HC Deb 06 November 1961 vol 648 cc591-2
5. Mrs. Bulter

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consultation he has had with the Pyrethrum Board with regard to the formulation of safety standards for pesticides used in agriculture.

Mr. Vane

None, Sir. Recommended standards for the safe use of pesticides in agriculture are laid down by the Advisory Committee on Poisonous Substances used in Agriculture and Food Storage. These are discussed with the manufacturers who notify their products for examination under the voluntary notification scheme. The Pyrethrum Board has not asked for its products to be examined by the Advisory Committee.

Mrs. Butler

But as increasing use is being made of compounds that are toxic to human beings—and this is substan- tiated by the I960 Factories Report-is it not really urgent that the Minister should insist on raising the safety standards of pesticides, fungicides and seed dressings, and should also positively encourage the use of non-toxics such as pyrethrum?

Mr. Vane

I am sure that the hon. Lady will know that we are as concerned with this problem as she is. Pyrethrum is amongst the less toxic substances, admittedly, but it is also amongst the less effective. The Pyrethrum Board is carrying out a number of researches and is in touch with our Department. There is certainly no evidence to show that the Board, which is expanding its production, is not finding a useful outlet for all that it can provide. There is, in fact, reference to it in The Timesnewspaper today.

Sir G. Nicholson

In view of what my hon. Friend has just said, can he say how soon it will be before there will be a reply to the recommendations of the Select Committee on Estimates in the last Session?

Mr. Vane

My right hon. Friend has that very much in hand, and it will not be very long before my hon. Friend receives a reply.

Mrs. Slater

Does the hon. Gentleman think that the purpose of this Question is merely concerned with whether this Board can sell its commodities, or, rather, the health of the people arising out of the use of these products?

Mr. Vane

Of course, I understand that it is mainly concerned with the toxic nature of many chemicals that are now in use. On the other hand, there was the implication that, perhaps, there were alternative products available which were less toxic. I wanted to make the point that we were taking notice of what the Board has been able to do.