HC Deb 15 February 1940 vol 357 cc951-2
55. Sir Percy Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the latest estimate of the loss in agricultural production caused by rats and mice; and whether, in view of the inadequacy of the present methods of extermination, he will have the present regulations amended so as to enable war agricultural committees to require farmers to deal with infested premises within a specified time, and in case of default to enter the premises and themselves deal with the pest at the expense of the occupier?

60. Sir J. Lucas

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the French corps, unpaid, known as Lieutenants de Louveterie, whose duty is the extermination of vermin, including rats, when the occupier of the land or building is unable or unwilling to cope with the situation; and whether, in view of the fact that the Ministry do not favour the provision of paid rat-catchers to carry out this skilled work, he will now reconsider his decision in the matter, or consider this and alternative methods of achieving the desired results?

Mr. Ramsbotham

It is impossible to give a reliable estimate of the loss in agricultural production caused by rats and mice but it is undoubtedly very serious. My right hon. Friend has no knowledge of the French corps to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers. As regards the powers for dealing with rats, local authorities possess certain powers under the Rats and Mice (Destruction) Act, 1919, and powers are also conferred on my right hon. Friend by Regulation 63 of the Defence Regulations. These powers are not entirely suited however to the needs of the case and my right hon. Friend is considering the desirability of amending and widening the scope of the regulation.

Sir P. Hurd

Does that mean that in all probability war agricultural executive committees will be given the powers that they need?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I am not quite sure of what my right hon. Friend proposes to provide in the regulations.

Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

Is it not a fact that foxes are the greatest enemy of rats and mice?

Mr. J. Morgan


Sir J. Lucas

May I send the Minister particulars of the French corps?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I shall be much obliged if my hon. and gallant Friend will do so.

59. Sir J. Lucas

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that several local councils have arranged to supply rat poison, harmless to other animals, free to farmers and others to get rid of their rats and save food; and whether he will take steps to get other councils to follow their example?

Mr. Ramsbotham

My right hon. Friend is aware of the steps taken by certain local councils in supplying rat poison free to farmers. He is anxious that all possible steps should be taken to encourage the destruction of rats and the whole question of an intensive campaign for the purpose is under consideration in conjunction with the other Government Departments concerned.

Sir J. Lamb

Will my right hon. Friend see that poisons which are advertised as poisons for rats are really efficacious, since some of them at the present time definitely cause immunisation?

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