HC Deb 03 April 1968 vol 762 cc361-3
34. Mr. Biffen

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to what extent there has been recrudescence of foot-and-mouth disease arising from the epidemic circumstantially ascribed to Argentine lamb; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peart

Disease has appeared again on seven of the 1,700 farms which have been restocked. Four of these were premises where extra disinfection had already been carried out. All are due to the same type of virus as the original series.

All premises still to be restocked or recently restocked, are being surveyed again and further destruction of feedingstuffs carried out where necessary. Not more than 50 cattle or pigs will be allowed on any farm premises for the first fortnight after restocking.

Mr. Biffen

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that since I put down this Question, there has been a new outbreak at Weatherford Hall Farm, Shawbury? Could he say whether, in the judgment of his veterinary officers, that is an outbreak which has resulted from recrudescence in adjacent areas or whether it is a new primary outbreak?

Mr. Peart

So far my veterinary officers have not been able to trace the origin. The virus type is "O" and the sub-typing is not yet completed. As soon as I have the sub-type, I will let the hon. Member know the result.

Mr. More

Does not this new outbreak make it all the more important that the Minister should not lift the ban on 15th April? Will he revise his thoughts on this important matter?

Mr. Peart

The hon. Member must appreciate that the House took a decision on this. The situation is still the same.

Mr. Dance

Would not the Minister agree that, as there is so much doubt about this Argentine meat, it would be a great deal better to increase meat imports from New Zealand?

Mr. Peart

The hon. Member will be well aware of the action of the Government on this. Since then, we have sent a veterinary mission to South America and it is still there.

37. Mr. Gurden

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what compensation he will pay to butchers who, because of his restrictions on imported meat, have had considerable losses in meeting Government contracts.

Mr. Peart

I recognise that the measures taken in connection with the foot-and-mouth outbreak have involved many businesses and individuals in loss, but I regret that I can make no exception to the policy of not paying compensation for consequential losses.

Any question arising from a contract to supply meat to a Government Department should be addressed to the Minister responsible for that Department.

Mr. Gurden

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the example in my constituency of a butcher who is still holding over £20,000 worth of meat and is not allowed to touch it by the Government? Would he have a word with his right hon. Friends to get something done about compensation?

Mr. Peart

I am not aware of the details of that case, but the hon. Member's hon. Friends will probably not want him to distribute that meat. If there is any difficulty with a Government Department, approaches should be made.

Mr. Hazell

If my right hon. Friend makes arrangements for compensation to be paid to butchers, would he bear in mind that farm workers who have lost their employment or have suffered a considerable reduction in earnings are also entitled to compensation?

Mr. Peart

I do not think that any Government could go beyond the system which we have now. Many people suffer consequential losses, such as my racing friends.

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