HC Deb 04 August 1943 vol 391 cc2292-3
48. Sir W. Davison

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware of the heavy expenditure involved under the recent Rats (Infestation) Order, 1943, ordering local authorities throughout the country to employ a body of special inquiry agents to obtain information as to the presence of rats in all houses within their area and involving in Kensington an expenditure of £680 for the appointment of 12 such persons for a period of three months and similar expenditure throughout the country; what is the estimated total expenditure involved; and whether he will consider less expensive means, such as a questionnaire to householders, with the assistance of the local sanitary authorities?

Mr. Mabane

Under the Order referred to local authorities are required to report to the Ministry of Food first, cases of major infestation in their areas and secondly, the general condition of their areas as to rodent infestation. The method to be adopted in making the necessary survey is that suggested by my hon. Friend. Owing, however, to the depleted staffs available, local authorities have been authorised to augment the sanitary officer's staff where necessary. No estimate can be given of the total expenditure as the cost depends on the amount of knowledge already possessed by the local authorities and their officers. Many authorities have reported already without incurring any special cost.

Sir W. Davison

In view of the fact that £680 is involved in one borough of Kensington must not the cost throughout the country be enormous, and does not my hon. Friend think that except possibly in the case of shops and bakeries a questionnaire sent to householders as to whether they have any rats in their premises would be equally effective and much cheaper? Surely householders would be only too glad to get rid of rats if they had any, and as to shops and bakeries would not the local sanitary authorities who have statutory powers and experience be the most suitable persons to adequately inspect the premises for rat-runs, etc.? Has the Minister nothing to say in reply?