HC Deb 06 March 1969 vol 779 cc656-7
18. Mr. Brooks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will encourage research into the preservation of rare species which are in danger of extinction in Wales.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

I already do. The Nature Conservancy has been studying rare arctic-alpine flora in Wales for a a number of years. The conservancy is doing a survey of the number and distribution of otters in the Snowdonia National Park which will be related to the work of the Mammals Society in Great Britain as a whole, and work is also being done on the red kite. If my hon. Friend has any other particular species in mind—for example, Welsh Conservatives—perhaps he will write to me.

Mr. Brooks

Does not my hon. Friend accept, particularly at a moment when the Duke of Edinburgh is publicising the World Wild Life Fund, that there are many indigenous species under grave threat, as shown in the Mammal Society's publication last week relating to the otter? Are not urgent steps for conservation now necessary, particularly in the more remote highland areas, where such species may have a chance of surviving in their natural habitat?

Mrs. Williams

Yes; it is very important that we try to preserve our native fauna as far as we possibly can. This is obviously true of the otter not least among the threatened mammals. We hope that the Snowdonia survey will assist us in this respect.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill

What can the hon. Lady do to protect some of the rarer Welsh birds from extinction by her own colleagues such as, notably at this time of stress in the Annual Price Review, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food?

Mrs. Williams

It is so open in education to take the phrase "rarer Welsh birds" either way that I find it rather difficult to answer the hon. Gentleman.