HC Deb 05 May 1955 vol 540 cc1884-5
26. Mr. Sparks

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will instruct his pest officers in Devon and Somerset to take immediate action to prevent further damage to crops in the Exe Valley area and heavy financial loss to farmers as a result of raids by deer.

Mr. Nugent

My Department will see what can be done when the deer are no longer in calf.

Mr. Sparks

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Devon and Somerset Staghounds, upon whom reliance has been put for holding the deer herd in check, has no money to carry out that purpose until the autumn and, in the meantime, extensive damage is being done to crops, as pest officers admit? As there are alternative methods of dealing with this matter, will the hon. Gentleman press the Minister to give pest officers greater freedom to deal with the difficulty in that area?

Mr. Nugent

I think the hon. Member knows from correspondence he had with his right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) seven years ago that this is not a simple matter.

Normally, in the interests of humanity, deer are not destroyed or dealt with when they are calving. The alternative method is by the use of shotguns, when there is real danger of cruelty. Therefore, it is thought best to leave this matter until the autumn, when further efforts will be made.

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