HC Deb 22 June 1931 vol 254 cc23-5
65. Brigadier-General BROWN

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease have occurred since 1st January, 1931; and, seeing that the recent outbreak has been traced to cattle imported from Ireland, what steps has he taken as regards cattle imported from Ireland and has the outbreak spread?


Thirty-five outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease have occurred since the 17th June, in addition to five in the previous part of the year. The landing of all cattle, sheep, goats and swine from Ireland was prohibited on the 17th June, on which date the disease was first discovered amongst Irish animals landed on the 11th June. In view of the widespread distribution of cattle landed from Ireland which had taken place between those dates it was clearly necessary to adopt comprehensive measures to cope with this serious situation in an endeavour to get ahead of rather than follow up the disease. I therefore issued on 19th June a standstill order controlling the movement of all animals throughout Great Britain. I am very conscious of the serious inconvenience which such an Order involves and am grateful for the support which I am receiving from the agricultural community. The House may be assured that the restrictions will be removed from time to time from areas which prove not to be infected as soon as that course can be taken with safety.

Up to 10 a.m. this morning 33 outbreaks had been confirmed since the 17th June in the following counties:

Durham 1
Lancashire 13
Westmorland 2
Cumberland 1
North Riding of Yorkshire 2
Kincardine 1
Perth and Kinross 9
Angus (Forfar) 1
Fife 3
Brigadier-General BROWN

While congratulating the Minister on the steps that he has taken here, may I ask him how foot-and-mouth disease could break out in Ireland and not be known there until it was discovered here? What regulations have they there?


We have communicated with the Government of Northern Ireland. It did break out there, and it was discovered here first. That is all that I can say. It has now been traced to various places in Ireland.


In view of the fact that it has only been found in one county in Northern Ireland, will the right hon. Gentleman keep in mind the possibility of relieving the other five counties from the restriction imposed upon them?


The hon. Member must recollect that the animals having been put on board ship might make for widespread infection. I cannot do what he asks at the present time.


Will the right hon. Gentleman permit of them being shipped from another port other than Belfast, for instance, from Derry, which is hundreds of miles from the scene of the infection?


Can the right hon. Gentleman say if the Order to which he has referred precludes the landing of animals for immediate slaughter?


Yes, it precludes the landing of animals.


Can the right hon. Gentleman make it quite clear that none of this infection comes from Southern Ireland, the Irish Free State, and will he therefore permit that the Order of restriction shall not be for so long a period for Southern Ireland as for Northern Ireland?


I have noticed that, but the hon. and gallant Member must be aware that the ships are infected through the animals that have been transshipped. Therefore, I cannot exclude any area at this stage.


Does the Order apply to Canadian store cattle?


No, it does not apply to Canadian store cattle. We have not traced any infection from them.