HC Deb 06 March 1922 vol 151 cc849-52
82. Mr. W. SMITH

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to a statement in the Press in which Sir A. D. Hall, an official of the Ministry, alleged a dereliction of duty on the part of the Norwich Corporation and its officials in connection with the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease at the Norwich cattle market on the 4th February; is he aware that the statements made as to the time cattle were first received upon the market, and also as to the steps taken by the officials of the Norwich Corporation to detect and deal with the disease, are contrary to the facts of the case; and will he see that the same are contradicted and a suitable apology given to the Norwich Corporation?

The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen)

The statement to which the hon. Member alludes was an extract from a private letter, and was not given to the Press with the authority of Sir Daniel Hall or of the Ministry. The whole of the circumstances concerning the delay in dealing with the cattle in Norwich market will be inquired into by the Departmental Committee I am proposing to set up.


Seeing that this letter was published, and that it contained statements which were contrary to the facts, would it not be well that some recognition should be made to the Norwich Corporation of that fact?


I am under the impression that Sir Daniel Hall has already written explaining the circumstances of the publication of the letter. As to the facts, I must await the inquiry before I can come to any decision as to where the blame lies.

84. Major HOWARD

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether any connection has been proved between the falling off of the number of fresh outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in Great Britain and the prohibition of store cattle from Ireland?


The falling off in the number of fresh outbreaks is attributable to the closure of markets and to the stamping-out measures employed by the Ministry. The temporary stoppage of the trade in stores, whether from Ireland or other places, has, without doubt, contributed to the improved position. One of the chief causes of the widespread distribution of disease in the present outbreak has been the trade in stores, whereby animals which had been infected in one market were immediately passed through other markets and communicated the contagion to large numbers of other animals. There is, however, no evidence that the disease was introduced into Great Britain by store cattle from Ireland.


Has the right hon. Gentleman any information where the disease did come from?


I have no definite information, but there is a great deal of disease on the North of Europe, and it has almost invariably broken out in the East of England.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

Has Canada still a clean bill of health?

85. Major HOWARD

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give any particulars relating to the 22 Irish cattle which arrived at Ipswich from Holyhead on 30th January, and were sold in the cattle market on the 31st, 12 of them going into East Suffolk and 10 into Cambridgeshire, both lots being declared on 1st February to be suffering with foot-and-mouth disease and both being subsequently slaughtered: will he state whether these cattle were passed by his officers; and, if so, what test or observation to ensure freedom from disease was carried out?


I am advised that a consignment of 22 cattle from Holyhead arrived at Ipswich on the 30th January. They were entered in Ipswich market on the 31st January, and were sold in two lots. Animals in both lots were found to be affected with foot-and-mouth disease; in the case of one lot on the 6th February, in the other on the 9th February. The cattle were carefully examined by the Ministry's Veterinary Inspector at Holyhead before they were allowed to proceed. The evidence at present available points to the conclusion that these cattle were infected by an animal which came from Norwich market where foot-and-mouth disease was subsequently found to exist.


Can anything be done to protect these Irish cattle from English disease?


Is it a fact that they were declared to be infected on 1st February?


No, I have stated that the first lot was not discovered to be infected until 6th February, and as the period of incubation is generally two or three days, it does not appear probable that they brought the disease from Ireland.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the police report is that on 1st February they were found to be suffering from disease?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that not a single case of foot-and-mouth disease has been reported in Ireland, and is it also not the fact that these cattle were examined at the port of embarkation as well as at the port of disembarkation?


Yes, I have already stated that we have not been able to connect the disease with infection in Ireland, and it is quite true that they are examined at the port of disembarkation. I am not sure about the port of embarkation.


Does the right hon. Gentleman know that the police report is that they suffered from disease on 1st February?


That is not my information, but if the hon. and gallant Gentleman makes that statement, I will have it inquired into.

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