HL Deb 08 March 1866 vol 181 cc1695-707

[The Amendments made by the Select Committee, by the omission, alteration, and insertion of clauses, were so numerous, that it is difficult to follow the exact course of the discussion in the Committee.]

House in Committee (according to Order).


said, he should ask the House to consent to the re-arrangement of the clauses of the Bill, because it had been so altered in the Committee of the House of Commons and in the Select Committee, that the clauses relating to the primary object of the Bill were inconveniently scattered.

Several clauses, the omission of which was proposed by the Select Committee, were struck out; several new clauses proposed to be inserted by the Select Committee, were agreed to, and ordered to stand part of the Bill:—Clauses struck out.

Clause 14 (Penalty for moving contrary to Act).


instanced a case of peculiar hardship, in which a boy charged with infringing the law in reference to the cattle plague was fined, the master, although the boy had acted by his directions, refusing to pay the penalty. He therefore proposed the insertion of words giving the magistrates power under such circumstances to summon the master, and impose the penalty upon the person by whose orders the law was infringed, instead of on the person actually committing the offence.

Clause postponed.

Clause E (Continuation of Part I. of Cattle Diseases Act).


said, their Lordships had recently passed an Act by which the slaughter of infected cattle was rendered compulsory until the 15th of April. The effect of the clause now before the House was to repeal the powers of the Privy Council given under the 12th section of the previous Act. He therefore proposed to amend the clause by giving power to the Privy Council to continue the compulsory slaughter clause of the previous Act after the 15th of April, in case they should think fit to do so, with certain qualifications; so that instead of giving the Privy Council a discretionary power at once to discontinue compulsory slaughter, in the terms of the clause, his Amendment would defer that discretionary power until after the 15th of April.

Amendment proposed. In Clause E., added by the Select Committee, moved to leave out ("Notwithstanding anything in The Cattle Diseases Prevention Act, 1866, it shall be lawful for the Lords of Her Majesty's Privy Council from Time to Time by Order to") and insert ("Her Majesty may in continuing from Time to Time, or renewing if expired, the Provisions of Part I. of The Cattle Diseases Prevention Act, 1866, relating to the Slaughter of diseased Animals.")—(The Duke of Richmond.)


said, he was anxious that there should be as little alteration as possible in the Bill, which hail passed the Select Committee after much care had been bestowed upon it; but the clause proposed to be amended was in direct opposition to a decision to which the House came by a very large majority a few days ago. The clause as it stood would place the Privy Council in a most invidious position, for they could scarcely exercise the power proposed to be given to them in the face of what had passed. The slaughtering clause had been adopted by a vary large majority in both Houses, and yet it was sought to give the Privy Council for the next four or five weeks a discretion to relax that power of slaughter, though it was almost impossible that within those few weeks any new facts could arise to make that relaxation necessary. It was quite reasonable that the executive Government should have some discretion in order to give elasticity to the working of the Bill as new circumstances became known; but it would be useless to give such a power for a few weeks only.


