HL Deb 07 March 1887 vol 311 cc1363-80

in rising to call attention to the state of horse breeding and horse supply for military and industrial purposes in this country, said, he was not going to raise the question of the breeding of such an implement of wealth as the race-horse. In days when £10,000 were offered in one prize these animals could take care of themselves. Moreover, he could congratulate the noble Duke (the Duke of Westminster) on having bred Ormonde—the horse of a century; while Hermit had been a gold mine to his fortunate owner, and to the equally fortunate purchasers of his stock. Nor was he going to raise the question of Government breeding studs, as tried and abandoned abroad and as tried by ourselves in India. The conclusions of the Committee on Government Studs in India declared that they had failed to produce any improvement in the breed of horses; that Government interference in horse breeding had completely paralyzed private enterprize; and that the cost of the horses amounted to either £148 or £219 each, according to the different modes of debiting expenditure to the Department. Moreover, the best horses were not bred in great studs, but on small private farms. The subject of horse supply had always proved interesting to both Houses of Parliament. In 1873 Lord Rosebery's Commission was the result of a discussion in their Lordships' House. In 1875 Lord Calthorpe made an admirable proposal. Lord Alington instructed and entertained the House of Commons on this subject in a manner which had never been forgotten. Mr. Chaplin made a speech and a proposal to which he would have to refer later. In their fondness for horses both Parties in that House were, he thought, agreed. The noble Earl the Leader of the Liberal Party (Earl Granville) had proved over and over again that horsemanship could take the greatest liberties with the biggest country; and he knew he could congratulate the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) on the recent acquisition of an excellent brown mare which must, on no account, be lost sight of. That night, however, they must lay aside all cherished prepossessions of blood and action and consider the noble animal as a locomotive and traction machine which a country with great industrial requirements and great public service responsibilities must have at command. They must not be horse lovers, but an Assembly of economic precision, considering an economic problem. The perishing horse supply and decay of horse breeding in this country might be generally stated as an example of "the failure of production through relaxation of motives." What they had to consider was, whether the relaxed motives could be braced into new action and vigour. Much might be done in that direction, and he thought the pre sent moment was very favourable for a review of the question. Much good work had been done by public societies and by public-spirited individuals. English breeders had not lost heart and spirit; on the contrary, there were signs of renewing vitality and enterprize. Clydesdale and shire breeding was in a most prosperous condition, and there was no doubt that this country could still breed the best horses in the world. Let them look at the foreign demand for English horses, and at the fact that astute middlemen were always on the look-out in the foreign dealers' yards to purchase English-looking horses to be sent into the English market. But as long as we heard on all sides of the scarcity of really nice half-bred horses, as long as our imports meant an average loss of £250,000 to the home producer, as long as it was almost impossible to buy half-a-dozen matched pairs of English harness horses, we had abundant evidence that not only were we not breeding high-class horses up to the demand, but that we consequently had no surplus of native-born animals available for commercial requirements which were multiplying daily. Many reasons could be given for this scarcity, some of which he would touch upon later on; but he thought the time had come when we must try to deal with facts, instead of re-investigating sufficiently obvious causes. To see any source of wealth and credit in a country drying up through the diminished energy or discouragement of the industry which tapped the source was disquieting enough in itself. But this was not only a question of national wealth and credit. The creeping paralysis which during the last 35 years had been encroaching upon our horse-producing industry might bring us at any moment face to face with very possible and very critical emergencies. At any moment we might wish to move, and not only find that we had lost the power to move, but that we had distributed that power to others. There was such a contingency as a European war. A widely-accepted principle of modern war was the rapid mobilization of all arms. Could we calculate on our own country being able to furnish us with horses? He feared not. Even in peace time the number of horses fell even below commercial requirements. He would give the figures of the gradual increase of our imports. From 1863 to 1872 the imports were 79,131, and from 1873 to 1882, 197,092, representing a loss to this country, at the rate of £35 a-head, of nearly £6,000,000. For the five years from 1882 to 1886 our imports had been 57,432; in 1885 the imports even into Ireland amounted to 2,487. The consequence was a great difficulty in finding horses when we wanted them. As Colonel Ravenhill said in a public lecture at the United Service Institution last June on the reserve of horses—"We are at our wits' ends to find horses