§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £159,532, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1914, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, and of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, including certain Grants in Aid." [Note.—£150,000 has been voted on account.]
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
I desire to call attention to the administration lathe Board in respect to various animal diseases, and I think it is only due to the right hon. Gentleman and his Department that I should say, not merely on behalf of myself, but on behalf of my colleagues on this side of the House, that. we appreciate the work which he has done, assisted by his permanent staff, during the last two years in the matter of the extermination of foot-and-mouth disease. Foot-and-mouth disease has most seriously attacked every part of the United Kingdom except Wales during the last two years, and this epidemic of the disease has been the worst that this country has experienced for the last nineteen years. It has been the most serious epidemic of the kind since the policy of slaughter was inaugurated in the year 1892. Anyone who knows the history 2248 of the 60's and 70's in connection with this disease will realise with a feeling of relief what good grounds we have for satisfaction that there has not been a repetition of the widespread distress which followed upon the ravages of this disease some thirty or forty years ago. We owe our present immunity from this highly infectious disease, with all the consequent loss which it is calculated to produce, to the drastic and prompt action and administration of the right. hon. Gentleman and his Department. I ought, perhaps, to say a word in special praise of Sir Stewart Stockmann, now unfortunately suffering from a serious illness, the chief veterinary officer of the Board, who has been the main adviser of the right hon. Gentleman in this connection and whose services I am sure he would be the first to recognise as having proved of immense value during this period of crisis.
There are two reflections which have occurred to my mind in connection with the experience of this disease through which we have passed. One of them is the urgent necessity for research into the origin, pathology, and means of transmission of the disease. There is no exact knowledge either in this country or in any of the countries of Europe as to this disease, and until there is more scientific knowledge I think we have reason to apprehend a recurrence of the disease at any time in future. We are compelled, moreover, in the meantime, to resort to the somewhat barbarous process of slaughtering out all the animals affected, and those in contact with those infected, at great expense to the country and serious loss to stock owners throughout the country. The right hon. Gentleman has, I know, sent a Committee of Inquiry to make further investigations on the scientific side of the disease in India. He told us in reply to a recent question that that Committee had finished its investigations, and it will be interesting to learn from him this afternoon what has been the result of their inquiry, and whether any more exact knowledge has resulted from their investigations.
The other comment that I would like to make upon the recent epidemic is as to the unsatisfactory and, to my mind, almost alarming position in which this country is placed, and is likely to be placed, in future, in consequence of the lack of uniform administration and unified control of contagious diseases of this character in every part of the United Kingdom. The 2249 trouble which has arisen in Ireland and in this country, and the dissatisfaction which has been expressed so largely from the Irish Benches while the disease was prevalent, are largely due to the fact that in this small area, with a large trade in cattle going on between the two Islands, there has not been uniform administration on the part of one Department and one President of that Department. I venture to hope that in the early future it may be found possible to co-ordinate the administration with respect to serious contagious diseases throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, as has already been done between England, Wales, and Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman must realise how very seriously these outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease affect what is now a very valuable trade in pedigree stock between this country and every part of the world. Unfortunately, it has become the custom, which, I believe, was initiated by Argentina, to impose a six months' embargo upon all cattle shipped from this country to other countries from the date of the last outbreak of the disease. It is very difficult to justify this, and I venture to hope that the right hon. Gentleman is using his influence in every possible way to get that embargo reduced to a more reasonable period, because it is common knowledge that the period of incubation of this disease is only from three to ten days. That being so, it is difficult to justify so long a period of embargo as six months, and the disorganisation during that period of a large and increasingly valuable trade.
Another question that. I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman is whether he cannot sec his way, with the approval of foreign importing countries and our own Colonies, to agree upon the partition of this country into various zones or sections, so that when an outbreak takes place say, in a remote part of Kent, those in Northumberland, Cumberland, and Durham shall not be restricted in the imports of their cattle to other countries. It appears to some of us that there is a perfectly easy process of drawing a line south of the border—the north of the border is now treated as a separate entity for this purpose—from the Mersey to the Humber, and again from the Severn to the Thames, thus dividing England into three separate strips. If the right hon. Gentleman could get foreign countries to agree that an outbreak in one of them shall not affect the importation of 2250 cattle from the others, there would be considerable advantage, because some hundreds of thousands of animals leave this country for other countries, and it is a serious matter when the whole of the import abroad is fettered owing to an outbreak in any part of this country. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his Department cannot, in the event of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, make some variation, according to circumstances, in the fifteen miles radius, which was never intended to be uniform in every case, and which causes in many districts quite unnecessary vexation and interference with the movement of cattle. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that, in the course of the inquiry by the Departmental Committee, it was pointed out by all the most responsible witnesses, that that was a useful maximum, but that it was not necessary in very hilly counties, or where the danger of the spread of the disease was not so great.
Next year there is going to meet in this country an International Veterinary Conference, and I wish to ask whether something could be done by the right hon. Gentleman and his Department to press upon that conference, representing the profession in various Continental countries, as well as in this, to consider the desirability of joint action in the event of outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease common to our country as well as their own, in order, so far as is possible, to control the origin of the disease, which we all must recognise is on the Continent of Europe. There is one other matter I wish to refer to. I am not quite sure to what extent it is within the scope of the right hon. Gentleman's administration. Local authorities have felt very seriously the increased charge which has been placed upon them in connection with this epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease in respect of administrative expenses, not of themselves, but of the Board of Agriculture. Whenever the pleuro-pneumonia account falls short of funds, the whole of the balance, as I understand, which is required for the Board's administration in connection with serious outbreaks of contagious diseases, falls upon various local authorities and adds to the burden of the rate-payers. I think something like £60,000 was the charge upon various county councils last year in consequence of the administration of the Board, over which they have no control whatever. Many counties, including my own, in which there 2251 were no outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease at all had an added burden on the ratepayers to meet this demand on the part of the Board of Agriculture.
So far as scheduled diseases are concerned, I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the great improvement which there has been as regards glanders and farcy. The outbreaks have been materially reduced. In 1904 there were 1,529 and last year 173. Last month I understand there were eleven outbreaks only. I shall be glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that there is some prospect in the early future of exterminating the disease altogether. It is a disease which is very dangerous, and is often fatal both to animals and to men. As regards sheep scab, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the time has not come when he can confidently assure the House that it is on the eve of being eradicated in every part of the United Kingdom? I understand that the chief difficulty in connection with this disease has been lack of knowledge of the life history of the particular parasite which causes it, and the life history of that parasite, if I am informed correctly, is now known to the Board. If that is so, surely the time has come when we may look forward with confidence to the complete extermination of the disease and the relaxation of some of the vexatious restrictions and regulations in the matter of dipping and otherwise which it necessitates. I understand that whereas in 1896 there were 3,500 outbreaks of this disease, last year there were only 302, and last month the number came down to one only. That is a very hopeful outlook so far as sheep scab is concerned. In reference to parasitic mange, as we do not usually have figures about it published in the papers, I would like to know from the right hon. Gentleman the present position. Anthrax has also been reduced very much in the last few years. Two years ago there were 1,496 outbreaks, and last year there were only 748. Considering that there are 40,000,000 animals in the country susceptible to this disease, I suppose that we must regard this as a not unsatisfactory record.
This disease is not merely fatal to farm animals affected, but it is also fatal to men, and it does a great deal to interfere seriously with trade, particularly the leather industry, in this country. I would 2252 also ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can do anything to carry out the recommendations of the Departmental Committee on Foot-and-Mouth Disease, whose reference was specifically extended to anthrax, by the compulsory disinfection and sterilisation of hides, fleeces, and other similar articles sent to this country, and deemed to be the conveyers of disease, to reduce its virulence in various parts of the country? The Motion to reduce the Vote which I am moving is in respect of the administration of the Board in the matter of swine fever. I do not know how the right hon. Gentleman is going to defend his policy in reference to swine fever. Since the Swine Fever Order and the accompanying regulation of movements of swine Order in 1908, not only have the outbreaks of swine fever steadily increased, but the amount paid in compensation and for the purpose of administration has also increased to a large extent. In 1909, the year following the promulgation of these Orders, there were 650 outbreaks in this country, and 14,316 animals were slaughtered as the result. In 1912 the outbreaks had risen to 2,920, with a consequent slaughter of 39,653 animals, while the cost of compensation which comes out of public funds, the net cost after deduction of salvages, in the case of swine fever amounted to £15,723 in 1907–8 before the issue of these Orders, and it had risen to £46,975 in 1912–13, That is, that during the last five years, that these Orders have been in existence, the amount paid in compensation has increased threefold. The cost of administration, which was £53,834 in 1907–8, had risen to £66,333 in 1912–13. That is an increase of £12,500. The matter does not rest there. During the whole of this period the pig producers and feeders throughout the country have been subject to the most vexatious and harassing restrictions, which can only be defended on the ground that the disease is being gradually exterminated throughout the country. By the wholesale destruction, particularly of breeding sows and their litters, if they have been found on infected premises or deemed to he in any sense in contact with infected animals, I do not hesitate to say that, so far as the small pig keepers are concerned, whether they are small holders or cottagers, the policy of the Board is rapidly destroying the swine industry in England and Wales.
How can the right hon. Gentleman defend the present system? His policy, to 2253 my mind, is founded neither upon any definite principle nor upon any scientific knowledge. The period of isolation, for the purpose of moving swine, is invariably twenty-eight days, in the case of a disease the incubative period of which is from three to five days only. It is suggested, but this is pure conjecture, that the latency of the disease may last three months. If it last for three months it is perfectly clear that the twenty-eight days is not sufficient. On the other hand, if the danger only exists during the period of incubation, then this period of twenty-eight days is grossly excessive; but the period of twenty-eight days is not all, because as the animals pass into a scheduled area they have not only to be isolated in the outside area for the twenty-eight days, but when they pass into the scheduled area they have got to be again isolated for twenty-eight days, during which they cannot be moved from the premises. That is a total of two months during which those particular pigs, not even suspected of swine fever, have to be confined to the premises in which they are housed, and they are unable to be taken into the market or otherwise dealt with except for immediate slaughter. I know that there has been for the last few years some further inquiry, besides the preliminary inquiry on the part of the Departmental Committee, which was set up by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, and I would like to know when that inquiry is coining to an end, and whether any specific knowledge has been obtained as the result of that inquiry to justify the right hon. Gentleman in continuing these Orders, or to show the unreasonable character of these Orders; and, if so, whether it is not time that these Orders should be torn up, and a more reasonable and less vexatious policy resorted to In this connection my hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, drew attention the other day to the fact that in Holland there is a method, which is conducted by the Government, of dealing with this disease and of which apparently the Department of the right hon. Gentleman is wholly ignorant.
§ Mr. BATHURST
I am prepared to modify that to this extent, that the right hon. Gentleman admitted that he had heard of the serum treatment, but he had no specific knowledge as to the value of the treatment or its general effect in cases 2254 of swine fever. My first question to the right hon. Gentleman is: What is his Intelligence Department doing? It is almost impossible to justify the existence of the Intelligence Department of the Board, unless it is making inquiries in foreign countries upon such matters as this. This method of treatment has been going on in Holland for at least three years, so it is high time that the Board possessed some knowledge on the subject. It appears, if I am rightly informed, that in Holland, at any rate by the inoculation, with a certain serum provided by the Government, of pigs, not only those affected by the disease, but those in contact with affected animals, it is possible not only to effect the recovery of the diseased pigs, but to prevent the passage of the disease from infected animals to sound animals on the same premises. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give some explanation of the reasons which he and his advisers put forward for maintaining the present vexatious and harassing Orders relating to swine fever. I come now to the subject of tuberculosis. The right hon. Gentleman is setting up a testing station in order to facilitate the export of pedigree and other valuable animals from this country to importing countries and to give those animals the benefit of a Government guarantee of freedom from tubercular disease before they start on the voyage. As a breeder of this class of animal, I would like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon the interest which he is taking in the matter, and to hope that he will persuade foreign importing countries, as well as colonial importing countries, to accept the Government teat as an adequate test, and not render it possible in future for owners of cattle, after they have had the trouble and expense of sending their animals to foreign countries, to find them at the port of debarkation put into quarantine with the possibility of their being sent back to this country, because they are found to react to the tuberculin test administered by the representative of the purchaser at oversea ports.
I would like to refer to the Tuberculosis Order of 19]3, which came into operation on the 1st May. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has persuaded the Treasury that this is to some extent—and I would say entirely—a national question which ought to be dealt with, with the help of national funds. I am glad to find that the 2255 Treasury are prepared on his representation to pay half the cost of compensating those whose animals are slaughtered, but if it is as a matter affecting the public health that this step is being taken, surely the whole cost of compensation ought to be paid out of the Exchequer, and half of the whole amount ought not to be thrown on the unfortunate ratepayers as a burden in addition to the many which they already have to bear in respect of national services. I am bound to say that in my opinion, and probably this is the only opportunity I shall have of saying it, I think the policy of the Board as regards this matter is founded on an entire misapprehension. It is assumed, I think on absolutely insufficient evidence, that tuberculosis in farm animals and in roan is either an identical disease or is easily communicable from one to the other. I hope my hon. Friend from Dublin (Mr. Field) holds the view that I am about to express, and it is that in spite of the Report of the Royal Commission on this subject, there is no precise knowledge, and there is no precise proof before the country to-day to the effect that tuberculosis in man is in any way identical with bovine tuberculosis, or that the two diseases arc intercommunicable. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will found himself on the somewhat vague pronouncements, unsupported either by evidence or experiments, made in the final Report of the Royal Commission. In any case in support of my view, I challenge him that he cannot lay his finger on a single case where phthisis in man has been definitely traced to bovine sources. I would almost challenge him also, because the cases are very rare to find, of a single case of phthisis in a cowman or other farm servant who has been in direct contact with cattle, and we are told that 40 per cent. of the cattle of the country are suffering from tuberculosis in one form or another. There are instances, no doubt, but they are very rare, of cowmen or other farm servants suffering from phthisis, but I doubt whether the right hon. Gentleman would be able to produce many of these instances. There is, I think, probably no class of men in the country who suffer less from the more serious forms of consumption than those who tend cattle and other stock. But there is a stronger argument than that, and it is this. During the last twenty-five years, records have been kept by various urban authorities as to the extent of mortality 2256 from tuberculosis among infants and other young people. Those statistics go to show that in the case of children under five years of age there has been something like a decrease of 25 per cent. during the last twenty years, and in the case of children under twelve months of age, the decrease is even more marked, and during that same period it is universally admitted that so-called consumption or tuberculosis in cattle, has been unfortunately steadily on the increase, and during that same period it is also admitted that there has been greater consumption of cows milk by the infant population than in preceding years. Grouping all those facts together, I am entitled to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is justified in issuing this Tuberculosis Order setting up this great and expensive source of costly administration to the various local authorities, with, I venture to say, very little probable results, at any rate comparative to the outlay incurred. I may perhaps tell the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee what has happened in my own county of Gloucester. Since the 1st of May, under this Order, the number of animals traced as the result of the Order have been twenty-seven only, and seven of those died from tuberculosis very shortly after they were discovered. The actual amount for which the county council has been responsible, by way of compensation, has been £50, but their expenses in connection with those cases which, by the way, are not met in any way out of Government funds, their administration expenses in connection with those animals amounted to £130, and if the tuberculin test had been applied, and the county council refused to authorise it, those expenses would have amounted to something like £50 more. It is going to be a great source of expense to the various local authorities in administration and not so much in the amount paid by way of compensation to the owners of the cattle.
There are also cases in which, although it is specifically laid down in that Order that the tuberculin test shall not be applied without the written authority of the cattle owner, and they are far more numerous than the right hon. Gentleman realises, the veterinary officer or local authority has been applying the test without leave in order to supplement his own deficient knowledge of the pathology of the disease. I think I am right in saying that there are some of those officials 'who actually have had to refer to the Board in 2257 order to find out what the bacillus of tuberculosis looks like under the microscope. Those gentlemen, unless they have some expert knowledge of the disease, and particularly of the pathology of the disease, are wholly incapable of tracing the disease in most of the cases which will come before them. What are those cases? They are cases of emaciation from tuberculosis, the presence of tubercles on the udder, and animals giving tuberculous milk. If they cannot recognise the bacillus under the microscope, it is perfectly impossible to say whether an animal is giving tuber-culous milk, and in the other cases it is equally necessary that they should have expert knowledge. In cases of emaciation I venture to suggest that a number of animals which are deemed to be tuberculous are not suffering from tuberculosis, but from Johne's disease, and so far as the tuberculin test is concerned, it is a curious and interesting fact that animals suffering from Johne's disease do react to that test. Another interesting and impotrant fact is that a number of animals seriously emaciated from tuberculosis do not react to the tuberculin test.
In any case until you have properly qualified expert officers to carry on the work which is expected of them under this Order, there is going to be great injustice done to stock owners who receive but too small a proportion of the value of the animal, and you are going to add seriously to the administrative expenses of the local authority. It is represented to me that the two bases of valuation are wholly unworkable in practice. A suspected animal is to be valued as a sound animal and also as a diseased animal. How is it possible to make any distinction? As a matter of fact, if a distinction is made injustice will be done to the stock owner, because if it is a diseased animal, he is only going to get, if it is seriously diseased, one-fourth of the value of the animal as diseased, and if it is not so seriously diseased, he will get a fourth of the other value. In either case he suffers sufficiently seriously as regards the value of his animal if it were valued on the footing that it is a sound animal. That is, I suggest the only footing on which any animal can be valued if it appears to be sound, and prior to its slaughter and post-mortem examination. I hope some of my hon. Friends will refer to the extreme costliness of the small holdings administration which is difficult to justify. I want to ask 2258 the right hon. Gentleman what he is doing to encourage the most interesting experiments which are being carried on at Rothamsted as to the partial sterilisation of soil, and the potentialities of lime as a fertilising agent. I, for my part, venture to think that from the time of Liebig and De Saussure never has there been any experiments or research work more calculated to prove of future value to the agricultural community than those very interesting experiments which are being conducted there. I hope that those experiments will not be restricted through any lack of Government encouragement, and, if necessary, a Government subsidy. I would like to learn if the Government are generous in this matter, and are providing a sufficient subsidy out of the Development Fund in order to encourage the exhaustive conduct of that research.
There are three questions I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman. The first is when and how he proposes to reconstitute the Rural Education Conference and whether he proposes to ensure in such reconstitution the presence upon that conference of practical farmers. The second question is, how he proposes to carry out his undertaking as to the maintainence of farm institutes, in view of the fact that no more money will be forthcoming from the Development Fund under the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act of 1909, or in other words, that the sole maintenance, in spite of his undertaking, of those institutions will ultimately fall on the rates. Lastly, I would ask to what extent does he and his Department propose to exercise control over the Agricultural Organisation Society, in consequence of the Government Grant which is now given to the society for their work in connection with agricultural co-operation. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that the Agricultural Organisation Society shall in effect be a mere branch of the Board of Agriculture, or does he mean it to continue in all senses, as, in my opinion, it ought to continue, if it is going to do its best work as a purely voluntary association?.
§ Mr. STANIER
There are several points referred to by my hon. Friend, and I should like to re-echo one or two of the remarks he made about the admirable way in which the Board has carried out the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Order, but I cannot say the same thing regarding swine fever. I have brought forward that great question often across the floor of the House by means of 2259 questions, and I was deeply disappointed at the answers given. They were in a form which gave us no information. After the great sums of money that have been spent year after year, in ever-increasing amounts, the disease is automatically increasing and very nearly doubled this year, and I feel that now the time has come when the Board ought seriously to consider whether it should not throw over past work and take up some new line of its own. We were led to suppose that this serum question had only lately been brought before the public. I understand on very good authority, from a letter I have received from Holland, that they have had it working there for about three years. Previously to that it came from Hungary, where it has been going on, I believe, for more or less five years. I have not obtained my information from any Minister in those countries, but I have got it from a very reliable source. The cost in those countries is in exactly the reverse ratio in those countries as compared with this country. There the number of pigs is increasing; here it is decreasing. I think the hon. Member for the Wilton Division (Mr. Bathurst) ought to have given the figures. He mentioned that the number of breeding animals was very seriously diminished. I have taken these facts from Returns issued by the Board of Agriculture itself. There is a decrease of no less than 41,000 sows this year as compared with last, and of other pigs the decrease is no less than 112,000. If we go on with the present way of doing things, we shall very soon have no pigs at all. But what do we find in those countries where serum is used? There pigs are increasing. Out of 4,000 injections in Holland I cannot hear of any animals having been killed. The cost is only about 6d. per injection. The pigs are then immune for the rest of their lives, and infectious for only about ten or fourteen days while the inoculation is taking effect. We shall be told that the Board is waiting for the result of the investigations of the two gentlemen who, we understand, are inquiring into this great question in Holland. I contend that those inquiries ought to have been undertaken by the Board long ago. It should not have been left until Members of this House asked questions on the subject. The Intelligence Department of the Board ought to have gone into the question long ago. I hope the President of the Board will seriously take these facts into consideration, and issue to the public a 2260 report of what these gentlemen find on the Continent.
My next question is, How is it that the Board of Agriculture in England has not yet brought forward a live-stock scheme Last year I asked how it was that two years ago at Stafford a scheme was promised. A practical farmers' meeting was then told that the scheme would be produced in the very near future. To-day, although the Board has £8,000 for that purpose under the portion of the Vote marked Q, we cannot hear of any live-stock schemes except the old one relating to horses. I believe that one of the great causes of the disintegration of the Board of Agriculture in this country, one of the reasons why Scotland obtained a separate Board, and why Wales to-day is clamouring for a Board of Agriculture of its own, is that the Board of Agriculture in England is not producing any schemes for bringing up to date the great question of the live stock of this country. It cannot be difficult or expensive. Scotland started from the very beginning and brought out their scheme within nine months. The Board of Agriculture in England, through its own monthly "Journal," stated these facts showing what Scotland had done in nine months, but the English Board has not been able to do it in two or three years. The right hon. Gentleman will find during his own reign that this disintegration will proceed still further unless the Board wakes up.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Do I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that the Scottish live-stock scheme for cattle had been produced in nine months?
§ Mr. STANIER
Yes, I took my information from the "Journal" issued by the right hon. Gentleman's own Department.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
May I point out for the information of the hon. Gentleman—I am sure he would not wish to go on criticising the Board in ignorance of the matter—that the Scottish Board and the English Board have been acting together throughout, and the sanction arrived at the Scottish Office the day after it arrived at the English Office, which was about a week ago? I shall give further information later on.
§ Mr. STANIER
I can only say that my information was supplied by the right hon. Gentleman's own "Journal." I have it in the Lobby, and I will refresh my memory later on. I was saying that the question 2261 of expense cannot stand in his way, because he has £8,000. What is that £8,000 for? It is for a secretary, Mr. Cheney, and two expert inspectors. If you turn to Scotland you will find that they supply 109 horses, nineteen of which they own, and ninety of which they subsidise, for £1,500. They have 352 bulls. We have not one. They own 245 of those, and the cost is only £1,575. These are figures which I have received across the floor of the House from the Minister responsible.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
That does not refer to the development scheme at all. It entirely concerns the old Congested Districts Board's scheme which was taken over by the Board of Agriculture in Scotland and was previously administered by the Congested Districts Board.
§ Mr. STANIER
Anyhow, the Board of Agriculture in England has not produced any scheme. It does not matter whether it is in connection with the Development Fund or any other fund. The English Board has not a scheme at all. Yet the country is told it is going to have these schemes and that the beasts are very nearly knocking at the buildings of the farmers. I have an absolute right to contend that unless the Board of Agriculture wakes up England also will very soon be asking to be relieved from the English Board of Agriculture even more strongly than Wales who, according to yesterday's paper, is asking to have a Board of its own. I believe that the great reason why all these Boards are being asked for is that the Board of Agriculture to-day is a one-man show. I am not saying this against the right hon. Gentleman personally. It has been going on for many years. It is called the Board of Agriculture. The Board is really the President himself and, perhaps, the Permanent Secretary. They are both politicians. They have always been politicians. I am not saying this against one Board more than another. They are politicians and will they remain so. Who really are the Board of Agriculture? There is the President of the Board himself. I do not believe the Board has ever sat as a Board.
