HC Deb 17 July 1912 vol 41 cc372-6

asked the President of the Board of Agricuture whether it is possible, consistently with the public interest, to sanction the entering of fat cattle into the city of York, for immediate slaughter, from unscheduled areas, and thereby to avoid the depletion of the meat supply of the city which must otherwise occur?


My right hon. Friend is not yet in a position to give an affirmative reply to this question. Perhaps the hon. Member would repeat it on Friday, when my right hon. Friend hopes that the inquiries which are now being made will be completed.


In view of the importance of this matter, will the hon. Gentleman do his best to issue the Order in good time?


Inquiries are being made, and my right hon. Friend hopes to be in a position to give an answer to the hon. Member on Friday.


Will he consider the case of other large centres also?


I will ask my right hon. Friend to do so.


asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he has yet appointed the Committee of inquiry which he described in this House eight months ago as about to carry on in India scientific investigation and research into the nature, origin, and means of transmission of foot-and-mouth disease, about which there is at present no exact knowledge; and, if so, what are the names of the Committee and the terms of reference to them?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The Committee was appointed some time ago. The terms of the reference are as follows:— To make further investigations as to the characteristics of foot-and-mouth disease, and the manner in which it is contracted and spread. The Committee consists of Professor Sir John McFadyean, Professor A. E. Mettam, and Mr. Stewart Stockman, the Board's chief veterinary officer, with Mr. W. G. Wragg, one of the Board's veterinary inspectors as secretary. I fear, however, that at present we cannot do without the services of Mr. Stockman in England.


As these investigations are going to be carried on in India itself, can the hon. Gentleman say in what part of India?


The investigations are to be carried out in India, and some of the Committee will proceed to India early in the autumn.


Is it not desirable if Mr. Stockman is too busy to go that some other person should be appointed, so as to make the Committee complete and enable the investigations to be commenced?


I am sure my right hon. Friend will consider that, but it may not be necessary for the whole of the Committee to be present in India at the same time.


asked whether a serum has been discovered at the Royal Veterinary College which, if cattle are inoculated therewith, will effect their complete and certain immunisation against epizootic abortion; and, if so, whether, in view of the prevalence of this disease, the Board will take immediate steps to recommend to stock owners the use of such serum and to inform them of the source from which it may be obtained?


No serum has been discovered which will render cattle immune from epizootic abortion. But experiments with a vaccine prepared at the Board's Laboratory are being carried out by the Board's veterinary officers, and about. 1,000 animals are under observation. If the results are satisfactory, immediate steps will be taken to bring the vaccine to the notice of stock owners.


asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman has received a petition from the Hampshire Down Sheep-Breeders' Association, representing 528 owners of registered flocks in seventeen counties of England, aggregating 288,000 animals, of an estimated. value of one and a-half million pounds, urging him not to relax the prohibition of the importation of livestock from Ireland into England, Wales, and Scotland until twenty-eight days after such time as Ireland be found and declared free from, foot-and-mouth disease, in view of the numerous sales of such sheep at this season of the year, and the invariable adoption by the Irish Department of Agriculture of a similar far-sighted policy when the same disease has broken out in this country; and whether he proposes to comply with the terms of such petition?

33. Mr. PETO

asked whether the right hon. Gentleman has received a communication from the Hampshire Down Sheep Breeders' Association with regard to the admission of cattle, sheep, and pigs from Ireland; and whether he is prepared to agree to their suggestion that in future these animals should only be admitted from Ireland by licence, accompanied by a veterinary surgeon's certificate of health, in accordance with the regulation of the Board of Agriculture in Ireland with regard to the corresponding admission of animals into Ireland, and thus give English breeders the same protection which is afforded to Irish breeders by the regulations of the Irish Board of Agriculture?


My right hon. Friend has received the petition to which the hon. Members refer, but the position as regards the importation of animals from Ireland has been modified since the petition was signed on the 9th instant. So far as fat stock are concerned, animals sent from certain specified Irish ports can now be landed for slaughter at the Foreign Animals' Wharves at Bristol. Glasgow, and Liverpool, and my right hon. Friend has been satisfied by his advisers that this arrangement is attended with no appreciable risk of the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease. As regards store stock, the Order prohibiting importation remains in force, and it will, of course, not be withdrawn until my right hon. Friend is satisfied that this step can be taken with safety so far as British stock is concerned. My right hon. Friend would add that he is in communication with the Irish Depart- ment as to the possibility of improving the arrangements for the inspection of stock and for feeding and watering before embarkation.


Do I understand that there is no present intention or inclination on the part of the Board to authorise the importation of store cattle from any part of Ireland into the South of England?


In reply to that I can only repeat what I have already stated in the answer.


Will the Board of Agriculture in England take steps to see that no sheep are removed from the scheduled districts until twenty-eight days after such districts have been declared free from foot-and-mouth disease?


I will convey that suggestion to my right hon. Friend. I cannot give any undertaking.


Can the hon. Gentleman say whether any fresh outbreaks have occurred?


I understand that the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture for Ireland has some information to give on that point.

32. Colonel YATE

asked whether there have been any further outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in Leicestershire; and whether the cause of the outbreak reported near Market Harborough has as yet been traced?


The reply to both parts of the question is in the negative.

34. Mr. DELANY

asked whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware of the consignments of hay lying at Waterford waiting facilities for shipment; and whether he is now prepared to reopen the ports of Rosslare and Fishguard for the transmission of hay to London and other centres in this country from Queen's County, where no foot-and-mouth disease has existed for the past twenty-nine years?

35. Mr. KELLY

asked whether the right hon. Gentleman has received a communication from the Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners requesting him to authorise the shipment of a consignment of hay which is at present detained in Londonderry, seeing that there is no reason to suspect that the hay from that district is in any way infected, and that it is suffering depreciation at present on account of not being properly stored?


My right hon. Friend has received the communication from the Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners to which the hon. Member for East Donegal refers, but for obvious reasons, which my right hon. Friend indicated in his reply to the hon. Member for Mid-Armagh on Monday last, he does not see his way to allow the importation of hay from Ireland to be resumed until it is clear that that country is once again free from foot-and-mouth disease.