on sudden demand." Colonel Ravenhill spoke from experience. In 1873 Sir Henry Storks had to purchase 2,028 transport horses, and had the greatest difficulty in doing so, 1,500 of them having to be purchased in France. In 1878 great exertions produced 2,250 in four weeks. In 1882 it took 17 weeks to collect 1,700. On reference to the latest War Office Returns the number of horses required to complete the establishment of two Army Corps was 22,966. The number of horses in the possession of the Government for the financial year 1886 was 12,951. Deducting from this number 20 per cent as too young, too old, or sick and lame, there remained a total effective of 10,371 horses, or about 1,100 under the number required for one Army Corps, and 12,600 under the number required for two Army Corps. Where lines of communication had to be maintained, 2,773 additional horses were required for each Army Corps, making a total deficiency of 18,100; and, in addition, there should be a reserve to feed the waste of one campaign of 40 or 50 per cent, or, say, 9,000 horses. In the Crimea our waste amounted to 80 per cent per annum. That gives a total deficiency, in case of war, of 27,000 horses. The latest Census Returns showed a total of horses in Great Britain and Ireland of 3,000,000, 2,000,000 of which were employed in agriculture, and 1,000,000 privately or in trade. After obvious deductions for age, size, un-soundness, or other reasons, there would only be about 70,000 horses available. Now, if Colonel Ravenhill's figures were correct—and, if anything, they were under-stated—mobilization seemed an insoluble problem; and it appeared certain that without an Act of Parliament for compulsory acquisition we could not get horses for even the initial purposes of war. Any reliable supply of horses for the purposes of war meant a constant surplus on hand far above the commercial requirements of this country. His (Lord Ribblesdale's) figures had given their Lordships some idea of that surplus, and the maintenance of any such surplus was obviously impossible. As some stress was laid on Government demand in emergency being an incentive to breeding, it was as well to point out that an irregular demand, such as the Government would have to make on the outbreak of war, could never lead to the wider breeding of horses. Nobody in his senses would breed for a casual demand which might never occur. But granted our inability to meet the want, "unless," as Sir Frederick Fitzwygram said, "you stop the traffic in Regent Street, and single out the appropriate horses as they pass," and granted that for your reserve you must develop channels in our Colonies as yet undeveloped, surely we should be capable of producing native-born animals enough to meet the private and commercial demand of this country in time of peace? The question was, could we, by en couraging the breeding of good half-bred horses, by pushing on the good work which had been done in this direction, supply our own ordinary needs? He thought so, and for this reason. Lord Catheart, in his valuable paper in The Agricultural Journal, pointed out this fact— No care or skill will enable the breeder of hunters to reach the highest aim with more than a fair proportion. The average horses must pay expenses, hut weight - carrying hunters should be the type or model; the misfit hunters are valuable for most purposes. Now, by encouraging the breeding of half-bred horses in such sufficient numbers as to create a surplus of misfits ample enough to supply the general purposes of the demand of the public, we should gain three points of vantage—first, a comparative security from the risk of absolute horse famine; secondly, the certainty of a floating horse population of good English blood; and, thirdly, the recovery of an average annual sum of £250,000 at present being lost to the home producers. Closely allied with this question of supply was the question of export. A question as to stopping the exporting of horses was recently asked in "another place." Now, except as an ultima ratio, stopping our export was a soul-destroying error. We had nothing to fear from large ex port figures; everything to fear from large import figures. An increase in export obviously meant increasing production, but it also meant the pari passu independence of foreign supplies. Thus the figures of the last few years, where they showed a large export, gave a weaker import. Take 1885, when the export was 6,196, the import 13,023. In 1886 the export was 7,323, the import was only 11,027. That is, setting aside draught and thoroughbred stock, an in creased export meant a proportionate increase of misfits or average animals available for the general purposes of the public. Beyond this, the larger our export trade the greater was our reserve to fall back upon, as on an emergency export would be stopped, and all the animals bred for export would become available in their degree, plus the misfits or average animals bred for export and missing the market. Now, objections to the export of mares was much more intelligible. The general complaint was that there were no mares in the country. Mr. Tattersall stated recently, on the high authority of Mr. Phillips, that during the last 20 years 1,000 mares had been exported annually. The late Mr. Wellfit, in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, exported large numbers of mares, and the first point selected by Lord Rosebery's Committee to account for the deficiency of native-born horses was this large export of mares. There was no doubt that foreigners would buy any fresh whole-coloured