§ (Mr. Dodson, Mr. William Edward Forster, Mr. Secretary Bruce)
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 15 (Power to define ports, 1867, s. 46).
§ MR. READ moved, in line 37, to leave out "may" and insert, "shall."
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he must oppose the Amendment, which he thought was unnecessary. Inspection was insured by the Customs Act, and the Privy Council would, of course, immediately on the passing of the Act, define the limits of ports.
§ MR. G. GREGORY
said, the Amendment, if carried, would be beneficial to the successful working of the Bill. It was desirable to prevent any cattle disease from being introduced into the country.
said, he thought the debate on the Amendment of the clause was not likely to lead to any satisfactory result. He intended at the proper time to raise the whole question of inspection by moving the omission of the clause.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, he considered they were rather anticipating another Amendment the hon. Member for South-east Norfolk (Mr. Read) had to the clause. The effect of the present Amendment would be to define the ports of landing and no more, and it would not affect the cattle being slaughtered there.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. READ
said, he was afraid the next proposition which he had to make would not be so satisfactorily settled. He proposed at the end of line 38, to add—And all foreign animals imported into Great Britain shall be landed only at such ports or the defined parts thereof (unless from countries in which cattle plague or sheep pox shall not have existed during the three years preceding, or through which animals shall not have passed during the same period from countries so affected) and shall not be removed alive from such port or defined parts thereof except for slaughter to some slaughter-house in the immediate neighbourhood, which shall be specially licensed by the Privy "Council, or except after undergoing a quarantine of not less than fourteen days.Animals imported from such excepted countries, when imported in vessels which shall not have touched for a period of three months preceding at any port of any country which may have been affected with cattle plague or sheep pox shall be subjected only to such inspection and regulations as the Privy Council may from time to time by order direct.His proposition was founded on no spirit of hostility to the general principles of the Bill. His object was to make the application of the Bill more strict upon the home producer, and more certain for the foreign importer. There was nothing in the Bill compelling the Corporation to provide a market—and even if they did provide one, no importer would be compelled to send a single head of stock here. It was possible that a small out-of-the-way market might be provided for foreign stock, and that none but diseased cattle would go to that market, and then it would be said that the foreign market had failed; but, nevertheless, the tolls upon all home stock would be doubled. Now, there was nothing so bad for the foreign importer as uncertainty; and after all our experience, since 1865, he thought some definite plan should be devised of getting rid of Orders in Council -and embodying them in an Act. He believed it possible to define the countries which were the permanent sources of the disease—where the cattle plague was indigenous. It had been said that the long distance was a safeguard; but, in his opinion, everyday brought the danger nearer. Cattle from Vienna could be landed on our shores in the course of four days. In the Rinder- 1273 pest Return—for which he heartily thanked the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam)—the vice consul at Jassy stated that, as the railway would be completed in about a year, the greatest danger would arise from the increased facilities of transport. It appeared from that Return that last year the cattle plague invaded the Austrian dominions, and then went to Galicia and Hungary, and from these districts we had been receiving hundreds of cattle ever since January last. The disease also existed in Poland, Turkey, Italy, and Russia. In the latter country, in one small village, 200 cattle died in the course of one day. In Turkey, 9,000 out of 10,000 were destroyed; in Galicia and Hungary cattle were decimated. It was said there was another safeguard in the strictness of foreign regulations. But many of these regulations were very lax. At Jassy the cattle plague was in permanent existence, principally owing to the negligence of the local authorities, who never took the trouble to ascertain the locality where the disease existed, or its intensity. In Warsaw the spread of the disease indicated a great neglect of the usual precautions. In Servia the authorities denied the existence of the disease, and had manifested every desire to conceal it. So far therefore as regarded the local authorities of that part of the continent, there was no safeguard wherever the disease existed. We ought, in his opinion, to draw a line right up from Italy to the north of Poland; all countries east of that line to be considered permanently dangerous. The result of the adoption of this Amendment, he might add, would be that a very large portion of the Continent would be exempted from the operation of the clause, including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France, Spain, and Portugal. So much for the cattle plague. Now, with regard to the sheep pox. He readily admitted that the disease was less fatal, less contagious, and more easily managed than the cattle plague. It appeared from the authority of Dr. Williams, that that disease had, within the last twelve months, existed in Italy, the Netherlands, the North German Confederation, Mecklenberg, Oldenberg, Pomerania, West Prussia, and also in Russia and Poland. It might, however, be said that there had been no outbreak of sheep pox in England of recent years. He must say, on the con- 1274 trary, that such outbreaks had been of frequent occurrence. There had, for instance, been an outbreak in Norfolk, in 1847, which had lasted three years; and another outbreak in Wiltshire, in 1862; one in Kent, in 1866; and no less than seven in 1867, almost all of which had been traced directly to the importation of foreign sheep. Professor Simons, in his Report, made in 1864, stated that the disease killed about 25 per cent of the flocks, and in several instances, 75 per cent, leaving those sheep which recovered in a perfectly worthless condition. It was shown, too, on the authority of the inspectors of the Privy Council, that sheep not only carried the cattle plague, but were themselves subject to a mitigated form of that disease. Then, with respect to the Orders in Council, if sheep were associated with cattle they were treated as cattle; but if they came in a separate vessel they might be sent all over the country. He considered that Order not one of the best that could be made. