Front Page Titles (by Subject) 13.: The Cattle Diseases Bill  16 FEBRUARY, 1866 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868
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13.: The Cattle Diseases Bill  16 FEBRUARY, 1866 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
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The Cattle Diseases Bill 
PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 181, cols. 609–10, 620. Reported in The Times, 17 February, p. 7, from which the variant readings and responses are taken. Mill’s observations were made in Committee on the Cattle Diseases Bill, Clause 31. (For the Bill, see No. 12.) Clause 31 provided, inter alia, that “All expenses incurred by a Local Authority in pursuance of this Act, including any Compensation payable by it in respect of Animals slaughtered in pursuance of this Act, shall be defrayed, as to Two-third Parts thereof, out of the Local Rate.” Acton Smee Ayrton (1816–86) moved to amend this clause by omitting the words “as to two-third parts thereof,” thereby throwing the full cost on the local rate, and made reference to No. 12, saying that he “had been much impressed by the able speech,” because he thought that Mill had “given admirable reasons” why a poll-tax to cover one-third of the cost should not be imposed (col. 608). Mill’s response immediately follows on Ayrton’s conclusion.
mr. j. stuart mill said, the honourable and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) had referred to some remarks of his with reference to this subject, and as, in all probability through his own (Mr. Mill’s) fault, the honourable and learned Member had not seized the point of his argument, he hoped he might be allowed, with the permission of the Committee, to repeat the substance of what he then said. The honourable and learned Member had laid down a principle which no one could dispute—namely, that taxation ought not to be partial. On that ground he urged that a particular class ought not to be taxed to defray the expense of compensation for the consequences of a calamity by which they had already suffered to so great an extent. But his (Mr. Stuart Mill’s) argument1 was grounded expressly on this—that although they suffered more immediately, they would not ultimately suffer more than the rest of the community who were consumers of food (no). It followed that if they were now to tax the whole of the community in order to give a special indemnity to that class for what they suffered, they would, instead of taxing them, tax the rest of the community in order to relieve them. That was his argument, and nothing he had heard had tended to weaken it; and, consequently, that part of the provision for compensation to which the honourable and learned Member objected, the poll tax on cattle, was the only part which he considered sound in principle. (A laugh.) It appeared to him that the valid claim for compensation was not for the burden, but for the inequality of the burden, inasmuch as some cattle owners suffered much less than others, and some not at all. The class on whom the calamity had immediately fallen would, as a class, be compensated in the natural course of things, by the increased price of meat consequent on the diminished supply; but the individuals of the class who had not suffered at all, or who had suffered less than their neighbours, should contribute for the relief of those who had not been so fortunate. In principle, therefore, the tax, whatever it might be, ought to be a rate on land only. (Oh!) Although the clause as it stood was very objectionable, it would be made still more so by the proposal of the honourable and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets.
[Several members contributed to the discussion, including Lowe (cols. 618–20), who referred to Ayrton’s having accepted Mill’s arguments. Mill replied:]
As the arguments of my right honourable Friend (Mr. Lowe) derive great weight from his knowledge, his character, and his talents, it seems desirable that anything which can be said in reply should be said as soon as possible, and while the impression of his arguments is still fresh. (Hear, hear.) I think what is necessary may be said in a very few sentences. My right honourable Friend thinks it a complete answer to the arguments which I submitted to the notice of the House, to say that the object of the tax is not compensation, but to give a motive to the farmer to declare the disease. Now, Sir, I really think that the motive held out to the farmer to make this disclosure does not depend on the quarter from whence the compensation comes, but on the compensation itself. (Hear, hear.) I should like to know whether, if the farmer receives £20 or any other sum for his beast, it makes any difference in the motive held out to him whether it is paid from a cattle tax, or from the county rate, or out of the Consolidated Fund. (Hear, hear.) In the next place, my right honourable Friend stated that the scarcity of a commodity does not always raise the price in full proportion to the deficiency in the quantity. Well, Sir, that is very true, but it is also an extremely common thing that the effect should be to raise the price a great deal beyond the proportion of the loss, and the case in which this is peculiarly known to happen is when the article in deficiency is one of food. (Hear, hear.) Take, for instance, the commodity which the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) has brought forward into the prominence which belongs to it, the article of milk.2 In the case of milk, an article which is of first necessity to even the poorest people in the country, it is hardly conceivable that a scarcity should take place without raising the price immeasurably beyond the proportion of the loss. (Hear, hear.) aNow, that is an extremely important element in the case.a In the next place, my right honourable Friend thought it an extremely unreasonable thing in me to neglect and leave out of sight that portion of the supply of cattle which comes by importation. He said I did not mention it on a former occasion. Sir, I did mention it, and referred to it in a most special manner.3 (Hear.) And the answer which I made then I make now, in the words which my right honourable Friend himself quoted—de minimis non curat lexb. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) It seems to have excited a good deal of scorn on the other side of the House because I said it was unworthy of the landed interest of this country or of any aristocracy. (Cries of Oh, oh! in which the conclusion of the sentence was lost.)b There is one more point in my right honourable Friend’s speech which I would wish to notice. He asked, “Is it not absurd that because a man or any of his family is not mad, he should object to being taxed for a lunatic asylum?”4 I ask, is there any economical law by which the patients of a lunatic asylum are compensated for the expense of their maintenance in that asylum? (Much laughter.) If there is, the cases are parallel; if not, not.
[After further debate, Ayrton’s amendment was accepted.]
[1 ]See No. 12.
[2 ]Actually the argument was made by William George Hylton Joliffe (1800–76), M.P. for Petersfield; see PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 181, col. 611.
[3 ]In No. 12.
[b-b]TT] PD , the quantity imported being so small in proportion to the whole supply.
[4 ]PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 181, col. 620.