15. Mr. Vane
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which counties are clear of rabbits; and what reports he has had of local increases.
I cannot say that any county is completely clear of rabbits. Recent reports indicate increases in some areas, mostly in the Midlands and southeast. Though so far the increases fortunately do not seem to be very marked, 1929 the threat is a serious one and calls for the most energetic action on the part of all concerned.
Is it not a little disappointing that we cannot yet record one single county as being entirely clear? Will my right hon. Friend see that the clearing up of these pockets of rabbits is not overlooked, particularly now that the land is clear of crops and that after the frost the undergrowth will have died down and it can be seen exactly how extensive is the spread of rabbits?
The point I want to emphasise to my hon. Friend is that I cannot say for sure that any county is completely clear. In some counties it is nothing more than a rumour that a rabbit has been seen somewhere during the month. As regards the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I agree with him that this period of the year when the foliage has died down will give us a great opportunity of dealing with any survivors.
§ Mr. Willey
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the country feels that there are too many rabbits in the Government?
I can give the hon. Gentleman an assurance that I will not give any reward for any ears sent in from Members of the Opposition.
§ Mr. Hastings
Can the right hon. Gentleman give any estimate as to whether the number of rabbits in the country generally is greater or less than it was at this time last year?
I should rather fear that the total number was greater than at this time last year, but I think that is inevitable owing to the course of the disease. The point is that in no county is the number of rabbits yet out of control, and, therefore, we still have a splendid opportunity of dealing with this pest.