§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Selborne.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:
§ Power to make orders for the maintenance of Stock.
§ 1.—(1) The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries may, for the purpose of maintaining a sufficient stock of animals to which this Act applies, by order applicable to England and Wales or any part thereof—
- (a) prohibit or restrict the slaughter of animals;
- (b) prohibit or restrict the sale or exposure for sale of meat of immature animals which has not been imported;
- (c) authorise any local authority specified in the order to execute and enforce within their district all or any of the provisions of the order, and provide for the manner in which the expenses incurred by the authority are to be defrayed;
- (d) authorise any officer of the Board or of a local authority to enter any slaughter-house or other premises on which animals are slaughtered for human food and examine any animals or carcases therein;
- (e) prohibit or restrict the movement of animals out of any area in which the slaughter of such animals is prohibited or restricted;
- (f) revoke, extend, or vary any order so made.
§ (2) The animals to which this Act applies are cattle, sheep, and swine.
§ LORD ST. AUDRIES
My noble friend Lord Galway has asked me to move the Amendment standing in his name to paragraph (b), after the words "immature animals," to insert "except male calves of Channel Island, Ayrshire, and Kerry breeds." I understand from the noble Earl opposite that though he cannot accept this Amendment the object of it will be carried out in future Orders in Council. If that is so, I should not move the Amendment.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (THE EARL OF SELBORNE)
What Lord St. Audries has stated is the case, and I am 355 very glad that he does not propose to move this Amendment. As the law stands I have complete discretion in the administration of the Orders, but if the proposed words were inserted in the clause they would tend to real difficulty and to a loss of flexibility. For instance, the question would have to be settled legally as to what constitutes a breed, whether it is to mean pure bred, or, if not, what degree of a cross. I have complete discretion in that matter now, and I can assure the noble Lord that the Order is being administered so as to allow to go to the butcher any animals that can be said to be in any degree dairy breeds of the classes named.
I move to amend paragraph (b), after the words "immature animals," by inserting "except calves eight weeks old." The intention of this Amendment is to ensure that farmers shall not be prejudiced by being prevented from disposing of their calves at a time when some profit can be made out of them. In a great number of cases the making obligatory of the retention of calves in the hands of the dairy farmer would result in loss to him individually, and the consumption by the calves instead of by the public of large quantities of milk, with a consequent shortage in the by-products of milk, such as cheese and butter. The noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture must be aware that a great deal of feeling has been caused among agriculturists in this country by the recent Order.
I have the honour to hold the office of president of the British Dairy Farmers Association, a body the importance of which will be recognised by at any rate one of the occupants of the Front Ministerial Bench—I refer to Lord Crewe, who was for some time himself president of the association. A resolution on this point in the same direction as my Amendment is to be discussed at a meeting of the council of the association to-morrow. At a meeting of the council of the Central Chamber of Agriculture held this morning it was proposed that the President of the Board of Agriculture should be asked to 356 receive a deputation to urge that "eight weeks" should be substituted for "twelve weeks" in the Slaughter of Animals Order, and that with a view to assisting the sale of calves agricultural organisers should ascertain where there is a demand for calves and where a surplus exists. The resolution was not carried in exactly those terms, but an amendment was inserted in the direction of shortening the period. I have had perhaps only a short but still a considerable experience of dairy farmers in the Eastern counties, and I can assure your Lordships that there is very great fear that if this clause passes in its present form quite unnecessary hardships may be placed upon men living by an industry the importance of which, from the point of view of the milk produced, cannot be gainsaid. I therefore hope that the noble Earl will be willing to accept this Amendment.
Clause 1, page 1, line 11, after ("immature animals") insert ("except calves eight weeks old").—(Lord O' Hagan.)
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
I troubled the House on the Second Reading of the Bill with several observations on this point, and I made suggestions which I said I should embody in an Amendment. Since then, however, I have had some communication with the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture, and I should like to say that the very kind official reception which he gave on the Second Reading to my observations has to some extent induced me not to move an Amendment. I can quite see that the insertion of this Amendment would have an unfortunate effect; it would make the provision less flexible, and tie the noble Earl's hands in a way that might be inconvenient. As I believe the Calf Order is more elastic than I thought it was when first I looked at it, it is possible that the suggestions which I made could be dealt with by modifications in the instructions given to the local authorities who are to administer the Orders issued. As I am not going to move an Amendment I should be grateful to the noble Earl if he would state whether the proposal that I made in regard to some method of branding, which would pick out calves that were fit and proper subjects for slaughter, could be carried out with a view of avoiding what I think will otherwise create a good deal of commotion in the dairy districts.
§ LORD CHANNING OF WELLING BOROUGH
I should like to supplement what Lord O'Hagan said, and to inform your Lordships that the final wording of the resolution adopted by the council of the Central Chamber of Agriculture this morning was that, instead of "eight weeks," the period should be "a shorter one than twelve weeks," leaving elasticity to the Board of Agriculture in dealing with the question.
