HC Deb 11 May 1950 vol 475 cc571-2
51. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, before the new insecticides based on the organic phosphorous compound, parathion, are used on a large scale in this country for hops, fruit and other crops, he proposes to take any special steps to ensure the avoidance of danger, both to users and consumers.

Mr. T. Williams

My Department is taking every opportunity to make known through the National Agricultural Advisory Service and the Press the dangers of these substances and how those dangers may be avoided. The manufacturers also provide instructions on the use of the insecticides and the precautions to be taken. If the available advice and instructions are followed with reasonable care I am advised that there should be no danger either to users or to consumers. I would add, however, that the compulsory provision of protective clothing for those using dangerous sprays was the subject of one of the recommendations of the Gowers Committee; and their Report, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour said in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White) on 20th April, is now under consideration.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is the Minister aware that in America a number of deaths have been attributed to the unskilled use of this particular insecticide, and is it to be understood from his statement that he has definitely ordered that special precautions shall be taken in its use?

Mr. Williams

We have given all the publicity we possibly can to the need for exercising great precaution to avoid any personal danger.

Mr. Gooch

In view of the fact that there have been several deaths in this country of people using these new insecticides, will my right hon. Friend consult with the Home Secretary with a view to completely abandoning their use?

Mr. Williams

The situation is being closely watched by the Agricultural Research Council, who are in close touch with the Medical Research Council, at the Ministry's Plant Pathological Laboratory. The protective procedure established and the conditions laid down are believed to be effectively and generally observed.