§ 36. Mr. T. KENNEDY
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware of the anxiety and misunderstanding amongst meat traders in this country on account of recent official statements regarding the lack of any evidence to show that the virus of foot-and-mouth disease could be conveyed by frozen meat; if he can now state the ground upon which the Order excluding Continental fresh meat is based, while supplies of chilled and frozen meat from the Argentine, where disease has been prevalent for many years, are still allowed to enter this country?
The Order in question was made because of the actual discovery of foot-and-mouth disease in three consignments of pig carcases from the Continent. No case of disease has been traced to Argentine meat, and in the absence of definite proof that disease has been introduced by such material, the prohibition of its importation would not be justified.
Has the right hon. Gentleman paid attention to the largely increasing price of store pigs?
§ 37. Mr. T. KENNEDY
asked the Minister of Agriculture if his attention has been drawn to the statement of the veterinary inspector of the Dutch Government to the effect that complete investigation had failed to show that infected pigs from Holland had been responsible for introducing disease to this country, and to his further statement, made with the concurrence of the British veterinary inspector, that the carcases sent back from England in the steamship "Schokland" were entirely free from disease; and whether, in view of the conflict of evidence, he expects to be able 1593 to modify or remove the embargo on Dutch meat when the full facts have been ascertained?
My attention has been drawn to certain statements in the Press attributed to a veterinary inspector of the Dutch Government, but the discovery in a British bacon factory of the feet of Dutch pigs bearing healed lesions of foot-and-mouth disease admits of no doubt that infective material was being imported. The result of inquiries in Holland makes it reasonably certain that carcases of animals slaughtered while in the highly infective incubative stages of disease must have reached this country, inasmuch as pigs are allowed to go from farms on which disease exists to a slaughterhouse exporting pigs to Great Britain. It is true that the carcases showing visible evidence of disease found on the steamship "Schokland" ex Rotterdam were of Belgian origin. As I have already announced, I cannot hope to be able to modify or remove the embargo on Dutch meat until the risk of introduction of disease has been eliminated.