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) had been informed by a deputation from the Thames Haven Company that there was no danger from sheep pox. Now, it existed to a considerable extent in Holstein, and importations from Tonning had commenced. The Thames Haven Company were so much afraid of sheep pox being detected at their wharf that they landed only their Tonning cattle at Thames Haven, and sent sheep up the river to London. The right hon. Member for Newcastle had expressed an opinion that the normal condition of the stock abroad was healthy. Now he (Mr. Read) contended it was diseased. His argument was this—that there were in this country diseases peculiar to our soil, but when large importations took place other diseases were added to those which already prevailed. Sheep, in foreign countries, were kept from year's end to year's end very closely confined, and it must be evident to anybody who knew anything about them that they were, under those circumstances, peculiarly liable to all sorts of skin diseases. It had been said that we ought to rely upon inspection. He believed that inspection was very well conducted now; but it was impossible in many cases to detect incubated diseases. Did inspection keep out the cattle plague in 1865; No; in that year, and in 1886 and 1867, it was 1275 not detected, and we had a fresh importation of the cattle plague. With respect to sheep pox, there were, as he had stated, seven outbreaks in 1867, showing the impossibility of detecting disease at the port of entry. Last August the Government learned that the sheep pox was rife on the Continent, and the inspectors discovered its presence at the wharves and killed some of the sheep imported; but in the case of others the signs of disease were not discovered until they reached the market, and had not the inspectors then found it out and killed them they would have spread disease all over the country. Last year he had proposed to introduce a similar Amendment to the present into the Metropolitan Cattle Bill, and it had the support of Mr. Milner Gibson, Mr. Moffatt, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen). He did not then move the insertion of the three years' proviso, and he was not now prepared to insist on that period of time, if it should seem to the Privy Council and the Committee that some other period of time might be more reasonably fixed upon. As to the construction of slaughter-houses at the foreign market, his idea was this—that if, as was stated, in 1873, Lord Lincoln's Act came into force, and all private slaughter-houses in the Metropolis were consequently abolished, he believed the Corporation had undertaken to provide some six or eight public slaughterhouses, which should all be connected with each other by rail. In that case he saw no reason for making at present any large provision for slaughterhouses. At present we imported about 5 per cent of all the live meat consumed in the kingdom. If the Bill was of any use at all, it would have the effect of saving from disease 5 per cent of our home cattle, so that its practical effect would be, not in any way to diminish our supply—because it certainly would not check foreign importation— but at the very least to increase it by 5 per cent. Under our present regulations the danger of the disease was steadily increasing. The introduction of diseased cattle could not be altogether prevented; inspection had failed; and he therefore hoped that the Committee and the Government would accept this Amendment.
§ MR. M'COMBIE
rose to second the 1276 Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for South-east Norfolk. The agricultural community looked upon this Amendment as of the most vital importance. It was a matter of life and death with the tenant-farmers of Scotland, England, and Ireland; for if rinderpest got into their herds it was utter annihilation. The great increase of late years in the dead meat traffic in this country showed that no hardship whatever would be caused by the compulsory slaughter of foreign cattle at the ports of debarkation. He wished to lay before the House a few statistics bearing upon this point. Mr. Rudwick, of Berwick, the greatest dealer on the Border, killed 2,000 sheep weekly in the season for the London dead meat markets. In Fifeshire, there was an enormous dead meat trade, almost no meat being sent off alive. Coming to Aberdeen shire, we found that the export of live cattle to London was only half as large as it was ten years ago, while the dead meat trade had doubled in the same period. In 1859, the number of cattle sent alive was 20,400, and the quantity of dead meat was nearly 7,000 tons, or more than 23,000 head of cattle, calculating 6 cwt. to each animal. In 1861, the live cattle had decreased to 17,176—a falling off of between 3,000 and 4,000, while the dead meat had risen to 8,168 tons—equal to about 27,220 cattle. In 1865, the export of live cattle was only 13,589, as compared with upwards of 10,000 tons of dead meat, equal to over 33,700 cattle. He had not been able to get the exact statistics since 1865, but at present only about a-third were sent away from Aberdeen alive. During the season about 1,800 cattle were slaughtered there weekly, and only about 600 exported alive. The offals of the animals slaughtered were all consumed at Aberdeen, or within a reasonable distance. It was well known that the best of everything went to London—the best horses, the best oxen, the best sheep, the best grain, the best fish—and why? Because everything fetched the highest price there. If it were not for London and the West-end butcher, they would have but a poor demand for their prime Scots. Now, let them see where and with what did the West-end butchers apply themselves. The late Mr. Thomas Slater, the greatest West-end butcher, retailed 500 sheep a week during the Great Exhibition. His two sons, 1277 one at Kensington, the other in Jermyn Street, and Mr. Oakes were now the largest retail butchers in London. Between them they put about 100 cattle and 500 sheep through their hands weekly. Mr. Slater, of Kensington, bought one-half alive, the other half dead meat in the New Market. Mr. Slater, of Jermyn Street, bought every pound dead. And where did this dead meat come from? Three-fourths of it was Aberdeen dead meat. This would be found to apply to the other West-end butchers as well. He regretted to learn that there was a strong growing feeling among the tenant-farmers of Scotland that the Government had hitherto ignored their interests; but he trusted that before the next day of counting and reckoning came they would have no reason to complain that their just claims had been neglected. They feared no competition from abroad, but they feared a second visitation of rinderpest. They wanted no protection, but they wanted preservation from disease, and, therefore, he trusted the House would adopt this Amendment.
