HC Deb 02 March 1964 vol 690 cc905-6
19. Miss Quennell

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in view of the decrease in the wild bird and the insect population, he will give greater publicity to the Agricultural Chemicals Approval Scheme.

Mr. Soames

The 1964 list of approved crop protection chemicals was issued last week and the Agricultural Departments, in co-operation with the organisation representing manufacturers, dealers and farmers, are using all available means, through trade journals, the Press and the B.B.C., to bring it to the attention of farmers and growers. 52,000 copies are being printed and they are available free at any of the main offices of the Agricultural Departments.

Miss Quennell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is widespread growing public concern at the unpredictable side effects which some of these sprays and insecticides appear to have? It is not only farmers and growers who use them, but hundreds of thousands of private gardeners also. The decimation of our wild life is now becoming apparent and alarming and could have fundamental effects on the natural balance and ecology of the countryside.

Mr. Soames

What, I think, my hon. Friend is referring to specifically are the chemicals which we have referred to the Advisory Committee, of which my hon. Friend will be aware. I am expecting a report from that Committee on these chemicals, dieldrin, aldrin, heptachlor and D.D.T.—the chlorinated hydrocarbons—to be published at about the end of this month.

Mr. Darling

Would it not be advisable in the meantime to withdraw the pamphlet which explains the present scheme until everybody is satisfied that the chemicals listed in it are perfectly safe and sound?

Mr. Soames

No, Sir. The advantage of the pamphlet is to show which chemicals can be used for which specific purposes and the purposes for which their use is not necessary, and also to explain how they should be used with the maximum degree of safety.