HC Deb 19 December 1912 vol 45 cc1729-31W

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he has called the attention of the veterinary inspectors of his Department to the statement of Sir John McFadyean, principal and professor of comparative pathology in the Royal Veterinary College, Camden Town, that the markedly contagious character of the disease is a point of great importance in diagnosis, as is also the fact of its affecting simultaneously cattle and sheep; that, conversely, no matter how close the symptoms presented by a single animal may resemble those described above, the disease may be set down as not foot-and-mouth disease, when, in spite of abundant opportunities for infection, it does not spread after a few days to other animals or to sheep; and whether his officers have advised him that this view is absolutely sound, trustworthy, and accurate?


As I pointed out in my answer to the hon. Member's similar question on Monday last, the quotation of single sentences from a scientific report, without reference to the context or to the date of its publication, is extremely misleading. It is impossible to discuss the subject in detail in answer to a Parliamentary question, but I may say generally that the Board's veterinary officers are well aware of the factors which have to be taken into account in the diagnosis of foot-and-mouth disease; they also appreciate the imperative necessity in case of doubt of taking strict precautions against the possible spread of infection, as recommended by Sir John McFadyean. If, as I assume, the hon. Member intends indirectly to allude to the recent cases of foot-and-mouth disease discovered among cattle in Ireland, I can only repeat what I said on Monday, namely, that the diagnosis in ease case was only arrived at after the closest scrutiny of the lesions.


asked the President of the Board of Agriculture what is the cost approximately to date of the measures taken to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease in England since its introduction from Ireland?


The amount spent by way of compensation in consequence of foot-and-mouth disease in England and Wales during the last six months is approximately £52,000 net.


asked the President of the Board of Agriculture; whether arrangements have now been made under which the shipment of Irish hay from districts which have been free from cattle disease can be resumed on an early date.


asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he is aware that, on account of the restrictions due to the foot-and-mouth disease, the export of pressed hay from Kilrush, West Clare, to Cardiff has been stopped; and whether, in view of the fact that the neighbourhood from which the hay is obtained and the place where it is pressed are hundreds of miles from any infected area, and that the stoppage of the trade has thrown various categories of working men out of employment, he will take steps to remedy this state of affairs?


Communications are passing between the Board and the Irish Department with a view to the issue of an Order modifying the existing restrictions upon the importation of Irish hay and straw into Great Britain, but I regret that I am not at present in a position to make any definite statement.


asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he is aware that carrier-pigeons are kept on or near the premises in Kent where the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease occurred, and that such pigeons are sent periodically to parts of the Continent, where this disease is prevalent, in baskets or hampers which are returned in due course to their owner; and whether, in the opinion of his expert advisers, either such birds or their baskets or hampers are likely media for the conveyance of contagion?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part of the question, when the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease occurred at Ashford I immediately caused careful inquiries to be made as to the possibility of infection having been introduced from the Continent by carrier-pigeons, but I am informed that there is no reason to suppose that this was the case. As the hon. Member is aware, birds of various kinds have long been suspected of carrying infection, but it is impossible to prevent this risk, and I do not think that carrier-pigeons can be regarded as more dangerous than birds of other kinds. The question whether it is practicable and advisable to take any action in regard to baskets and hampers returned from the Continent will be considered.

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