HL Deb 07 August 1890 vol 348 cc77-9

, in rising to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they propose to take any steps to regulate the Atlantic cattle traffic; and whether the Act of 1878 gives sufficient power to the Privy Council to provide proper accommodation for the transit of cattle; also, to move for a Return of Transatlantic ships which arrived in British ports with live cattle in the years 1888 and 1889, showing the losses sustained by each ship during the voyage, said: I wish to ask your Lordships' attention for a few moments to the condition in which cattle are found to arrive in this country which are brought over from the other side of the Atlantic. I believe a Bill was introduced into the other House of Parliament this Session bearing upon the subject; but it appears that that Bill, like, I am afraid, several other Bills, is about to be dropped for the present. I therefore venture to ask for some little information from Her Majesty's Government as to whether any steps have been taken to impose more stringent regulations than now exist with regard to the accommodation for cattle on board these transatlantic ships. I know it has been sometimes mentioned that it would be very desirable that no live cattle should be transported from the other side of the Atlantic owing to the great difficulties attendant upon the traffic; but I do not wish now to enter upon that question. I think, however, it is a matter of the greatest importance to prevent the large amount of suffering and cruelty, besides loss of animals, which now exist, and that some very stringent regulations should be imposed by Her Majesty's Government to prevent these very serious cases of cruelty and loss of cattle. Now, to give your Lordships very shortly an idea of what has been going on, it has been reported that a deputation has waited upon Sir Michael Hicks Beach, consisting of Members of Parliament, on the subject of Mr. Plimsoll's Bill bearing upon this question, and Sir Michael Hicks Beach said, "The loss of animals shipped on some of these transatlantic vessels is horrible." I have a list of ships which arrived in British ports during 1888 and 1889, and I will read to your Lordships the names of some of the ships giving the numbers of animals which were lost:—The Palestine lost 168 out of 344 cattle; the Blenheim lost 128 out of 204; the Rialto lost 314 out of 328; the North Durham lost 281 out of 380. That was in 1888; and in 1889 the Oxford lost 151 out of 187; the Iowa lost 519 out 625; the Lake Superior lost 313 out of 470; and the Manitoba 204 out of 246. By this it appears that the loss of cattle was over two-thirds of the animals shipped. Now, assuming this to be correct as reported, what I would ask your Lordships to do is to authorise the verification by a Parliamentary Return of the particulars here given, which, I conclude, only forms a part of the subject. At the same time I wish to ask Her Majesty's Government whether any steps are proposed to be taken to regulate this traffic for the future, and whether there is not already sufficient power in the Act of 1878, as I believe there is, given to the Privy Council to ensure proper accommodation in the transit of cattle. I beg to move for the Return mentioned in my Notice of Motion.

Moved— That there be laid before this House, Return of Transatlantic ships which arrived in British ports with live cattle in the years 1888 and 1889, showing the losses sustained by each ship during the voyage."—(The Earl De La Warr.)


There is no doubt whatever that the subject to which the noble Earl has drawn attention is one which must excite our compassion, and I am glad to think that the answer I have to give him will prove satisfactory, at least, I hope so. A Departmental Committee of the Board of Trade and Board of Agriculture has been appointed to consider what further regulations may be necessary for protecting animals from unnecessary suffering during their transit by sea, and I believe it held its first meeting to-day. There is ample power given by the Act of 1878 for, making regulations in regard to the transit of cattle by sea. As regards the Return which is asked for, a similar Motion has been made in the other House of Parliament. The Return has been granted, and has been ordered to be printed, but it has not yet been circulated. It will be issued shortly, and, therefore, I presume the noble Earl will not require to have a duplicate Return made for this House.


Then I withdraw the Motion for the Return.

Motion (by leave of the House), withdrawn.