§ 39. Mr. DAY
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the cruelty that is perpetrated in many instances, where foot-and-mouth disease has broken out, in the slaughter of animals by inexperienced slaughtermen who have not been properly instructed in the method of killing; and will he consider the appointment of a Departmental Committee for the purpose of considering and investigating 26 the manner in which animals are slaughtered under the foot-and-mouth disease orders issued by the Ministry?
My attention has been called to recent newspaper reports containing allegations of the kind mentioned in the first part of the question. These statements are not correct; only inspectors of the Ministry and other persons properly qualified to slaughter animals are employed in such duties in connection with the foot-and-mouth disease operations, and in every case humane methods of slaughtering are adopted. The answer to the, last part of the question is, therefore, in the negative.
I have, and I am satisfied, alter careful examination, that there is absolutely no foundation for the statement. No pole-axe was used in connection with this slaughter, and if animals were slaughtered by a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in the emergency because they had broken loose, it was also because there was not time to get a butcher to the spot.
§ Mr. NOEL BUXTON
Is it still the case that the humane killer is ordered by the Ministry and used in all cases?
Yes, it is always used and was used by a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in this particular case.
§ 43. Mr. HURD
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the British Government has agreed with the Government of the Argentine Republic that, despite the ravages of foot-and-mouth disease in that country, their beef trade with Great Britain will be allowed to continue on the assurance of increased inspection; and whether he will state the terms of any agreement or understanding?
In March. 1927, the Ministry asked three of the Governments of South America, which export, meat to this country, to accept certain proposals which were designed to prevent the introduction of virus of foot-and-mouth 27 disease into Great Britain. In December last, Lord Bledisloe, who was then Parliamentary Secretary, conferred with representatives of the Argentine, Uruguayan and Brazilian Governments and Mr. Frood, our inspector who was negotiating with the Governments concerned. As a result of Lord Bledisloe's mission the Argentine Government issued a decree. which took effect on the 1st February, the main provision of which is that the carcases of infected animals and those which have been in immediate contact with them shall not be exported to Great Britain. The Uruguayan and Brazilian Governments have adopted similar regulations. Lord Bledisloe reports that all three Governments are increasing their efforts to get foot-and-mouth disease under rontrol.
§ 44. Mr. HURD
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, as a result of the inquiries made by his Department, he can make a statement as to the degree and extent of foot-and-mouth disease in the Argentine Republic; and whether chilled carcases of infected cattle killed for export to this country retain the disease in virulent form?
No official statistics are available which show the degree and extent of foot-and-mouth disease in the Argentine Republic, but our inspector who is stationed in that country reports that the disease is endemic. In a Second Progress Report, the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Research Committee reported that in two instances the bone marrow in carcases of experimentally infected animals which had been frozen or chilled for 76 days remained infective. There is thus experimental evidence that chilled or frozen carcases of infected foreign cattle might introduce disease in this country, but there is no conclusive evidence that this happens under ordinary trade conditions.
That is why we sent out the mission—to make sure that infected animals would not leave the frigorificos for export to this country.