§ Mr. STANIER
Is it any good having the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Secretary of State for War, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs as directors of the Board of Agriculture? Really, the whole thing is ridiculous. The Chancellor 2262 of the Exchequer is a member. The First Commissioner of His Majesty's Treasury is another. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the Secretary for Scotland are others. They have a Board of Agriculture over the border now. I am very glad they have, because I think they will do something there in the future. I want to see the Board of Agriculture made the Board. It requires no new Act of Parliament, because the Act says:—And such other persons, if any, as Her Majesty the Queen (now, of course, His Majesty the King) may from time to time think fit to appoint.I believe that if we could to-day have a Board of Agriculture, with the President in full command, with Members who could give practical knowledge and practical help both from Caithness and from the mountains of Wales, we should never hear of these strange and queer things going on that we do at the present moment. I am certain that farmers would look up to the Board very much more than they do now if they knew that it consisted of a Board, and was not a one-man show. I believe that we should be very much better off if we were able to control disease in this country from one central place, and that we should not have all this disintegration if we had some practical men to give advice. You cannot find such a system in any other country. I do not think you would find it in any other great Government Department. In agriculture we have to suffer for it. Practice and science do not work together in the way that they ought to do. I am not going to treat on any other subjects, because other of my hon. Friends wish to bring various matters before the Committee; but I should like to ask the President of the Board if he can not do something for us in the way of pushing forward the Reports that are issued through his Department. There was a very valuable Report brought out on 5th May of this year containing a register of stallions for horse breeding. If you go into that, you will see that it was written and passed by the Board on 1st April, 1913. If it could have been brought out at the proper time it would have been a very valuable addition to the literature of the horse breeders of this country, but it was not brought out till 5th May, and the consequence was that many of the breeders had arranged what horses they would use before this valuable register saw daylight and was available for the public. Could we not have that Report brought 2263 up to date, and issued earlier and before arrangements are made by the horse breeders of the country? Again, I should like to call the attention of the President to the very late issue of the Report on cattle diseases. Last year we were told that it was the important question of foot-and-mouth disease that had used up all the time of the officials of the Board, and that the President very much regretted that he could not get the Report published before. The time has passed again this year, and though I deeply regret the illness of one of his prominent veterinary surgeons there are others in the Board of Agriculture Offices that I am sure could have brought this Report out before, if the President had thought fit. The information that we have received is only up to the very beginning of 1912. We have no information between then and now, this seventh month. When the information does reach us it is so late and out of date, and time has passed and things have happened, that a great deal of the valuable information contained in these various Reports is of very little use to practical agriculturists. I ask again that these Reports should be issued earlier. Even if they cannot be brought up to the very date that the Board requires, some Interim Report might be published, so that we might know what has been going on in connection with the live stock of the country. I very much hope that the President will take these matters into consideration, and that we shall not have again to complain.
§ Mr. JONATHAN SAMUEL
The reason why I interjected my question to the hon. Member who has just sat down as to when the Act was passing creating the Board, the members of which he cited, is that I quite agree w[...]th him that it certainly does appear to be an extraordinary thing that these Secretaries of State, who have not, or may not have, any knowledge of agriculture, should be members of it. But I am given to understand that the Board was brought into existence in 1889. It was created by the hon. Member's own side, and, therefore, I think it is rather unfair under the circumstances to criticise my right hon. Friend, who is in the position of President of such a Board.
§ Mr. STANIER
It is quite true what the hon. Member says, but what I contend is that the thing should be altered. The Government that is now in power has been 2264 in power a good many years, and they have not done anything to alter the composition of the Board. I brought the matter before the Committee with the express purpose of suggesting that this anomalous state of things should be cleared away.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I quite agree, but I think it would have been only fair on the part of the hon. Member to have stated that the Board was established by his own party. I have, however, risen for another purpose. I cannot go into the very learned and, if I may say so, the very interesting disquisition which we have had from the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Wilton Division (Mr. Bathurst) with regard to the diseases of animals. I have no knowledge about such things; but I do want to call the attention of the President of the Board of Agriculture to one very important Order which the Board has issued. I refer to the Tuberculosis Order, 1913, an Order that effects municipalities very seriously. If the figures which have been given by the hon. Member are correct, this Order may in the future be very serious to them. It has thrown a considerable cost upon those municipalities who have large cattle markets within their borders. I understand from the hon. Member for the Wilton Division that 40 per cent. now of cattle are subject to the disease or are diseased. That is a very large percentage
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
May I make my statement perfectly clear. It has been repeatedly suggested that 40 per cent. of the cattle of the country respond to the tuberculin test. That means that these are more or less subject to, though not necessarily suffering from, the disease.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
That is a qualification. The Order I am given to understand applies in this way: Various municipalities have cattle markets, including the towns which I have the honour to represent, whilst there is also a very large cattle market in the neighbouring town of Darlington. These cattle markets gather in cattle from the surrounding districts for miles. I can quite understand that the county councils should be held responsible for part of the cost in case of the necessity for the destruction of cattle. For this reason: that in the county the cattle are under the inspection of the officers of the county. Practically, so far as the markets in the towns are concerned, a very large proportion of the cattle are brought from 2265 outside. Generally speaking, the cattle are marched into the town overnight. No doubt they are inspected by the accredited official, but if any of these cattle are found to be suffering from tuberculosis, and if they have to be destroyed, I understand that the municipalities are responsible for half their cost. The municipalities take very strong exception to paying half the cost of this compensation. This is a matter which I think the Board of Agriculture ought to take into their consideration, for it is unfair that the municipalities which have these cattle markets should be held responsible for cattle brought in from outside of their own area, and for which they are not generally responsible. It is quite impossible in my opinion for any one or two inspectors to detect whether a certain animal is or is not suffering from tuberculosis within a period before it is discovered, but if the cattle are brought 'from within a county area and not from within the area of a town, then the Order ought to fix the responsibility upon the county and not upon the borough.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
If I may refer to something that I have said, may I mention this? As I understand the Order, it provides for the inspection, and, eventually, if necessary, the slaughter of these animals on the premises of the actual owner, and not in the markets.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
Yes, but I have a very important letter from a municipality which has a large cattle market, saying that they are responsible for half the cost if in the market area the cattle are found to be suffering from tuberculosis, and if they are slaughtered at the request of the responsible officer. That is really a very unfair charge upon the municipalities. They ask that in cases of this kind—and think it is only fair—that the cost should be charged on Imperial funds. I desire to press this point upon the President of the Board of Agriculture. The municipalities are taking action against it. They consider that it is an unjust charge to have to pay this compensation, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to make a change in the Order.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
The cases that the hon. Member, who has just spoken, has suggested, may arise under the Tuberculosis Order, but in practice they hardly ever will. The Order provides that the premises are to be visited and the slaughter to take place according—
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
But cattle that are brought in from outside areas have no place. The "premises" are the market place within the market area.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
Yes, I am quite aware of that. If the hon. Member had allowed me to conclude my sentence he would have seen what I meant. Cattle are not usually brought in in an advanced stage of tuberculosis. Most cases of slaughter will occur on the premises of the owner, and will not occur in connection with the market. I admit that the question would be one to be considered if all the people in the country were to put their tuberculous cattle forward to be killed for compensation: that would be a very artful dodge on their part. I do not think that is likely to occur. My view of the Tuberculosis Order is that it throws a very unfair proportion of the cost upon the agricultural community. A large portion of the agricultural community have very heavy burdens of rates already thrown upon them, and they have the administration involved in sending veterinary surgeons round investigating. The administration involved is very much more pressing than in the towns.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I really do not think it is necessary to interrupt. Hon. Members are entitled to make their speeches without interruption.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Hon. Members who have already made their speeches should allow other hon. Members to make theirs.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
The cost of the administration I was referring to cannot fall upon the towns at all. The towns have their own various costs of administration in other directions; but the cost to which I am alluding seems to some of us to be a heavier burden thrown upon the agricultural community than they should be called upon to bear. May I just make a remark as to the empty condition of the benches opposite. It is a very curious commentary upon the fact that we are assured that agriculture and land is the one subject that is mainly interesting to politicians opposite, and that they desire to improve matters—
§ 5.0 P. M.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
I should have though hon. Members opposite would have taken this useful opportunity of learning some-thing of agriculture by listening, as I hope at any rate later we shall be listening, to the very instructive remarks which we shall have from the right hon. Gentleman the President himself. I also hope that there may be other sources of instruction to follow. The hon. Member for the Wilton Division began by saying how much he appreciated — and I think we all agree— the work which the right hon. Gentleman opposite has done in connection with foot - and - mouth disease. I need not repeat what my hon. Friend said. I think that everybody, except some interested parties on the other side of the channel, did feel that the right hon. Gentleman was doing his best to cope with that emergency. But in connection with swine fever, the right hon. Gentleman is fully aware that there is a very widespread grievance, and perhaps this grievance in the constituency which I represent, is more felt than anything else in connection with the agricultural Department. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman's Department fully realise how extremely vexatious the present system is. If there was any good result derived from that system, of course, we should have to put up with it; but when you find, ever since the Order was brought into force, that the number of outbreaks has practically increased, the case is still worse. The hon. Member for Wilton quoted the figures for 1912. I have the figures for the first six months of this year, and although they do not show an actual increase on the figures for 1912, but show a very slight decrease, the fact remains that in the past six years there has been a steady increase, in spite of the regulations which are so troublesome and vexatious. I think, in these circumstances, it is time that the Board should enter upon another policy, and that they should realise that they are doing something that is not coping with the disease, but is causing infinite loss and trouble to a very large section of agriculture. In thise case, you are not dealing with pedigree stock. You are dealing with men who have not a very large amount of money. You are dealing very largely with small men, and you are causing severe loss to men who can very ill afford to bear it. You are destroying 2268 the chances of the labourer keeping pigs, and this is a very important fact in agriculture. You are making it almost impossible, in many cases, to breed pigs, and you are gradually destroying an industry which is a very widespread one, and a lucrative one to a class who very badly need it.
I need hardly mention the obvious-results, namely, the increase in the cost of bacon, and the increase in the cost of living, following on this source of industry being taken away. I had a letter from a man not in my own constituency, but not far off, in which he described how he bought some pigs, and in order to get them into the scheduled area a certain licence had to be obtained. Licences were obtained for some of the pigs, but not for all, and he had to go for them at different times. A neighbour wanted a licence to move his sow for breeding purposes. He applied to the superintendent of police, but the superintendent of police happened to be out at the time. It may be said, "Why should he not call again?" but you cannot do these things so easily in agricultural districts. You have no telephones at hand. That man may have long journeys to make, and may have to spend days in performing these journeys, and all these things inflict great hardship upon the community, and can only be justified if there were good results. In each scheduled area great hardships are inflicted. In my own Constituency there are towns which do a very big pig-breeding industry. It is outside the scheduled area and the whole of the pig trade between the East and the West Riding which come there has been dislocated, and enormous loss has been caused to the people of that district. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to consider whether some of the suggestions made to-day cannot be realised, and whether something in the way of prevention cannot be accomplished, instead of the wholesale slaughter of animals and the constantly holding up of large areas which goes on at the present time. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see whether something in the way of remedy by an attempt to cure the animals cannot be effected, instead of the inclination to slaughter large number of animals. My belief is, and I think it is largely proved by the Interim Report of the Departmental Committee which considered this matter, that a great many veterinary surgeons know really very little about the subject.
2269 There is a general idea that every pig disease is swine fever, and the onus is thrown upon the pig owner to prove that the animal is not suffering from swine fever, and unless that can be proved the animals are slaughtered. It is like distemper in dogs. It is a sort of generic term, and I think until veterinary surgeons are a little more certain of their facts this wholesale slaughter should cease, and there should be considerable modification of what is going on at the present time. I would ask whether anything has been done by the right hon. Gentleman to carry out some of the recommendations in a certain connection of the Departmental Committee which sat on the foot-and-mouth disease and anthrax? That Committee recommended very strongly that something should be done to disinfect raw hides, and so on, which come over in the holds of ships mixed up with foodstuffs of all kinds, arid practically without any disinfectant at all. The Committee recommended that something should be done, if possible, to approach foreign countries to ensure that seine more complete form of disinfection should be gone through at the other side before the embarkation of these goods coming to this country. I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman has succeeded in getting any concession of that kind, and whether he has succeeded in securing the disinfection of these foodstuffs? The recommendation was also made for an increase in the veterinary staff of the Board of Agriculture itself, and for the further spread of the network of such throughout the country, in order to deal with emergencies. I do not know that anything has been done. The right hon. Gentleman some time ago was questioned about it, and he said he was still considering what could be done. I do not altogether blame him, but I should like to know whether it was not possible in some way to carry out these recommendations and to increase, or at any rate to put into better shape, the veterinary organisation we have got?
There is one other subject I would like to deal with.. Of course, I cannot deal with the housing problem at all in connection with this Vote, but it seems to me that the Board of Agriculture might do something more than they are doing at present, in view of the very great and serious need for cottages. They might do something more in the way of helping those anxious to get cottages. How does the President of the Board of Agriculture deal with this matter? He goes about the 2270 country and makes speeches in which he declares without qualification that cot tages can be built for £150, and that he is prepared to favour a scheme which can be worked out on that basis, and that a rent of 3s. per week will cover all the cost and charges. These are figures which cannot be substantiated. What I complain of is, the right hon. Gentleman goes about making these speeches, forwarding no doubt the Land Campaign, but he forgets that he is the responsible Minister to whom agriculturists look for advice, and from whom they expect accuracy in these matters. There is enormous need for the provision of new cottages in many parts, and there are many men who want to know what they can do, and what advice they can get from the right hon. Gentleman. They will not move if he makes these statements, which cannot be proved. An hon. Member put down a question asking the right hon. Gentleman on what basis these statements were made, and an answer was given, not by himself—
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
I quite bow to your ruling, but the point I was trying to make was that the President of the Board of Agriculture might help us very considerably by his advice, and by issuing information which he might have in his possession, and that when we inquired what was the information upon which he was relying, he referred to a Report in the Departmental Committee, but reference to the Report of that Committee will show that the statement the right hon. Gentleman made cannot be substantiated out of that Report. I hope very much that these misleading statements will no longer be made, because the right hon. Gentleman can take it from me there are a very large number of owners of land in this country who are most anxious to do their best to meet this want, and if they are upset by speeches such as he made the other day, in which he said that a scheme of this kind would meet with opposition from landowners, and would be thrown out by the House of Lords, he will not encourage them in this matter. I heard this morning how far this Report of the Departmental Committee had been brought before the notice of the public by his Department, and the only thing done was to issue a circular to county councils and to the councils of' 2271 county boroughs, pointing to the fact that the Departmental Committee had made a Report. I venture to think a summary of the Report might have been issued to owners of land and to all those likely to take part in this movement, pointing out the advantages of certain forms of construction suggested, and pointing out the various recommendations made in that Report. One thing that will do harm is the making of these ill-founded statements, and treating the subject as a purely controversial one, which no doubt it very soon will be; but while we are calm and at peace, and endeavouring to meet the growing demand for cottages, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to make it more possible for these remedial measures to be carried out, and that he will treat the subject in a different manner in the future from what he has done.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
Like the previous speaker, I should like to say I followed the speech of the hon. Member for Wilton with considerable interest. He is always informing on agricultural topics, and, of course, no one would ever question the sincerity with which he advances his information. He developed a very interesting theory—I do not feel competent to pursue it—the hon. Member suggested that tuberculosis in cattle and in human beings was quite distinct, and that the identity of the bacillus in the one could not agree with the other, and that there was grave doubt as to whether the one was affected by the other. I do not feel competent to contest the great mass of scientific information upon that question. I think he and I will have to agree that science goes to prove that there is some connection between the two, but I am not capable of arguing the matter from the pure scientific point of view, but if there is a doubt in the matter which he and I acknowledge, we ought not, in any way, to relinquish the safeguard we are taking to protect our population. I think it is demonstrable that tuberculosis in cattle may have an adverse effect on the health of the community. Certainly, therefore, I am not one who will question the wisdom of the Board in the' extremist action that may be taken with a view to promoting the public health. Nevertheless, like two of the previous speakers, I want to make reference to the Tuberculosis Order that has recently been issued, and, if it be as the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down stated, then, of course, the 2272 apprehension that I have in my mind will be very largely removed. I am not going to state that the view which I represent is an authoritative one. I am hoping to succeed in eliciting from the President of the Board of Agriculture an authoritative construction of that Order. The municipality that I have the honour to represent in this House owns a very large cattle market, and they certainly are filled with the apprehension that this Order is going to involve a heavy expenditure out of the local rates. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Wilton (Mr. C. Bathurst) did unquestionably demonstrate that the mere administration of such an Order would not be a costly affair, and when, on the top of that, the municipality is compelled to bear the cost of the slaughter and disposal of carcases, and of half the compensation in respect of these animals, I feel that we are here against a question which does demand serious consideration.
After all, as the hon. Gentleman who spoke on the other side pointed out, if it be that the municipality that owns a market is to be made responsible for these charges, including compensation, then I respectfully submit that it is so obviously unfair that it cannot possibly be defended. I accept wholly and without question the theory of my "hon. Friend the Member for Wilton, that the prevention of tuberculosis, the stamping out of the great white scourge is a national duty, and if, in the interests of public health, the Board of Agriculture finds it necessary to issue these Orders, then I say the expense of carrying them out ought not to fall upon a municipality here and there. After all, it is impossible to confine the effect of this disease to one locality. It is fluid; it flows from one part of the country to another, without regard to any municipal boundaries. But, certainly, having regard to the claim put forward by the municipalities involved, I do respectfully submit that you cannot possibly defend placing this charge upon them simply because they own markets into which cattle are brought and distributed, without any regard to their responsibility in the matter. I shall be glad to learn that it is indeed as the hon. Gentleman the Member for the East Riding has just represented to us. On the other hand, I know that there is considerable doubt existing, because I have received quite a number of communications from municipalities owning markets, and I think, if we succeed in clearing up any doubt in the matter, then those who intro- 2273 duce the question will be perfectly justified in having occupied time this afternoon in so doing.
The question of small holdings has been but briefly alluded to. I think everybody will agree that the small holdings movement has come to stay, and that it will be in future an integral part of our national agriculture; certainly the country is now committed to it. Therefore, irrespective of party, everybody is desirous, I believe, of seeing the movement widely progress. The Report on the subject reveals again a measure of progress made. For my own part, I am pleased to acknowledge that administration has been rendered more effifcient during the past two or three years. I am prepared to go a little further, and say that the Board has good reason to congratulate itself upon the advances which have been made in administering the Small Holdings and Allotments Act of 1908. Still, I am far from satisfied. There is an enormously unsatisfied demand. There are certain county councils who up to the present are not putting the Act into operation in anything like an efficient fashion. Where a county council does enter into the administration of the Act thoroughly and comprehensively, there we find demand for land being constantly stimulated. The County Council of Norfolk and neighbouring counties have always taken a foremost position in the administration of this Act, and their experience goes to prove that whilst they are supplying the largest amount of land in proportion to applications received, nevertheless they are unable to keep pace with the constant demands which are being promoted in those counties.
Therefore, when we have the fact that the land supplied during the five years of the Act is only about equal to one-fourth of the applications made, I think there is every reason to say that whilst the Board has done a great deal, there is still further room for stimulating the supply of land for these small holdings. I think that anybody who peruses the Report must derive some gratification therefrom. The Report shows very plainly that the small holdings movement has been a general success. Of course there will be a failure here and there, but still, regarding the movement as a whole, I think it has been a great success, and has contributed very substantially towards a much needed rural revival. I do not know whether I can go so far as the Report and believe that it 2274 has already arrested the movement of the rural population into our towns or cities, or emigration to foreign parts; nevertheless, I believe it is a movement in the right direction, and that when it has attained Much fuller development., it will contribute towards keeping the people in our rural districts. Although we may hold different views on the subject, everybody acknowledges that it is desirable, not only in the interests of individual members of the population, but in the highest national and Imperial interests also, that we should revivify our rural life and keep the people in the country as far as practicable, and anything we may do to assist in that direction is worthy of the support of this House. I do not intend to indulge in figures relating to this matter, but I can only say that I am prepared to express myself as pleased that so much has been done, and I respectfully submit to the Board that it should be an incentive to them to continue the very good policy they have recently embarked upon, and that they should recognise that it is desirable to satisfy the applications submitted to the county council or, at any rate, the demands of those who are accepted as approved persons by the county council.
I recognise that under this Vote the possibility of discussing the question of rural housing is very restricted, and one would have very much liked, of course, to have had an opportunity of bringing under survey some of the observations of the President of the Board of Agriculture himself. Perhaps we shall have another opportunity of doing that. I simply want to say in this connection that I feel that he is giving his attention to an acute rural problem. Although everybody will not agree with the methods in which this question is approached on the political platform, yet everybody acknowledges that this is one of the most urgent of our rural problems, and I feel that within the strict confines of this Vote there is something that can be said in regard to rural housing. Under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, county councils and district councils are invested with the power to provide houses and appropriate buildings on those small holdings and allotments, and I must express a considerable amount of regret that so little has been done even with the powers that exist. I think that during the whole of the five years in which this Act has been in operation only about 500 houses have been built. under the powers which that enactment 2275 confers. I believe that if the Board of Agriculture can devise methods to encourage the county councils and the district councils to erect houses in conjunction with the small holdings, they will themselves have contributed something towards the removal of this great evil. Certainly a small holding without a cottage is of very little use. How is a man to attend to his stock or his poultry, or whatever it. may be, if he is compelled to reside some miles away from the small holding that has been provided him?
Therefore, while I express disappointment at the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to achieve an improvement in this direction, yet I accept, with some qualifications, the schemes which have been outlined by him in the country, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, from my contact with them, that agricultural labourers will be keenly interested in knowing how soon those schemes are going to take practical form. Those interested in the small holdings movement have looked forward with the greatest anticipation to the action of the Board of Agriculture in encouraging the establishment of credit banks. Recent action in conjunction with a number of joint stock banks has been an experiment of a very interesting, but, in my opinion, of an extremely disappointing, character. Joint stock banks are _necessarily not philanthropic institutions. I am not presuming to criticise them because of the methods that they pursue; they are business institutions, and certainly I have never contemplated that they will be able to fill the place occupied on the Continent by schemes known as the Raffeisen system. When a joint stock bank advances money, it must. have security on the amount they advance. That is quite proper from the joint stock bank point of view, and if there is anybody here interested in banking, I am sure they will acknowledge that I am not criticising the action or processes of joint stock banks, but I submit that they are wholly unsuitable for the purpose that we have in view. The merit of the Raffeisen system is that it accepts the honesty and character of the borrower for the loan advanced. I am not arguing as to whether that is sufficient. I am simply stating that that is the merit of the scheme, and if we are concerned to place small men on the land, then I am certain we will have to adopt some such system—with necessary modifica- 2276 tions to meet the character of our own circumstances—as the system to which I have just made reference. Nevertheless, I agree that it is perfectly true to say that comparatively little has resulted in that direction, and the right hon. Gentleman will have to recognise that the experiments he has attempted in perfectly good faith are doomed to failure, and his Department will have to proceed on the other lines which I have already foreshadowed.
Like the hon. Member for Wilton (Mr. C. Bathurst), I am keenly interested in the development which is now taking place between the Board of Agriculture and the Agricultural Organisation Society. I quite agree that it is preferable that a body like this should remain voluntary in character, and I have no desire to see it become a mere appendage of a State Department. It will be interesting to have some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman as to what is to be, after April of next year, the exact relationship between the Board of Agriculture and the Agricultural Organisation Society. That there are great possibilities in the scheme everybody will admit—in fact, the revival of country life cannot possibly be brought about without a very broad adoption of the co-operative principle. Whoever takes an interest in these matters will very soon find out that their success is almost entirely dependent upon the extent to which the co-operative principle is adopted in any of these schemes. Reference has often been made to those Continental countries where agriculture with small people is an unqualified success, and one always has to admit that without the co-operative principle those schemes could not possibly be the success which they undoubtedly are at the present moment. It does not appear to me that the Board of Agriculture are contemplating very great developments during the ensuing year, because I notice that only about £9,000 is to be placed at the disposal of the Government for this endeavour, and, therefore, I presume that it is almost experimental in character, and we need not have any apprehensions in regard to this matter. I shall, however, listen with keen interest to the explanation the right hon. Gentleman will make, and I hope we shall be given to understand what is the intention of the Board with regard to its operations with this body, and whether it is intended to draw up closer or allow it perfect freedom to make this experi- 2277 merit apart from the control of a Government Department. I think everybody will agree with what has been said about the small attendance in the House, and I do not mind hon. Members opposite pointing out that there is always a comparatively small attendance when agricultural matters are under consideration. I feel that there ought to be a. larger attendance, and I share those expressions of regret. But, after all, one might very well retort that when town problems are under the consideration of the House the attendance is also very small. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
I do not approach these matters from a party point of view, and I am ready to admit that I think there is an increasing tendency to come to a common agreement on these matters. I have often stated that I do not care from what quarter the proposals emanate: I am prepared to consider them on their merits; and I do view with considerable satisfaction the increasing attention which is being given to rural problems. After all, I think we are only recognising the fact that the rural question is fundamental to the nation itself. Such questions as small holdings, better housing, improved wages, and the general elevation of rural life, are not only matters of concern to the rural worker himself, but they are also questions of vital interest to the nation as a, whole. Therefore, it is particularly gratifying that on an occasion like this we can review the operations of a Government Department and listen to speeches not simply animated by partisan spirit, or with a desire to score one off the other. I believe there is a very large desire in the House that the Board of Agriculture should be encouraged on the lines upon which it is at the present moment operating, and after these observations I shall be very glad to listen to the reply of the right hon. Gentleman, so that we may have some indication of the future possibilities of his Department.