§ LORD BARNARD
May I, as I was also present this morning at the meeting of the council of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, endorse what has been said by Lord Charming and by Lord O'Hagan; and may I add that the feeling of the meeting, which was well attended, was very strong indeed on this question. I emphasise this because when Lord O'Hagan was speaking the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture interjected the remark "Among some of them." I can assure your Lordships that the feeling of those present was very strongly expressed, and the resolution as originally proposed was modified because the period of eight weeks was thought by many members not to be anything like short enough, and as a sort of compromise the words finally agreed upon were, as stated by Lord Channing, that a shorter period than twelve weeks should be adopted.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
What I meant by the interjection "some of them" was this. The noble Lord who moved this Amendment was, quite properly, making representations based on the opinion of the dairy farmer, who takes a different view of the Order from that taken by the grazier; and it is the duty of the Board of Agriculture to consider the interests of both and to hold the balance between them and between all sections and practices of agriculture so as, under these war conditions, to get the best results possible for the country. I cannot accept the noble Lord's Amendment, because it would tie my hands as President of the Board of Agriculture too much in the performance of the responsible duty now cast upon me. As I said on the Second Reading, the whole justification for this Bill is that we are at war. The question of the meat supply is a very serious one and one about which we are anxious, for the reasons which I then gave. Were this Amendment carried, it would mean that 358 any calf could be slaughtered when it became eight weeks old. I will never consent to that. If that is carried it will be against the whole strength of the Government, because the object of the Board of Agriculture is that a calf should not be killed for veal if it is fit to rear for beef. The question is not as to whether calves which can be reared for beef ought not to be so reared. I do not think that any of your Lordships would contend, after what I have said, that those calves ought now to go to the butcher.
The real question is as regards calves which are not fit to be reared for beef, and with respect to those calves I quite admit that there is a case for consideration. The Act under which I am now operating and this Bill, if your Lordships pass it, allow great scope for flexibility in administration. An Order is now in operation which fixes twelve weeks as the period under which a calf may not be slaughtered. It is quite in my power, if I am convinced by the arguments, to alter that at any moment; but if you put fixed periods into the Bill, all my discretion is taken away. Lord Ribblesdale spoke with great authority the other day about the conditions prevailing in the famous district of Craven, and since he addressed your Lordships I have had the advantage of meeting a small deputation from that district. I make no pledge to your Lordships, because I have not yet been able to consult everybody whom I wished to consult, or to take the final legal advice as to how a deviation in the matter might be carried out. But I will tell your Lordships, and through you those for whom you speak with such authority, what I should like to do if I can and that is so to modify the Orders as to be able to draw the line between calves that ought not to be reared and calves that ought to be reared.
The calves that are born are divided into three classes. First, there is the class which, if allowed to grow, can be turned into good beef for the food of the people. So far as I am concerned, nothing will induce me to allow that class of calf to be slaughtered now for veal. Secondly, there is the class of calf which is born prematurely or has some physical defect although it may be well bred, and which an experienced farmer can see at once will never pay for rearing. I desire to allow that class of 359 calf to go to the butcher. There is the third class, and it is really the class which has caused the anxiety of the dairy farmers for whom noble Lords speak—the class of calf which is not born prematurely and which has no physical defect, but which is the off-spring of such a bad bull that it will never pay for keeping and turning into beef. I admit that that class of calf is in some districts—not in the majority by any means—but in some districts, especially in some dairy districts, a comparatively large class. That is due to a very peculiar practice of agriculture.
Lord Ribblesdale will correct me if I am wrong in describing what I understand to be the practice in the Craven district, and which, for aught I know, may also be the practice in Somersetshire and Dorsetshire. There are a great number of urban dairymen who keep cows. When one of these cows begins to go dry the dairyman sells it to the farmer, and when it has calved again the farmer sells it back to the dairyman. But the cow is put to the bull, not by the farmer, but by the urban dairyman while she is in his possession, and the urban dairyman generally does not care in the least hit what class of bull he puts the cow to. The result is that a large number of calves are born which are of no agricultural value whatever, and which cannot possibly be kept profitably so as to be turned into beef. That is a vicious agricultural practice. It is a great drawback to the dairy industry of this country that so many thoroughly bad bulls should be used in these cases, and I hope that one of the permanent effects of this Bill and its administration may be to put a real cheek on that practice; and I am quite sure that Lord St. Audries, who spoke so strongly the other night on behalf of the farmers of Somersetshire, will agree with me that anything we can do to discourage that practice will be to the permanent good of agriculture. The question is how to deal with the large number of perfectly valueless calves that will be coining into the world during the next few months. I am considering whether it is possible to differentiate between them and calves that are prematurely born and defective and those which ought to be kept and reared for beef, and if I am able to do so I shall be glad. But I am not prepared to tie my hands by accepting any such Amendment as that moved by Lord O'Hagan.
§ LORD ST. AUDRIES
I am not going again to inflict my views on this question upon the House, but the noble Earl will never convince me or many other farmers that it is good economy to keep inferior calves for the production of inferior beef at the expense of milk and cheese. However, I think he would make the matter much simpler if he would tell us what the local authority is going to be, and explain what powers are to be given to the local authority. This question of the various breeds of calves and so on is very much a local matter, and the local authority knows very well that in certain districts it will not pay to rear these calves, and that in other districts it will.
§ LORD STRACHIE
Before the noble Earl replies to my noble friend behind me, I should like to ask him whether he has considered the desirability of accepting the Amendment standing in my name at the bottom of the Paper.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE indicated dissent.
