HL Deb 12 February 1878 vol 237 cc1485-503

rose to call attention to the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Cattle Plague and Importation of Live Stock; and to present a Bill to amend the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1869. He felt that, even at a time when the Eastern Question was absorbing so much attention, there was no need that he should apologize to their Lordships for bringing the subject before them. It was one that interested all classes of the country; and at the outset of his remarks, he wished to lay down this as a proposition on which he meant to base all his statements, and all his arguments—that the interests of all classes were involved in it; and, believing that to be the case, the Government, in the Bill which he should lay on the Table, drew no distinction between the interest of the consumer and the interest of the producer in the matter; because they believed those interests to be entirely identical. It was not advisable in any case to set up class against class, and in this instance it would be particularly inadvisable. In laying before their Lord- ships the circumstances which had led to the preparation of the Bill he should present, he would first touch shortly upon the previous inquiries that had been made into the subject, and the legislation which had already taken place; but it would not be necessary for him to go back further than the Cattle Plague of 1865-6-7—a period most fatal to our flocks and herds. During the prevalence of that very disastrous plague, our flocks and herds were so decimated that the Government thought it desirable that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire into the subject. Among others who served on that Royal Commission was his noble Friend the Secretary of State for India. In 1866 there were two Acts relating to this subject—one applying to England and Scotland, and the other to Ireland. All previous investigations culminated in the passing of the Act of 1869, which applied to England and Scotland. The principle of that measure in regard to foreign animals was that it regulated foreign importation, giving power to the Privy Council to prohibit importation from any country where there was disease, to define the ports where foreign animals should be landed and where they should be slaughtered if the Privy Council thought fit; and providing that if foreign animals were on their arrival found healthy, they should be allowed to go at large after a detention of some 12 hours. Under the provisions of that Act no cattle had, since 1872, been allowed to come to this country from Russia; and, since the outbreak of Cattle Plague in the spring of last year, the same restriction had been passed as regarded Germany and Belgium. The principle of the Act of 1869 with regard to home stock was, to speak generally, that everything was left to the local authorities of the country, though the Privy Council had a general superintendence over their acts. When he reminded their Lordships that in England and Scotland there were 411 local authorities, it was by no means surprising that the rules and regulations passed by them should be extremely varied and diverse—there being, in short, a total want of uniformity. He was not there to find fault with the operation of the Act of 1869. He knew it contained many valuable provisions that had done much good; but he thought it was not unreasonable to believe that, during the period of nearly 10 years which had elapsed since that Act was passed, there might be some defects brought to light seeming to require legislation in order to put them right. Notes of these defects had been kept both during the time of his Predecessor and himself, and he hoped and believed they were dealt with in the Bill he was about to present. In 1873 a Committee was appointed to inquire into the working of the Act of 1869. That Committee made a Report containing certain recommendations, and when he was appointed to the Office he now had the honour to hold, it became his duty to look into that Report carefully. There were some of the recommendations which he thought it desirable to carry out— notably the employment of travelling Inspectors throughout the country. This measure had proved very satisfactory in bringing about a marked improvement in the cleansing and disinfecting of ships, railway trucks, loading pens, and other places were cattle were kept; and in giving effect to the regulations in respect to those subjects which it was the duty of those Inspectors to see carried out, the Privy Council had recovered penalties against offending companies. Some of the recommendations of the Committee of 1873 could not be carried out without legislation, and he did not then think the time had come when Parliament ought to be asked to grant further powers in the matter. He preferred to wait till a time when the Government would be in a position to propose a more comprehensive measure than they could at that time have submitted, believing, as he did, that piecemeal legislation in connection with the food supply of the country was not desirable. Between 1874 and 1876 there was a considerable amount of foot-and-mouth disease and pleuropneumonia throughout the country. Constant complaints