HC Deb 19 March 1928 vol 215 cc8-10

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether (1) he has received any further evidence of disease in imported bulbs; and the nature of the evidence he requires before taking action;

(2) he will cause samples to be taken of all importations of imported bulbs; and will he cause such samples to be tested for the existence of disease before such importations are released for cultivation; and

(3) he can obtain information as to the steps taken by the United States of America to ensure that disseased bulbs are not admitted into that country, with a view to their adoption, if practicable?


I have received further complaints of disease in imported bulbs, and the subject was brought before the Horticultural Advisory Council on the 15th March. It appears that the complaints have special reference to the so-called "Yellow Disease" of hyacinths which cannot always be detected by an inspection of the bulbs. The council recommended that further steps should be taken to prevent the entry of these diseased bulbs, and I am now considering what practicable steps can be taken to this end. The sampling of all imported bulbs would involve a considerable increase in the inspectorial staff and also some dislocation of trade. As regards the American regulations I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hurd) on the 27th February last.


When will the right hon. Gentleman be in a position to inform us of the result of these inquiries?


I cannot give any date, but I will be glad to inform my hon. Friend when I have any further information.


Will the right hon. Gentleman press the Chancellor of the Exchequer to impose an import tax upon both foreign flowers and bulbs, which are articles of luxury, and are quite suitable for taxation?


I do not think that I quite agree that foreign bulbs are articles of luxury. They are an important form of raw material for one side of the agricultural industry which grows them.

Lieut.-Colonel JAMES

Are not daffodil bulbs and tulip bulbs suffering from "eel-worm" disease and "fire," respectively, imported into this country?


This particular disease is in hyacinth bulbs. There may be importation of bulbs with other diseases, and it shows the great difficulty of controlling the possibility of these imported infections, some of which already exist in this country.


Do the bulbs to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred come from any specific country, or from more than one country?


Mostly, this trade in bulbs is with Holland.