Amendment, as amended, proposed, at the end of the clause, to add the words—
And all foreign animals imported into Great Britain from countries in which cattle plague or sheep pox shall have existed during the eighteen months preceding, or through which animals shall have passed during the same period from countries so affected, shall be landed only at such ports or the defined parts thereof, and shall not be removed alive from such port or defined parts thereof except for slaughter to some slaughter house in the immediate neighbourhood, which shall be specially licensed by the Privy Council, or except after undergoing a quarantine of not less than fourteen days. Animals imported from such excepted countries, when imported in vessels which shall not have touched for a period of three months preceding at any port of any country which may have been affected with cattle plague or sheep pox, shall be subjected only to such inspection and regulations as the Privy Council may from time to time by order direct."—(Mr. Clare Read.)
said, that he quite agreed with the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Read) that it was very desirable that foreign nations should know with clearness and certainty their position in regard to the restrictions affecting the importation of cattle into England; and he, therefore, supported the Amendment. The practical effect of the clause in its present form would be to destroy altogether the foreign cattle trade. That 1278 had been established by the clearest testimony. Similar regulations enforced by the late Government had put an end to a considerable portion of the importation which used to be carried on at Southampton, and had entirely destroyed the trade in cattle from Spain, Denmark, and Sweden, in all which countries the cattle were perfectly healthy. The Committee must look this matter fairly in the face, and consider if they were prepared by diminishing the supply to still further enhance the price of meat. How much such a clause as this would diminish it no one could say, because the foreign trade was capable of almost unlimited extension. The opinion of the highest authorities ought to guide the action of the Government. Well, Professor Spooner, Principal of the Royal Veterinary College of England, had declared—That it would be a great mistake to do away with the restrictions on the London market if those on foreign cattle were to be maintained.And the Inspector General of Veterinary Schools in France had recommended the Government to allow the free importation of cattle from countries whose sanitary condition could easily be ascertained, such as France, Belgium, Baden, Wurtemburg, Bavaria, Prussia, Saxony, and Western Austria. The experience of the past year proved that the countries which followed that advice had acted wisely. The Royal Commissioners of 1665 had expressed the same opinion as the eminent professional authorities above mentioned, for they had placed on record their opinion that if an absolute embargo were to be placed on all the cattle in Great Britain, then foreign cattle ought to be slaughtered at the places of landing; but if—as is the case now—no restrictions were imposed in England, it would be sufficient to take care that all foreign imported cattle underwent inspection, and that none coming from any infected district should be sent to any market in Great Britain. The truth was that France, Spain, Prussia, Belgium, Denmark, and Sweden, were free from the cattle disease; only one supposed case had occurred in Holland during the whole of last year. Why, then, should precautions be adopted and restrictions enforced in England that were resorted to by no other country, especially when it was beyond doubt that they tended greatly to hamper and diminish the 1279 foreign cattle trade, if not altogether to destroy it.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
wished, in a very few words, to state on what grounds he would support the Amendment of the hon. Member for South East Norfolk (Mr. Read). He must begin, however, by stating that he differed from the hon. Member, for he had avowed his fear lest the right hon. hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) should be made Vice President. Now he (Lord Robert Montagu) earnestly hoped that he might succeed to that post; for he would not exercise the functions of it for a week without discovering how wrong were all his present opinions and impressions. The Vice President of the Council (Mr. W. E. Foster), as all knew, had entertained prejudices fully as great as those which were now held by the right hon. Gentleman. Yet now those prejudices had all been laid aside; he had adopted five clauses of his (Lord Robert Montagu's) Bill, which had been rejected by the House, and other Amendments of his besides. The right hon. Gentleman had given nearly all that they had asked. The right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had mistaken the evidence of Professor Spooner. Professor Spooner was strongly in favour of separate markets; and he was so afraid of infection that he had stated that it was absolutely necessary to impose restrictions on the importation of foreign animals. On no account, he maintained, could they do away with the present restrictions. "But," said he, "the chance of infection from foreign animals is so great, and the chance of its being detected is so slight, that I doubt the wisdom of removing the metropolitan regulations, even after that the separate market had been established." This Amendment originated in a compromise. In 1867 a Bill was introduced