§ Mr. LARDNER
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture, Ireland, whether he is now prepared to make any statement as to the relaxation of restrictions on the movement of cattle in Ireland, 1257 and as to the transport of stores from Ireland to England?
§ Mr. GINNELL
At the suggestion of the Vice-President, I beg to repeat the question that I addressed to him earlier in the day?
§ Sir JOHN LONSDALE
Can the right hon. Gentleman now give us any assurance that the county of Armagh will be relieved from restrictions? So far as I understand there has been no single case of foot-and-mouth disease in the whole county. I understood from the right hon. Gentleman that there is a suspicion of cases that were discovered at Newry, but no actual case was traced to the county of Armagh. I think it is a great hardship that the whole of these counties should be placed upon the scheduled area without any real ground for doing so, and that whenever a diseased cow is found in England a whole number of counties in Ireland not previously scheduled should be placed among the scheduled areas. I think, having regard to the great gravity and the enormous loss occasioned in Ireland, that the right hon. Gentleman should seriously consider the necessity of not treating the counties of Armagh and Tyrone in a manner calculated to create such enormous loss, and I trust the right hon. Gentleman to-night, in accordance with his promise on Friday, will be able to make some reassuring statement with regard to this very serious matter.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in making his statement, he will be able to afford some information as to the position he proposes to take up with regard to the county of Down. May I remind him there has been no case in the original outbreak which has been traced to this county, with the exception of the two transhipment cases that occurred, I believe, in Newry?
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture, Ireland)
I can assure my colleagues from Ireland that I am deeply impressed by the danger and difficulty of the situation, and the great loss which is entailed upon the people of Ireland. I have had this afternoon a long conference with my right hon. Friend 1258 the President of the Board of Agriculture, and I am glad to say that we have arrived at certain conclusions which I intend to-publish to-night. I shall begin by what will be most pleasant for the House to hear. We have reached the conclusion that it will be possible within the next few days—two or three days—to remove entirely from the scheduled areas the counties of Down, Antrim, Cavan, part of Westmeath, and the whole of the county of Louth. To these five counties I propose to give almost complete relief—four counties complete relief, and the fifth almost complete relief. I am sorry that owing to the disquieting circumstances of Londonderry I have had to schedule the whole of the county of Fermanagh, part of the county of Donegal, and a circuit of five miles round the city of Derry. That is due to this fact: The Department made exhaustive inquiry into the circumstances in which these three heads were discovered at Glasgow. We have arrived at the conclusion that it must be admitted that the disease from which the animals suffered to which the heads belonged was foot-and-mouth disease. We are perfectly certain that these heads belonged to animals that were shipped to the port of Londonderry, and we have further found that those who shipped them to the port of Londonderry brought them from Ballyshannon and from Enniskillen, in the county of Fermanagh.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
Yes. My statement involves a great deal of detail, and I shall be glad to answer questions after I have finished it. That is the reason we have been forced to schedule those three areas We must make the inquiries complete, and we cannot run any risks of the disease spreading whilst inquiries are being made. Taking the county of Westmeath, the hon. Gentleman opposite is aware that I removed the restrictions altogether from one part of that scheduled area last week, and what the President of the Board of Agriculture has consented to is this: He is quite prepared to allow the export of fat cattle from the whole of the Westmeath area, and the only restriciton that will be left on Westmeath for some little time longer is in regard to export of stores. As it is largely a fat cattle area that will not be a very heavy restriction at the present time. The President of the 1259 Board of Agriculture is prepared to issue an order admitting the export of fat stock from every part of Ireland with the exception of Donegal, Fermanagh, a small area round the Port of Derry, and the whole of Meath and Armagh. As regards stores the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to allow the export of stores from every part of Ireland with the exception of Donegal, Fermanagh, a small part of Londonderry round the port, Meath, Tyrone, Westmeath, Armagh, and Monaghan.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
