HL Deb 12 June 1890 vol 345 cc648-69

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


My Lords, in asking your Lordships to give a Second Reading of this Bill, I mast claim your indulgence while I endeavour to point out what are its leading objects and scope. I need not detain your Lordships with any lengthened explanation of the great danger and loss which accrue not only to the owners of cattle but to the public generally from the spread of pleuro-pneumonia. At the present moment the various Local Authorities in the country have the carrying out of the Act of 1878, and of the several Orders, dealing with this disease. A want of uniformity of action has not infrequently arisen by which the energy of one Local Authority has been set at naught through the supineness of another. There has been also considerable hesitation in slaughtering cattle at the right moment, and, consequently, the disease has been allowed to spread, and there have been outbreaks, which might have been prevented, owing to cattle affected with pleuro-pneumonia, and which ought to have been slaughtered, being allowed to come in contact with other animals, and those animals which had been in contact with affected animals being permitted to be sold. It was found necessary, in 1888, to issue a further Order, by which cattle which had been in contact with animals affected with pleuro-pneumonia were ordered to be slaughtered, compensation to the amount of three-fourths of the value of an animal actually affected with the disease, and the full value of animals slaughtered because they had been in contact with affected animals, was ordered to be paid. That compensation had to be paid by the Local Authorities. Notwithstanding the Order of 1888—whether it was owing to the want of uniformity among the various Authorities or to the concealment of existing disease, or to the movement of affected cattle to and from the fairs and markets throughout the country, no effectual result has been obtained. There is also great force in the argument that this compulsory slaughter of cattle is carried out for the general good, and, therefore, that it is reasonable the public should bear a share in paying the compensation required. Unfortunately, in the month of May last there was a considerable increase in the number of out-breaks of pleuro-pneumonia. There were no less than 57 in May, as compared with 25 in April last, and 33 in the corresponding month of May last year. Therefore, I think it is clear that, unless stringent measures are taken at once, we run a considerable risk of this disease taking a firm hold of the country, in which case our difficulties would be very great. The President of the Board of Agriculture, seeing the necessity of decided action, has determined to grapple with this disease in the most effective way that Parliament will allow, and that is by taking over the executive power from the various Local Authorities, and exercising it himself. But this action naturally involves the payment of compensation by the Government, upon the principle that "whoever kills must pay." I can well understand that we should be very chary of depriving Local Authorities of any powers they may have, but it is quite clear it would never do for the Local Authority to slaughter and the Government to pay, neither would the Local Authority agree that the Government should slaughter and that they should pay. Unfortunately, it is only too true that there has been, and probably is, a great deal of concealment of this disease; and I quite agree with what fell from the noble Lord, Earl Spencer, the other day, on the great difficulty which Local Authorities meet with in tracing out the causes of an outbreak, and even in searching places where the disease is supposed to exist. Under this Bill, therefore, greater powers of inspection are taken. By the 1st clause it is enacted that the Board of Agriculture shall cause all cattle which are affected with pleuro-pneumonia to be slaughtered, and it may also, if it thinks fit to do so, cause any cattle which have been in contact with affected cattle to be slaughtered. The words dealing with the question of contact are purposely made very wide, because it has been found in the past that in many cases animals which have been not very far from affected animals have not been slaughtered at the time, but have been sent away, and after a short time they have fallen victims to the disease, and have become themselves centres of contagion. It is hoped that in this way the Government will have a clear hand in dealing with cattle which have been thus in contact with diseased animals. Then it is enacted that the old rate of compensation shall be paid, and provision is made for the appointment of additional Inspectors. By the help of those Inspectors it is hoped that the Board will be able to trace the disease better than can at the present moment be done by the Local Authorities, who, after all, cannot trace the disease beyond the limit of their own jurisdiction. Then, by the next clause, with regard to the funds, there is £140,000 allocated for the purpose of carrying out the Acts as regards Great Britain, and if there shall be in any year a deficiency it is provided that it shall be made up out of the Local Taxation funds. But it is hoped there will be no occasion to do that. Then Clause 3 orders that the Inspectors of the Local Authorities shall, in addition to the powers and duties they now have, report immediately any case of pleuro-pneumonia to the Board of Agriculture. The effect of this will be that, the moment the Board is made acquainted with an outbreak, they will send down their own Inspector, they will themselves take the case in hand, and will carry out the provisions of the law. Then Clause 4 gives more power to the Inspectors. At the present moment an Inspector, when he goes into a place or shed where he has reason to think there may be disease existing, but concealed, has to give his reasons in writing. Under this clause the Inspectors will have power to enter into any shed or place where they have reason in their own minds to think there is concealment of disease, and to act at once without any let or hindrance. The 5th clause applies to Ireland. I need only say that the sum of £20,000 is allotted to Ireland, and the Lord Lieutenant and Privy Council there take the place of the Board of Agriculture here. Clause 6 deals with the accounts. Clause 9 gives the 1st September as the date on which it is proposed that this Act shall come into operation. I have endeavoured, my Lords, briefly to point out to the House the chief points of this Bill, which may be summarised under three heads or principles; the substitution of a Central Authority in place of many Local Authorities, in order to secure uniformity of action; the consequent payment of compensation out of the Imperial funds, in order that the cost of carrying out an object which is for the public good shall not fall entirely upon the local funds; and, lastly, the increased stringency of inspection, in order that concealment of disease may be more easily detected. I feel sure that these principles will meet with the approval of the House, for your Lordships will agree that the safety and soundness of our herds is not merely a matter of individual advantage, but of great national importance. But if the State comes forward to help in this matter may we not look to agriculturalists and others in the country to lend their aid. A measure of this kind can only be successfully worked with the assistance of the public. It cannot be carried out solely by the cars and firmness of the Central Authorities, but much will depend on the manner in which it is supported throughout the country. I have said that our great danger is the concealment of the disease. The policy of the pole-axe has succeeded in the Netherlands, and there is no reason to suppose that it will not succeed in this country if the Authorities are supported by public opinion and public spirit. The Board of Agriculture will have to rely greatly on the sympathetic action of the Local Authorities, especially in the first instance, and their knowledge and advice must always be most valuable. Some time will elapse before this Act comes into operation, and it is important that there should be energy shown between now and the 1st September next. Unless stringent efforts are made to stamp out every outbreak which may occur we may have to regret a very serious spread of the disease, and of course our difficulties and expense will, in that case, be enormously increased. But I am quite sure that we shall meet with the assistance of those who do not always give support to our measures, like the noble Earl opposite, whose experience and authority is so great in these matters, and that they will assist us in our endeavours to remove a dark spot, which seems to threaten the somewhat more hopeful prospects of agriculture at the present time. I beg to move that this Bill be road a second time.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."