were made to him, and more stringent measures pressed upon him. The want of uniformity throughout the country was very much dwelt upon, and he was asked if the time had not arrived for the correcting of these abuses. In the early part of 1877 the Cattle Plague made its appearance at Deptford and Hull through cattle brought into the country from Hamburgh, and rapidly spread through the metropolis, the consequence being that the alarm which had previously existed greatly increased. The Privy Council passed Orders dealing with foreign cattle, and the local authorities, in accordance with the power given them under the Act of 1869, attempted to deal with the disease. But it became clear, especially when the disease had existed some time in the metropolis, that the local authorities, although acting in the most exemplary manner, had not the requisite power to cope with it. The disease continued to spread, and Her Majesty's Government came to the conclusion that the time had arrived when the Privy Council should take the matter into their own hands. That was done, and very stringent measures were adopted. He was not, indeed, certain that the Privy Council had not even exceeded its powers; but it was thought necessary to stamp out the disease by every means in the power of the Government, and stamped out it was in the course of the year. Whilst the disease was in progress, he was much urged to exclude from this country all foreign animals, not only on account of the Cattle Plague, but on account of other diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia. When he was urged to take that course by memorials and deputations, he was not prepared to accede to the proposal; though possibly, under the 75th section of the Act of 1869, the Privy Council might have made an Order against such importation. He thought, however, that such a measure, if within the letter, would certainly be outside the spirit of the Act, and that there was not sufficient information as to the advisability of such prohibition to justify the Government in at once proposing legislation with that object. A new feature just then had also been introduced into the matter—the importation of dead meat and live cattle from America; and, under all the circumstances, Her Majesty's Government considered that the time had arrived when a Committee ought to be appointed to inquire into the whole subject. A Committee of the House of Commons was appointed accordingly, and upon that Committee there were Members who represented the Scotch and Irish interests, county Members, and Members who represented some of the largest manufacturing towns in the Kingdom; and the Committee so constituted was entitled to the highest consideration. The terms of the Reference to that Committee were— To inquire into the causes of the recent outbreak of Cattle Plague, and the measures taken for its repression, and into the effect which the importation of live foreign animals had upon the introduction of disease into this country, and upon the supply and price of food, Before he came to the Report of the Committee, he wished to draw a distinction between the Cattle Plague—Rinderpest proper—and other contagious diseases which had been so disastrous to the live stock—foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia—because it was often the case that they were all mixed up together in public estimation, and that sufficient distinction was not drawn between them. With regard to the Cattle Plague or Rinderpest, he had made up his mind, from experience gained in dealing with it, that it ought to be dealt with by the central authority. The Committee of last year came to the same conclusion, and he proposed, in respect of it to adopt the recommendation of the Committee. As to the other cattle diseases, there were three things which he desired to ask. First, whether those diseases inflicted such injury on the community as made it worth while to stamp them out? Second, whether there was any prospect of success in an endeavour to stamp them out? Third, what were the restrictions necessary for stamping them out? It was proved before the Committee by eminent agriculturists from various parts of the Kingdom, that pleuro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease were far more injurious to this country than even Cattle Plague itself, for the reason that whilst the latter was a rare occurrence, the former were very prevalent in the country. In proof of what he had just been saying, he thought it right to adduce to the House some of the evidence on the subject. In the evidence given to the Committee by Mr. Booth, one of the most eminent of our agriculturists, and a gentleman constantly engaged in the breeding and rearing of cattle, there were these Questions and Answers— 2,243. Have you experienced, during the time that you have bred stock, great losses from foot-and-mouth disease and other diseases?— From foot-and-mouth disease especially I have experienced very great losses. 2,244. It, in fact, almost ruined your herd, did it not?—Between 1869 and 1872 my herd was reduced by foot-and-mouth disease by more than one-half. 2,245. You have had it more than once, have you not?—I had five separate attacks in my herd in less than three years. 