§ Mr. FIELD
I do not think this is a subject which ought to be treated from a party standpoint. After all, agriculture is the main industry of the three Kingdoms, and notwithstanding the immense manufacturing industries which exist in England, even in this country agriculture is the largest industry, and there is more labour employed in agriculture than in any other industry in this Kingdom. I quite agree with the hon. Member that this House does not take sufficient interest in matters connected 2278 with agriculture generally. If agriculture is the main industry of England, it certainly is more important to Ireland, because in that country live stock is practically the staple product of Ireland. The two countries are very much intertwined in regard to this particular subject, and their interests are almost identical. This is a subject in which I am really very interested. Fortunately at the present moment we are free from foot-and-mouth disease in Ireland and in England, and I take this opportunity of congratulating the Board of Agriculture both in England and Ireland upon that happy result, because, as a member of the Departmental Committee, I became aware of certain facts which were not available to the majority of hon. Members of this House. I know that disease is very prevalent not only on the Continent, but in South America, and many other places. With regard to Ireland, I am strongly of opinion that in many cases which were called foot-and-mouth disease they were not that disease at all, but simply stomatitis or timber-tongue.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must confine his remarks to the English aspect of agriculture.
§ Mr. FIELD
I was only drawing a comparison to show that the treatment of this disease in Ireland has been entirely different to that accorded to it in England. We are supposed to be a United Kingdom. [HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear."] I would remind hon. Members who have interrupted me that Home Rule will not prevent us being still a United Kingdom, but it will make us all the more united. I do not wish to introduce politics, and that is only an aside. My view is that we are entitled to exactly the same treatment in Ireland with regard to the administration of this Department as in England, but because we have one or two isolated cases the whole of Ireland was put under a bann—
§ Mr. FIELD
As a member of the Departmental Committee on. Foot-and-Mouth Disease, I think that Committee ought to be reappointed, because since the Committee met many things have occurred which would enable us to arrive at a better conclusion. The treatment of this disease in other countries is entirely different. It may not be so efficacious, but my point 2279 is that if you kill a man there can be no more disease in him, and in the same way, the killing and slaughtering of animals is bound to put an end to the disease in those particular animals. The question is whether the cure is not more costly and worse than the disease. I have been in communication with various places on this question, and I find that the official view is not always the most practical one. At the same time, I admit that we have to judge by results, and the system adopt ed in this country has, in my opinion, been more favourable than the systems adopted elsewhere. I do not wish to take up a false position in this matter, but I think the administration of the Department might have been a little more sympathetic in certain instances. With regard to Ireland, I contend that with the exception of a few cases of scab, we have the cleanest bill of health of any country in Europe. In this matter, I voice the opinion of the Irish Cattle Trade and Stockowners' Association.
I would like to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture to consider the question of the reduction of the detention period. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that as a member of the Departmental Committee on Sea and Land Transit of Live Stock within the three Kingdoms, I advocated a limited period of detention after a railway or a sea journey, notwithstanding the fact that some of the members of my own trade were opposed to me. At that time, I advocated a limited period of detention, compulsory insurance, and a minimum railway speed, but I hold that ten hours' detention is too much, and I will point out why I have arrived at that conclusion. The period of ten hours' detention, if I am correctly informed, has been the cause of preventing through rates for live stock from Ireland to Great Britain. What does that mean? Perhaps some hon. Members do not quite understand the difficulty, the expense, and the annoyance of this regulation. It means increased cost and more delay. The right hon. Gentleman is a Free Trader and he knows, I am sure, that anything which is put in the way of facilitating transit increases the cost and prevents trade. I am quite aware that the number of live stock imported from Ireland is very much in excess of what it has been in former years. I read a paragraph yesterday in which it was stated that a year ago only 2280 113 cattle were exported from Ireland, whereas last week the export reached 10,500. The number of fat cattle exported last week, 6,955, was treble that. of the corresponding week last year. Up to the end of last week the exports of store cattle from Ireland this year were 480,000, two and a half times the number shipped in the same period last year. I want to just briefly explain the situation. The trade is practically stopped, and, under present conditions, you cannot in Great Britain get live cattle in any great numbers from Ireland. It is quite obvious that anything which is a bar, or occasions more or less friction, or increases the cost, or causes delays in transit between Ireland and England, ought to be removed as far as it can be removed with safety, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to reduce the period of detention. I think it might be done with safety.
I would suggest that after a reasonable period for rest and feeding the live stock ought to he released to travel either to the yards or to the pastures. The right hon. Gentleman knows sufficient about live stock to be aware of the fact that in the grass season cattle do not want. to be tied up. They will not suffer to be tied up. If you keep them in the yard, they are more or less inclined to horn one another. Sheep and lambs, too, want to go out into the pastures for rest. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to reduce the period of detention, it would be useful all round. I do not make this suggestion in any dictatorial spirit, because I think that the right hon. Gentleman is endeavouring to do the best he can according to the advice he receives from his officials, but as one who has been connected with the trade all my life I make this suggestion as being worthy of consideration and of adoption. I want to say a word or two in regard to the manner in which inspection is carried out. I understand that if cattle have hard udders, or if there are knots on their legs, and if the sheep and lambs have wool off, or maggots, or are marked in any way, they will not be admitted on this side. I have been a strong advocate of doing everything to prevent sheep scab. I was one of the first men in Ireland who, in face of a great deal of opposition, advocated that sheep should be dipped twice in order to prevent scab. I, therefore, want the right hon. Gentleman to understand that I am not advocating anything which would facilitate the progress of disease. On the contrary, I quite 2281 recognise that live-stock disease of any kind ought to be prevented where possible by every means available, but I would point out that the more you interfere with the live-stock industry of the three Kingdoms the greater incentive you give to foreign supplies coming in. I want both right hon. Gentlemen to understand that these remarks and suggestions of mine are made in the spirit of being of mutual benefit to both England and Ireland. Yesterday I received a communication from the National Federation of Meat Traders, Incorporated, which I will read to the Committee:—The National Federation of Meat Traders, as representing the meat industry of the United Kingdom, desire to point out that the serious position of meat traders dealing in home-produced stock has been aggravated, instead of relieved, by the Tuberculosis Order, 1913.This is an English, not an Irish grievance.This is due to the failure on the part of local authorities to properly administer the Order by: (1) Delaying the veterinary examination of animals until after they had been purchased in bona fides by the native meat trade in open market. (2) The omission by the officers of local authorities to make any examination, with the result that whilst the farmer or dealer markets with impunity tuberculous cattle or pigs, and in lieu of obtaining compensation as provided by the said Order secures from the meat trailer the market price ruling for sound stock for these tuberculous animals, the meat trader in whose possession they remain for a few hours is saddled with the entire loss of the purchase money by reason of their confiscation after slaughter. The remedy for this grievance is that the officers of the local authority for the districts in which auction marts and public markers are situated should regularly examine all cattle marketed prior to their sale for the food supply of the people.This is a matter upon which hinges almost the future cattle trade of the three Kingdoms, and I hold that we are entitled to the same fair play as any other class in the community.Unless this suggested remedy is speedily put into operation, the native meat traders will be reluctantly compelled to largely discontinue purchasing home-bred cattle and obtain their main supplies from the dead meat markets, thereby relieving themselves from all risk of confiscation. It is obvious, if the meat traders are compelled to adopt this course, that it Call only result in serious financial loss to the home farmer in the three Kingdoms, and in a corresponding gain to the foreign importers.The right hon. Gentleman may think that is exaggeration on my part, but, if he would go to-morrow to the Central Meat Market in London he would find that 75 per cent. or 80 per cent. of the meat sold was foreign imported meat. That is absolutely true. I am not making any exaggerated statement. I know what I am speaking about, and I challenge contradiction. I say that the Board of Agriculture in England ought to safeguard the interests of the British farmers as well as of the Irish farmers; but the result of the 2282 present system, so far as I can ascertain, is that preferential rates are given to foreign meat, whilst the native meat is handicapped in every way. If a man goes into the public markets and buys a beast and it is found to be tuberculous after slaughter, it is taken and the retailer loses the price of the beast. It is not only that he loses the price of the beast, but he is also generally prosecuted. He is open to prosecution and to exposure, and, if he takes any steps to protect himself, the result is that he loses his business. Any other class in the community except the native meat trader pays taxation for protection, but we pay taxation, not for protection, but for prosecution and persecution. Hon. Members may laugh, but this is a very serious matter for us. It is absolutely true, and it is all done on the false assumption that cooked meat carries tuberculosis along with it. I assisted at the greatest Tuberculosis Conference that was ever held in London, and I listened to Dr. Koch, the greatest bacteriologist of this or any age, and I heard him declare at that meeting that bovine tuberculosis is not communicable to man. I do not pretend to be a scientist; I am simply a business man, and I say that it is an absurd proposition that tuberculosis can be brought to mankind through the agency of cooked meat, whatever may be said about milk. All this prosecution and all this waste of good material is based on that assumption.
Hon. Members may laugh, but it is a very serious matter to our trade, and I want the Board of Agriculture to do what is done in other countries. I have been all over Europe, and have looked into this matter, in Germany particularly, in Belgium, and in other countries, and there meat which is partially tuberculous is sterilised and sold at a lower price for the benefit of the poorer people. We, instead of giving cheap meat of our own production to the poor in the same way as they do in foreign countries, absolutely destroy it. You persecute and fine the unfortunate meat trader, and sun him out of business in the interests of the public, and I say that anything which is confiscated for the public good ought to be paid for by the public. That is a sound doctrine, and I hope that the time will come when the Government will have sufficient sense to adopt it. I want to make just one other observation. In every other case a man who is prosecuted is supposed to be innocent until he is proved to be guilty, but 2283 in the case of the meat trader it is taken for granted that he is guilty until he has proved himself to be innocent. I should like to know why he should be the only person in the community to be treated in that manner. We pay taxes and why should we not get the same treatment as other people? It is a very extraordinary state of things, and most hon. Members here will hardly credit it, but it is absolutely true. There is another point—I know what I am talking about—on which I wish to say a few words. The principle of compensation is recognised in connection with cowkeepers, because it is taken for granted that the public ought to pay for what is confiscated for the public good. if that doctrine applies to cowkeepers, why should it not apply equally to the retailer of meat? Why make a difference between the man who buys cows in order to sell milk and the man who buys animals to sell as meat? These are things which arc not at all apparent to ordinary business men. I know the President of the Board of Agriculture will say that that does not belong to his Department, but that it comes within the purview of the Local Government Board. I have been in the House twenty-one years. I have just finished my third apprenticeship, and during the whole of that time I have been shuttlecocked between the Local Government Board and the Board of Agriculture dare say this will go on for all time, but, if we intend to get rid of the white scourge, some definite steps should be taken to ensure the co-operation of everyone concerned, not only in the meat trade, but in all kindred trades. After all, the production of meat is the principal industry that supports the land. We cannot compete with corn-growing countries, owing to the cheapness of transport and other matters connected with so-called Free Trade; but the meat industry is practically the life of agriculture, and everything which is clone to prevent its development is really against the interests of agriculture.
I wish to say a few words with regard to swine fever. Hon. Members have already dealt with that subject at some length, and I need only add that I entirely agree with almost all that has been said. It appears to me that the wrong way has been adopted to deal with this question of swine fever. We have a great deal less of 2284 it in Ireland than in England, and that is because we have been more resourceful in our treatment of it. Hon. Members who take an interest in the food supply of the Kingdom know very well that we depend almost absolutely on foreigners for the supply of bacon and pork. That is a dangerous condition of things. I do not pretend to be an Imperialist, but I do think we should, as far as possible, manufacture our own supplies.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not quite recognise the relevancy of the hon. Member's remarks to the Vote before the Committee.
§ Mr. FIELD
I was only about to remark that sometimes the longest way round is the shortest way to the goal. Of course, we know that all roads lead to Rome, but I may point out that foreigners utilise the scrum treatment, and I would like to ask why we should not try it here, seeing that it has enabled them to keep up the supply of pork? I hope what I have said in connection with this subject will receive the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, because in the remarks I have made I have endeavoured to speak in the interests of the two Kingdoms, and not merely from an English or an Irish point of view. I have wished to adopt a non-party point of view, because I believe it to be in the general interest of the community at large, as the subject is one vital to both Kingdoms. We want co-operation as far as possible, to minimise the friction to which regulations sometimes give rise, and that is what I hope the right hon. Gentleman will endeavour to bring about, because we should enable the live-stock industry to be carried on at the least possible expense.
The Royal gardeners at Kew have asked me to remind the right hon. Gentleman of a petition they recently sent in in the hope of getting an increase in their wages. May I, in conclusion, say that I hope the result of my intervention will be that serious consideration will be given to the points I have brought forward. An hon. Member opposite said, with regard to compensation, that the municipalities Ought not to be asked to contribute it out of municipal funds. I entirely agree with him. I know that a few years ago a Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons, providing that municipalities should pay the compensation for the seizure of animals affected with the tuberculosis, but what about our Imperial duty? The health of the worker is a great 2285 national asset, and any expense incurred for the protection of that asset ought to be paid out of the Imperial Exchequer.
§ Captain MURRAY
There is one question of which I should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman, seeing that he still has certain powers in Scotland, and it is in connection with the seed-testing stations which it is proposed to establish. We were very glad to find the right hon. Gentleman showing his interest in Scottish agriculture by attending the Highland Show a short time ago, when, as I understand, a conference was held on the subject of seed-testing stations, and we shall be very grateful if he has any information to give us on that topic. But I rose particularly to draw attention to a subject concerning which I addressed several questions to the right hon. Gentleman to-day. It is in connection with the trade in worn-out horses between this country and Belgium and Holland. I understand that the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. George Greenwood) is in communication with the right hon. Gentleman respecting certain issues connected with this subject; but I wish to draw the attention of the House to the questions I asked the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon and to the answers which he furnished. One which I put, in order to substantiate my argument that unnecessary cruelty takes place during the voyage from British to foreign ports, was as follows:—Whether, out of 18,451 horses, valued at £10 and under, exported from British ports to Holland during the year 1911, 14.846 were valued at £5 and under whetaer all these 14.846 horses were immediately slaughtered on arrival for human consumption? "— [OFFICIAL REPORT, this day, col. 2219.]The right hon. Gentleman, in reply, gave me to understand that there were 14,000 odd animals immediately slaughtered for human consumption on arrival at the port of debarkation. Then I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether a majority of the horses valued at £5 and under exported to Belgium and Holland are unfit for work, and whether they were obviously intended to be slaughtered for human consumption on arrival at the foreign port? The answer of the right hon. Gentleman was, that although he had no precise information the answer would probably be in the affirmative. What I was endeavouring to show was this: That the vast majority of horses valued at £5 and under exported from this country to Holland and Belgium are immediately slaughtered on arrival at the port of debarkation. If these horses during the 2286 voyage underwent no unnecessary suffering I should have nothing further to say, but in order to show that unnecessary suffering is undergone by them, I put the following figures in the form of a question to the right hon. Gentleman. I asked him:Whether he is aware that during 1912 20,274 horses arrived at Antwerp from British ports, of which forty-six died during the voyage, 380 were curried by float to the abattoir unable to walk, and twenty-one were killed on the quay suffering from broken legs, etc.?"[OFFICIAL REPORT, this day, col. 2218.]The right hon. Gentleman, in reply, admitted that there was no substantial difference between my figures and the Board's statistics, and he went on to say that the Diseases of Animals Act, 1910, prohibits the shipping of horses, unless first examined by a veterinary surgeon, and certified to be capable of being conveyed to a Continental port and disembarked without cruelty. That may be so, but in the face of the casualties which took place during the voyage of these horses, it must be perfectly evident that they were unfit to undergo that voyage, therefore unnecessary suffering and needless cruelty did ensue from the fact that these horses were placed upon these ships. The right hon. Gentleman may say that if the administration of the Diseases of Animals Act, 1910, which empowers inspection at British ports, is tightened up, that will be sufficient. I hope it may be so. I hope that as a result of the correspondence which I understand is passing between the hon. Member for Peterborough and the right hon. Gentleman, the administration of that Act will be tightened up. But I say that is not sufficient.
Whatever further restrictions he may impose in regard to the administration of that Act will not be sufficient, for the reason that a vast majority of the horses valued at £5 and under, being obviously unfit for work, as he himself admitted, ought not to be sent from British ports to Holland and Belgium and rendered liable to the suffering which must ensue upon those voyages. It is not sufficient, because all the horses sent to Holland and the vast majority sent to Belgium are slaughtered immediately on arrival at the port of debarkation. I asked the right hon. Gentleman in a supplementary question whether there was any reason why these horses should not be slaughted at the port of embarkation in this country. He replied that there was no reason, but that he had no power to compel it to be done. I do not know whether that was a con- 2287 sidered reply, or whether he will have anything to add to it. I was glad to hear him say there was no reason why the horses that leave this country should not be slaughtered before they are put on board. I know that a reason is sometimes given—I do not say that the right hon. Gentleman has ever given it—it is that Belgium will not import dead meat at all, and that in Holland there is a duty of six centimes per kilogramme on dead meat imported. I do not think that is the reason the right hon. Gentleman will give why these horses could not be slaughtered before being put on board. My efforts are directed, as I feel sure his efforts are too, to preventing unnecessary suffering and cruelty to these horses on the voyage across. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, in replying to me to-day, when he said he saw no reason why these horses valued at £5 or under could not be slaughtered on this side, intended to convey that he views with sympathy the opinion of those who consider that that is the way out of the difficulty and that the horses should be slaughtered before embarkation. -The right hon. Gentleman says he has no power to carry this out. I do not know whether it would be possible to do it by administrative order or whether he would require legislation. If legislation be necessary, I hope that in the interests of these poor, suffering animals, who undergo unnecessary suffering and are subjected to unnecessary cruelty, the right hon. Gentleman having, as I am sure he has, their interests at heart, will take some steps to carry out the suggestion I have mentioned.
§ Mr. BARNSTON
I desire to raise a few points representing, as I do, perhaps one of the greatest dairy constituencies in the country. Although the right hon. Gentleman has possibly heard it many times already to-day, I should like to commence by congratulating him upon the action he took in reference to foot - and - mouth disease. The district in which I live and the part of the country which I represent suffered a great deal from foot-and-mouth disease. The action the right hon. Gentleman took was very plucky and very successful, and we appreciated it very much. I pass from that to the question of swine fever, with which my hon. Friend below me and others have dealt fully. What is the position in which we find ourselves to-clay? Swine fever is increasing, and the number of pigs in the country is decreasing. We have Regulations which, under 2288 his administration, are increasing in expense, while the amount of money paid in compensation is also increasing. In addition to that, we have Regulations which are certainly vexatious and which, on the face of them, appear to be ineffective and more or less a failure. When the right hon. Gentleman replies I hope he will tell us whether, in his opinion and that of his advisers in one year, two years, or five years, these Regulations will commence to do some good and really stamp out the disease. Reference has been made to the Holland serum treatment. Through private sources that has been made a subject of study. We hear that the treatment has been going on most successfully for three years and has been a success in every way. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what during these three years his Intelligence Department has been doing, and why now we hear of it, not from the Board of Agriculture, but from private individuals who make a study of the matter for themselves? I should like to mention briefly the important question of milk records and the attempts which are being made to encourage those records. To dairy farmers the subject is a very important one. I believe that in a great many cases the practice of keeping milk records is increasing, but, unfortunately, we all know in many cases the old methods prevail and there are no records kept. As some of us who understand the dairy know, some cows give a great quantity of milk for a short period, and others give a lesser quantity but for a much longer period, and much nearer to calving. The keeping of regular milk records must be of importance to dairy farming and to agriculture. The right hon. Gentleman gave us theother day the Regulations which are to encourage the keeping of milk records. They provide:—"(a) that preferential consideration he given to societies already formed on a co-operative basis:(b) that the societies receiving grants employ testers to check or take the milk records at proper intervals;(c) that no society receive a grant exceeding £50 annually or exceeding one-half the expendture incurred by it in the employment of a tester;(d) that the total sum which is to be given is £5,000.I very much doubt if there are many testing societies throughout the country formed on a co-operative basis. I only speak from my own knowledge, which is small, but I imagine that there are practically very few. The terms offered are not by any means generous enough to encourage what I think we must admit is a somewhat important work. I suggest that, at any rate, the terms or conditions. 2289 stingy as they are, might be sent round in a circular to the local chambers, farmers clubs, and the milk producing and other dairy societies, in order that the subject may be ventilated, so that possibly we may have suggestions from them which would bring up the question in a practical way, and dairy farmers may be encouraged to keep these milk records. I want to say one word about the Tuberculosis Order. The space of time which has elapsed makes it too early to express a definite opinion upon that Order. There is one unsatisfactory feature about it that is that the cost per head per beast in inspection, post-mortem, valuation, and slaughter considerably exceeds the compensation paid per head per beast to the farmer. Another point I have been particularly asked to mention to-day is Article 11 of the Tuberculosis Order, which enables veterinary surgeons to send cows out of the ring if they are suspected of having tuberculosis. It is suggested that sometimes, and especially to small men, that works in a very hard way. I venture to suggest that in the case of an animal so removed from a market or sale-yard under suspicion, which is found to be not suffering from tuberculosis, the owner shall be entitled to compensation from the local authority causing such removal, to the extent of £1. The cost of taking the animal away falls very hardly on a small owner, for, of course, he looses the opportunity of selling the animal at the sale. The last speaker referred to what the Board had been doing as regards the question of seeds. I desire to express my gratification that the Board are testing seeds as a regular part of their work. I hope soon that we shall have a seed-testing station established. I am glad the Board has made a beginning, and I hope that this work, which is so essential to farmers, will be increased and carried on in the future.
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
I hope I may be allowed to express the sense of obligation, which is felt very widely, to my hon. Friend for the energy with which he has discharged his duty. I am sure it is appreciated, entirely apart from politics, in all parts of the country. We have heard from many quarters of the House certain criticisms with regard to this Tuberculosis Order, and I wish to join with other Members in the criticisms upon it. In the first place, I think the arguments which was addressed to the House by the hon.. Member (Mr. Field), adorned with 2290 so much humour, was a very serious argument. If you compensate the owner of live stock when it is found to be tuberculous through no fault of the owner, you ought also to compensate the butcher if he buys it perfectly bona fide under circumstances which do not `allow of his knowing that it is tuberculous, whatever it may turn out to be on post-mortem examination. While, of course, all questions of compensation are harassed and hindered by the everlasting financial problem it is most undesirable that any one class of the community whose case is really on all fours with that of another class, should feel themselves placed at a permanent disadvantage. Then with regard to the source from which compensation comes, I wish to associate myself with several hon. Members who have put the case of the boroughs. It is a very great hardship on boroughs, especially those which own their own markets, to have to pay this compensation from the rates, and where the animals are introduced from outside their area the argument, which is strong already for making this an Imperial charge, receives fresh enforcement, and I know that the feeling in boroughs throughout the country is very strong upon this subject.
