Mr. T. Williams
There is evidence that infection from imported Polish and Hungarian poultry carcases has caused outbreaks of fowl pest in this country this year. Poultry carcases are still being imported from Poland.
Personally, I should like to be able to say that we can manage very well without any importations; but I am afraid we cannot do without Polish imports at this moment without a grave shortage of poultry.
§ Mr. Baldwin
Is this not another instance of the lack of co-operation between the Ministry of Food and the Ministry of Agriculture?
§ Mr. James Hudson
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the fowl pest which is causing the greatest trouble is the high prices being charged by British farmers, which leads to the necessity for importing foreign poultry?
Mr. T. Williams
There have been four such outbreaks. One was due to the spread of infection from neighbouring premises. The other three may have been caused by the purchase of infected birds at markets, but the source of infection has not been definitely ascertained, and inquiries are still being made. All poultry on the infected premises, and other poultry thought to have been exposed to direct infection, were slaughtered and the carcases destroyed, and the premises have been disinfected. Notices have also been served on poultry keepers who bought birds in the markets which may have been affected restricting the movement of poultry into and off their premises.
I can assure my hon. Friend that all reasonable steps have been taken in looking after the 90 million poultry in the United Kingdom.
§ Major Sir Thomas Dugdale
Will the Minister bear in mind that although we raised this question a year ago, nothing has been done in the matter?
I wholly disagree that nothing has been done. The fact that there have been only four outbreaks in Norfolk this year indicates the effectiveness of our policy.