HC Deb 20 April 1971 vol 815 cc936-7
27. Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further consideration he has given to vaccination policy following recent outbreaks of fowl pest in Hampshire and elsewhere.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

Outbreaks of fowl pest are declining and I am satisfied that vaccination is the right policy. My Department will be examining our control measures in consultation with the interests concerned, but I must emphasise the crucial importance of vaccination.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Does my hon. Friend realise that the situation does not seem to be improving in Hampshire and that my constituents think that the Ministry perhaps does not realise how serious the situation is? Will the Ministry consider setting up a court of inquiry in conjunction with the N.F.U. to examine the whole question of fowl pest rather on the same lines as the Northumberland inquiry into foot and mouth disease?

Mr. Stodart

I regret to say that in Hampshire, as elsewhere, a lamentably small number of flocks was thoroughly vaccinated before the outbreak and, therefore, they fell victim to a particularly vicious form of this disease. There was an inquiry in 1962. I do not think that there needs to be a full inquiry on that scale again. I do not think that that form of inquiry is justified, but all the interests involved will be invited to take pant in the forthcoming review and will be able to make their views known.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

The House will welcome the hon. Gentleman's statement that this grave epidemic is on the decline, but may I press him to consider further the request made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman—namely, that there should be an independent inquiry—in the light of the fact that on this occasion the difference is that live vaccine is being used and the House and the country will wish to know the full implications of its use, without going into the merits of the case at this time? If the hon. Gentleman refuses to institute such an inquiry, will he give the House an undertaking that the report of the departmental inquiry that is proposed by his right hon. Friend will be published so that the House can be aware of its contents and recommendations?

Mr. Stodart

I have all along said that this subject is far too serious not to consider seriously any suggestion that is made, no matter from which part of the House it comes. My right hon. Friend has heard what the right hon. Gentleman has said. We will consider the suggestions that have been made. I do not wish to go further than that today.