HL Deb 05 March 1878 vol 238 cc725-54

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord President.)


said, it would be unnecessary for him to go through the greater part of the Bill, because it was a consolidating Bill, re-enacting to a great extent existing laws, and he did not propose to go through those. But, in the first place, he would address himself to the congenial task of commenting on those parts of the Bill which improved the law as it now stood. Experience had shown that uniformity was desirable; it was also right to take power for the slaughter of animals in adjoining premises in cases of Cattle Plague, and to extend the existing powers in regard to pleuro-pneumonia, including the compulsory slaughter of cattle affected with that disease. If he had any complaint to make, it was that the noble Duke had not given effect to the recommendations of the Committee of the House of Commons of 1873 in this respect at an earlier date. Professor Brown had pointed out in his evidence that, if this had been done, he would have been able to stamp out the Cattle Plague last year more quickly than was actually possible. He quite agreed that it was necessary to take further powers for the inspection of dairies in towns. Again, experience proved that the noble Duke was right in assuming to himself and the Privy Council all the powers hitherto possessed by the local authorities in respect to the Cattle Plague. Much as he was opposed to centralization in general, this was a move in the right direction; and, therefore, he did not offer any opposition to that part of the Bill. He did not quite agree with the transfer of the charge for compensation for slaughtered cattle to the Consolidated Fund—but that was a question for the other House of Parliament rather than for their Lordships. Other proposals, he found, modified to some extent the principle, and to a large extent the provisions, of the Act of 1869, and imposed great restrictions, first on the internal cattle trade of this country, and then on the foreign trade. It must be borne in mind that these restrictions had no reference to the Cattle Plague, but concerned the diseases known as pleuro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease alone. In regard to these proposals, he might say that the noble Duke was bound to prove that these restrictions were absolutely necessary. All restrictions upon trade were in themselves undesirable—they tended to hamper trade and to raise prices. It was not for him to say that very stringent restrictions were not justifiable for getting rid of the diseases of cattle; for they all knew very well that the powers given by the Act of 1869 were of a very stringent character, but he would say that when still further powers of the kind proposed in this Bill were asked for, the noble Duke was bound to prove, first, that these powers were necessary, and, in the second place, that they would be effectual for their purpose. He ventured to say that the noble Duke had not established, in regard to some of these restrictions, that they were absolutely required; and, in re- gard to others, that they would effect the purpose desired. Looking at the restrictions which it was proposed to place on the cattle trade of the country, he doubted whether it was possible by any restrictions practically to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease. He did not stand alone in that opinion, as the evidence before the Committee showed. But he quite admitted that the weight of authority was against him, and he did not wish to put his own opinion against the opinions of those who gave evidence. The question was whether that disease and pleuro-pneumonia could be stamped out by restrictions such as were proposed. Professor Simonds and Professor Brown, who were great authorities, had given their opinion that it was possible to stamp it out by certain measures which they recommended. What were those measures? They proposed to divide the country into districts, placing each one in charge of an Inspector, who should be constantly in communication with the central Department. It would, in their opinion, be absolutely essential to interfere largely with the movement of animals in this country, and with the holding of fairs and markets. Now, it must be borne in mind that these gentlemen were professors of veterinary science, and were well acquainted with the practical administration of restrictive regulations. Now, if the movements of cattle were stopped in those conterminous districts, the trade of the country would be very largely interfered with. But the Bill did not propose to do that. As he understood the Bill, it was not proposed to divide the country into districts at once; but to make them as the Privy Council thought fit. By the 18th clause, the Privy Council might at any time after disease had appeared, if they thought proper, declare a district infected. A district so proclaimed might be large, or it might be small. If it were small, little would be done towards checking the spread of disease; but if it were large, the interference with trade would be serious. It was shown in evidence that some of the witnesses did not believe that such restrictions would be submitted to. There were gentlemen who had had practical experience in carrying out regulations of this kind; they knew to what extent the regulations were likely to be submitted to Pro- fessor Brown said, that people would not be willing to submit to these restrictions; but he (the Marquess of Ripon) was ready to admit that he believed the general feeling of large farmers was that they would be willing to submit to restrictions similar to those proposed by Professor Brown. But, in the case of small farmers, he ventured to say, that these regulations would meet with much opposition. The Secretary of the North Biding Chamber of Agriculture, when asked if he thought the farmers would submit to such regulations as were now proposed, said he did not think they would, but that they would consider the cure almost worse than the disease. He found that in the Netherlands for five or six years the importation of stock from other countries was prohibited; and that strenuous efforts were made to eradicate the disease. Notwithstanding these precautions, pleuro-pneumonia still existed in the Netherlands. Five or six years' prohibition had not proved effective in the Netherlands in stamping out pleuropneumonia. Another question which he thought had not received proper consideration was, how these restrictions would be received in Ireland?—and it was remarkable that no single representative of the opinions of the Irish farmers was examined before the Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1877. There was, therefore, no means of judging whether the small Irish farmers would be willing to accept the regulations proposed in the Bill. He had, however, the means of calling one Irish witness before their Lordships, and he believed he was not wrong in saying that he could not call a more competent witness than Mr. Kavanagh. Mr. Kavanagh was a Member of the Committee of 1873, and in that year he presented a counter Report to the Committee. This Report was not accepted by the Committee. In it Mr. Kavanagh said— The foot-and-mouth disease, the Committee consider, has been clearly and satisfactorily proved, by the evidence before them, to be a disease of a much milder type, and not dangerous or fatal in its character, but from its highly-infectious nature, to be one which it would appear to be hopeless to attempt to deal with by legislation, unless restrictions were imposed, which, doubtful in their result, would occasion more loss to the public than the disease in its most virulent form. Many witnesses were examined by your Committee upon the subject of this disease, and suggestions received for its restraint or extirpation; but in none of them could your Committee see any practical prospect of beneficial result. By some witnesses restrictions were suggested of a more or less stringent character; by others, it was complained that the existing restrictions were irritating and useless, that the present system of inspection at cattle markets tended more to spread infection than to restrain it, and, by interfering with the trade, to raise the price of meat. Your Committee are of opinion that the weight of evidence has been in support of this latter argument, and that these restrictions have done more to fetter trade than to check disease. It was beyond doubt that if these restrictions could not be enforced in Ireland, they could not be enforced in England, because of the unrestricted trade between the two countries. Therefore, it did appear to him, with respect to these proposals, that it was doubtful whether the restrictions proposed by the Bill would be found effectual for the purpose; and whether, if they were carried out so as to be effectual, they would be submitted to for the long period of six years or more.

