching purposes would fulfil its object infinitely better than Grants to individuals that are liable to be abused.
§ Lord NINIAN CRICHTON-STUART
There are two subjects that I think the House might take into consideration this afternoon. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War is absent at this moment, but I would like to know why this £40,000 for the improvement of light horse breeding is taken from the Development Grant. If it has anything to do with the Army, why is it not taken out of the Army Estimates? I cannot understand why the Development Grant is to be used in this way instead of being used for road improvement and a large number of other things of general benefit to the community. I know quite well that the Secretary to the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries will help me in this matter, which is entirely non-controversial from any point of view. I remember a paper was issued by the Board of Agriculture in the year 1909 dealing with the ear-marking of horses for the purposes of breeding in this country. I had the honour to report to my own agricultural society upon the paper. It dealt with the question of farmers breeding their own horses for gun teams and for Army remounts. The farmer who bred the horses after a certain number of years, was to receive certain fees. I should like to know whether this first scheme of the Board of Agriculture and the present scheme are to come out of the Development Grant, and not out of the Army Estimates? I know that this is a matter as between the Secretary to the Board of Agriculture and the Secretary for War, but I shall be very much obliged if the 1499 hon. Gentleman will tell us whether the scheme of the Board of Agriculture put forward in 1909, as well as the scheme now under consideration, is to come out of the Development Grant
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I beg to move the reduction of item G l by £100, as a protest against the allocation of the Grant by the Development Commissioners for a purpose which should come on the Army Estimates.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
On a point of Order. May I ask whether we shall be able to discuss item F, or will the proposed reduction conclude the discussion on that item?
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I understand it would not be possible to move the reduction of an item, but, I take it, it may be discussed.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Supposing the Amendment were carried, the next question would be that a sum not exceeding £5 be granted, and under these circumstances we could discuss the whole of the matter to which that £5 refers.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Yes; we can go back to the discussion of the whole Vote, and not to debate of a previous item.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the practical effect would be that if the reduction were carried a new Vote would have to be brought in.
§ Question put, "That Item Gl be reduced by £100."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 26; Noes, 292.1501
|Division No. 15.]||AYES.||[4.30 p.m.|
|Adamson, William||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hudson, Waiter||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheree)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Jowett, F. W.||Snowden, P.|
|Clynes, J. R.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lansbury, George||Wardle, George J.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld., Crokerm'th)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C. Munro||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Gill, A. H.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. O'Grady and Mr. John Ward.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Bigland, Alfred||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Bird, A.||Craig, Norman (Kent)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot|
|Anderson, A. M.||Boland, John Plus||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Booth, Frederick Handel||Crumley, Patrick|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Boscawen, Sackville T. Griffith-||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)|
|Armitage, R.||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Bryce, J. Annan||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Burke, E. Haviland-||Dawes, J. A.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Delany, William|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Baird, J. L.||Byles, William Pollard||Devlin, Joseph|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Campion, W. R.||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Carlile, E. Hildred||Dillon, John|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Carr-Gomrn, H. W.||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cassel, Felix||Doris, W.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Castlereagh, Viscount||Doughty, Sir George|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cautley, H. S.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G.||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Barnston, H.||Chaloner, Colonel R. W. G.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid.)|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Chambers, James||Elverston, H.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Chancellor, Henry G.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Barry, Redmond John||Clive, Percy Archer||Essex, Richard Walter|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Clough, William||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.|
|Beale, W. P.||Clyde, J. Avon||Falconer, J.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Fell, Arthur|
|Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Corbett, A. Cameron||Ferens, T. R.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lynch, A. A.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Ffrench, Peter||MacGhee, Richard||Robinson, Sydney|
|Fisher, W. Hayes||Mackinder, H. J.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Maclean, Donald||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Forster, Henry William||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|France, G. A.||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Gardner, Ernest||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Rowlands, James|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||M'Mordie, Robert||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Malcolm, Ian||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Marks, G. Croydon||St. Maur, Harold|
|Glanville, H. J.||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Sander's, Robert A.|
|Goldman, C. S.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Goldney, Francis Bennett-||Mathias, Richard||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Gordon, J.||Meagher, Michael||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Greene, W. R.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Scott, A. M'Callum (Glasgow, Bridgeton).|
