HC Deb 06 May 1952 vol 500 cc184-5
49. Mr. Robert Boothby

asked the Prime Minister if he will take steps to transfer the responsibility for administering the regulations with regard to diseases of animals, so far as Scotland is concerned, from the Minister of Agriculture to the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The Prime Minister

It is thought more prudent to keep centralised control at this moment.

Mr. Boothby

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if the Secretary of State had similar powers to those of the Government of Northern Ireland he would be able to prohibit the importation of cattle across the Border from England whenever an outbreak of foot and mouth disease was confirmed? If he had had powers to do this, it might have prevented infected cattle from reaching Scotland, which is now regarded by the Dominions and the United States of America as one of the very few clean countries in the world.

Mr. Thomas Williams

Is the right hon. Gentleman not also aware that the chief veterinary officer for the whole of Scotland is in the Secretary of State's office in Edinburgh, and that the scheme has worked well for 15 years without any complaint from hon. Members opposite?

Mr. Boothby

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a torrent of complaints from Scotland at the present time?

The Prime Minister

I am sure my hon. Friend would be fully capable of giving full vent to any such torrent, but the difficulty is that we are not sure that foot and mouth disease is as well educated on the subject of borders and questions arising out of them as he is.

Lieut.-Colonel Walter Elliot

Will my right hon. Friend adhere to the policy of single control of this epidemic disease, which has worked well in the past and is working well at present, and will certainly not be helped by splitting up control between contending centres in this country?

Mr. Archer Baldwin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is no proof that the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Scotland is due in any way to the importation of cattle from England?

Mr. Boothby

I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.

The Prime Minister

I am afraid that I cannot undertake to be present when this new red herring is drawn across the Border.