§ LORD STRACHIE
The noble Earl shakes his head. Then it is no good my saying anything more upon it at the moment, because it can be argued later. But if the noble Earl had been prepared to say now that he would accept that Amendment it would have saved the time of your Lordships. The Parliamentary Committee of the County Councils Association desired me, if the noble Earl would not accept the Amendment now before the House, to press the other Amendment and endeavour to get it inserted in the Bill; because they are not ready to trust the noble Earl absolutely in this matter, any more than the Central Chamber of Agriculture were prepared to do so this morning. Had I not been ruled out by the chairman, I should no doubt have carried at the meeting of that Chamber this morning a resolution insisting that all Orders made by the Board of Agriculture should be laid on the Table of both Houses, so that Parliament may not lose entire control of this measure. I will not, however, argue that at the present moment.
I will content myself with quoting another authority—the council of the Devonshire Farmers Association, which is composed entirely of tenant farmers and 361 represents a membership of 800. At the meeting of this council last Friday a resolution was carried to the effect that they disapproved of the Order made by the Board of Agriculture as regards calves. The gentleman who moved it proposed that the Board of Agriculture should be asked to modify their Order and reduce the age under it. The seconder said that the Order would do more to diminish stocks than to increase them, and he added that the action that had been taken was the farmers' own fault for sending men to Parliament who did not understand agricultural business. Practical experience, he went on to say, was overruled by ignorance; farmers had more calves than they could rear, many of them were not fit for rearing, and by killing veal they were saving beef. It is clear that the noble Earl has not considered the effect of his Order. If you insist on farmers bringing up more calves you will naturally diminish the supply of milk and also the amount of cheese, and I venture to think that the supply of milk and cheese is of equal importance to the country as that of beef.
Then the noble Earl spoke of the three classes of calves. How does he propose to differentiate between them? Apparently he does not think the farmers are the best judges. I suppose that what he intends to do is to appoint a large body of highly-paid inspectors to go about the country telling the farmers what calves they are to keep and what they are to sell. I do not think that will be received with very great favour by the agriculturists of this country, because that was proposed at the meeting of the Central Chamber of Agriculture by one gentleman this morning and he was practically howled down for making the suggestion. I hope the noble Lord will take a Division on this Amendment, and show the agriculturists of the country that there are some members in this House who sympathise with their protest that they should not be treated as mere children in this matter.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I ask your Lordships whether the tone of the noble Lord is wholly just to the attitude which I have adopted. I repeat that this is a war measure. I recognise quite as much as the noble Lord does the importance of milk and cheese as well as of meat. It is one of the functions of the Government 362 in this crisis to take into consideration the supplies of all these articles and their comparative importance at any given moment. The noble Lord drew a fanciful picture of an intention on my part to tell each farmer which of his calves come under each of the three classes I named, or to do so by the appointment of a large number of inspectors. I can assure him that neither of those ideas is in my mind. If I am able to carry out this conception—and I was careful to tell your Lordships that I was not yet in a position to say that I could do so—it will be by the assistance of the local people who know; it will be by the assistance of the local authority, or of somebody nominated by the local authority who could assist me.
I quite agree that this is not a matter that can be done by a central Department. But it can be done locally. Every Order that is made on this subject must be varied according to the agricultural circumstances of the time. Since the Order of the Board of Agriculture was made there has been a development of the drought, greater and with effects more serious than were contemplated at the time the Order was made. I do not know that that will necessitate a variation of the Order. I make no pledge in that respect. But it is one of those circumstances which it is my duty to take into consideration every day, and necessarily the length of time for which the Order exists and the degree of severity which may be imposed by the Order or by any variation of it must always be governed by the general agricultural circumstances of the moment, not only the stocks of meat in the country but the amount of feed which the farmers may have for the stocks which they graze or the flocks and herds on their farms. Therefore although I welcome, and indeed have endeavoured to profit by, the criticisms which the noble Lord and others have made, I protest against the suggestion of the noble Lord that I have assumed any attitude of superior authority either to himself or to the farmers of this country. All I am conscious of is not a greater authority but a greater responsibility.
§ On Question, Whether the words "except calves eight weeks old" should be inserted?
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 5; Not contents.61363
|Barnard, L.||Courtney of Penwith, L.||Strachie, L. [Teller.]|
|Charming of Wellingborough, L.||O'Hagan, L. [Teller.]|
|Buckmaster, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Falkland, V.||Haversham, L.|
|Crewe, M. (L. President.)||Knollys, V.||Hothfield, E.|
|Curzon of Kedleston, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Peel, V.||Hylton, L.|
|Portman, V.||Islington, E.|
|Devonshire, D. [Teller.]||Farquhar, L. (L. Steward.)||Kinnaird, E.|
|Wellington, D.||Sandhurst, E. (L. Chamberlain.)||Knaresborough, E.|
|Allerton, L.||MacDonnell, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Newton, E.|
|Lincolnshire, M.||Bateman, L.||Nunburnholme, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Blyth, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Coventry, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Ranksborough, L.|
|Cromer, E.||Charnwood, L.||St. Audries, E.|
|Fortescue, E.||Chaworth, L.(E. Meath.)||Sinclair, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Cheylesmore, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Howe, E.||Clonbrock, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Lauderdale, E,||Colebrooke, L.||Stanmore, L. [Teller.]|
|Selborne, E.||Devonport, L.||Sudeley, L|
|Digby, E.||Sydenham, L.|
|Allendale, V.||Ellenborough, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Bryce, V.||Glenconner, L.||Welby, L.|
|Cross, V.||Harris, L.||Wrenbury, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative accordingly.
