THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
said, it was rather late to present petitions in reference to a Bill that had received the Royal Assent; two petitions, however, had been intrusted to him having reference to what was called the Cattle Diseases Prevention Bill, but which should properly be called the Cattle Extirpation Bill. The first was from the justices of the peace of the county of Ross, the other from the landed proprietors, tenant-farmers, manufacturers, merchants, and others of Easter Ross, praying that vigorous measures might be taken for stamping out the cat- 806 tle plague—by which they meant the in-discriminate slaughter of every animal—and the indemnification of the owners.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, he had not been aware that it was intended to pass the Bill through all its stages so hurriedly, or he should have been present the night before. The House having resolved upon the indiscriminate slaughter of cattle throughout the country, it was of vital importance that the Government should ascertain at the earliest possible moment the amount of stock actually in the country. The Department specially intrusted with that duty was doing its best to procure information upon the point; but the Returns which it was empowered to collect were only voluntary. The Government, therefore, ought to take the first opportunity of obtaining Parliamentary powers compelling Returns to be made of the amount of live stock in the country. He perceived that power had been given to the Privy Council of continuing the slaughter of cattle beyond the period fixed by the Act in the first instance. As there was no saying what advice the Government might receive, or what they might think fit to do, it became of double importance that they should not be acting in the dark. Foreign importation could not be relied upon as a source of supply; and it might turn out, after an enormous number of beasts had been killed, that indiscriminate slaughter would not prove successful. When last this country was visited by the cattle plague 100,000 head of cattle were annihilated without stopping or alleviating the infliction. With the information, however, in their possession as to the actual quantity of stock at present in the country, the Government would know how far it was wise to go; and he therefore suggested that clauses on this subject should be introduced into the Bill at present before the other House of Parliament.
§ LORD LYTTELTON
asked whether it was the fact that all the cattle affected with the disease, and now under treatment, whether by Mr. Worms or any other person, even though they might exhibit promising symptoms, were to be destroyed, or whether power existed anywhere to avert this doom, under a special representation of circumstances.
§ LORD TAUNTON
fully agreed with the noble Duke opposite as to the importance of taking powers to render compulsory the collection of information; and hoped that 807 agriculturists would now be reconciled to this proceeding annually, for, if once adopted, they would find it to be attended with the greatest benefit.