HC Deb 17 July 1958 vol 591 cc1414-6
10. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware of the anxiety of Warwickshire farmers regarding the existing arrangements for the importation of Irish cattle; whether he is yet satisfied with the standard of Irish attestation; and if he will make a further statement on this matter.

Mr. Godber

Pending the eradication of bovine tuberculosis from Great Britain the position is adequately safeguarded by the requirement that once-tested cattle must be isolated for a period and pass a second test before being added to attested herds. My right hon. Friend would, however, welcome the early development of a trade in attested Irish cattle. The future of the trade in Irish cattle after eradication of the disease from Great Britain is under active discussion between the authorities concerned. My right hon. Friend is aware of the concern of farmers with these matters, but he is not in a position to make a further statement at present.

Mr. Johnson

In view of the amounts that the Government spend to ensure that our own cattle are fully attested, is not it foolish to continue importing cattle which have been only once attested before coming here? Would not it be desirable to have arrangements on the Irish side comparable with those that we have here?

Mr. Godber

I entirely agree with the hon. Member. We want the Irish to speed up this matter as much as possible. We have been in negotiation with them on a number of occasions. I myself have discussed it with some of their representatives. We want the situation improved as soon as possible, but at the moment the position is safeguarded in the way indicated in my original Answer.

Sir A. Baldwin

Is my hon. Friend aware that isolation is no safeguard against T.B. and that the only safeguard is to ensure that the cattle are attested on the other side before coming to this country? Will he take steps to ensure that in due course the Irish follow the steps taken in Great Britain so that their cattle become fully T.T.?

Mr. Godber

Yes, Sir; that is exactly what we would wish. I would point out, however, that once-tested cattle are segregated, as I have indicated, for at least sixty days. This gives reasonably satisfactory results, the number of reactors being very small—about 2.3 per cent.