§ EARL FORTESCUE
rose to ask the Lord President of the Council whether the Cattle Plague had spread any further; and to call attention to the Resolution of the Royal Agricultural Society against the importation of any live stock from abroad. A very critical state of things, he observed, was created by the fact of cattle plague having now existed in the country for more than a month. He admitted that the measures taken by the Lord President since the appearance of the cattle plague had been characterized by vigour and excellent judgment, with a readiness to take upon himself the responsibility of any attempt to stamp out the disease before it could spread. But he found, on the high authority of Mr. Fleming, that the noble Duke was misinformed in stating, as he had done on a former occasion, that it never had appeared in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, or Portugal. In the last century its ravages had been terrible in the four first-named countries; and in Portugal, also, it had done extensive damage. In 1809 cattle, sheep, and meat were in the list of imported articles which were prohibited; and again by an Act passed in 1825 (6 Geo. IV., c. 107) they were prohibited, excepting 600 head which were allowed to come to this country from the Isle of Man. On a former occasion the noble Duke had expressed an opinion that to stop the importation of live cattle would be an interference with vested interests. Now, as to vested interests which might have grown up in regard to the non-slaughtering of beasts imported from 97 abroad, they were of recent origin, and therefore entitled to less respect than if they had been long in existence and a large capital invested in the trade. There had been a discussion at the Council Board of the Royal Agricultural Society, and a resolution was proposed that animals should be slaughtered at the ports of debarkation; but an Amendment was carried that as the precautions theretofore adopted for the prevention of rinderpest into this country had not been successful, nothing short of total prevention of all importation of live cattle from European ports would meet the exigencies of the case. The same views had been expressed in Leicestershire and at other places where meetings had been held. This, at any rate, showed that agriculturalists entertained a feeling of alarm which could not be called unreasonable looking at the large amount of loss which they sustained on the last occasion of the rinderpest visiting this country. He knew that the noble Duke would view this Resolution as a reactionary measure, and opposed to the principles of free trade; but they protested not against the importation of all stock, but only against the importation of fat stock—a kind of stock which was unable to endure a sea voyage and a long quarantine without great loss to the importer, through deterioration; so much so, indeed, as to prevent importation at a profit. In demanding the exclusion of fat stock he knew there were more advantages in bringing it over alive than dead; but he was not seeking protection from competition, but protection from the introduction and spread of cattle disease. He contended that if the Government established a quarantine of sufficient duration, so as to insure immunity against the spread of any contagion by animals having disease latent in them, the evil would cure itself. Lean stock would very easily submit to the detention, but fat stock would suffer deterioration and consequently expense to the owner. Moreover, it was to be remembered that a large amount of suffering was endured by these animals during their transit, and that many died before leaving the port of debarkation. He hoped that the noble Duke would be able to give their Lordships a favourable account of the present state of the country in regard to cattle plague.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
said, he could assure the noble Earl and their Lordships that the Government were fully alive to the importance of this subject. The magnitude of the interests involved in the question—to the producers on the one hand, and to the consumers on the other—it was not possible to over estimate. He might add that, being largely engaged in agricultural pursuits both in the North of Scotland and the South of England, he had himself a considerable personal interest in the matter. He could therefore assure the noble Earl that this subject was one which had occupied the attention of the Government before the noble Earl brought it before their Lordships on a former occasion, and that it had not ceased to occupy their earnest attention since the first outbreak occurred. The noble Earl's Question might be divided into two parts—First, whether the cattle disease had spread any further than it had reached when the last statement was made in this House; and, secondly, whether the importation of live stock from abroad ought not to be prohibited. It being convenient to divide the Question into those two heads, he (the Duke of Richmond) would address himself to each—because the one contained a proposition quite distinct from the other. First, in regard to the cattle plague and its present complexion. Their Lordships would remember that the disease broke out at Deptford in a cargo of cattle brought from Hamburgh on January 15. It made its appearance at Limehouse shortly after that date; and had broken out in that immediate neighbourhood in one place or another on several occasions; he included Stratford as part of that limited area in the metropolis. All these outbreaks occurred before the 12th of March. Since that date no further report had been received from that area. At Hull the disease made its appearance on the 15th of February; about that time there were three or four outbreaks, but none had been reported to the Department since the 6th March. The only other outbreak had taken place in a mysterious way at a place in Lincolnshire, some nine miles from Hull. It made its appearance there on the 9th March, on a farm at Ulceby. All the animals on that farm were immediately destroyed, and the farm had been com- 99 pletely isolated—nothing was allowed to go upon it. The house was not occupied by the gentleman who farmed the lands, as he had a large