§ LORD STRACHIE
I do not suppose, after the noble Earl has refused the Amendment as regards calves although it is so strongly supported in the country, that he will be any more ready to accept the Amendment standing in my name, to insert in paragraph (b), after the words "immature animals," the words "except male lambs of pure breeds and all crossbred lambs." If this Bill is put into force as regards lambs in the same stringent manner that has been adopted as regards calves, I venture to say that the Department will entirely ruin the interest of those farmers who make a considerable profit by fatting lambs for the market and are able to bring them to maturity in from three to four months and even in a shorter period. This question was brought up in the other House, and I think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture promised that the noble Earl would consider whether some modification could not be made. My proposal simply is that male lambs of pure breeds and all cross-bred lambs, which are not intended for anything but the butcher when at maturity, should be exempted from this Order, and I think it is desirable that they should be so exempted. You claim that you are increasing the food supply of the country, but if you forbid the sale of these lambs 364 to the butcher at maturity you thereby diminish the meat supply of the country. Surely the farmer is the best judge in this matter. I hope the noble Earl will be inclined to meet us in a different spirit in regard to this Amendment.
Clause 1, page 1, line 11, after ("immature animals") insert ("except male lambs of pure breeds and all cross-bred lambs").—(Lord Strachie.)
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I cannot accept the Amendment because it goes far beyond the point of the observation which the noble Lord correctly quoted from my hon. friend the Parliamentary Secretary in the House of Commons. If such words as the noble Lord proposes were inserted the whole legal question would be at once raised as to what is a pure breed. I do not want to have that raised, because it is a difficult legal question and would only end in tying my hands. My hands are now perfectly free, so that the Orders can be varied and made flexible. Then the Amendment goes much too far in connection with cross-bred lambs. It is true, as I said in the debate on the Second Reading, that a very important branch of agriculture in this country is the breeding of lambs for slaughter, and those lambs are usually cross-bred lambs. But the words in the Amendment go much further than the 365 first cross and when you get to the second cross it often happens that those are not lambs which easily achieve an early maturity, and it might be better that ewes of later crosses should in certain circumstances be reared than that they should be slaughtered. If, however, the noble Lord will confine his words to "except male lambs" and move to insert them at the end of paragraph (a) I will accept that, because there is no intention of prohibiting the slaughter of male lambs, and the case is perfectly definite and can lead to no doubt or confusion.
On the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread, I gladly accept the noble Earl's suggestion.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
The suggested Amendment to paragraph (a) can only be inserted at a later stage, as the noble Earl is suggesting going back two dues m the clause.
I agree with Lord Strachie that the farmer is the best judge of what is going to produce the most food, the object, which the President of the Board of Agriculture has in view. But the noble Earl is in this position, that he assents that his Department is a better judge of what processes are going to produce most food than the man whose business it is to get the best possible results nut of the land. With great deference I do not think the Board of Agriculture is a better judge than the practical man who has his money invested in the business, who has to study it morning, noon, and night, and whose interest it is to produce as much as he possibly can whether it is of vegetable or of animal food. And in this particular case the noble Earl's Department is claiming what I defy it to prophesy—it is bud claiming that these animals which are going to be preserved for an indefinite time, or at any rate for a long period, will be worth when they are sold more to the country than the feed which they had consumed. I defy him to prove that. It depends entirely on the animal. If an animal is healthy and its digestion is (mood it is very likely that it will be worth all and more than all the feed that it has consumed; but I defy the noble Earl or 366 his Department to produce any evidence that would satisfy your Lordships that the Department is a better judge on that point than the man who has the animals under his eye every day in the week, and who knows a great deal better than the Department does what amount of feed there is on his farm for the consumption of the animals; and if he has to buy any food at present prices it is highly improbable that it is going to be a profitable proceeding. I dare say the noble Earl is in a great difficulty and unable to meet Lord Strachie with regard to his particular proposal, but in the present circumstances I cannot vote against the Government. I feel that it is one's bounden duty to support them in the present circumstances; and to attempt to set up a serious opposition to any of their proposals would have an effect in a quarter where we do not wish to extend any encouragement whatever.
THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF CREWE)
We all, I am sure, on this Bench appreciate what has fallen from my noble friend opposite regarding his unwillingness to record a vote against the Government at this particular crisis. His views in that respect do him all honour, and as I have said we thoroughly appreciate them. At the same time supposing it were possible to obtain the support of the noble Lord on agreement with the particular proposition rather than on the general ground which he has stated we should be even better pleased.
I merely rise to draw attention to what appears to me to be something of a fallacy in the argument put forward by my noble friend. It amounts to this, that in all cases—I think I am quoting him fairly—the farmer who by the hypothesis devotes his whole time and trouble and experience to producing a particular article, whether it be a calf or a lamb or some other kind of farm produce, is bound to he the best judge of the mode whereby the article is to be produced, and therefore the best judge of the time in which, for instance, the slaughter of a particular animal should take place. It seems to me that the fallacy resides in this, that although the interest of the farmer and the interest of the country probably are in nine cases out of ten or in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the same, yet certain cases are bound to arise—and in the opinion of my noble friend and his Board one arises in 367 such a case as this, and also arose in connection with the last Amendment on which we voted—in which the interest of the individual farmer may not be identical with the interests of the country as a whole and its food supply.