Turning to the part of the Bill which provided that foreign animals should be invariably slaughtered at the port of debarkation, the House must bear in mind that this provision for slaughtering animals at the port of debarkation had nothing whatever to do with stamping out the Cattle Plague. If the Cattle Plague was in any foreign country, the only way to guard against it was to prohibit altogether the importation of cattle from that country. That was the only mode in which they could effectually meet a disease of that kind. Therefore, this proposition of slaughtering animals at the port of debarkation related only to pleuro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease. foot-and-mouth disease was a disease of which the incubation was extremely short. It did not, as a rule, exceed 40 or 42 hours, consequently it would be known very quickly after the arrival of animals at the port whether foot-and-mouth disease existed in the cargo or not. Professor Brown expressed his conviction that, to prevent foot-and-mouth disease, the present regulations were, for all practical purposes, efficient. He also showed that the number of foreign animals suffering from foot-and-mouth disease in this country had diminished considerably in 1875 and 1876, when the Cattle Plague regulations were not in force at all, although there was slaughtering at the ports on account of that disease. These proposals, then, were really only applicable to the case of pleuro-pneumonia. There was an essential difference of principle between the present Bill and the Act of 1869. By that Act immense powers were entrusted to the discretion of the Privy Council. This Bill proposed to take away that discretion from them, and to substitute for the elastic system of 1869 a hard-and-fast line enforced by Act of Parliament. He preferred a system that could be modified as circumstances required. He preferred a system under which there was a Minister directly responsible for the restrictions enforced. The noble Duke was bound to give very fully his reasons for making this change; but in his speech in introducing the Bill he had given no reason at all. With regard to Cattle Plague, the most serious of all these diseases, large discretion was left to the Privy Council. With regard to the internal regulations proposed under the Bill, a wide discretion would be entrusted to the Privy Council. They might make the districts large or small—they had great powers in regard to the movement of cattle and the holding of fairs and markets—and he would say again that he decidedly preferred that they should have such discretion. But if the Privy Council could be trusted in respect to Cattle Plague, and in the case of internal restrictions, why could they not be trusted in respect to the foreign trade? There was one reason often urged in favour of this restriction, which was plausible upon its face. It was said that it was much better for trade if they laid down a strict rule than if they gave a discretionary power, which might be uncertain in its exercise, to the Privy Council. He had at first thought that objection entitled to great weight; but, having had various communications with those who were interested in the trade, he found that they were not of that opinion, that they did not prefer the proposals of the Bill; and he did not see the good of proposing something for their advantage which they entirely repudiated. A large meeting was held a few days ago in the City, when those present unanimously declared that they preferred the present discretionary system to the one proposed by the Bill. His noble Friend at the present moment could, as a matter of law, schedule every country in the world, and even prohibit the importation of cattle from them—he had power under the Act of 1869 to do that which the Bill rendered it compulsory for him to do. But he agreed with him that to order the universal slaughtering of cattle under the Act of 1869 would be straining the intention of the Act; but it was no straining of the intention of the Act if the cattle were coming from a country in which the disease was known to exist. He certainly did think that it was a mistake to lay down a hard-and-fast rule in an Act of Parliament; but if they chose to adopt that course, why should they lay down the rule now proposed by his noble Friend, which went beyond the recommendation of the Committee of 1877, and, as he thought he could show, far beyond, the real feeling and desire of the Government itself? As far as the Committee of] 877 was concerned, that Committee did not recommend the compulsory slaughter of cattle from America; and he (the Marquess of Ripon) wanted to know why it was that his noble Friend proposed to order the compulsory slaughter of animals from that part of the world? The evidence of which he was in possession, showed that the trade from Canada and the United States was of an important character, and had greatly increased during the last few years. The Cattle Inspector of the port of Liverpool had stated that the American cattle came there in first-rate condition, and that they were admirable cattle in every respect; and that, instead of being in a bad condition through the voyage, the provision made for their accommodation was so good, that when they were landed, they presented no indication whatever of any suffering. He had had some conversation on the subject, since the Bill had been introduced, with a gentleman who was connected with Canada—and there was no person better able than him to speak with reference to that important Colony—and he had told him that his noble Friend would be overwhelmed with remonstrances from Canada the moment they knew of the provisions contained in the Bill. They were greatly excited about the question even last year, because ships had been fitted up with a view to this trade with which his noble Friend proposed so seriously to interfere; and he reminded their Lordships that it was not recom- mended by the Committee of 1877 that there should be any interference with the American trade. And now as to the opinion of the Government itself. They were represented upon the Commit-tee of 1877by Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson; and after the whole of the evidence had been given, that hon. Gentleman prepared a draft Report for the purpose of expressing the views of the Government, in which the following passage was contained:— The proposal to continue the freedom of importation from countries now unscheduled was justified by the evidence of many witnesses, as well as the official Returns of our imports, showing that these countries practically enjoy immunity from disease…On the whole, after considering the various alternatives, your Committee would recommend that from Sweden and Norway, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, and America, importation should be permitted as now, subject only to inspection at the port of debarkation; but that any of these countries should, on the outbreak therein of any contagious or infectious disease, be liable to be placed temporarily by Order in Council in the list of scheduled countries. That was the opinion of Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson, after hearing all the evidence; and he (the Marquess of Ripon) wished to know why the noble Duke now wished to depart from it, and to take the very steps which Sir Selwin-Ibbetson recommended them not to take. It was his (the Marquess of Ripon's) intention to move in Committee an Amendment in the sense of Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbet-son's draft Report. He would not detain their Lordships more than a few minutes longer; but he had one suggestion to make to his noble Friend, which he made with some confidence, and he hoped that he would not hesitate to assent to it—and that was, that a provision should be inserted into the measure for the purpose of making its operation temporary. It seemed to him that it was most desirable; because the provisions of this Bill, as his noble Friend would