2,267. You said a few moments ago that between 1869 and 1872, owing to foot-and-mouth disease, your herd dwindled down to half; how did you lose those animals?—Breeding animals are particularly liable to abortion by disease. I will give an instance. In 1872 I had 17 cows in one pasture, and they all went down with disease, and the produce of the whole of those 17 cows was one calf. Against that I may set the present year, when we are perfectly healthy, and I have upwards of 40 calves on the farm at the present time. 2,268. Do you think that that was entirely owing to foot-and-mouth disease?—I have not the slightest hesitation in saying so. He would now refer to the evidence of another gentleman well known in the North of England, and a man of great practical knowledge in agriculture. He alluded to Mr. Jacob Wilson. Speaking of cattle sent to him, he said— A very few days after their arrival foot-and-mouth disease broke out, and instead of getting fat during that summer they dragged their weary length along until the following spring, and I lost three months of my keep. Instead of my then being able to sell them, pleuro-pneumonia appeared among them, and especially among those which had been most severely handled by foot-and-mouth disease. 4,794. That represents, then, to the consumers of the country a clear loss of nearly a year of the feeding properties of your farm?— Very much like it, because I only get three-fourths of the value at the finish. 4,795. But looking at it from the consumers' point of view, that strengthens your argument that these diseases reduce enormously the food of the people?—Yes, and not only so, but instead of my having two lots of cattle fed off in the time, I could only get one lot fed off. 4,897. With dairy stock I suppose the loss is very severe?—Very severe; there is no saying where the end of it is; because, not only do you sacrifice the breeding power of your valuable cows, but you lose your produce, you lose your time, and the consequence is that the country loses its stock. 4,799. These risks, in your opinion, make it absolutely necessary not only for the protection of the farming interest in the country, but for the production of the food that is supplied to the people, that steps should be taken to eradicate diseases which are attended by such risks?— They do. In the face of all this disease people dare not go into breeding, and I may say that, following up the question with regard to the outbreak of 1866, we are well aware that a great many farmers have never since pursued the same system which up to that time they had been accustomed to pursue; they dare not do it. They prefer going to a market and buying other cattle which are probably nearer the butcher, so that in case of an outbreak they are prepared to send them off on the shortest notice, the risk being less, rather than keep valuable cows and risk the loss of the cows themselves and also of their produce. Another gentleman, from whose evidence he should like to quote, was Mr. Howard, formerly M.P. for Bedford. Here were two or three of the questions in Mr. Howard's examination— 8,156. Have those complaints been general in your county as well as in your own herd?— Yes; in one year we had in the small county of Bedford 38,000 animals attacked with contagious diseases. 8,159. 1872 was the time when the last outbreak of cattle plague occurred in this country? —Yes; I could not charge my memory exactly, but I know it was four or five years ago. At the lowest estimate it would entail a loss of £60,000 upon the country. 8,179. I understand you to say that you believe the supply to the consumer has been very much diminished in consequence not only of the losses by disease, but of the smaller amount of cattle that have been kept for fear of those diseases?—These diseases, as every Member of the Committee must see, are deterrent; farmers who have suffered serious losses are naturally deterred from keeping on with the system which entails upon them such very serious losses, and many have adopted the plan of buying in their stock instead of breeding. That has been done to a very considerable extent. Many farmers who used to breed and rear cattle have abandoned that practice for the comparatively safer plan of buying in their store stock. From that evidence, which could not be controverted, it appeared that there was a considerable loss, not alone to the producer, but also to the consumer of food, arising from that disease. And this did not affect the produce in meat alone, because the production of milk, butter, and cheese was very much affected by the loss of cattle in the country. The outbreak of 1865 was so great, that in Cheshire there was a great deal of pasture rendered useless, and persons travelling through the country could actually see places where heaps of cattle had been slaughtered and buried. Having this testimony, which might be multiplied ad infinitum, it was not surprising to find the following paragraph in the Report of the Committee:— It was abundantly proved in evidence that the ravages of cattle plague since the Act of 1869, and the diminution of the breeding herds of the kingdom from the fear of breaking out of cattle plague are as nothing compared with the losses inflicted