My Lords, I am sure the thanks, not only of your Lordships' House, but also of every one who is interested in agriculture in this country, are due to the Government for having brought in this Bill. The only word of complaint that I have heard in connection with it, is that, in one single point, it does not go far enough, and the only observations I shall have to make to your Lordships will be upon that point. The noble Earl who has moved the Second Reading of the Bill, said very truly that the danger of the spread of pleuro-pneumonia, and the loss we have suffered from it throughout the country, has been from unsystematic management, and from failure in administering the law. If the Local Authority in one county has adopted one way of carrying it out, another Local Authority in an adjoining county has put a different interpretation altogether upon the law. I could give your Lordships an extraordinary instance which only occurred last mouth of the way in which the law is regarded in some places. I quote from a newspaper giving the incident, which occurred in a neighbouring county to my own, the county of Forfarshire. It states that— It was reported that pleuro-pneumonia had broken out at a farm in Car86 Gowrie, among a herd of cattle valued at £2,000. Nine of them had been killed by order of the Local Government Authority; the authorities directed that 20 more should be brought into Forfar for sale on Monday, and that the remainder should be sold in lots. I believe, my Lords, that this actually took place; that 80 cattle out of 101 cattle, contaminated by contact with others suffering from pleuro-pneumonia, were actually sold, and allowed to disseminate and act as centres of disease, and whoever has bought them, now has in them centres of infection. That is the way in which some counties carry out the law, and we have found that in the county with which I am connected, where we work the Act according to the Orders of Privy Council, we could not contend with the opposite system which other counties chose to adopt. The necessity, in my opinion, and in the opinion of those who have been working this Act in the past, is that the power of the Inspectors should be strengthened for the purpose of finding out existing cases, or detecting cases of concealment of the disease. The noble Earl took credit for Clause 4, which enables the Inspector to enter without notice in writing, which has hitherto been necessary, into any shed or place where he suspects the disease exists. That is very well as far as it goes, and is no doubt a great improvement; but the great difficulty we have in carrying out the Act is in Clauses 66 to 78 with regard to penalties for offences. Under those provisions the owner of a diseased animal must take all practicable means of giving notice of this disease, and as the matter stands we have found in Aberdeenshire that we cannot get a conviction under the Act. A dairyman finds he has a cow suffering from pleuro. Well, he has nothing to do but to palm off this diseased cow upon some other dairyman, or some innocent farmer who comes into the market, and so that animal goes forth into another part of the country, and soon afterwards there is an outbreak of pleuro-pneumonia. We have tried time after time to secure convictions, but because, under the Act, the man who has caused the mischief is able to plead that he was not aware of the presence of the disease, or that the animal was affected, and that he took all practicable means of giving notice, we are unable to obtain a conviction. I shall therefore venture to move in Committee a new clause, providing that any person who neglects to give notice to the Local Authority or to the Inspector shall be liable for expanses under Clauses 60 to 66. That would put the onus upon the owner of the diseased animal, and it would put an end to the system of concealment which has been the cause why this disease has not been extirpated long ago. There is one other point I should like to mention. The noble Earl has not said enough, I think, with regard to the value of this measure in one direction, and that is to the owners of pedigree cattle. The existence of pleuro-pneumonia in this country has greatly depreciated the value of that kind of stock, and has entirely excluded it from the foreign market; because the knowledge that the disease exists in this country prevents us from selling to the foreigner, and the best market which was open to owners in this country, that is the foreign market, is therefore closed against us. I shall therefore venture to move the Amendments of which I have given notice.