admit, were of a highly restrictive character, and it was doubtful—he would not go further than that—whether he would succeed in putting an end to pleuro-pneumonia and the foot-and-mouth disease; while it was very doubtful, also, what would be the effect upon trade. Among other inconveniences, the Bill might be found to interfere seriously with the supply of offal, which was a matter of great interest to the poor—the offal was that portion of the animal which was consumed by the poorest persons in the country; and if his noble Friend's system was brought into operation, it might be open to very serious objections on that ground. There was another danger, and that was that by long-continued interference with the foreign trade, they might so divert that trade that it might seek new channels, and leave us permanently. There was reason to believe that the consumption of meat abroad was increasing; and if they imposed further restrictions, they might destroy the small margin of profit, which now made it worth while to send animals from abroad to this country. Forthese reasons, he thought the Bill had better be made a temporary rather than a permanent one. His noble Friend knew very well that there were some persons in this country who believed that it was desired to have these restrictions imposed upon foreign trade for the purpose of affording some kind of commercial protection for the benefit of the home trade. He made no such charge against the noble Duke, because he was quite certain that in proposing the measure he proposed it in good faith, and had no arriere pensée whatever. Neither did he think it fair to make any such charge against the great body of the farmers in this country. He did not believe that they were desirous of any measure of this kind for purposes of commercial protection; but there might be among them some men who still believed that protection of that kind would do them good. He believed, however, the majority of them desired such measures, because they really believed that they would effectually deliver them from what was a very great evil. He should have been, however, more confident in expressing that opinion had it not been for something which he found in the Report of the Committee of 1877. In the Report of that Committee there appeared a paragraph, in which it was laid down that, in the opinion of the Committee, restrictions on the foreign trade ought not to be imposed, unless stringent restrictions were also imposed upon the home trade; but he found that, although that paragraph was adopted by the majority of the Committee, his hon. Friend Mr. Chaplin, the Member for Mid Lincoln, and six other Gentlemen voted against it; and that created in his (the Marquess of Ripon's) mind a suspicion that among some persons there might still linger protectionist views. What, however, he would put to his noble Friend was this—if the restrictions which he proposed were not effectual for his purpose, they would become so irksome that they would have to be relaxed; and as the restrictions in the case of pleuro-pneumonia and Cattle Plague were to be left, to a great extent, in the hands of the local authorities, different views might be taken of the activity with which they ought to be enforced in different parts of the country; and if the restrictions became relaxed, nothing would remain of this Bill, except the restrictions of the foreign trade—that was to say, that they would have restrictions on the foreign trade that could be carried out at once by order of the Government directly they came into operation, and restrictions at home, which might or might not be put into force. In his opinion, unless the internal restrictions were carried out with thorough stringency, there would be in effect a renewal of the system of protection. In this view, therefore, it was of the utmost importance that this Bill should be made temporary in its operation; so that it would not only be in the power of the Parliament and Her Majesty's Government, but it would be their duty, after the lapse of a certain time, to re-consider the whole subject. Only one word more. He confessed that he should be very glad if his noble Friend would consent to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. There had been two Committees in the House of Commons on this subject—one in 1873 and one in 1877; and they made almost opposite recommendations. Both of them were very competent Committees, but their Reports differed materially. No inquiry whatever had been made in 1877 as to the feelings of the Irish farmers; and he confessed that for this reason, among others, it appeared to him that their Lordships ought to have much fuller information as to the feeling of those who were affected, whether as to the home or foreign trade, and as to the real nature of the provisions which his noble Friend proposed. He begged, therefore, to suggest that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee. He was afraid that he had trespassed a good deal on the patience of the House. He was sensible of the kindness with which their Lordships had listened to him, and he had only to say that he proposed to make no opposition to the second reading of the Bill. There were several of its provisions of which he approved, some which appeared to him to be of doubtful utility, and others which seemed to go altogether beyond the necessities of the case which, not being necessary, would be positively mischievous; and which, therefore, he hoped that their Lordships would strike out of the Bill.


said, that he rose to supplement by a few observations what the noble Marquess had said in reference to Ireland. The noble Marquess had stated that the evidence of the Committee of 1877 threw no light on the Irish side of the question. With regard to the Irish side of the question, it would probably be new to many of their Lordships when he stated that, so far as horned cattle were concerned, the balance was in favour of Ireland; there being no less than 16,000 more horned cattle in Ireland than there were in England. The graizers in Ireland were of a higher class and grazed on a larger scale than those in England. If it was necessary that something should be said on the Irish side of the question, he could quote certain statistics that would not be without interest to their Lordships. He took it for granted that the majority of their Lordships wished this Bill to pass, if not exactly in its present state, at least in a modified shape. It was not for the benefit of the producers alone, but also for that of the consumers; and, although it was true that the ultimate effect would be, no doubt, to provide the community with a better supply of cattle, it was equally true, in the first place, that the effect of the Bill would be to raise the price of food, and no doubt at first it would be received with a good deal of discontent. It was equally certain that there would be much misrepresentation about it—it would be called a landlord's Bill, and a Bill for propping up rents. Upon these grounds he asked Her Majesty's Government whether it might not be worth while, if there were any tangible objections to the Bill, to throw over the objectionable part, and preserve that only which would, without question, benefit the community at large? He thought that the measure contained provisions of great public importance with regard to pleuro-pneumo- nia; but many entertained a different opinion when they came to consider the question of the foot-and-mouth disease. The difference of opinion was then made manifest; nor was it settled at all by the Report of the Committee of 1877. