HL Deb 14 December 1922 vol 52 cc441-62

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 Ancaster.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL of DONOUGHMOSE in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:

Meaning of "imported animals" and provision as to landing of animals from Ireland.

3. For the word "foreign" wherever that word is used in relation to an animal or thing in the principal Act, or any Act amending the provisions of that Act relating to foreign animals or foreign things, there shall be substituted the word "imported," and for the purposes of the principal Act as so amended an imported animal or an imported thing shall mean an animal or thing brought to Great Britain from a country out of Great Britain, and the provisions of the principal Act as so amended relating to imported animals and imported things shall have effect as though the expression "Great Britain" were therein substituted for the expression "the United Kingdom," but except to such extent as the Minister may by order direct, the provisions of the Third Schedule to the principal Act shall not apply to animals brought to Great Britain from. Ireland or any part thereof:

Provided that if the Minister is satisfied that cattle plague, pleuro-pneumonia or foot -and-mouth disease exists or has recently existed in, or that adequate provision is not made for the prevention of the introduction of any such disease into, any part of Ireland, lie may by order prohibit the landing in Great Britain of animals or any class of animals brought from Ireland or any part thereof, or may apply the said provisions to animals or an class of animals so brought with such modifications, if any, as he may think necessary or expedient.

LORD CARSON moved, after "Great Britain," where those words secondly occur, to insert "or Northern Ireland." The noble and learned Lord said: I think your Lordships will see, when I have opened what I wish to say, that this Amendment gives the first opportunity of raising the question whether you are going to treat, or whether you have any right to treat, Northern Ireland otherwise than as part of the United Kingdom. That is an important question, but before I deal with it may I say that I really must enter my humble protest against the way in which legislation is being rushed through this House?

Nothing has struck me more, during the short time that I have had the honour of being a member of this House, than the utter contempt with which it is treated by each successive Government. Here is a Bill of primary importance, a Bill which raises questions which have been moot questions certainly during the whole of the time that I was in the House of Commons, a period of nearly thirty years. The Bill left the House of Commons only the night before last, it was read a second time in this House yesterday before anybody had had a single hour to consider it, and it is now being rushed through Committee before anybody has had an opportunity of putting down an Amendment. I myself have only been able to hand in my Amendment since I came down here to-day. I had hoped that this sort of pretence to legislation would have stopped when the new Government came into power. I hear a great deal about reforming the House of Lords, and about, giving the House of Lords additional power, but why do we never exercise the powers that we have? Why is it that we let important Bills like this pass without even asking for time in which to consider the Bills that are put before us? The truth is that this House is treated by successive Governments as merely a formal body to record the decrees of the Government that is in power at the time.

Let me now deal with my Amendment. I want to ask what is the effect of recent legislation as regards Ireland and the United Kingdom. This will be raised on many occasions, and I think it is as well that we should have some definite understanding upon the subject. We ought at least to know what is the relation between the two countries. I remember well how, many and many a time, I warned the Irish people, during the course of the Home Rule campaign, that the moment that Home Rule was passed and they were deprived of representation at Westminster, Acts would immediately be passed by the Imperial Parliament as they were before the Union, with disastrous consequences—which had no consideration whatever for the interests of Ireland. If it were not that I was as fond of Ireland as I am—though why I am I do not know, but I cannot help it—I might very well say to Ireland now: "I told you so"; because the ink was hardly dry on the Treaty and the Act setting up the Provisional Government when, for the first time, this question became a living issue. And the moment that Bill passed, and you got rid of the Irish Members in the other House, you began to enact provisions, the propriety of which I will not challenge at the present moment, except to say that, so far as the great cattle trade between England and Ireland is concerned—a trade, I think, which amounts to something like £35,000,000 a year—they cannot prove anything but disastrous.

However, the South of Ireland has claimed to be in the same position as Canada. The Treaty and the Act put her in the same position as a Dominion. She therefore, has no ground of complaint if you treat her like a Dominion. She has chosen to take away her eighty-three representatives from the other House, and to say she will no longer be a part of the United Kingdom. Well, that is her affair; we cannot go back upon it, and I am the last man in the world who wants now to raise impossible issues. But the position of Northern Ireland is absolutely different. Even though it may appear tiresome, let us for one moment look at what that position is.

