HC Deb 29 April 1948 vol 450 cc621-3

Amendment made: In page 9, line 20, at end, insert: (4) In computing the age of a stallion for the purposes of this Part of this Act, the stallion shall be treated as having attained the age of one year on the first day of January next after the year in which it was foaled.

3.58 p.m.

Mr. G. Brown

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

This Measure has clearly met with wide agreement on all sides of the House. We have had assistance from hon. Members, which is appreciated and which I am glad to recognise, in helping to improve the Bill during its passage. We think that the Bill as it now stands meets the desires of hon. Members. It will greatly help in proceeding with the eradication of tuberculosis and in improving the standards of livestock.

3.59 P.m.

Sir T. Dugdale

I am not in disagreement with anything which the Parliamentary Secretary has said but before the Bill leaves this House for another place I would like to refer briefly to Part I. We on this side are anxious that the eradication of bovine tuberculosis should be proceeded with as speedily as possible. For that reason, no opportunity should be lost of drawing the attention of the Government to this fact. We appreciate that the Government are, in agreement on this point and we suggest that every advantage be taken of drawing this question to the notice of the public. We agree with the provisions of Part I.

During the Committee stage we had much discussion on how the progress report would be made known to the House and to the public by the Government. The Minister assured us that no addition to the Bill was necessary because, under Section 50 of the Diseases of Animals Act, 1894, he had powers to present an annual return to the House, and that that return would include an account of the Government's actions during the year towards the eradication of bovine tuberculosis. These reports were not made during the war period for obvious reasons, but the Minister promised that a report for the period covering the war years, namely, from 1939 to 1946, would be presented in the very near future, and it would be interesting to know whether it has now been printed and whether there are any prospects of it being available in the near future.

There is one other point I should like to make in this connection, and that is in regard to the reports the Minister will be making under the provisions of Part I of the Bill. These reports should not be just statements of the payments in cash value made to certain owners of herds, but should be detailed reports giving the House and the country a clear picture of what progress has been made. We attach considerable importance to Part I of the Bill, and we hope that in due course the Opposition Members and Members opposite will, by their cooperative efforts, achieve a real improvement in the dairy herds of this country.

4.3 P.m.

Mr. Hurd (Newbury)

I should like to support very strongly what has just been said. I hope that we shall be able to make some real progress as a result of the provisions in this Bill. I too hope, that the annual reports to be made to Parliament will not be as dry as dust, just setting out total figures, but will show what progress is being made in each county, so that the farmers and the country can see how fast we are moving and what difficulties are being encountered. If that is not done, Clause 1 will lead us no further than the legislation already on the statute book. We want to create real public interest in securing the eradication of tuberculosis from our cattle. It is important also that the veterinary surgeons, for whose training we are to be asked to make further provisions quite shortly, should know that there will really be scope for their best efforts. I urge the Minister to give us more enlightenment in the future about what is being achieved under Clause 1. I am sure that this Bill will be welcomed by the farming community, and no less by mothers. If we can get county by county cleared of tuberculosis, we shall not only be helping the bovine population, but also the human population.

4.5 P.m.

Mr. T. Williams

The progress report referred to was sent to the printers immediately after the Committee stage and I expect it to be available within the next few days. I will take note of the suggestion that the reports from 1946 onwards shall contain more information than cold statistics. It would be entirely out of Order to attempt to discuss any long-term schemes for the eradication of tuberculosis. Part I deals with the extension of payments made available in 1937, and so a start can be made in that direction. I can assure the House that discussions have already taken place between my Department and the N.F.U., and also with the Milk Marketing Board. There is very little difference between us on the general principles, but there are still highly complex points to be settled, especially in regard to the financial aspect. Members will appreciate that when anything in the nature of a slaughter policy is contemplated, we must also contemplate the possibility of giving some financial assistance. That is not an easy matter to settle. Whenever any scheme is prepared, it will have to be brought before the House and there will be ample opportunities for discussion.

As I said on Second Reading, progress in this direction depends on several factors. For instance, progress will be determined by the number of veterinary surgeons available and the number of attested cattle available for replacements. It will also be determined to some extent by the amount of milk we can afford to lose if we adopt a slaughtering policy. There are also the ever-present problems of water supply and buildings. It will be a big job calling for both patience and determination, which, I hope, will be exercised. I do not think I can say anything more at this stage in regard to a long-term scheme. Discussions have taken place and they will be renewed early in June. As soon as it is possible for us to start area by area clearance schemes, the happier I shall be, and we are all glad to know that we are now on the highway. I can assure the House that we shall waste no time, bearing in mind the complex problems we have to face.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.