HC Deb 25 July 1962 vol 663 cc1466-7
19. Sir J. Gilmour

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of reports by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, Animal Health Branch, that a virulent African type of foot-and-mouth disease is present in Turkey, what special precautions he is taking to ensure this disease is not brought into Great Britain.

22. Sir A. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures are to be taken by Britain, in conjunction with other European countries, to safeguard herds and flocks against the African virus of foot-and-mouth disease which has lately attacked stock in Israel, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

Mr. Soames

It is of vital importance to us that this disease should not spread through Europe and thus place us at risk. The Director General of F.A.O. and the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease, of which my chief veterinary officer is chairman, have been considering urgently the foot-and-mouth disease situation in the Middle East, and I understand that the Director General intends to make recommendations as to the measures necessary to prevent the spread of the disease into Europe.

Sir A. Hurd

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that we are not taking any meat into this country from the countries that are so badly infected, because we know that the virus can readily be carried in carcase meat? Will he assure us that Pirbright is working on a virus that may give us some kind of immunity if this disease should spread into Europe?

Mr. Soames

We do not import any uncooked meat from any of the countries in the Middle East or the countries mentioned in the Question. We have traditionally and for a long time had a small established trade with Africa for small quantities of uncooked meat and there is considerable veterinary control and restriction on the movement of that meat. The virus concerned is being worked on and a vaccine is being produced at Pirbright bait it would not be for use in this country if this disease were to come here. It would be by slaughter that we would eradicate it.

Sir J. Gilmour

In view of the fact that the Continent controls foot-and-mouth disease by vaccination and that they do not have a supply of vaccine to control this virus, and that we import meat from Europe, will my right hon. Friend take steps to ensure that if this disease spreads from Turkey into Europe no meat will be brought into this country?

Mr. Soames

I shall, of course, keep a very close watch on that.