It is true you have set up a Parliament for the Six Counties of Northern Ireland, but you have retained here, in the first place, the power of taxing Northern Ireland. You collect her Revenue, you put on the Taxes that suit you, and she gets her share from you of those Taxes. It is because you tax her that she has Members still at Westminster, and the price she pays for the Members she has at Westminster is that you tax her. If you did not tax her there would probably be no grounds for having the Members there. But what follows constitutionally from that? If you tax her as a part of the United Kingdom, with the same Taxes, the same liabilities, and the same responsibilities, she must for all other purposes be treated as part of the United Kingdom. And that is her claim, and the claim that I will assert on every occasion. You have no right to impose Taxes upon her—and it will sooner or later lead to great difficulties between the two countries—if you then say: "While we claim to tax you, while you have all the obligations and responsibilities of the rest of the United Kingdom of which you form part, we decline to give you the same advantages as regards legislation which vitally affects one of the greatest industries in your country." Is that a possible position for this country to take up?

It is because of this that I am moving now that Ulster should not be treated as a foreign country. Your Lordships will see that this clause deals with the examination under the Diseases of Animals Acts, 1894 to 1914; you will see that the word "foreign" is changed, and there is substituted the word "imported." The clause says:— An imported animal or an imported thing shall mean an animal or thing brought to Great Britain from a country out of Great Britain. Up to this time foreign animals were animals brought into the United Kingdom. Now if you bring an animal from the six Northern Counties it is to be treated as a foreign animal. My Amendment is to insert "or Northern Ireland" after the words "Great Britain" so as to put Northern Ireland in exactly the same position as any other part of Great Britain.

What is the difference between importing cattle from Northern Ireland and importing cattle, say, into England from Scotland? The only difference is that one lot of cattle comes across a few miles of sea, while the other travels a shorter or longer way by rail. There is no other difference whatsoever, and up to now von have treated them in the same way. What has Ulster lone, or what has she refused to do—I say "Ulster" as indicating the Six Counties—that she is to be put into this category and to have applied to her all the provisions which you will find set out in the Schedule regulating the movement of imported cattle? So long as Northern Ireland remains as she is you have the fullest power, through the inspectors of your Agricultural Department, your Veterinary Department and all the other organisations of your Government in relation to agriculture, to protect yourselves in any way that may be necessary, just in the same way as if there were disease in Scotland or in an English county; you can prohibit the moving about of cattle from one part. to another in order that the disease may not spread. Why then do you not exercise those provisions as regards Northern Ireland, as you have the right now to do and have had heretofore, instead of treating Northern Ireland as a foreign country and making applicable to her all the various provisions in the Schedule to which I have already referred?

I have followed the debates in another place where this question was raised in reference to the whole of Ireland. I am not prepared to argue the case of Southern Ireland because I freely admit that, having wished to have an independentstatus as Canada has, she would have no claim. But none of those arguments applies to the North of Ireland. I have noticed two arguments that have been urged or suggested. One of them is that you could not prevent the transfer of cattle from the South of Ireland through the North of Ireland to this country. That is entirely erroneous. You have, in conjunction with the Government of Northern Ireland, the fullest powers to make any laws or administrative Regulations you like as to the entry into the North of Ireland of cattle from the South of Ireland; and, as I said before, you have the fullest powers if the cattle have not come direct from the Six Counties or have come from the Six Counties. Therefore, there is no argument whatsoever to be founded upon that proposition.

The other argument, and the one that seems to have carried weight in the House of Commons, is the most extraordinary argument of all. It was stated in that House by the Attorney-General, who, I suppose, knows as much about agriculture as I do, that the reason the Government could not accept this Amendment or the Amendment applying to the whole of Ireland as it was put forward there, was that they had promised the Canadian Government that they would not do so. I enter a most solemn protest against this method of legislating. It really is imposing an autocracy upon this country which is unbearable, for a Government to go to a Colony or an Overseas Dominion and say to theta: "We make a bargain that if you submit to certain Regulations we will put the same Regulations upon some other place," without giving that other place the slightest opportunity of being heard upon the matter.