and the enterprise checked by pleuro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth complaint. In addition to the losses to the community of animals actually destroyed by either of those diseases, or slaughtered to prevent the spread of pleuro-pneumonia, the agricultural and other witnesses laid great stress on the fact, that whatever loss fell upon the farmer from the deterioration of his stock through foot-and-mouth complaint, reacted injuriously on the consumer, by the diminution in the number of fat stock which the farmer was able to place on the market in a given time. Mr. Booth, on one occasion, fattened bullocks in August, he was offered £34 each for them; but the disease having broken out among them, he could only obtain £35 each at Christmas. Besides, their Lordships would also recollect that Mr. Wilson stated that it took him twice as long to fatten a given number of bullocks in consequence of the disease. The existence of the evil he considered to be abundantly proved; and he thought he had shown that it was worth while to stamp out those diseases. He now came to the second question— what were the prospects of success? Fortunately, in that matter he could be guided by the experience of what had taken place in past years. He found that the experience of the period from 1865 to 1867, when the Cattle Plague restrictions were in full force, showed that this country was never so free from cattle disease as during that time. That was shown before the Committee. Again, at the end of 1876, he was told by the veterinary advisers of the Privy Council that the foot-and-mouth disease had commenced to show itself throughout the country, and that, according to calculations based upon experience, the epidemic would be at its height in the following —that was to say last—summer. Then came the Cattle Plague of last year, and though the foot-and-mouth disease ought to have been at its height from March to November, not a single case of that disease occurred within the metropolitan market, and very little in the country. He thought that was sufficient to show that, under certain restrictions, those diseases could be stamped out; and it now became his duty to point out the restrictions necessary. First of all, then, in regard to the home restrictions which were necessary. He thought there was very little doubt that if they could stop the movement of all stock throughout the country, in the course of 12 months the diseases might be stamped out. But he was quite aware that the inconvenience and loss which would arise from such a measure as that would be so great that it could not be carried out; and, therefore, he was not prepared to ask their Lordships to adopt it. He believed it would be quite sufficient for the purpose in view to deal with each district in which the disease broke out He would have the most stringent regulations carried out in a given area, and so far he would follow the recommendation of the Committee as contained in Paragraph 20 of their Report. In that paragraph they recommended— That before the regulations for prohibiting and restricting the importation of live stock be carried into effect all movement of cattle be prohibited, except under licence, in every district throughout the United Kingdom where either pleuro-pneumonia or foot-and-mouth disease exists; that fairs and markets be placed under similar restrictions, and absolute prohibition of movement be enforced against infected farms for periods varying from two months in pleuropneumonia to 28 days in outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease. He was quite aware that those restrictions must press very heavily on agriculturists residing in infected districts, and that the farmers must be very severely tried by such regulations; but those classes, in evidence before the Committee, expressed their willingness to submit to them—as doubtless they would, if they felt that it would be for the good of the community, and if there was any prospect of exterminating the disease and he was prepared to ask their Lordships to give effect to that recommendation of the Committee which was embodied in the Bill It was obvious, however, that it would be useless to attempt to impose upon the holders of stock in the country such a restriction unless all means were taken for preventing the introduction of disease from abroad. That disease did come from foreign countries no one would be inclined to dispute. It appeared from the last Reports of the Veterinary Inspectors of the Privy Council, that in 1876 the number of animals arriving from abroad in which disease was detected amounted to 11,662. Of these, 9,359 had foot-and-mouth disease, 2,262 had sheep scab, 30 had sheep pox, 11 had pleuro-pneumonia. The countries from which they came were— Prom Germany, 5,684; from Belgium, 3,824; from Holland, 1,056; from France, 926; from Portugal, 158; from Spain, 14— total, 11,662. These animals, with the whole of the cargoes of which they formed part, were slaughtered, and these numbers, therefore, gave a very inadequate idea of the danger incurred if by chance one cargo having among it the seeds of disease should escape detection. The total number of animals imported from abroad in 1876 amounted to 1,416,956, and no