HC Deb 22 July 1963 vol 681 cc1028-30
5. Mr. Prior

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the cost of the swine fever compensation scheme to date; how many pigs have been slaughtered; and how the number of outbreaks compares with previous years.

7. Mr. Bullard

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the sum paid in compensation to pig owners for animals slaughtered in connection with outbreaks of swine fever from the inception of the scheme to date; and in how many cases compensation has been paid twice for successive outbreaks.

Mr. Soames

From 11th March, when the slaughter policy for swine fever was introduced, to 15th July, approximately 164,000 pigs had been slaughtered. Compensation is estimated at £1.8 million to date in the current financial year, plus £325,000 paid in 1962–63. The number of herds slaughtered in this period was 802, including 169 in which disease had been confirmed before 11th March. The 633 outbreaks confirmed since 11th March compares with 635 outbreaks in 1962 and an average of 498 for the past five years. There have been 16 cases in which disease has been confirmed a second time on the same premises.

Mr. Bullard

These are very large figures indeed both of the number of herds and of the amounts paid. Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the scheme will result in the elimination of swine fever if pursued far enough, and has he got the rules right about restocking? It seems that some of the restocking in premises which have been infected is rather quick. Do not the alarming number of second cases where compensation has been paid seem to indicate that something is a little wrong? Further, is not my right hon. Friend providing an insurance which the scheme was not intended to provide? Some owners of herds keep very large numbers together in one place. Does it not appear, very often, that there is a risk in the holding of such large numbers which normally would be carried by the private owner but which my right hon. Friend is tending to carry under this scheme?

Mr. Soames

We were expecting a large incidence of the disease because it was rife at the time when we introduced the policy. In fact, the weekly incidence has come down from between 50 to 60 in the opening stages of the scheme and it is now running at about 20 to 30. This is a considerable improvement. We always expected that it would be high, as it always is when we start a slaughter policy.

My hon. Friend, asks whether I am satisfied that the scheme will succeed. I think that there is an excellent chance that it will, and it is something well worth trying. As regards the disease coming again in 16 herds, I do not think that this is a very high proportion out of 635. Restocking is not permitted until 14 days after the completion of disinfection. In fact, experimental work has shown that, even without disinfection, the swine fever virus does not survive for more than about 10 days. I have questioned this and I am assured by my veterinary experts that there is no question of a recrudescence of the same disease taking place in any of these herds.

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