§ 1. Captain Kerby
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether during the interim period before he makes the gin trap illegal, he will give wide publicity to the Caldra system of rabbit netting, and other humane systems of trapping; and when he expects to receive the first report of the committee set up to speed up the adoption of humane traps.
§ The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (Sir Thomas Dugdale)
My Department is already bringing this and other humane methods of catching rabbits to the notice of farmers. As regards the second part of the Question, the work of the proposed committee will largely depend on trials of new and improved traps in the field, which cannot begin until the autumn. An early report cannot therefore be expected.
§ Captain Kerby
Is my right hon. Friend aware that these interminable delays in adopting a humane trap and banning the gin trap are causing widespread distress throughout the country?
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu
Would the Minister say whether it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to try to eliminate rabbits, and, if so, whether he will agree that no policy of trapping is likely to achieve that end, and that the only hope is to have an all-out drive on a national scale, with gassing and all other suitable means, during the period of grace which myxomatosis may give us, when the 1492 rabbit population will be down to a minimum?
§ Sir T. Dugdale
It is very much the intention of Her Majesty's Government to do all they can to eliminate rabbits, but every method must be tried and used. I do not think that the matter can be dealt with by Question and answer, but trapping, gassing and every other means must be tried to reduce the menace.
§ Mr. Burden
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in this case at least those who have been in close touch with him regarding his efforts to abolish the gin trap are greatly encouraged by the drive which he is showing in the matter?
Mr. Philips Price
Is the Minister aware that there are places in which it is difficult or impossible to use other methods than the gin trap, such as rocky country and country where gas cannot be used owing to the lightness of the soil? In such places there is just no other way.
§ 3. Mr. Hargreaves
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will give the membership of the committee to advise him on speeding up the development of suitable humane traps so that the use of gin traps may be prohibited; and whether the committee has yet begun its work.
§ Sir T. Dugdale
I am glad to be able to inform the House that Mr. Roland Dudley has agreed to accept the Chairmanship of the Committee, and I hope to announce the names of the other members before very long.
§ Mr. Hargreaves
Has not the Minister been made aware of the widespread feeling that to set a date four years ahead for this prohibition, with power to postpone the date still further, suggests that there is no drive behind the attempt to prohibit the use of these traps?
§ Sir T. Dugdale
I think the House will realise that there is here a great problem, as was indicated by the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price) and other hon. Members. I have done my best to meet all the views on the subject, and, as I hope the House will realise, I am determined to make progress with it.