Speaking as a farmer myself—I have been connected with farming all my life—I can easily think of cases in which, from the point of view of my own balance sheet, I might desire to do something which I do not believe would be in the interests of the food supply of the country; and while yielding to nobody, not even to my noble friend opposite, in the respect that I entertain for the skill and the common sense of the farming community as a whole in managing their own affairs, I cannot avoid the conclusion that at this particular time of crisis during the short period for which, as my noble friend has stated, these particular enactments are to hold good, some cases will arise in which the interests of the individual will not be the same as the interests of the community. I have had some occasion, with which I need not trouble the House, to observe in my own neighbourhood such instances. I feel sure that when those are put to the individual farmer, who may feel that his own interest for the time is being somewhat damnified by certain provisions, we shall always find that the individual farmer, being a patriotic man, will recognise the force of the contentions advanced. I merely rose to make these general observations. I do not wish to dilate upon the particular Amendment, partly because my own experience is very much more closely connected with cattle than with sheep, although I have had something to do with the latter as well, but I did not like to let my noble friend's observations pass without this word of protest.
My contention was this, that both the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture and the farmer have one object in view—namely, to produce the utmost amount of food; and I say that as regards that the farmer is a better judge than the Department.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
There is one point which Lord Harris has quite left out, and in that the Government ought to have the advantage of the farmer—that is, to know when the food will most be required.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.368
§ LORD STRACHIE
I move to leave out "local authority" at the beginning of paragraph (c) and to insert "council of any county or county borough," and I do so to obtain from the noble Earl some explanation of what he means by the words "local authority." If he means a county council, I am perfectly satisfied; but if he intends to take authority to delegate powers to other bodies, such as parish councils and urban and rural district councils, I should be compelled to press my Amendment on behalf of the County Councils Association.
Clause 1, page 1, line 20, leave out ("local authority") and insert ("council of any county or county borough").—(Lord Strachie.)
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I would first of all point out that the words are not "require any local authority," but "authorise any local authority." The Board of Agriculture desire to enlist the willing co-operation of the local authority in carrying out any Orders made under this Bill, but it is quite impossible to restrict the local authority to the county council. Nobody is a greater admirer of the county councils than myself, and I have been, with the exception of the period when I was out of England, an active member of my county council ever since it came into existence. But your Lordships will see at once what I mean when I tell you that in connection with the Diseases of Animals Act the county councils have no authority in boroughs of over 10,000 inhabitants. Therefore I must be free to use the borough councils also. And when we come to the question of slaughter-houses, the authority which deals with that matter is not the county council but the local sanitary authority, which is either the borough council or the urban or rural district council. Therefore if the words of the Bill were restricted as the noble Lord proposes, I should not be able to utilise the only authorities to which Parliament has delegated certain powers in connection with slaughter-houses and the diseases of animals. Therefore I hope your Lordships will see that I must be free to use all the local authorities which I have mentioned, though so far as I know there will be no intention of utilising the services of parish councils.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.369
§ LORD STRACHIE had on the Paper two further Amendments to paragraph (c), to omit the words "manner in which the" and also the words "are to be defrayed." The noble Lord said: I have put down these two Amendments to obtain from the noble Earl an explanation of what he proposes. Does he mean that he is to be the judge of what body is to pay the expense incurred? That is to say, does he claim the right to say that all the expense should be paid for out of the local rates, either out of the county rate or out of the urban or rural district rate? If so, it seems to me that this is entrusting an enormous power of taxation to the Board of Agriculture and affecting our local rates, whereas in these days we are all anxious that the local rates should be safeguarded in every possible way. The effect of my Amendments would be that no Order made under the Bill could throw the cost of carrying it out on to the local rates; it would have to be provided for out of the Imperial Exchequer. I beg to move the first of my two Amendments in order that I may get an explanation.
Clause 1, page 1, line 15, leave out ("manner in which the").—(Lord starchie.)
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
The noble Lord forgets what I told him just now, that the whole of this paragraph is governed by the word "authorise." I have no power to direct the local authority to do anything. Everything must be by arrangement with the local authority. Therefore that governs the whole matter. I ask the local authority to undertake certain duties for the Board of Agriculture. If they will not do it, I have no power to compel them; but if, as I think would be the case, they would be willing to do it, then these words are required in order that all necessary payments may be arranged for. They already have all the machinery, and in most cases there would be no additional expense at all; but if there is, these words give power as to how it is to be made good in agreement with the local authority. If the words of the consequential Amendment of the noble Lord were accepted the effect would be to throw the whole expense, if any, on the Exchequer. Of course, your Lordships have no power to impose a charge of that kind on the taxpayers; and as the House of Commons has passed no resolution for increasing 370 expenditure in this relation I would ask you to leave the words as they are, which will enable me to make a friendly arrangement with the local authority hut not to compel them.
§ LORD BARNARD
I do not read the words in paragraph (c) in quite the same way as the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture does. As far as I read them, the word "authorise" does not govern the whole of the paragraph. The Board may authorise the local authority to execute and enforce the Order, but it is not said that they are to provide the manner—the Order is to provide for the manner—in which the expense incurred is to be defrayed. Perhaps the noble Earl will make it clearer at a later stage if there is anything in my contention.
§ THE EARL or SELBORNE
I am not a legal authority; but unless the local authority has agreed voluntarily to cooperate with the Board of Agriculture the expense does not come in.