system of inspection could be so perfect that every case of disease among such large numbers could be detected. One cargo escaping with the infection of foot-and-mouth among it and sold alive in the country might spread the disease in half-a-dozen counties in a fortnight. According to a Return moved for by the hon. Member for Northallerton, it appeared that in the three years ended the31st of March, 1877, there were landed 12,308cargoes, of which 1,458 had diseased animals. In view of that risk, he had been urged more than once to prohibit the importation of all live stock from abroad, the argument being that the cattle should come in the form of dead meat. Logically, that, no doubt, would be the safest, as well as the most effectual course; but he did not think that there was as yet sufficient experience on the Continent of the sending of cattle over as dead meat—as at present was the case from America—to justify the Government in going so far as to adopt that measure. In order, however, to make the home restrictions bearable, he thought it absolutely necessary that all foreign animals should be slaughtered at the port of landing, and accordingly provisions to that end had been inserted in the Bill. It might interest their Lordships to know that the quantities of foreign cattle coming to this country were not very large. The total number of animals in the United Kingdom in 1876 was 38,179,325, and the total number of animals imported from abroad in the same year was only 1,416,956, or about one thirty-seventh of the whole stock of the country. It was remarkable that the importations from Ireland during the same period were more numerous than from abroad—namely, 1,866,452; so that the House would see that the country was not altogether dependent on foreign supplies. He mentioned that, because some persons considered that this country could not go on very well without such supply. In view of the recommendations of the Committee and the proposals in the Bill, two points had to be considered. One, what would be the effect of the restrictions in respect of supply; and the other, what would be their effect with regard to price? Now, it appeared from an official Return that in 1877, though there were less live cattle imported into this country than in 1876 by 353,298 cwt., yet during the same time there was a gain in the imported dead meat to the extent of 509,927 cwt.; and that showed that the trade had accommodated itself to the altered circumstances, and that the consumers were none the worse off. Valuable evidence on that subject was given to the Committee by Mr. Rudkin, Chairman of the Markets Committee of the Corporation of London. In his examination were these questions and answers— 8,969. You think, that, in fact, all foreign countries should be treated as scheduled countries, and that animals from those countries should be landed at certain defined ports in England where they should be laughtered?—Yes, I think so; and I do not think that in those circumstances there would be any real detriment either to the trade or to the consignor. 9,134. You can assure the Committee almost positively that, taking such a town as Leeds, for instance, it would not suffer so far as its supply from London was concerned if it could only get dead meat from London without getting live meat from London?—Simply with the exception of the offal, and that difficulty I say can be very readily overcome if the trade will only turn their attention to it in a practical form. 9,135. With that exception, you feel sure that as much beef or mutton would arrive at Leeds from London as arrives there now?— Quite so; in fact they are now receiving large quantities; van loads after van loads go away from Deptford every day. The vans are so constructed that the sheep are slaughtered and they are placed on hooks on rails in the vans; they come from the slaughter-house, and they are sent straight away by rail at once. 9,161. Therefore you do not anticipate any difficulty in the great centres of industry if the animals are all slaughtered at the port of embarkation?—The fact that London is now supplied from the country with 175,000 tons of meat per-annum proves that meat can fairly and properly be killed in this country and brought to London to be consumed. He had got further evidence to show what quantities of meat were carried from all parts of the country. He had applied to the railway companies; but as it appeared that in the case of most of them their accounts were so mixed up that a return of the dead meat carried by them would take more time in its preparation than he would like to ask them to give to it, he had only a Return from the Great Northern Railway Company which was to this effect— The total weight of meat carried by the Great Northern Railway from all places in 1876 was 18,118 tons; in 1877 it was 21,236 tons, an increase of 3,118 tons. That weight represented 60,000 bullocks, and he thought, therefore, that there need be no alarm at the effect of the restrictions in respect of the supply of meat to towns. From the present system of railway traffic, dead meat was sent from the Metropolitan Market all over the country, and it appeared in evidence that meat killed in London sometimes found its way down to