§ SIR J. KINLOCH (Perth, E.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether information has reached him that the Local Authority of the County of Perth, at their recent meeting, resolved, with only one dissentient, to express their dissatisfaction with the way in which they were ignored by him in reference to the formation of the recent foot-and-mouth 1434 disease zone, he having stated that he acted on the representation of two gentlemen connected with the county, while the Executive Committee considered they should have been consulted; whether it has been brought to his knowledge that the scheduling of so large a county as Perth as an infected zone caused inconvenience and loss to many farmers and breeders in localities far remote from that really infected; and whether, if occasion should again arise, he will consult the Local Authority, established by law in the county, and constituted by the representatives of the ratepayers?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. CHAPLIN,) Lincolnshire, Sleaford
The assumption contained in the question of the hon. Baronet, that the recent foot-and-mouth zone in Perthshire was formed upon the representations of two gentlemen connected with the county, while the Local Authority was not consulted, is incorrect. The boundaries of that zone were defined upon the information at the disposal of the Board, and upon their own responsibility. What was determined, partly by the representations of the two gentlemen referred to, was the date of the application of the Order, and its substitution for the severer restrictions which embraced the whole of the county. The hon. Member will recollect pressing on me, in company with the hon. Member for Perth, that, whatever relaxations I might be able to make with respect to the restrictions existing in Perthshire, they should be made with the least possible delay, and I admit that I gave effect to that suggestion without waiting to consult the Local Authority, which would have entailed a delay of some days. In answer to the second paragraph of the question, I am quite aware of the losses necessarily entailed by the foot-and-mouth restrictions where they are in force, and that Perthshire was no exception to the rule; but they have been small as compared with the losses which would have resulted from the spread of the disease through the whole county, and they were inseparable from any effective measures for checking it. In reply to the third paragraph, I am always willing and anxious to avail myself of local knowledge and to 1435 consult with Local Authorities whenever it seems to me to be expedient, but I have never regarded it, and I do not and I cannot regard it, as an obligation incumbent upon me to do so, and for these reasons. In the first place, in dealing with foot-and-mouth disease the utmost promptitude is frequently essential to success; and, in the second place, the interests of the locality and of the community may frequently be in conflict; and where that is the case it is my duty to protect the community from the spread of disease, quite irrespective of the views of any particular locality. For these reasons, I must respectfully decline to give the undertaking for the future which the hon. Baronet desires.