My Lords, I am sorry to have to trouble your Lordships with a few remarks on this subject, but I am afraid it has been my fate to have been very much mixed up with subjects connected with diseases of cattle, and I am therefore anxious to say a few words on this very important measure which my noble Friend Lord Jersey has introduced to your Lordships' House. I confess I think it is rather a reflection on veterinary science that no remedy has been found for a disease of this kind. I know that the veterinary schools of this country have greatly improved of late, and that there are many able men who are devoted to their profession connected with them. At the same time, I think it must be admitted that it is a reflection upon scientific bodies that the only way of getting rid of a terrible and disastrous disease is the use of the pole axe. My Lords, I am afraid we must admit, according to all experience in this and other countries, that there is no safe remedy for this dangerous and disastrous disease, and all the best authorities declare that the only way of getting rid of it from a country is to slaughter not only all the animals affected with the disease, but all animals that have been in contact with them. I, therefore, my Lords, am strongly in favour of a serious effort being made in this country to get rid of the disease. I daresay your Lordships have seen an interesting Report of the Departmental Committee on this subject. Those who have read that Report will see that it bears strong evidence to the necessity of some central action. The noble Earl has very well put the reasons why central action is necessary. It is necessary, because Local Authorities in various parts of the country, even some of the very best Local Authorities, are afraid of charging the rates with the heavy expenditure which would be entailed if they carried out thoroughly the orders of the Privy Council under this Act by the slaughter of many valuable cattle. I know that many of those authorities have doubts as to the efficacy of the measure: but the great inducement to them to hesitate is the heavy expenditure that would be thrown on their county if they slaughtered a large number of cattle that have been in contact with diseased cattle, and it has been said very truly that while one county may be very stringent in carrying out the Orders in Council another may be very lax. The noble Marquess quoted a case which certainly would be a perfect scandal if he is correctly informed as to what occurred upon a farm in Forfar, and I think that some steps might well be taken with regard to what was done by the owners of the cattle in sending those animals to market. But, my Lords, I think, as the noble Earl said very truly, there is justification for coming on Imperial funds for this compensation, because the benefit derived is a benefit to the whole community, and not only to the particular locality, which, although the greatest possible care may have been exercised, may still have the misfortune to have the disease introduced into it. Therefore, I think there is justification for the Central Authority intervening and taking charge of this very grave matter. Now I wish to say with regard to this Bill what struck me, when the measure was first introduced, was that I should have preferred to see it framed in a different way. I should have preferred to see the Local Authorities charged with a certain amount of the cost of carrying out the orders. That, I believe, was the system in vogue in Ireland, where half was paid by the Central Authority and half by the Local Authority. It is very true, as my noble Friend says, that the power of ordering the slaughter ought to be with those who pay the rate. It is very difficult for the Central Government Department to intervene when a Local Authority is lax in carrying out the order for slaughter for which they have afterwards wholly to pay. I heartily agree with my noble Friend in that respect. But if the Central Authority pays half I think it would have a right to intervene and call upon the Local Authority to slaughter. I am aware that there is considerable difficulty in the matter, and perhaps the noble Earl or some Member of the Government will say whether there is any very great objection felt to this method of providing the compensation. This method of carrying out the compensation which I have in my mind would have this advantage: that it would induce the Local Authority to be very much more careful with regard to the administration of the Sanitary Laws and Regulations in reference to infection among cattle. They would be much more careful with regard to the Regulations they make, whereas I very much fear that if the Local Authorities find that the compensation is to come out of Imperial funds some of them might be very careless in their administration in that respect. Then there is another point to be remembered, another objection, and it is this: that if, unfortunately, this disease becomes spread over the country the Central Board will have immense difficulty in carrying out the execution of the order. I know that in the case of cattle plague, when it was introduced into the country not many years ago, the Central Authority were able to check it without difficulty; but then the disease was at a minimum and was confined within a small space. But if this disease is spread all over the country and appears in every county throughout Great Britain I am afraid the Central Authority will have very great difficulty in seeing that the orders are carried out without the assistance of the Local Authorities. I think I should myself have preferred to have seen the Local Authority invested with the power of carrying out the orders. In that way the position of the Central Authority would be very much strengthened, because, if they found that the Local Authority failed in their duty in carrying out the orders, they would receive general support in issuing the most stringent orders from headquarters. The noble Lord was good enough to refer to some remarks which I made