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon) had said that against the Report of the Committee of 1877 they must place the Report of that of 1873, and that they expressed precisely opposite opinions. Remarks upon the respectability of the Committee were perfectly idle, because they were both equally respectable; but, for some reason or other, it had pleased the Committee of 1877 to exclude every Irish witness. Whether that was owing to the constitution of the Committee itself he did not know. That Committee comprised 27 Members, three or four of whom were Irish Members, and, subsequently, a fifth Irish Member was added. Although they might be very good Members of the House, it did not follow that they knew very much about cattle; but, at all events, it pleased them to exclude the Irish witnesses. He reminded their Lordships that the evidence given by the smaller farmers, and by those who bred hundreds and thousands of cattle, was naturally different. He considered that the case of Mr. Booth, who bred valuable shorthorns, was quite an exceptional case—in point of fact, his position was quite abnormal. He had been so unfortunate as to lose half his cattle. That, no doubt, was a great misfortune; but he thought there were exceptional circumstances to account for it. He did not wish to go into the details; but he would direct their Lordships' attention particularly to what had been the effect of the foot-and-mouth disease in Ireland. He had a letter from a person who managed a very large farm in Ireland, which proved from statistics that the mortality from foot-and-mouth disease in Ireland was very small indeed. The first case he would mention was that of Mr. James Cullenden, who said that during the last 10 years he had fed 1,600 cattle and 1,200 sheep annually, and he had not during the 10 years lost more than three head of cattle and 53 sheep. Their Lordships would remember that if the 1,600 cattle were multiplied by the 10 years, it would give the product of 16,000, and the percentage of loss would only be 3 per cent by the foot-and-mouth disease. The next was the case of Mr. H. S. Hall, who had been engaged during the last 20 years as a feeder of stock, having over 1,200 head of cattle and 1,000 sheep, and he stated that during the whole of his life he had only lost one cow and a very few sheep from the foot-and-mouth disease. That was something to put in the scale against Mr. Booth's testimony. The next was a feeder of stock named Henan, who, during a period of 15 years, had fed annually 600 cattle and 500 sheep, and he stated that during the time he had never lost a single cow or head of horned cattle by the foot-and-mouth disease. Another case was that of Mr. Charles Hamilton, who had, during the course of his life, experienced very little loss from the foot-and-mouth disease. Then there was Mr. W. Raven, of Kerry, who was for 20 years a stock-keeper, keeping 600 head of cattle and 900 sheep, and he had only lost four head of cattle and 16 sheep during the whole 20 years. His correspondent then went on to show that the foot-and-mouth disease was not nearly so fatal in Ireland as was supposed, and he believed that every Irish trader would quite agree in the statement that the loss of life in cattle from the foot-and-mouth disease was nothing like what it was thought to be. If any noble Lord wished to see the statistics, he was at perfect liberty to do so, and they certainly could not be considered in any way unsatisfactory. If their Lordships wished to know how it was that they managed to save their cattle, he could tell them that it was more by letting them alone than anything else—the chief precaution taken was to separate the infected cattle from the rest; and he knew that, in more than one case where the foot-and-mouth disease broke out in a farm, it was customary to inoculate all the sheep—as far as he himself was concerned, he should be inclined to do the very same thing this time of the year—and it had been found that where cattle and sheep had been inoculated, and afterwards caught the foot-and-mouth disease, they had it so very slightly that the proprietors lost next to nothing. He did not mean to say that, as a general rule, an animal which had had distemper did not catch it again; on the contrary, he knew that they did; but they took it so very slightly that they might be considered entirely out of danger. He did not approve altogether of placing all the cattle in one shed. He believed that the aggregation of diseased animals in that manner tended to render the disease more virulent, and many sheep that were slightly infected, on being put into a shed with a lot of others, were made much worse than they would have been if they had been left altogether at liberty. It was just the same as if a boy had cut his finger; if a piece of rag was bound round it, and he was left at liberty, in all probability it would soon heal; but if, on the contrary, he were put into a military hospital where there was a good deal of gangrene about, the chances were that the wound would become gangrened, and the boy would die. In Kerry some of the cases of foot-and-mouth disease were very slight; one cause, no doubt, was the climate. In the first place, it was particularly mild; and, in the next place, immense quantities of rain fell, sufficient to wash out all shades of distemper. He thought, therefore, that all the clauses relating to Ireland should be omitted from the Bill; and he would point out that some of them seemed to be hardly Constitutional, because they put upon the accused the onus of proving themselves innocent; whereas it was generally understood in English law that every man was assumed to be innocent until he was proved to be guilty.


said, that after the very able speeches made upon this question by the noble Duke, who introduced the measure the other night in a speech of great moderation, but which was exceedingly clear, and again that evening by his noble Friend the noble Marquess, who formerly filled the office held by the noble Duke, who had made a speech in which he had sifted the whole question, he found it almost impossible to address any fresh remarks to their Lordships. At the same time, he might be allowed to say that, having been accidentally a good deal mixed up both with legislation on this subject and in the administration of the law in reference to it, he might be allowed to address a few observations to their Lordships. He had the honour to be placed upon a Commission upon the rinderpest which sat in the years 1865 and 1866, and, although they were much derided at the time for some of their recommendations, he thought that they might take credit for having made some valuable suggestions, which had afterwards ripened into legislation, and had been attended by the best results. Since then he was for five years entrusted with the administration, among other matters, of the cattle law in Ireland, and, therefore, he felt great interest in the matter. If it were not for that, he would not venture to trouble their Lordships at all. The Bill dealt with two subjects—pleuropneumonia and the foot-and-mouth disease. It was not necessary for him to say more about the rinderpest than that it was a most dangerous and fatal disease—in fact, there was hardly any other that could be compared with it—and it was necessary to extirpate it in any way in which they could. He quite agreed with the noble Marquess that it was highly desirable that, while dealing with this question, they should interfere as little as possible by means of legislation with freedom of trade; and that remark applied with as much force to cattle as to corn. The greatest necessity, therefore, ought to exist before they put any restrictions upon that important trade—the meat trade of the country. They must, in the first place, be quite certain that their restrictions would in the end tend to increase the production of meat in the country, and no interference with it could be tolerated unless it was most urgently required. The Commission of 1865–6 had to deal with that matter, and they came to the conclusion that, in the case of rinderpest, the danger was so great to the country that they were obliged to recommend a system of restriction which could not do otherwise than restrict free trade in cattle. The Commission, therefore, recommended that all foreign cattle should be slaughtered at the port of debarkation. At that time he (Earl