§ 12. Mr. FFRENCH
asked if the right hon. Gentleman has seen a resolution passed by a meeting of farmers, largely attended, at Kilmore, South Wexford, which is a tillage district where a number of farmers stall-feed and finish their cattle, asking that cattle for immediate slaughter from unrestricted areas, of which Kilmore is one, may be landed at foreign wharves in Great Britain as American cattle are; and what is he prepared to do in the matter?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I have received a copy of the Resolution to which the hon. Member refers, but in view of the great difficulty which has been experienced in suppressing the epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease in the South of Ireland, I regret that I do not see my way at present to allow the importation of live animals from Wexford to be resumed at present. I would point out the case of American cattle is not analogous. Animals are not admitted into Great Britain from South America, and North America, according to my information, has been entirely free from foot-and-mouth disease for several years.
§ 13. Mr. FFRENCH
asked if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that dissatisfaction prevails amongst Irish farmers because they are not allowed the same privilege that British farmers possess in marketing their cattle; is he aware that they are quite prepared to submit to restrictions within a 15-mile radius of the place where foot-and-mouth disease exists and give every assistance in stamping out the disease, but that outside the infected area they claim the privilege to ship their cattle from open ports to the British markets; and whether he is prepared to admit the justice of this claim?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The restrictions imposed upon the importation of Irish cattle into Great Britain in consequence of foot-and-mouth disease in Ireland are similar to the restrictions imposed upon the importation of British cattle into Ireland, in consequence of foot-and-mouth disease in Great Britain. The precautionary policy of the two Departments in this respect is the same; I have more than once explained to the House the principles on which it is based, and I am more 803 than ever convinced by the experience of the last two years that it is the right policy.
§ 84. Mr. FFRENCH
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) if he has seen a resolution, passed by the Ballykelly Farmers' Association, stating that no foot-and-mouth disease has been found in any place in their district where Cork calves were located, and calling on his Department to remove the restrictions, and further requesting that, where no disease exists, no restrictions should be imposed on the removal of cattle to the port of embarkation, and that, in so far as the Irish Department of Agriculture is concerned, that Irish farmers should be placed on an equal footing with their competitors in England and Scotland; and what does he propose to do in the matter?
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture, Ireland)
The Resolution referred to has been received. The difficult task of tracing the calves from Cork that were distributed from New Ross and Waterford has unavoidably proved a lengthy one, and it has been desirable meanwhile to maintain the local restrictions. The situation in the matter is, however, now about to be reviewed with the object of seeing whether these restrictions can be withdrawn. The restrictions on exportation are necessarily governed by wider considerations. At present the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries would not regard the position in relation to foot-and-mouth disease in Southern Ireland as sufficiently secure to allow of animals from that part of the country being admitted to Great Britain, but as the hon. Member is no doubt aware arrangements for shipping animals for slaughter from north of a line running from Drogheda to Oran-more, county Galway, have now been adopted.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
I have already given facilities in Wexford which will obviate any difficulty until the Department is in a position to relieve them permananetly.
§ 85. Mr. LYNCH
asked whether, in view of the fact that county Clare has been free of foot-and-mouth disease for fifty years, and that all suspected cattle bought in 804 markets outside Clare have been located and quarantined, the Department will see fit to remove any restrictions at present imposed so as to enable the fair to be held at Scariff on 3rd April?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
It is regretted it has not yet been found possible to complete the difficult task of tracing the calves distributed in Clare and Limerick that had come from the infected neighbourhood in Cork. Withdrawal of the restrictions is, therefore, not practicable at present, but as Scariff is a little outside the scheduled district, the holding of a fair there on 3rd April will be allowable. No cattle, sheep, goats, or swine can, however, come to the fair from inside the scheduled district.
§ 87. Mr. MOONEY
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) if his Department have issued an Order opening the ports of Dundalk and Belfast for the export of cattle; whether under this Order it is possible to move cattle from Newry to either of these ports for shipment, while they cannot be shipped from the port of Newry; and if he can state the reason, if any, why the port of Newry is kept closed?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
The Order referred to has been issued by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries after consultation with the Irish Department. It applies to the ports of Dundalk, Belfast, Londonderry, and Sligo. In making the arrangements covered by such Order it has only been possible to select a few ports from which to resume shipments at the outset. The four chosen are those most conveniently situated in all the circumstances. It is regretted that Newry could not be included, but as soon as the occasion allows its case will be further considered. Meanwhile, the case of the other ports opened is, of course, available for persons in Newry desiring to effect shipment.
§ Mr. MOONEY
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of the question? If Newry is not to be in the same position as Belfast and Dundalk, and is to be shut while they are open, I want to know why.
§ 88. Mr. DUFFY
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) whether he is aware that 805 the inhabitants of Loughrea and the stock owners who supply the live stock for the fair which is to be held during the month of April regard the Regulations issued lately in the county of Galway as certain to prevent the export of live stock; whether he is aware that the Order issued is equivalent to a prohibition of sale, which will involve the loss of many thousands of pounds; and whether, in view of the fact that for the last thirty-five years this district and county have been entirely free from foot-and-mouth distemper, he will arrange that normal conditions may be resumed in order to provide facilities for sale and transit at the approaching April fair at Loughrea?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
The Order of the Department which prohibits the movement of animals from south of a line running from Drogheda to Oranmore is the result of an arrangement with the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, who made it a condition of their allowing shipments of Irish live stock to be resumed that no animals from the southern half of Ireland should be exported. Animals from Loughrea Fair cannot be moved for export, but the position of owners of live stock in the Loughrea district and in other parts of Ireland south of the dividing line is no worse in this respect now than before the passing of the Order. But for the Order no stock from any part of Ireland could be shipped to Great Britain.
§ 89. Mr. DANIEL BOYLE
asked why the ports of Ballina and Westport have not been opened for the export of live stock simultaneously with Sligo; and when the restriction on these ports will be removed?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
In making arrangements to resume shipments under certain prescribed conditions it has been possible to select only a few ports for this purpose at the outset. The four chosen are those most conveniently situated in all the circumstances. It is regretted that Ballina and Westport could not be included, but, as soon as the occasion allows, their case will be further considered. 806 Meanwhile, the use of the other opened ports is, of course, available for persons in Ballina or Westport who may desire to effect shipments.