HL Deb 30 June 1905 vol 148 cc635-8

rose, "To ask His Majesty's Government how many cases of epizootic lymphangitis have occurred amongst artillery horses and troop horses in Ireland; how have these cases been dealt with; and, if there is any truth in the report that horses suffering from the "disease or coming from infected stables have been sold to the public, what measures have been taken to stop the spread of this disease."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, my reason for putting these Questions to His Majesty's Government is that this very dangerous horse disease has been introduced into Ireland by the artillery horses and troop horses that were brought back from South Africa at the conclusion of the war. The disease is very contagious, and, although there have been cases of recovery, the course generally adopted when a horse is attacked with this disease is to kill and bury it, and destroy all the harness and saddlery with which the horse has come in contact. Your Lordships will, therefore, understand how anxious we are in Ireland to know what steps the Army authorities, who are responsible for the-introduction of this disease into Ireland, have taken to stamp it out. The disease has spread to civilian stables and the matter has become a really serious one. I hope we may hear from the noble Earl who will reply on behalf of the War Office that the disease has been stamped out, at all events in the stables over which they have control.


My Lords, in reply to the Questions put to me by the noble Earl I have to Hay that there have been thirty-seven cases of epizootic lymphangitis among Army horses in Ireland. Of that number thirty-five horses were destroyed, and. two were cured. I am informed that no horses from infected stables have been sold to the public within six months of the occurrence of the last case in the unit attacked. The period of six months was arrived at after considerable discussion amongst those who have had experience-of the disease in South Africa, as affording security. I believe it is true that the-disease is spreading in Ireland.


Amongst Army horses?


No, we have had no case in the Army since October, 1904, and I am sure my noble friend will regard that as very satisfactory. We have opportunities in the Army of dealing much more drastically with these cases when they occur than is possible in civilian stables, and this, I think, is responsible for the fact that we have had no case in Ireland since October, 1904. The procedure we followed has been accurately described by my noble friend. All horses in contact—that is to say, in the same unit as any of the horses affected—were kept entirely apart, and, with the exception of the two that we were able to cure, the horses suffering from the disease were all destroyed. I hope my noble friend will accept the assurance that we are fully alive to the dangers of this disease, not only in Ireland but in the whole of the United Kingdom, and that most drastic measures are at once applied when any case comes to our notice.


This disease of epizootic lymphangitis is what is known as the horse-disease in South Africa, and I should like to ask the noble Earl the Under-Secretary whether any warning was sent from South Africa to His Majesty's Government as to the danger of bringing these horses back to this country.


I presume the noble Earl means any recent warning. I am not aware of any, but I shall be glad to make inquiries. The noble Earl knows that our usual practice is not to move horses about. A cavalry regiment coming home from South Africa would not bring its horses with it, but would be provided with fresh horses on its arrival.


I should like to ask the noble Earl or any other member of His Majesty's Government whether any steps, and, if so, what steps, have been taken to prevent the spread of this disease in civilian stables.


I can inform the noble Lord opposite that the Department of Agriculture in Ireland has issued an Order, which I shall be happy to show to him, containing instructions how to deal with the disease and prevent its spreading, and I think the same thing has been done by the Board of Agriculture in this country.

The subject then dropped.