With regard to the cost of administration the hon. Member (Mr. C. Bathurst) gave an illustration from the county of Gloucestershire. We are alternately amused and irritated in Lancashire by a well-founded story that is going round, how it cost £7 to get half a crown. These things are important, because when you multiply them many times over it means that you are increasing the cost of local administration in a matter which is not shared in the least by the central authorities. When one recollects that these are not isolated cases and that it is a standing grievance of local authorities that public Departments put upon them work which the public Departments refuse to pay for at all, the matter really becomes serious in excess of the actual financial burden. It is really like a person having some sand inside his stocking which may be comparatively small, which might never seriously affect his life, but which puts him in a condition of constant irritation. There is nothing more annoying to those who are trying to administer a locality than to find that the very cost of what they are doing is greatly in excess of the benefit, and the claim that is being made now by all the county councils of England and Wales, so far as I know, is that half the 2291 cost of the administration at least should be defrayed by the Treasury. May I make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman which I made to the President of the Local Government Board on an analogous case the other day? We look to him not as our tyrant, for he is nothing of the kind, nor as a person who wishes to check local activity. We desire to look upon him as the leader of local government in this Department of Agriculture, and we look to him to press upon the Treasury and upon the Cabinet these claims that we are certain are fair in relation to matters which cause constant irritation and which, in our judgment, must be remedied if you are to have a smooth sympathetic administration of very important Orders which we all wish will have the effect of getting rid of this scourge.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
It has been demonstrated on this side of the Committee that there is a very serious grievance in the country about the restrictions and regulations dealing with swine fever. As we have had no report from the officials of the Board of Agriculture in regard to the effectiveness of the serum treatment from Holland, I will read to the Committee an extract- from a very interesting paper read before the National Pig-breeders' Association, by Mr. J. W. Harris the other day. Mr. Harris went out on behalf of the association to investigate this serum treatment in Holland and he interviewed a great many small farmers and asked them what their opinion of the treatment was. He said:—The farmers take little notice of swine fever. as where they get an outbreak it can very soon be stopped and mired; and when an outbreak does occur all they have to do is to call in the veterinary surgeon appointed by the State for that district, who immediately injects a scram provided by the State both into the pigs already under the influence of the disease and the others on the farm… All the farmers said exactly the same thing with regard to the method adopted when an outbreak occurs being quite satisfactory, and they look upon this disease in the same wiry that they look upon scarlet fever or small-pox, namely, a disease that can be held in check and almost eradicated, given the right procedure and methods, but it will never be entirely stamped out.Then he went to the inspector of the Serum Institution at Rotterdam and made a variety of inquiries and asked several very pertinent questions, some of which were replied to as follows. He asked, first of all, if the treatment was effective, and the reply was:—Out of 4.000 injections, which were done after the pigs had the fever on them or were in immediate contact, hardly one died.2292 Then he asked how long it was effective, and was told:—If properly carried out the animals will be immune from fever for the rest of their lives.Finally, he asked if the pigs were infectious while under treatment, and the reply was" "Not after ten to fourteen days." In further conversation with this gentleman, Mr. Harris asked him if it would not be well to make regulations regarding the movement of swine, compulsory killing, and so on, like we have in England, to which his reply is very significant:—Certainly not, and especially so seeing the utter failure of the restrictions in England.I hope the right hon. Gentleman will read that paper. I think it tends to prove that during the time this treatment has been going on in Holland it has been very effective, and the farmers are very keen to have it done wherever possible. I can only express the hope that in carrying out his studies of this problem the right hon. Gentleman will show the same energy that he has shown in administering various other Departments. One allusion has been made to small holdings in the report of Mr. Cheney, and an hon. Member expressed great satisfaction at having read the report of Mr. Cheney. I do not think that report is very satisfactory in a great many details, though it is most satisfactory that, in spite of the two very adverse seasons last year and the year before, there have been very few failures among those who have been put on the land by means of these small holdings. I only wish that I could endorse the opinion of Mr. Cheney, that the result of the Small Holdings Act has been that emigration front the rural districts to the large urban centres and to the Colonies has been checked. I fancy the experience of most people who live in the country is that the stream to the Colonies, instead of being checked, has very largely increased during the last few years. Much good has been done by small holdings, but it has been by no means effectual in checking that outward stream. There is one point about the administration of small holdings which I think is very unsatisfactory, and that is the very large sum of money involved in administration.
We make provision in the Estimates for no fewer than eight Small Holdings -Commissioners, and I believe the total salaries of the Small Holdings Commissioners and their subordinates amount to £12,00 a year. Quite apart from that, as we also learn from the Report, no less than £106,919 has 2293 been repaid by the Board out of the Small Holdings Account to county and borough councils in respect of expenses incurred by them in proceedings in relation to the acquisition of land for small holdings and ascertaining the demand for small holdings. To these sums we also have to add the very considerable sum to be spent by county councils every year in retaining their staffs to deal with these small holdings. I think most county councils have appointed a county council agent or supervises or valuer, who has a clerk to assist him and who incurs considerable expense every year in travelling about the district over which he has control. If you add all these sums together, the administration of small holdings by public authorities in the past five years has cost not less than £200,000. For that, large sum of money how many holdings have been provided Just over 10,000, and, according to the report, land has been acquired for another 2.000 applications.
It has cost £200,000 up to date to settle 10,100 people as small holders. That number includes allotments, which, I think, have not added much to the cost. In addition to that, just under 3,000 applications have been supplied with land by private owners direct. Three thousand applications have cost the ratepayer and taxpayer practically nil, whereas the 10,000 people who have been supplied by public, authorities have cost the country and the ratepayers no less than £200,000. The comparison in favour of treatment by the private landowners, as opposed to public authorities, is very marked indeed. Though I do not say it could be done altogether without the public authority, I say the time has now arrived when a very careful inquiry ought to be made into the general cost of administration under the Act. I really do not know whether it is necessary to have eight Small Holdings Commissioners. I fancy if the House would be content to satisfy itself with the two who were appointed in the first instance, they would have got through their work very well, and I think it is a great waste of money that, as the result of political pressure, these additional public officials have been appointed when I honestly believe their services were not really required. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into the point, and will see whether some reduction cannot be brought about in that respect. As regards the unsatisfied demand, I was rather struck with a phrase used by the hon. Member 2294 (Mr. G. Roberts), who talked about the demand being stimulated. When the word "stimulated" is applied to the demand it does not seem altogether automatic.
§ Mr. G. ROBERTS
What I said was that where we had efficient administration of the Act by a county council, there the demand was stimulated.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
That refers to administration, but it is a remarkable fact, which you find in reading the report, that in a certain number of districts in England where the demand has been very much greater than in other parts this is largely due to the fact that the conditions and the general surroundings are more suitable than elsewhere. It is also necessary that this unsatisfied demand should be more carefully inquired into. I think the Commissioner makes a very desirable suggestion in his report, namely, that the various local authorities should inquire into the applications on their lists, and ascertain whether the applicants still desire small holdings, and whether, if they do wish them, they are suitable people to have them. I think if that were done, we would get satisfactory lists of the people whose demand is unsatisfied. There is another point I wish to refer to, namely, the Grants to be made by the Government towards the improvement of live stock. The right hon. Gentleman takes credit for the sums voted for that purpose, and also for the work done by milk-recording societies. I should very much like to know whether both of these Grants have been made. I think the suggestion made by my hon. Friend is a very valuable one, namely, that the Board of Agriculture should take steps to inform the various agricultural bodies in the country, such as chambers of agriculture, as to the conditions which have to be fulfilled in order to obtain Grants. In a great many parts of the country societies do not exist, but I think they would grow up if the farming community as a whole did appreciate under what conditions they would receive Grants in future. The right hon. Gentleman, in the very excellent speeches he made in the country to various agricultural bodies, informed them that the Board of Agriculture meant to take steps to provide a first-class bull in various parts of the country. I do not see any item for that in the Vote, and I would like the right hon. Gentleman to give us some information in regard to that. Another item about which I desire information 2295 is that in respect of the salaries of live-stock officers amounting to £8,400. I do not quite appreciate what the live-stock officers are going to do, and perhaps he will give us some information about that. As regards Grants for agricultural technical education, I think the right hon. Gentleman knows very well that theme is great dissatisfaction among county councils at present as to the inadequate proportion paid for that purpose. The Grants for other kinds of technical education amount to 50 per cent. of what is spent, but the Grants for agricultural technical education, so far, amount to only 10 per cent. I think it is unfortunate that agriculturists should have this real grievance of receiving a very inadequate proportion of the sum their counties spend for agricultural technical education, when other classes of technical education are more liberally provided with money from the Imperial Exchequer.
As to the question of light-horse breeding, it is rather difficult for the Board to give us any detailed information as to what the result has been. I think that, on the whole, we may be very well satisfied with the steps taken so far. I notice in the Report one point to which I should like to draw attention, namely, that one of the conditions of a Grant is that the average price of a mare is to exceed £50. The Board have been informed that that amount, is sufficient, but I think it would be very difficult to buy at less than £50. I do hope, therefore, that the Board will take steps to have this limit removed where it is desirable to exceed it in the purchase of first-class mares. I do not say that they should give a larger sum in the purchase of mares, but I think that this limit might well be exceeded with advantage in Government Departments. I see that only twenty mares were selected from Army stables. Surely, quite apart from the Artillery batteries from which they came, it is possible to get more mares suitable for breeding purposes. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some information on that matter.
§ Sir JOHN SPEAR
I want to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to discontinue the withholding of the expenditure incurred by county councils in securing loans for the purpose of erecting cottages for small holders. The hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. G. H. Roberts), in his very 2296 interesting speech, dwelt strongly on the fact that though we have created a very large number of small holdings—the hon. Member for Tewkesbury said they numbered 10,000—yet the fact remains that on these holdings only 500 dwellings were provided. We have all expressed again and again a desire to see more people living on the land, and it is needless for me to say that people cannot live on the land unless they have houses to live in. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to discontinue the step which he has taken, and to agree to bear the expense of getting loans by county councils for the purpose of erecting cottages and dwellings for small holders. I asked a question the other day, and the Under-Secretary for India, in the absence of the President of the Board of Agriculture, said it was a very difficult thing to get money at present. I do want the right hon. Gentleman, who, I am sure, is anxious to promote better housing for the people, and whose speeches in the provinces we have read with interest, to take a step in that direction. I am bound to say that by his action in that matter he penalises the county councils who are trying to provide dwellings for small holders, arid therefore, his action, I am bound to say, with all respect, is extremely inconsistent with his speeches in the provinces. I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman has taken a wrong view of his province. The Under-Secretary for India hinted that the Public Loans Commissioners objected to make advances of money for housing, but I think if the right hon. Gentleman will read the conditions upon which loans are obtained from this body, he will find that the word "land" includes dwellings upon the land, and that the term is merely to differentiate between land with houses on it, and houses without any land. Hence the county councils feel that they are dealt. with unfairly in this matter, and that is partly the reason why so few dwellings have been provided. We have heard it stated, and we had all hoped, that the provision of small holdings would do something, not only to keep more people on the land, but more people in our own country, who are now driven to foreign countries. But while that is so. I am satisfied that we should get more people to occupy small holdings if suitable dwellings were provided for them, and if the county councils were not penalised, as I submit they are, by the right hon. Gentleman's action in refusing 2297 to contribute towards the expense of incurring loans for this purpose.
There are a number of matters in relation to cattle disease to which I wish to refer. I want again to appeal to the right Lon. Gentleman to do something to induce counties to adopt the policy of notification and segregation of cases of epizootic abortion. The scheme has been adopted in Devonshire, and is, I think, affording considerable prospect of success, but in adjacent counties the practice has not been adopted, and it is a very considerable inconvenience to farmers in Devon to submit to these regulations, yet they arc prepared to do so provided that other counties are brought into line, but we do not feel inclined to submit to this inconvenience and financial loss when, after we have effected some considerable improvement in the prevalence of this disease, we find that other counties neglect to do their best in co-operation. While this is done in Devonshire, we find that cattle there may be infected by cattle coming from other counties. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will do what he can to induce other counties to fall into line. I do not hesitate to say that this disease of epizootic abortion causes greater loss to the British farmer than all the other cattle diseases put together. If the right hon. Gentleman will endeavour to bring other counties into line with Devon in this matter, I am sure he will be rendering the industry a very great service indeed.
I would like, if the right hon. Gentleman will tell us in his reply, if he can give us any account of the report of the Committee or deputation that went to India to try to ascertain a preventive, as well as a cure, for foot-and-mouth disease. I must be allowed as a farmer to add my word of appreciation for the action of the right hon. Gentleman in dealing with the disease in days gone by. But we want to prevent the disease, if possible, and this Committee was sent abroad for the purpose of obtaining information. I would like to hear if the result of their investigations will be of help to us in preventing the disease, if possible, and in effecting some cure when it comes. There is another point I wish to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to, namely, the question of railway rates. I know that his power with the railway companies is very limited, yet representations on his part of grievances which do arise would, I am sure, have considerable weight with the railway companies. Agriculturists 2298 feel that the railway companies deal more liberally with foreign produce passing over their lines than with home produce, and, of course, we feel it is unfair. I am aware that they say that if we send our produce in similar volume they will take it for the same charge, but it is impossible for British farmers to accumulate their produce in quantities to entitle them to reduced rates. Agriculture is still the biggest industry in the country and we all wish to see it prosperous, and I think that the railway companies should meet the British producer on more favourable terms than they give at present.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has any control over the railway companies.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
I understood that the right hon. Gentleman does occasionally represent to the railway companies hardships that occur with reference to charges for agricultural produce. The question is one on which agriculturists feel very strongly, and the claim of the home producer does not receive the consideration at the hands of the railway companies to which it is entitled. I would also ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he could not do something by investigation to deal with the question of red-water fever'? In some parts of the country it is a very serious disease. We really know little about the cause, and we do not know of any effective preventive. If the right hon. Gentleman by research could deal with this matter so as to discover some speedy cure, he will be rendering a great service to the agricultural classes of the country.
§ Sir COURTENAY WARNER
I desire to add a few words in support of what was said by the last speaker with reference to houses being provided on the small holdings. Although he put the case very well, he omitted one thing. I was a member of the Committee on the Small Holdings Bill, and when that Bill was passed it was in the thoughts of every member of the Committee that these advances should be used partly for providing houses on the small holdings. I think that it was straining the legal position to refuse to grant advances from the Government for this purpose, which is really a most important part of the small holdings. No small holding can be really effective unless it has got the house in the proper place. A small holding a mile or a half 2299 mile from the place where a man lives is depreciated very considerably in its value to him. This is a very important matter. I was sorry to hear that the loans are being stopped, and if this has been done I trust that my right hon. Friend will do his best to have that decison reversed. This is important not only to the small holders, but to the districts in which they live, because as the small holders occupy existing cottages they increase the difficulty of the housing question generally. Coming to another point, I wish to enter a caveat against the suggestion of my hon. Friend and others that there ought to be compensation given to boroughs, and so on. My hon. Friend said he thought that it was a very hard case on boroughs. That may be so, but it is not quite so hard as appears, because the borough not only benefits by the market, but it makes something out of the transaction in any case. It may not make it by the actual tolls for selling the thing, but it makes it by the people coming into the market to sell.
But outside that it must be remembered that this spending of money on the prevention of tuberculosis is not only for the sake of the farmer, but also for the sake of the consumer, and the consumer ought to subscribe something towards the administration of the laws for making his food more healthy. There is a very strong case for distributing the burden all round, and not compelling one class to pay more than another. There is another point as to which I should like my right hon. Friend to give some information. We were led to believe that we would get benefit from the Development Grant through the Board of Agriculture. The county councils have undertaken technical education, trial farms, dairying instruction, and all these various things, and they have received Grants for them in many cases. We rather expected to see these Grants increased and the county council's powers to do good towards the agriculture of the district subvented in every way by increased facilities and contributions from the Development Grant. But I think that there has been great delay in approving of schemes, and we want to know more about the system that is going on at the present moment and how long the schemes are hung up for. I know some eases of schemes being hung up in reference to very necessary things, such as teaching people how to make butter—I do not say experi 2300 mental farms, because that is a large thing that may require two or three counties to join together—yet in all the minor things that have been done I think that the Grants of the Board of Agriculture have been reduced rather than increased; but I would like to know a little more of what my right hon. Friend has done on this subject.
§ Sir FORTESCUE FLANNERY
I would like to support the appeal which fell from the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Field). This question of tuberculosis is a very old question, and I was in hopes when the right hon. Gentleman made the announcement at the dinner of the Agricultural Association, perhaps a year ago, that it was the intention of his Department to contribute from public funds to the cost of animals slaughtered in the public interest because of tuberculosis, that the question was nearing a final settlement, if indeed it had not reached it. It appears from the statement of the hon. Member for Dublin —and no one better understands the question than he does—that the matter is still far from a definite and satisfactory solution. For a great many years it has been the practice to compensate the owners of animals that were suffering from foot-and-mouth disease and other contagious diseases, and were slaughtered in the public interest. For a very long time the various Governments—the preceding Government as much as the Government of the right, hon. Gentleman—refused for reasons, not at all easy to understand, to include tuberculosis in the compensatory diseases. The right hon. Gentleman made on his own responsibility an announcement which gave infinite satisfaction to the representative agriculturists who were present to hear him. Now it appears that there is a very serious gap in the practice of the Department. If the beast that is slaughtered on account of tuberculosis belongs to the breeder then the compensation is given, but if the beast has been sold to a trader then the trader apparently according to the practice of the Department has no right to demand, and does not in fact receive, the compensation which is given to the agriculturist. Speaking on behalf of agriculturists, there is inflicted a very serious injury to the interests of agriculture in this practice, and I sincerely hope, as a result of this Debate, now that the importance of the matter has been pointed out, a remedy will be found. The right hon. Gentleman has been giving the grant to our hope but denying it to us in reality. 2301 He should include in these payments of compensation, not only the grower, but also the trader to whom the beast has been sold.
Anoher matter of importance which has been referred to by the hon. Member who spoke last is the breeding of horses. There should be co-ordination and co-operation between the War Office and the Board of Agriculture in this matter. I am afraid that there is not sufficient. I am afraid that the Board of Agriculture does not realise the national importance of the gradual disappearance of the horse. The problem of mechanical transport is being developed more successfully year after year. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that at the time of the Boer War it was believed that there were in London over 20,000 'bus horses and nearly as large a number of cab horses available for drafts, and there was an enormous number of horses in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and other large cities. Where are those horses now or their descendants? They have absolutely disappeared. I do not suppose that even the machinery of the Board of Agriculture can trace many of them. All that source of security to the country in time of need has disappeared, and no corresponding effort has been made, scarcely any real effort has been made, in proportion to the importance of the matter, by the Board of Agriculture to encourage the breeding of horses. Having regard to the risk of disease, the mortality among colts, the low prices and the enormous cost of rearing, farmers do not find that it pays them to give their attention to horse breeding to any serious extent. I sincerely hope, not merely in the interests of agriculture, but in the national interests, that it will be part of the policy of the Department over which the right hon. Gentleman presides to carry the encouragement in regard to horse breeding very much further than they have already carried it.
There is another subject to which I wish to refer and which is also connected with the fisheries branch of the work of the Department. We have heard from the hon. Member for Dublin some reference to Tariff Reform and Protection, and to the fact that the Department in its dealings is anti-Protectionist and rather discourages the native industry. There is the case of the Fishery Department, which in this instance will fall, not merely within the description of the hon. Member for Dublin, but goes infinitely further, 2302 because the actual industry of many hundreds and thousands of men round the shores of the country is stopped by the law administered in connection with the Department, whilst foreigners are permitted to carry on that industry for the benefit of British consumers. You have.1n the months of April, May and June an impossible condition as regards the raising or selling of British oysters. There is not an hon. Member in this House who does not know from his own personal experience that he cannot obtain Whitstable or Colchester natives or any other kind a natives during those months, because it is illegal to raise them or to sell them. Oysters that are obtained from the beds on the other side of the Channel which contribute to the livelihood of growers abroad may be obtained freely during all those close months in practically every large town throughout the country. I want to know on what logical ground that practice, that custom, that legislation is maintained, and why it is that the British oyster is unwholesome and dangeous for the British consumer, whilst the foreign oyster, which is contributing to the livelihood of the foreign grower, may be sold without any let or hindrance on the part of the officers over whom the right hon. Gentleman presides? I invite the right hon. Gentleman, not to become a Tariff Reformer, as I know that would be an impossibility and I know it would be so greatly against his views that I should be without any hope whatever of success, but I do invite him to go this far, namely, to place English growers of oysters and English working men who earn their living in the culture of the beds and the raising of the fish, and to give those men at least as great a chance to have a market for their livelihood during those months as at present exists for the foreign grower. I feel certain that a very short Bill, and very modest legislation indeed, would be accepted generally.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
I do not wish to traverse your ruling and I have said all I desire to say on the point. The right hon. Gentleman is the Member of the Government to whom a suggestion of this kind either on administration or legislation may be made, and therefore I was mentioning the matter to him, but, of course, I will not pursue it.Another subject in con- 2303 nection with the Fisheries Department is that of motor power for the propulsion of fishing boats. In every other country, as to which I have made inquiries in my endeavour to understand the subject, there is a system by which the fishermen are helped to obtain the latest and most important, although expensive, improvements of motor engines for the propulsion of their fishing boats. The fishing boat that is dependent on sails, both as regards maintaining its catch and bringing that Latch to market, is at an infinite disadvantage as compared with the boat that is propelled by mechanical motive power. Mechanical motive power has developed so enormously within the last eight or ten years by motors similar to those used in motor cars, or very similar, that the matter has had the attention of the Administration of practically most foreign countries. It is very remarkable if you compare the Administration, and I do not care which side of politics, in this country you will find how infinitely behind they are in comparison with the administration of every other civilised country with regard to assisting the industry of their own people. In France, Germany, Italy, aye, even Japan, there is a system by which the Government advances sums of money to the fishermen or owners of small fishing boats for the purpose of enabling them to purchase mechanical means of propulsion, and thus to increase the facilities which they have.
I want to know why, when we have the principle admitted, of public money being advanced for cottages and for other en-couragements of agriculture, the right hon. Gentleman does not or has not even before now followed in the footsteps, and even now he would be four, five, or six years behind, of other statesmen in foreign countries who occupy the same relation to the fishing there as he does in this country. I most cordially invite him to take that matter into account. The money is not asked to be given. In the case of foreign countries it is advanced to be paid back, and the enormous increase in the facilities and in the earning power of the fishing vessels when they are so fitted, and my right hon. Friend knows from personal experience, as he himself goes out occasionally fishing, and I dare say with the assistance of mechanical motors, that enormous increase in the yield and the power of fishing quickly enables the owners to pay off their debts, and I am speaking now as regards the foreigners who have been 2304 so assisted. I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman in connection with the work of his Department, which up till quite recently was not very familiar to him, and I am referring to agriculture rather than to fishing, he will consider these suggestions which are made most respectfully in no party spirit, or with a political desire to make any capital, but in the real interest of the successful administration of the Department over which he has presided with so much success, and a success which we hope will be increased.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I desire to thank the hon. Baronet for the words with which he closed his speech, and at once to say that as far as the fisheries are concerned, and I must be more familiar with them than I was until recently with the larger and more important industry with which my Department is mainly concerned, that I have not left out of account the necessity for enterprise and for national guidance and assistance, even in the subject which he has raised, namely, that of mechanical propulsion for fishing vessels, for only during the last few months most extensive and cautious inquiries have been made in the counties of Devon and Cornwall, and I recommended to the Development Commissioners that they should make a Grant to each of those counties by way of loan which the County Fishery Committees would distribute to the fishermen in those two counties along the coasts to fit their vessels with motors.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
If the South-Eastern Fisheries Committee ask me, I will look into their case just as closely as into the Cornwall case. The result has been in those other cases that the Development Commissioners have decided to make advances to both of those South-Western counties, and they have further undertaken to make a loan to the Devon Sea Fisheries Committee to enable that Committee to make experiments in the use of motors for trawling, which, as the hon. Baronet knows, is rather a different matter from that of fitting line vessels with motors. There are difficult problems in connection with that, some of which I am afraid motor mechanicians have not yet solved, so that their experiments will be watched with great care. A Committee is also being constituted, 2305 with representatives from England, Ireland, and Scotland, to ascertain how far the work that is done by those trawlers will give us experience by which we can extend the use of motor engines amongst the trawlers on the coasts of Scotland and of Ireland, as well as on the East coast of England. The use of motors in fishing vessels on our coasts is not dependent on national assistance. I can quote two villages in the county of Cornwall which have had scores of motors put into their boats even within the last two years. They have done that without any national or county assistance, and within these two years I am told many of them have entirely repaid the whole of the cost of those motors put into the boats. The real necessity for the fishing community is to realise the enormous advantage caused by fitting mechanical power into the boats. When that is illustrated I have no doubt that, with a little guidance from headquarters and county committees, they will follow the example of the fishermen of Looe and Mevagissy.
The main part of the discussion has been taken up with problems concerned with the diseases of animals. I should like at once to proceed to discuss the various topics which have been raised in so far as they concern epidemic disease. My Department takes a keen interest in all diseases of animals, but the regulations which we have to issue are concerned entirely with epidemic and endemic diseases. The first in importance is undoubtedly foot-and-mouth disease, and I wish to take this opportunity of thanking hon. Members of all parties, and the agricultural community in every part of Great Britain, for the assistance which was given to my Department during the epidemic of last year. Without that assistance it would have been impossible to keep, even within the very large limits to which it did extend, the spread of this disease. It was a cause of loss, not only to the farmers immediately concerned, but to their neighbours who were subjected to severe restrictions in the movement of their animals, and it was a cause of loss to all breeders of animals who sought a market for their animals. The importance of foot-and-mouth disease has not diminished with the extirpation of the disease during the last six or eight months. Research has been conducted in India, and I regret to say that up to the present I have not received a satisfactory report as to the results obtained there. 2306 We have not yet captured the microbe, and until it is isolated the difficulty will remain. The Report of the Committee will be forthcoming soon, and I wish to make it public as soon as I have anything worth making public, in order that the whole agricultural community may realise the difficulties under which we labour, and I might add, the necessity for resorting occasionally to restrictions which they themselves must regard as distasteful. The mere fact that those restricions have made England once more an absolutely clean country is one of which we have every reason to be proud. We are certainly at the present time, without even excepting Ireland, which has had a very creditable reputation in the past, absolutely freer from animal disease of all sorts than any other country in Europe.