The other day, when you were passing the Bill giving peace to Ireland, I protested against the way in which the whole matter had been settled behind the backs of the nation. Here, again, is an instance of exactly the same thing. It is a barefaced argument to put before any Parliament, to say: "We cannot treat Ulster or Northern Ireland any longer as a portion of the United Kingdom because we have told Canada that if they accept certain conditions we will not so treat them." That was the Attorney-General's argument the other evening. I protest against it now, and I ask the Government, because this is the first opportunity on which it arises, to let us know their views of the legislation they have passed, of the obligations they have put upon Northern Ireland, of the taxation of Northern Ireland by the Imperial Parliament, of all that that involves, and whether in the future, notwithstanding all that, they are going to treat Northern Ireland as if she were no longer a part of the United Kingdom. That is a very grave and important issue. It is a matter which those people over there ought to understand at once. It is a matter with which, above all, the Ulster Members in the other House ought to be made acquainted at once.

As regards the importance of the question I can only say this. I have not the figures here, I have not had time for them to be taken out in the few hours' notice we have had of this matter, but I think your Lordships will find that the cattle trade between the Six Counties of Northern Ireland and this country is one of the most, important industries of that country. I am told by my noble friend, Lord Armaghdale, that it involves something like seventeen or eighteen millions sterling a year. Think of what that means in a population of 1,200,000! It is an enormous industry. It is probably the greatest industry between that country and this, and if you are going to hamper that industry by the provisions laid down in these Regulations, and it turns out, as they anticipate it will turn out, that it greatly minimises the profitable carrying on of this great industry in Ireland, with what face will you be able to ask Ulster afterwards to go on paying the same taxation as you do, and to go on undertaking the same obligations and the same responsibilities as you do, in the belief that they were to remain part of the same United Kingdom?

I beg the Government to accept this Amendment. It is the first time, as I said before, that the question has arisen, and if it is not accepted by the Government I can assure them that the result will be received with the greatest consternation and despair in those Six Counties which you have so recently turned, against their will, into a separate unit of Government.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 40, after ("Great Britain") insert ("or Northern Ireland").—(Lord carson.)


I should like to say a word or two in reply to the remarks of the noble and learned Lord on the haste which, he said, had characterised the introduction of this Bill into your Lordships' House. I referred to the matter last night. I stated then that the question of the importation of cattle into this country had been before the country for a very considerable period; that the Canadian Government had been pressing, I understand, that legislation should be passed to bring the recommendations of the Royal Commission into operation; and, in addition, that after the passing of this Bill it will take a certain amount of time before the necessary accommodation can be found for the reception of these Canadian cattle. It is, I believe, on those grounds that the Cabinet decided in this short session to ask Parliament to pass this Bill into law. I think that is the reason why the Bill arrives here at this late period of the session. I gave that reason last night, and I do not think there is any other reason that I can state except the desire to fulfil our pledges to Canada at as early a date as possible.

As to the point raised by the noble and learned Lord in reference to the provision in this Bill that Irish cattle shall be subjected to six days' detention between markets, I do not think that I am called upon to explain to your Lordships exactly what are to be the future relations between Northern Ireland and Great Britain under future legislation. That, of course, I must leave to other noble Lords on this Bench, who could deal with that aspect of the matter more fully. The only question to which I can direct your Lordships' attention on this occasion concerns the diseases that occur in animals. That, after all, is the aspect of the legislation for which I am responsible, and it is that consideration which has led to the placing of the clause into this Bill. I would mention, in the first place, that this Regulation regarding the movement of Irish cattle has already been in force for a great many months in this country, and I am not aware that there has been any complaint concerning it on the part of Irish exporters. I do not know that it has had the effect of decreasing the price that they secure for their store cattle. The Regulation providing for the detention of cattle during six days between market and market was purely an administrative action, and it is placed in the Bill to prevent, the spread of disease in this country.


May I ask why, if you could do it under your administrative powers, you should put it permanently into a Bill?


I will deal with that question in a moment. To continue what I was saying, this Regulation has been in force for a number of months. As was mentioned in the debate the other night, the Regulation does not cast any slur upon Irish cattle or suggest that they are diseased. On the contrary, if it casts a slur at all it casts a slur upon ourselves, as suggesting that there is disease in this country. It will be fresh in the memories of all your Lordships that we have had a very serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in this country. That outbreak cost the country nearly £1,000,000. Our best technical experts are of the opinion that this disease is spread largely owing to the fact that big drafts of cattle, and those cattle chiefly Irish cattle, are driven about from market to market. It is an unfortunate thing, but we cannot help it, that Northern Ireland is separated from this country by the sea. The result is that these cattle arrive in shiploads, there being as many as three to five hundred cattle in a consignment. Previous to these Regulations these cattle were moved from market to market, and when disease was discovered in a market it was difficult to trace the cattle which had passed through that market and gone on to other markets. Our technical advisers at the Ministry of Agriculture said that one of the reasons for the spread of foot-and-mouth disease in this country was the removal of these large squads of cattle from market to market.