business elsewhere; but a bailiff and one or two other persons were employed there. However, it had been isolated by not allowing any animals to go upon it, and he hoped that they would not hear of any further outbreaks in that locality or anywhere else. As he had stated, they had had no outbreak in London since the 12th of March, nor at Hull since the 6th. With regard to the measures which had been adopted to meet any outbreak, he might state again that Orders in Council were issued on the 16th and 18th January placing Germany, Belgium, and France in a Schedule, the effect of which was that sheep and goats from those countries must be slaughtered at the port of debarkation, and on the 27th January an Order was passed prohibiting the importation of cattle from Germany or Belgium, and from those countries since that date neither live animals nor meat in carcase could be brought over. These measures, it was to be observed, were adopted before the cattle plague had spread over the country. When the disease broke out at Limehouse the holding of fairs and markets in the district was prohibited; and it was ordered that beasts coming from the Netherlands must be slaughtered at the port of debarkation. An Order in Council was also issued on the 13th February authorizing all local authorities to stop fairs and markets in their respective districts and to prohibit the movement of cattle if they should see fit to do so, and several of those bodies had availed themselves of those powers. On two occasions he had, to save time, taken upon himself to advise that an Order in Council should be issued to stop fairs and markets in the East Riding of Yorkshire and in Lincolnshire. This was previous to the outbreak of the disease in that county, and, therefore, when the outbreak did occur, no fairs or markets could be held and, as elsewhere, the authorities had power to prohibit the movement of cattle. Thus far, then, he thought it not unfair to assume that the stringent measures which had been adopted to stop the spread of this most terrible and insidious disease had been successful. He had so far given the 100 noble Earl all the information in his power as to the present state of the cattle plague in this country. He had now to offer to the noble Earl an apology for having on the previous occasion challenged certain statements he then made without being perfectly accurate himself. But the fact was he had at the moment lost sight of something which had been done by Order in Council, and in reference to the existence of cattle plague in Sweden and Norway he felt now that he was wrong in saying it was not known there; but when he said that he was not alluding to outbreaks in those and adjoining countries more than 100 years ago—he was speaking as to what had happened within the present century—and he was not sure, nor did he think the noble Earl could himself say, that the cattle disease which broke out in parts of Europe at that period was the same as that with which we had now to deal. No doubt the disease of that time made much havoc amongst the herds, but not such as the cattle plague had done. He now came to that part of the noble Earl's Question that related to the Resolution of the Royal Agricultural Society of the 7th March, and the amendments moved by Mr. Jacob Wilson, in favour of stopping the importation of foreign cattle altogether. He (the Duke of Richmond) supposed that in referring to that Resolution, his noble Friend intended not so much to express approval or disapproval of it, as to call attention to the subject generally. If that recommendation were carried into effect, the consequence would be the withdrawal from the supply of food for the people of this country of between 200,000 and 300,000 of cattle, 1,000,000 sheep, and 50,000 swine—in all, about 1,500,600 of animals a-year. Before doing that it must be a matter for serious consideration. Perhaps the noble Earl did not go the length of such a Resolution; but he wished to prevent the importation of all fat stock except in carcase; and yet he would allow the introduction of, and trade in, store cattle after they had undergone a quarantine of sufficient duration and strictness to insure other cattle immunity from the disease. As he had just stated, it was a matter for deep consideration whether there should be a total withdrawal of 1,500,000 animals from the supply to 101 this country; and a question would then arise whether that withdrawal would be compensated by the importation of dead meat from abroad. If it could be proved that that 1,500,000 which came in alive for the purposes of food would be represented by a like quantity of dead meat in carcase, there might be something said for the proposition; but his noble Friend would agree that there was a great difference between the trade in live animals and the trade in carcases. If they brought over to this country a quantity of fat stock, and the market was not good when the animals came in, they could be kept over for the next; but when meat was brought over in carcase it was liable to all the changes of weather, and it must be sold at some price or another within a certain time; if not it would become unfit for human food, and would be condemned. Therefore it was a consideration whether persons carrying on a business in live animals would be able and willing to send over meat in the carcase. These were matters which must enter into the consideration of those persons who had to deal with the food required for the daily consumption of the people. He would pass by—though it was a point that would have to be taken into account—the question of the great amount of food that was provided for the poorer class in towns from the offal of the animals which came over alive, and which would not be available if the meat was imported in carcase. He could give an illustration of the effect of putting a check on the importation of animals into this country. During the six years ending 1869 the country imported from France 112,618 cattle; but in 1870 France was placed in the scheduled countries—which meant that all animals coming from France had to be slaughtered at the port of debarkation, or undergo a quarantine; and those restrictions were so stringent that in the seven years following 1869 the number imported was only 24,095—showing a very great distinction between the two periods. All that showed how cautious they ought to be in carrying out the Resolution to which the noble Earl had referred. He did not admit that he was so great a convert as the noble Earl seemed to intimate. The noble Earl said that the Resolution ought to be enforced for the purpose of preventing the 102 introduction of cattle disease; but he seemed to have forgotten that foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia were cattle diseases, and were known in this country before foreign animals were permitted to come in. Therefore foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia were not dependent on the introduction of foreign stock. Cattle plague was another matter; but he understood the noble Earl's argument to apply to all— diseases.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
