I beg to ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, if he will state the total number of cattle returned in 1906 as entering the markets at the places in England scheduled under the Markets and Fairs Act, 1891, and the total number of fat and store cattle imported into Great Britain from Ireland in 1906; whether, since the year 1902, there has been a serious annual decline in the numbers returned in both cases; and to what cause is the decline attributed by the Board of Agriculture.
The number of cattle returned as entering the scheduled markets in 1902 was 1,010,115. The corresponding figure in 1906 was 857,598. The total number of cattle imported from Ireland was in 1902, 959,241, and in 1906, 775,374. The high figures of 1902 were in each case due to exceptional causes to which reference will be found in the Reports on the Agricultural Returns for 1902 and 1903, the principal one being a shortage in supplies from the United States. I may add that the imports of cattle from Ireland were somewhat larger in 1906 than in either 1904 or 1905.