HC Deb 07 July 1965 vol 715 cc1583-4
30. Mr. Kitson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he intends to introduce a scheme to eradicate brucellosis; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peart

I regret that I cannot yet add to my reply to the hon. Member's Question of 19th May.

Mr. Kitson

It was 12 months ago last week when the right hon. Gentleman called upon the then Government to introduce a brucellosis eradication scheme. Does he realise that, as every year passes, there are several people who suffer from undulant fever and never recover from it? Will he explain to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is not right to economise in this way and delay the introduction of an eradication scheme? Will he please get on with it?

Mr. Peart

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised this matter, and I accept that I urged previous Administrations to take action. I regard it as important. I made a statement about it in reply to one of his hon. Friends in the Welsh Grand Committee a week or two ago. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that there are difficulties here. For instance, if we have an eradication scheme for brucellosis, it will involve a slaughter policy which would cost between £40 million and £50 million. I have to make a final decision on whether to do that immediately or whether to have a gradual approach. I am watching this very carefully. It involves questions of policy affecting the supply of staff and also the amount of money which would have to be used. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be sensible.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

The statement which the right hon. Gentleman made to me in the Welsh Grand Committee the other week was entirely empty and negative and he did not go any further from his previous position. Will he accept that this is an important problem and ask his officials and veterinary officers to consider whether a start could be made with a new eradication scheme, starting it in Wales as was done with tuberculosis?

Mr. Peart

I am considering whether we should make a start in a small area with a pilot scheme of the kind mentioned, but before making that final decision one has to be quite sure about the estimates of how much it will cost the community. My reply to the hon. Gentleman in the Welsh Grand Committee was not an empty one indicating a negative approach. I gave him—courteously, I thought—the figure of £40 million which would be the cost of a slaughter policy.