|Gretton, John||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Menzies, Sir Walter||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Gulland, John W.||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Molloy, M.||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Hackett, J.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Mooney, J. J.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Morrell, Philip||Spear, John Ward|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Mount, William Arthur||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Munro, R.||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Harmsworth, R. L||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Newman, John R. P.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Nield, Herbert||Summers, James Wooley|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Nolan, Joseph||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks., Abingdon)||Norman, Sir Henry||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hickman, Col. T. E.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Tennant, Harold John|
|Hill, Sir Clement||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Hillier, Dr. A. P.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid.)||Toulmin, George|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Horner, A. L.||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)|
|Hughes, S. L.||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hunter, W. (Govan)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T'w'r H'mts, Stepney)||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Joyce, Michael||Phillipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Keating, M.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Whyte, A. F.|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pollard, Sir George H.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Kerry, Earl of||Power, Patrick Joseph||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Kilbride, Denis||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N. E.)|
|Kirkwood, J. H. M.||Pringle, William M. R.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Radford, G. H.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Rainy, A. Rolland||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Ripon)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'm'ts., Mile End)||Rawson, Colonel R. H.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Lloyd, G. A.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Reddy, Michael||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Rice, Hon. W. Fitz-Uryan||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|Lundon, T.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry|
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I would like to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries to explain a footnote on Page 4 of the Estimates to the following effect:—The Grant-in-Aid included in Sub-head F of this Estimate, will be paid to the Cattle Pleura-Pneumonia Account for Great Britain, under the provisions of the Diseases of Animals Act. 1894. It will not be subject to the surrender of any unexpended balance…I admit that there may possibly be some good explanation for this. But I have 1502 looked at the Diseases of Animals Act, 1894, and I cannot find anything which says that any money voted by Parliament shall be freed from the ordinary obligation that is imposed so far as I know upon every Department in the State—that is to surrender unexpended balances to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Act is pretty long; it contains 240 clauses, or something like that, and I may have missed the clause, but I think not. The point is an extremely 1503 important one, because it is a principle upon which the whole finance of this country always has been founded, that any unexpended balance shall be surrendered to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Hon. Members know that that is the foundation of the old Sinking Fund. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget of 1909, attempted to destroy the old Sinking Fund, and I do not say it is a preconcerted effort on the part of the Government to commence an inroad upon the Sinking Fund, but it is extremely surprising that this should happen at the present moment. I hope the hon. Baronet has a satisfactory answer, because if not, although I agree with my hon. Friends below the Gangway, that the vote for horses is an extremely good one, and have not a word to say against the Government on that account; still, I shall have to vote against the whole Vote unless I get a satisfactory answer from the hon. Baronet. The hon. Baronet may say he is not a financial authority, and cannot answer the question. In such circumstances I should not wish to press him too hardly. I recognise the difficulty of his position, but then I suggest that the Committee might adjourn for a while in order to enable the hon. Baronet to get the information we desire, and to make a statement.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
The hon. Baronet has only just now given me notice that he would raise this question, but I hope I shall be able to satisfy him, especially as this statement has always appeared upon the Estimates in similar circumstances. It is not a new Act of this Government; there is nothing new in it; we are simply following the old precedent. This was originally a sort of insurance fund so as to enable compensation to be paid for Pleuro-pneumonia, there being no money originally for the Foot-and-Mouth Diseases. These amounts were put to the Pleuro-pneumonia Account. The reason that this expenditure was not repaid is that it has always been the practice to carry over the balance from year to year. It is a standing account, and money is paid in from time to time.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
Ever since the fund was started. It has always been sanctioned by this House; the money is carried on from one year to another.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The hon. Baronet's explanation is not really quite a satisfactory explanation. Of course, it may be that the whole matter is bound by Statute, in which case it is not open to us to object. On the face of it it is not a satisfactory plan to vote money which goes into an account, and passes altogether from the control of Parliament; if there is an unexpended balance it could be spent upon anything.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
I venture to say it has been the practice, and has never been questioned. If the Noble Lord wishes to raise the question on Report Stage he can do so; but as the hon. Baronet opposite admitted the question has been sprung upon me now.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
