HC Deb 09 February 1922 vol 150 cc292-3
32. Captain FITZROY

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government have considered the Report of the Royal Commission on the embargo on Canadian cattle; and whether they propose to make any alteration in the Diseases of Animals Act, 1894?

The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen)

I have been asked to reply. The Government have carefully considered the Report of the Royal Commission, but in view of the almost unanimous opinion of agriculturists of all classes in England and Wales that the removal of the embargo would seriously injure the industry, and of the fact that the Commission themselves report that it would have little effect on the price of meat, they do not propose to introduce legislation for the purpose of removing it.


Is it feared that Canadian cattle would be infected if brought over here?


No. That has got nothing to do with it.


Has the right hon. Gentleman given consideration to the opinion of agriculturists in Scotland on this matter, and not merely the opinion of agriculturists in England and Wales?


Yes. We have given consideration to opinion in Scotland, and there is very great diversity of opinion on this matter among agriculturists in Scotland.


Why was the Royal Commission appointed if it was not intended to abide by its decision? Is it a fact that the Government gave a pledge to the Canadian Government that after the War this embargo would be removed?


No Government is pledged to carry out all or any of the recommendations of a Royal Commission, which are the individual opinions of the Commissioners, and in this case even if we had accepted their conclusions they themselves say that they fully recognise that the opinion of Parliament may be a reason for some delay in taking action. Apart from that I believe that in this matter certain pledges were given in 1917 at the Imperial Conference when this question, and a great many others, were under discussion, but, as I understand, the position which the Canadian Government most properly have always taken is that they do not wish to interfere in our home politics or home affairs, and that if we were convinced that the removing of the embargo was detrimental to our interests they would not press for it.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the interests of the consumer will be considered, and not the interests only of those who benefit by the embargo?


Certainly, and we have done so. If the right hon. Gentleman had listened to my original reply he would have noticed that I stated that the Commissioners said that the effect on the price of meat caused by the removal of the embargo would be practically nothing.

Back to