said, the effect of the Amendment would really be to reverse the decision of the Select Committee, and to bring the clause back to the form in which it originally stood. He was responsible for the present clause, which was to the effect that the Privy Council should act at once, without waiting until after the 15th of April, when the indiscriminate slaughter might cease. The question of indiscriminate slaughter had been very carefully considered by the Committee, and this clause, after an hour's deliberation, was adopted by nine votes to seven. There was scarcely an instance in which a Bill referred to a Select Committee bad undergone more important and extensive alterations. The whole construction had been altered, and a totally new principle adopted. The noble Duke who proposed to amend the clause said that the 12th clause of the former Act, giving a power of indiscriminate slaughter, had been approved by both Houses of Parliament; but it should not be forgotten that the Bill by which that was enacted was passed so rapidly that there was no time for its consideration by Members, or to ascertain the opinion of the country upon the subject; and as it now appeared that there were quite as many against as in favour of indiscriminate slaughter, he thought he was justified in the Amendment which the Com- mittee had adopted. When the Government Bill was proposed Parliament was called upon to legislate in a panic, and, as a last resource, this remedy was seized to arrest the progress of the disease. At that time the disease was spreading rapidly and no cure for it was known, but since then the circumstances had greatly altered. Of late letter after letter had appeared in the newspapers deprecating indiscriminate slaughter. It was stated, in the first place, that in foreign countries, where the disease was thoroughly known and where the mode of treating it was properly understood, it was the practice to distinguish between animals that should be slaughtered and those that should be saved. It was important that the Committee should understand the ground upon which they were going to decide, since upon their decision would depend the lives of a great number of very valuable cattle in different parts of the country. What were the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners upon this subject, as contained in their first Report? They said, in reference to the power of slaughter— This power is right and useful when the disease has appeared only at isolated spots, and attacked a few animals; the public benefit is then very great, and the private sacrifice small; but in proportion as it extends the hope of thus arresting its march diminishes, the inevitable waste increases, and the sense of hardship tends to become insupportable. Truer remarks were never made. The compensation provided by the other House in no case met the requirements of the case. As the disease spread and animals were carried off the value of the living animal became greater, and he knew that animals in Cheshire formerly worth £10 or £15, would now fetch £50. The Commissioners also said— When the disease has widely diffused itself, and disappears atone point only to appear at another, the difficulties of isolation become greater, and the chances of its being efficacious less. Isolation was, therefore, the concomitant of a system of slaughter. There could be no more accurate description than that the disease disappeared at one point only to appear at another. It had reappeared where slaughter had been adopted especially in Scotland, where the system of slaughter had been greatly relied on and many counties which had not resorted to slaughtering had not suffered more than those that had relied open it. He did not ask the Committee to stop the system of slaughtering, as there might be cases in which slaughtering was necessary; but he asked the Committee to give a discretion to local authorities. The whole structure of the Bill was based upon the principle that discretion was to be allowed to local authorities; and it was highly important that the slaughtering of animals and the rating of owners for compensation should be left with those authorities. It was apparently lame legislation to pass without sufficient evidence a stringent measure, applying generally to the whole country, to kill at one fell swoop the most valuable animals in price and for breeding purposes. Most valuable cows belonging to a tenant of his which might never have taken the disease had been destroyed, simply because the local authorities had felt impelled by the stringent nature of the Act to strain its clauses to the utmost, if not to exceed the power the Legislature intended them to exercise. He therefore asked their Lordships, in the first place, to maintain the decision of their Committee; and, next, to maintain the principle on which it was founded by giving discretion to local authorities. Nothing could be more unadvisable than to have a statute which local authorities might consider they were not bound to carry out because of its stringency; and he was told that some magistrates in the north of England had determined to invest their officers with discretion, because it would require a regiment of soldiers to enforce the law. He had prepared a clause which he would move, if it was the opinion of the Committee that such discretion should be allowed. Instead of leaving it to the Privy Council to grant discretion, he would propose that the local authorities should exercise the power of sparing animals likely to recover, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Cattle Diseases Act. If their Lordships would rescind the clause in the Bill be would propose a clause to the effect stated.


said, he thought the form of discretion proposed by the clause as it stood was more objectionable than either of the propositions of the two noble Dukes, and he should be prepared, if the clause were withdrawn, to vote for a clause giving discretion to the local authorities. The experiment which it was desired to try by the 15th of April was not being tried, and would not be tried. In Cheshire, in Forfarshire, and in another county, magistrates had formally resolved that they would not instruct the inspectors to slaughter convalescent cattle. An experiment of the kind could not be tried without the co- operation of the local authorities; and, whatever the Legislature might decide by an Act, they were at the mercy of the local authorities even more than they were under Orders in Council, because under Orders a part of the payment came from the Government, whereas under an Act inspectors and others were absolutely servants of the local authorities. How could it be expected that they would do that which they considered unjust and injurious? He had heard of farmers who would not allow their cattle to be slaughtered except by compulsion. As it would be injurious to impose penalties upon a great number of poor persons for violating the law, and as it would bring legislation into contempt to have boards of magistrates declaring they could not put the law in force, he should vote for giving discretion to local authorities.


hoped the noble Duke would see the advantage of adhering to the decision come to by the Select Committee, and would not propose what they had negatived.