at the Royal Agricultural Society the other day. I certainly did think it my duty to speak strongly before that body on the subject, and I stated that one of the matters of the greatest possible difficulty was to trace the origin of the disease. We have, unfortunately, had lately seven outbreaks in Northamptonshire, and in all of them the mischief has been traced to one day at Northampton Market, and, I believe, to some shed-cows coming from London dairies. We have had the greatest possible difficulty in endeavouring to trace these animals, and I sat myself for five hours one day for the sole purpose of trying to trace out those animals. We never got near the tract in regard to four of the cows, because in every one of those cases the dealers absolutely refused to say whence they had obtained their cattle; but in the fifth case where we thought we had traced the matter out we were not able to run the fox to ground, because at the last moment the information broke down and we were unable to trace the cases to an actual pleuro-pneumonia centre. I believe, my Lords, the Central Authority will be able to trace the disease much more effectually than the Local Authorities, and, therefore, I welcome the Bill on that account alone. But there is another point, and a very serious one. It is this, that unless the Central Authority have the most stringent powers I am afraid they will not succeed in carrying out the desired object. I am aware that there is a very great interest connected with this part of the subject, I mean the dairy interest. I have a great regard for that interest, and I feel that it must be respected and not unduly interfered with. At the same time I feel convinced that it is from the cow-sheds in large towns that this great evil principally arises, and that we must look to them as the source of this disease. In London, and throughout Great Britain, it is the habit of dairymen to kill their cows or to send them for slaughter after they cease to be of value for milking purposes. But in Dublin, which is another centre, a different system prevails. There the system of the dairymen is to send out the young stock which they breed in the spring, and they become centres of infection when sent through the country round Dublin. I remember when I went to Dublin in 1869–70 I used to see every spring in Phoenix Park centres of pleuro-pneumonia from the presence of young cows which had been sent out from Dublin. I may mention that I lost 15 cows in one case in that way myself; but we were able to check that to a great extent, though there was enormous loss, because we insisted on the authorities of the park very strictly refusing to admit any cattle at all without a licence. I am afraid the practice I refer to still exists, and I think it will add greatly to the difficulty of stamping out the disease in Dublin. In London, and other large towns, it will certainly be in the interest of all honest traders in the dairies to try and stamp out this disease. I very much fear that merely giving powers of inspection will not be sufficient; and I cannot help thinking that before long either the Board of Agriculture, by Order in Council, will be obliged to prohibit the sending out from large towns of shed-cows during the operation of stamping out the disease, or some other step will have to be taken to check the outflow from these large dairies. I know it has been said that Local Authorities have power to defend themselves against these dairies; but I think this mode of defence is very inefficacious. We thought in Northamptonshire that we might prohibit the importation of animals from London during the outbreak of pleuro-pneumonia; but we found that cattle from London were smuggled into some other county where there was no disease, and that unless we prohibited altogether the importation of cattle into the county we could not secure ourselves against the importation of these cows. I cannot help thinking it would be to their own interest for the dairy trade to agree to strong restrictions, and that for their own sake they will make some sacrifice. If they do not, then sooner or later, if this measure is to be carried out throughout the country, some stringent order from London with regard to these cows which spread the disease will have to be made. I do not believe there will be any great sacrifice required, because nearly all these animals are fit for the batcher. They are only bought for grazing, and the increased price which may be obtained by sending them into the country would probably be inconsiderable. I do not know what answer the Government may be disposed to make to that suggestion or to another proposition that has been made in certain quarters for branding these diseased shed-cows. I think it would be very desirable before the discussion closes that we should hear a statement from the Government of their views with regard to that matter. In all measures of a rather heroic kind it is absolutely necessary to be strong enough. Half measures will always fail. I therefore should advocate, during the time the Minister of Agriculture has these powers in his hands, the adoption of the strongest possible methods for arriving at the source of disease and getting rid of it. I know that some people think the disease is so insidious and is concealed so long in these animals that it is almost impossible to get rid of it. I do not believe that we shall get rid of it in a short time; but if we firmly and strongly carry out these orders I do not see why we should not succeed in getting rid of it, just as they did in the Netherlands. There that was absolutely done, though even in that small country the disease went on for several years before they succeeded in stamping it out. I most sincerely hope that the Minister of Agriculture, whoever he may be, will be successful in the great task the Government has undertaken. It is not an easy task, and the country must not be disappointed if it takes some years before any wide or satisfactory result from this legislation is forthcoming.


