HC Deb 02 November 1966 vol 735 cc448-9
27. Mr. Onslow

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now publish the official correspondence which he has exchanged with the Eire Department of Agriculture concerning salmon disease.

Mr. Hoy

No, Sir. I have promised to inform the House of the outcome.

Mr. Onslow

Can the hon. Gentleman confirm reports that this disease has now made its appearance in rivers flowing into the Solway, and will he give an assurance that he will deal with this matter more energetically than the Irish Government seem to have done?

Mr. Hoy

That is a little ungrateful of the hon. Gentleman. We had a meeting about this and I told him exactly what was happening and what action I had taken. I said that, when we had a complete reply, I would inform the House. The hon. Gentleman knows that, immediately there was some suspicion of this disease in the part of the country to which he refers, even before it had become apparent, we took action at once to put an order on it. This was done some days ago, and I would have thought that it would meet the desire of most people who are concerned about the protection of our rivers.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Pending the publication which the Minister has just promised, will he say whether the correspondence deals with steps to prevent the spread of the disease to Britain, and what are those steps?

Mr. Hoy

This is what we were discussing with Irish Ministers. Let me be quite frank with the House. Even now, there is still some doubt as to what the disease actually is. We have been assuming, and we are willing to accept, that it is what we say it is. We are taking action along with the Irish Government to do what we can to prevent it, but it is very difficult when the disease gets into the stream.