§ MR. J. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)
asked for information with regard to an outbreak of black scab among the potatoes in Ireland.
§ THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR IRELAND (Mr. T. W. RUSSELL,) Tyrone, S.
regretted to say that the 1420 newspaper reports as to an outbreak of "black scab" among the potato crop in Ireland were true. He had received a telegram stating that "black scab" had been reported from two centres in County Down. The inspector had visited the district and declared the disease in both cases to be "black scab." In one case the potatoes had been dug, and the inspector had ordered the immediate destruction of a portion of the crop, and his order had been complied with. In the other case the crop was still in the ground and notice had been served that the potatoes were to be left in the ground pending further instructions. He did not think that the Department could be armed with greater authority than it possessed under their Acts of Parliament to deal with a calamity of this kind. Recognising it to be a calamity to Ireland, the Department would leave nothing undone to stop the progress of the disease.
§ MR. SHEEHAN (Cork County, Mid)
Has the right hon. Gentleman not already received representations from farmers' associations and other bodies in Ireland asking him absolutely to prohibit the importation of potatoes from England or Scotland into Ireland?
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I have received one such notice from the County Dublin Farmers' Association, but there is nothing in it with regard to the importation of potatoes, and I am reluctant to issue an order to stop importation when perhaps it is not coming from England or Scotland at all. In England the disease is slightly prevalent in the low-lying parts where continuous cropping has taken place, and I rather think it will be found that is the real origin of the disease in Ireland. I would ask the hon. Member not to press me on that point, because I object to issue any order stepping the importation of seed potatoes without any real ground.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Compensation cannot be given without the consent of the local authority. That is also a question to be considered.