My Lords, being of a somewhat consistent turn of mind, I hail with the greatest satisfaction the Bill under discussion. I say this because more than three years ago, when addressing a meeting of farmers in Sussex, in discussing the subject of pleuro-pneumonia, I suggested that the only way of getting rid of this terrible disease was for the Government to take the matter into its own hands, order the slaughter of the animals, and pay compensation for the cattle so slaughtered. I believe that is the only way of stamping out the disease and getting rid of it altogether. I have been the more induced to come to this conclusion from the experience I had in 1877, at the time of the out break of the cattle plague in this country, of the result of the stringent measures which we then took. I am not quite sure that we were altogether justified in what we did, but in a very short time we stamped out the disease. I quite agree with my noble Friend Earl Spencer that the two cases are not exactly parallel, that is to say the cattle-plague at that time was confined to a very small area, this Metropolis and the adjacent part of the country only, whereas now we have to deal with a much more extended area of disease, pleuro-pneumonia having been developed over, I think I might almost say, the whole of the country. Therefore, though in 1877 it did not take so very long a time to get rid of the cattle plague, we cannot hope to eradicate pleuro-pneumonia in as short a period as was sufficient on that occasion. I am perfectly sure that the only way of getting rid of the disease is by stamping it out by the process which will be put in action by this Bill. I quite agree in what my noble Friend stated, that it is very desirable to have uniformity of action. That point was referred to by Lord Huntly. He said, very truly, that it was desirable that should be secured, because where one authority may put in force stringent measures under the Act their energetic action was probably neutralised by the way in which an adjoining county carried them out, and I hope this Bill will have a good effect in that direction. The noble Lord also said the Bill does not go far enough. I should have liked to hear in what manner he wished to extend the operation of this Act. The noble Earl stated that many persons have been in the habit of concealing diseased animals upon their premises, but I would point out that that is an offence against the law as it stands at present. In the 31st section of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 41 and 42 Vict., cap. 94, it is provided by Sub-section I that— Every person having in his possession or under his charge an animal affected with disease shall, as far as practicable, keep that animal separate from animals not so affected, and shall, with all practicable speed, give notice of the fact of the animal being so affected to a police constable for the district, county, borough, town, or place, wherein the animal is which is so affected; and then, later on, by the 60th section of the Act it is enacted that Any person guilty of offences against this Act is liable to certain penalties. So that, at this moment, it is contrary to the law for people to keep diseased animals on their premises when they are aware of the fact that the animals are diseased without giving notice. I do not go quite as far as my noble Friend opposite Earl Spencer in saying that these dairy cows should be branded. I doubt whether, in this country, it would be possible to carry out that suggestion. One of the evils now that we have to contend with is that, when a dairyman has a cow which he finds is not likely to be of much more use to him in the milking way, or finds that it is not in the best of health, he sends it away to——