If the noble Earl will insert the word "to" before the word "provide" it will make it clear.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD STRACHIE moved to add at the end of paragraph (e) the words "unless being calves for rearing or in-calf cows not for slaughter." The noble Lord said: This question was also raised in another place, and I understand that Mr. Acland undertook to consult the noble Earl with regard to this matter and see whether the objections could not be met. What my Amendment does is to propose that it should be lawful to export out of a restricted area any calves for the purpose of rearing or cows in-calf not for slaughter. I think your Lordships will see that if this clause is carried in its present shape it will have the effect, not only of preventing the slaughter of cows in a particular area, but also of preventing calves or cows in-calf being exported into another area for the purpose of rearing. The noble Earl may tell me that this provision is quite clear, but I am informed by those who are interested that it is not at all clear. Perhaps if he cannot accept the Amendment straight off, he will be good enough, as in another case, to say that he will consider the matter between now and Report.371
Clause 1, page 1, line 23, after ("restricted") insert ("unless being calves for rearing or in-calf cows not for slaughter").—(Lord Strachie.)
§ LORD ST. AUDRIES
There is one case under this paragraph that requires consideration—that is, where a farmer is giving up business or there is a change of tenancy and he has a sale. Supposing the sale took place in a restricted or prohibited area, it would be hard lines on the farmer if the sale were practically confined to purchasers in that district. In the event of a large sale of breeding stock, this restriction would do a great deal of harm. I hope the noble Earl will consider that point.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
I think this provision does want making clearer, particularly as the noble Earl is anxious to facilitate the movement of these animals. It seems to me that under this paragraph nothing can be done in a prohibited area, and there the animals must stay.
Does not this paragraph in the clause go a good deal further than the noble Earl intends? I take it that what he wants to restrict is the movement out of the area of the animals to which the Order applies—that is, calves not to be slaughtered, and lambs not to be slaughtered, and so on. But this paragraph would apply to all animals of all ages, and very great inconvenience might result; for it is the Department which makes this Order and not the local authority, and although the Department would be as cautious as possible, still an accident might be made and they might restrict the movement of all animals out of an area where the slaughter of immature animals is prohibited. I had a case in point under the Diseases of Animals Act. The boundary happened to go through a farm; it was necessary to move stock from one part of the farm for grazing, and a relaxation of the Order had to be obtained to allow the animals to be moved across the boundary. I am sure the noble Earl wants to make the clause as elastic as possible.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
Before the next stage I will look into the point to which the noble Lord has just alluded, and also the one made by Lord St. Audries. 372 But I cannot accept Lord Strachie's Amendment, for this reason. This paragraph is intended to meet the case where it may be unnecessary to make an Order covering the whole country, but where it may be necessary to make an Order covering a part of the country. Unless the Board has power to prohibit the movement of the animals affected by that Order out of the area to which the Order applies, of course the Order itself is mill and void. If the farmer who could not sell a calf for slaughter or a cow far gone in pregnancy in the area to which the Order applied could move it into the adjoining area to which the Order did not apply, the animal would be slaughtered and the whole object of the Order would be rendered null and void. Therefore this power of preventing movement is consequential and necessary upon the power to make an Order in respect of a district and not of the whole country. The noble Lord proposes by this Amendment that if an animal is moved out of that area for what the Board of Agriculture would consider a wholly legitimate purpose—that is, for rearing in the case of a calf, or for breeding purposes in the case of a cow—the animal should be permitted to move. I should be delighted if that were possible; but it would involve the Board of Agriculture following the fortunes of those animals all over England and finding out the intentions of every successive owner, which is impossible. For these reasons I must decline to accept the Amendment.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
Does the noble Earl mean, to take a concrete case, that if I am in a non-slaughter area and I want to make a change, I can only move into an equally amnestied area?
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
As I understand, the noble Earl says that if I am in a non-slaughter area I cannot move my stock into an area which is not exposed to the operations of the slaughter Order or where the Order has been modified. I can only move my, stock into an area which has been equally amnestied with regard to slaughter. Is that the point?
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I would rather put it in another way. Supposing in my own county of Hampshire we were the subject of an Order in which the slaughter of certain animals was prohibited, those animals might not be moved out of Hampshire into Surrey, but animals in Surrey might be moved into Hampshire.
Would the noble Earl consider the advisability of inserting after "animals" the words "to which the Order applies"?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD STRACHIE
I propose to move the insertion of the new paragraph (g) standing in my name, which provides that all Orders made under this Bill shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament. When the matter was before the House on the Second Reading the noble Earl did not so much oppose the principle, but rather took objection to it because he said this was an emergency measure and therefore no difficulties ought to be put in its way. But I would point out that if this Amendment were inserted in the Bill it would not hamper the noble Earl to any extent if his Orders were reasonable and approved of by this House, because the Orders come into effect from the very day upon which he makes them and lays them before Parliament. No doubt greater consideration and care will be exercised in putting forward future Orders, and we have good reason to think that the Order which has lately been made as regards calves will be altered when the noble Earl finds out what the agricultural feeling in this country is with regard to it.
