HC Deb 08 November 1937 vol 328 cc1401-3
41. Mr. Thorne

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give the House any information in connection with not ask for the price of feeding stuffs is that I have already received it from him?

Sir H. Croft

In providing this information for the right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that it is the foreign feeding stuffs which come into this country which cause this increase in the price of eggs?

Following is the statement:

the foot-and-mouth disease at Stow-market; how many cattle and pigs will have to be destroyed; how many cattle have been slaughtered in Britain because of foot-and-mouth disease this year; and what amount of compensation has been paid?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

Infection was disclosed in a consignment of 112 cattle exposed at Stowmarket Market on 4th November, one beast being then in the early stages of the disease. Owing to the very grave risk of the spread of infection all cattle and swine in the market were seized and prompt arrangements were made for their slaughter which was effected in about 24 hours. By that time other cattle in the infected consignment had developed the disease. Two hundred and thirty-three cattle, including 53 contact animals not exposed in the market, were destroyed and their carcases incinerated, and of 1,242 swine involved 1,160 fat animals were sent to local bacon factories for immediate slaughter and salvage. The remaining pigs were slaughtered and the carcases burnt. During 1937, 2,571 cattle, 4,319 sheep and 2,645 pigs have been slaughtered, and the compensation payable to owners as a result of such slaughter amounts to £75,000.

Mr. Thorne

What is the percentage that is given to these people as compensation? Is it 50 per cent. or 75 per cent.?

Mr. Morrison

It is laid down in the Act. Speaking from memory, with regard to an animal that is infected, the compensation payable is the value before infection took place; with regard to an animal that is destroyed because of contact with infected animals, the value of the compensation is the animal's value at the time.

Mr. Thorne

Is it a fact that the owners of the cattle are in duty bound to lose a good deal of money?

Mr. F. Anderson

With regard to the tracing of the source of the disease, is it not a fact that when the disease broke out at Stowmarket some of the cattle had travelled a tremendously long distance, and will the right hon. Gentleman take some steps to see that there is better organisation from the marketing point of view and thus prevent some of these diseases from occurring owing to the long distance which some of the animals have to travel at the present time?

Mr. Morrison

I am not aware of, and I do not think there is, any defect that is remediable with regard to the organisation for tracing these animals. As to the present outbreak, its position on our coasts, coinciding as it does with the most violent outbreak of the disease that the Continent has suffered in recent times, suggests that possibly the disease is carried from the Continent to our fields.

Commander Marsden

Is there the possibility that this infection is brought to this country through the medium of foreign packing straw?

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

In view of the very heavy losses in cattle and money, can the Minister inform the House what is the present position in regard to research in this country into the causes of this disease?