I did not make the suggestion which my noble Friend mentions on my own part; what I intended to say was, that it was one of the suggestions which had been thrown out, and I think we ought to hoar what is to be said against it.


My answer is that I think it would not be practicable in this country to brand all dairy cows. But the clause in the Bill which I set great store by is Clause 4, and that clause goes further than my noble Friend suggested. It gives power to the Inspector to enter and examine any cowshed, land, or other place. It is not that there is no such power at all now, but the Bill extends the power possessed at present, and gives in fact unlimited power to the Inspector to inspect. Clause 4 says— For the purpose of ascertaining whether pleuro-pneumonia exists in any cowshed, land, or other place, an Inspector of the Board of Agriculture may enter such shed, land or place. He may enter whenever he pleases and without giving notice, and I think that is an enormous advantage over the law as it stands at present. Then, when the Inspector has gone into these sheds, land, or dairies, wherever the cows may be, his duty would be then to report to the Minister of Agriculture, and if, by the Report, it is brought to the notice of the Minister of Agriculture that the disease exists in any particular place, he will compel the slaughter of the animal so affected. Therefore, it gives an unlimited power to the Minister of Agriculture to ascertain whether the disease exists if it is suspected to exist; and, secondly it gives him power to order the slaughter of the animals, compensating the party to whom the animals belong. That is a very strong power, but I do not think it is too strong to meet the danger of another outbreak of this terrible disease. I trust, and I believe, that the Local Authorities will in future act in concert with the Department of Agriculture, and endeavour to discover any cases of disease in their own immediate neighbourhood; and I think that they are much more likely to do it when they know that animals that are diseased, and have to be slaughtered, will be compensated for by the Government, than at present, when it appears to be to the interest of everybody to conceal the existence of disease, and not to have animals killed for which compensation must be paid in the way now provided for. My Lords, I think the united action, or partly united action, which my noble Friend has suggested, of the Local Authority having part power and the Government having part power, would be not a wise proceeding. I think the whole responsibility should be left in the hands of the Government to stamp out the disease, and pay for the loss of cattle in doing it; and, if firmly carried out, I believe the passing of this Bill into an Act will be one of the greatest boons to the agricultural community that we have seen for many years.


My Lords, I may be, perhaps, excused for saying a few words, as I am connected with the agricultural County of Norwich, where, unfortunately, agriculturists have suffered seriously from this disease of pleuro-pneumonia. We are there, unfortunately, particularly exposed to it, because our mode of conducting business requires that, as farmers, we should buy a number of store cattle, which bring, in a great measure, this terrible disease to this country from Ireland. There does exist among us a very strong belief that this disease is, to a great extent, propagated from Ireland. Now, I do not say I assent to that at all upon any evidence which I possess, but I mention the fact in order to justify the inquiry which I addressed to the Government as to what has been going on in Ireland latterly in regard to this important subject. I see from the Report of the Commissioners—made about two years ago, I believe—that an extensive slaughter of cattle took place in Dublin. No less than 1,486 animals were slaughtered, and 530 of those animals were found to be diseased. Now, Dublin was, in my time, when I was Lord Lieutenant, a perfect hot-bed of disease, as it also was during the term of office of my noble Friend Earl Spencer, and I cannot consider anything more important in getting rid of this disease than that the Government should continue to enforce in the most vigorous manner the stamping out of this disease in Dublin. With regard to Ireland generally, I have no personal experience of the mode in which these Acts are carried into effect; but from the nature of the country, and the manner in which the animals are kept, I should anticipate a great deal more difficulty in enforcing the orders of the Local Authorities in Ireland than in this country. If that be so, I welcome this Bill as giving to the Government more complete powers of dealing with the disease. What I desire to impress upon the Government is that we in England expect they will use these powers in Ireland vigorously and effectually; because, with a large number of cattle coming from Ireland, all our exertions and sacrifices in money will be of no avail whatever unless the most stringent measures are taken in Ireland to deal with the disease there. My Lords, there are undoubtedly some persons who doubt the efficacy of this measure for stamping out the disease. One cannot help feeling some apprehension upon the subject, but I quite concur with the Government in thinking that a vigorous effort should be made to deal with it. Above all things, half measures are useless. They merely distress agriculturists and cause a waste of public money without attaining any practical result. If the thing is to be done, it should be done once for all vigorously, and thoroughly persevered in; and if it should turn out that we cannot effect our object, we shall have done our best. But we shall never effect it by adopting half measures, and by one country doing one thing and another another. Therefore, my Lords, I think the Government deserve praise for having, to use an agricultural expression, "taken the bull by the horns," and having themselves resolved to deal with the matter. There is one point which is greatly exercising the minds of many persons, and it is mentioned in this Report, namely, the "old cases." In old cases there may be found instances of the extraordinary length of time which the disease appears to take to incubate. It does seem extraordinary to many people that the disease should break out among a herd after the animals have been isolated for several months, and have never apparently been exposed to contact with diseased cattle at all. That seems to have given rise to the opinion which prevails in the minds of some agriculturists that the disease may spring up spontaneously without any contagion. I do not pretend myself to speak with any scientific authority in the matter, but I think such cases may be explained on the theory that cysts had formed in the lungs of the cattle affected; that is to say, that an animal may have had the disease in a slight form and became nearly cured without the disease having been noticed; the diseased part becomes healed over, and the animal may be perfectly well apparently for months. It then, perhaps, takes cold; that breaks the cyst which had formed in the lungs, and makes the animal at once evidently diseased. That seems to be the explanation of the extraordinary length of time at which, after cattle had been exposed to contagion, they become affected with the disease. I mention the subject because many agriculturists are apprehensive that the disease may break out of itself on account of the great length of time at which, after isolation, it breaks out; but if this explanation is the true one, it will set at rest those doubts. It is extremely important that any doubts of that kind should be dispelled, because unless we can convince the agricultural community that they should give us their hearty co-operation in carrying the measure into effect we shall fail. I quite agree with what has been said by the Marquess of Huntly in reference to penalties. In the case, for instance, of large dairies, if a man is not disposed to give notice, the amount of money which he has at stake in the dairy and the loss which he will certainly incur, even though he receives compensation, are so large that he may be inclined to evade the law. I do not believe that any penalty you can impose will prevent his doing that, and I do not think you should trust to penalties alone. What we want to do is to diffuse correct information on the subject, and by obtaining general co-operation from everybody interested in the matter, we shall be enabled to stamp out this disease which has inflicted more grievous loss on agriculturists.