Was he then to understand the noble Earl to say that he would only seek to prevent the introduction of fat stock into the country to keep out the cattle plague, or would he equally exclude foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia? He apprehended that the Resolution was intended to exclude those two other other diseases as well; but they both existed in this country before foreign animals were admitted. He hoped that he had shown that as regarded all fat stock it would be necessary to proceed with the greatest possible caution before issuing an order for the purpose of keeping them out of this country. But the noble Earl said he would allow store stock to come in. He wanted to know why they were to make that distinction? If fat stock should not come in because of the fear of introducing cattle plague, why should store stock come in?—it would equally introduce the disease. If the argument was good in the one case it was equally good in the other. Once they granted that for the purpose of excluding cattle plague they ought to keep out fat stock, it was impossible to avoid the logical conclusion that they must also keep out store stock. A lean animal would just as easily introduce cattle plague as a fat animal would do. The noble Earl said it would be very easy to meet the difficulty by having quarantine in all cases, and to make it of sufficient strictness to secure immunity. He had often heard it said that we ought to have quarantine, but he had never met with any person who could state how it could be carried out. It sounded very well to the ear, but it would be one of the most difficult things in the world to carry into operation. 103 What was meant by a quarantine of sufficient time to ensure immunity from the spread of disease? A cargo of animals arrived at a port, and were placed in quarantine — disease broke out among them. If it were foot-and-mouth disease they might be cured; but if rinderpest they would be destroyed. Before the cattle were quite well, or the place disinfected, another lot of cattle arrived, quite free from the disease; that lot would have to be put into quarantine in the same place, and might catch the disease. It would be very hard on the owner of those cattle to put them in a place where they were sure to catch the disease, and keep them there until they were quite well, because they were not going to kill them, as they were store cattle. The result would therefore be that they would bring animals to a place which must become a hotbed of disease; and if they were there, and if they took the disease, and it was working among them, they would have to be kept for the period which might be fixed upon, and then they might go out to the country, and carry the plague to whatever part of the kingdom they might be sent. As far, therefore, as he could see, there was no mode in which they could practically carry out such a quarantine. First of all, they would have to establish very large quarantine grounds in various parts of the country. Could they do that at the ports at which the animals arrived? They would have to provide for them ground, and also pasture land for those animals which were grass-fed. They would have to set apart such an enormous space that it would be very difficult to carry out the plan. An experiment had been made at Harwich in respect to quarantine. Some cows and calves were landed from the Netherlands, and they were ordered to be slaughtered, as foot-and-mouth disease appeared among them; but the owners were rather rebellious, thinking that a very strong operation; and they asked that the animals might be allowed to be kept in quarantine. They were accordingly kept six weeks, until the animals affected got well. In the meantime, the shed was thoroughly infected, and at the expiration of that time the expense to the owners of the animals had been of so costly a character that the experiment was not one to 104 be repeated. There was the great question, also, to be considered, of what necessity there was for having store stock introduced into this country. On that they had not evidence now before them to show how far we were dependent on foreign countries for our store stock. There were some parts of the country where we did not require to import store animals, while in other parts they were rather necessary for carrying out agricultural operations. Some persons, he knew, had a great preference for cows coming from Holland for dairy purposes, over Shorthorns and Alderneys. All those, however, though they were of great importance, were matters about which they were not at that moment able to speak with anything like certainty. And considering that the attention of the public had been turned to the subject of cattle disease in consequence of the outbreak of that disease—which outbreak, he was happy to say, had been, as far as they knew, arrested—the Government thought that that was a time at which it would be well that further information should be obtained before the very serious step was taken of acceding to the proposition made by the noble Earl and by the Royal Agricultural Society. It was, therefore, the intention of Her Majesty's Government to have a Parliamentary inquiry forthwith into the whole subject of cattle disease, and into other matters connected with the proposal made by the noble Earl.