HC Deb 13 December 1937 vol 330 cc791-3
17. Mr. Short

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that importers of goods from the Continent use packing straw over and over again; whether any research has been made as to whether this straw may be a source of foot-and-mouth disease; and whether he proposes to introduce stricter methods of control and supervision?

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. W. S. Morrison)

The reply to the first and second parts of the question is in the affirmative. The Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Packing Materials) Order, of 1926, makes provision to the effect that when hay and straw has been used for packing purposes, it must not be brought into contact with any animal in Great Britain, or removed from the premises except for use as packing, or for destruction, or for return in a crate or box to the sender for further use as packing. When such purposes have been served the material is required by the Order to be destroyed. The Order is enforced by local authorities, and, according to the reports of the Ministry's divisional inspectors, is generally well observed. The experiments of the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Research Committee show that on hay and straw the dried virus of foot-and-mouth disease might remain active for some weeks, but in the absence of evidence against this material, there does not appear to be any case for further action.

19. Mrs. Tate

asked the Minister of Agriculture what official experiments or investigations have been carried out or are proposed in order to investigate the theory, that the fly of the genus borborus is a carrier of the virus of foot-and-mouth disease?

Mr. Morrison

The habits of the flies of the genus borborus have been considered by the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Research Committee, whose opinion is that there is no evidence indicating that the members of this genus are responsible for the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

Mrs. Tate

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Professor Muschamp, Entomologist at Leicester Museum, is convinced that this fly is the source of the disease, and has any money been spent on investigating it?

Mr. Morrison

I am not aware of the opinions of the gentleman to whom the hon. Lady refers. Perhaps there may be some misunderstanding, as the genus named in the hon. Lady's question is not known to exist. The question as to flies of the genus borborus has been investigated by the Research Committee, and they have expressed the opinion which I have indicated in the answer.

Mrs. Tate

Is it not a fact that I am not responsible, but that it was the Clerks at the Table who spelled my fly wrongly?