HC Deb 09 October 1912 vol 42 cc342-6
27. Mr. W. O'BRIEN

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if he will consider whether the quarantine regulations as to Irish store cattle should not be carried out at the Irish ports previous to embarkation, so that healthy cattle when landed might not be left at the mercy of English buyers?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Runciman)

I think it is important that Irish store stock should be inspected and kept under observation for the prescribed period after they are landed in Great Britain. I regret therefore that I am unable to adopt the suggestion made by the hon. Member.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether the long period of supervision of fifteen days over cattle after they have reached the consignee ought to be sufficient security?


I think it is necessary to have inspection at the port of arrival in order, if they are diseased, that they may not be allowed to travel along any high road.

28. Mr. W. O'BRIEN

asked whether it has come to the knowledge of the Board of Agriculture that the recent relaxations of the Order forbidding the export of Irish store cattle to England are quite inadequate for the relief of Ireland's principal trade; that, except in the case of direct Orders from England, the cattle will be subject to a loss of £1 per head for keep and deterioration during the four days of detention, and must then be sold at any figure offered by English purchasers; whether any outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has taken place in any district of the two provinces of Munster and Con-naught; and, if not, what is the reason for subjecting stock raisers and farmers in these provinces to a boycott from which those of England are exempt?


I realise that the facilities which have been given for the admission of store stock will not admit of the resumption of the trade to anything like its normal extent, and that the requirements of the Orders will entail special charges upon the trade, but I am by no means sure that the effect upon prices will be what the hon. Member anticipates. As regards the necessity for special regulations in connection with the movement of stock from Ireland to Great Britain, perhaps he will allow me to refer him to the full explanation which I gave to the hon. Member for North Westmeath on Monday last. I have no reason to believe that any outbreak of the disease has occurred in either Munster or Con-naught, but it would be convenient if questions as to the existence of disease in Ireland could be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Irish Department.


If the President of the English Board of Agriculture claims the right to hinder the trade of two whole provinces admittedly free from disease for the last thirty years, may I ask whether the Vice-President of the Irish Agricultural Department would be allowed to retaliate by preventing the landing in those provinces of any merchandise from England because of fear of contagion from cases of disease which are far more numerous in areas of England?


I cannot go into the questions of the comparative powers of the English and Irish Departments, but I would point out that until quite recently the Irish Department always took a very severe view of the importation of English animals into Ireland in the case of an outbreak.


Would not the whole difficulty be met by a uniform administration of the Contagious Diseases {Animals) Act by one authority?


Did not the right hon. Gentleman state to-day to a Unionist deputation that the English county councils had the power to completely frustrate the existing regulations for the sale of Irish cattle in England?


I have not received a Unionist deputation. I saw a deputation representing agricultural interests in England. I do not recognise the sentence which the hon. Gentleman has quoted, but if he has any question to put on the subject, perhaps he would give notice in the usual way.


asked if he will permit the free transit of pigs and store cattle to the several English markets free from detention at any of the English ports to the different markets throughout England from the South and West of Ireland, where no foot-and-mouth distemper has appeared for the past thirty years?


No, Sir; I regret that under existing arrangements I do not see my way to sanction the arrangement proposed.


Is it not reasonable to allow pigs to be imported into English markets, and, where they are brought in wagon loads, to be killed in the English markets?


I am afraid that at the present time I cannot accept the suggestion of the hon. Member.


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman will state the number of live cattle and sheep imported into Great Britain from Ireland for the months of July, August, and September, 1911, and the number for the corresponding period this year; and whether he will also state the quantity of dead meat imported from Ireland during the respective periods?


With regard to the first part of the question I propose, if the hon. Member will allow me, to circulate the statistics with the Votes. I have no information enabling me to answer the second part of the question, but perhaps the hon. Member would address his inquiry to my right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Irish Department.—[See Written Answers this date.]


asked whether deputations both from Manchester and Ireland have urged upon the President of the Board of Agriculture the advisability of allowing fat cattle for immediate slaughter to be trucked from Liverpool to Manchester; having regard to the relief to the fat cattle trade from Ireland that would ensue from his conceding their request, is he now prepared to grant it; and whether he is aware that the landing of fat cattle in this particular market is considered to be of far greater importance to the cattle industry than the admission of store cattle to it at the present time?


I regret that I do not see my way, under existing conditions, to allow Irish fat cattle to be moved from the places at which they are landed to markets held elsewhere. The representations made to me by the deputations to which the hon. Member refers will, of course, be kept in view.


asked whether, in view of the long continued and serious check to the interchange of live stock between different countries owing to the fear of transmitting contagious animal diseases, the Government will consider the advisability of convening at an early date an international conference to consider the matter?


I do not at present see that any advantage would be likely to be gained by the issue of invitations for an international conference, but perhaps the hon. Member would let me know the particular points to which he thinks that the deliberations of such a body could usefully be devoted.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at several meetings of agricultural societies held recently resolutions were passed to this effect?


I have heard of the resolutions, but if some definite suggestions can be made I shall be very glad to go into them.


asked whether, since the publication of the Board's order permitting the landing at certain British ports of store cattle from Ireland, any further outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease have occurred in Ireland; and, if so, whether it is proposed to cancel the Order?


I was informed yesterday that an extension of the disease had occurred in the Fermanagh prohibited area, but it would be convenient that questions as to the existence of disease in Ireland should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Irish Department. The extension in question makes no material change in the position, and it is therefore unnecessary to cancel the Order to which the hon. Member refers.


asked what are the specified ports in Ireland from which, under the recent Order of the Board, store cattle may be shipped to the five British ports mentioned in the Order; and will the right hon. Gentleman state whether, since the issue of such Order, suitable accommodation for such cattle has been found to be available at any other British ports, and similar shipments thereto been authorised accordingly?


The Irish ports, named in the First Schedule to the Order, are Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Londonderry, and Waterford. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.


asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) if he will arrange to allow the sale of young pigs at the following markets: Lisnaskea, Enniskillen, Derry-gonnelly, and Blacklion?

Mr. RUSSELL (Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture, Ireland)

In view of the occurrence on 7th instant of a further case of foot-and-mouth disease in the district scheduled in the county of Fermanagh, the time has not yet arrived when such markets can be allowed with safety.


asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) if he will reduce the restricted area in county Fermanagh to within a few miles of where the foot-and-mouth distemper broke out, so that the farmers may be able to dispose of their cattle and to enable them to meet their liabilities, seeing that no outbreak of the foot-and-mouth distemper has occurred for the last fourteen days?


It would be premature to reduce the restricted area in county Fermanagh, especially in view of the fact that another case of foot-and-mouth disease in the area was confirmed on Monday last.