§ 49. Sir C. HIGHAM
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the dangerous spread of foot-and-mouth disease amongst the cattle in this country having now reached London, he can assure the House that every precaution has been taken to protect the public; and what action, if any, is being taken to see that the milk supply is not contaminated by this disease?
The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir A. Boscawen)
I have been asked to reply. In view of the policy which the Ministry pursues in slaughtering all animals which are affected or which are in contact with animals affected with foot-and-mouth disease, there is practically no risk that milk contaminated by the virus of the disease will get on to the market. I am advised, moreover, that there is no substantial or reliable evidence that milk from an animal affected with foot-and-mouth disease conveys this disease to human beings consuming the milk.
§ 100. Major HOWARD
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, on account of the complete breakdown of the Department of his Ministry dealing with animal diseases, he is prepared, both in the interests of economy and efficiency, to abolish this Department and hand the work back to the county executive committees who, with their local inspectors, did the work so well before the Ministry took it into their own hands?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The measures which the Ministry has adopted to bring under control the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease are, I believe, attaining their object, and I do not agree that any criticism can be urged against the Animals Division of the Ministry in combating the present exceptional outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, the wide extension of which has been wholly due to the failure of market authorities to detect the disease in the market. and notify the Ministry. It has been freely stated that in some way the officers of the Ministry have been "caught napping" 603 by this outbreak, but that is not the case. The Ministry cannot maintain a staff of inspectors on every farm or in every market. It can only act when the existence or suspicion of disease is reported, and I am satisfied that my officers have acted with commendable promptitude and energy. I have no intention of reverting to the old system of leaving the control of diseases of the type of foot-and-mouth disease to local authorities. Local administration of this and similar diseases proved a failure in the past, and only a central authority which takes no account of local administrative boundaries can deal effectively with the problem.