said, he had given notice of an Amendment— That the Committee of the Lords of the Privy Council shall have power to authorize the suspension or relaxation of any of the Provisions of this Act, or of the Cattle Diseases Prevention Act, on the application of the local authority in any of the counties in Scotland; the same to be published in the Gazette and in the local newspapers of the County, because he felt there had been a change in public feeling. The resolution in favour of slaughter was carried at the Perth meeting by a small majority, an amendment which he proposed being negatived, and when the Highland Society adopted the petition which had been presented, it was taken by surprise, and many who were in favour of it were now earnestly entreating Parliament not to give effect to what had been their wish. The principal promoter of it now wrote— In despair at the apparent apathy of the many, I became a convert to the kill and compensate theory. I now have gone back to the idea that with breeding stock it will only add to the calamity, and the cry immediately must be 'Stop the slaughter.' He had a still stronger letter from another member of the Highland Society, who said— The interest your Lordship is well known to take in the cattle plague will, I hope, excuse my addressing you on the subject. Though I have, from the first, supported the 'stamping-out' system, if carried out under certain conditions not embodied in the new Bill, and consequently have been an opponent to the system of which your Lordship has been the consistent advocate, I have now, from experience, been obliged to change my views. I have, by following the treatment recommended by your Lordship, been so fortunate as to see a good proportion of my stock recover, and this has also been the same case among my neighbours who have pursued the same course. A large percentage has recovered and is recovering in this district, and the disease appears to be assuming an increasingly mild type. Under these circumstances, it is natural that we live in constant fear of the new Act coining into operation. Its provisions will, if rigidly enforced, sweep off the remnant of our stock, of which, speaking from my own experience, from one-half to two-thirds might otherwise be saved. Were the sacrifice likely to conduce to the benefit of others, it might be patiently borne, but it is difficult to see how the slaughter of only the animals actually seized can extinguish the disease, which must continue to linger in our herds until they are sent to grass, when all control over them will cease. The almost universal feeling in this district is hostility to the Bill, and a determination to resist its provisions by every means. It will confer a great benefit on us if your Lordship would be pleased to exert your influence to get the slaughtering clause of the Act modified or its action postponed, which would be the means of saving a great deal of valuable stock. Now, that letter was written by a tenant-farmer, who belonged to the class of persons of whom the local authority would be composed. How, then, could it be expected that the law would be carried out? Numerous instances had occurred in which herds had been saved by proper treatment, and it ought to be borne in mind that the power of slaughtering animals was placed in the hands of inspectors who were quite ignorant of the nature of the disease. Many animals which were supposed to be attacked by the cattle plague had been, in reality, suffering from other complaints. There certainly ought to be some discretion vested either in the Privy Council or some other body, because some counties were placed in a very different position from others. In Forfarshire, for instance, it would be very hard if the farmers, who were also, for the most part, cattle dealers, were obliged to make a clean sweep of all their stock.


said, he was very sorry this subject had been again brought before their Lordships, for he thought the clause which had been carried on a previous evening by a very large majority was a most important one. He regretted to hear that the farmers in some parts of the country had changed their opinions on this subject. That change, however, had taken place be- cause a mild form of the disease had broken out in those districts. Now, if animals were slaughtered in one county and allowed to remain alive in another, those who carried out the provisions of the Act would have all their efforts rendered null by their neighbours. That, he thought, would not be only unjust but impolitic. He might express his belief that if Baron Rothschild had adopted the "stamping out" system instead of Mr. Worms' method of treatment, he would not have lost so many animals as he had. In conclusion, he most strongly urged their Lordships to maintain the decision which they had arrived at the other night.

On Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause," their Lordships divided:—Contents 24; Not-Contents 57: Majority 33:—Resolved in the Negative.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

York, Archp. Romney, E.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Buckingham and Chan-dos, D. [Teller.]
Marlborough, D. [Teller] Eversley, V.
Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.)
Airlie, E.
Belmore, E. De Tabley, L.
Brooke and Warwick, E. Feversham, L.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Londesborough, L.
Lyveden, L.
Northwick, L.
Ellenborough, E. Rossie, L.(L. Kinnaird)
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.) Sheffield, L. (E. Sheffield.)
Harewood, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Leven and Melville, E. Wharncliffe, L.
Cranworth, L. (L. Chancellor.) Derby, E.
Devon, E.
Ducie, E.
Cleveland, D. Granville, E.
Devonshire, D. Grey, E.
Richmond, D. Hardwicke, E.
Somerset, D. Harrowby, E.
Lichfield, E.
Ailesbury, M. Lucan, E.
Bath, M. Minto, E.
Camden, M. Powis, E.
Exeter, M. Shrewsbury, E.
Normanby, M. Sommers, E.
Salisbury, M. Spencer, E.
Stanhope, E.
Albemarle, E. Tankerville, E.
Cadogan, E.
Carnarvon, E. Hawarden, V.
Chichester, E. Hill, V.
Clarendon, E. Sydney, V.
Cowper, E.
De Grey, E. Abinger, L.
De La Warr, E. Belper, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) Monson, L.
Mostyn, L.
Camoys, L. Overstone, L.
Chelmsford, L. Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) [Teller.]
Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin and Claneboye.)
Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
Egerton, L. Stratheden, L.
Foley, L. [Teller.] Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Houghton, L.
Keane, L. Walsingham, L.
Kilmaine, L.

