HC Deb 19 June 1917 vol 94 cc1602-3
41. Sir F. BLAKE

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he is aware that parts of the country are threatened with a plague of rabbits due to the fact that numbers of gamekeepers and trappers are serving in the Army; whether agricultural representatives have any instructions to bring this condition of affairs to the notice of tribunals, with the view of obtaining exemption for men who are to be employed solely in killing rabbits; and whether he will take steps to obtain the release of enlisted men who are skilled rabbit killers, in order to cope with the threatened damage to the crops?


The Board are aware of the damage which rabbits may cause to growing crops, and they have empowered agricultural executive committees to authorise any person to enter on land to kill rabbits. Agricultural representatives before tribunals are not specially instructed to obtain exemption for rabbit catchers. But their general instructions to support exemption for men required to maintain the production of food covers the case. In reply to the last part of the question, the Board are prepared to approach the War Office for the release of skilled rabbit catchers in cases where the facts justify that course and where the men are placed in a sufficiently low medical class.


Will the right hon. Gentleman avail himself of the services of the hon. Member for Enfield?


Is it not the case that only persons duly authorised by the proprietor or occupier can enter on the lands to kill rabbits, and that it is not open to everybody to do so?


As I have stated, the Agricultural Executive Committees are empowered to authorise persons to enter on lands.

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