animal if sound and well-bred enough. But this was a difficulty which would right itself if once the mare, as a brood mare, regained the special value in England which she had lost. Our difficulty would not so much be mares as sound mares. In Ireland they kept their mares, and what made him think so was the fewness of mares in hunting consumers' stables. In the Oakley hunt there were 45 geldings to six mares; Fitzwilliam, 41 geldings to two mares; Badsworth, 60 geldings to seven mares; Goodwood, 42 geldings to six mares. Moreover, in 1873, Mr. Phillips, the Army contractor, stated before the Lords' Committee that the Cavalry were largely mounted on mares. It was the same now, and there was no doubt that for general purposes mares could be bought in this country 20 per cent cheaper than geldings. Still, all this would right itself if breeding gave mares back their specific value. Any proposal to tax brood mare export was, he thought, impossible. He would quote Mr. Jacob Wilson on the subject. Speaking at the Farmers' Club in 1885, he said— It is impossible for the moment to think that you can impose any tax or fiscal embargo against the exportation of mares. Foreigners have a double motive in buying our mares. They require them first for their cavalry and artillery, and afterwards for breeding, so that it is impossible, in the present condition of agriculture, for the tenant farmer of England to compete with the foreign buyer or to refuse the temptation of a high price for his mares. Many reasons might be given for the disfavour into which breeding had fallen in this country. Country gentlemen lived less at home. Breeding of all kinds was one of the contrivances which used to make country life enjoyable and complete, and the occupiers of the land took colour from the squires. But the multiplication and the facility for amusements in all kinds of directions had knocked on the head stay-at-home pursuits which were half pleasure and half business—breeding among others. He had letters from various parts of the country attesting the pining away of what used to be a favourite and flourishing industry. In Leicestershire the prices of stock had ruined farmers, in Lincolnshire the prices of wheat. In the Fylde, a great district for harness and hackney horses, there was hardly a good horse of the kind to be got—they had taken to breed draught horses as giving quicker returns. In Craven, a pastoral district in Yorkshire, whore he lived, in old days they had a celebrated strain known as Craven blacks, which had now entirely disappeared. The large graziers who used active hacks in the old days now got into a third-class carriage, and small farmers no longer ploughed a patch for the oatmeal—which was the staple food of this district—owing to the cheapness of wheat flour. Consequently they had no use for the active mare they used to keep for this purpose and for riding to fairs on. On May 30, 1882, Mr. Lumley Hodgson, writing to Lord Cathcart, said— Improvement has brought much undrained land into cultivation, and fitted it for sheep, where previously horses and cattle only were bred. Dickenson, the jobmaster, used to say that in Yorkshire the sheep had eaten the horse; on many small holdings now consolidated small farmers worked useful mares and bred valuable foals. Influenza has a discouraging effect. It came with the potato disease and food-and-mouth in 1845, and had been more or less prevalent ever since, causing horses to go roarers. I never had a roarer before and have never been without one since. But what looked like the conclusion of the whole matter was the fact that breeding half-bred horses for some time back had not paid. The question they had to consider was whether the causes which had made breeding unpopular and unprofitable, and which had indicated a better employment of capital, obtained now? The demand for good horses had certainly not lessened, but it was dislocated and distracted by steam. Farmers and breeders had got puzzled, but with proper remedies he thought there was every prospect of the revival of a great British industry. At the same time, unless those proper remedies were quickly applied, he would personally rather hunt on a Flanders mare than advise the farmers to take again to extensive breeding. But he asserted that the causes which led to the abandonment of breeding did not obtain now. If their Lordships turned to the Report of Lord Rosebery's Commission in 1873 they would find that the second reason by which the Commission accounted for the deficient supply of horses was the increased profits of sheep and cattle, which, being more certain and more rapidly realized, were doubly attractive to the farmer as compared with those obtained by the breeding of horses. But those were profits of the past. If, as Mr. Dickenson said, the sheep and cattle had eaten up the horses, they, in their turn, had been devoured by American beef and Australian mutton. Foreign competition and the depreciation of silver had ruined tillage farming. Large tracts had been laid down or were being laid down of grass and had gone out of cultivation, and this was favourable to breeding. Moreover, the agricultural pendulum was in a state of painful arrest. Farmers were considering whether to turn to the production of jam or poultry or vegetables, and the least push would send the pendulum swinging in any direction which seemed to promise any thing like a livelihood and a decent profit. Could such a push be given, he would ask, without interference with the liberty of the subject and the pocket of the tax payer? He had spoken of mares; but