HC Deb 20 February 1956 vol 549 cc23-4
36. Mr. A. Roberts

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his estimate of the amount the agriculture industry will benefit in 1956 due to the absence of the attack of rabbits on food crops.

Mr. Amory

I am afraid that it is not possible to make such an estimate.

Mr. Roberts

Does not the Minister agree that quite a lot of nonsense is being talked about the so-called rabbit plague? In view of what he said last year about the £15 million by which the agricultural industry benefited, would he not recommend that some inducement be offered to attract recruits into the farming industry?

Mr. Amory

The hon. Gentleman has raised some very broad issues. There is a difference of opinion about this matter, but I would say that the figure to which he referred was not an estimate of mine of the total gain but only the estimated gain for cereal crops last year.

Mr. Nicholson

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied with the progress made in the elimination of rabbits? Is he aware that there are some rabbits almost all over England, and that unless more vigorous steps are taken the breeding season will begin without much reduction having been achieved?

Mr. Amory

I shall certainly never be "satisfied" with progress, but the job is being tackled with the greatest energy. I must say that I am pleased at the work that is being done under the auspices of county agricultural committees and by the occupiers themselves.

Mr. Champion

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us how he intends to assess in his Price Review the saving which has accrued from the rabbits being eliminated?

Mr. Amory

Fortunately, that item does not have to be separated from other items in the Price Review. It is very difficult to estimate.