Spencer) heartily agreed with the recommendation, that being considered to be the only mode of keeping the cattle disease out of the country. A great change had taken place since then, and the experience which they had had of the effect of the action of the local authorities had shown that it was not necessary to go quite so far, even with regard to rinderpest, as actually to prohibit the importation of foreign cattle. The experience of 1869, 1872, and 1877 had taught them that they could check the intro- duction of rinderpest with great promptitude and certainty. The outbreak of last year was one of the most violent that they had experienced; but it only lasted a few months. It broke out in January, and ceased altogether on the 1st of May. That was owing, in a great degree, to the vigour of his noble Friend the Lord President of the Council. Still, the fact remained that the powers of the Privy Council were able to deal with it without imposing any restrictions on the foreign meat trade. He agreed with the Government that it was necessary that, for the sake of uniformity of dealing with the disease, a power should be vested in the hands of the central authority through which the local authorities might act; but, at the same time, if they did so, they were no longer justified in throwing upon the local authorities the burden of the compensation to be provided and the general expenditure involved, but it should be thrown upon the general revenue of the country. He would not say anything more with regard to this Bill as it related to England. He did not think that it was necessary to have fresh legislation to improve the law as regarded the foreign trade in cattle; because, as he had said before, he thought that the powers already in existence were sufficient. He heartily approved the provisions of the Bill with regard to placing the management of the foreign trade under the Privy Council; and, like his noble Friend the noble Marquess, he did not much like the idea of throwing the burden on the Imperial funds—there were always great objections to that—but it was the natural consequence of taking these affairs into the hands of the Government that they could no longer throw the expenses of management upon the local rates, but must of necessity throw them upon the Imperial Exchequer. Now, as to the difference between pleuro-pneumonia and the foot-and-mouth disease, he quite agreed with the noble Duke that that disease was of a very serious character; and he could not at all agree with his noble Friend (Lord Dunsany), who had spoken on this question rather as a representative of Meath, as to the very small loss occasioned by the foot-and-mouth disease in his own county. He (Earl Spencer) was well acquainted with the fact that in that particular county the percentage of deaths among cattle was exceedingly small; but that was not at all to the point, because what they had to look to was the enormous loss to the country from the abortions produced by the disease, and also the immense loss from the whole of the cattle on one farm being so thrown back that they could not be brought to market the same year. There was no doubt in his own mind that the disease could be stamped out—and, indeed, they had ample evidence to show that it could be done by complete isolation. In fact, he remembered one occasion in which it had been so stamped out; but it was like smallpox—one case brought back the epidemic. They must remember that it was no easy matter to isolate cattle altogether. Isolation with regard to the case of human diseases might be secured; but it was not so easy to secure it in the case of cattle. He did not entirely agree that the disease could be stamped out in the way proposed. His noble Friend (the Marquess of Ripon) had instanced the case of the Netherlands, in which the most stringent attempts had been made in vain. There would be the greatest possible difficulty in dealing with the case of offences against the restrictions, because everyone knew, even at present, what difficulties they had at quarter sessions in endeavouring to carry out the restrictions imposed by the Privy Council under the present state of the law. He was quite aware that public opinion had changed, and was much more generally in favour of restrictions than it was formerly. There were plenty of men like Mr. Clare Read and Mr. Howard, who advocated the most stringent measures; but the question was how far the smaller farmers throughout the country had agreed to the restrictions. He knew of one case in Northamptonshire where the magistrates had come to the unanimous conclusion that the restrictions could not be maintained. They found that licences were being forged to a great extent to enable the cattle to be moved about the country. The present restrictions would be much increased by the Bill. Instead of isolating cattle for 30 days, it would be in future for 56 days—so that in infected districts the markets would be absolutely suspended. He was afraid, therefore, that when these restrictions were put in force, the farmers would not agree to them. The Lord President would re- member very well that, after his Report and the subsequent order, there was an absolute stoppage in the removal of cattle all over England, and it was felt that the orders of the Privy Council were not only stringent, but almost tyrannical. In his opinion, this Bill would have to be supplemented. He agreed with those who held that the Government was not justified in introducing a measure of this kind, which interfered materially with the trade of the country, unless they felt certain that it would be successful. He, therefore, supported the noble Marquess who had urged that the Bill should be limited in its duration. His own opinion was that it should be limited to three years, and then, if it were successful, it might be renewed; but he thought it was most inexpedient to adopt so stringent a measure as a permanent one until its absolute necessity became manifest, and in Committee he should move that it should be limited to three years. He took the opportunity of correcting the statement made by the noble Lord (Lord Dunsany) that cattle were more numerous in Ireland than in this country. That statement would be perfectly correct if the noble Lord intended to limit the number of cattle to England alone; but, if he included Wales, the difference would be slightly in favour of this country, because the total number of cattle in England and Wales was 4,190,000, and in Ireland 3,996,000. He thought it was very important to stimulate the Irish cattle trade. It was the general impression that the disease was much more prevalent in Ireland than it was in this country; but that idea was a fallacy, and it probably arose in consequence of the jaded condition of the cattle arriving in this country, and the fact that the hardships they had suffered on the voyage rendered them more liable to take the disease, in consequence of their exhausted condition. In his opinion, every care should be taken to improve the manner of transport. With respect to Ireland, he approved of the determination of the Government to make no difference between that country and England; and he reminded the breeders there that if they did not submit to the same regulations they would throw themselves open to an attack from their brother agriculturists on the other side of the water, who would say that, as they did not submit to the restrictions imposed upon them, they would be obliged to treat cattle coming from Ireland as foreign cattle. That was an argument of considerable force; because, if they would not submit to the regulations, which were certainly for their own benefit, and to which England and Scotland submitted, it was right that they should be treated as foreigners. He did not agree with the noble Lord that the foot-and-mouth disease ought to be left alone. On the contrary, the experience which he had gained in Ireland showed that a very good effect had resulted from the measures taken to suppress that disease.