The same thing might occur in Scotland.


There I differ from the noble and learned Lord. I understand that; Scotch cattle and Welsh cattle do not arrive at the markets in these large consignments.


Are they not moved about from market to market in the same way as Irish cattle?


Not by the hundred. They do not arrive in these large squads, and they are not moved about from market to market by the hundred. It is much easier to deal with them than with these large mobs of store cattle. I can only give your Lordships the opinion of our technical advisers.


Can the noble Earl tell us whether it is true that this disease is borne by cattle or is air-borne?


Sonic people seem to think it is borne by birds. What we try to do is to prevent the spread of the disease, and I can only tell your Lordships that once you get disease into a market, being a highly contagious disease it is most difficult to prevent its spread when you have these large squads of cattle being driven from market to market. The fact that there has been disease in the market may not be discovered before the animals have been dispersed to other markets, and that, our advisers believe, is the cause of the spread of the disease. It is an unfortunate thing that the cattle arrive in these shiploads and have to be driven about the country in these large squads.


They always have been.


That is so, but until a year ago we have not had such a dreadful outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease as occurred then. I can assure the noble and learned Lord that these Regulations were adopted solely for the safety of our own flocks and herds. It was a serious step to take. I am informed that the Departmental Committee which is examining this matter of foot-and-mouth disease have already reported, or at any rate have informed us that their Report will be in favour of continuing this Regulation. We have thought fit, and I think the proceedings here to-night show that we were wise in doing so, to insert this provision for the safety of our flocks and herds. We do not say that these cattle should not be moved from market to market, but only that there should be six days' detention between the markets. I am extremely sorry that Northern Ireland has to deal with this country by sending over store cattle in shiploads, but that seems the only way of doing it, and we have put in this Regulation purely to safeguard our own flocks and herds.

Regarding the suggestion of putting this Regulation into the Bill owing to a pledge given by the Canadian Government, I can only say that I was not present at the interviews which took place between members of the last Government and representatives of Canada, but my impression of what took place at those interviews was that our expert advisers told the representatives of the Canadian Government that we had these Regulations in force, that they were for the safety of our own flocks and herds, and that it would not be a wise thing to allow these big mobs of cattle to be moved from market to market without the interposition of a few days' detention.


Will the noble Earl say at this juncture whether he has any information which has been positively conveyed to him that any foot-and-mouth disease has been traced to Irish cattle?


That does not arise on this point. I told the noble Lord at the beginning of my speech that I cast no aspersion on Irish cattle. I think they are freer from disease than our own cattle, and I have said so. All I said was that if foot-and-mouth disease breaks out in this country we do not want it distributed all over the country by large mobs of cattle being driven from market to market. I do not know what happened at the interview with the Canadian representatives, but I imagine that our expert advisers told them that the Ministry of Agriculture considered that we did run a risk of spreading this disease by large mobs of cattle being driven about the country. We have imposed on Irish cattle a six days' detention, and, if Canadian cattle come in, then they should be subject to the same restriction of six days' detention before they are driven from one market to another.


The Attorney-General said there was a promise.


I was not present at the meeting, and I can only imagine what may have occurred. Speaking for the Ministry of Agriculture, I still believe that this Regulation is very important, and that we are perfectly right to place it in this Bill. After all, there are English and Scottish farmers, and sometimes we must look a little to ourselves and the safety of our flocks and herds. We believe that this is a necessary provision; and it is made in the form of an Order so that it will come up for discussion every year. We impose no undue hardship in regard to the importation of Irish cattle. If I thought we were going to stop the importation of Irish stores I should say we were taking a very wrong step indeed. The mere size of that trade is evidence and proof that there is a large importation of these stores into this country. There will continue to be a large importation, and I hope that by preventing large mobs of these animals appearing in one market and then passing on to another, except after this six days' detention, we shall have a chance of preventing any spread of the disease.