There is no reason for bringing heaven into it at all. There is comparatively little danger in fat cattle shipped for immediate slaughter at the port of arrival, but there is danger in shipping stores to be taken through England and put upon English farms. The hon. and learned Member does not need to bring in the name of heaven or anything of the kind, because the thing is evident on the face of it, and I was not able to resist the case which my right hon. Friend made. That is the arrangement we have arrived at tonight.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
That is the material answer. As regards the hon. Baronet who sits for Armagh (Sir J. Lonsdale), he says rightly that there has been no real case of foot-and-mouth disease discovered in his county. I have received a telegram here to-night stating that there has been a case this afternoon examined within one mile of the city of Armagh of the most suspicious character, and it is reserved for the consideration of some of the principal officers of the Department tomorrow. It is not fair to say that because there is no real case announced that the Department has not grounds for exercising caution in regard to that or any other part. With regard to the Birkenhead cargo, the telegram which reached me from Birkenhead from the officer in charge was to the effect that I need not look for affected animals in Monaghan because they were really in a lot which came from Killeleagh and Caledon. These are the grounds upon which we are exercising caution as regards Armagh. The hon. Member for the St. Patrick's Division of Dublin (Mr. Field) has asked me about Louth. Well, Louth is clear. 1260 Let me say that in the adjoining county of Meath we shall have to exercise the greatest caution in seeing that Meath cattle are not shipped from Dundalk and Drogheda. Perhaps the representatives of Meath will make a note of that. We are retaining control over Meath com pletely, and we shall take the greatest pains, and the police will be instructed to see that cattle shipped at Dundalk or Drogheda, shall not be Meath cattle. That disposes of Louth, and of Drogheda, and of Meath. There has been some misunderstanding about Lord Lucas's intimation as to the detention of cattle at the Irish ports. I will tell the House what I know about it. Some six months ago, before foot-and-mouth disease had broken out at all in Ireland, the two Boards had correspondence on the necessity of some period of detention as regards cattle that were being shipped. I summoned representatives of the railway company, of the shipping company, and of the cattle trade. Cattle which have been standing in the Irish fairs all day getting very little to eat or drink before they leave——
§ Mr. RUSSELL
I state that which was completely proved at the conference. They stand in the fairs all day; they do not get much food, and they are entrained from Dublin and hurriedly placed on board ship. There is no time for food or inspection. I do not know what happens when they arrive in England or Scotland, but I rather suspect they are hurried off to some fair with little to eat or drink. I say we have no right to treat cattle in that way. It really amounts to something very like cruelty. We decided, in spite of the representations of the interests affected, that, in future, all cattle intended for shipment should be subjected to twelve hours' detention, that their owners should be compelled to provide them with food and water, and that the veterinary surgeon belonging to the Department should have the right to look over them. That is all I know about detention. Whatever may take place on this side that is all that has been arranged for on the Irish side. I have made rather a full statement, because I think the circumstances are so important that Irish Members have a right to know the full facts. I have kept back nothing, and I ask them to believe that at the conference I had with my right hon. Friend he was perfectly willing to treat- Ireland fairly, while I did 1261 my best to do everything possible under the circumstances.
§ Mr. CRUMLEY
Might I ask how the Department came to the conclusion that Enniskillen should be scheduled, it being situated about thirty-two miles from Ballyshannon. I am sorry the President of the Board of Agriculture is not in his place, inasmuch, as I understand, that since the commencement of this outbreak such a thing as foot disease has only appeared in one instance. I consider the Department have lost their heads over this question. In Austria-Hungary during the past summer 134,000 cattle suffered from this same disease, and in France there have been 100,000 cases. In Kent there appears to have been another scare. I suppose the disease came over somewhere from the French coast. It turns out there were two or three heads infected by this disease, but the carcases have never been examined, and, as far as I have heard, they have found no traces of foot-and-mouth disease. In these circumstances, I think the Minister for Agriculture should try to stamp out this disease by other means than those which he has adopted.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
Some twenty or twenty-five cattle came from Enniskillen, and I think that what the hon. Member has said gives sufficient ground for my action. He has referred to the fact that there were 134,000 cases of foot-and-mouth disease in Austria-Hungary. We have had sixty-eight cases, all of which we have slaughtered
§ Mr. RUSSELL
I am preparing an Order, but I should not like to announce a specific day. It will probably be Wednesday or Thursday.
