HC Deb 01 February 1951 vol 483 cc1069-70
49. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many fowls and how many turkeys have been destroyed as the result of the recent outbreak of fowl pest; what is the cost of compensation to date; and why they were not used for food.

Mr. T. Williams

From the beginning of last October to 27th January, about 140,000 fowls and 1,750 turkeys had been slaughtered as a result of outbreaks of fowl pest. Compensation amounts to about £172,000 for the fowls and £15,000 for the turkeys. It is probable that most of the birds that have been killed by direction of my Department were infected. To have permitted the carcases of those birds to have been disposed of for human consumption would have involved a grave risk of the spread of disease to other flocks.

Sir W. Smithers

Is the Minister aware that I am informed by poultry breeders that hundreds of birds were killed which were not infected? If they were killed, will he say why they were not used for human consumption?

Mr. Williams

I answered the last part of the supplementary question in my original reply. This policy is adopted on the advice of my veterinary experts.

Mr. John Hynd

Will not the Minister try one of these fowls on the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers)?

56. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many fowl have been slaughtered in Worcestershire since 1st December, 1950, under direction of his Department's officers, as a result of the United States virus type of fowl pest; how many cases have been detected; and what is the total sum payable by his Department in compensation.

Mr. T. Williams

So far, there has been one outbreak of the sub-acute type of fowl pest in Worcestershire. Fifty fowls were slaughtered, and the sum payable as compensation amounts to £219.

Mr. Nabarro

Is the Minister aware that this case involved the slaughter of very valuable pedigree poultry as the result of a blood test taken by his officer? Can he assure the House that the positive result of a blood test is an infallible means of establishing that the bird is infected and is a carrier of this mild form of disease?

Mr. Williams

I assure the hon. Member, on the advice of my chief veterinary officer and veterinary staff, that this is the best possible method of dealing with outbreaks of fowl pest. I should deprecate any amateur, whether for political or other reasons, attempting to overrule this.

58. Air Commodore Harvey

asked the Minister of Agriculture the extent to which fowl pest is prevalent in Cheshire; and what steps are being taken to stop the spread of this disease.

Mr. T. Williams

Since 1st October there have been seven outbreaks of fowl pest in Cheshire, of which six were in January. With regard to the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statement printed in column 306 of the OFFICIAL REPORT for 25th January.

Air Commodore Harvey

How long will it be before claims are settled by the right hon. Gentleman's Department?

Mr. Williams

I could not say without notice.

Mr. De la Bère

This should be greatly speeded up.