HC Deb 24 November 1953 vol 521 cc180-1
36. Mr. H. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will employ troops in order to clear seaweed from the South Coast holiday resort beaches so that the breeding grounds for coelopa frigida and other flies may be exterminated.

Mr. Head

No request has so far been made.

Mr. Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this new type of fly has now infested a 150-mile stretch of the beach, that they are now advancing on London, that they travel at the rate of eight miles a week, and at that rate they will be in the centre of London within three weeks? Will my right hon. Friend and the Government treat the matter as one of national importance, and will he co-operate by lending powerful flame throwers and troops for an experimental period?

Mr. Head

I am informed that the rate of reproduction of coelopa frigida is much retarded in the winter. I am also informed that there is a reasonable chance in the case of high winds or gales that the seaweed will be washed away.

Mr. Marlowe

As there are later Questions on the Order Paper to the Minister of Housing and Local Government which are not likely to be reached, may I ask my right hon. Friend to impress upon the Government the necessity for co-ordinated action to be taken in this matter by the central Government as it is one of pressing importance and there is the possibility of an epidemic unless urgent action is taken?

Mr. Manuel

If the right hon. Gentleman is considering lending soldiers to do this work, will he take particular care that the cost of this labour will not be lower than the wages paid to the civilians who normally would do such work?

Mr. Head

They would only get the Army rate of pay.

Mr. Nicholson

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that a large section of the population would much resent it if the Army were turned into a body of seaside scavengers?

Mr. Fernyhough

If and when the authorities decide to move this seaweed and if they do not know where to dump it, will the military remember my garden?