HC Deb 02 November 1966 vol 735 cc442-3
15. Sir A. V. Harvey

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps, if any, are being taken to prevent dairy farmers, knowing their cattle are infected with brucellosis, disposing of them in open markets.

Mr. John Mackie

At the present time under the Epizootic Abortion Order of 1922 it is an offence to sell in a market, or to sell privately without informing the buyer in writing, any cow or heifer which the seller knows to have calved prematurely within the preceding two months.

I realise that this does not include all infected animals. The first step is to provide a supply of brucella-free replacements through the voluntary Brucellosis Eradication Scheme which my right hon. Friend announced on 26th July and of which he is giving further details in a Written Answer today. I shall reconsider the position when this scheme has made significant progress. [Vol. 732, c. 237–8.]

Sir A. V. Harvey

Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary aware that his right hon. Friend's scheme is just about useless and that this practice is taking place all over the country? I will give him the name of the place where it is happening. Is he aware, further, that over 200 people in my constituency are to some degree suffering from this dreadful disease, although the Minister said last year that only 120 people in the whole of Britain were affected? What do the Government intend to do to alleviate this suffering?

Mr. Mackie

I disagree with the hon. Gentleman's statement that my right hon. Friend's scheme is useless. I have pointed out before to the hon. Gentleman that a full-scale slaughter scheme would cost £40 million to £50 million. I am very doubtful whether hon. Members opposite would agree to taxation to raise that figure.

As regards the hon. Gentleman's comment on the figures, these are the figures for reported cases. We can only give figures which are reported by the medical profession or by the Ministry of Health. The figures the hon. Gentleman has produced may be correct, but he would need to support them with medical evidence and everything else.

Forward to