I am afraid that a great many of the reports last year led to both our Continental and American buyers imagining that every farm in England was contaminated by this disease. In fact I found exaggerations in foreign papers so great that I have had a statement drawn up, somewhat in journalistic form, but none the worse for that, in order that I may have it spread throughout the whole of the buying countries. I shall be sending that out in the near future to our representatives abroad, expressing the wish that they will put it into the hands of the agricultural correspondents of all the principal newspapers and circulate it to foreign Governments, so that this description of the means taken in this country to extirpate the disease and the success which has attended those means may lead our foreign buyers to realise that not only was the epidemic far less important than similar epidemics within their own borders, but that it was successfully dealt with and they may now buy our valuable live stock without themselves running any risk. There have been suggestions made this afternoon that in placing a fifteen miles circle around affected spots we were going too, far, and that we were, in any case, trying to apply a too rigid regulation. I freely recognise that there may be some instances where a strict geometrical application of the fifteen miles radius might give rise to certain grievances. Anything which causes inconvenience and irritation hampers the administration of the Diseases of Animals Act. If we can in future cases—I hope we may long be spared the necessity of having to take such measures—adopt some slightly less rigid 2307 method, we shall gladly do so. But immediately we depart from a fixed rule we place ourselves in the greatest local difficulties. Neighbouring farmers think that we are favouring one man against another. We are hampered by the fact that some men plead their case because they are just on the outside edge of an irregular line, whereas they might as well have been outside it altogether. I am afraid that if we depart in any way from the rigid regulation which has been found to work with success so far as the extirpation of disease is concerned, it will add enormously to our administrative difficulties. I shall therefore be very cautious in making any change in that way, although I shall not close my mind to the possibility of putting the matter on a more satisfactory footing if the future should render any such measures necessary. One of the complaints made by the hon. Member for the Wilton Division (Mr. Bathurst) was that a good deal of the expense owing to the compensation regulations had fallen on counties which themselves were immune. I am afraid I cannot agree with him that it is altogether an injustice to those counties. A great deal of expense was incurred in the effort to prevent their being contaminated, and in so far as we succeeded in that effort I do not think it is unjust that they should bear their proportion of the national expenditure.
§ Mr. BATHURST
These counties have their own administrative expenditure apart from this extra burden.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I quite realise that. But those counties which were subject to infection not only had their own administrative expenditure, but also the very large expense which was thrown on them and their farmers because they happened to be infected. If we were successful in keeping the infection in one county, it was for the benefit of its neighbour, and that neighbour may justly bear a portion of the national expenditure incurred. The hon. Gentleman also asked for some information with regard to the number of cases of sheep scab. I quite realise that the Dipping Orders in some parts of the country have not been very popular. I understand that the Pennine Range Sheep Dipping Order is even now not popular, although Cumberland has a larger number of sheep scab cases than any other county. There were last year in England, Wales, and Scotland 302 cases 2308 of sheep scab; at the present time there is only one. Therefore, as far as dipping has helped us we have made considerable progress. I wish we could say the same with regard to some other diseases. The hon. Member asked for further figures with regard to parasitic mange. The number of cases which came to our notice last year was I think about 2,800. We have made very considerable progress this year. Taking the comparable period of twenty-nine weeks last year and this year, the numbers are for last year 2,198, and for this year 1,760. There again we have made a considerable advance. With regard to the sterilisation of hides, I can only say that I am bound to act with the greatest caution. We are making inquiries now. We have acted in conjunction with the Home Office, the Board of Trade, and our own veterinary branch. We are endeavouring to find out how far the sterilisation of hides can be carried without injury to the leather — the form which they will subsequently take. The risk that is run is not that the hides may be immediately damaged. I am informed by those who represent the tanning industry that after a hide has been turned into leather and the leather has been in existence for eighteen months or two years, damage may be seen, and the leather may cease to retain its proper qualities. To injure the leather industry by any order rashly issued would I am sure not meet with the approval of the hon. Member. But we are making some progress in the matter, and I hope that before long we shall have some reliable data on which to work. For the time being we are working in conjunction with the other Departments concerned, and we are keeping in touch with the leather industry. We are well alive to the facts, and, if anything can be done to prevent the spread of anthrax amongst either animals or men, every effort will be made by the various Departments.
I now come to a disease about which I regret that I am able to say very little that is satisfactory. I refer to swine fever. The figures throughout the last few years have not been satisfactory. There has been a drop during the last six months, and the position is better now than it was in the corresponding period of 1912. But that gives us very little satisfaction. We are spending enormously more in compensation in connection with swine fever than in connection with any other disease. The only satisfaction we can draw from 2309 the restrictions under which many parts of the country now labour is that we have prevented the spread of the disease into counties which have been immune. There are some parts of the country which have not had any case of swine fever for many long years, and I hope they never will have. But for these restrictive Orders, I believe it would have been impossible to have prevented the spread of swine fever into those counties, owing to its prevalence in some counties in the east and middle of England. I would like to say, however, that wherever I have come across eases where the boundaries have pressed severely on the people in certain districts, where in some cases artificial boundaries have been drawn for purely county reasons, and they have led to men on the wrong side having no market for their pigs, I have done my best to eliminate these local injustices. One case in Gloucestershire was brought to my notice. I think two hon. Members opposite were present when I received the deputation. I took the matter into consideration and as quickly as possible made a boundary which was much more reasonable. In that way we get rid of some of the local difficulties. But so long as this disease is rife, so long as in some counties it runs into not scores but hundreds of cases, it is impossible for us to allow absolutely free removal.
One of the points raised in the course of the Debate, I think perhaps with a little less knowledge of what has been done by our Veterinary Department than those who are in the Department possess, was that we might have paid more attention to the use of serum on the Continent. I replied to a question put to me last week by the hon. Member for Shropshire, in which he asked for results of the serum treatment in Holland, which had only recently come to my notice. I regret to say that one reason why the results have not come to my notice before was that when Sir Stewart Stockman asked the authorities in Holland last year for definite records of their results they declined to give them, saying they could not because they had kept no records. When I said that I heard for the first time of some definite results, I meant that we had now come across the publication.of records Which could not be obtained when we asked for them. For the hon. Member to say that our Intelligence Department had done nothing, while for three years Holland had been going on with the serum treatment without our 2310 knowing anything about it, was really to take an unfair advantage of a, very short answer to a very vague question. Let me describe to the House what has been done with regard to this disease on the Continent. This anti-serum treatment is by no means new. It is fifteen years old. Certainly during the last few years it has been used in regard to swine fever in Holland, and there are some scientists in Holland who talk with the greatest enthusiasm about the results they have produced. I have taken a great deal of trouble to find out exactly upon what knowledge Holland have been acting during the last three years. Let me tell the Committee this. So far from this subject having been neglected, our chief veterinary officer has been conducting experiments at our laboratory for two years past. Very large numbers of samples of the disease have been sent in in waterproof bags day by day, and I think I ought to say that the chief veterinary officer's present illness is largely due to his devotion to the scientific work which he has conducted in the laboratory. One of the things we have found out is that, first of all, the production of serum is very costly. You can only raise it on the pig. You cannot produce it by means of test tubes. Our estimate of the cost is that it would cost in this country about 2s. 6d. a dose. Our scientific advisers estimate that the number of doses necessary to secure immunity is three doses. I am speaking now of our actual knowledge and experience here. Perhaps I may be excused if I say that I would rather rely on the scientific knowledge and facts collected by our chief veterinary officer and his assistants than I would on the investigations in Holland. I have visited Holland, and although they have had many cases of foot-and-mouth disease for many- years past, yet they were congratulating themselves that they were free from anything of the kind, while we were suffering from a scourge which did not touch them. Sir Stewart Stockman took the trouble to go into this matter with scientists who have made researches, and this is what he found. He found, first of all, that they had very sanguine hopes of what had been done in the fact that the serum is freely applied for by the farmers and supplied to them for practically nothing. We all know perfectly well what happens when medicine is distributed for nothing, whether for human or animal purposes: there are always a large number of applicants for it. By tests 2311 and by continuous treatment we have produced, as I have no doubt some hon. Members will be aware, a very large amount of anti-serum virus, which is, in our judgment, very much the same as the virus on the Continent. What we have discovered by actual experiment is that this virus is also constantly fatal to pigs which have been immunised by the present method. That does not give us very much satisfaction.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Yes, certainly; but the hon. Member does not suggest that we must get rid of all our restrictions in order that we may bring about the slaughter by serum rather than by infection? The results which have been attained may not be of value. I do not know whether they are or not. It is some time since our chief veterinary surgeon was engaged upon the matter. If they are of value, we shall certainly do our best to make them of use. I have no doubt that the information that has come, that something has been done in Holland, will be followed up and that our scientific representatives will give their best attention to it. We are anxious to get hold of any information that can be supplied to us. If anything can be done to stop swine fever, we shall be only too delighted to do it. What we do know is this: Even if we had got a cure for swine fever it would not follow that we should get rid of our restrictive Orders, for the animals treated with anti-serum might carry the infection for a considerable time. I, therefore, can hold out no immediate prospect of getting rid of the restrictive Orders under which we are at present working —certainly not without the advice of our scientists or the members of the Committee. The hon. Member opposite from time to time has impressed upon us the fact that we ought to make our restrictions less severe rather than otherwise. I think I am not misrepresenting the Committee when I say that were our regulations entirely under their control, they would be more severe. In the face of the scientific advice and lay advice given by hon. Members opposite, I think it would be rashness on my part to suggest that it would be a relief to the country to be free from these arrangements, which to-day, as I say, are nothing like so bad as the wholesale spread of swine fever.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I remind him that the Committee of which he speaks consists largely of his Departmental officials.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Yes, they are represented on it, I quite agree, and it is very useful that they should be. The Committee are very glad to have these two representatives of the Department there, but I would like to say in connection with that. that I do not really think the present position' is satisfactory. Therefore, I hope the hon. Member will believe that I am not talking idly when I say that in the absence of Sir Stewart Stockman his colleagues are doing all they can to carry on the excellent work which has been done in the past. The next topic that arose in this discussion concerned the Tuberculosis Order. Here I get on to a subject of much more controversy. May I inform the House that up to 22nd July we were informed that the number of premises on which tuberculosis had been notified as appearing was 1,412. The number of animals suffering from tuberculosis of the udder, tuberculosis with emaciation, or giving tuberculous milk, in respect of which notice of intention to slaughter has been received, was 1,559. That is very much less than we had anticipated at one time, but I think whatever may be our views of the connection between human and bovine tuberculosis, we have all reason to be glad to find that these 1,559 animals, which were patently suffering from tuberculosis, have now been exterminated. I trust the work which has been done under the Order will not be checked, no matter what may be the opinions of the finance committee of the county or borough councils which are concerned. The financial questions raised by one hon. Member behind me, and several other hon. Members in other parts of the House, are, of course, serious to local authorities if the figures were to mount up. But up to the present they have been very small. I think that the Committee should realise that this Order was first promulgated, I think, three or four years ago, and it had to be withdrawn because the Treasury at that time would not give a penny piece towards compensation. It was only when I secured from the Treasury the promise that half the compensation would be paid from the Exchequer that I issued the Order. Half the compensation for slaughtered animals may 2313 not be a very large contribution, but it is better than nothing.
The administrative expenses, I hope, will be very largely reduced as the Order gets into full operation. We are working under the Order very largely by way of experience, and if it can be shown that any section of the Order might be improved, we shall be very glad to hear of it, for we want to take every means for getting rid of tuberculosis. If the council of the County Councils Association, or the Municipal Boroughs Association care to conic into touch with me, and to discuss their experience under the Order—for I would rather not discuss mere theories—I shall be only too delighted to go into the matter with them. I wish to say one word with regard to the recovery of our export trade, since foreign ports were opened after t he six months interval that had passed since the last outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. As promptly as possible, after we had got well clear of the outbreaks in England and Ireland, I approached all our foreign buyers, that is to say, the Governments, in which our foreign buyers lived. A great many of them were prepared to admit animals before the six months had expired. They at once took the matter into full consideration. I regret, however, to say that the most important buyer of all—I mean from the point of view of the very high prices paid for stock that enters their ports —namely, the Argentine, refused to give way on the six months' period. I pointed out to them again and again that they ran no risks, and that, as a matter of fact, we were absolutely immune from foot-and-mouth disease at the time that I communicated with them, and that their own country pratically never was; that, as a matter of fact, they would not run any risks from those class of animals which went out un England and Scotland to Buenos Ayres and other ports. However, the Argentine Government looked at affairs in their own way, and declined to give way. Already, before the six months were up, Canada, Australia, the Union of South Africa, our Continental buyers, and the United States of America were all buying our live stock.
The great rush came in June, when we beat all previous records. The highest value of stock that had ever gone out in the month of June before in head of cattle was in 1909, when £28,000 worth was shipped. In June, 1913, this year, the figure reached nearly £62,000. In sheep the highest previous figure was £3,600 in 2314 1912. This year it had reached over £16,000 for a single month. In pigs, again, all previous records were passed; and although the average value in the pigs which left this country was not above all previous records, the gross sum was better than that previously recorded. The highest actual average value of cattle going out of this country went to the Argentine, where it was no less than £117 apiece. Some of these animals—and I trust some hon. Members of this House were vendors—were priced at nearly £2,000 apiece. The export trade has very fully recovered, and I hope we shall find no interruption of it during the present or future years. I was also asked what was being done in regard to Rothamsted station. The work which has been done in sterilising soil at this station may be of the greatest value to agriculture. We quite recognise the work there, and we are making a good Grant to Rothamsted station from the Development Fund towards their experiments. We are giving them also a capital gift of £3,100 towards the erection of their new laboratory on,condition that they raise the like sum themselves. I hope they will succeed in raising the other £3,100, in order to carry on their experimental and other work. Before I go to the subject of small holdings, I wish to say one word in regard to cottages. One hon. Member opposite, I believe, resented what I said on some recent occasion. He apparently thinks that when I said that a £150 cottage could be let for 3s., that I was talking, as the Americans say, "Through my hat." I can assure the hon. Member that I was doing nothing of the kind. I would point out the question is whether or not the State undertakes the building of the cottages and the conditions. The 3s. per week would provide for the interest that the State would have to pay for the loan, for a sinking fund over a period of sixty-eight and a half years, and for 1 per cent. to accumulate for repairs, etc.—probably caused by bad tenants. It would also probably provide for small odds and ends, which would make it another quarter per cent. If the hon. Member has followed my arithmetic very rapidly, he will at once see that £150 works out on this basis at exactly 3s. per week.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
The Departmental Committee's Report, upon which the right hon. Gentleman has founded his observations, is not exactly in that sense. What 2315 he stated was that a cottage could be built under general conditions, and in different parts of the country, for £150. That, I think, is not correct. Therefore, his estimate is wrong.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
; No, that is not so. What I said was that the matter could be undertaken by the State and under the conditions I have stated; administration by the State and the building of large quantities, which would give this reduction. There are instances given in the Report of four-roomed cottages being put up in pairs, and these cost no more than £300, which divided by two, gives £150 each. The instances given in the Report bear out the figures I have given. May I put another case. Reference has been made to the buildings put up on small holdings, and what I have said about buildings provided for small holdings. County schemes and others have buildings put. up which are far too expensive. I cannot see any advantage in giving small holders houses which are in excess of their real requirements, and which inevitably mean that they have to bear a greater annual loan to pay for interest and so on than the conditions of their industry will allow. Our work in connection with small holdings and in other directions, has been hampered everywhere by lack of cottage accommodation. Everybody is conscious of it—farmers, administrators, landlords— and whether the matter is looked at locally or centrally, it is a great economic loss as well as a great social loss, but I am not prepared to say that we ought to abandon all hope of solving this question merely because you have to consider theoretical objections to the State undertaking this great work. That is all I have to say on the subject. I cannot discuss it further, or I should be out of order by trenching upon a subject which comes under the head of new legislation. I must say that in my defence against the charge the hon. Member has made. I was not talking lightly, and I was not. endeavouring to make a party advantage, of which I was totally unconscious, when I spoke of the question of small holdings. I think I ought to remind the Committee of the enormous increase in small holdings within the last two or three years. The number of small holdings has gone on satisfactorily, and I am glad to find that at the present moment—these are the latest figures to be found in the volumes 2316 from which hon. Members quoted—at the present moment the land already secured or agreed to be acquired voluntarily and in addition to the areas that. are to be compulsorily acquired amounts to 179,000 acres under the Small Holdings Act. Some 37,000 acres that have been held by private owners have been stimulated by the work of the county council, and that brings the amount of land available for small holdings in the last two years up to well over 200,000, and probably nearer 250,000 acres of land. That is satisfactory so far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. There are still some 8,000 applicants for land, and they require 150,000 acres to satisfy the demand, and I believe if that land was forthcoming we could have them all at work, but as the Committee knows, the difficulty in obtaining land is very great. The land suitable for the prospective small holder is sometimes removed from the district in which he resides, and I do not think we can altogether throw the blame upon the county council or the central authority if a man refuses land available at a distance rather than leave the neighbourhood in which he lives. The only way to get over that difficulty is, I believe, more and more to induce the small holders to work on the colony system. That has been tried, and derelict estates have been purchased, as in the case of Winterbourne Zelstone, but that is a bad example, and does not give the colony system a fair chance. I could give another case in the North Country where we purchased land 630 feet above sea level. That does not give the colony system a chance. If we could teach the small holders to go towards the land rather than expecting the land to come to them we would make much more rapid progress. The difficulty has been mentioned in connexion with the cost of raising loans, but it is not so great as suggested; it is. infinitesimal. I do not know whether the hon. Member opposite would wish me to go into a long technical disquisition. but if he puts down an unstarred question I will circulate a statement upon the subject.
There is one side of the small holdings question which is constantly giving us trouble, and that is the enormous assessment which the small holders have to bear. We realise that we cannot alter the rating law without legislation, and I am not going to make any suggestions about new legislation; but I think it right to describe the difficulty under which small holdings 2317 are administered, and that we should make it clear that the rating system is one of the greatest obstacles. I will give a case of one large estate at Skidby, in Yorkshire. It is an estate of 607 acres purchased for £80,100. The council spent £5,350 in the alteration of the buildings and the putting up of new cottages, and this raised the assessment greatly. Now mark what was the change in the rating burden. The rating value of the previous tenants was £583, but when the change was made and it was split up into small holdings and rendered more valuable, the rating burden that had to be paid by the small holders was not £583, but £1,012, nearly double the old rating burden. I know another case in Hessle, in which the same thing occurred. Under our rating system at the present time we really penalise those who wish to make the most of the land. Under the existing law we are placing a great obstacle in the way of the splitting up of the land so that it may be capable of accommodating a larger number of holders in the future. There are one or two cases where the assessments have been changed. A prominent agriculturist was good enough to represent the Small Holdings Committee in a county not far from London, and he represented to the Assessments Committee that far too great a burden was thrown upon the small holders, merely because they were a group of small holders instead of one large farmer. The Assessment Committee did not see eye to eye with him, but being a man of enterprise he told them that if the assessment was not cut down he would challenge the assessment in every large farm. I would sooner see the administration of small holdings under a system which does far more justice to small farmers and small holders. The work of the small holders cannot be successful unless there is combined management of the land and better arrangements for cottages. No one realises that more than I do. There are some hon. Gentlemen who are glad to point out that any suggestions I may make are fundamentally wrong. I am content to hear them suggest something better. The real difficulty of any credit system is to get the individual farmers to combine into a credit society. There is no use arranging for central finance if you do not get the farmers to combine under a system of agricultural banks or the Raffeisen scheme; then there will be no trouble upon the point of central finance. The real 2318 difficulty is to persuade the individual farmer to disclose the state of his securities, for each to show what his individual wants are, and to be able to say to his neighbours he stands in need of £30 or £40, and that he can offer his character and everything on his farm as security. They are reluctant to do that, and that is one of the difficulties that the Agricultural Organisation Society has to face in persuading the farmers to combine. They are more shy of combining for credit purposes than for any other. I could give two or three examples of the way in which progress is made bit by bit. I take the case of the Whisconsett Small Holders' Society. They did not want a large sum; the sum was pathetically small; they wanted £50. They could not find it amongst them individually, but they got it out of a Joint Stock Bank, paying 4 per cent. interest on the money. The Joint Stock Bank works under the arrangement I made, and the society got their £50. I take another society—the West Row Society. They wanted £100; they combined together; they got their £100 at 4 per cent., which, at the present price of money, is uncommonly cheap. The local manager of the bank is acting as auditor for the society; he is giving them guidance in keeping accounts, and he does not think of exploiting them. It is cheap money, and they are working it very well. The Coggeshall Society and the Pinvin Society have done likewise. I suggest to hon. Members that they must realise that the most important work to be done amongst the farmers is to persuade them to combine together, and then they will be far stronger financially than by standing alone.
An hon. Member opposite wanted to know what are our relations to the Agricultural Organisation Society. I am sorry to have to talk through the dinner hour, but I should like to make a full statement upon this topic, and I make no apology for making this reference. The Agricultural Organisation Society has nothing to do with the Board of Agriculture, although we are only too delighted to work with them in the most harmonious and friendly way. Last year the grant given to the Agricultural Organisation Society was the largest given to any organisation society in the United Kingdom, and that Grant will be increased this year. The Development Commission has laid down a condition that the Board of Agriculture must be consulted and that 2319 their opinion must be given on purely financial matters with a view to safeguarding the Development Commission from any unfair drain. The Development Commissioners are anxious there should be no new commitments thrown upon them from societies Which would lead to a more heavy expenditure than is now contemplated. I think it was only fair for the Development Commissioners to put in that proviso, but I can assure the society that we are not going to use our powers harshly or to restrict their work by any powers given by the Treasury. I am only too anxious to see the society work in its own way. Anyone who will bring grist to the cooperative societies will be helped by us, but we are anxious that they should do practical work. I was looking through the work of the societies for last year. They made some progress, but not rapid progress. I have examined the way they develop the trade side of their movement. Let it be understood co-operation is more than a principle. It is a principle applied to commercial life, and unless the application of this principle to agriculture is going to lead to the commercial advantage of the co-operators it is going to be thrown away, and I am, therefore, particularly anxious to know how far the Agricultural Organisation Society is endeavouring to spread the powers of cooperative societies in the trade. I have no doubt they are getting through their preliminary difficulties slowly, and where I can help them in that direction I shall be only too glad to exercise my political and personal influence. They have only just been constituted I know, and I hope they will be able to do their work effectively, but, after all, they must be able to show results, and there is no use unless we see the money expended—private as well as national moneys—in producing a large number of co-operative societies conducting their operations with success.
I now come to an entirely different set of topics—those concerned with agricultural research. I make no apology for dealing with these, because they lie at the root of the policy we are following, not only at the Board of Agriculture, but in every agricultural centre in the United Kingdom. The Development Fund has provided us with funds for spending national money upon research, and research is now being conducted in all the institutions in the areas for which I am responsible on practical subjects as well as 2320 on subjects which may lead to practical results. For instance, we give £1,550 to the Imperial College under the heading of "Plant Physiology." That was very largely with the idea of getting rid of certain diseases, and if they help us in that they will be doing a national work. We give 21,470 to Cambridge, under the head of "Plant Breeding." There is no work to which national money can be devoted more useful. At Cambridge, already Professor Biffen has proved he can grow wheat in large quantities of the hardness of Canadian wheat and the fecundity of British wheat, and that cannot but be of great monetary advantage to the farmers of this country. If we turn to another subject, like that of fruit growing, we are conducting inquiries under the advise and guidance of scientists at Bristol; we hope for the elimination of wart disease, and we have given advice to farmers in regard to potato growing which has enabled them to grow potatoes immune from wart disease, and there has been a larger growth than ever before was the case. We have proved by actual experiments again and again at Cambridge that some foodstuffs have been too much neglected in the past. Linseed, for instance, which does not show a very large return to the chemist, has been proved by actual experiment to be a very valuable feeding stuff. At Reading, we have given £2,000 in connection with dairying problems, and any improvements which may be effected in dairying in this country will return the £2,000 a hundredfold in the course of a single year. Cheese makers at Reading have got rid of a disease which shows in Stilton cheese in no other way than yellow blotches, which reduces the market value of the cheese. Manchester, Birmingham, Oxford, the Royal Veterinary College, Leeds, Wye, Bristol, Kew, and the Sir John Innes' Institution have all been mobilised with the object of effecting some solution of the great scientific problems which really lie at the root of agricultural and horticultural work in this country. We do not intend that these results shall lie dormant in the institutions. In our organisation we have provided that at every one of the great colleges, which are agricultural centres, that there shall be in future three advisers, two of them on various subjects relating to crops, and the third one concerned with the livestock problem. I am sorry to say that there has been greater difficulty in obtain- 2321 ing men altogether suitable for live-stock work than for crops, but in the case of every one of these institutions advisers will be provided entirely out of our Grants. Their sole object is to transmit to the farmers or organisers in the country the result of research work, and to advise farmers in regard to problems which are far too difficult. of solution locally. There are very simple problems with regard to manure, for example, which are often dropped in various parts of the country through lack of knowledge. In many instances farmers have sent a small sack of soil to an institution for analysis, asking the best way in which to treat the soil. Already many farmers have taken advantage of the facilities afforded. In some places they have been slower than in others, but they are waking up to the advantages open to them, and there is considerable and renewed interest in scientific forms of agriculture.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
Can the right hon. Gentleman say how much money will be spent on scientific research?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I cannot give the total sum without notice. We have already distributed for research pure and simple, under various headings, the sum of £20,000: £9,000 a year towards the salaries of the advisers, paid entirely out of national funds; and £3,900 for special investigation. These sums are beyond the ordinary amounts which appear on the Votes that have been parsed. They are not very large in bulk, but they cover a large number of subjects, and I hope they will be extended. May I give two instances of the kind of problem that has already been met with under our organisation? A farmer found that his soil was impoverished from some cause which he did not understand, and he got into communication with the organiser in the county. The organiser referred the matter to the adviser, who in a short time pointed out what was the cause of the impoverishment. The cause was that there was too little lime, and so the soil had become impoverished, limeing having been discontinued far too long. In another instance the roots of crops were attacked by pests. The farmer was unable to ascertain what was wrong, and he consulted the organiser, who suspected that the cause was eel-worm. He consulted the ordinary adviser at the college, as being more learned than himself in these matters, and was immediately confirmed; but then it 2322 was found that eel-worm was not primarily responsible, and the question is now being studied in greater detail. I hope before many weeks have passed the adviser will have told the organiser, and the organiser will have told the farmer, what was the primary cause. [An HON. MEMBER: "What will happen to the crops meanwhile?"] The hon. Member asks what will happen to the crops meanwhile. May I point out that it is not a question of what harm may be done this year, but it is a question of enabling the farmer in future years to more than recoup himself for the sixpence spent on the parcels post in sending a bag of soil, and afterwards having an afternoon's discussion with the organiser. The difficulty under which we labour is that the number of advisers is not enough for the work to be done and the Development Commissioners have sanctioned 'during the last two or three years—it was before I came to the Board—national scholarships in all these various subjects. Graduates are found capable of doing the work thoroughly and well, and they may devote their lives afterwards to many of these agricultural problems. Thirty-six scholarships were awarded up to July of this year, and four minor scholarships; and the annual scholarship will enable young graduates to go on with their scientific work. Thirty-six are receiving £150 a year for three years; the minor scholarships are for one year only. Two ladies have been selected for research work in dairying. All these topics lead one on to the subject of education. But for the transmission of this information to the younger generation, I think we might despair of much progress being made. Farm institutes have been set up in some parts of the country, and I hope they will be set up in every part before long, to be the disseminators of much of this knowledge. Those institutions will be able to disseminate throughout their areas, amongst young men, as well as the older men, the knowledge acquired at the colleges or on experimental farms, and on ordinary practical farms, where farmers are now beginning to consent to experiments being made on commercial lines.