The difficulty about a technical discussion in this House is that members of your Lordships' House who, like myself, have no technical knowledge have none the less to make up their minds as to what they ought to do if a Division is challenged. That is my excuse for asking for some further information from the Government. I gather from the noble Earl in charge of the Bill that these Regulations, so far as they affect Ireland, are considered by him as necessary statutory provisions for the purpose of protecting our own flocks from disease. If that is so, everybody will support the Bill. What I should like to ask is: Supposing there had never been any Resolution to remove the embargo on Canadian cattle would they have thought it necessary to introduce a Bill for the purpose of protecting the herds in this country from Irish cattle? If they would not, then there is great weight in the Amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord, and the explanation given by the noble Earl as to why Ireland is to be subject to these restrictions does not convey much meaning to me.

Apparently, he suggests that Irish cattle are in the habit of gathering together in mobs and marching about from market to market. Is that a peculiarity of Irish cattle? I do not know; I am asking for information. Is it something they have derived from their nationality that leads them to form into these herds? And, if not, why is it that, because of this peculiar characteristic, you are selecting them as cattle that need this special vigilance and protection? Again I say, quite honestly, that I do not know. I do not know whether Irish cattle march about in their millions any more than English or Scottish cattle do, but if they do not then that reason for the Bill is not a sound one.

What else is there? It looks suspiciously as though when this Bill was introduced for the purpose of removing the embargo on Canadian cattle, which, may I say, met with the strenuous opposition of the noble Earl—I remember perfectly well a speech he made when he was a member of the late Government protesting in the strongest possible terms against carrying out the pledge that had been given—


I must interrupt the noble and learned Lord. If he will look at my speech he will see that I did not speak against the removal of the embargo on Canadian cattle.


I will gladly refer to the noble Earl's speech. I heard it with pleasure, and I remember commenting on it, and asking how it was that the noble Earl who held those views could possibly manage to remain a member of the Government which intended to give effect to the Resolutions.


If the noble and learned Lord will look at my speech he will find that I did not oppose the removal of the embargo, though I did put the ca-se of the English farmers.


That is still more remarkable. When you are advocating a case in this House you are not in the habit of putting the views of your opponents before it. I pass that by. The noble Earl, for once in his life, left a wrong impression on my mind. As a rule I follow with great interest and care his observations, and they are generally perfectly plain. However, let us get back to this point. It would appear that the Government—I do not think the noble Earl really wanted Canadian cattle here—have really used this opportunity for the purpose of putting on Irish cattle something they never would have ventured to put if it had not been that they were removing the embargo on Canadian cattle. I cannot believe that at this stage in the session it would suddenly be considered desirable to introduce this Bill had Irish cattle alone to be considered. That is my first difficulty.

There is a difficulty also with regard to the Amendment. I am bound to say that it carries me a long way, but I do not see, except on the constitutional ground, how it is possible to distinguish the North of Ireland from the South of Ireland. There is no great wall of China running between the two sections, and if you are to allow cattle to be imported from the North of Ireland without any restraint, how can you stop these mobs of cattle marching from the South on to the North and coining away from the Northern ports? If the Amendment was directed to the whole of Ireland I should have thought the case of the noble and learned Lord much stronger than it is when applied to the North of Ireland. I still remain in great difficulty. I am anxious to give an independent vote on this matter if it carried to a Division, but at the present moment I am not in possession of the information necessary for me to say how my vote should be given.


I have very little to add to what has fallen from my noble friend in charge of the Bill. The immediate clause we are dealing with is an addition to the original Bill to enable Canadian cattle to be brought in. It is perfectly true that our predecessors, when they were conducting these negotiations, did give an undertaking to the Canadian Ministers who were taking part in them that Canadian cattle should not be put in a worse position than cattle coming from Ireland; in fact, that if the detention of Irish cattle were removed, it should also be removed in the case of cattle coming from Canada. That is the sole pledge, I understand, that was given on that point.

The reason why this clause has been inserted is that it is very desirable that precautions should be taken against the spread of disease, which cost very nearly, if not quite, a million of public money—and I should not like to estimate the amount of money it has cost individuals. It is necessary that: this disease should be stamped out. Unfortunately, it is at present impossible to trace where the disease comes from, but it has been proved again and again, and I think the information which is in the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture will show, that it has undoubtedly been spread, and, when spread, has been traced to these droves of cattle which are moving about the country. Powers were taken and exercised under previous legislation by which the Ministry of Agriculture could impose a period during which these droves of cattle were prevented from being moved from market to market. This period was originally afterwards reduced by one day to thirteen days; and, as matters stand to-day, the cattle are detained for six days, and prevented from being moved from market to market.

