Skip to main content

Canadian Cattle Embargo

Volume 154: debated on Monday 15 May 1922

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Prime Minister whether any communications have been made to the Canadian Government, through the Canadian High Commissioner or otherwise, since the Imperial Conference of 1917, explaining or modifying the pledge then given by Lord Ernle as Minister of Agriculture for the removal of the embargo on Canadian cattle; and whether such communications will be placed before Parliament before the discussion of the question in this House?


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, at the time of the Armistice or afterwards, any communication was sent from his Department to the Government of the Dominion of Canada with regard to the position of our flocks and herds in relation to the meat supplies of the country, and the bearing of that position upon our policy in the matter of the importation of store cattle; and, if so, whether the letter will be published before the House discusses any motion in regard to the cattle embargo?

I must apologise for the length of my reply, but the question asked is a very important one. Lord Ernie, then President of the Board of Agriculture, stated in this House on 25th May, 1917 (within a month of the Imperial War Conference), in reply to a question put by the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, that at that time permission to import Canadian cattle, except for slaughter at the ports, was plainly impossible, that the prohibition rested rather on the agricultural policy of the United Kingdom than on the risk of disease, and that he could not say whether or under what conditions Canadian cattle might hereafter be permitted to enter this country except for slaughter at the ports. After the Armistice, on 3rd March, 1919, in the presence of the hon. Member for Sparkbrook, who was then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lorn Ernle informed Mr. Robertson, representative of the Canadian Department of Agriculture, and Mr. Arkell, Live Stock Commissioner for Canada, who were making representations on behalf of the Canadian Government through unofficial channels, that in view of the unsettled state of British agriculture following war conditions, it would be quite inopportune to take any action toward the removal of the embargo at that time. This interview was mentioned by Lord Ernle in a speech in another place on 25th March, 1920. In November, 1919, and January, 1921, a correspondence took place on the subject between my predecessor, Lord Lee of Fareham, and Sir George Perley, then High Commissioner for Canada, which is published in Appendix II of the Proceedings before the Royal Commission on Canadian Store Cattle. Lord Lee there restated the views previously expressed by Lord Ernle.

Is it not the case that the Noble Lord, Lord Long, when in office, also gave a pledge, a very definite pledge, at the Imperial Conference to the Canadian Government in regard to this matter?