§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
, in moving, according to notice, for a return of the number of Sheep, and the quantity of Wool imported into the United Kingdom in the year 1847, and asking what precautionary measures had been taken by Her Majesty's Government with respect to a contagious disease in sheep, supposed to be of the nature of small-pox, said that the House was aware that in consequence of the tariff of Sir R. Peel, which had so unfortunately, as he thought, been carried through Parliament, foreign sheep and foreign cattle could be brought into this country; and the jusification of that measure was, that the people of England should have their mutton cheap. Well, it was true they had brought in foreign sheep, but with them they had brought in a disease that would destroy more English sheep than the whole number of foreign they were importing. He thought the Government was bound to do their utmost to ascertain all the circumstances of the disease; and for that purpose they should send over some gentleman of the veterinary profession to those places in the north of Germany where the disease appeared to be chiefly prevalent, in order that he might ascertain the symptoms, and the best means of counteracting its effects. He knew that he, would be told that the Government had appointed persons to examine the cargoes of sheep imported into this country; but the custom-house officers could not know whether the sheep were diseased or not. He (the Duke of Richmond) was told that the disease often lay dormant in the animal, and did not show itself for a fortnight. He might be told, too, that the Royal Agricultural Society, or some of the agricultural societies, ought to do what he suggested about ascertaining the cause and cure for the disease; but he denied that. If, indeed, any of them had voted for the tariff, they might be told it was their duty; but they had all opposed it. They said that with the foreign sheep disease would be imported, and their prophecy had been fulfilled. He, therefore, thought it was the duty of his noble Friend to prevent, for a time at least, the importation of sheep until they saw what was to be done. He was aware that one gentleman, who had had a good deal of experience in Holstein, where the disease 564 was very prevalent, suggested that vaccination should be tried, as he thought it might do to arrest the progress of the disease
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
felt that he was not bound to argue with his noble Friend as to the merits or demerits of Sir Robert Peel's tariff respecting sheep. But he, as one of its supporters, should say that he thought it had operated beneficially for this country. He, however, admitted the inconvenience attending the free importation of sheep, and the importance of the subject to which his noble Friend had alluded; and although he was not one of those prone to create alarm, he thought it would be useful that some alarm should be created upon that subject, for the purpose of inducing persons engaged in the traffic to adopt such precautions as would protect both themselves and the public from the consequences of the importation and spread of the disease. The subject was one well calculated to excite their Lordships' curiosity and attention, with the view to the providing of a future remedy; for it affected the largest staple commodity in the manufactures of this country, as well as an article of extensively used food. It was known that the disease had existed for a long time in Holstein; and it was a curious circumstance that, although it had existed there without propagating itself, it subsequently propagated itself in various other countries into which it had been imported; but he believed it was only this year that it had in this country given any cause of alarm. There were apprehensions that within the last year it had been introduced into this country; but he believed that, in point of fact, only one instance of a diseased sheep had been discovered in a cargo imported since the present year had commenced. A great many, however, had become impregnated with the disorder, and many more would become so if great care were not taken. The Government appointed properly qualified persons to examine the sheep imported; and their directions were, that when diseased sheep should be discovered, the infected animals should be destroyed, and the whole cargo in which they were found should be detained, and placed in a sort of quarantine for a reasonable time. He understood, that in the countries where the disease prevailed, the owners had adopted the system of inoculation, which was extended to whole flocks, and it had had the effect of mitigating the effects of 565 the disorder. As to the method proposed to be adopted by the Government, he should say that he was not at all certain that an Order in Council might not be found necessary to authorise the veterinary surgeons to destroy the infected sheep, and to detain the flocks in which they should be discovered.
said, that nothing could he more satisfactory than the statement made by the noble Marquess. The matter was one which involved, not only the question of the destruction of sheep, and the spread of small-pox, but the spread of many other diseases also, amongst which was the cholera.