said, that having, as President last year of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, repeatedly pressed the noble Duke to legislate on the subject, he must be allowed to thank him for the very satisfactory measure which he had introduced. All seemed to approve of the part of the Bill relating to Cattle Plague; and he agreed with his noble Friend who spoke last, that the aggregate loss from pleuro-pneu-monia, and still more from foot-and-mouth disease, exceeded considerably that caused by Cattle Plague. Since its first outbreak of late years in 1865, the money loss from foot-and-mouth disease, owing to the waste of meat which it occasioned to fatting, and the injury to breeding, animals, was to be reckoned by millions. He also agreed with his noble Friend that a more enlightened feeling about the necessity for restrictions at home, and the duty of conforming to them, had sprung up among the farmers since 1865. He did not at all believe in the alleged hopelessness of expecting that they would be enforced, or in the opposition which it was asserted they would incur. Not only the Central Chamber of Agriculture, but numbers of local Chambers also, had expressed their readiness to submit to very onerous restrictions at home, if they were protected from the danger of contagious diseases, largely imported, if not exclusively derived, from abroad. That meat could be profitably and advantageously brought dead, instead of alive, to our great centres of population, they had the most conclusive proof in the constantly increasing proportion of dead meat brought to them, not merely from other countries— and especially to so remarkable an extent from America—but also, as appeared from the evidence before the Committee, from Aberdeenshire, one of the remoter counties of Scotland, and to his own personal knowledge from Devonshire and Cornwall, two of the more distant counties of England, to London. He quite agreed, again, with his noble Friend in all that he had said of the injury done to the live animals in their journey across the Irish Channel, and by road and rail, before and after that crossing. Part of this waste and suffering, which was not confined to animals coming from Ireland, was inevitable in stormy weather at sea—when large portions of heavy cargoes had been much injured, and some even killed by being bruised and trampled upon; and in some cases the whole absolutely suffocated through the necessary closing of the hatches. But a good deal was the result of defective arrangements both by sea and land. For his own part, he hoped and believed, for the sake of humanity as well as economy, that a constantly increasing proportion of the supply of meat of our large towns would be killed at a distance, and be spared the terrible suffering and lamentable waste of long journeys alive. A great deal of exaggeration was observable in the statements as to the great importance to the poorer classes of the offal, resulting from the slaughter of foreign animals in our towns. Against this was to be set, in the first place, the diminished quantity of good meat left on each animal, resulting from wasting on the journey. Then there was the introduction, in each live animal, of a quantity of refuse other than offal for food, which could only with difficulty be prevented becoming injurious to the health of the population; and then, the best of the offal could be brought from a distance into the town, as well as the dead meat, if required; though it should always be remembered that the proportion of the meat supplied, dead or alive, from abroad to the United Kingdom, could not at most be reckoned at more than 12 per cent of the whole. He utterly dissented from the view of the noble Lord, who anticipated a rise in the price of meat from this Bill, and for this conclusive reason—during the greater part of last year, when foreign live stock was excluded from this country, prices ruled decidedly lower than they did before, while foreign live stock came in freely. As for the Free Trade argument, which had been alluded to, it was too late to press that with any effect now-a-days. He was old enough to have heard it used more than 30 years ago on the Ten Hours Bill, which Parliament had ultimately passed with now generally recognized advantage to the community. He had afterwards heard it used in opposition to that great measure, the Public Health Act of 1848, which he felt it a great honour to have been allowed to take a humble part in promoting. They heard then a good deal about the poor man's pig, and the hardship of preventing him from keeping it in his own cellar, or close under his own or his neighbours' window. They had it used besides in opposition to the legislation for the regulation of lodging-houses. They had the old arguments used again more recently about the Adulteration Act, which Mr. Bright, who on Free Trade principles, he supposed, was so chary of legislation—though there were many subjects requiring it—while he presided over the Board of Trade, so vehemently denounced; declaring that adulteration was the natural result of competition, and that life would not be worth having in a country where dealers were liable to the intrusion of Government Inspectors to test the purity of their goods. That objection only showed that his knowledge of political economy was as defective as his sense of justice and humanity. Parliament had wisely now for years adopted an opposite course of legislation, and had recognized that it was true wisdom and economy to promote the well-being of their citizens, and the health of their flocks and herds, even at the expense of onerous restrictions on the freedom of action of individuals. As a now veteran Free Trader, who had fought the battle of Free Trade against powerful opposition at his first election in 1841, and had constantly supported Free Trade ever since, he welcomed this Bill as a wise, just, and, in the true sense of the word, economical measure, sure to benefit the consumer as well as the producer of meat.


observed, [that at a meeting which had been recently held, in which both sides of politics were fully represented, an almost unani- mous opinion had been expressed that, in the matter of restrictions, no distinction should be made between Ireland as a producing and England as a consuming country. At the same time, he thought a great deal of care would have to be exercised in seeing that the restrictions were not unnecessarily severe, or such as to produce any inconvenience that could be readily avoided. In some parts of Ireland it was the custom for persons who had a great deal of grass land, and more than they could conve-nientlystock themselves—and this would apply especially to owners of demesnes—to take in lay cattle, or to let in agistment some of their grass land for the grazing season. It would be obvious, if foot-and-mouth disease were to break out, say, in the month of October, and no cattle would be removed until 28 days from the time that the last animal had recovered, by which time the law would have become as bare as a board, what great inconvenience would arise. He had always heard it said that Ireland was comparatively free from disease, and that Irish cattle imported into this country usually contracted disease on being landed at the English ports. It was the nearly universal opinion in Ireland that to attempt to cure foot-and-mouth disease by means of these restrictions would produce evils worse than the disease itself. Seeing that the machinery of this Bill would be set in motion by means of Orders in Council, he begged to suggest to the noble Duke that he should arrange with the Lord Lieutenant, as a matter of administration, that before any Orders were issued which might have the effect of seriously affecting public convenience, they should be submitted to a Committee consisting of such members of the Irish Privy Council as were practically acquainted with agricultural affairs. The noble Earl (Earl Spencer) the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who had spoken from the other side, was himself a great authority on the subject, and if he, or someone like him, were in this position, this might not be necessary; but such might not always be the case. He had not made these observations in any spirit of hostility to the Bill of the noble Duke the Lord President of the Council; but because he deemed the suggestions he had thrown out not unworthy of consideration.