As regards the present emergency I am entirely in sympathy with the noble Lord behind me (Lord Harris), who said he was willing to do everything in his power to support the Government in regard to war measures. I agree with the Leader of the House when he remarked that the farmers are patriotic men. I 374 believe we are all patriotic men and are willing to do everything we can for the country in this emergency. But surely the men who are most willing to do what they can for the country ought to he convinced that they are wrong in saying their view is the right one with regard to the quantity of stock to be kept and the quantity of food to be produced for the country as a whole. They must be convinced on that point. It does not do to tell them that they are not patriotic unless they are convinced that everything that the Board of Agriculture proposes is right. Lord Harris said, I think, that he disliked what was being done by the Board of Agriculture but could not vote on any occasion against the Government. That is almost equivalent to saying that we had better have no Parliament at all, and there are certainly some who think that that would be a right course. But I think it is doubtful whether that would be desirable. We should be in the same position if that took place as we were with regard to munitions three or four months ago.
But with regard to the particular point I am urging, I cannot see what argument there is against these Orders being laid unless it is said deliberately that we ought not to have the right to criticise any Order made by the Board of Agriculture, and that the President of the Board is to be made a dictator in this matter. As I ventured to remind the House the other day, I am perfectly ready to trust the noble Earl. But we do not know who is going to be his successor. In four years we have had four Presidents of the Board of Agriculture. The next President may be sitting in another place, where we shall have no control over him and shall not be able to ask him questions, or he may be a gentleman who takes an entirely opposite view from that of the noble Earl in these matters. Except the argument which the noble Earl put before us that this is an emergency Bill, there does not seem to me to be any argument at all against my Amendment. I hope the noble Earl will meet the point. What possible harm will he done if the Orders are laid on the Table for the approval of both Houses of Parliament or, if necessary, for modification? There will be no delay, because the Orders come into effect and remain in effect until objection is taken to them in either house.
§ Amendment moved—
Clause 1, page 1, line 21, after paragraph (f) insert new paragraph:
(g) Provided that all orders under this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House within forty subsequent days on which that House has sat, praying that the order may be annulled, it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder or the making of a new order."—(Lord Strachie.)
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
I think that some of your Lordships, at all events, will be of opinion that there is some solid foundation in the argument which has just been put before us. I quite admit that the period of forty days does seem rather long in a case of this sort, which probably would be attended to at once by the local people interested. I suggest that the noble Lord should shorten the period to twenty-one or even to fourteen days. Subject to an alteration of that sort, I think there is very good reason for adopting the noble Lord's Amendment.
THE EARL OF MAYO
I should like to support Lord Strachie in what he has said. I believe that the Orders to be issued will apply to Ireland; they will be promulgated by our Board of Agriculture as well as by the Board of Agriculture here. The noble Earl said this was a war measure; it is certainly a very drastic measure, and I hope it will carry out his wishes and increase our supply of food. But with regard to these Orders, I hope the Amendment will be accepted. They will be war measures, too, and just as drastic, and should be laid on the Table of Parliament. Unless the noble Earl is inclined to accept this Amendment, these very drastic Orders may not be criticised. Therefore I hope the noble Earl in charge of the Bill will accept it as modified by Lord Camperdown.
§ LORD BARNARD
As one who is in close touch with agriculturists and their organisations in many different parts of the country I cannot help saying that I entirely agree in principle with the proposed new paragraph put forward by Lord Strachie. I can tell this House, if there are any members who do not know it already, that the feeling of dissatisfaction on the part of the agricultural community against what they call "legislation by Government Departments" is growing very rapidly. They feel that what under 376 ordinary circumstances would come under the purview of one or both Houses of Parliament is taken away from their representatives altogether, and becomes entirely a matter to be dealt with in a bureaucratic fashion. That is what the farmers do not appreciate or like at all. The difficulty that is raised by this course of proceeding is that farmers must inevitably in course of time have less and less confidence in those Departments which attempt to ride—perhaps I should not call it roughshod—over them. But having said this much, I may say that I was very much impressed with the words that fell just now from Lord Harris as to the urgency of the situation in which we find ourselves at the present moment, and if the President of the Board of Agriculture will permit me to say so, he has my entire confidence in himself personally, and I would venture to express the hope that Lord Strachie will not press this Amendment to a Division.
§ LORD STRACHIE
I am quite ready to accept the suggestion of the noble Earl below the Gangway (Lord Camperdown) and to alter the period in my Amendment to twenty-one days.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
I was going to ask the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he saw any tremendous objection to accepting the Amendment as altered to twenty-one days. He pointed out the other night the extraordinary divergency as to methods of farming in different parts of the country, and I think the Government would be wise in accepting the Amendment, which instead of weakening their power would undoubtedly strengthen it. I do not altogether agree with what Lord Barnard said just now, because in my part of the country the farmers are not in a great state of hostility or commotion. They perfectly accept the position that we have heard mentioned over and over again in this debate—that this is an emergency measure, and that we are at war. I believe, as a matter of fact, we talk too much about the crisis; we shall all get as nervous as rabbits if we go on like this. Also I do not like to see this bidding adieu to all our Parliamentary notions because we happen to be at war with Germany. I am not going to bid adieu to mine, at any rate. These Orders in Council may raise all kinds of difficulties; and for the sake of agriculture, for the sake of our 377 food, and for the sake of all the objects in view, you had better assent to something of this sort and let the Orders lie on the Table of both Houses of Parliament. Of course, we do not want to drive the noble Earl too far—I least of all, because he has been very good-natured to me—but I suggest that the Amendment with the period altered to twenty-one days would not be unreasonable.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
It is proposed to substitute twenty-one days. Therefore I ought to put the question that "twenty-one days" be inserted in the Amendment instead of "forty days."
