§ 27. Mr. de Freitas
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware that the number of South American coypus in East Anglia is increasing, and that these rodents damage river banks, dyke walls and bridges; and whether he will take steps to make their control the responsibility of the rabbit clearance societies.
§ Mr. Godber
Coypus in East Anglia have increased over the last few years and have done some damage to river banks and dykes. Rabbit clearance societies may deal with coypus if they wish, but the cost of such work does not qualify for grant.
§ Mr. de Freitas
Why does it not? Are not these animals as destructive as they are hideous—which is saying an awful lot? Will not he do all he can to encourage their destruction, even if it means calling in a committee of the M.F.H. to see if there is another way of doing it?
§ Mr. Godber
As to the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, I would make it clear that rabbit clearance societies are set up primarily to deal with rabbits. Although there may be a point in extending their activities I do not think that the menace of the coypu is comparable with that of the rabbit. I agree that it is a problem in certain areas, and we are studying the matter very carefully. As for the latter part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, I could not advocate the course suggested.