said, the feeling in Ireland was very strong that justice required that the Bill should be considered by a Select Committee. He regarded as one of the best provisions of the Bill that which assimilated the legislation of the three Kingdoms on this subject. His noble Friend (Earl Spencer) had said, alluding to the management of these matters by the local authorities, in England, that, in order to make the operations of legislation uniform, they should be under the direction of one controlling mind. In his (Lord Emly's) opinion, Ireland, like England and Scotland, should be placed under the Lord President of the Council, so that the whole of the three Kingdoms would be under one controlling and responsible head. This would tend very much to the efficient working of the Bill in Ireland. The Department over which the noble Duke presided was admirably organized. It acted under the eye of Parliament, and was represented there by a Minister of the Crown. The Department to which these things were entrusted in Ireland had not a sufficient staff. Practically, it was not represented in Parliament. The opinions of the two Committees of 1873 and 1877 were diametrically opposed in regard to the possibility of stamping out and getting rid of foot-and-mouth disease by any regulations such as proposed by this Bill. There ought to be a reasonable prospect of getting rid of the disease before the farmers were called upon to endure such vexatious regulations. Ireland ought to have the advantage of the same skilful administration as was enjoyed by England and Scotland. He would point to a single instance in? which a great and serious evil would be inflicted by this measure, if passed in its present stringent form. It might, of course, be necessary to inflict certain temporary evils, with the view of getting rid of a particular disease; but the evils which this Bill would inflict were so grave and serious that, unless there were a reasonably strong hope of the success of the measure, he thought it would be most unwise to inflict them. He would take the case of the chief ports of Ireland—Cork, Waterford, Dublin, and Drogheda—all of these might be proclaimed infected districts at the same time, and, consequently, closed as against cattle for the period mentioned in the Bill; whereas many parts of Ireland might be free from the disease for which those ports were proclaimed. The closing of these ports would be an absolute prohibition of the export of cattle from Ireland to Great Britain. He hoped the noble Duke would not proceed with this provision unless he had the strongest reason for believing it would be effectual. He must say it would require stronger reasons than any he had yet heard to induce him to support the Bill. He should feel it his duty to move that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee.


in reply, stated that it was because they believed there was a reasonable hope of this measure being successful in stamping out foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia from this country, that he hoped their Lordships would pass the measure he had had the honour to introduce. It might appear, from the non-calling of Irish witnesses before the Committee, that Irish interests were neglected in that inquiry. But what were the facts bearing upon that point? The Committee consisted of 27 Members, and of these, five hon. Gentlemen represented Irish constituencies—Mr. Corry, Mr. Dease, Mr. Murphy, the hon. Charles French, and Mr. King-Harman. The hon. Chairman of the Committee (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) stated that on frequent occasions those hon. Gentlemen were most assiduous in their attendance on the Committee, and they were asked on various occasions whether, after the evidence given, there was any necessity, or whether they wished to call Irish witnesses before the Committee. They declined to do so; and therefore he was justified in saying that on that Committee Irish interests were not neglected, and that witnesses had an opportunity of expressing their opinions. It had been said that this was a measure of protection. It was not a measure of protection. It was not for the protection of any one interest at the expense of another. He believed that in bringing in this Bill Her Majesty's Government were doing a benefit to the whole community, and were not legislating at the expense of the consumer to benefit the producer—their interests, properly considered, were identical. They be- lieved that if by any measure they could bring about a better state of things, they would increase the supply of meat in this country, they would render the country independent of foreign supply, and would reduce the price of meat to all classes. They did not adopt the recommendations of the Committee of 1873, so far as they recommended immediate legislative action; because they thought it better to wait and get more information, and then to bring in a large and comprehensive measure. One of the recommendations which had been made to the Committee was that the whole country should simultaneously be placed under restrictions in the case of the plague breaking out; but the object of the Bill was to confine the restrictions to those portions of the country in which disease existed. The Government wished to give freedom of trade throughout the country, and they had, therefore, taken power for narrowing the districts to the smallest possible space, in order not to interfere with the movements of cattle any more than was necessary. As to the statement that five or six ports in Ireland might become infected districts, although possibly there might not be disease in any other part of Ireland, he could hardly imagine the thing possible. The object of the Bill was to treat all parts of the Kingdom alike. The Government did not desire to make any difference in respect to Ireland; but if the same restrictive measures were not adopted in Ireland as in England, then it was impossible that Ireland could be treated exceptionally. The object was to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease; and if it was not stamped out in Ireland, then Ireland must be treated as a foreign country—which the Government desired above all things to avoid. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon) said that, although this might be accepted by the larger agriculturists, in his part of the country the farmers generally would not submit to the restrictions imposed by this Bill. But if the noble Marquess looked at the evidence of Mr. Soulby, he would find that gentleman said the farmers would submit to restrictions to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease. It was a disease which did enormous injury in this country not only to the producer, but to the consumer of food. It was said that farmers would not submit to more restrictions than were necessary, This was exactly what was proposed by the Bill. This was why the Privy Council confined their operations to those parts of the country where disease existed. There was no system of inspection known in this country by which we could be sure that disease would not get into the country unless the animals were slaughtered at the port of landing. It was proposed that, in the first instance, whenever the local authority should discover in any particular place that disease existed, they might declare that an infected place, and the Council might take in as much of the land as they thought necessary around any particular shed and make that an infected district. His impression was that there was only one witness called before the Committee who gave evidence that the farmers would not submit to restrictions to stamp out disease. The noble Marquess seemed to object to slaughtering cattle at the port of debarkation for the purpose of getting rid of foot-and-mouth disease. It was perfectly clear, if they wanted to get rid of this disease, and if they had those restrictions in this country which would stamp it out here, these restrictions would be useless unless they could prevent the disease coming from foreign countries. It could not be said that disease was not coming from foreign countries. He found that in 1875 no less than 20,228 cattle from abroad were found to be diseased on landing at the various ports. 