The sole point at issue—and I do not wish to minimise its importance—is whether that detention should be made statutory or left to the discretion of the Ministry of Agriculture. That is the sole issue between us at the present moment. A strong feeling exists in this country that it should be made statutory. The noble and learned Lord opposite asked if it was necessary, or, to put it more fairly to him, if it was in contemplation, to introduce a Bill to that effect. No one knows better than the noble and learned Lord the difficulties of carrying a Bill to which we might have opposition of the character which these immediate proposals have met, but I can assure the noble and learned Lord without one moment's hesitation that we have had very strong pressure placed upon us by the agriculturists of Great Britain to make of this permissive Regulation a statutory one.

The matter is now being investigated by a Royal Commission, or a Departmental Committee—I am not sure which—and I understand, although their Report is not yet published, that they have unanimously recommended that this permissive Regulation, apart altogether from any question of Canadian cattle, should be made statutory. On the Report of that Commission—on the supposition that this Bill had not come before Parliament—it would have been for the Government of the day to determine whether a Bill should he brought in or not. I am perfectly well aware that we should have provoked considerable opposition, but I can assure your Lordships without the slightest hesitation that if this Regulation had not been provided in the Bill very strong pressure indeed would have been brought upon the Government to insert it in another form. In many ways it might have been better if it had been made the subject of separate legislation, but it is a provision which I believe is very necessary indeed for the protection of our herds and flocks in this country, and one which I am quite confident the whole of the agricultural interest, however they may regard the other proposals in this Bill, would unanimously support.


With your Lordships' permission I should like to say a word on this important matter before the debate closes. It is perfectly plain from the speeches of the Ministers who have addressed your Lordships that there is really only one reason why the North of Ireland, or, if you like, Ireland generally—for I think there is a great deal in what the noble and learned Lord said, only I am not in a position to urge the case of Southern Ireland—there is really only one reason why Ireland is treated as she is being treated in this drastic manner, and that, as the noble Duke has just said, is that the late Government gave a pledge to Canada that she would not be put in a worse position than Ireland.

What right had the late Government to give that pledge? Why do you not say that this is the real reason? All the rest is trivial. It is trying to cover up a grossly unfair piece of legislation. I desire to protest all the more, now that I know, by the confession of Ministers, what the real reason is—namely, that Canada was not to be put in a worse position than Ireland. Might I ask His Majesty's Government to tell me, did they, before they gave this pledge, go and ask the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland? Did they consult his agrarian Department? Did they make any investigation as to what would be the loss—because I am told it will be enormous—the loss in pounds, shillings and pence to the cattle trade in the North of Ireland? If they did not, what is the use of setting up a Prime Minister with all his Departments to look after agriculture in that district, when you go behind his hack, just as the late Government went behind his back in framing the Treaty and tried to put Ulster under the rest of Ireland? Is this sort of thing to go on? Could anything he more unfair than to enter into consultation with the Ministers from Canada and to make a pledge of that kind, without paying the slightest regard to the Government of Northern Ireland?

Just consider the position in which you place the Prime Minister and the Members of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. When he is asked the question, he will have to say to this newly enfranchised people: "I cannot help this. The British Government did not even consider us in the matter. It is quite true they put me up here as a Prime Minister and they created you as a Parliament, but they did not care a snap of the fingers about us. They go to the Canadian Ministers, or to Southern Ireland, or to anybody they like, but they entirely disregard us, and do not care what happens to us. All they will do for us is to tax us."

I should like to know if Canada pays a Tax to this country. I have never heard of it. On the other hand, the people whom you are flouting here and trying to drive into hostility to you by the way in which yon are treating them, pay the same Taxes as you do, and you will go on asking them to pay the same Taxes, while by this legislation you are depriving them of the means of paying the Taxes which you are putting upon them. Heaven knows, Taxes are high enough in existing conditions, and those conditions are terrible and difficult enough in Northern Ireland, without creating further burdens, further grievances and further difficulties of this kind.

