HC Deb 29 June 1950 vol 476 cc2449-50
56. Mr. H. L. D'A. Hopkinson

asked the Minister of Agriculture what representations he has received from the National Farmers' Union in regard to the possibility of modifying the size of the punch used for marking the ears of calves on which subsidy is paid.

Mr. G. Brown

The National Farmers' Union have made representations of a general nature to the Department on this subject, but they appreciate the difficulty of finding any satisfactory alternative to the present system.

Mr. Hopkinson

Is it not a fact that the National Farmers' Union are not satisfied with the present position, and that they would like is modified on one of the lines indicated by the Minister in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane) a few weeks ago?

Mr. Brown

It is a fact that the N.F.U., like the rest of us, would like to find some other way of doing it, but they recognise, as we do, that there are objections to every alternative method yet suggested.

Mr. Vane

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a number of calves' ears have been badly damaged by the use of a punch which makes a hole half an inch in diameter? Is he aware that many farmers think that if a punch making a hole ⅜ inch in diameter or a triangle with a ⅜ inch side were used by experienced men the disadvantages found earlier would be removed and that this would be well worth trying?

Mr. Brown

I would remind the hon. Gentleman that as guardians of the taxpayers' purse we have to be careful that the hole will not afterwards be lost or covered. No alternative method has yet been suggested which is not open to that very serious objection.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

As pedigree cattle are already marked on the ear with a number, is it not unnecessary to have a large hole as well?

Mr. Brown

The hon. and gallant Gentelman has hit on the great difficulty. The existence of private marks makes it difficult to adopt a small one of our own.

Mr. Hurd

Will the hon. Gentleman have experiments made on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane)—a small triangular mark?

Mr. Brown

I cannot undertake to have experiments made, but I am quite willing to consider any alternative suggestions which are made to us.