Farm institutes have been established in Hampshire and Cheshire to replace old schools not quite efficient, and for Cumberland and Westmoreland, the farm school at Newton Rigg is being largely extended In, Cornwall, the Truro Technical Schools have led to a practical development there; Hereford and Salop are just 2323 waiting for a suitable site; Warwick has already selected a farm, and is now awaiting a sum from the Development Comsioners towards capital for purchasing a farm. The Monmouthshire farm school has at, last made an attempt to revise its trust deed of local funds there, and they hope shortly to open one of the best college institutions in the United Kingdom. In many parts of the country they are proceeding with work which is closely allied to farm institute work, and already the distribution of Grants is proceeding for preliminary peripatetic lectureships for farmers' sons, which we hope may reach the farm labourers of the younger generation who can only go to lectures in their own villages and market towns. We hope to provide for three great classes: Colleges for land owners or land agents; farm institutes for farmers' sons and others who may desire to go in for farming; and peripatetic lectureships in the towns and villages for those who are able to get away for six weeks in the year. With regard to these new developments, I hope hon. Members will not be impatient in pressing for particulars as to the development, of these schemes within the next few months, but we have done all we can to press them forward. Advisory councils have been set. up under my advice throughout England and Wales. The live stock representatives have been nominated by the Board, and the whole of this work has been done in a very short space of time. When it is suggested to me that the farming community moves ahead very slowly, and that those connected with agriculture are intensely conservative in their methods, I say that is not my experience, for I have never come across any class more ready to adopt new methods and new organisations, irrespective of party, than those I have come into contact with.
§ Captain WEIGALL
How are these schemes to be financed if no more money is to be looked for from the Development Commissioners?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I know there is not enough money set apart under the Grant given by the Development Commissioners for this work, but at any rate it will carry us on for a number of years. Nearly £400,000 is available, and the hon. and gallant Member will see that that will be enough to carry us on for some years. When that money comes to an end, what ever Government is in power, will be 2324 bound to carry on this work. I cannot believe that any Government, when that Grant comes to an end, would refuse either to revive the financial solvency of the Development Fund if it be exhausted, or in the alternative put those Grants on the regular Estimates year by year, and I am inclined to think that the latter course would be the best. I am quite sure that no Government would think of repudiating these farm institutes. I have been anxious to link up some of the most practical sides of farming, and I asked the Advisory Councils to undertake the administration of the live stock Grants as well as the educational Grants. Some of these Grants have already been made. There was the Grant for heavy horse societies of £8,800, and that of £5,000 for milk recording has also been announced. There was a Grant to societies for the provision of boars amounting to £1,000, and Grants have been made for the salaries of live stock officers. All these Grants have been made some time ago.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
We have made known our views as to the organisation of live stock improvement societies so far as bulls are concerned, and discussions have gone on now for well over twelve months. The hon. Member for Shropshire was quite mistaken in proposing that Scotland was ahead of us in this matter. If hon. Members will refer to the Report of the Board of Agriculture for Scotland on page 56 and page 29 they will see that it is made perfectly clear that, the bulls and stallions which they have been able to provide were merely those provided under the administration of the Congested Districts Board, and their operations were restricted to the the congested districts. The Scottish Board has been trying to persuade the Development Commissioners to accept our scheme. On this matter we have arrived at a compromise, and only within the last few days we have received Treasury sanction for the allocation of £13,800 a year in Grants to societies or individuals for the provision of bulls. The House will be interested to know how this will be worked. First of all, the Grants in aid of the provision of bulls will be made preferably to societies. This is a view which the Development Commissioners strongly adhered to, and they are prepared to give to a society £3 per bull more. They will 2325 give to an individual who allows a bull to be used for the use of his neighbours in districts where it is not found possible to form a society a Grant of£12;per annum.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I do not think the Commissioners have made it clear whether they mean new societies or whether they mean to utilise the old societies. My interpretation is that any society which exists for breeding purposes on a co-operative basis will be sufficient, that is to say, when they do not work for profit.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
It would have to be a local society where the services of the bull would be used by the members of the society, and where no profit was drawn for distribution among the members. That would be a society which would receive the requisite assistance. I think it would be better if I published the full regulations under which the Development Commissioners have recommended the Grant and the Treasury have sanctioned it, and the House would then be able to see exactly how the distribution of the Grants would be made. I think we are scarcely in order in discussing this question on this Vote, because there is no money down for it, and in order to start the work we shall have to take a Supplementary Estimate. On that Estimate a discussion could take place, but I will undertake that the conditions laid down by the Treasury shall be circulated.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Scotland is receiving this money on exactly the same conditions as those which apply to England. As an illustration as to how our live stock scheme will work I will take the four northern counties, centred in the Armstrong College. Our scheme will provide, if the bulls were worked purely on a society basis, for forty-nine societies being set up. If the scheme was worked with two-thirds for societies and one-third for individuals, it would provide thirty-three clubs and twenty-one individuals in that area. I do not flatter myself that these developments are going to make a great change immediately. They will, how 2326 ever, make a gradual change, and I think they will lead to the farmers in many parts of the country devoting more attention to the raising of well-bred animals. I cannot promise that the whole country will be covered with first-class bulls, because there are not enough to go round, but there are a large number of second-class bulls, many of which go to, Ireland, and we will try and keep them. in England in the future. There are large numbers of excellent second-class bulls which now go to the butcher very early in life, and they,might be allowed to live a little longer and perform a great service to the farming community. I hope these proposals will lead to a more extensive preservation of bull calves, and I believe in anticipation of our scheme, farmers in Cumberland arc already preserving them in a greater degree. At all events, we must do what we can to see that the requisite number of better-bred bulls are scattered throughout the country. The Advisory Councils will have the advantage of practical committees. They will have practical men to give advice to them, to control matters, to scrutinise them, and to see that there is no faking. They will also have under their control the formation of milk-recording societies and the distribution of milk-recording Grants. The whole of that work will be done in the localities with as little central control as possible. I am anxious that the localities should realise their responsibilities. The real practical experience of farmers and land agents has been offered freely for this work, although many of them will not obtain any benefit, and it will be taken full advantage of by the poorer classes of the community as well as by those who are regarded as better off.
The last topic I shall mention is that of the milk-recording societies. One hon. Gentleman opposite suggested that we were making a rather stingy Grant towards these societies. In Scotland, where milk recording has been carried on in Ayrshire and other counties, the Ayrshire Herd Society have done the whole of their work without any Grant whatever, and they have realised what our farmers have not yet taken in, that the value which comes from milk recording is so great that it is worth the whole expense, even if it is borne by the farmers themselves. I trust that the Grants we are giving, £50 for the societies, will be enough to set them afloat. The Grant will go on for a 2327 sufficient length of time to give them a fair chance. It will also lead to the society's tester being under the scrutiny.of the Live-stock Committee of each centre. Every effort will be made to have honesty and efficiency combined in the work of these societies, and I venture to prophesy that those of us who are here ten years' hence will be told in this House that one of the best day's work ever done with the money of this Development Fund was when we started milk recording societies. Combined with our live stock scheme, it ought to raise the whole standard of our cattle throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. I would like to thank agriculturists everywhere who have given me assistance during the last twelve months. I said before that I believed they were thoroughly awake, and that. impression has been emphasised by the fact that the distribution of literature and leaflets from our Department is on the increase. Leaflets are sent out on all sorts of technical subjects, some of them very simple, and some of them more abstruse—we have received assistance from outside in their compilation—and they touch something like 273 different topics. I would add, for the benefit of my hon. Friend from Wales, that twenty-five of them have been translated into Welsh and circulated in Welsh for the use of farmers who are unable to read English. No one can persuade me that the farming community has not awakened or reawakened when I know that these leaflets are in demand in every part of the country. The farmer, when he sends a postcard, an unstamped postcard, asking for leaflets, gets what he wants by return of post. We do not distribute them wholesale. They are not thrown about like political leaflets. Leaflets are sent to those who ask for them on subjects on which they have made inquiries, and, such is the desire for knowledge, that no less than 1,250,000 were asked for last year.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
The right hon. Gentleman has not told us what is to be the future of tie Rural. Educational Conference?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I hope to reconstitute that very soon and to have the benefit of its work. I would like to say, in conclusion, that this desire for knowledge can only be met by men of all parties combining, not only in our ordinary work here in the House of Commons, but through our local authorities and the various societies 2328 which are deeply interested in agriculture, to see to it that our educational institutions and all our machinery are given their fullest chance of success. I am convinced that if we all combine with that object we shall see the land producing more, and more,men living on the land.
§ Mr. CATOR
I desire to refer to the question of small holdings, in relation to losses under any scheme. Under the Act of 1907, Section 5, Sub-Section (4) it was provided:—If it appears to the Board that the carrying out of a scheme under this Act has resulted or is likely to result in a loss, the Board may, with the consent of the Treasury, pay or undertake to pay out of the Small Holdings Account the whole or any part of that loss.I have before me the Debate of 12th August, 1907, when I recollect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer directed the First Commissioner of Works, who was in charge of the Bill, to state that the Treasury would issue a minute, which would bear out the meaning of this particular Clause. In course of time that minute appeared, and it was stated that the Treasury would be willing to bear a portion of the loss, but Section 2, paragraph 7, made it a condition that the county would have to prove that there was a deficiency on the small holdings undertaking of the county council as a whole, and that there was insufficient money to pay the loss which had been incurred. That, I consider, is going back on the intention of the Act of 1907. When the County Councils Association applied last March to the Board of Agriculture, the Board replied that they could only sanction any help being given should there be a loss under that scheme of small holdings, if Section 7 of the Treasury minute was complied with. The President of the Board of Agriculture has himself described the great keenness which is displayed all over the country for small holdings, and, in order to meet this demand, great pressure is put on the small holdings committees of the county council. They are constantly being urged to take up land for small holdings. They have been very successful on the whole, and in the county which I have the honour to represent there are for its size more small holdings than in any other county in England. There are in Huntingdon something like 3,499 acres devoted to small holdings, 288 tenants who= 2329 are farming on land purchased by the county, and 35 tenants who are living on land leased by the county. There are 23 separate schemes under land purchase, and eight separate schemes under land leased. There is undoubtedly an increasing demand for small holdings and the county council are in a very difficult position. They have, very often, to take up land which they themselves feel is not altogether suitable for the purpose. The people who sit upon the small holdings committees of the county councils are men who, it will be generally admitted, are thoroughly conversant with their subject. They are put on these sub-committees because they have a special knowledge of dealing with land, and it is obvious they must have proved that they have used every discretion in trying to acquire the best land possible.
If I may, I will illustrate my point. The county is a chess-board and the various schemes brought forward represent the various squares on that chess-board. There is, of course, in every county good land and bad land, and with regard to the Fen country, where so much land has been taken by the Fen farmers, it is very good land; they pay an extra high rent. Those who farm the clay lands may be described as the poor relations of the Fen men, and it is obviously unfair, first, to the county, which has been obliged to advance very large sums for the acquisition of the land, and, secondly, to the tenants who have to pay these high rents, which they have only been persuaded to pay on the understanding that, after the various charges necessary for the adaptation of land have been met, any money which may be left over will either be spent on each unit of the scheme or else there will be some reduction made in the very high rent now being charged. I say it is unfair that losses under the scheme should be dealt with as they are. Under the Act of 1897, and under the Treasury Minute of December, 1910, the schemes are described as separate units, whereas the Board of Agriculture, on the other hand, when applied to for help to defray the loss which must inevitably be incurred from time to time on small holdings, reply that they can only give assistance if the county are able to prove that they have suffered loss when treating their schemes as a whole. My object in raising this point is to try and get the Government to take the very reasonable view of treating each scheme as it was intended to be treated under the Act of 1907, as a 2330 scheme, and not, because they give help in defraying the losses which the county council may have unavoidably incurred, insist on pooling all the-schemes and making the county show it has a deficiency on the whole before it is willing to devote any money towards meeting the loss which the county may have suggested. This point is very strongly felt by the various small holdings committees of county councils, and I trust that some alleviation may be forthcoming of this great hardship.
Mr. MONTAGUE BARLOW
Before I say one or two words on the Tuberculosis Order, which has been referred to at considerable length this afternoon, I wish to observe that, while I do not intend to join in the chorus of congratulation to the Board—merely because I do not think it necessary to add any further words in that respect—I should like to congratulate the British farmer on the line he is taking with regard to modern developments of agriculture. I am glad to see that the English farmer is adopting his mind to modern scientific methods with extremely satisfactory results. Anyone interested in the future of industry or of agriculture in. this country cannot but be moved by the policy of co-operation. The right hon. Gentleman says that co-operation has to justify itself. There is one branch of co-operation connected with agriculture of which I have had considerable means of informing myself, and that is co-operative insurance. With one or two of my friends, I have interested myself in it in connection with a branch of the Agricultural Organisation Society in developing this idea of the insurance of farmers on co-operative lines, and I find that our efforts have been justified by the results. I wish that counties in the South would take it up as much as counties in the North have done. Co-operation is, to a certain extent, a Lancashire product, and Lancashire men thoroughly understand it as applied to industry and other matters But the idea is spreading more in the South, and I am quite certain, if it continues to do so, the farmers who take up co-operative insurance will soon realise the benefit to be derived from so doing.
I want to say a few words about the Prevention of Tuberculosis Order. I do not think that anyone can peruse that Order without being satisfied that the object it has in view is a good object, namely, the suppression of this very dan- 2331 gerous and detrimental disease of tuberculosis. At the same time, it has to be borne in mind that the Order does not deal with all forms of tuberculosis, and when we are told that it is intended to suppress tuberculosis altogether, and when, also, we are asked to make great sacrifices, I think we are bound to remember that, although it is said the object is the complete suppression of tuberculosis, the Order does not profess to deal with all forms of it. I do not think that the methods adopted in the Order are satisfactory, although the objects are good. It must be borne in mind that the Order itself was framed under the Act of 1894, and there was no means of bringing it to the notice of Parliament before it became operative. It is trite that the Board of Agriculture did bring the Order to the notice of certain industries and bodies interested in the matter, but. I think it would have been better if it could- have been brought to the notice of this House, and if there could have been discussion upon it before it was enforced.
I have to refer to the question of compensation. After all, the main difficulties arise in connection with the provision of money. This proposed Order is undoubtedly an improvement on the Order of three or four years ago—the Order which had to be withdrawn—the Order which proposed to cast the whole burden on the local authorities. The principle which has been accepted now is this: that where an animal is slaughtered, having been found to be either wholly or partially tuberculous, compensation is paid, and it is paid in proportion as the animal is tuberculous. The compensation is paid under the proposed arrangement, half by the local authority and half by the Treasury, while the local authority pays all the expenses of administration in carrying the matter out. I notice that his arrangement is only fixed for a period of five years. I do no know what is the underlying reason for that, whether it is thought that by that time tuberculosis will have been stamped out, or whether it is intended at the end of the five years that some more generous arrangement shall be made, but that, at any rate, is the proposal. From the point of view of the local authorities that rather savours of the old policy of the State being charitable at the expense of the ratepayers. I should have thought that the proper thing to do was that the authority at the place from which 2332 the animal comes should be the first authority to be made responsible, or, if that cannot be done, and I quite understand there are difficulties in doing it, that the proper thing is for the State to bear the whole of the burden. We are told that those local authorities who have markets are deriving profits from people coming in from the outside to attend the markets. On the other hand, these authorities think that they are furnishing a privilege and advantage to those who come in from outside. You cannot take any market town by itself and say it exists for itself. If the benefits are spread beyond the area of a market town and it derives profits from those outside its own borders, the proper means of distributing the burden is that the State should shoulder it, and by those means it would be equally distributed. That was the conclusion arrived at by the Departmental Committee which sat in 1904. I do not know whether it has been quoted before in this Debate. If so, I apologise for quoting it again. I shall not read it at length. The Report said:—Your Committee have also considered the question of the fund from which the limited assistance they suggest should be drawn. It is manifestly unfair to the ratepayers of the great collecting and distributing centres that they should bear this burden"—Those words are very important—If the charge is to he made upon local funds, it would appear to be more just that it should be imposed upon the locality in which the animal contracted or developed tuberculosis. Your Committee, however, think that the difficulty of tracing each animal in respect to which a claim is made to such locality, makes the adoption of this method of distribution of the charge practically impossible.I believe there are great difficulties about that. The most important part of the Report is that in which the Committee say:—For these reasons your Committee recommend that such assistance to butchers as they suggest should be provided by the Imperial Exchequer.9.0. P.M.
Some correspondence took place between the Board of Agriculture and the Association of Municipal Corporations on the subject of this provision and the Board of Agriculture wound up by saying that they thought the locality ought to bear the half of the burden for two reasons, first of all, that the market itself was usually a means of attracting considerable trade into the district of the local authority, and, secondly, also frequently a source of, revenue to the local authority. A priori these things sound fairly satisfactory, but I would remind the Committee that there are cases where the profits derived by the market town is infinitesimal and where the revenue derived from the market 2333 shows an actual loss. I have in my hand a summary prepared by the Town Clerk of Salford, the area which I have the honour to represent in this House, with regard to some fifty or more average market towns. The Salford market has far the largest turnover. It surprised me to find that the turnover in beasts in the Salford market totals as much as 110,000 to 115,000 per annum. Last year, owing to the restrictions on importation, it dropped to 73,000. That is a far larger turnover, for instance, than Wolverhampton, which has only 29,000, or Liverpool, which has only about 50,000. Our experience in Salford, which is a very poor area, is that we made on the average a loss of £500 a year during the last three years on the market. Last year we only made a loss of £300, but the turnover was much less owing to the restrictions on importation, and the year before last there was a loss of £700. Of the localities given in this list roughly one-half made a loss on this work of providing markets for the vicinity. In these circumstances it is a little hard for the Board of Agriculture to say to us, "You must bear a half of this burden of compensation, and you are not suffering any real grievance because, by means of the market, you are enabled to make a profit." We are making a heavy loss already. We are a poor area. The rateable value is considerable, but the rents are very high. I think they are something like 7s. or 8s. in the £, if not more. That being so, then I must say that to put upon us an additional burden, and to tell us, at the same time, that we are not suffering any real hardships because we are already deriving a profit from our market is a little hard.
There are precedents of the State bearing the whole of the loss in the case of foot-and-mouth disease and the case of pleuro-pneumonia. Why that cannot be done in this case I cannot understand. The President told us that the number of beasts already slaughtered was not so large as he anticipated. That being so, I should have thought this was a case where the Government might have treated us a little more generously and borne all the loss themselves. In an area such as Salford the market is not an advantage. It occupies a large area. It is not a very pleasant thing to have in the middle of a large and closely populated area, cattle being driven to and from the market. 2334 It is not a very pleasant thing, especially in view of the results that follow from having a large number of cattle in the area. It does not add to the amenities of the place, and it adds seriously to our burdens. I do not know whether the President has still an open mind as to making more generous arrangements for us in the future. I do urge upon him that in residential areas like Salford, which are closely populated, where the rates fall with very heavy incidence upon the houses, because they come back in the form of increased rents, and where the market is an advantage to a large area but is working at a loss, he should, as a matter of grace, make some special arrangements. I ask the President whether, with all the scientific appliances and ingenuity he is now bringing to bear, which all sides of the Committee welcome, upon the problem of agriculture, he could not turn a little of that scientific ingenuity to an adjustment of the burden in a case like this? It is a hard case which does claim a little consideration, and I ask whether something cannot be done to ease the burden in this particular case?
§ Mr. SANDERSON
This has been a most interesting Debate. I do not believe the House of Commons can be seen under conditions than when it is discussing an Agricultural Vote, because it is obvious -that every hon. Member who has addressed the House has been actuated by one desire only—to promote the interests of agriculture. The President of the Board of Agriculture would in all probability be the first to recognise that. I think he is, to a very large extent, responsible for the spirit which prevails at present. I have heard it said by some people in the North of England that it would be a very good thing if we could have an agricultural party started in this country. I have always said I did not think it was necessary, because when we discuss agricultural questions in the House of Commons we do not discuss them from a party point of view. I should like those who are so anxious to see an agricultural party started to be present and see the spirit of the Debate and I think they would change their minds. The point I wish to ask about is with regard to the Pennine Range Sheep Dipping Order, which affected, and still affects, part of Cumberland and Westmoreland. There was an Order made in May, 1912, containing certain, as we considered, severe regulations in regard to the 2335 dipping of sheep at the back-end of the year, providing that they should be dipped twice within twenty-one days.
That was an Order which was objected to very strongly by the local authority. In the first place, they considered that when the sheep were dipped at that time of the year, twice within a short period, it must prejudice the health of the flocks, more especially when the ewes would be wanted for lambing in the following season. It was also felt that a much larger area had been included in the Order than was necessary, and that in consequence, a great deal of unnecessary inconvenience, loss, and hardship, were entailed on farmers and agriculturists in the district. The right hon. Gentleman gave the matter his personal attention, and an inquiry was held in September last year. The result was that these provisions were to a certain extent modified, but the modifications did not satisfy the farmers, although they accepted them with the best grace they could for the time being. I have not the slightest doubt that those provisions were made with the best intentions in the first instance. They were made on the advice, probably, of some inspector of the Board, but I am quite sure that if inquiry had been made from the people who lived in the locality in the first instance, those provisions would never have been made," because the inquiry was held after the Order had been made. It would be advisable on future occasions like this to have the inquiry before the Order is made. When the matter was brought to the right hon. Gentleman's notice by myself and others he at once gave it his personal attention, and we were able to get a certain amount of satisfaction in that respect. Now I understand that the Order has still further been modified by an Order which was made in May of this year, whereby, at all events as regards my Constituency, the area has been very much reduced, but still there is a considerable area affected. Can the right hon. Gentleman give me any information whether there is sheep scab in the district at present, because I have a very fair idea that there is practically none, if any, or whether this is looked upon as a precautionary measure, because these areas lie somewhere near other areas where sheep scab may be prevalent. I want the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether he cannot go further still and release some 2336 of these areas which are still affected by the Order, and thereby reduce the inconvenience and hardship.
The other thing I wanted to mention is this. I desire to support, as strongly as I possibly can hon. Members who have spoken about the swine fever regulations. I look at it rather from a different point of view from theirs. It has been said today that swine fever is on the increase, and that, therefore, these regulations are really no good, and are very vexatious, and might as well be done away with. I think these regulations are applied to districts where swine fever does not exist, and where it has not existed for a considerable number of years. The regulations are felt in other neighbourhoods to be vexatious and unnecessary and unreasonable, and the feeling is even greater in a place where there is no swine fever. I have had frequent complaints about it. I have had complaints made even to this extent, that if these regulations are persisted in the result will be that the farmers will give up keeping pigs, and that will be a great disadvantage, not only to the farmers, but to the country generally, because the house-keepers' bacon will be more per pound, and it is high enough even now. It will be the greatest possible misfortune to the country side if small farmers are in any way discouraged from breeding pigs, which, though not very interesting animals, are certainly useful. I recognise, in common with all other Members who have taken part in the Debate, the spirit which has been inculcated by the right hon. Gentleman. He is perfectly ready to listen to any suggestion, if it be a reasonable one, or to comply with any reasonable request, no matter from what part of the House it comes.
