HC Deb 16 December 1963 vol 686 cc842-3
31. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what additional precautions he is taking this year to reduce the risk of death and starvation suffered by livestock on Dart moor during the winter months.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Animals on Dart moor are all privately owned and the responsibility for their welfare rests with their owners who, I am sure, generally discharge their duty adequately. Nevertheless on request the Ministry has provided technical advice to the farmers on these matters. In the event of a real emergency developing the Ministry will give whatever assistance is appropriate at the time with the help of Local necessary. The Dartmoor Commoners Organisations and the Armed Services if Association and the R.S.P.C.A. have also reached agreement about certain stand-by arrangements.

Mr. Lipton

Will the Minister bear in mind that much of this suffering and death to livestock on Dartmoor is deliberately supported and encouraged by the Government subsidy, which enables the hill farmer to claim against reasonable loss by death or straying? Will the Government in these circumstances take the evidence which is available to them from the Livestock Protection Association and other people living on Dartmoor who know what the facts are and who do not want to see a repetition of the scandalous state of affairs which occurred last winter?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I do not accept what the hon. Member said. I accept hardly a word of it. Only hardy breeds are eligible for the sheep subsidy, and it is restricted to the number of ewes which can properly graze the land. That is the answer to the hon. Member.