I make a suggestion to the noble Earl which he will probably think milder than the laying of the Order for twenty-one days? The Farmers' Club, or whatever the body may be, in the various counties think they should have notice of the noble Earl's intention to issue an Order and have an opportunity of lodging protests, or arguments, or objections against such Order. If the noble Earl would undertake that any proposed Order should be circulated to the recognised agricultural associations of the country and that he would not take action upon the Order for a week, I suggest that that would be a milder request than that necessitating the Order lying on the Table of the House for twenty-one days. I imagine that if the noble Lord's Amendment were agreed to, the Order would be ineffective when Parliament is not sitting. Therefore my suggestion is a more practicable one, and it would give us a sufficient amount of protection, because we should have the opportunity for a week of considering and entering our protests against any particular proposal.
§ LORD JOICEY
I think the noble Earl must see that there is a considerable opinion in favour of making some alteration in this connection. So far as I am concerned, like Lord Barnard, I look upon the encroachments of Departmental power with great suspicion. It is not only in the agricultural interest that we find this taking place, but in connection with all other industries; and by means of Orders and Regulations the Departments are enabled legislate on questions which ought to be left to Parliament. But I realise that there is special reason just now why there should be no delay in dealing with a question of 378 this kind. We are all anxious that the food supply during the time of the war should be increased as much as possible. So far as I am concerned, at this time of difficulty I am prepared to give almost a dictatorship to the Government. I often wish there was a little more dictatorship in some of the Departments concerned with questions dealing with the war. But as a general principle I should certainly support very strongly an Amendment of this kind. I hope, therefore, that the noble Earl will try to meet the views that have been put forward.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
There is no Amendment that I would personally be more desirous to accept if possible, and I realise that I have to make out a case for refusing this Amendment. In normal times and if this were not a war measure I should regard the Amendment as a natural one, and one which the Government ought to accept. But it is not, as the noble Lord who moved the Amendment thinks, merely the laying of the Order on the Table of the House the Order being in operation all the time and remaining in operation unless the House within twenty-one days passes a resolution against it. If this Amendment is put into the Bill it brings into operation the requirements of the Rules Publication Act, 1893, under which the proposed Order would have to be published in the London Gazette for forty days before it was made, and that, of course, might easily defeat the whole object of the Order. It certainly would make it impossible for me or any one who had the honour of holding my position to take that prompt action which might be necessary. That is also the reason why I cannot make the promise which Lord Harris asked me to make about circularising all the Chambers of Agriculture and Farmers' Clubs before an Order is made. But what I will undertake to do is to receive, and gratefully receive, deputations from any body of farmers who object to any part of an Order made. I will give the very best of my attention and that of my Office to considering those representations, and I shall always be prepared to vary and modify the Order, as I should have the power to do under this Bill, if I am convinced that a mistake has been made or a point omitted. Then, again, assuming that I was not able to advance the argument I have already done, I wish to make another point. 379 Suppose that I was able to make the Order at once and without notice to lay it on the Table of your Lordships' House. Your Lordships might think it an unreasonable Order, and you might move an Address to His Majesty praying His Majesty to withhold his consent to the Order. MY whole and sole case in defence of that Order might be the state of the food supply of the country at that given moment. But my mouth would be closed. I could not possibly tell yon what my case was, because that would be giving the whole case away to the enemy, and therefore you might, because of my silence, stop an Order which at that moment was really vital for the maintenance of the food supply of the country.
§ LORD STRACHIE
The noble Earl says that his difficulty is because of the Act of Parliament which he mentioned.
§ Resolved in the negative accordingly.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ Bill reported without amendment, and to be read 3a on Thursday next.380
§ LORD STRACHIE
I was going to suggest that if that were the only difficulty he might insert a new provision exempting this clause from the operation of that Act. I suppose the noble Earl as a matter of fact is opposed to this Amendment root and branch, because otherwise he knows very well that he would have only to intimate to any one interested that he had made the Order but could not give his reasons, and then noble Lords would at once withdraw any opposition.
§ On Question, That the proposed new paragraph (g), as amended, be here inserted?
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 3; Not-contents, 59.379
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||O'Hagan, L. [Teller].||Strachie, L. [Teller].|
|Curzon of Kedleston, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Cross, V.||Glenconner, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Harris, L.|
|Knollys, V.||Haversham, L.|
|Devonshire, D. [Teller.]||Peel, V.||Islington, L.|
|Rutland, D.||Portman, V.||Joicey, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Knaresborough, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Lovat, L.|
|Lincolnshire, M.||Barnard, L.||MacDonnell, L.|
|Barrymore, L.||Nunburnholme, L.|
|Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Parmoor, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Channing of Wellingborough, L.||Ranksborough, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Charnwood, L.||Rotherham, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Cheylesmore, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Cromer, E.||Clonbrock, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Howe, E.||Colchester, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Colebrooke, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Lichfield, E.||De Mauley, L.||Stanmore, L. [Teller.]|
|Selborne, E.||Devonport, L.||Sydenham, L.|
|Digby, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Allendale, V.||Ellenborough, L.||Welby, L,|
|Bryce, V.||Emmott, L.||Wrenbury, L.|
On Question, Amendment to the Amendment to substitute "twenty-one" for "forty," agreed to.