§ Mr. HAMERSLEY
I wish to refer very briefly to a subject on which I know we have the hearty sympathy of the President of the Board of Agriculture, namely, the question of credit banks for helping small holders and the need of missionary work. The Report says, perfectly truly, that in order to get these banks certain work has to be done. I am sure that if banks are to be provided for the agricultural community the missionary work must be of a more effective character than hitherto. I submit to the Committee that it will be necessary to have some source of money other than the joint stock banks. My reason for saying so is this: It is perfectly true that the trade banks wilt 2337 Advance sums of £5, £20, or even £100, but when that £100 has been obtained it has to be repaid within a very short period. The joint stock banks may not renew the loan, and the borrowers will not go back rejoicing. The very nature of their business precludes them from starting and carrying on small credit banks in the way we would wish them to do. Their loans must be for short periods at the current commercial rate of interest of, say, 4 per cent. on an advance of £50 or £100. As time goes on the demand will be greater, and the joint stock banks must necessarily demand and get the rate of interest they could demand from other borrowers. They have to make profits for their shareholders, and these must come out of the business done by the banks. In order to do this work satisfactorily, we must be able to place before the villagers and the community in which we wish to start credit banks a statement that they will be able to borrow money repayable over a period of time within which they can get money out of the enterprise for which the money was borrowed. If we go to them and say that they will get money from the joint stock banks repayable at certain short periods, they would not join the smaller credit banks, because they know that the periods must be short owing to the kind of business done by the joint stock banks. We have experience of these banks where they have been most successful in France and Germany. There are 17,000 of these credit banks in Germany. There is one thing which is not satisfactory, and that is the proportion of agricultural labourers to tradesmen and small commercial men in rural communities. That proportion is very small indeed, and the object of the Small Holdings Act was to enable agricultural labourers to get land rather than the butcher, baker, or publican in the villages. The operation of the Act has shown that agricultural labourers form a very small proportion as compared with others. That is a matter very much to be regretted, and it is owing to the absence of facilities for getting cheap money. The agricultural labourer has naturally less money to start him in his undertaking than the small tradesman, while in his case it is more necessary than in others that he should have these facilities. We must prove to him that the loan he gets will not be re-called until he gets the profit for which the money was borrowed. There must be over a year in many cases, perhaps over 2338 two or three years, before he can get that profit. Would a joint stock bank give him credit during that period? They will give the. money for three months, renewable for six or nine months, but that is totally inadequate for the purposes of the small holders. I would urge the Presidnet of the Board of Agriculture to reconsider his decision on the question. The Board sent Mr. Cahill to report upon the German system three months ago. The Report says:—It is of great importance that account should be taken when working capital is advanced to agriculturists of the special conditions of their industry. Money borrowed by them does not bring in a rapid return corn sown in autumn is reaped in summer, and sold perhaps some months later. Money required for the purchase of manures, seeds payment of labour, keep of horses, etc., is borrowed, the returns that it yields may not come in for quite a year. Money borrowed to purchase a calf is returned perhaps in two or three years. Also accidents of harvest, disease, fluctuation in prices, make the returns from the farming industry more uncertain in time than those in commerce; and manufacturing industry. Short credits of three mouths with renewals up to six or nine-months, which are the practice in commercial life, do not meet their requirements.We have to make it very clear to the villagers before we can get them to form co-operative schemes that the arrangements are satisfactory to them. They have not been made yet, and I would press the right hon. Gentleman to give this matter his attention. I am sure it is one which he has as much at heart as anybody. I hope he will reconsider the matter in conjunction with his advisers. There are only forty-eight of these- banks in England today. They are increasing very slowly. In Germany they increased slowly at first, butt, as I have said, there are now 17,000. Unless something can be done to supply cheap money at long terms the system will not go on, and the small holdings scheme which has been a partial success up to date will receive a very severe blow. I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman sympathises with this suggestion, and I hope it will take practical form, and that he will come to the conclusion that he will have to supply money through a central bank and not through small banks.
§ Mr. CRUMLEY
I wish to refer to the regulation now imposed with respect to the detention of cattle coming into Great Britain from Ireland. As Ireland is now free from foot-and-mouth disease, I think the time has arrived when that regulation might be altered. I think the time of detention should be reduced from ten hours to perhaps half the time. I wish also to refer to what has been done with respect to diseases among cattle, sheep, 2339 and pigs. They go direct to the market for which they are intended, and thence to the slaughter-house; they never come on the public highway, and they can bring no distemper with them nor gather it on the way. They are placed in wagons till they get to the market, and those wagons are disinfected, and the market pens are disinfected every day. There are other questions which affect traders in regard to this matter. When the disease broke out twelve months ago, it dislocated all the railway rates from Ireland to Great Britain. The through rates were discontinued by the railway companies, and, except for one company, have never been restored, and the result is that there has been an increase of 40 per cent. in the rates. The traders may have suffered more or less from this great increase, but ultimately it was the Irish farmer who suffered. The trader could not work for nothing. He had to look elsewhere to make good the loss incurred by the increased rates, and though the matter might come more properly before the Board of Trade than before the right hon Gentleman, the right hon. Gentleman is aware of the facts that I state, and has himself taken an active part in trying to compel the railway companies to enter again into the arrangements for through booking. All is well known, the railway companies of England and the steamboat companies coming to Great Britain have to a great extent killed the Irish trade. Animals are killed in South America, which perhaps have been wandering through the country for eight or ten years, and when they are turned into frozen meat they are carried for about £1 a ton to this country, while Irish meat, Irish bacon, or Irish butter, or any other produce of the kind leaving Ireland, even for Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds, costs £3 10s. a ton for carriage.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I cannot see how the question of the rates for carriage of these animals comes within the cognisance of the Board of Agriculture. The matter is' one which would be more properly raised on the Board of Trade.
§ Mr. CRUMLEY
I am sorry for straying from the subject before the Committee. I appeal again to the right hon. Gentleman to give the question of detention his serious consideration. I think that he should have no hesitation in urging the Government to pay even three-fourths of the loss sustained by those who purchase 2340 cattle which, when slaughtered, are con- fiscated by the local authorities and destroyed. Coming to the subject of swine fever, I may say that it is almost a thing of the past in Ireland. The number of cases is very small, yet so great are the restrictions placed upon the export from Ireland to Great Britain of store pigs that there is a detention of twenty-eight days at the port of debarkation before the animals can be moved to the place of the man who may purchase them. I think that the time has arrived when the right hon. Gentleman might cut down the period of detention by at least twenty days. Another disease amongst swine in Ireland is what is called erysipelas, though I never heard it mentioned by any veterinary surgeon. It is a fatal disease, but I do not think that it is a contagious disease that would be reported. With regard to swine fever, I may mention that the pig is a very delicate animal, and that this disease arises from many causes. It may arise from overheating, or from a cold.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Perhaps the hon. Member will come to the restrictions on this side of the channel.
§ Mr. CRUMLEY
Yes, it is the restrictions on this side of the channel to which I wish to refer. There is a period of twenty-eight days' detention at the port of debarkation. The result is that a very large trade which was carried on has been killed, and the housekeeper in England to-day is paying Is. and 1s. 1d. and 1s. 2d a pound for Irish bacon, whereas before these restrictions were imposed upon the export of swine from Ireland to England, the cost was only about 8d. a pound. The housewives in England should be considered as well as the farmer in Ireland. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to take all these things into consideration, and I hope that he will do so, and reduce the period of detention by at least one-half.
§ Mr. RICHARD LAMBERT
I desire to add my voice to those of hon. Members who have congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the manner in which the Board of Agriculture is being conducted. The only point to which I desire to call attention concerns the inspection of animals suspected of disease. I do not 2341 desire to say one word against the inspectors appointed by the Board. I believe them to be admirable men, who conduct their business in an admirable way. The only grievance that I have is that there are not enough of them. It so happens that sometimes an animal may die in suspicious circumstances, and the inspector appointed by the Board may not be, and often is not able to, come at short notice to inspect it, and the carcase has to be kept unburied, sometimes for two days, and sometimes even longer, and in the hot summer one can readily understand that that is a state of things not to be desired. I have received on three separate occasions complaints from constituents of mine at Wootton Bassett, Chisledon, and other places as to the impossibility of getting the inspector to come and inspect the carcase at quick notice, so that the carcase can be disposed of before putrefaction sets in. I do not, of course, desire in the least that those restrictions against disease should be lessened; but what I would suggest is this: that it might be possible, where the inspector appointed by the Board is unable to be got at at short notice, that it might be possible for the police to send for the veterinary inspector appointed by the county for each police division, and that he should be in a position to give a certificate, so that the carcase might be got rid of. It does seem to me to be an absurd thing, and a very great hardship on farmers that they should have to keep those carcases sometimes for such a length of time as two or three days. In my constituency, the principal town is Swindon, and I think I am right, and, in fact, I know, that there is not in Swindon a single inspector appointed by the Board. We have two or three veterinary inspectors, who are appointed by the county, and who are duly qualified. Surely, there can be no increased risk if those men are allowed in a case of emergency, to give a certificate, so that the carcase may be disposed of in as quick a time as possible. I desire to bring this question to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, and I have no doubt that he will give it his full consideration.
§ Mr. BIGLAND
I listened with some amusement to the speech of the hon. Member on this side with regard to the price of Irish bacon. I think he was misinformed on the subject. It was not the fact that Irish pigs were not allowed to come across from Ireland that caused the 2342 rise in price, but there was a universal world rise in price of bacon, not due simply to the restriction, of the Board of Agriculture with regard to Ireland. I was also greatly interested in the speech delivered at the opening of this Debate by the hon. Member for Wilton (Mr. C. Bathurst). He appealed to the President to see that in our international, not agreements, because we have no agreements, but in our international understanding with regard to foot-and-mouth disease that he should use his influence with foreign Governments to endeavour to so arrange that the six months' embargo now placed by all foreign Governments, or most of them, against Great Britain, when once foot-and-mouth disease has been declared, should be reduced; that is to say, that the six months was too long a period after the country had been declared free from disease to wait before our prize cattle could be exported again to those markets. He suggested another matter which appealed to me, and that was that Great Britain should be divided into three zones, Scotland, the Northern and Midland Counties of England, and the Southern Counties, so that if foot-and-mouth disease broke out say in Derbyshire, that there should be no embargo placed on cattle exported from Scotland. That seemed a reasonable proposition. In the speech of the President of the Board, he said that there was one country in the world which was our greatest customer for our pedigree stock, and that was the Argentine Republic. May I appeal to him that with regard to all these matters he will extend to them the same courtesies which he asks them to extend to us. He said that he appealed to them over and over again with the statement that there was now no risk. May I put it to him, provided there is a province in the Argentine Republic, which is declared free of foot-and-mouth disease, will he extend that same international courtesy, which the Member for Wilton asked that he should see was extended to us, and will he issue an Order in Council that cattle shipped from that district, shall be allowed to come in free.
We have had so much said during the last twelve months with regard to foot-and-mouth disease from Ireland, but I would like to take the question of Ireland and the experience which we have learned from what happened there as to the argument which their President of the Board of Agriculture may use with regard to, shall I 2343 say, the commitment of his own mind, to the policy which I believe he would like to approve of. When foot-and-mouth disease broke out in Ireland, the Members for Ireland appealed to the President of the Board of Agriculture that the foreign animals' wharves at Birkenhead, and at Deptford, and at Glasgow might be open to receive cattle from those parts of Ireland fifteen miles from every farm where foot-and-mouth disease was declared. I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman to-day as to whether the number of fat cattle landed at Birkenhead from Ireland between the 8th July and the 5th October, 1912, as I believe those were about the dates when foot-and-mouth disease was declared prevalent in Ireland. During that period of thirteen weeks we had 50,739 fat cattle slaughtered in Birkenhead, being an average of 3,800 per week. During the whole of that time the arrangements at Birkenhead Wharf were so perfect that there was no fear in the minds of Members of Parliament representing Irish breeders of stock that they would communicate foot-and-mouth disease to any of the herds in England, because the orders were that the beasts were to be slaughtered at the foreign animals' wharf. They were not to cross the road, but were to go straight from the ship to the abattoir, there to be killed. The argument of that is this—that the British Government were not afraid, although cattle came from Ireland within fifteen miles of an infected farm, provided they were slaughtered at the abattoir at Birkenhead, and there was no fear in the minds of the Government that they would spread the disease in any herds in the United Kingdom, and there was no fear on the part of my hon. Friend representing the agricultural interests of England. They never protested against those 50,000 live stock from areas within fifteen miles of farms where foot-and-mouth disease had been found.
Therefore, my argument to the President of the Board is that from to-day forward he has no ground on which to refuse to issue an Order in Council that fat cattle may be imported from the Argentine Republic from any portion of that Republic where there has been a declaration by the Government that foot-and-mouth disease does not exist. I would put it to him in this way: Everybody knows that in issuing such an Order in Council he could demand his own conditions, because I am 2344 speaking with some authority when I say that the Government of the Argentine Republic are now prepared to accept conditions from him as to the conditions under which he will write this Order in Council removing the embargo. The conditions he may make as drastic as he pleases. He may go so far as to say that he will appoint British inspectors in the Argentine Republic to examine the cattle and to place them in a yard where quarantine of fourteen or twenty days can be observed, where his own inspectors can see the cattle, where the charge can be put against the shipowner, where he and his Department will be at no expense whatever; I believe that whatever restrictions or conditions he imposes as to the importation of cattle to this country the Argentine Government will carry them out. The hon. Member for the Wilton Division stated that it is now proved that this disease must show itself in a period of ten days. The voyage from the Argentine to Birkenhead is on the average about twenty-eight days. Therefore, provided we had fourteen days quarantine in sheds in ports in the Argentine, that the right hon. Gentleman's own inspectors watched these beasts, and we had twenty-eight days quarantine on the steamer, is there any possibility of the spreading of the disease in this country? I say that that argument can never be used again after the experience we have had during the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Ireland. Therefore I can only put it to the right hon. Gentleman that when he refuses to make this Order in Council, he has some other motive.
I can quite understand that on the part of the Irish representatives, and of some other Members, there is a very strong motive, namely, that the importation of this live fat cattle from the Argentine might reduce the value of their live stock. An hon. Member speaking just now showed a certain amount of ignorance of what happens in South America. Representatives from Ireland may argue that the whole of the value of their live stock might be reduced by the removal of this embargo. That is, I submit, a matter for argument. But it is surely not a matter for prohibition. The right bon. Gentleman and his Government are Free Traders, while I am a Protectionist. I would be willing to see equal taxation put upon this cattle as upon Irish cattle, but I am not willing to see prohibition. It might result in the cheapening of the food 2345 of 44,000,000 people in this country. But that is surely not an argument against the removal of the embargo. I would like to argue the question out with Irish representatives whether or not the removal of this embargo would be to their detriment in respect to increased competition and a reduction in the value of their cattle. An hon. Member, speaking in the Irish interest, just now said it was possible that animals which had been running about the prairies in South America for eight years might be taken to the refrigerating establishments there and slaughtered, and their carcases sent here. The value of live stock in the Argentine is so great that they are killed the moment they arrive at the age of maturity. There is no fear that the number of cattle slaughtered would be increased by the removal of the embargo. If they are not killed in the Argentine they would come over here alive. Every beast that is ready for the market is slaughtered the very day it reaches maturity. There could not possibly be any increase in the number. It is only a question whether the beast shall be slaughtered at a factory in the River Plate or whether it shall be slaughtered at Birkenhead or Deptford.
I appeal to hon. Members from Ireland to remove if possible the prejudice in their mind by putting the argument in this way: If you are the seller of a beast in the Argentine Republic, you say to yourself, "If I ship that beast alive to Birkenhead I add at least £4 to his cost as against selling him to the company here and his chilled or frozen carcase going in the steamer to Liverpool." If £4 is added to the cost by bringing the animal alive to the market where the competition between Irish cattle and Argentine cattle begins, surely the competition must be less severe if the £4 is put on to the price before the beast is landed in this country than if it is killed in the Argentine and the carcase shipped over. Therefore, I put it as a business proposition that there is no argument from the economic side for urging the President of the Board of Agriculture to maintain the embargo. I will put the matter to the Committee generally, and particularly to Members representing large constituencies of working people, that there is another side to this question as to the state in which we shall import our beasts. I claim that the writer of three articles in the "Times," last month, was evidently a man well 2346 posted in what was going forward in the world's commerce in beef. I do not know who wrote those articles, but he pointed out to the people of Great Britain that a very serious danger was ahead. We all know perfectly well that the tendency of the age is for capitalists, through the increased competition amongst themselves, to draw together and make friendly arrangements one with another. That tendency has been going on, not in the form of a Meat Trust, but in the friendly relations of millionaires controlling the meat supply of the world. Those friendly relations have become so close that the influence of four firms in this world distribution of beef is getting greater and greater. The reason why we personally are going to be so much interested in this is that these four men felt that, so far as the United States were concerned in regard to the export of meat to Great Britain, their interests in the distribution of beef was nearly finished. They are turning their attention to the Argentine.
There is one primary reason why the Argentine will for many years be a great supplier of beef to this country, and that is the one word "alfafo." There is no food in the whole world for fattening and preparing cattle for the market equal to "alfafo." The crop of alfafo is largest in the River Plate, and is so abundant and so cheap that that will be the great market for fat cattle for us as a nation for many years to come. America is finished. We had hoped that Canada was going to be the great meat supplier to the people of this country, but we have been bitterly disappointed, partly through the lack of foresight on the part of our statesmen in not giving them some preference to grow what we wanted. The fact remains that Canada is out of the market as a supplier of meat for the people of this country. We can only turn to the Argentine as the possible supplier of live cattle. You look to Australia and New Zealand for frozen and chilled beef; but there is no other country in the world for the moment except the Argentine for the purpose to which I refer. I appeal to Members of the Committee and of this House that they will have sufficient foresight to see that this gathering together of these enormous capitalist interests, and their friendly relations one with another, amount to practically what is known in the United States as "a restraint on trade." The United States have passed severe laws to 2347 foreclose and prevent this continued combination of capitalists' interests in the restraint of trade. We, as a country, and as a Government, whether Liberal or Unionist, will in the future have to use legislative influence to prevent this undue restraint on trade. I put it to the President of the Board of Agriculture that if he will cast his mind a few years into the future he will see that the only means to check this is to say to the farmer in the Argentine, "You shall have two markets; you shall be able to sell your cattle for refrigerating purposes, or you shall be able to Ship it to Deptford or Birkenhead."
Having said this to the farmers of a friendly nation we shall be able to face the meat trust—I do not like to call it a meat trust—to say to these great firms which are in this friendly combination with regard to fixing the price at which an Englishman shall buy his beef: "We can get beef and we can bring live stock into this country without anyone controlling it." The import of these thousands and hundreds of thousands of live cattle, which will be brought into this country will enable the people to obtain fresh meat instead of frozen meat. I maintain, as an expert in this matter, that it is of importance to the health and well-being of future generations of this country, and a desirable thing to see that the Government shall make it possible for the people to have less frozen meat and more fresh meat. I think all will agree that that is a sound and statesmanlike proposition. It is only through this Order, which I ask for from the President of the Board of Agriculture, that this can be attained. It needs no Act of Parliament. We only ask for an Order in Council to the effect that, provided the conditions that are laid flown are carried out by the Government of the Argentine Republic, the President of the Board will allow the live stock to be imported into this country and slaughtered at the foreign animal wharf.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
May I be allowed one or two observations upon a matter which has always been one of very deep interest to me, that is the operation of the Small Holdings Act of 1908, and following that the Act of 1910. The first Act was passed for the purpose of bringing farm labourers into the occupancy and ownership of land. It provided also for houses and for a sufficient amount of land that those concerned might derive there-from, without any ancillary employment, 2348 an adequate subsistence. Hon. Members who have studied the working of that Act must be satisfied that, partly through unsatisfactory administration and partly through inherent defects in the Act, has been absolutely inoperative in obtaining the results at which it was ostensibly aimed. Hon. Members opposite who are more versed in agriculture than those on this side will, I think, when I have given two or three figures be satisfied, apart from their own knowledge with the statement that I make, that this Small Holdings Act has been an absolute failure. The Small Holdings Act has been in operation since towards the end of 1908. It was intended as I said, primarily to enable farm labourers to rent from the county councils, or to acquire by purchase, their small holdings. The purchase Clauses—and this is what I am blaming the right hon. Gentleman for—have been found to be absolutely inoperative since the inception of the Statute up to the present time. The reason is very obvious. Although the Report of Mr. Cheney is a serious and optimistic Report, it rightly states that the one-fifth purchase money is an absolute obstacle to the attainment of the land by way of purchase by contract.
Indeed, the number of persons who have purchased their small holdings since the Act came into operation is only seventy. The total amount of money which has been advanced for purchase is only £40,000. I am not going to argue the question of ownership as against tenancy. A great deal can be said in favour of both. The fact remains that whether people are willing to be purchasers or not, the Act contains within itself the obstacle which absolutely hinders the acquisition of land. I trust in his reply the right hon. Gentleman will state whether or not the Government intend to remove this obstacle in connection with the purchase money. No farm labourer can find sufficient money to purchase his holding. Another object aimed at was that these holdings should be self-contained—that a man should not have to walk from a distant dwelling in the Tillage to a small holding, but that the small holdings should contain within their ambit a house in which the small holder could live. I find as a matter of fact that the total number of houses during the six years in which the Act has been in operation which have been provided by the county councils—of course, I do not include in my calculations those small holdings 2349 which have been provided, and increasingly, by the landowners—I am dealing 'with those provided, though not necessarily compulsorily, by the county councils, under the provision of the Act, have only been 488.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to a great number of places in which there are old houses, I mean old houses situated on small holdings. There are a few cases where the old farm houses are sometimes: used to accommodate three or four small holders, but the great majority of small holders live right away from their small holdings. Now, what has been the general result in the five years of the working of the Act. During these five years of the Act" the total number of small holdings provided by county councils have been the comparatively insignificant figure of 8,970. I do not mean to say there are not a large number provided by the voluntary action of landowners, but that is the total number of small holdings, provided by county councils. I cannot help thinking that is a very unsatisfactory result. But what does that mean? Does that mean that the county councils are doing their work or that there is no demand at the present moment? What is the unsatisfied demand which Mr. Jennings' very optimistic Report says is not likely to be satisfied. In the year 1912, to which the Report refers, there is an unsatisfied demand of over 9,000 persons who wish to become small holders. That is an unsatisfactory condition of affairs. What does that unsatisfactory condition of affairs show? It shows that the county council—I am not going to blame the county council—are not efficient instruments for the purpose of supplying the demand for small holdings. I am perfectly willing to make the admission that in Norfolk and one or two other counties which I had an opportunity of visiting there has been a response as far as the county councils could go, to satisfy the demand of their neighbour.
The county council are necessarily and naturally penurious and timid about investing money in land. It is not a very large amount, I think, something over £3,000,000 only has been sanctioned by the Local Government Board up to the present, and for 1912, the largest sum, £800,000, has been sanctioned, and this is to be paid off in a comparatively few number of years, and carries a very heavy interest. It is wholly inadequate, and is merely trifling with the question of meeting the demand for small 2350 holdings. Is that satisfactory? If a strong Minister of Agriculture would undertake the task, I think this House will support him in carrying this scheme forward, and instead of taking your county council, and counties as units, if you would take a district, as is done in Germany and in Denmark, if you take the larger unit and have a board created ad hoc, then you would be able to secure power for not only responding to, but for creating a demand for small holdings. Why do I say that? I think hon. Members opposite, who are well acquainted with agricultural conditions, will agree with me that small holdings are instituted by county councils in very small numbers. Sometimes an estate of 600 acres is purchased, sometimes an estate of 1,000 acres is purchased. Very little judgment is displayed in this connection. I know one or two small holdings in which the sites are absolutely inappropriate, and impossible of being cultivated with any success. You must have a sufficient number of persons in a colony in order to secure combination in the purchase of their food stuffs and manures and machinery, and transit to market, and by that combination alone, except in a few favoured localities, can success be achieved. I visited a locality some time ago, and saw the remarkable success that had been attained even in the absence of co-operation, but if you take the small holders and deal with them as it is the intention of this Act to deal with them, it is perfectly obvious they cannot enjoy the advantage of co-operation if they are too few in numbers. You must have a comparatively large number to do that as it is done in Germany and in Denmark. I have given a life long study to this matter, and I would point out to my right hon. Friend the desirability of recognising these things before further money is wasted in this futile but praiseworthy efforts of county councils, and in some cases successful effort, but generally speaking, futile effort, to carry out what was the intention of this Act.
