HC Deb 04 February 1960 vol 616 cc1211-3
32. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement on the fowl pest epidemic in the country in general and in Lincolnshire and the adjoining counties in particular.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Hare)

I am glad to report that the fowl pest position in the Midlands is much better and the remaining restrictions there are confined to the County of Nottingham. There were 45 outbreaks of fowl pest in Lincolnshire in the last quarter of 1959 and there have been 4 in the county so far this year. The situation in East Anglia is still serious despite the great efforts being made to destroy all the affected flocks and to stop the further spread of infection, but I am pleased to announce that infected area restrictions will be withdrawn from Cambridgeshire, the Isle of Ely and Huntingdonshire after tomorrow. Further outbreaks of fowl pest have recently occurred in East Sussex, which has been declared an infected area.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the Minister aware that there is a widespread feeling in the community concerned with this matter that not enough energy and resources are being devoted to studying methods for the prevention and cure of this disease? Further, is he aware that there is a feeling that in this matter his Ministry is not as lively and as quick as it should be regarding research into methods of prevention and cure?

Mr. Hare

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not wish to detract from the immense energy which has been put into the job of eradication by my Ministry. Regarding the other part of his supplementary question, he will remember that he has another Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I was not referring to the energy displayed by the Ministry regarding eradication? It is methods of prevention and cure to which I am referring.

Mr. Hare

It is certainly a difficult matter. A great deal of research is going on into the whole question of virus diseases.

Mr. Hilton

Is the Minister aware that Norfolk has been badly hit by fowl pest in the past few months and that recently there have been more outbreaks of this disease? Would not he agree that rather than pay large sums in compensation to farmers and other poultry keepers who have suffered as a result of this disease, it would he better to spend more money on research into the prevention and cure of fowl pest?

Mr. Hare

I will certainly consider what the hon. Gentleman has said. Both his County of Norfolk and my County of Suffolk, as he knows, have suffered particularly as a result of this disease. But, in our opinion, our policy is still the best which can be pursued. On the other hand, it would be quite wrong to shut our minds to considering whether any alternative methods would be better.

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