Mr. W. A. REDMOND
As the whole of county Tyrone is free from disease may I ask if the exportation of fat stock and movement within the boundaries of that county of fat stock will be allowed; and how is it that the whole county has been scheduled?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture is rather inclined to insist upon scheduling the whole of the affected area in Ireland. I have arranged, however, that the scheduling shall only apply for export purposes, and that movements within the scheduled area shall be free. That will save an enormous amount of trouble.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
On that point perhaps the hon. Member will put a question tomorrow. I am in communication with the authorities in Dublin, but I would ask the hon. Member to remember that my Department is 360 miles away, and it is not quite easy to answer questions right off.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman said that he is 360 miles away from the scene. I do not think that he is 360 yards away, because he is simply the abject creature of the English Minister. I wish to ask him this question—I will take the case of the province of Munster in which there has not been for thirty-five years a case of disease. It is hundreds of miles away from the scene of the outbreaks. I want to know if he expects us, whether in summer when grass is plentiful or in winter when we are coming close to Christmas, whether he expects the people of that province, in which are the great ports of Limerick, Cork, and Waterford, to be content by his glossing observations while he is suppressing the fact that millions of money are being lost? Are we to be satisfied with this condition of affairs? He tells us with regard to what Lord Lucas has said in Glasgow. I can only say, in my opinion, Lord Lucas's remarks have cost us hundreds and thousands of pounds. I never heard of Lord Lucas before. If I were put to a competitive examination, I should say, except that he happens to be a Minister, I know nothing whatever about him to his discredit. But there he is. This gentleman thinks it a proper thing on a festive occasion like this to bluster out these observations of a most calamitous kind. I now ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will be so good as to tell us in what way he has ever vindicated his Department or the English Department with regard to the treatment of Munster. Fifteen miles is your limit in England. In regard to Ireland, in addition to that you have the wholesome sea flowing in between you, and with regard to these, perhaps, a dozen or so counties, why are these people to be subjected to conditions which you do not impose upon Wales, which you do not impose upon Scotland, and which you do not impose upon any other part of the Kingdom except these particular counties? It has not been my duty to go through the Orders which the Government are making. That is the affair of the Gentlemen immediately con- 1263 cerned. I can only say for myself that I have the very gravest doubts as to their legality. Up to the present the Government have not been in any way confronted with the legal consequences of their action. They have taken advice no doubt. I am quite sure that some of that advice has been honestly tendered by those who have tendered it. The right hon. Gentleman says his Department is 350 miles from the scene of operations. Has he ever consulted any independent Irish authority as to whether the Orders which were being made against Munster are in themselves legal Orders. I can only say that I have very grave doubts on that matter.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
Perhaps the House will allow me to say a word in reply in regard to the Orders that have been issued. As a matter of fact, in the whole of the province of Munster the ports are open and fat cattle are being exported by the thousand, and store cattle also. There is no stoppage at the ports of Munster.
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE
Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the circuit round Londonderry has been imposed penalising Londonderry, which is absolutely free from all suspicion of disease, because of the fact that these suspected heads passed through it by rail to the city of Derry? Does he consider that a sufficient reason for penalising a county which is absolutely non-suspect?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
This is not a disease of an ordinary character, and we cannot afford to take any risk whatever. An animal crossing the road has been known over and over again to carry disease with it. It is a mere precautionary measure until the Department has time to examine.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
When the right hon. Gentleman said earlier in the evening that an arrangement was about to be made between the two Departments to detain all cattle coming to this country twelve hours at the port of landing——
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
What arrangements are made there for their keep? Are they to be kept in uncovered yards at this time of the year, or in sheds? Also are they to be kept on stone or on concrete, and will they be allowed in the summer time to be turned into pasture fields to graze?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
We have insisted on the railway companies and the shipping companies providing suitable accommodation.
§ Mr. PATRICK WHITE
I rise to ask the right hon. Gentleman if some explanation of his extraordinary conduct with regard to the restrictions of the county Meath, and that he may give some indication of when he is going to remove those restrictions. Let me put before the House the absurd position in which the Department is at present. The area of Oldcastle was scheduled because of an outbreak at Mullingar, in the county Westmeath. Mullingar is now declared a healthy area, and cattle can be removed from that area, but Oldcastle, which was restricted because of an outbreak in Westmeath is still a restricted area. The right hon. Gentleman was asked to pay compensation for the beast which came from Dunshaughlin, and he replied that he could not, as his inspector said it was not a case of foot-and-mouth disease. The whole county Meath is scheduled because of this case.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
It is quite true that our inspector said he did not believe it to be a case of foot-and-mouth disease, but the inspectors of the Board of Agriculture in England said it was, and it has the power here to close the ports.
§ And, it being half-an-hour after the conclusion of Government business, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put.
§ Adjourned at Twenty-three minutes after Eleven o'clock.