§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE
said, he felt sure their Lordships would give a Second Reading to this Bill in view of the history of swine fever in this country. Before explaining the provisions of the Bill, be would shortly refer to the history of that most malignant and contagious disease. Apparently, prior to 1862, swine fever did not possess the dismal prerogatives of a special disease, but a virulent disease affecting swine, and variously known, was recognised by the dealers at Bristol. In 1878 the Privy Council issued an Order for slaughter and quarantine with the view of dealing with the disease; and from time to time, between 1878 and 1892, Local Authorities had adopted measures for the purpose of dealing with it. But whether from want of uniformity of action or other causes the steps taken by the Local Authorities had not been successful in stamping out the disease. Some of the Local Authorities became 929 discouraged from those in neighbouring districts failing to support them; and altogether they became slack in administering the powers of which they had been put in possession. In February, 1892, a strong deputation waited upon Mr. Chaplin, the then President of the Board of Agriculture, and urged him to compel uniformity of action. The successful way in which pleuro-pneumonia had been grappled with by Mr. Chaplin was pointed to; and they asked, why should not swine fever be dealt with with equal success? On February 7 last a very strong Departmental Committee was appointed by the President of the Board of Agriculture to inquire into the whole question of swine fever, and as to the best way of dealing with it. After taking evidence, that very authoritative and responsible Departmental Committee came to this conclusion—they were satisfied from the evidence submitted to them that, owing to the impossibility of securing uniform action on the part of Local Authorities, swine fever could not be extirpated unless under the direction of a Central Authority; and they added that overwhelming evidence had been adduced to the effect that, by the adoption of proper measures, the disease could be extinguished in a reasonable time. The Bill was based upon the recommendations of that Departmental Committee. The Bill made any money available for dealing with pleuro-pneumonia under the Act of 1890 available also for dealing with swine fever, and all the powers at present exercisable by the Board of Agriculture in this country, and by the Lord Lieutenant and Privy Council in Ireland under this Act with respect to pleuro-pneumonia and cattle, were made exercisable with respect to swine fever and swine. The compensation to be paid for any animal slaughtered under the provisions of the Bill was to be the value of the animal immediately before it was slaughtered, or, in the case of a diseased animal, one-half of the value of the animal before it became affected. With regard to finance, the Government anticipated that the money already standing to the credit of the pleuro-pneumonia account, together with a small balance of about £9,000 which remained of the moneys voted for foot-and-mouth, and the sum of £65,000 already provided in the Estimates for the 930 present year, would very nearly, if not quite, enable them to defray the cost of the administration of the Bill up to March 31 next, the end of the present financial year. In future years, under the provisions of the Bill, the net contribution of the Exchequer in any one year would he limited to £50,000, and the balance, after crediting the fund with the proceeds of the sale of carcases, would fall to be provided, as in the case of pleuro-pneumonia, out of the local taxation accounts in Great Britain and the general cattle diseases fund in Ireland. The Bill was to come into operation on November 1 next. The noble Lord hoped their Lordships would give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Ribblesdale.)
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.