I should like to ask the noble Earl who is to allocate the Compensation Fund which is to be devoted by the country for the purpose of paying for the cattle slaughtered? I ask in reference to the allocation to the various counties. We hive heard from noble Lords of outbreaks in some of our counties, and I may mention that there has been a very serious outbreak in my own county. I should like to know whether it is to be on the principle of "first come first served." It might be that a very large sum would be required for a single county, and I only want to know who is to allocate it, and upon what principle. At the same time, I, too, should like to add my humble thanks to the Government for having dealt with this question in so efficient a manner. My noble Friend opposite has, I think, done great service with his great knowledge of the subject in having pointed out the difficulties that any Government will meet with in grappling with this disease. My noble Friend the Earl of Kimberley has told the House that which is no doubt perfectly true, that one of the greatest of those difficulties will arise from the length of time which is occupied in the incubation of the disease in the animals. Whatever amount of inspection you practise, you may send the cleverest man in the country, and I defy him to tell you, unless there are present the outward symptoms, how long it may be before the disease breaks out. No man can blame a farmer for parting with his animals, and weeks after they have been sent away the disease may break out among them. I am very glad that my noble Friend the Earl of Kimberley has really hit the right nail on the head in what he has said. He has explained the difficulty which even an army of Inspectors will find in taking necessary steps for the purpose of carrying out the measure. There is no doubt that the great foci of disease are these sheds in the neighbourhood of great towns; and the difficulty of finding out whether they are infected or not, will be met, and perhaps largely met, by the increased powers of inspection given; but no amount of inspection, from the very nature of the disease, will absolutely protect you, and, therefore, the country must not expect that we shall be enabled to stamp out the evil within a very short time. I hope the noble Earl will inform me how the money is to be allocated, and upon what principle.


I sincerely hope the Government will not be induced to act upon the suggestion thrown out by Earl Spencer, namely, that the compensation should be provided between Her Majesty's Government and the Local Authorities. I was surprised to hear him make that statement, because I should have thought his experience would have proved to him that any arrangement, which required communication between the Local Authorities and the Government, might cause delay, which would give time for the disease to spread itself all over the country. I hope the Government will at least be firm and stick to their guns on this occasion. I hail with satisfaction the fact that they have at last determined to grapple with this disease, and I think the country will very much regret if the Government recede from the position they have taken up in the matter. I beg to thank them for bringing forward this measure, and I sincerely hope it may meet with the success it deserves.