if the prospects of breeding were to be considered they would have to reckon with stallions and demand. They had two dif ficulties confronting them. First, they must provide facilities for the successful and profitable breeding of high class half-bred horses; secondly, they had to induce breeders to avail themselves of such facilities. In order to meet the first difficulty they obviously must find stallions. Could the stallions be provided without State aid, or were there any stallions available in the country? In both cases his answer was "No." In the first case, of late years the Governments of Hungary, Austria, Italy, France, and Germany had scoured this country and purchased with excellent judgment, and, what was still more valuable, with unlimited purse and commissions to miss nothing, our finest country sires. With the prices they had given and were prepared to give it was idle to talk of private enterprize competing. As to whether valuable stallions were in this country he said "No," because not only had such horses as Ambergris, Ostregor, and Gunnersbury been leaving the country, but the residnum was worthless, as was brought out in evidence before the Rosebery Commission, the enormous percentage of unsound travelling stallions being adduced by 20 out of the 27 witnesses examined. How was this first facility then to be provided? He unhesitatingly answered by public money. He felt certain that a shudder would pass along the Front Bench when he said this, but it was nothing new. The Queen's Plate money was public money, and the State Establishment at Hampton Court was indirectly public money. Was the Queen's Plate money wisely disposed of at present, and was it necessary in these days of enormously in creased racing prizes? If its original purpose were regarded—that was, to encourage the breed of horses—surely no better use could be devised in closer observance of the spirit and letter of its constitution than by devoting this annual grant to encouraging good country sires in this country, and, if possible, thereby forestalling the foreigner. He would recall to their Lordships Mr. Chaplin's admirable proposal. He pro posed the purchase by the Government of three or four thoroughbred horses as opportunity and prices permitted to be let annually by auction as country sires to the highest bidder, who would be limited by conditions as to fee. The Queen's Plate money would be ample for this purpose, and in 10 years would probably place the country in the possession of a very magnificent stud. No loss need accrue, for Lord Glasgow's stud, which was left under peculiar conditions of not leaving the country, were leased in this way at prices which paid most handsomely—£700 being paid in one case for the annual services of one stallion. Could not such a stud with advantage be located at Hampton Court, where all the machinery was already set up, and would not such a boon to horse breeding be incalculable as com pared with the very risky and unsatisfactory breeding operations carried on there at present? He felt certain that Colonel Maude—than whom there was no better judge of such matters—would hail such an opportunity of benefiting the community. Of course the scheme sketched might be objected to as being too complex. In that case he would suggest that the Queen's Plate money should be devoted to subsidize stallions serving in the country at low fees, and the money should be apportioned, and its distribution left to the Royal Agricultural, the Hibernian, the Caledonian, the Hunters Improvement, and other kindred societies, to be given away in premiums for good stallions, provided they came up to a certain standard, of course, and were sound, and available in fixed districts during the ensuing season. Another great inducement to breeding would be large prizes of Government money, to foals, yearlings, and two-year-olds, at all produce shows, the younger the stock the better, for a quick return was a great inducement to breeders or, indeed, to any investors of capital; but in either of these cases the object must have the Queen's Plate money. Another scheme was the purchase of two-year-olds by Government direct in districts which command the services of first-rate sires, to be kept at maturing depôts until draughted into the service. The system of purchasing direct from the breeder to the exclusion of the middleman was approved of by the French Inspector General of Remounts, and by Baron Nathusius, in an interesting letter to Mr. Gilbey on this subject. The advantages to the Government would be, securing the pick of the market by being able to buy without foreign competition and at buyers' prices, and the certainty that young stock were well "done" before they were draughted into the Cavalry and Artillery Services. Modern warfare had added very much to the duties of Cavalry, requiring mobility, and bringing out the value of bone and blood. In these days Cavalry had to push many miles ahead as the screen of an advancing Army, and a Cavalry horse could hardly be too good an animal. As for the advantages to the breeder of Government purchase of two-year-olds, he would have a quick return and a more or less guaranteed demand. Provided the animal was good enough, he would be able to dispose of stock quick, and so make room for what was coming on. Moreover, the plan would encourage breeding by small farmers, whose places were not adapted for keeping horses on after three years of age, for after that age a high-couraged colt might be said to be always in mischief. Of course, there was the question of expense of starting, and