and referred to a Committee upstairs. The promoters of that Bill desired that all foreign cattle without exception should be slaughtered at the water side, but Mr. Milner Gibson, Mr. Moffatt, and the President of the Poor Law Board, opposed that wise policy with the most untiring assiduity; so that at last the hon. Member for South East Norfolk, wearied out by the tortuous tactics and interminable arguments of these Gentlemen, proposed this Amendment with the 1280 view of putting an end to the bitter opposition which the Bill encountered, and with the hope that it might thus be passed during that Session. The hon. Member for South-east Norfolk thought that the Corporation of London would not be compelled by the terms of the Bill as it now stood to create this market; in that he was mistaken, because sub-section 2 of Clause 28 placed them in reality under a very strong compulsion to do so. If they failed to have completed, within two years, a separate market for foreign cattle, they would lose the monopoly which they at present enjoyed under their Market Bill of 1857. Any person or company might then form such a market for their own profit. He need not tell the Committee that there were a number of hungry speculators and wealthy capitalists who were eager to make such a market on their own account. He saw some of them in the House at that moment. The creation of such a market was, therefore, a certainty; for it would be made either by the City Corporation or by a private company. It was because this was the case that he desired to enact that foreign cattle should not be landed elsewhere than at the separate market; but as this might not be agreed to by the Committee, he supported the compromise of the hon. Member for South-east Norfolk. For this would be the state of things. There would be a foreign cattle market in London; there were already separate markets—or rather places of slaughter and sale of foreign cattle—in all other ports; and by an Amendment of his (Lord Robert Montagu's), which the Vice President had inserted in the Bill when it was committed pro formâ, the Privy Council would be unable to abolish these foreign markets. Well, then, he (Lord Robert Montagu) asserted that every local authority would be anxious for such a clause as that under consideration. Take one of them, that of London, for example. In order to make the market pay, the market authorities would desire to get as many beasts into their market as possible. Let not hon. Members think that those beasts which did not go for slaughter to the foreign market would have to go to the Islington market, for the metropolitan regulations were to be abolished, as the Vice President had stated; in fact, they could not be maintained. 1281 Therefore, without such an enactment as that now under consideration, a number of foreign beasts would be driven through the streets in every direction, to the private slaughter-houses of the 5,000 small butchers. This would be a great detriment to the new market. It would be to the advantage, therefore, of the Corporation, to cause as many beasts to be slaughtered there as possible; and the interest of the public was the same, for who, when hurrying to a railway station or obeying the calls of business, had not experienced the nuisance of meeting a herd of bullocks in the street? Besides, these private slaughter-houses are injurious to the health of the public. They are not, and cannot be, under control. They are always in densely populated parts of the town; and the filth, stale blood, and numerous contaminations, poison the air and taint the meat. Evidence had been given before the Commission upon sanitary matters, which was now sitting, to show that the effect of slaughtering cattle at private slaughter-houses was extremely injurious. The evil occasioned by these private slaughter-houses had been always so manifest that in 1844 an Act of Parliament was passed declaring that they should be utterly abolished. In those days, however, property was sacred, and due regard was had to the slightest shadow of a vested interest. The public thereupon agreed to submit to the nuisance and injury for thirty years, in order that the butchers might recoup themselves and make other arrangements. The small butchers had undoubtedly made the most of their thirty years, as the enormous difference between the wholesale and the retail prices of meat showed. Under that Act the interests of the butchers had been amply protected, but the convenience and health of the public had been utterly disregarded. He asked the Committte to protect the public from further nuisance, and their health from further injury. It was now full time to disestablish and disendow the butchers, whose vested interests had been amply satisfied.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said, those who supported the Amendment should be prepared to show that the restrictions imposed during 1865–6–7 had had the effect of preventing the importation of diseased cattle. In his opinion, those restrictions 1282 had been utterly futile, the disease having been eventually checked not by means of those restraints upon trade, but by compulsory slaughter. He challenged the noble Lord, or any Gentleman in the House to prove that a single authenticated case of cattle plague was imported into the port of London between July, 1865, when the disease commenced, and September, 1867. The Bill of the right hon. Gentleman was quite sufficient to protect the agricultural interests, and, at the same time, did not much interfere with the supply of cattle for consumers.
