HC Deb 03 March 1943 vol 387 cc534-6
27 Major Kimball

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether he can give any estimate of the amount of damage caused by locusts in Africa and the Middle East during recent years; and what sums have been provided to combat this menace; (2) the arrangements for the information service to give timely warning of locust migration; and the arrangements for the destruction of locust swarms;

(3) whether he will consider creating a permanent body with executive authority with funds provided from the Colonial Office Votes to carry out and extend the information service and to improve methods of destruction of locust swarms?

Colonel Stanley

The answer is necessarily long, so I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

While it is not possible to give any exact estimate of the amount of damage caused by locusts in Africa and the Middle East during recent years, or of the public funds which have been expended in order to combat this menace, there is no doubt that in terms of human distress and misery the losses periodically suffered are very great. Following upon pre-war international locust conferences, an Anti-Locust Research Centre has been established in London, financed by contributions from a number of British Colonial Governments, the Government of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. As a temporary measure to meet the present conditions of emergency, a mobile Anti-Locust Organisation has been established which is attached to the Middle East Supply Centre in Cairo and works under the technical direction of the Anti-Locust Centre in London. There are also in the Middle East and East Africa five reporting centres for the exchange of information. The expenses of the mobile organisation referred to are being met from the Exchequer. The estimated expenditure of the centre in London was £941 in 1942–3 and, £1,756 for 1943–4. As regards the mobile organisation expenditure at the rate of some £30,000 a year is being incurred on emergency measures for the destruction of locusts in Persia, Arabia, Ethiopia and the Middle East. This is additional to the sums expended for the same purpose by the various local governments as to which no figures are available. I think that this temporary organisation is the best that can be devised in present conditions. The question of setting up a permanent locust con- trol organisation is one which cannot be dealt with by this country alone but will have to be considered by all the nations concerned after the war.