of the rent of maturing farms, which would have to be leased. There was also the question of altering the present remount system, for there would have to be substituted a Government purchaser, who would advertise his visits in districts where he felt certain of finding good two-year-old stock. But the question of expense was not by any means formidable; and, at all events, the value of such an experiment could hardly be over-stated. The War Office was aware of the importance of the question as it affected their Department. Government buyers had gone to Canada with instructions to bring back samples of what could be bought in that country. There were also rumours of a constructed scheme for colonizing horses—in Jamaica, of all ineligible islands. He trusted that no Government would devote public money to any such enter-prize without very considerable circum spection. In Jamaica we should, indeed, be walking by faith, and not by sight. But this was no question for the War Office. It was a question for Her Majesty's Government, as a responsible Body—a Body responsible to the people of this country, because in this country a part of our national wealth and credit were in danger of perishing, not so much by mere consumption as by relaxing enter-prize at home and increasing enter-prize abroad. He had tried to lay the case before the House unadorned; and he yielded allegiance to the principle of supply and demand, which he recognized as sovereign. He did not dispute that the whole question was a question of supply and demand; but it was also a struggle between England's private and weakened enterprize, and the pertinacity and purchasing power of Foreign Governments. It was State purchase, not individual purchase, which had taken the best blood out of this country. No doubt the principle of supply and demand must never be lost sight of, or offended against; but if we were to re vive a national wealth-producing industry, which was hastening to decay, we must keep our best blood at home, and to outbid the foreign purchasing power we must use the same means—pounds, shillings, and pence.


said, their Lordships must feel grateful to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Ribblesdale) for initiating a discussion upon a subject of interest to all Englishmen, and one of undoubted importance to the country from many points of view; but, in the presence of so many noble Lords who had made the breeding of horses their amusement and their business, he (Lord Harris) feared he should not be able to enter into the economical questions raised by the noble Lord. He, therefore, rose for the purpose of dealing shortly with that part of the question which had reference to the supply of horses for military purposes. He understood, so far as he could make out, that the suggestion made was, that the Military Authorities, instead of buying remounts of four years and three and a-half years old, should purchase two-year-olds. Their Lord ships must not run away with the idea that the figures quoted in the first part of the noble Lord's speech as to the number of horses that might be required in the localization of two Army Corps accurately indicated the number that would be required by the Government for the ordinary supply of the Army, for the number required annually would, be far less. The demand for two-year-olds would be only for the number required for remounts; and that demand would be only slightly in excess of the demand for horses which existed now. The noble Lord said that there was a slow demand for two-year-olds, and that for four-year-olds we came into com petition with foreign Governments, and they, being more liberal, got the better horses. He (Lord Harris) quite under stood the suggestion that if we bought two-year-olds we should be likely to get better horses; but, unless convincing arguments were adduced, he could not accept the idea to buy two-year-olds and keep them for two years would be as economical as the present plan of buying four-year-olds. It was evident that, in keeping the horses for the two years, the Government would run the risk, which was run by every breeder, of the care and maturing of the horses up to an age at which they were now purchased; and he thought the result would be that when a horse came into a regiment he would be a more ex pensive animal than he was at present. He would not object to that in the least if we got a better horse for the money. Of course, more would have to be heard about the details of the scheme, and he did not understand that the noble Lord had gone deeply into them. He would only reply in gene- ral that the Government, so far as the supply of horses for military purposes was concerned, had an open mind on the question, and that they recognized that it would be far more advantageous for military purposes to be able to rely upon a supply of horses in this country, upon which they could at any time lay their hands, than to have to go out of the country for them. While the Government had au open mind on this question, they were perfectly prepared to have any scheme that was carefully thought out submitted to them, and they would give it every care and consideration. Alluding to the economic part of the question, it must come to this—that they must give an enhanced price for horses, because there was un doubtedly, at that moment, very much better encouragement given by foreign countries for horses for military purposes than was given by the English Government. He had just had a conversation with a gentleman who had spent much of his time in France, and who was largely interested