HC Deb 04 June 1946 vol 423 cc1968-70

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— [Mr. R. J. Taylor.]

11.37 P.m.

Mr. Gerald Williams (Tonbridge)

A few months ago I was disturbed at night by rats running through the timbers of my house. I said that that must cease, and I called in the district council to deal with the rats. They said, " Yes, we can destroy the rats in your house, but it is no use our doing that unless you destroy the rats on your farm also."They advised me to call in the county war agricultural executive committee to do the job for me. Their representative duly came along, and quoted me £6 for clearing the rats from my farm for one year. I wrote out a cheque, and after I had done so, I thought to myself, "If it is necessary to destroy the rats on my farm in order that my house shall no longer be infested, it is equally certain that the rats must be destroyed on all the farms surrounding mine in order that my farm shall not be re-infested."In other words, it is essential that there must be some sort of block scheme of destroying rats in this country.

I looked into the position and I round that there are two Orders for the destruction of rats—one dated 1940, and the other 1941. The 1941 Order requires the owners of corn ricks, occupiers of land on which a rick is situated, and threshing contractors, to fence the rick before threshing, and then to destroy the rats escaping during the operations. This is being done, but there are some loopholes. In fact, some of the wire which is put round the stacks during these operations has holes that a large terrier could run through. I appeal to the Minister of Agriculture to see that the regulations are tightened up. The 1940 Order authorises county war agricultural executive committees to direct occupiers of agricultural land to destroy their rats, and failing this, they can prosecute for failure to comply with the directions. Secondly, they can authorise entry upon land and destroy the rats. Lastly, they can charge the cost of the destruction to the defaulter. These are wide powers. But I want to know how often they are used. How many people have been directed to destroy rats on their farm?

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present.

Major Haughton (Antrim)

On a point Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it in Order to call a Count on the Adjournment?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

Certainly, it is.

House counted, and, 40 Members not of Order, being present, the House was adjourned, at Seventeen Minutes to Twelve o' Clock, till Tomorrow.