The answer of the Government is no answer, or, at least, it is an improper answer. It is an answer which any House, whether Lords or Commons, ought to resent. We are told by the Government: "We have left nothing open to the Lords or the Commons because we have already bound you behind your backs; and not only have we bound you, but we have hound the Parliament which we have only just set up, and the Prime Minister and his Departments, in Northern Ireland." I say that this is an intolerable way of carrying on government. It must, it necessarily will and ought to lead to disaster, if that kind of thing is to go on.

One has had no time, of course, to work up opposition to this provision. If I had had three or four days, I might have asked a number of Peers to consider the subject and to come and support me here. I dare say I could have got some, because I believe there is a sense of justice left in this House at the present time, but the Government have given us no time on an important matter of this kind, raising the gravest constitutional questions. At the very moment when you are bringing into play new Governments, and at the moment when you ought to be thinking, as far as possible, how you can bring those Governments into harmony and friendship with yourselves—and I say this as much of the South as of the North of Ireland—you are raising these difficulties, which I know have caused great heart-burnings not only in the North but also in the South and West of Ireland.

Following on the same line of reasoning, the noble Duke tells us that they are largely pressed by farmers in this country to pass this Bill and make it permanent. But do they pay no regard to agriculturists in Ireland, or even in the North of Ireland? Have they consulted them? Have they consulted the Minister for Agriculture there? Do they care? Are they prepared to decrease the whole value of this industry? This is all the information we get! My noble and learned friend opposite asked this question: Would this provision ever have been put in, or a Bill brought in to enact it, if you had not been passing the provisions with regard to Canadian cattle? He knows now that it would not have been, because he has been told since he spoke that this was a pledge given behind our backs to Canada. And, as I said at the outset, a Bill was not required. You have exactly the same powers as regards the North of Ireland as you have in regard to Scotland or the South of England. One of the matters that the noble Earl who introduced the Bill relied upon was that there were similar Regulations in force at the present time. If you have power to do it, to put it on and take it off as you wish, why fling this insult at the newly-born Government?

I am sorry to say that I see, as I have often foretold, that you are going to run your legislation as it best suits you, and make such promises as you like behind our backs, without the slightest regard for Ireland, or, at all events, for the North of Ireland, which you still, as I have said before, treat, when it suits you, as a part of the United Kingdom. All I can say is that I hope the North of Ireland Government will notice this, and, what is more important, perhaps. I hope that the Ulster Members in the House of Commons will notice it. Of course, it is utterly impossible for me to carry an Amendment of this kind, nor is it worth while asking this House to divide. All I can do is to enter my most solemn protest against this procedure and to warn the Government that they are taking the very worst possible steps for bringing about those friendly relations between the two countries which, at all events, must have been somewhat hoped for and anticipated when they passed the legislation which has recently gone through this House.


I should like to say one word, because I confess that to some extent it is wounding to me that it should be thought that the present Government, and I myself, were treating with anything but profound respect the feelings of Northern Ireland. It is not our fault that a certain arrangement was come to by the late Government. It is not our fault that the Northern Ireland Government were not consulted. I agree that it was not treating them properly that they were not consulted, but that was not our fault. We have succeeded in this respect, as in some other very important respects, to the position made for us by our predecessors. It might be said: Why respect the engagements of your predecessors? If it were merely an internal matter I think something might be said for that, although I think it is most important that we should respect pledges, even when given by a Government with which we have no sympathy; but in this case it is part of an arrangement come to with the Dominion of Canada.

Your Lordships are aware of the immense difficulty that this question has caused with respect to the Dominion of Canada. You are aware that there has been a great deal of friction, a great deal of heart burning, and a very unfortunate feeling as between the Mother Country and the Dominion, in respect of it. That was happily brought to an end, partly by the wisdom, as I think, of your Lordships' decision last session. It was for the then Government to carry out the decision arrived at by both Houses of Parliament, and they carried it out in this particular way. One of the conditions agreed to was that Ireland and Canada should in this one respect be treated on the same footing. We cannot go behind that. How can we? It is impossible, and I appeal to your Lordships not to hold us responsible for an arrangement to which we were not parties and which concerns the good feeling between ourselves and Canada— an arrangement which we have no choice but to carry into effect. I confess I do not like to be told even by my noble and learned friend that we are indifferent to the feelings of Northern Ireland—


When I say you are indifferent, of course I refer to the Government which was accountable for the Bill, but I cannot, in speaking, discriminate every moment between the two Governments. One Government necessarily suc- ceeds another, but at all events, in the end, between the two we are the sufferer.