19,000 of these had foot-and-mouth disease; and so long as this was allowed to go on, so long would they have this complaint. The noble Marquess also touched on the question as to the effect of these restrictions. He said he did not think that these restrictions were at all likely to have the effect of getting rid of this disease. If this was so—though there was no evidence to show that the restrictions would not get rid of the disease—he would quite grant that he was asking for large powers on insufficient ground; but, on the contrary, whenever these restrictions had been carried out fully, they had the effect of diminishing disease. In the Netherlands, where the system of compulsory slaughter existed, in 1871 there were 6,078 cases of disease; in 1872 there were 4,009; in 1873 the cases were 2,479; in 1874 the number was 2,414; in 1875 there were 2,227 cases; in 1876 there were 1,723 oases; and in 1877 951 cases—showing a great diminution—due, no doubt, to the diseased animals having been slaughtered. With regard to the proposal that this Bill should have a temporary operation, his opinion was that such a course would unsettle everything and settle nothing. The essence of the Bill was that regulations should be made by which disease should be put a stop to. It had been contended that it would be an interference with the food of the people. There need be no apprehensions on that score. When the Cattle Plague restrictions were first set up in 1866, the dead meat trade commenced, to a certain extent, from Aberdeen to London. In the last five years the trade had been progressing, and he ventured to assert that what had been done from Aberdeen to London could be done from London to other parts of the country. In 1873, the dead meat carried from Aberdeen for London on the Caledonian Railway was 5,316 tons, and by sea 243 tons. There were in the same year 1,400 live cattle carried by rail, and 1,800 by sea. The total of these various years was, 1873–5,558 tons of dead meat, and 3,272 live animals; 1874–6,328 tons of dead meat, 6,371 live animals; 1875–6,425 tons of dead meat, 4,835 cattle; 1876—-6,329 tons of dead meat, 6,652 animals; 1877–684 tons of dead meat, and 4,466 live animals; making a total of 31,657 tons of dead meat, and 25,000 live animals. Allowing 6½ cwt. as the weight of a bullock, 97,388 would represent the number of animals carried as dead meat, as against 25,000 carried alive. This was conclusive evidence that the dead meat trade could be properly and successfully carried out. More than that, the cost of carrying these animals as dead meat from Aberdeen to London was so small, that practically it made no appreciable increase of price. He found that the charges upon the carriage amounted to something like a halfpenny per pound, including commission and railway carriage. The question of offal had been touched upon. He could assure the House he had gone carefully into that matter. He had inquiries made since he introduced the Bill, and the conclusion he had arrived at from the evidence given to him by persons who dealt in offal was that there would be no diffi- culty in carrying offal from London to the manufacturing districts; and, more than that, he found it was done at present to a great extent; whereas in cold weather animals were killed in the country, and the offal disposed of in the neighbourhood. In hot weather, when the animals were killed not so much in the country districts, the offal market in London was overstocked, and quantities were sent back into the country with considerable success, as he should be able to show in Committee when they came to deal with the details of the question. He might say that undoubtedly foot-and-mouth disease was imported into Ireland from this country. He could not agree with his noble Friend behind him (Lord Dun-sany) that the operation of the Bill would increase the price of food in that country; and he defied any person to prove that this could be looked upon as a landlord's Bill, with the purpose of raising rents. He denied, also, the accuracy of the information that this Bill was not popular in the country. On the contrary, if the noble Lord who made the statement had the same information as he had, he would see that it was most popular throughout the country, and was looked forward to as a most useful measure in getting rid of disease. It had been said that it was all very well to bring forward Mr. Booth as a witness in this matter, because his stock was of a highly-bred character, and therefore more likely to take disease than other animals less well bred. That might be so; but, at the same time, the argument fell very far short, unless it could be shown that animals not so highly bred did not take the disease. Therefore, it could not be said that they were legislating for high-bred cattle, and putting the whole country to inconvenience for the sake of Mr. Booth. He denied the fact. This disease affected all classes of stock. Taking the evidence of Mr. Clare Sewell Read, who was a practical farmer, and whose farm was conducted in the same manner as an ordinary farm, he said, in answer to the following Question:— You agree with the witnesses who have stated before this Committee that the foot-and-mouth disease causes very great loss, not only to the producer, the breeder, hut also to the consumer?—It does. I should say that whereas cattle plague is so deadly and horrible a disease that we are sure to take measures to extinguish it, and that whereas pleuro-pneumonia is very fatal, still, at the same time, there can be no doubt whatever that foot-and-mouth disease destroys more meat and milk than all the other diseases put together. That was very strong evidence, coming from a practical man like Mr. Read; and even if no other herds than those of the same character as Mr. Booth's should be affected by the disease, still he maintained that the Government would be justified in endeavouring to stamp it out, for a high class of stock had a very beneficial effect throughout the country. He did not agree with those who said that shorthorn mothers could not bring up their calves. He had himself, in a very humble way, shorthorn stock in the North, chiefly for the benefit of the district, and he certainly could not undertake to recommend them if it required two cows to bring up every calf. Ireland also would reap the advantage of the Bill; and, as he had stated, he desired to have the same regulations in Ireland as in England. Probably it might be possible, by excluding foreign cattle, to stamp out the disease; but he could not say when that result would be achieved. Other countries—and especially Denmark—had been very successful in their treatment of the difficulty, and in England it might reasonably be expected that the disease should be confined to the area in which it originated. With regard to another point, it was clear that compensation for slaughtered animals ought to come from the Imperial funds, as when the Government ordered animals to be slaughtered, it would not be fair for the local authorities to be made to pay for them. As for the Bill itself, he hoped that it would be committed pro formâ on Thursday, as there were several Amendments to be made, and the working Committee might be fixed for the following Tuesday.


thought the noble Duke had not answered all the points that had been raised by the noble Marquess; and he (Earl Granville) had wished to hear the reason for including perfectly clean countries in the provisions of the Bill, and he hoped that that course would be justified in Committee. Several noble Lords had expressed their wish that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee, and there were obvious reasons in favour of that proceed- ing; and, as far as he could see, no argument against it. In the Committee, on the Report of which the Bill was founded, no Irish evidence had been taken, and the Bill contained several provisions which were contrary to the recommendations of the Committee of 1873; while the noble Duke disagreed with the opinion of another President of the Council with respect to the possibility of stamping out pleuro-pneumonia. All these were points on which inquiry was desirable. The Bill would not be seriously delayed by being referred to a Select Committee, and might be sent to the other House in a fortnight. He hoped the Government would consider the convenience of appointing a Select Committee on the Bill.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.

House adjourned at half past Eight o'clock, to Thursday next, half past Ten o'clock.