HC Deb 24 October 1912 vol 42 cc2361-6
37. Mr. HORNER

asked whether and to what extent applications have been made to the Irish Land Commission for an extension of time for the payment of annuities under the Land Purchase Acts in consequence of the losses entailed by the cattle embargo; and, having regard to the difficulties in the financial situation of the Irish farmers caused by this national calamity, whether His Majesty's advisers contemplate such arrangements as will allow of the situation being dealt with either by extension of time for payment of the accruing annuities or otherwise?


Several applications to the effect stated in the question have been received, and the Irish Land Commission have replied that they are bound to enforce the payment of land purchase annuities and have no power to grant an extension of time.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there have been very serious losses incurred by Irish farmers owing to the embargo on Irish cattle, and that the payment of annuities becomes due in a few days to the Irish Land Commission, and will he undertake on behalf of the Government that the Land Commission will not institute legal proceedings against these farmers within a reasonable time, say two months after the normal course of trade has been re-established?


No. That would require legislation.


Will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with the Irish landlords to bring the judicial and non-judicial rents now due to them to the same level as the annuities?


I am afraid I cannot use any influence.


In considering this matter will the right hon. Gentleman keep in mind the fact that people who have no money have no power to pay?


That fact has been brought home to me on many occasions.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that farmers in the South of Ireland for months past have been unable to sell their cattle, and consequently they cannot make money to pay their annuities; and would he ask the Commissioners to postpone their demands for the present half-year until Christmas?


No. If I were to do that, if it were legally possible, the only effect would be to throw it immediately on the country.


asked the Prime Minister, whether the recent out breaks of foot-and-mouth disease in Irish cattle in districts so distant from the only previous sources of infection in that country, and having regard to the fact that suspected cases were notified just as Ireland was entitled to be declared free from the disease, and taking into account the annual trade between Great Britain: and Ireland, the growth of half a century of commercial interchange to the advantage of both countries, and to the fact that it is now threatened with extinction, to the loss of Great Britain and the possible ruin to the industry in Ireland, he will appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the probable origin of the first and succeeding outbreaks of the disease in Ireland, and report what course should be adopted in the interests of both countries?


I must refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to a similar question put by him yesterday.


I did not put a similar question to the Prime Minister yesterday.


The hon. Member asked yesterday whether I would: consider the advisability of appointing a non-party Committee, and to-day he-asked whether I will appoint a Royal Commission. The answer to both is in the negative.


asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) whether he has as yet arrived at any decision as to the conditions under which cattle from one non-infected area in Ireland will be permitted to be carried by raid to another non-infected area in cases where the railway line over which these cattle are carried passes through an area scheduled as infected; and, if so, will he outline the regulations governing such cases?

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

The Department's Orders provide that any restrictions imposed on movement of animals shall not apply to movements through a restricted area by railway from a place outside such area to another place outside the area without unnecessary delay and without the animals being untrucked within the area.

53. Mr. J. P. FARRELL

asked whether by the terms of the present restriction Order in connection with the foot-and-mouth outbreak at Mullingar, the town of Edgeworthstown, which is 19 miles by rail and 17 miles by road from Mullingar, will be deprived of its great annual fair of the 4th and 5th proximo; and whether he will have this portion resealed with a view to allowing these fairs to be held?


The town of Edgeworthstown is within the scheduled district. It is about sixteen miles in a direct line from Mullingar. The infected places, however, are not all confined to the limits of the latter town. In view of the serious situation as regards foot-and-mouth disease at Mullingar, and of the possibility of further outbreaks occurring, it would be premature to contract the boundaries of the district.


Having regard to the fact that this is outside the radius, can the right hon. Gentleman see his way to reconsider the matter?


