§ 2. Mr. PATRICK WHITE
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether he can now state the full particulars with regard to his proposed regulations imposing a period of twelve hours' detention on Irish cattle at the port of debarkation?
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD BENN (Lord of the Treasury)
My right hon. Friend has nothing to add at present to the statements on the subject which he made last week.
§ 34. Mr. MULDOON
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland), if he can give the House any statistics or information as to the number of cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the various countries of Europe, including Ireland, during the last half of 1912?
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture, Ireland)
As my answer involves a considerable amount of statistical information, perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to circulate it with the Votes to-morrow. There has been no confirmed case of foot-and-mouth disease in Ireland since 11th November. [See Written Answers this date.]
§ 35 and 36. Mr. PATRICK WHITE
asked the right hon. Gentleman (1) where and by whom the idea of feeding Irish stock before shipment was initiated; where the conference was held that approved it; who were present and took part in the deliberations; whether the decision was unanimously arrived at; and if any representatives of shipping companies, who presumably will have the supplying of the food, were present; whether he is aware that carrying companies may reap pecuniary advantages by charging for food that will not be consumed but remain for a re-hash and fresh charge; and whether he intends imposing on the farmers of Ireland a new burden by compelling them to pay for unnecessary food, or whether he will allow them Home Rule by constituting his Department not the dictator, but a reflex of the considered opinion of those interested in the cattle trade and the country as a whole; and (2) whether it is proposed that, under the permanent rules to be issued, every animal shipped from Ireland is to be fed at the port of embarkation; whether any association of stock 796 owners, dealers, or agriculturists have approved of the course, and, if so, will he state their names and addresses; if his attention has been drawn to meetings composed of people interested in the cattle trade where the proposal was condemned; whether he will state what is the nature of the food to be supplied to cattle, sheep, and swine, respectively, during each of the four seasons of the year, and by whom it will be supplied; and will he state under what Section of what Act he has power to compel an owner to pay for food for an animal which, in his opinion, does not require it?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
The question of enabling animals in transit from Ireland to Great Britain to be rested and fed in the course of the journey was for a long time under consideration. The Order prescribing the two hours' period of detention of animals for rest, feeding, and veterinary observation at Irish ports has been in operation since 7th October last. The Order requires that at each approved place of inspection a sufficient amount of suitable food and water shall be provided by the owner or occupier of the place of inspection for the use of the animals during the period of detention. Before the Order was made the Department had a conference with representatives of the Irish Cattle Traders' Association, who concurred in the proposal for a detention period. In May last the Cattle Traders' Association passed a resolution in favour of the feeding of animals at the ports of shipment rather than on board ship. The Department also ascertained the views of the Irish railway and shipping companies on the subject of the detention period.
§ 39. Mr. P. WHITE
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, under the proposed rules for the feeding of animals at the port of embarkation, if food is refused because of the proximity of the port to the farm of origin, there will be any liability on the owner; and whether, if the regulation is ever enforced, he will differentiate between districts bordering on ports and those at a distance, and in framing any modification of the general Order he will invite the opinion of representative stock owners and dealers?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
The Order referred to has already been in force for nearly three months and no special difficulties of the nature suggested in the question have arisen.
§ 50. Mr. C. BATHURST
asked whether, in view of the injury recently suffered by Irish cattle breeders as well as by British graziers owing to the lack of confidence in the administration of the Diseases of Animals Acts by the Irish Department of Agriculture, and of the almost universal recognition amongst stock owners in both countries of the desirability of uniform administration in respect of what is a growing trade common to both, the Government will accept an Amendment to the Government of Ireland Bill, similar to that incorporated last year in the Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill, providing for the unified administration by the Board of Agriculture in England of contagious diseases of animals throughout the United Kingdom?
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
In replying to this question I must not be held to accept the assumptions it contains. The answer as regards the Irish Government Bill is in the negative.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the present difficulties are likely to be accentuated when there is no longer any representative of the Irish Department of Agriculture in this House, and therefore no opportunity of criticising that Department?
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
May I ask the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture (Ireland) whether he can give us an assurance that if nothing unforeseen occurs, the restrictions will be removed both in Donegal and Fermanagh with reference to the cattle trade before the 10th inst., when two important fairs are to be held, one in Donegal and one in Enniskillen.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
I asked the hon. Member for Fermanagh early in the afternoon to postpone a question to this effect until Thursday. If I am able to come to a decision before Thursday I will let both hon. Members know.
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the two fairs which are to be held on the 10th inst., as there is very great anxiety.