§ 35. Mr. KILBRIDE
asked whether five Liverpool butchers landed in Dundalk from Birkenhead on Saturday last; whether, on examination at Dundalk, their kits were found to contain knives and other implements used in slaughtering diseased animals at Birkenhead; whether the contents of the kits were in a dirty condition, covered over with the blood and hair of cattle suffering from foot-and-mouth disease; and, if so, whether these men were allowed to leave Birkenhead without being disinfected; and what steps will be taken in future to safeguard Ireland against the danger of this means of infection?
§ Mr. T.W. RUSSELL
I find that the five butchers referred to, who had been employed at the Birkenhead lairage, landed at Greenore on their way to Dundalk on the 19th instant. The implements found in the men's kits were in a dirty condition, covered with congealed blood and hair; but it has not been ascertained whether these particular implements were used in slaughtering animals affected with foot-and-mouth disease. Of course, both men and implements were carefully disinfected at Greenore. I have no doubt that the Interdepartmental Conference which is being held to-day at Birkenhead will give attention to the points referred to in the concluding portion of the question.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
Is it not the fact that the five men were engaged in the slaughtering of animals at Birkenhead suffering from foot-and-mouth disease, and does not the right hon. Gentleman think that, in view of the extraordinary fact that they did bring these implements in this dirty condition, the surmises which are held in Ireland about planting the disease in Ireland are somewhat justified by this extraordinary occurrence?
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL
I am not able to say they were actually engaged in slaughtering animals infected with foot-and-mouth disease, but they were slaughtering animals in Birkenhead lairage. Of course, there are a great many animals slaughtered which are quite free from the disease.
§ 94. Mr. HARRY HOPE
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether it is now recognised that Ireland has not been the origin of the recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in England; and, if so, when will he permit Irish store cattle to be landed at Scottish ports?
§ 102. Mr. C. BATHURST
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, in view of the apparently widespread infection of the lairages at the Birkenhead wharves and of other places in the city and district of Liverpool, and of the interruption caused to the traffic in Irish livestock by the process of closing all English and Scottish ports against their importation, he will remove the embargo upon Irish stock, under proper safeguards and after due inspection, at Glasgow, Fish-guard, and other ports where no outbreaks of the disease have occurred?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Herbert Lewis)
My right hon. Friend wishes me to say that he regrets extremely the inconvenience and loss caused to agriculturists and many other persons both in Ireland and in Great Britain by the suspension of the live-stock trade between the two countries. But having regard to the fact that within a fortnight of an undoubted outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Ireland a number.of animals recently arrived from Ireland were found in the Birkenhead lairages to be affected with the disease, he had no reasonable alternative but to prohibit temporarily the importation of Irish stock into Great Britain. The origin of the infection is still not known, but all the available evidence and all clues which have been suggested are being thoroughly examined to-day by veterinary officers of the Board and of the Irish Department in collaboration at Birkenhead, and my right hon. Friend hopes to be able to make a. full statement on Monday.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
May I ask whether it is not the fact that there has been no foot-and-mouth disease for more than four weeks now, and whether, in view of that fact, the President of the Board of Agriculture does not think that the cattle may come here to be slaughtered at the port of entry?
§ Mr. HERBERT LEWIS
I think the hon. Gentleman had better wait for the result of the inquiry now proceeding.
§ Mr. FIELD
I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture, Ireland, a question of which I have given him private notice: Whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the Lord Mayor of Dublin and others interested in the live-stock trade have sent the right hon. Gentleman a telegram asking for all the ports to be reopened for Irish live stock; whether he has any information on the subject; and whether Ireland has now no trace of foot-and-mouth disease?