HC Deb 16 February 1956 vol 548 cc2504-5
10. Mr. H. Steward

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state the saving in each of the years 1953, 1954 and 1955, resulting from the clearance of wild rabbits by disease or other forms of extermination, giving separate figures in respect of agriculture and forestry, and stating the basis on which his figures are computed.

Mr. Amory

There is no adequate statistical basis for the particular estimates desired. I would, however, refer my hon. Friend to the replies given to the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) on 27th October last, and to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Arundel and Shoreham (Captain Kerby) on Monday last, 13th February.

Mr. Steward

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that Answer, may I ask him whether, after studying the grain yield for last year, he is satisfied that the estimates made by the Advisory Committee are still true, and if so, will he take account of that fact when we come to study the agricultural prices?

Mr. Amory

I have said on every occasion that a statistical computation of the exact gain is extremely difficult to make and I have always said that I do not think it is worth while to attempt to do so on present evidence. I have given estimates based on the best evidence available but I have pointed out when doing so that it is indeed a rough and ready estimate, and I have no means of checking the estimate made by the Myxomatosis Advisory Committee in 1954.

Mr. Usborne

Is it the Government's policy now to seek completely to exterminate the rabbit population of this country?

Mr. Amory

Yes, Sir, it is my policy to do eveything I can in an attempt to exterminate rabbits.

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