HC Deb 16 July 1912 vol 41 cc202-4

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if he will say what steps he is taking, in view of the prevalence of foot-and-mouth disease, anthrax, abortion, and red-water fever in cattle and swine fever in pigs in this country, to extend and promote scientific research, with a view to more successfully combating these diseases?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Montagu, for Mr. Runciman)

It is impossible within the limits of an answer to a question to give the hon. Member full information as to the work which is being done in the direction he suggests, but my right hon. Friend hopes that the following summary will be sufficient for his purpose: A Scientific Commission will leave England early in the autumn to study foot-and-mouth disease in India. My right hon. Friend does not think that anthrax requires any further scientific investigation, as its causes and the means by which it is spread are well known; the difficulty of dealing with this disease is rather administrative, and the question whether it is possible and desirable to take any administrative action is engaging my attention. A Departmental Committee on epizootic abortion has already issued two Reports and two Appendices, and is still sitting; the possibility of immunising cattle against this disease is under consideration. Much experimental work in connection with red-water fever has been carried out at the Board's laboratory with successful results, and preparations are in progress for continuing the inquiry; if the hon. Member would care to visit the Board's laboratory the officer in charge would be very glad to receive him and to show him what is being done. With regard to swine fever, my right hon. Friend would refer the hon. Member to the Interim Report (Part I.) of the Departmental Committee.


Can the hon. Gentleman give us the names of the Commissioners who will go out to India to consider this question of foot-and-mouth disease?


I will inform my right hon. Friend that the hon. Gentleman has put that supplementary question.


asked how many out breaks of foot-and-mouth disease have occurred in Great Britain and Ireland, respectively, during the last ten years; what the duration of the outbreaks was in each case; and how often it was found necessary to close British ports against the reception of Irish cattle during the continuance of the outbreaks?


In Great Britain, one outbreak occurred in 1902, three in 1908, two in 1910, and nineteen last year. No outbreak occurred in Ireland during the same period. As regards the duration of the outbreaks in each case, perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to refer him to the Annual Reports presented to Parliament, which contain full information on the subject. It was not found necessary to close British ports against Irish cattle during the period named.


Would the hon. Gentleman say whether there are any precautions taken by the Irish Board of Agriculture against the importation of cattle and sheep into Ireland not taken by the English Board of Agriculture?


The hon. Member must give notice. He can hardly expect the Under-Secretary for India to know these things.


asked whether cattle imported to Great Britain from Canada and South America and dealt with at British ports under the conditions set out in the Foreign Animals Order have been inspected for disease before embarkation at the American and Canadian ports; or whether his Department have any means of ascertaining the health of these cattle until the moment of their landing on British soil?


Cattle are officially inspected before exportation from Canada, the United States of America, Argentina, and Uruguay. The hon. Member is probably aware that the importation of cattle into the United Kingdom from the various South American countries is at present prohibited.


asked under what circumstances two lots of cattle exported from Ireland by a Mr. William Quaid, on the 18th June last, have been kept in quarantine, one lot at Aberdeen and the other at Ulverston; by what authority he was deprived of the control of his beasts; and will he state whether either of these places is within a scheduled area, at whose costs the cattle are being maintained, and how long it is proposed to continue the quarantine?


The cattle in question appear to have been detained, not in pursuance of an Order of the Board, but by the local authority acting in the exercise of the powers conferred upon them by Article 6 of the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Order of 1895. I am informed that the cattle will be released to-day, in both cases, if they are found to be free from disease.