in horse breeding in that country, together with the supply of mules all over the world; and he had told him (Lord Harris) that, as a general rule, in the cavalry stables there—and he had taken every opportunity possible of visiting them—the price the horse cost was marked up over the stall, together with the name of the place where it came from. In four-fifths of the stables he had visited, as a general rule, this gentleman went so far as to say that he found that the prices had averaged 1,500 francs or £60; while a very large proportion of the horses came from England. For the class of horses we wanted for military purposes the French Government were thus, it seemed, prepared to give 20 per cent more than we were. If they were to compete with the French Government in that particular direction, they must raise their price £20 a-horse, and that was an economic question with which he was not able to deal. Another direction in which, without incurring any great expense, the breeding of horses might be encouraged, was through the medium of that much decried but admirable and useful body, the Yeomanry. At the pre sent time, as he understood the matter, what the farmers required was a market for horses for military purposes; and if they could depend upon a Government official or Cavalry officer attending each. Yeomanry training place once a-year, ready to purchase suitable animals on the spot, he believed that, in the course of a few years, a good supply would by this means be forthcoming. At all events, that would be a very inexpensive mode of proceeding, and would be attended with good results. The question would probably be brought under the notice of the illustrious Duke (the Duke of Cam bridge); and if what he had suggested could be carried out, and the effect was to produce the kind of horses which were wanted, he believed that their object would be attained economically and beneficially to all parties. In conclusion, he would only repeat that the War Office Authorities were perfectly prepared to receive any scheme which the noble Lord, or anyone else, might submit to them; and he could assure their Lordships that it would receive the utmost consideration.


My Lords, I think it is a great advantage to the Service that the noble Lord (Lord Ribblesdale) has brought forward this subject to-night. As to the difficulties we have to contend with in obtaining horses, they are very great—indeed, much greater than they used to be; and I suppose we must, to a certain extent, attribute them to the farmer not being in a position to breed so many horses as formerly. In times past, no doubt, there were greater facilities; but now we find great difficulties, added to which we have to contend with foreign competition, which doubtless has as much to do with it as anything else. What has fallen from the noble Lord is quite true. The foreigner gives a larger and a better price than we do, and horses command a larger price in foreign countries; and therefore horses go, as a matter of course, where a better price is given. To deal, however, with that question is a matter which no Government would willingly adopt, and which requires great consideration; for if you raise the price you will not be able to lower it again, and any Government will dislike that. There is great force in what has been said about two and three year-olds, and I have always been of opinion that we can get much better animals at from two to three years old than at four years old. We buy, and are obliged to purchase horses at three years old, which stand on our Estimates as ser viceable troopers. The result is that we have a large number of animals in the Service which are not reliable horses. During the time I have been at the head of the Army we have endeavoured to get four or five-year-old animals; but the difficulty has been very great, and, what is worse, we have got an inferior class of horse. If you go into the markets you would get a better three-year-old than a four or five-year-old. It is the interregnum between the ages that you want to get over; and I think there is great force in the arguments of the noble Lord in favour of buying two or three-year-olds. I think, economically, it would be better if you bought two or three-year-olds, and had large tracts of grass land where you could turn these horses out until they were ready for use—that is, until they were four years old. I believe that is the system adopted in the Austrian Service and elsewhere. These horses are not bred by the Government, but are reared by them. It would be most undesirable to have a breeding establishment; but I do think it desirable that you should keep horses from two to two and a-half years old until they are fit to be put into the ranks. By this means you would get a better class of horse, while the number of horses for breeding purposes would increase. We got some very good horses from Hungary; some went out to South Africa and some to Egypt; but, at this moment, every country has stopped the exportation of horses, although we are not at war; and, therefore, to rely upon foreign countries is relying upon a broken reed. The more you can encourage the breeding of horses in this country the better; but it is a good thing to keep the price down if you can. When an emergency occurs we shall have to give a high price for very inferior animals, and we shall not be able to find them except under compulsion, which is a system which will be most inconvenient and most undesirable. If we cannot buy the horses in this country we must look somewhere else, and it will be much better to look