I am grateful to my noble and learned friend, but I hope in the future your Lordships will remember that he does not always discriminate. Personally, I always discriminate in such matters. I hope I have said sufficient to show that we are blameless, and I am very glad to hear that my noble friend does not intend to put us into difficulties by voting against us.


Before the debate closes I should like to make a suggestion. I am emboldened to do so by the speech just made by the Deputy Leader of the House. But, first of all, I would refer to the speech of Lord Buckmaster, who made such a pathetic appeal to those who are more conversant with this question than he is. As I understand, he found great difficulty in appreciating the different marching qualities of various kinds of cattle. He was unable to understand why Irish cattle should be charged with marching about the country in great bodies, when other cattle do not. I think possibly he will find that the explanation is a very simple one, as explanations very often are. It is to be found in the fact that it suits those who send cattle to the British market to send them in large numbers by steamer. They fill a steamer with a load of cattle, and, as they are then consigned to one dealer, they are under the charge of that dealer, and if they are not sold in the first market they are taken on to the second or the third. That is the explanation of the difference in cattle practices (if I may use that term) as between the different parts of the United Kingdom from which the cattle come.

If it is established by the veterinary authorities of the Ministry of Agriculture that this new precaution is necessary in order to safeguard the health of our flocks and herds, so strongly do I feel about the importance of that question that I should without any hesitation support the provision in the Bill, and make no suggestion. But I feel very strongly on two points. I am very glad that this Bill has been brought in, and I make no attack on the Government for the shortness of time allowed for its consideration, because it was inseparable from the decision to pass the Bill this session. But I would ask them to be good enough to consider that this has thrown an additional difficulty upon those who represent Northern Ireland.

We have been told that an arrangement was arrived at between the Canadian Ministers and British Ministers that Canada should not be treated any worse than Ireland. I cannot help thinking that the members of the late Government who came to that arrangement with the Canadians must have failed to put the case of Ireland as it ought to have been put. If I had had to conduct those negotiations I should have told the Canadian representatives—and I am quite certain that it would have caused no offence—that while their demand was perfectly legitimate in regard to that part of Ireland which is, like Canada, a Free State on its own, their demand fell to the ground at once when it was sought to make it applicable to a part of Ireland which is as much a part of the United Kingdom as England, or Scotland, or Wales; and that, therefore, if they wanted to be placed on the same terms and conditions as Ireland it would only be in regard to that part which is, like themselves, of Dominionstatus.

Yesterday, I called attention to the fact that the original Clause 4 had been removed from the Bill, and that the result was to discriminate in a most unfortunate way between the other great Dominions of the Crown and Canada. The noble Duke, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, was good enough to make a clear and emphatic declaration on behalf of the Government that they would raise this question at the Imperial Conference next year, and that if they are able to come to an arrangement between the representatives of the Dominions and the Home Government they will give effect to it in an Act of Parliament. What I suggest is that between now and then they should take an opportunity to do what ought to have been done in the first instance: discuss this question with the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and those of his Ministers who are concerned with it, have further discussion with the Canadian representatives, and further consider this question of the effect upon the health of the flocks and herds, and if they find that with safety they can make a change, to make it next session, and include it in the Bill that they have promised to introduce in order to deal with the other difficulty.

My reason for making this suggestion is this. My noble and learned friend, Lord Carson, has done his best to smooth over this difficulty, and has told us that he is not going to insist on his Amendment now. But this kind of action will undoubtedly have serious effects in the North of Ireland. They will regard it not only as an injustice, which it is, not only as a slur, which it certainly is, but as a breach of the honourable condition laid down when their Parliament was set up that they should continue to be regarded as an integral part of the United Kingdom. If that can be avoided I urge that it ought to be avoided. I do not ask the Government now to make a promise on this subject, because necessarily Ministers would have to consult their colleagues; but if they would be good enough to consider the suggestion I have made, and when they introduce legislation include a clause dealing with it, if they find they can do so, I think it may go far to remove what otherwise might be a very serious feeling of discontent.


I need not tell my noble friend that any suggestion that conies from him deserves every consideration, which we will, of course, give to it.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.