HC Deb 24 February 1943 vol 387 c170
68. Mr. Thorne

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give an estimate of the damage done by rats to foodstuffs in this country; how much money is given to farmers towards destroying them; the most effective way of destroying them in docks and warehouses; and whether he has considered the use of red squill roots?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture (Mr. Tom Williams)

It is impossible to give a reliable estimate of the damage done by rats to foodstuffs. Farmers are not given any financial assistance for the destruction of rats, but the services of the pest destruction staff of county war agricultural executive committees are at their disposal at moderate charges. The best method of destroying rats in docks and warehouses is by trapping and poisoning according to the varying circumstances of each individual case of infestation. The use of red squill for the destruction of rats has been advocated by my Department for some years, but only small quantities of this material are at present available.

Sir A. Lambert Ward

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is extremely difficult to get rat poison or virus in this country, and can he do anything to increase supplies?

Mr. Williams

If the hon. and gallant Member will bring to my notice any case where a shortage has been experienced, I will gladly see what can be done.