§ MR. PELL
said, he thought that the Amendment would tend to remove impediments to the free importation of cattle from those countries where the cattle plague did not exist, and to prevent the importation of the disease from places where it did exist. He agreed that nothing should be done to interfere with the supply of food for the people; the price of meat was already high enough to satisfy the producer and to render the consumer discontented. But it would surely be madness to imperil the safety of our 9,000,000 of cattle for the sake of the 200,000 which were annually imported from abroad. With regard to the sheep pox, he would merely say that, in the year 1865, it had been introduced into the middle of Northamptonshire by sixty Dutch sheep which had been brought from the port of London; and that it was owing to the unselfish action on the part of the landlord, who, at his own expense, killed those sheep, that the wide spread of the disorder had been prevented. He should, therefore, vote in favour of the Amendment, the terms of which were fully supported by the Report of the Committee of 1866.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that he felt it only right to state that he had met with no trace of anything selfish or unreasonable in the demands of the deputations from the country which had waited upon him on the subject. They had made no attempt to treat this as a matter of protection. His short experience of Office, however, showed him that this question was a very difficult one. On the part of the agricultural community there was a most natural fear of anything like a recurrence of the fearful plague from which they had lately suffered; and there was also a natural fear on the part of the consumers 1283 in great towns and those by whom they were supplied, lest any unnecessary restrictions should for a moment be encouraged. He did not think that the House would be of opinion that the foreign import of cattle was not a matter of great importance, or that they had not to deal with a great question in either continuing or making new restrictions upon the import of foreign cattle. The hon. Member who had just spoken ought to recollect that if we had 9,000,000 of English cattle, we did not kill all those animals every year. Figures which had come into his possession only a short time before he had entered the House showed that of late there had been a great increase in the importation. He found that in the two first quarters of this year 109,292 cattle had been imported as against 48,934 in the similar time last year, whilst in sheep the imports had been 415,239 as against 180,334 in the same period last year. That large increase, he might add, had arisen chiefly since the relaxation in the Order which the Privy Council had felt it their duty to make in February of the present year. He had no doubt that the Committee felt the same anxiety as the Government to have all the restrictions that were absolutely necessary, but no more. The reason why the restrictions were to a certain extent permissive in the case of foreign cattle, whilst compulsory in the case of home cattle was, because, by the very necessities of the case, discretion must be used by some person or other in applying the restriction to foreign cattle, They could not at that moment define the countries that had the disease in them, and some one must be left to exercise his discretion and the knowledge of the day in putting these restrictions into force. When they came to home diseases, on the other hand, they made the restriction compulsory; because they only came into operation when the disease had actually broken out, and when it was necessary that efforts should be used to stop it. There were three ways in which they might deal with the question of the importation of foreign cattle. They might let them in with perfect freedom, treating them as home cattle, without any restrictions whatever. He did not think, however, that even the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) would go that length. 1284 They might, on the other hand, take the precaution of absolutely prohibiting their coming from all countries abroad without being slaughtered; but he apprehended that such a proposition would not meet with general approval. They were driven, therefore, to using some discretion somewhere, and the only question was as to the amount of that discretion. It was their duty do two things. What the Government proposed was, that it should be their duty, on their own responsibility, if they had reason to believe that the cattle plague was raging in any country, to stop the importation from that country altogether; and, in the second place, if they had reason to suppose that there would be any damage in cattle coming in and being allowed a free transit in this country, it should be open to them not to allow such free transit, but, if they thought proper, to oblige those cattle to be slaughtered at the port of entry. Now, how did the hon. Member for South-east Norfolk (Mr. Read) propose to deal with the question? The whole of his Amendment turned on the insertion of the three years' provision, but the Committee would, in his (Mr. Forster's) opinion, defeat its own object in attempting to prescribe how men to whom a discretion was to be confided should use that discretion. It was an unpleasant position for anyone—it was especially unpleasant for him—to have any discretion in the matter; but he believed that the best safeguard to rely upon was that those who had the fullest knowledge of the circumstances should have the responsibility thrown upon them of taking the necessary steps to prevent the introduction of the plague. The proposed limit of three years during which a country should have been free from disease would be a most restrictive rule in some cases and a dangerous rule in others; for there might be a country which was the home and centre of the plague, and yet it was quite possible that it might have been free from the plague for three years in succession; while, on the other hand, there might be a country which was, upon the whole, free from the cattle plague, and yet within the three years some isolated cases might have occurred, because it was near to an infected district. His hon. Friend said he could not rely on the regulations of fo- 1285 reign countries, and that might be true of some—such, for instance, as the Danubian