No, Sir. The hon. Gentleman takes Mulingar as the centre, but the affected places are outside that centre.


asked whether, in drawing a circle around the infected source on the occasion of the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease near Mullingar, the Vice-President confined it to a radius of fifteen miles, in accordance with the general practice in England; whether, had he confined the prohibited areas to a similar radius on the occasion of the first outbreak at Swords, he will state approximately what parts of county Meath the circumference would have touched; what number of animals would have been outside that area and transferable to market but within the larger area prohibited by the Order of his Department and not moveable; whether the port of Drogheda would have remained open; will he state the number of days that the animals were subject to the standstill Order between the small circular cordon and the larger irregular area; and whether, in future, having regard to the precautions which he took to inspire confidence in his administration in British agriculturists and to the failure which attended his efforts, he will devote himself to safeguarding the interests of Irish stock owners by not imposing restrictions more drastic than those imposed in England?


The scheduled district round Mullingar covers, roughly speaking, an area having a radius of about fifteen miles from the infected places. The boundary is not a geometrical circle. The area includes well-known rural districts and electoral divisions. The larger part of Meath would not lie within fifteen miles of the place of the first outbreak of the disease in Ireland, nor would Drogheda; but in view of the outbreaks that subsequently occurred, the whole county would have had to be scheduled in any case. The Department cannot supply the statistics as to animals asked for. Movements within or into the district (except into or within the small prohibited cordons) were, in suitable cases, allowed on licence of the Department soon after the declaration of the scheduled district, but no movement out of the district was permitted. The Department must hold themselves free to impose such restrictions as may, in their opinion, be best calculated to arrest the spread of the disease.


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman's attention has been drawn to the fact that the outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in Leinster occur near military barracks or camps, as in the case of the outbreak at Ballysax, in the county of Kildare, which is near the Ourragh Camp, also the two cases in Wicklow, the one at Logatrina was within one quarter of a mile of the railway station at Dunlavin, the other within half a mile of it; whether the first outbreak occurred while the stores and forage were being brought to the Glen of Imaal Camp from Dunlavin railway station for the autumn manœuvres; if the stores and fodder were drawn by horses belonging to farmers in the neighbourhood; whether, in consequence of this outbreak, the manœuvres were abandoned; and if, in consequence of the suspicion of the disease having been imported from these sources, he will have a rigid scrutiny over the disposal of forage and packing materials in the neighbourhood of barracks and camps in the future?


The Department have no reason to believe that there was any connection between military stores and forage and the outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in county Wicklow. The Department asked the military authorities not to bold manœuvres near the infected centres as a precautionary measure against the possible risk of spread of disease through movement of animals, and the military authorities acceded to this request. The military authorities have also consented at the request of the Department to destroy packing materials; and the Department are satisfied the military authorities are exercising every care in this respect.


As the military authorities are co-operating with the Government in this matter, may I ask what kind of inquiry the right hon. Gentleman is holding into the real cause of the outbreak in Ireland? Is it not the case that an outbreak of anthrax a year or two ago was absolutely proved to have come from compressed hay?


Yes, I think the hon. and learned Gentleman is right. In the case of every outbreak of disease inspectors are sent to find out all the circumstances attending it, and to ascertain everything that takes place in the district.


As this is likely to be a most serious matter in regard to the future, can the right hon. Gentleman let the House have an opportunity of seeing any documents, in the shape of a Blue Book containing the collected information, as to the cause of this outbreak of disease in Ireland?


The Department will have no objection to supply that.

Captain CRAIG

Is it true that foreign fodder for the Army is imported?


Under the law foreign fodder cannot be imported at the present time, but fodder may be imported from the United States, Canada, Norway, and the Isle of Man.


Seeing that Ireland has been free from disease for thirty years, have the Department formed any opinion or made any inquiries as to whether this disease has been imported into Ireland from a foreign source?


All these questions about the origin of the disease are very difficult to answer. It is almost impossible, it is entirely impossible to prove it; and I ask the House to believe that whilst we are struggling with the disease and endeavouring to stamp it out, we are not losing any opportunity which is afforded to trace the course.