HL Deb 19 July 1911 vol 9 cc553-4


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Shaftesbury, in whose name this Bill stands and who is on duty at Holyrood Palace, has asked me to take charge of the Bill in his absence, and in moving the Second Reading I will explain its provisions in as few words as possible. It is a Bill to further amend the Public Health Acts relating to Ireland, and its object is to enable urban district-councils in Ireland, in addition to their existing powers, to make by-laws for the inspection of all meat intended to be sold within their district and also prohibiting the sale of meat within their district for human consumption except after inspection in accordance with the by-laws. The Bill consists of two clauses only, and is agreed to by all the Irish Members—Unionists, Nationalists, and O'Brienites—in the House of Commons.

The urban district councils are the sanitary authorities in Ireland. Various Public Health Acts have been passed between the years 1878 and 1907 giving wide powers to those bodies, and the object of this Bill is to amplify those powers. The Bill allows urban district councils to control the smaller class of slaughter-houses, which are not conducted as they should be and require inspection. Some urban district councils have erected public slaughter-houses, and if this Bill becomes law it is felt that butchers will most likely use the public slaughter-houses. They have not done so hitherto, and the urban district councils in some cases have almost decided to give up the public slaughter-houses. As showing how useful public slaughter-houses are, I may mention that in Scotland 88 per cent. of the total urban population are provided with home-killed meat from slaughter-houses which are under public control.

We are fighting tuberculosis in Ireland to the best of our ability, and we think it is our duty to see that properly slaughtered meat is provided for the people. Though if this Bill becomes law and meat is inspected at private slaughter-houses it may have the effect, as I have said, that butchers will use the public slaughter- houses, it does not follow that urban district councils will prevent private slaughter-houses from being used. The district councils have to make by-laws under this Bill and those by-laws would have to go before the Local Government Board, and we have every confidence in Ireland that no by-law would be allowed by the Board which prevented a private slaughter-house from being used unless some public reason could be shown to justify the action of the urban district council in asking for such a by-law. It is not, as I have said, the object of this Bill to do away with private slaughterhouses, but to have them inspected and also the meat that is butchered in them. I only mention that because exception was taken to the Bill on this ground in the House of Commons. I have answered that point in the same way as it was answered in the other House, the answer there being regarded as perfectly satisfactory and the Bill being allowed to go through without amendment. I may add that twenty-one district councils have passed a Resolution in favour of the Bill I and asking the Chief Secretary to support it. I hope that in these circumstances your Lordships will grant the Bill a Second Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Mayo.)


My Lords, I need only say one word with regard to the attitude of the Irish Government towards this Bill. They are in entire sympathy with the object of the Bill and would be glad to see it passed into law. Your Lordships will notice that there is ample provision in the Bill to secure that no; unreasonable restrictions are placed upon traders—I refer to the subsection which i makes it necessary that the Local Government Board should approve of the by-laws passed by the local authorities. Seeing that unsound meat is undoubtedly one I of the most fruitful sources of tuberculosis, it is hoped that the provisions of this Bill will enable further effective steps to be taken to prevent the spread of this disease in Ireland. I hope your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading.

On Question Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.