Provinces; but, on the other hand, take Prussia. Prussia bordered on a country where the cattle plague was indigenous, and yet its regulations were so satisfactory that it was kept free—though of course they could not prevent the plague creeping through now and then; yet it would be absurd and unreasonable to say that Prussian cattle should be excluded because the plague had, in one or two instances, passed across its frontiers. His hon. Friend (Mr. Read) was right in saying that by drawing a certain line north and south they might say that the plague came from the east of that line, while the districts to the west of it were free. Perhaps his right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) would say—"Well, find out the cattle from the east of that line and put them into the restricted ports." But that was just what they were unable to do. He believed, for instance, that they would be perfectly safe in admitting cattle from Prussia, and Schleswig, and Holstein; but before they could admit them they must make some arrangement with the Prussian Government that they should not allow Polish cattle to be sent here instead of Prussian cattle. His belief was that if his hon. Friend's Amendment of three years was carried the effect would be to compel the slaughtering of all foreign cattle at the ports of landing. His hon. Friend said that cattle would come in from Italy, but there had been cases of cattle plague in that country within the last three years. France was just outside the limit. If the terms had been three years and a-half French cattle would be prohibited now, because we sent over the disease to the Bois de Boulogne, and infected some of the animals in the Zoological Gardens there. That showed the difficulties attending any attempt on the part of the Committee to frame rules and regulations for the Government to act upon in this matter. Again, therefore, he said it was better to leave the matter to the discretion of the Privy Council, and to hold them responsible for what might happen. His hon. Friend doubted if the London market would ever be made. But he agreed with his noble Friend (Lord Robert Montagu) that there was no fear of the Corporation making the market, for they knew that 1286 if they did not make it other persons would. The noble Lord had said that it was the interest of the Corporation of London to have the clause with the three years' term rather than not. That, however, was not their opinion, and it was a great inducement for them to come into the arrangement that the clause was framed just as the Government drew it up. As to the other ports, he thought that any attempt at compulsion would be resisted. What the Bill did was to make each of those ports understand that unless it formed a separate market for foreign cattle, it would be put to certain inconveniences; but he did not think that that inconvenience would be sufficient to ensure in every case the provision of a market. At Hull it was done because the Corporation happened to have two markets, and they agreed to use one of them for foreign cattle. By arrangement with the Corporation he also saw his way to a separate market for London. But that was done by arrangement. If they had not been able to make that arrangement the Government would have come to the same dead-lock to which their predecessors were brought; because he did not know how he was to have compelled the Corporation to make the market against their will, or how to over-ride their powers, or where to have found the money. And these difficulties would equally apply to other towns. He believed that if the present Bill passed there would not be more separate markets erected, but that cattle from the suspected countries would come into the port of London, where there would be a separate market for them; while the northern and eastern ports would be supplied from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and, if the Government could make arrangements with Prussia, from Schleswig and Holstein. He did not think his hon. Friend had strengthened his case by references to the sheep pox. It would be a dangerous thing for the House to interfere with the enormous importation that was now taking place in sheep; especially when they remembered that the sheep pox was not like the cattle plague, but could be dealt with by the existing regulations, which this Bill would strengthen, and put down as soon as it appeared. Something had been said about the Government dropping the Bill if this Amendment were carried. Now, he was not disposed to turn sulky 1287 on the House because he could not have his own way. There was a considerable portion of this Bill which the introduction of this Amendment would not affect so much—the regulations regarding pleuro-pneumonia, foot and mouth disease, and others; but he believed that the effect of the three years' limit, compelling, as it would, the slaughter of all foreign cattle at the place of import would make things worse then they were at the present moment, and that it would be better to have London with a cordon round it, than to have a separate market accompanied with all the inconveniences which it would entail on the other ports.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he considered that whatever legislation they adopted on this subject some interest must suffer; but the primary object ought to be to prevent the great calamity of cattle plague ever again occurring in this country. What were the best means of arriving at that end? There were two proposals—that of the Government and that of his hon. Friend the Member for South-east Norfolk (Mr. Read). The disease was not indigenous; it came from abroad by the importation of foreign cattle from an infected country. This fact should be some guide as to the best means of preventing its recurrence. The Bill proposed to invest the Privy Council with power to issue such restrictions as might appear necessary when the danger of the disease was apparent. But they might not be aware of the danger till it was too late. When "the plague had begun," it was extremely difficult to "stay" it. The Amendment of his hon. Friend went to the root of the evil, and by compulsory slaughter would prevent the possibility of the disease being circulated through the country. Prevention was better than cure, and he, therefore, hoped the Committee would join with him in supporting the Amendment.
