HL Deb 06 July 1888 vol 328 cc551-3

, in asking the Lord President of the Council, Whether the Agricultural Department of the Privy Council were taking any steps to check the large increase of swine fever by preventive inoculation, or proposed to issue any Order for the compulsory slaughter of diseased pigs and those in contact with them? said, some disease had been dealt with by various Orders in Council for some years past, but after a trial of 10 years of Orders in Council, many of which had, no doubt, been only partially carried out, the result was that at the end of last year there were about 40,000 diseased animals, and the ratepayers had to pay £20,000 compensation for the slaughter in England alone. The present was the time of year when the movement of swine took place, and the last Return of the Royal Agricultural Society of June 26 stated that there were at the time 512 outbreaks, 2,961 animals attacked, 1,402 slaughtered, and 1,217 who died. The question had been fully gone into in an able Report by Professor Brown, which had been presented to the House, and he said there were only two ways of dealing with the question—namely, stamping out and inoculation. Stamping out had been tried but was not successful, because it had not been done uniformly. It had been done to a certain extent in Scotland, and there was less swine fever, except round Edinburgh, in that country than in England. Experiments had been made with the other alternative by Professor Brown; but he had been compelled to discontinue them on account of the interpretation which was placed on the Cruelty to Animals Act by the Home Secretary. Some correspondence had taken place which led to the belief that further experiments might be made. He thought that such experiments, being for the protection of animals from disease, should be permitted, and, no doubt, veterinary science would also greatly benefit from them. He trusted his noble Friend would be able to tell the House that the experiments would be continued.


said, that at present the Local Authorities had the power of compulsory slaughter if they chose to exercise it, but this system had been tried upon a large scale in 1885 and 1886, and had been found powerless to stop the disease, owing chiefly to the fact that swine were cheaper animals than cattle and much more spread about the country, dealt in by jobbers, and largely in the possession of cottagers. On this account there was not that disclosure of cases of disease which there was in the case of cattle. He could, however, assure his noble Friend that Professor Brown and those who were acting with him were taking every possible step to meet the requirements of the case. Experiments with regard to inoculation had gone on upon a considerable scale; but when they had arrived at a point where it was desirable that they should go still further, doubt had arisen as to whether the Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would not stand in the way. A letter had, however, come from the Home Office to say that these experiments could not be said to come within the clauses of the Act, and, therefore, did not require to be licensed. He could therefore assure his noble Friend that the experiments which had been tried in the direction of preventing the disease by inoculation would be at once resumed on a scale which would, he hoped, lead to some decision as to what was the best mode of dealing with the question. The experiment had been tried of stopping the markets, but this had proved unavailing, although it had succeeded for a short time. He could assure the noble Earl that as far as the Department was concerned every effort would be made to meet the requirements of the case.