proposed a clause to follow Clause E—

(Power for Local Authority to exempt from Slaughter Animals Recovering.) Notwithstanding anything in 'The Cattle Diseases Prevention Act, 1866,' it shall not be obligatory on any Local Authority to cause any Animal affected with the Cattle Plague within their District to be slaughtered in any Case where it is made to appear to the Satisfaction of the Local Authority, or of any Officer authorized in that behalf by them, that the Animal is likely to recover from the Attack of the Cattle Plague, subject, nevertheless, in every such Case to the Observance by the Person in whose Possession or Keeping the Animal affected is of all such Conditions as the Local Authority from Time to Time think fit to prescribe for the Purpose of securing the Isolation of the Animal affected."—(The Duke of Marlborough.)


supported the clause. What was the use of talking of Mr. Worms' medicine or any other medicine if Parliament declared that all cattle when once attacked by the disease must be slaughtered? He did not think we were justified in throwing up all hope and getting into a state of despair because it had pleased Providence to allow this plague to attack our cattle. It was our duty to endeavour to cure it and overcome the calamity. There was a letter from the Consul at Warsaw, which distinctly declared that the disease had been cured; and only the other day we heard of this remarkable occurrence:—Three-fourths of a herd were slaughtered because they had the disease, and, as well as he remembered, seven more were condemned. For some time these seven would not drink, but having been turned to water in which lime had been slaked, they did drink readily and were well in a few days. With such facts before us were we to say the disease was incurable? We should be guided by experience and not by learned disquisitions which required that a man must have read extensively before he could understand them. We never should get rid of this cattle plague till we had got rid of the plague of trusting to professors rather than to common sense.


said, the question their Lordships had to decide at the moment was not whether the disease was curable, but whether, in the present state of our information on the subject, a destruction of the infected animals was not the more prudent course?


said, a recent return from Scotland stated that of 1,300 animals attacked 653, or nearly one-third, recovered.

After a short discussion, which was not audible,

On Question? their Lordships divided:—Contents 24; Not-Contents 50: Majority 26:—Resolved in the Negative.

York, Archp. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Buckingham and Chan-dos, D.
Eversley, V.
Marlborough, D. [Teller]
De Tabley, L.
Normanby, M. Feversham, L.
Londesborough, L.
Airlie, E. Lyveden, L.
Belmore, E. Northwick, L.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) [Teller.] Rossie, L. (L. Kinnaird)
Skelmersdale, L.
Southampton, L.
Ellenborough, E. Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)
Walsingham, L.
Leven and Melville, E. Wharncliffe, L.
Romney, E.
Cranworth, L. (L. Chancellor.) Spencer, E.
Stanhope, E.
Tankerville, E.
Cleveland, D.
Devonshire, D. Hawarden, V.
Richmond, D. Hill, V.
Somerset, D. Sydney, V.
Ailesbury, M. Abinger L.
Bath, M. Belper, L.
Camden, M. Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)
Exeter, M.
Salisbury, M. Chelmsford, L.
Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin and Claneboye.)
Cadogan, E.
Carnarvon, E.
Clarendon, E. Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.)
Cowper, E.
De Grey, E. Egerton, L.
De la Warr, E. Foley, L. [Teller.]
Derby, E. Houghton, L.
Ducie, E. Keane, L.
Granville, E. Kilmaine, L.
Grey, E. Monson, L,
Hardwicke, E. Mostyn, L.
Harrowby, E. Overstone, L.
Lichfield, E. Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) [Teller.]
Lucan, E.
Powis, E. Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
Shrewsbury, E.
Sommers, E. Stratheden, L.

Clauses 28 to 31, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 32 struck out:—Clauses 33 to 35 amended, and agreed to:—Clauses 36 to 38 struck out:—Clauses 39 and 40 amended, and agreed to:—Clause 41 struck out:—Clause 42 amended, and agreed to.


proposed the insertion of a clause, authorizing the justice to cause Employer to be summoned in certain cases instead of the person who has acted under bis orders.

Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill.

THE EARL OF LICHFIELD moved to insert the following Clause before Clause 43:— From and after the End of Seven Days next after the Day of the passing of this Act, no Market, Fair, Public Auction, Exhibition, or Public Sale of Cattle shall be held; subject, nevertheless, to the following Provisions:— 1. At any Time after the First Day of July One thousand eight hundred and sixty-six the Privy Council may, by Order, on the Application of any Local Authority, suspend the Prohibition contained in the present Section within the District of that Local Authority, or any Part thereof; and the Privy Council may at any Time vary or revoke, and may from Time to Time renew, any such Order of Suspension: 2. The Prohibition contained in the present Section shall not prevent the Holding in Liverpool or Glasgow of any Market, Fair, Auction, Exhibition, or public Sale of Cattle imported there directly from Ireland; but if at any Time the Cattle Plague exists in Ireland, the Privy Council may, by Order, extend the Prohibition contained in the present Section to Liverpool and Glasgow, or either of them, temporarily or otherwise, and the Privy Council may at any Time vary or revoke, and may from Time to Time renew, any such Order of Extension.—(The Earl of Lichfield.)


regretted that the noble Earl had been unable to be a member of the Select Committee, by whom this question of the prohibition of fairs and markets had been fully discussed, and rejected by a majority of nine to six. He trusted that their Lordships would support the decision of the Committee. It would be impossible to carry out one uniform system throughout the country unless the local authorities were with them, and it appeared to him not to be desirable to fetter the action of the Privy Council in the manner proposed by the noble Earl.


said, he had framed clauses to nearly the same effect, and therefore concurred in the clause proposed by his noble Friend (the Earl of Lichfield), because he believed that great danger would be incurred by purchasing cattle, and especially store stock, during the summer months in fairs and markets. The experiment of permitting a fair for the purpose of selling store cattle had been tried at Barnet, but the regulations adopted on the occasion had entirely broken down, notwithstanding the presence of a large body of mounted inspectors; and the result was that the disease had been extended by means of that fair. He thought that after the experience we had lately gained we need be under no fear as to the practicability of large towns being supplied through dead-meat markets; and, in his opinion, it would be advisable to adopt that system generally, as, besides the danger of extending the disease incurred in bringing the cattle up to the metropolitan market, the flesh of animals that had been put to torture in railway trucks, or which had been overdriven, was not nearly so fit for human food as was that of healthy cattle which had been killed in pure country air. For instance, he had been informed that meat killed in Aberdeenshire and sent up to the metropolitan markets would keep longer even in the summer months than meat which had been killed in London; and in these days of telegraphs and of railways not the slightest difficulty would be experienced in supplying London entirely with meat which had been killed in the country. He attributed the slight rise in price of the best descriptions of beef during the last two days to be owing to the system not yet having got into working order.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 24; Not-Contents 22: Majority 2:—Resolved in the Affirmative.

Clause added to the Bill.

Buckingham and Chandos, D. Lichfield, E. [Teller.]
Powis, E.
Cleveland, D. Romney, E.
Spencer, E. [Teller.]
Bath, M.
Normanby, M. Hawarden, V.
Salisbury, M. Hill, V.
Belmore, E. Belper, L.
Derby, E. Monson, L.
Ducie, E. Northwick, L.
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.) Redesdale, L.
Southampton, L.
Grey, E. Stratheden, L.
Harrowby, E. Walsingham, L.
Cranworth, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lucan, E.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Richmond, D.
Somerset, D. Sydney, V.
Ailesbury, M. Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin and Claneboye.)
Airlie, E.
Clarendon, E. De Tabley, L.
De Grey, E. Foley, L. [Teller.]
De La Warr, E. Lyveden, L.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Mostyn, L.
Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) [Teller.]
Granville, E. Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Hardwicke, E.
Leven and Melville, E.

Clauses 43 to 53, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause H (Power for Privy Council to require Statistical Returns of Cattle).

On the Motion of The Earl of POWIS Amendment made relieving the Local Authorities from the cost of making the Statistical Returns required by the Privy Council,

Remaining clauses agreed to. Standing Orders Nos. 37 and 38 considered (according to Order), and dispensed with; Amendments reported; further Amendments made: Bill read 3ª, and passed, and sent to the Commons; and Bill to be printed, as amended. (No. 43.)