Wales and came back to London as genuine Welsh mutton. He could not, however, say whether there was any truth in the assertion. Now with regard to prices. In the Metropolitan Meat Market the mean average wholesale price of beef during 11 months of 1876, when there was less restriction than in 1877, on account of the Cattle Plague in the latter year, was 5s. 1d. per stone, and of mutton 5s. 7½d. The prices from February to November, 1877, were—beef, 5s. 2d., and mutton 6s. 2d. a-stone; the difference of price as between the two years being in beef one-eighth of a penny, and in mutton 7-16ths of a penny per lb. He might observe that in the case of mutton such returns were usually not so accurate as in the case of beef, as the former was sold sometimes with the wool, and sometimes without it. Therefore he found that the Committee, having carefully considered the matter, came to the conclusion—in which he entirely agreed—that the slaughter of animals at the port of landing was not likely to discourage foreign importation, decrease the quantity of meat brought to (market, or affect the price of meat. Before proceeding to the provisions of the Bill, he would ask the attention of their Lordships to the recommendations of the Committee with respect to Ireland. In the 38th paragraph of their Report the Committee recommended that the restrictions applicable to Great Britain should be extended to Ireland, or else that ports should be specified in Great Britain to which alone importation of live animals from Ireland should be lawful, the animals not being permitted to be taken inland unless examined and passed by a Privy Council Inspector. He felt bound to say he did not concur in the alternative recommendation proposed by the Committee. The object of the Government in dealing with this question had been to treat Ireland exactly as they dealt with every other part of the United Kingdom. They wished the trade to be equally free, but the restrictions designed for England would also be equally applied to Ireland. Accordingly the provisions respecting infected areas were introduced in the Bill for Ireland as well as for England and Scotland, but the alternative did not find a place in the measure. It was known that disease sometimes came from Ireland, though he believed that originally it got to that country from this; but if by the operations of the Bill they were able to stamp out disease in this country, they would be able, he believed, to do the same in Ireland. He hoped the time would arrive when it would not be necessary to have any portion of the United Kingdom under these severe restrictions; but in order to do that, it was absolutely essential that we should not import disease from foreign countries. In regard to the principal provisions of the Bill, it, in the first place, repealed all the existing Acts of Parliament. These were 10 in number, eight of them affecting Ireland, and two England and Scotland. All of those would be consolidated into one Act by the Bill which he proposed to lay on the Table. In order to give the necessary time for perfecting arrangements, the Bill would not come into operation till 1879. The first part of the Bill contained the general preliminary provisions, very like large interpretation clauses, setting forth what was meant by certain terms and modes of procedure. The second part applied to England, and contained generally the principal enactments in the Bill, which were afterwards applied to Scotland, and subsequently to Ireland. The first part of the Bill dealt with Cattle Plagues, and the second with infected districts and places and the slaughter of cattle. The whole powers of dealing with Cattle Plague were proposed to be vested in the Privy Council, and that being so, the compensation for slaughter on account of Cattle Plague was to come out of the Imperial funds. Then, with regard to pleuro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease, there was a declaration relating to infected districts, with restrictions of 56 days to apply in all cases of pleuro-pneumonia, and 28 days in cases of foot-and-mouth disease. The Schedule contained very stringent restrictions, being, in fact, those recommended by the Select Committee which sat upon the subject, and they amounted really to a stoppage of the movement of stock in all infected districts. The Bill also contained a new provision prohibiting removal of cattle into infected districts. Slaughter on account of pleuro-pneumonia was to be compensated for out of the local rates, and the compensation was set forth in the Bill as in the case of Cattle Plague. There were provisions in the Bill for prohibiting the exposure of diseased animals in the markets. There were also provisions for regulating the notices as to disease and other matters connected with the slaughter of animals affected with disease. And then there was another matter which the Bill would deal with which was one of great domestic interest—one which he thought should be seriously dealt with—namely, the securing of a better supply of milk to this country. A provision was inserted in the Bill for regulating dairies and matters connected with the milk trade. With reference to foreign animals, the Bill would not altogether carry out the