HL Deb 17 July 1874 vol 221 cc197-200

asked the Lord President, Whether it is intended to carry out in Ireland the recommendations of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Contagious Diseases (Animals) with regard to pleuro-pneumonia? There was great need for action in this matter. Out of 97 cases of pleuro-pneumonia which had occurred in Norfolk, 33 were cases which had occurred within the last two months, and many of them came from Ireland. Many districts of Ireland depended as much on cattle as Manchester did on cotton, and any outbreak of pleuro-pneumonia in that country would reduce a large portion of the inhabitants to great loss and misery. The Committee of last year—a most competent Committee—recommended unanimously that the law as to compensation should be changed where beasts were slaughtered on account of pleuro-pneumonia, and he wished to know whether the Government were prepared to take steps to carry out that recommendation. It was absolutely necessary that sufficient compensation should be given, because it would be impossible to detect the presence of the disease unless it was made the interest of the persons whose cattle were affected to give information at the earliest stage. In the next place, the Committee recommended that the slaughtering of the diseased cattle should be compulsory, and that isolation should be strictly enforced. The recommendations of the Government had been carried out in England and Scotland, but not in Ireland; and the reason given for not carrying them out in Ireland was that the compensation for slaughtered cattle would have to come from a different source from what it did in England—namely, a national rate; because the law would have to be enforced by an officer of the central Government, whereas in England it was enforced by the county police, and the compensation came out of the county rate. In Ireland he thought the security for the enforcement of the law was probably greater than in England, because the Irish constabulary were distributed all over the country, and were directed by the central Government, to whom any neglect of duty would be at once reported. He hoped the noble Duke opposite would be able to inform them that the regulations now in force in England and Scotland would be applied to Ireland, and that in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee, founded on the evidence of all the witnesses, the compensation to be given should be increased to two-thirds or three-fourths of the loss to the person whose cattle were slaughtered. His experience justified him in saying that there was an unanimous feeling in favour of these steps being taken to check the spread of so serious an evil as pleuro-pneumonia in Ireland.


said, he was very sorry not to be able to give the noble Lord so satisfactory an answer as he desired to receive. He admitted the very great importance of the subject, and the necessity of taking any practicable stops to check the spread of pleuro-pneumonia, but he was surprised to hear that its ravages were so great in Ireland as the remarks of the noble Lord indicated. [Lord EMLY did not say it existed now.] Well, but its existence would be the natural ground for asking that stringent measures should be adopted; and if the ravages in Ireland were not equal to the ravages in Great Britain, where was the basis of demand for equal treatment? The fact was that pleuro-pneumonia did not at the present moment exist to any great extent in Ireland, and therefore the Government were not prepared to carry out the same stringent regulations which were in force in England and Scotland. In reference to what had been said about 33 cases in Norfolk having come from Ireland, he was informed by the authorities in Ireland that animals were branded before they left that country, so that it they were found to be affected with disease, the farm from which they had come would be known at once from the brand; and very few animals had been reported as developing the disease after leaving Ireland. In the month of June, in Ireland, there were outbreaks upon 98 farms, and in the same month, in England, upon 313 farms; there were 114 animals attacked in Ireland, and 801 in England; and the cattle population of Ireland was 4,486,453; while that of England was 5,564,549. In Ireland two animals out of 1,000,000 were at-tacked, and in Great Britain 10 out of 1,000,000; so that the excess in Great Britain was something like 5 to 1. The Irish Government, therefore, were not under these circumstances, prepared to adopt stringent measures. For himself, he believed the different position of Ireland in regard to its police was a difficulty rather than assistance in assimilating the practice of the two countries. The police were the last men to be entrusted with the duties of inspection, and there would be a difficulty in finding properly Qualified veterinary Inspectors. A farmer would be tempted to report that an animal, not the most valuable on his farm, was attacked with pleuropneumonia, for the purpose of getting it destroyed and receiving compensation; and as it would come out of a national rate there would be nobody in the immediate locality interested in seeing that the case was a bonâ fide one and that the country was not imposed upon. No doubt, if the ravages of pleuro-pneu-monia were to increase in Ireland, the Government would do something more; and they had their attention fully fixed upon the subject. A Bill had passed both Houses enabling money to be raised for the purpose of compensating owners of cattle compulsorily slaughtered, but until the disease assumed larger proportions than it had at present attained, he did not think that the Irish Government were prepared to undertake compulsory slaughter.


differed from the noble Duke. He thought the facts stated by his noble Friend (Lord Emly), afforded the strongest reasons for immediate action on the part of the Irish Government. The very time to extirpate disease was when the cases were few, by waiting they only increased the final difficulty ten-fold. When he was in Ireland, as Lord Lieutenant, the Cattle Plague was raging in England, and it was upon his advice that compensation to be paid to Irish farmers was to be made out of the general funds; but he agreed that as regarded losses from pleuro-pneumonia, compensation should be provided by the baronies and districts in Ireland. He hoped that the Government in Ireland would give their serious attention to this subject. They should not be deterred by the fact that there were no veterinary surgeons, because they would appear if they were well paid for their services. He considered that the same laws in this respect should be applied to England, Ireland, and Scotland, for he regarded the present state of things as one of national concern.