§ MR. HUNT
said, they were all agreed in the desire to keep rinderpest out of the country, and that it was not desirable to place such restrictions on the import of cattle as would prevent people getting meat as cheap as possible. He thought they might arrive at some solution of the present difficulty without going to a division. He thought with his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council (Mr. W. E. Forster) that three 1288 years was too long, and he would venture to suggest that that limit might be considerably reduced. The precise limit would remain matter for consideration, but, perhaps, eighteen months would be sufficient.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
admitted that the suggestion of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Hunt) was a very conciliatory one, but he did not think the question of time had much to do with the matter. The result of putting in any time whatever would be that the Privy Council would, in a great measure, feel free from responsibility, and be content to throw it on the law which the House in its wisdom gave for their guidance.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the suggestion of his right hon. Friend had been fully considered by the Government. The Committee would have enormous difficulty if they undertook to save the Privy Council from trouble and responsibility in this matter.
said, that if he had entertained any doubt whether the principle of the Amendment proposed by his hon. Friend was right he had been convinced by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted the danger in the clearest terms, but he said—"Leave the matter to the discretion of the Privy Council." Now, it was impossible to look at the network of railways in Europe, connecting those places where it was admitted these diseases were never wanting with other countries, and not to see the impossibility of avoiding the risk of infected cattle coming into this country. There was one sentence in the right hon. Gentleman's speech which shook his opinion as to the safety of intrusting the Privy Council with this discretion. He told the House that if the disease did come the Privy Council would stamp it out at once.
said, he believed that both sides of the House agreed that no restrictions should be imposed except those which were absolutely necessary. The real question was, whether the Government suggested any precautions which had more safety in them than the Amendment. The Privy Council au- 1289 thorities had told the country that more cattle had been taken away from the consumers of this country in consequence of the cattle plague than the number of foreign cattle imported. He should support the Amendment.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, that the practice in France was precisely in accordance with the hon. Gentleman's Amendment, with the exception of the three years limit. Cattle from all countries having a clean bill of health were allowed to enter France. Cattle from doubtful countries were inspected on the frontier, and if found healthy were allowed to enter. Cattle from diseased countries were all stopped on the frontier and slaughtered on the spot. In consequence of these precautions, France had always been free from the cattle plague, in consequence of its having been arrested on the frontier. We had not displayed the same prudence and foresight, and the consequence was that 285,000 cattle had been slaughtered at an enormous waste of food, and loss of several millions sterling. In Aberdeenshire the moment a disease appeared in any village the cattle were slaughtered, and the consequence was that Aberdeen-shire had suffered less than any other county in Great Britain. If the hon. Member would consent to restrict the time to one year the Government might then be trusted to operate as the occasions arose.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he should propose to substitute the words—And all foreign animals imported into Great Britain from countries in which cattle plague or sheep pox shall hare existed during the eighteen months preceding, or through which animals shall have passed during the same period from countries so affected shall be landed only at such ports, or the denned parts thereof, and shall not be removed alive.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that the Committee could define the ports thus, and give certainty to the trade. Some discretion ought to be vested in the Government; but every exercise of discretion on the part of the Government was Protection in its vilest form. It increased the price, because it created uncertainty and restricted trade. He had been for many years connected with the management of a veterinary College, and all the veterinary surgeons agreed that inspection was a farce unless they could detain the animals for a certain number of 1290 hours. If England with the advantage of her insular position were to take the same precautions as were employed by France, there would be no difficulty in keeping out the cattle plague. He should vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member.
said, that France had been referred to as an example to this country. Now, he would point out that the Bill of the Government agreed in every particular with the practice of France. The Government proposed to admit, free from all restrictions, cattle from countries possessing a clean bill of health; to exercise their own vigilance in the case of cattle coming from suspected countries; and to absolutely prohibit the importation of cattle from countries where, in their opinion, the disease existed. The Amendment of the hon. Member for South-east Norfolk (Mr. Read) proposed that they should prohibit the importation of cattle from countries where the cattle plague had existed within three years; but if that suggestion were to be adopted we should be unable to avail ourselves of perfectly safe markets in the event of single cases of cattle plague occurring in the districts within a period of three years. Under such a regulation no cattle could be imported from Prussia, which was notoriously free from cattle plague, although the authorities permitted cattle from suspicious districts to pass through the country in trains under certain restrictions.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said he would take occasion to explain that the Government had not deemed it their duty to divide the Committee on the question of amending the Amendment, because they thought it was only due to hon. Members that they should be permitted to put the views which they held on the point at issue in their own way. He must, however, observe that he was opposed to the Amendment almost as much in its altered as in its original form, because it was impossible for the Privy Council to know whether in a large 1291 country—such, for instance, as Prussia;—disease had, or had not existed, within a period of eighteen months.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 162; Noes 220: Majority 58.