recommendations of the Committee. The Committee recommended that there should be a statutory enactment preventing the importation of all animals from Bussia and of cattle from Germany and Belgium; and that, as regarded other countries, they should be dealt with by the Privy Council if they thought it necessary; but the Government did not think that there should be a statutory enactment affecting any country. It appeared to them that the powers of the Privy Council had been sufficiently strong to prevent cattle coming into this country from an infected country, and that it would be invidious to place the power recommended in an Act of Parliament. If the Privy Council were to be trusted not to allow infected animals to come to this country from any other part of Europe, it would be competent to them to apply the power possessed by them to Russia. But other matters recommended by the Committee the Government generally adopted. There was power in the Bill for slaughtering all foreign animals at the port of landing, and the oases of animals intended for dairy and breeding purposes and for exhibition were provided for. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man were exceptionally dealt with. The third part, applying to Scotland, had a few provisions necessary to meet exceptional cases. The last part applied to Ireland. He had now gone through all the parts of the Bill, and hoped that he had not exhausted their Lordships' patience. The subject was one of very great importance, and ought not to be dealt with lightly, and he thought that in bringing forward a measure of this kind, he should put before their Lordships all the reasons which induced the Government to take the steps which they thought were necessary. They had three objects in view. One was that there should be a consolidation of the law; the second that uniformity should be ensured in the regulations; and the third that, if possible, the disease might be extinguished. As to the first, he thought no one would be found to dispute the advantage of putting into one Act, and that not at all a long Act, the 10 Acts which now related to the Cattle Disease. Then, with regard to uniformity; since he had had the honour of holding his present Office he had felt that if there was one thing more than another that was wanted on this subject, it was that there should be uniformity of procedure throughout the country; and he thought the measures proposed in this Bill would tend to promote such uniformity. Thirdly, and lastly, with regard to the extinction of the disease, he did entertain a hope that if the Bill were passed as presented to their Lordships, and its stringent provisions were adopted by the stoppage of fairs and markets and the killing of foreign animals at the ports of landing, at a not very distant time the disease would be stamped out of the country, and he felt certain that if it were stamped out of the country a very great benefit would be conferred on all classes of the community.

Bill for making better provision respecting contagious and infectious diseases of cattle and other animals— Presented (The LORD PRESIDENT).


did not intend to express a judgment at that stage of the Bill upon its provisions, but would reserve his remarks until he had considered them more attentively. Although he was one of the authors of the Act of 1869, he was quite ready to admit that nothing was more probable than that the experience of nine or 10 years had shown that that measure was capable of improvement. At the same time, it should be remembered that the powers of the present law had been sufficiently strong to stamp out the Cattle Plague last year, and, above all, it had formed a machinery which was available to carry into effect farther improvements. The most restrictive portions of this Bill appeared to be directed, not so much against the Cattle Plague as against other diseases to which cattle were liable, and he thought that they would press heavily upon the farming interests. He thought that greater necessity than had already been adduced should be shown both for the proposed restrictions on the home and foreign trade. It was distinctly laid down by the Committee, and must be borne in mind in dealing with this subject now, that if the proposals of the Government, that all cattle brought from abroad should be slaughtered at the port of entry were adopted, stringent restrictions must, at the same time, be imposed upon the internal cattle trade. He would, however, reserve his opinion as to the slaughter of foreign animals, and would further point out that it rested with those who proposed restrictions upon trade to prove that they were necessary. Whether the diseases other than the Cattle Plague had. reached us originally from abroad or not, it was certain that they had now attained such a head, that no mere restrictions upon the foreign supply of cattle would be sufficient to stamp them out. Indeed, he must confess he was a little sceptical as to the possibility of a stamping out of foot-and-mouth disease. It might be possible, perhaps; but he was sure it would be a work of the greatest difficulty, and he doubted, further, whether it would be found worth the restrictions that might be necessary to ensure it. He had heard