It is really desirable that attention should be called to this matter if this Committee is to be of any value to the public. You have an elaborate account going over great sums of money, dealing with original and revised Estimates and appropriations in aid. It is quite obvious that the appropriations in aid are drawn on sufficiently just to make a Vote and no more. I do not know what happens when it is not desired to bring a Vote before Parliament, but it is obvious that this practice gives the Department an immense control. The Department has this elastic power, and they are able to economise here and there when it suits their purpose, and use money for all sorts of purposes which are not sanctioned by Parliament, and we do not know what really takes place unless they bring it to our notice in this way. Apart from circumstances of this kind, we really have no control over the elastic internal arrangement of the account, and it has always seemed to me that there is evidence of a certain bureaucratic independence in these things foreign to the idea of Parliamentary control. I hope these matters will be looked into, and that in a subsequent discussion we shall have a fuller explanation why these Supplementary Estimates are arranged to come out with a fictitious deficit in order that the matter may be brought before Parliament. If we could have an explanation, either on the Report Stage or on the next Vote it would be very satisfactory to Members of this House. May I say that I think we might too have some of the financial advisers of the Government present.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Perhaps I ought to say to the Noble Lord, in explanation of 1505 what was said before that the Debate cannot take place on a previous item. Some general reference may be made, but the question is that the whole Vote be passed.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
It seems to me rather unfortunate that the hon. Member representing the Board of Agriculture should have adopted the course he has done. When these Votes first came on, the first person to rise was the hon. Baronet representing the Board of Agriculture, and he dealt with the items under G l, and turned the Debate in that direction. As that is the rule, I think it would be a more convenient course if hon. Members representing the Government refrained from intervening until the other Votes have been dealt with. I was going to raise the particular point alluded to by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. I am sorry that he has quarrelled with this pleuro-pneumonia account. I may be wrong, and if I am the hon. Baronet will correct me, but I was always under the impression that this amount was not purely Exchequer money. I am under the impression that some of it comes from the local authorities, and that that is one of the reasons why the balance is not returnable. Obviously, in a fund which partakes of the nature of an Insurance Fund, it is manifestly impossible to return the balance every year. Besides that, on the broader financial point, it occurs to me that we in this House attach too much importance to the return of unexpended balances. I am not sure it is not a great mistake; I believe it leads to great Departmental extravagance. They prefer to spend the money if they can and return as little as possible to the old Sinking Fund. I am very much inclined to think the Estimates would be lower from one year to another if the balances were allowed to be carried on from one Department to another. There would then be more kudos and credit gained by Departments in economising than now. What I really wished to raise was a question with regard to the Grant-in-Aid for the Diseases of Animals Act, which refers to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, part of which was in my Division. I wish to ask the Board of Agriculture—who by the way I think we may certainly congratulate on the celerity with which they stamped out that disease—whether the cause of the outbreak was ever traced. It is a very serious thing that this disease should suddenly have broken out. It was not locally known how 1506 it arose, and I should like to know whether any experiments were conducted or what course was taken in order to find out what was the cause of the disease, and also whether, in the progress of that outbreak, any further information was discovered by the experts of the Board of Agriculture as to how to prevent infection in future. I remember there was some question of the disease being spread by rabbits crossing the road and going from an infected field to a field not infected. I am sure it will be interesting to agricultural Members in this House if on this occasion the hon. Baronet could give us some information, if any was discovered, as to the origin of the disease.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have here a copy of the statute which shows "that there should be paid to the said account such money, not exceeding £140,000, as may be provided towards defraying the cost of the Board of Agriculture under the provisions of this Act," and it shows further how "In any financial year such additional sum may be provided." It is perfectly clear from the words of the Act that this is a grant by Parliament for a special object. It was no answer of the hon. Baronet opposite to say that this question had never been raised before. There are very few opportunities of raising such questions, and a large number of Members of this House had never heard of it at all. I believe it to be one of the duties of private Members to raise these questions. Because it has never been raised before, and because the Department has followed that practice, it does not follow that the practice is right. There should not be a Supplementary Estimate unless there is a deficiency. That is quite clear from the words of the Act. If there is a deficiency, a Supplementary Vote is required, but not otherwise. There is no point in saying that anything should be surrendered, because there is nothing to surrender.
§ Lord NINIAN CRICHTON-STUART
I have some questions I should like answered by the Secretary of State for War, but unfortunately he has slipped through my fingers a second time. It is a question of great gravity to the agricultural districts of this country whether this £40,000 is coming out of the Development Grant or is to be provided by the Estimates of the War Office. I have the honour of living in an agricultural constituency of which the Prime Minister is the representative in this House, and it is important in that constituency, and I must press for an answer.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
With reference to the question of brood mares, I should like to have some guarantee that sound stallions only are recognised by the Board of Agriculture. There are many unregistered stallions about, and it is of the greatest importance that the mares belonging to the Government should not be put to stallions who would not be capable of breeding good stock.
And it being Five of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report Progress ; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.