The necessity for this Bill arises out of the passage of an Act in the British Parliament called the Importation of Animals Act, 1922. Under that Act cattle exported to England from Ireland, and slaughtered at quarantine stations at the ports in England, because of foot and mouth disease, were slaughtered without compensation. This Bill is to make provision for that state of affairs. It should be clear that Irish cattle, or any other cattle slaughtered in England because of foot and mouth disease, except slaughtered at a port, are paid for by the British Ministry out of British taxation. Any cattle slaughtered in Ireland because of foot and mouth disease are paid for by the Irish Government. Since 1922 and until this Bill there was no provision anywhere for paying compensation for cattle slaughtered in England in quarantine stations at a port. This Bill is to make provision for that purpose. The idea of the Bill is to create a fund and vest it in trustees. The particular fund contemplated by the Bill will be established in accordance with certain regulations laid down in the statute. It will be fed from per capita charges made in respect of cattle, sheep and pigs exported. The calculation shows that at the rates suggested in the Bill, 2½d. for cattle, 1d. for pigs and ½d. for sheep that method of raising money will bring in about £7,000 yearly, so that after two years there will be a fund there of about £14,000. This particular method has been agreed on after consultation with the National Executive of the cattle trade. The Executive consists of representatives from the various organisations which control the cattle trade at the present time. There are exporters' and other organisations of that sort—two in Dublin, one in Cork, and I think there is another. The live stock trade has a national executive which, I think, is representative of every organisation dealing—directly or indirectly—with the cattle trade. This Bill has been prepared in consultation with them, and in its general outlines has their agreement, so that to that extent it is an agreed Bill. The Bill provides that after a certain time arrangements can be made under which these particular charges shall be no longer levied. The machinery for levying the charges is set out in the Bill. It is quite simple. Trustees will be appointed by the National Executive of the live stock trade, and these trustees will have for sale certain stamps, which will be purchased by the shippers and put on the forms which they hand to the shipping companies when shipping live stock. There will be very little book-keeping. The fund will accumulate in that way. After a while it is expected, in fact it is almost absolutely certain, that £15,000 or £20,000 will have accumulated, and that will be quite sufficient money, in my view, and in the view of the trade, to meet this particular contingency.
There were, I think, in 1922 two or three cases where cattle were slaughtered at a quarantine station at a port because of foot-and-mouth disease. These cattle were owned by people in Donegal and, I think, by some people in County Dublin. At any rate, they were owned by people in the Saorstát. No compensation was paid to them. This Bill will be retrospective as far as these cattle are concerned. These were the only cases that have arisen since 1922. Such cases could not arise before 1922, as before that any cattle slaughtered anywhere in England, because of the foot-and-mouth disease, were paid for by the British Ministry of Lands and Agriculture. Since 1922 there were these two or three cases, and the value of the animals would be about five or six thousand pounds. The owners are without compensation since, and it is felt that, as we are making this provision, we should in all equity include the cases of people who were unfortunate enough to have cattle slaughtered three or four years ago. This Bill provides for that. Personally, I think it is most unlikely that this particular contingency will arise again. Under the present arrangements at the other side, I think it is most unlikely that cattle will be slaughtered in quarantine stations. The most elaborate precautions are taken to see that cattle leaving this country are free from disease. The quarantine stations on the other side are water-tight, if I might use the expression, and it is not likely in the future that disease could possibly get into a quarantine station. In view of that state of affairs, I think it is most unlikely that there will be in future any slaughter of cattle in quarantine stations. At the same time, in view of the fact that there is foot-and-mouth disease in England, and that outbreaks of the disease occur at times very near the ports, there is considerable insecurity amongst the cattle trade by reason of the fact that some shipment of 400 or 500 cattle, representing property to the value of eight or ten thousand pounds, might have the misfortune while in a quarantine station to develop foot-and-mouth disease and be slaughtered, with no liability on anybody for compensation. I think the cattle trade agree with that point of view. At the same time it is easy to understand the insecurity that the existing state of affairs causes in the minds of cattle shippers. They want to provide against the possibility in the future that cattle will be slaughtered in a quarantine station in England, and the live-stock executive have agreed that this is a suitable way of doing it. As I said, the fund will fill up at the rate of about £7,000 a year, and consequently at the end of two years there will be a fund of £14,000 or thereabouts. I should think if they have any luck that that fund will lie there for a considerable time without any very big call on it, and the accumulated interest on that money, I should say, would provide funds for all time for this particular purpose.
I want to make the position clear again. If cattle are slaughtered in the Saorstát because of foot and mouth disease there is provision for paying for them. If cattle are slaughtered anywhere in England, except in a quarantine station, there is provision to pay for them; they are paid for by the British Government. This Bill deals with a case where cattle are slaughtered in England in a quarantine station at a port. As far as we are concerned, we want to hand over this fund to the trade itself, with as little control as possible. We believe that it can be administered more effectively, more efficiently, more cheaply, and more satisfactorily in that way, and this Bill provides in a regular way for the appointment of trustees, sets out and limits their powers, appoints assessors, and so on, to value the cattle in the event of cattle being slaughtered, and my point of view is that the less the Government has to do with the matter the better.