I would like to say a word or two on what is done in Germany. The right hon. Gentleman is responsible for favouring us with an invaluable Blue Book by one of those most efficient of our public servants upon the condition of agriculture in Germany. It would pay hon. Members interested in agriculture to read and study what is shown in that report. What does that report show In this country, we have at present forty- 2351 five agricultural credit societies. The Board of Agriculture has done nothing whatever beyond communicating with Joint Stock Banks to encourage the foundation of agricultural co-operative societies. If hon. Members had been, as I have been, through the villages of Germany, they would find that throughout the German Empire, ordinarily speaking, there is not a village in which there is not a co-operative credit society subsidised by the Government, which enables small holders to buy their manures, and send their produce to market. Everything is done for enabling the small holder to buy in the cheapest market and to sell in the best. The Board of Agriculture here have done nothing beyond making an appeal to the Joint Stock Banks to help forward this cause, which the Governments in Germany and in Denmark have themselves instituted and carried on. I think that is a serious reflection upon our Administration. I do not refer to this Government any more than to any other in regard to the administration of these Acts intended for the development of small holdings. The matter does not end there. I have read successive Reports, and some very severe criticisms on the administration of the fund which is intended for agricultural improvement. It is a very insignificant fund, and the revenue is totally inadequate to carry out its present purpose. The whole system is perfectly absurd. You have a certain sum for founding a chair or a scholarship in certain universities.
In Germany and Denmark they do not create a number of pedagogues. They take to the workpeople on their small farms all the instruments and practical means by which they can be taught how, economically and scientifically, to carry out the agricultural operations in which they are engaged. I have made these observations upon a subject to which I have given close attention for many years. We may have the bland assurances of Ministers of Agriculture that everything is going very nicely, and we may have optimistic reports setting forth figures showing that this county and that county is doing very well, and so forth, but we shall not make any progress whatever. No attempt has been made either by the Local Government Board or the Board of Agriculture—though I think it ought not to be the Local Government Board—to deal with the question of cottage and 2352 housing accommodation for small holders. I have spoken with many members of county councils who are engaged on committee work in this business, and they all say, "We dare not take the risk," and the result has been that the total number of houses does not exceed 300 or 400. We have heard of the wild scheme of a single tax, and of various other methods of dealing with the agricultural problem, but I submit that we do not use the machinery which we possess at present. We do not give encouragement to those bodies like the county councils, which in a way are able to do the work. We do not increase the powers of the county councils; and when we see that these county councils are absolutely inefficient instruments—as they are—for the purpose of carrying out what Parliament cheerfully granted in 1910, we make no attempt—it is a purely laissez-faire position we take up—to place it in hands strong enough and capable enough to deal with the matter. This report about foot-and-mouth disease no doubt is valuable enough; at the same time there are deeper evils in connection with the cultivation of the soil than those concerned with the diseases of cattle or sheep. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will let us have some statesmanlike declaration of what the policy of the Government is with regard to the extension of small holdings, which undoubtedly are regarded by the agricultural labourers as a means of raising him to a higher status than that to which, under present agricultural conditions, they are able to attain.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I am sure the Committee have listened with very great interest to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for North-West Durham (Mt. Atherley-Jones), who has paid such close attention to this subject of small holdings, than which no subject occupies the political platform more largely. The hon. and learned Member has rather minimised the difficulties which underlie the question in this country. I think, in comparing the work done and the results obtained here with the work done and results obtained in other countries, he forgets two factors of very vital importance. Those factors both arise here because we are a great industrial community and our standard of living is very much higher. I have myself been a small holder in Norway for thirty years and I know how the peasants live there, and, although they are happy, their standard of living is far below that which 2353 would be accepted by the working class generally in this country; that is, they work harder with less result to themselves. Our happiness is always comparative, and as long as our neighbours are as badly off as we are we remain happy. I wish to ask, is the small holder in England going to accept a standard which is below the standard of living for a man who works less hard than himself and receives higher wages? You will not be able to keep the best men, and it is only a small proportion of the best of our working men who will obey the call to the land. If they have a call they will prefer to work on and do their best, but there are very few of that description.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
What about Canada? The agriculaural labourer has emigrated to Canada in large numbers.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I am assuming that these men remain in this country, and I am dealing with the conditions which are applicable to this country. I think the Committee will feel that this is a question in regard to which we ought to look for a solution in the direction of linking up the whole Empire, looking at it as a unit in which a man may go to a large agricultural area and not an industrial area, rather than put a poor man as you do in this case on poor land and expect him to get rich in consequence. I do not say that that is a solution, but I say that it may be the wisest direction in which to look. I say that there are comparatively few in this industrial country who will take a hard life on the small holdings when they have a better industrial opening close at hand.That is one of the difficulties. The other difficulty is that the industrial community, under the conditions in which we live has, wisely or unwisely, set up a standard of living and housing suitable for a population in an industrial centre, but, which it is wholly impossible to provide for a community of small holders. Add both these things together, that is the standard at which the small holder has to live, and the accommodation to be provided for him because of the standard imposed upon him as a member of a great industrial community, and you will find that it is like mixing oil with water. To suppose that you are ever going to retain the industrial supremacy of England and at the same time establish on a great scale similar to that which has been 2354 adopted in purely agricultural countries like Denmark a population of small holders is an idle dream, and it will be Absurd to attempt it. The hon. Member said no encouragement had been given to small holdings. We have been told that there is no better encouragement than putting your hands in your pockets. We have just heard that the State for the present comparatively small installation of small holdings is pledged to an extent of no less than £200,000. That is a very considerable sum. We have got about 10,000 small holdings which have cost £200,000. Hothouse cultivation, that is what it comes to ! No industry, to my mind, can be worth encouragement in this country unless, after it has been started properly, it can stand independently and honourably upon its own economic basis.
The fault of the Act is that it is applied to all counties. Commissioners are appointed, and they are repeatedly told in Debate in this House that counties are compared with each other. The results are compared without any regard to the different conditions obtaining in those counties, and extra Commissioners are appointed to apply "ginger" to those counties that have fallen behind. That is not the system upon which this House should proceed. If small holdings are to be a success in this country, the facts which I have put before the Committee must be recognised. They cannot be universal. Conditions in different counties and districts vary enormously, and it is only with certain conditions and in certain soils that small holdings can be a success. Then the individual small holder left to himself will very probably succeed. Something in the nature of a colony where cooperation and advice are available gives by far the most likely chance of success. Instead of making each county, irrespective of its particular conditions, arrive at a certain numerical standard of success, you ought to recognise that there are only certain particular districts suitable for small holdings. There are no parts scarcely in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, and the Isle of Ely which are not suitable, but, on the other hand, the heavy clay lands of Suffolk are not suitable. They all, however, have to put the Act into operation; otherwise. Commissioners are sent down to apply "ginger." Let the Board of Agriculture, through the county councils or any other machinery the Government choose to provide, create colonies of genuine small 2355 holders in favourable districts, and let that be a national policy. Do not set up this absurd competition between different localities. May I tell the Committee to what a point of absurdity this competition is actually taken? There is an administrative county under the direction of the county council of the Isle of Ely, and there is also, as is well known, a county council which directs operations in the great county of Norfolk. It happened that there was a farm for sale in the Isle of Ely which was suitable for small holdings, and the county council of the Isle of Ely desired to acquire it. They applied to the Board of Agriculture for authority to purchase this farm and the Board gave them permission, but imposed a rigid limit on the price up to which the county council might bid. The Norfolk County Council had also got its eye on the farm, which they desired to obtain for the small holders of the county of Norfolk, and on the principle which I have just suggested that suitable farms for small holdings should not be restricted to any one county—I am not putting it from that point of view—the county of Norfolk, being more independent of the right hon. Gentleman than the County Council of Ely apparently, proceeded in a very perfunctory method. I believe they did inform the Commissioner for the district—the Commissioner who regulates the affairs of the Ely County Council—that they desired to take the farm. Consequently the two county councils sent their representatives into the auction room, and they bid against each other. The Ely County Council bid up to the limit allowed them and the Norfolk County Council paid no less than £70 per acre for this farm to be divided among small holders.
That is the kind of competition set up by this present system, and the unfortunate small holder is called upon to pay a rent sufficient to cover the absurd price given for the land under such conditions. It surely is an impossible system. I would urge on the right hon. Gentleman to stop this system of competition between the counties. I am sure his speech showed he has paid most careful personal attention to many of the difficult problems he has to face. We all recognise that he is bringing a trained business mind—a mind not trained in agriculture, but trained in business, which is just as important—to bear on his work. It is well that those who take high office should not enter on it supposed to know everything in the 2356 office. He should have a trained business mind and get his technical information from the experts, but he should apply ordinary business common sense without entering on the office thinking he is going to put everybody right, owing to his knowledge previously acquired. We all recognise that the right hon. Gentleman has shown great attention to his work; he has shown that he has acquired very great knowledge of the subjects he has to deal with; and I hope he will continue to apply these common-sense business principles. 'So long as he and his Department adhere to the very first duty—I wish it were the only duty—of assisting agriculture in all its branches on wholly non-political lines —so long as he adheres to such questions as he has devoted his time to discussing to-night—the question of agricultural research the question of the diseases of animals, the question of the breeding of live stock and all those most supremely practical matters—as long as he makes himself equally the friend of the little farmer and the big farmer, equally the friend of the landlord and the labourer—so long as he shows that his one desire is, without any political afterthought of any sort or description, to help the industry of agriculture and everybody engaged in it—so long will he have the support of both sides of the House.
The trouble in this small holdings question solely arises from the introduction of the political element. The right hon. Gentleman knows it perfectly well. I do not think he wishes to introduce it—it is forced upon him by debates in this House. This competition between counties is not the result of the action of the Board of Agriculture taken on practical economic grounds; it is the result of political action in this House and outside. If the right hon. Gentleman can only eliminate that political element from the question of small holdings, as he has done in connection with agricultural research and other matters mentioned in his speech I think he will find that soluble difficulties will be solved. The underlying difficulties will always remain. These root difficulties are there and must be recognised. What is done must be done subject to these difficulties, and it is perfectly useless for the right hon. Gentleman to attempt legislation in face of the great economic facts which remain constant and which legislation is absolutely powerless to deal with. He will recognise the limit of efforts of legislation and administration, and 2357 when he does not encounter these insoluble economic difficulties he will find plenty of room for practical effort, and he will succeed in founding many successful colonies of small holders. I do ask him and his Friends, when dealing with this question, to avoid the political side of it, and to confine themselves to whatever is practical and useful to agriculture from all points of view.
The right hon. Gentleman dealt, I think successfully, with almost every point raised from this side of the Committee. He referred to the question of motors for fishermen. I do not think I need add anything to what was said upon that. The right hon. Gentleman evidently knows the matter, and he and his Department have it in hand. I may, however, say that from what I myself have seen abroad, the advantage of motors to fishing boats cannot be exaggerated. I agree with him that in this and all other cases we must do all we can to encourage individual effort. We do not want everybody to be spoon-fed by the State, but we do want to give as much encouragement as possible. There is another matter in regard to the fishing industry. I desire to ask if some assistance cannot be given from the Development Grant to educational purposes in connection with the fishing industry on the same lines as it is given to the agricultural industry. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman realises that the Government require from the skippers and mates of fishing vessels certificates of efficiency such as are required in the case of merchant vessels. These skippers and mates have to obtain the tuition necessary for the scientific side of the work privately at their own cost. In one or two cases the borough education authorities have set up technical schools for fishermen. I will give an instance of what has been done at Grimsby, which will show the Committee the results obtained by means of schools of this kind. I have here the figures furnished to me by the Fishermen's Technical School at Grimsby. During the month of June this year the total voluntary attendances were no less than 12.138, on the part of 834 different fishermen. In June, 1912, there were 10.186 attendances by 810 fishermen. There is a steady increase. It is remarkable that there should be so many of a hard-working body of men, who spend a large proportion of their time at sea in the North Sea under very trying conditions, willing to give 2358 voluntary attendance at technical schools of this character. The consequence was that during last month nine of these fishermen who received that instruction successfully passed the examinations for the certificates required by the Government. That school is carried on partly by private effort, but mainly at the expense of the borough education authority. It would be of the greatest advantage to that work if the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries could obtain from the Development Commissioners some grant, not for the purpose of paying teachers, and not a recurring grant, but a grant once and for all—it would not require a very large sum—to assist them in purchasing the scientific apparatus which is necessary for institutions of that character. That is an expensive thing, the teaching of navigation. Various models and scientific instruments are required, and they are a very heavy burden upon a locality. It is possible that a large town like Grimsby or Hull might get over that, but there are many smaller parts where it is very difficult to afford this expenditure for scientific apparatus, and subject to the Board of Agriculture being satisfied that the instruction given merited the assistance, and that the attendances would be sufficient to warrant it, I think the right hon. Gentleman might consider whether he could not move the Development Commissioners to give him some help towards scientific apparatus and encourage the institution of schools of technical instruction for fishermen on the lines of that being so successfully worked at Grimsby.
It is an unfortunate thing that the right hon. Gentleman should have to come here as a Cabinet Minister and as representing the Board of Agriculture and inform the House of Commons that although he himself has a scheme in which he believes for improvements in agriculture and assistance to be given either to agriculture or fisheries as, for instance, in the scheme for the improvement of live stock, he has to go with his hat in his hand to the Development Commissioners, and unless they agree with the views which he expresses they withhold the money from him. That is not a proper position in which this House should be put. I do not even quite know what our position is here in the House itself. Supposing this Committee expressed in the Division Lobby a very strong opinion that a certain scheme or a desirable one, I do not know what the authority would be with which the 2359 right hon. Gentleman would go to the Development Commissioners. I do not know whether the House has any authority itself over the Development Commissioners, but the Board of Agriculture ought to be strong enough, and public opinion behind it ought to be strong enough to insist that where money is granted by Parliament, in whatever form, for an improvement of the agricultural industry or the fishing industry, that money ought to be directly entrusted to the Government Department which has the care of that industry in its charge, and that Minister ought to be directly responsible to the House of Commons. I feel that very strongly, and I cannot see that in this -respect the Development Commissioners are anything but a fifth wheel to the coach which is not required, and we should much prefer to see the right hon. Gentleman take the responsibility himself and be entrusted with the money rather than that he should tell us that the schemes cannot be carried out until he has got the Commissioners to agree to every detail of the proposals which he makes.
We have had some very interesting suggestions made as to the provision of cottages. The right hon. Gentleman recently made a public utterance on that subject, in which he told us he had no intention whatever of being political, and that we quite accept. At any rate on both sides of the House there is a complete consensus of opinion that many cottages are required in the rural districts from every point of view, and I do not believe that there is any one Royal road to the provisions of these cottages, unless it be that which was rather suggested by the right hon. Gentleman that the State should undertake itself to provide a very large number of cottages. I should be very sorry to absolutely condemn that suggestion, but if the State is to enter into competition with private enterprise in the provision of cottages it must make up its mind definitely before it starts that policy how far it is prepared to carry it. In those districts where cottages are built out of the rates and let at very low rents, the whole machinery being calculated, with State credit behind it, to bring rents down to the lowest possible point, it is obviously impossible that private enterprise can compete in that particular district. That is all very well if the State is prepared to house a district and every- 2360 body in it, but you cannot have both concurrently. You cannot have individual enterprise and State expenditure competing with one another within the same area. I cannot see how that can be practicable, and that must be borne in mind. If the State is prepared to house everybody who wants a house in a rural district, let the Government face the problem and provide the many millions which will be required to meet it. Let them tell the House of Commons how they propose to carry out the scheme, but do not let them suppose that by merely finding a few hundred thousand pounds to provide cottages here and there they are going thereby to solve the problem, which is a national problem, and which ought to be dealt with as such, after surveying the whole field before any scheme is undertaken.
On the question of foot-and-mouth disease there was one aspect which the right hon. Gentleman omitted to mention. He said nothing whatever of the investigations which are now proceeding as to what I regard as the most important point in the whole matter, and that is, the origin of the disease and from what points the infection may reach this country. I think the investigations ought not to be confined to the time when an outbreak is actually upon us. I do not know whether the investigations held on that point hitherto have had any result. He must realise that the success with which we have kept foot-and-mouth disease out of the country has enormously increased our danger. Our flocks and herds not having been assaulted by the disease, the moment it came it would run like fire through them, just as measles when it attacks a North American tribe, which from all time has been free from the disease, rapidly spreads. There never was a case where prevention is better than cure than that of foot-and-mouth disease. No exertion is too great and no expenditure too high in endeavouring to get at a real understanding of the methods by which infection may still continue to reach this country. Do not let the right hon. Gentleman relax the inquiry. Let him do his utmost to trace the origin of the disease. If we can stop it from coming in, we shall really have a feeling of security which we have not now. Outbreaks have been so mysterious, and their origin so absolutely without explanation, that I am sure the right hon. Gentleman must feel anxiety on the subject. There is no certainty that when he goes to his. 2361 office to-morrow he will not get intimation of an outbreak in some part of the country. We have no indication whatever of how the infection reached us in connection with the outbreaks last year and the year before. I hope he will keep that Aspect of the question fully in his mind, and lose no opportunity of getting information on the subject. The hon. Member for the Horncastle Division (Captain Weigall) raised the question as to what position we should be in as to the maintenance of all this most important research work in agriculture as regards the development of works when those Grants peter out. The President of the Board of Agriculture replied very courteously that this was £400,000 now and that he felt quite sure that no future Government would refuse the Grants necessary to carry on the work. I am afraid that that assurance was hardly sufficiently explicit, because I think the hon. Members will realise that this expenditure which is being incurred for agricultural research is expenditure which involves very large future liabilities indeed, and I am afraid that although the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman was given in the very best faith he must himself know that the local authorities have had a very unfortunate experience in this matter. They have had expensive duties thrown upon them constantly. They have been asked to incur liabilities and they have been told frequently that Parliament would some day help them, and then Parliament has left them to bear the burden themselves. I quite understand my hon. Friend's anxiety. I am certain that the local authorities would undertake this work with a very much better heart and that he would find them very much more responsive to an invitation given by him to undertake work of this Character if they had not only a vague hope but a definite assurance that Parliament would continue to the full the national assistance which is necessary for these experiments and this research work to continue to grow as it ought to grow. Nothing can be more advantageous to agriculture. There is no spoon-feeding about it. It is of the greatest possible advantage to agriculturists at large that there should be this scientific and practical research. I think that there are two sides to it. It is important for the scientist to go about the farm and see the results of his advice being taken. The most important part of the work is not the experiments which enable him originally to give 2362 advice, but a study of the actual results in practical use by the farmers of the advice which has been given to them, because what is true on a small scale in practice is not always true on a large scale.
There is another very small suggestion on that matter. The right hon. Gentleman knows that very valuable work is being done in rural schools, in which they are teaching children with small plots the practical work of agriculture. I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should invite the schoolmasters and instructors who are carrying out that work to write to these centres of research to ask them any questions which they may desire to ask for the benefit of the pupils or of themselves who are carrying out this work of instruction. Swine fever is the only matter as to which we cannot feel quite satisfied with the work that is being carried on. Though we all recognise the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman has carried out his task, we do feel that in this matter the Board of Agriculture has not succeeded, and that the explanation which he has given, although in many points interesting, was not wholly satisfactory, and particularly in the matter of scheduled areas. Nothing was said of and no defence was given of a very curious provision by which lines, apparently without any particular reason, were drawn in different parts of the country. On both sides of these lines there may be infected areas and yet no pigs are allowed to traverse that particular line. That seems to be an unreasonable method, and I am afraid that I cannot advise my hon. Friend to withdraw the Motion which he has made on that ground. I only hope that the right hon. Gentleman will understand that if a Division is taken on that point, it is not with any general desire to find any fault with the administration of his office, but solely because of our dissatisfaction on the point raised by my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Before the Committee comes to a decision on this Vote I should like to deal very briefly with three or four points raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite. In the first place, I would like to say that so far as I am concerned it is impossible for me to promise as to what Parliament will do in future. The Grants which are made available for the Development Commissioners at the present moment for agricultural educational work, and for research work, are quite sufficient 2363 to see out this Parliament. It will not be necessary for me to make any fresh claim on the Exchequer, excepting that for the Development Fund during this Parliament. [An HON. MEMBER: "How long will the Parliament last?"] If there should be an election two years hence, and if we were not in a majority it might be the duty of the hon. Gentleman to ask Parliament for further Grants, but even in two years hence it will not be necessary to ask for any addition to the Estimates. The Development Fund will even then be sufficient to provide for all the requirements. I cannot promise at the present moment what will be done four or five years hence, for as everybody knows the money is voted year by year. So far as we are concerned, it is our intention, having started this agricultural education, that it shall be continued with adequate national assistance. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to say the same for his side of the House. As to the question of the origin of foot-and-mouth disease, we have been making full inquiries as far as we possibly could into the origin of that infection, and we directed them to particular cases. When some of them originated in Ireland my right hon. Friend the head of the Irish Department did his best to ascertain the source of the disease in Ireland, but I am afraid in vain. We were in exactly the same position here with regard to outbreaks which were not directly attributable to the Irish infection. Inquiries which were made over a very large area—some of them of a most private nature—elicited no information which gave us any proof as to the origin. We are keeping our eyes constantly open on the subject. The only other question I would mention now is with reference to Fisheries education work. We have been in close touch with the board of Education, and I feel that any money that would be available for technical education would have to come
§ out of their Grant. They are sympathetically disposed towards the special work at Grimsby and elsewhere, and it is possible we may carry the work to further development, not only at Grimsby, but in other fishing ports. The Grant which the hon. Gentleman asked might be made from the Development Fund for scientific instruments I will take into consideration, and if any case is brought to my notice I shall be glad to investigate it fully.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question. Debate resumed.
§ Mr. BOWERMAN
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, arising out of the strong appeal made to him by the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Bigland), whether, with regard to the removal of restrictions on the importation of live cattle, he has received from the Argentine Government any request that they should be allowed to export live cattle for slaughter to this country?
Mr. RUNCI MAN
No, not at present. The Government is unable to assure me that foot-and-mouth disease is absent from the Argentine.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but the Chairman withheld his assent, as he was of opinion that the Committee were very shortly prepared to come to a decision without that Motion.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £159,432, be granted his Majesty for the said service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 58 Noes, 205.2365
|Division No. 207.]||AYES.||[11.1 p.m.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Craik, Sir Henry||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Barnston, Harry||Denniss, E. R. B.||Horner, Andrew Long|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Hunt, Rowland|
|Bigland, Alfred||Fell, Arthur||Jessel, Captain H. M.|
|Bird, Alfred||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Gibbs, George Abraham||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Gilmour, Captain John||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Cassel, Felix||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Cator, John||Greene, Walter Raymond||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Mount, William Arthur|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Perkins, Walter F.||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Welgall, Captain A. G.|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Sanderson, Lancelot||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Pollock, Ernest Murray||Sandys, G. J.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Spear, Sir John Ward||Younger, Sir George|
|Royds, Edmund||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Stewart, Gershom||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. C. Bathurst and Mr. Stanler.|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Hackett, John||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Hancock, John George||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Alden, Percy||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Dowd, John|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||O'Grady, James|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Malley, William|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Hayward, Evan||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Hazleton, Richard||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Shee, James John|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Barnes, George N.||Higham, John Sharp||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Hinds, John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Barton, William||Hodge, John||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hogge, James Myles||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Boland, John Pius||Hudson, Walter||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Illingworth, Percy H.||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||John, Edward Thomas||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Radford, G. H.|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Raffan, peter Wilson|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Reddy, Michael|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jowett, F. W..||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Keating, Matthew||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lanes., Heywood)||Kelly, Edward||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Kilbride, Denis||Robinson, Sidney|
|Clancy, John Joseph||King, Joseph||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Clough, William||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Rowlands, James|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lardner, James C. R.||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Cotton, William Francis||Levy, Sir Maurice||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland).|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lundon, Thomas||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cullinan, John||Lynch, A. A.||Scanlan, Thomas.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Elfion)||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Sheehy, David|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||McGhee, Richard||Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Maclean, Donald||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Delany, William||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Sutton, John E.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Macpherson, James Ian||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Dickinson, W. H.||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Dillon, John||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Doris, William||Meagher, Michael||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Duffy, William J.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Wardle, George J.|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Millar, James Duncan||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Molloy, Michael||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Mooney, John J.||Webb, H.|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Morgan, George Hay||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Morison, Hector||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Field, William||Muldoon, John||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Munro, Robert||Wiles, Thomas|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Gill, A. H.||Murphy, Martin J.||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Needham, Christopher T.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Neilson, Francis||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Nolan, Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Gulland and Mr. Wedgwood Benn.|
|Griffith. Ellis Jones||Norton, Captain Cecil William|
|Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ It being after Eleven of the clock, the chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow (Friday); Committee to sit again Tomorrow.