I should like to ask a question upon one small point, and that is with regard to the date when the Act comes into force. The Bill fixes that date as the 1st September. Supposing an outbreak occurred in the latter days of August, and was reported, and the slaughter of the animals did not take place till after the date fixed, that is to say, if the animals were not slaughtered before the 1st September, I should like to ask whether the compensation would be paid by the Local Authority or by the Government? It is a very small matter to the Government, but it would be a very large one to the Local Authority which might, have ordered the cattle to be slaughtered. In the one case there might be an inducement for keeping back any information in order that the date of slaughter might fall after the 1st of September. I venture to put that question in case the noble Lord has not thought of the point.


Several questions have been asked, and, in endeavouring to answer them I think the House will understand that I must speak with some reserve and no authority upon these matters. First, with regard to the questions of the noble Lord opposite, I can only say that I should think the Board, would desire to act in a liberal spirit. Beyond that I cannot go. There is no question of allocating this sum between the various Local Authorities, but the Board of Agriculture will have £140,000 allotted to it by Parliament, and it will use that money for the purpose of meeting the cost of every outbreak which may occur. If the expenditure should be more than £140,000 in any year, the Board will meet the deficiency out of the Local Taxation Accounts. Each case will be met by full payment out of these funds. With regard to the suggestions of the noble Lords the Earl of Kimberley and Earl Spencer, I may say that the Board of Agriculture is not responsible for what takes place in Ireland. They have no jurisdiction in that country; but I will endeavour to find out before we go into Committee what is being done there. Then, with regard to the question of inspection of dairies, I can only speak my individual opinion; but I agree with the noble Duke in thinking it would be a very difficult matter to carry out the suggestion of branding dairy cows. Of course, it will be my duty to bring these matters before the President of the Board of Agriculture. With regard to the question of dividing the compensation, I can, perhaps, take upon myself to answer that in this way. People are, no doubt, generally willing to receive more than they are promised, but would strongly resent a proposal to give them less. Therefore, I do not think that the Board of Agriculture would in any way countenance the division of compensation. With respect to the matter which Lord Wenlock mentioned, I would point out that if you divide the powers of carrying out this measure between two bodies there must be some delay in communication, and possibly some friction, and, while that is going on, the opportunity of effecting the object for which the intervention is required is lost. But, my Lords, there is one thing of which I am quite sure, and that is that the Minister of Agriculture will be thankful for the Debate which has taken place in this House, and for the outspoken manner in which so many noble Lords have expressed their desire of seeing this measure carried out in an efficient manner. I can only say that I think the present Minister of Agriculture is the right man to act energetically if you give him the power. My Lords, I propose to refer the Bill to Committee of the whole House on Monday week. It is a matter of such general interest that I think your Lordships will agree it should be dealt with in Committee of the whole House.

A noble LORD

My Lords, I would venture to suggest to my noble Friend that Monday week would hardly be a good day to fix for going into Committee on this Bill. I do not suppose there are likely to be many Amendments proposed; but I would point out that Monday week will be the commencement of the Agricultural Show at Plymouth, and I think, therefore, that possibly many of your Lordships may be absent.


My Lords, having had much experience on the question of compensation for the slaughter of animals affected with pleuro-pneumonia, I desire to make a few observations on the subject. On one occasion, in 1850, I had nine animals in Ireland which had come from the centre of England, I think Market Harborough, so deeply affected with pleuro-pneumonia that they had to be destroyed. Frequently it was found that no other animals were injured, but we now hear from a noble Lord that in a single instance 83 animals have been killed. I can only say that a tenant of mine, who lost several cattle by pleuro-pneumonia, was very much reduced in circumstances in consequence of the small allowance that was made to him. My Lords, I believe that a Minister of Agriculture should have the power to apportion the funds applicable, so as to make some regular allowance to those who lose their cattle, for I believe that as far as the Local Authorities are concerned, they may differ in every district throughout the country. In regard to moving cattle there has been great difficulty everywhere, in consequence of the difference in regulations and the want of unanimity between the various Local Authorities. You must establish some principle of action, and then do all you can to carry it out for the purpose of eradicating the disease. Skilled inspectors are necessary. It was my misfortune once to have to kill an injured animal on my own authority, and because the veterinary surgeon whom I called in happened not to be an Inspector, I was obliged to pay £10. If the proper veterinary surgeon had been called in, and had certified the disease as[...]rinderpest, I should have escaped payment. No body or authority, save the right hon. the Minister of Agriculture, should have the power to discriminate and say whether it is possible to save the lives of animals. I am afraid there has been a great conflict of authorities in this matter, and that such conflict will arise has always been my great fear in the establishment of local bodies.

On Question, agreed to.

Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House.