HC Deb 23 November 1950 vol 481 cc503-4
51. Sir T. Moore

asked the Minister of Agriculture, in view of the growth of the rabbit population in the country and the consequent menace to food production, what plans he has in mind for their reduction without using the gin-trap or other inhumane methods.

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Thomas Williams)

The responsibility for controlling wild rabbits rests with owners and occupiers of land. Following a conference last July with representatives of the National Farmers' Union, the Country Landowners' Association and other interested bodies to discuss ways and means of effecting rapid and progressive reduction of the rabbit population, it was agreed that the County Branch of the National Farmers' Union and the Country Landowners' Association should arrange local meetings of interested persons, including the county agricultural executive committees, with a view to instituting voluntary area schemes of clearance. Although the value of gassing as a main method of attack has been emphasised, owners and occupiers should use any suitable and legal method of catching and destroying rabbits.

Sir T. Moore

Is the Minister satisfied that, amongst other things, the Sawyer trap, as sponsored by the R.S.P.C.A., would not provide a suitable alternative method of destruction?

Mr. Williams

Tests have already been made, as the hon. and gallant Member knows, but unfortunately they have proved that, as at present designed, that trap is not nearly so effective as the gin trap. However, I say to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that if any new trap designed for this purpose is considered superior to the gin trap we shall be very happy to make a test.

Mr. Logan

What about a little poaching going on to get rid of them?

Sir Ralph Glyn

Can the Minister say whether it is with the permission of his Department that crude arsenic is being put down, which is a great danger to livestock?

Mr. Williams

I cannot say without notice.

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