with satisfaction the tone in which the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond and Gordon) had opened his remarks, and his admission that this question concerned not only agricultural interests but those of the consumers. When the Bill came on for a second reading, and when it got into Committee, the House would have to determine whether the restriction proposed to be imposed under the Bill were consistent with the due supply of meat to the large towns. It must also be borne in mind that the poorer portions of the community were large consumers of certain internal portions of animals which would not be imported with the dead carcass He thought that the proposals in the Bill with regard to Ireland were just, and that the noble Duke was quite right in declining to impose the unnecessary and most undesirable restrictions upon the Irish cattle trade which had been suggested by the Report of the Committee. Though that Report had been much referred to, it should be remembered that it had not been carried unanimously, and that therefore its recommendations, and this among them, carried less weight, as there was a difference of opinion upon them. The whole subject was a most intricate one, and it involved interests which it was most difficult to reconcile with each other; but the noble Duke would find that both sides of the House would be disposed to look at this measure dispassionately, and to give his proposals the fairest and fullest consideration. He trusted, however, that, in view of such a course being adopted, the noble Duke would not fix a very early day for taking the second reading of the Bill, so that ample time might be given for carefully weighing his proposals.


said, he should not ask their Lordships to. read the Bill a second time until that day three weeks.


understood the principle of the Bill to be protection against disease, and not protection against competition. That point should be clearly understood, inasmuch as the misapprehension had got abroad that under the plea of protection from disease this Bill was really establishing protection from competition. He thought that ample powers existed for dealing with the Cattle Plague; but he considered that more stringent powers might be given to the Government for stamping out the other diseases and for dealing with dairies. In respect to the foot-and-mouth disease, he did not agree with the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon) that it could not be exterminated; on the contrary, he thought that it might be gradually stamped out by constant attention and supervision. The milk from cows affected with that complaint was unfit for human consumption, and its sale ought to be prevented. He understood that pleuro-pneumonia existed at all times in some of the London dairies, and that was a sound reason why those establishments should be subject to inspection.


wished that foot-and-mouth disease had not been mixed up with Cattle Plague; there was as much difference between Cattle Plague and foot-and-mouth disease, as there was between hydrophobia and whooping-cough. He learned from a high practical authority, that the average mortality in Ireland from the foot-and-mouth disease did not exceed 1 per cent. As to the provisions of the Bill in reference to quarantine, he asked the House to consider what would be the effect of stopping the sale of a farm for two months in the middle of the summer. It would really be equivalent to depriving a grazier of the whole profits of a season. He contended that the local authorities should be entrusted with powers in regard to isolation, and in Ireland nobody was better qualified to define what should be an infected district than the police. He approved of the course adopted by the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond and Gordon) in not making any distinction between England and Ireland, and not adopting the alternative recommended by the Committee.


asked whether any distinction would be made between store cattle and fat cattle at the ports of landing in regard to the slaughtering, and whether the restrictions would apply to cattle imported from America?


in reply, said, no distinction could be drawn between fat and store cattle, which would be slaughtered alike at the port of landing. Some exception would be made in the case of dairy, breeding, and exhibition animals; but the rules to be drawn under the Bill would apply in the same way to cattle imported from America as to imports from any other foreign country.


wished to know whether in Scotland the Act would supersede the action of the local authorities? He thought that the Act in force in Scotland was quite sufficient for all purposes, and his belief was that they could not stamp out pleuro-pneumonia, as, when least expected, it broke out suddenly.


in reply, said, that the proposed regulations of the Bill would supersede all those in force in Scotland as in England. It was intended to treat the local authorities in Scotland in precisely the same manner as the local authorities in England, so far as Cattle Plague regulations were concerned.

Bill read 1ª; and to be printed. (No. 22.)

House adjourned at a quarter before Seven o'clock, to Thursday next, half-past Ten o'clock.