to our own Colonies than to foreign countries. Canada in this respect may be of some use; but Canada is a long way off. We bought some ranche horses this year; but we cannot rely upon the supply when we want them; and in any sudden mobilization there will be other difficulties, because for field service we shall want seasoned animals. It is most essential, therefore, for all purposes that the breed of horses should be encouraged, for English horses are the best in the world, and more en couragement to the farmer would be beneficial not only from a military point of view, but for the general public. In case of mobilization there would be an immense difficulty, and I agree with the noble Lord (Lord Harris) that the Yeomanry should be in some way utilized, if possible, although I do not quite see my way to that. I have found that Yeomanry horses are either too valuable, or not sufficiently well-bred to be of use for the Public Service; but if such a system could be of the slightest use to encourage the Yeomanry, who, moreover, require encouragement, as it is a most useful Force, and a Force which, I believe, would be very efficient on an emergency—I certainly should favour it. But I should like to see some definite proposals put forward, as it is very difficult to see how some of the very valuable statistics and suggestions put forward bear upon the subject. I believe that this useful and interesting discussion may produce among those who take an interest in the matter, either on the part of the Government or private individuals, some scheme which may be carefully considered; and as far as the Military Authorities are concerned, I hope it will produce some very valuable results.


said they heard a great deal about Canada and elsewhere; but he thought that every encouragement should be extended to the farmer in this matter, and he complained that in his own county of Yorkshire, they never heard of the Government con tractors inquiring for horses, although he believed that large numbers of useful horses might be purchased at the Government prices. He should like to see the system under which horses were supplied for the Government altered. A great number of Cavalry and Artillery officers were now retired from active ser vice at a comparatively early age, and if some of them were established in different parts of the country, they might make it known to the farmers of the various districts that the Government would buy horses directly from them. In that way, the Government would get the horses it required and the farmers would be benefited, because, at present the great blot was that horses were purchased through contractors who desired to make some £10 per head profit, and in that way they made a great deal of money which might be given to the producer of the raw material, the farmer, who was annually losing a large sum which would go a great way towards encouraging the breeding of horses. In that connection those agents always offered much less than the Government limit, and therefore often failed to secure the best horses as against the foreigners. He regretted that the noble Lord (Lord Harris) had made reference to the ridiculous sum voted in the interests of the turf; because it was absurd to suppose that the turf required such small assistance in the way of Queen's Plates. He made an exception in the case of Ireland, where the turf was in a very low state, and where the Plates might be of some use; but in this country Queen's Plates were unnecessary. With respect to the exportation of mares, he thought it should be entirely prohibited. The foreign market was entirely closed against our buying; and, on the other hand, foreigners were busy buying as many mares in this country as possible. It might appear to be a shame that our farmer should not be allowed to export his animals; but it should be remembered that to sell them to the foreigner was like killing the goose that laid the golden egg; for it was a short-sighted policy to get rid of the mares on which they must rely for the production of horses. With regard to obtaining sound stallions, he thought it would be of advantage if it were made impossible to recover by law any fees for the use of a stallion which had not a proper certificate for the year. In conclusion, he was very grateful to his noble Friend (Lord Ribblesdale) for the manner in which he had brought forward that important question.


in reply, said, he had suggested the scheme for two-year-olds as a kind of guarantee for the English breeder. He could not help saying that the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for War had not touched some of the important points to which he had adverted. It was not, however, his (Lord Ribblesdale's) intention to allow the matter to drop. After Easter he would bring forward, as the illustrious Duke had suggested, a detailed and constructive scheme on the question. He could assure noble Lords it would not be evolved from his own consciousness, for he had been in communication with all those who knew most about the subject and were most interested in it, and he had taken the best advice.


said, he was unable, as Under Secretary of State for the War Department, to say more than he had already said. Some of the points to which the noble Lord (Lord Ribblesdale) had referred, and especially that respecting the Queen's Plates, was a question which more concerned either the Master of the Horse or the Chancellor of the Exchequer. At any rate, the War Office had nothing to do with it.

House adjourned at Six o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.