HC Deb 09 May 1962 vol 659 cc413-4
3. Sir Richard Glyn

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in view of improvement in veterinary knowledge and techniques, he will review the present quarantine regulations for dogs and cats entering Great Britain, and in particular dogs and cats returning to Great Britain after a short stay overseas.

Mr. Soames

The view of those who have made an informed study of the problem of rabies, including the expert committee set up by the World Health Organisation, is that apart from a prohibition of entry, a quarantine period of at least six months is the only sure protection against the disease. Our quarantine regulations have kept the country free from rabies for over forty years and I am not prepared by any relaxation of our present arrangements to take a risk of re-introducing it.

Sir Richard Glyn

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the World Health Organisation has recently published a further report on the control of rabies with the likely development of the Flurry vaccine, and that one month's quarantine with an injection of this vaccine may give better control than the six months' quarantine required by the present arrangement? Will he look into this matter again?

Mr. Soames

No, Sir. The report to which my hon. Friend referred stated categorically that it was the opinion of the expert committee that those countries which were free from rabies, and so in a position to have quarantine up to six months if possible, should continue with that arrangement, and that that was the only sure way of ensuring that the disease did not come into the country.

Sir Richard Pilkington

Are experiments being conducted in this country to improve on the present position?

Mr. Soames

I think that there is a very good state of affairs inasmuch as we have been completely free of this most terrible disease for forty years. I do not think that that can be improved upon. Any change is likely to be retrograde.