HC Deb 15 May 1968 vol 764 cc1193-4
2. Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to deal with damage to crops by pigeons.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Mackie)

Advice on the control of this pest is readily available at local offices of the Ministry. Laboratory research and field experiments designed to find more effective control methods are still being vigorously pursued but there is no really simple solution to the problem.

Mr. Irvine

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that for years he has been telling me that there is no simple solution to the problem? Has not the time come, in view of the great damage done not only to market garden products but also to corn, for him to go back and work out a proper scheme of shooting which would be both administratively viable and economically possible?

Mr. Mackie

Age does not alter a fact. There is no simple solution to the problem, even after all the answers I have given the hon. Gentleman. It has been established that shooting does not reduce the overall population of pigeons. Through their societies farmers can still get subsidised cartridges to protect their crops.

Mr. Farr

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if pigeon clearance societies were established on the lines of existing rabbit clearance societies and operated by skilful shots, the problem could be controlled most effectively?

Mr. Mackie

I agree, and I have sympathy with the idea, not just of rabbit or pigeon clearance societies, but pest clearance societies, which would include pigeons. Shooting alone does not solve the problem. It will only protect crops, but not reduce the total population of pigeons. This has been scientifically proved. Hon. Members may be interested to know that we are carrying out a large-scale experiment against pigeons in Bedfordshire using narcotic baits. Although we do not have very high hopes of this, we are doing it to see how we get on.

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