§ On Motion, That the Clause stand part of the Bill,
said, that, after the concession made by the Vice President of the Council (Mr. W. E. Forster), he should not move, as he had intended, that the clause be omitted, and he trusted that the clause might be carried into effect without the establishment of a separate market in London.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, if it was understood that the City of London was not to provide a separate market, he would endeavour to defeat the Bill by all the means in his power.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 16 (Power to prohibit landing, 1848 (I.), s. 1).
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, he had an Amendment to the effect that the words in the clause which provide that this power should be exercised in the case of foreign cattle "brought from any specified country or place" should be omitted. He believed that it would be impossible for the Privy Council to determine which was the particular country from which cattle brought to our shores from Rotterdam and other foreign ports had originally come. He moved in page 4, line 40, after "animals," to insert "either generally, or with certain specified exceptions."
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he should be glad to know what machinery the Government had set to work in order to obtain information as to the existence of rinderpest in foreign countries. What channels of information did they possess, and was the information received reliable? Certainly the impression was that the Privy Council was not very well "posted" in that matter, and that they often knew less about it than private individuals.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he was very glad the question had been asked. He confessed he had himself the same notion in past years as to the information possessed by the Privy Council. But since he had been in Office he had found that, very much owing to the care bestowed by the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) the means of obtaining information possessed by the Privy Council were as good as well could be. That fact had already been admitted in the course of this debate; for the hon. Member for South-east Norfolk (Mr. Read) admitted the accuracy of the Return which had been given to his right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam). The information was obtained through our constant communication with the consuls resident in those countries where cattle plague was supposed to exist; and during the time he tad been in Office he had never found their information seriously contradicted, or even anticipated by any private information. It was his opinion that the Privy Council was in a position to obtain as much information as could be obtained.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
suggested that inspectors should be bound to keep an accurate register of animals slaughtered.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 17 to 21, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 22 (Provision of wharves, lairs, &c, 1867, s. 47.)
MR. WINGFIELD-BAKER moved at the end to add the words—
And the power hereby given is not to be altered by any Orders of Council under the provisions of this Act.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he would inquire into the matter, and if he found that the clause required amending he would move an Amendment on the bringing up of the Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses 23 to 26, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 27 (A) (Special provisions respecting metropolis).
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, this was the most important clause in the Bill, 1293 and hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would give some explanation with regard to it.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that this clause empowered the Corporation of London to make the market; and it was merely intended to carry into effect the agreement that had been entered into between the Government and the Corporation, under which the latter had undertaken to make the market. He had said on a former occasion that he believed they would be able to make such an arrangement with the Corporation; and nothing could have been more candid, more straightforward, or more business-like, than the proceedings of the gentlemen who represented the Corporation in this matter. In the event of the Corporation not making the market by the 1st of January, 1872, they would by the next clause cease to have power as the local authorities, they would lose their monopoly, and they would lose the additional tolls which under the Bill they would be allowed to levy. Under these circumstances, there could be no doubt that the Corporation would make the market, and would carry out the intention of the clause in a substantial manner.
§ MR. CORRANCE
said, he was quite content to accept on this subject the assurances of the right hon. Gentleman, whose conduct with reference to this Bill had been most straightforward and courteous. The Corporation of London appeared to have learned wisdom upon this question, and had discovered before it was too late, that, unless they were content to co-operate with the Government and the House upon this matter they would lose their trade.
§ Clause agreed to
§ Clauses 28 to 33, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 34 (Determination and declaration of local authority, 1867, s. 12).
§ MR. MILLER
moved, in line 21, after "surgeons," to insert "or in their option by one of the inspectors in the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council.'' His object was that there might be some definite authority to declare whether rinderpest existed or not in the country. Dr. Scott, a great authority in Scotland on the cattle plague, attached great importance to the proposed Amendment.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he thought it best to rely on the local authorities in 1294 the matter, and not let them suppose that a gentleman from London would do the work for them. If, however, Scotch Members attached importance to the Amendment in its application to Scotland, he would be ready to confer with them on the subject before the bringing up of the Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. G. GREGORY
proposed at end to add—And the charges and expenses of such veterinary surgeon or surgeons shall be expenses of the local authority under this Act.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
thought the Amendment would go further than the hon. Gentleman intended, but promised to consider the matter before the Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses 35 to 44, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 45 (Exception for railways, 1867, s. 23).
COLONEL SYKESmoved, at end, to add—
Or the travelling to market of home cattle imported by sea from any port in the United Kingdom.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he thought the Amendment would go much further than his hon. and gallant Friend meant. The object of the clause was to enable railways to carry cattle through infected districts; but the Amendment would enable cattle to travel in any way, which would be quite unsafe.
§ Further consideration of clause postponed.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Friday, at Two of the clock.