HC Deb 01 May 1928 vol 216 cc1523-4

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether in view of the danger of foot-and-mouth disease being introduced into the country by chilled meat and by hay and straw packing materials from countries where the disease is known to exist, and in consideration of the effects of such a risk, he will appoint a small commission of skilled persons to devise and report upon measures for diminishing such a danger?


The possible introduction of the virus of foot-and-mouth disease in hay and straw used for packing goods was considered by the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Departmental Committees which were appointed in 1922 and 1924. Neither Committee recommended any fundamental alteration of the existing Orders, but the latter Committee recommended certain modifications which were adopted. The Foot-and-Mouth Disease Research Committee is investigating the behaviour of foot-and-mouth virus in animal products and on inanimate objects in the hope of discovering the means by which the virus is introduced to this country and methods of excluding it. The Committee is composed of men of science and of technical administrative experi- ence, who have studied this problem for the past three years, and I can think of no body of men better equipped for the purpose.


Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that, if this dangerous packing material were prohibited, an alternative kind of packing in the form of wood shavings would be instituted, and that thereby the risk from infection would be saved.


I do not think that we should be justified in imposing this serious disturbance upon many industries which import this packing material, unless we had overwhelming evidence that, in fact, it was causing the disease. The Committee were fully able to report in that sense if they were satisfied that it was the cause.