HC Deb 19 February 1953 vol 511 cc1448-9
56 and 57. Sir R. Glyn

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) whether he will consider issuing immediate circulars to the county agricultural committees advising that no spraying of weeds or any crops with di-nitro-orthocresol should be carried out without reference to the committees; and whether he will take steps to amend the Agriculture (Poisonous Substances) Act, to necessitate obtaining a licence before poisonous sprays can be used on land, in view of the damage that is being done to insects, birds and animals as the result of the application of these chemical substances to large tracts of agricultural land;

(2) whether he will set up a committee, not altogether composed of chemists, to report on the results, during 1952, of the spraying of poisons to destroy noxious weeds.

Sir T. Dugdale

I have no power to require prior notification of spraying but I am keeping a careful watch on developments. The long-term solution to the problem is the production of equally effective sprays that are not toxic to wild life. Research into this and other aspects is continuing under the supervision of the Agricultural Research Council.

I am asking Professor Zuckerman and his Working Party on Precautionary Measures against Toxic Chemicals used in Agriculture to consider immediately the general question of effects on wild life, when they have completed their present study of possible risks to the consumer.

Sir R. Glyn

Will the right hon. Gentleman do something to stop the use of sprays until their consequences are more fully appreciated?

Sir T. Dugdale

I must have the advice of technical experts. I am proceeding to get that advice as quickly as possible.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is not it a fact that the correct long-term plan is not to squirt poisonous drugs on crops but to get at the soil where the trouble starts and thus to avoid the pests which the soil develops when it is bad, as a result of which the plants suffer?

Sir T. Dugdale

That is a matter of opinion among the technical experts?