HC Deb 20 December 1973 vol 866 cc1592-3
10. Sir G. de Freitas

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the spread of Dutch elm disease, what steps he is now taking under the Plant Health Act 1967 to restrict the movement of diseased logs from the south of England to the north.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

My right hon. Friend is considering urgently whether powers should be sought under the Plant Health Act 1967 to control the movement of diseased logs from one area to another. I cannot at this stage add anything to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Mr. Sydney Chapman) on 22nd November.—[Vol. 864, c. 1536–7.]

Sir G. de Freitas

Is the Minister aware that that is why many of us are complaining about this matter? What has been done in the last month for the Minister to make up his mind? What hopes does he have of preventing the spread of this disease if this delay continues?

Mr. Stodart

We are trying to see whether a worthwhile scheme can be worked out whereby the spraying of logs with insecticide before they are moved can be policed or monitored. It is not an easy thing to do.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Is my hon. Friend aware that this disease has become so prevalent in the South-West that it is quite impossible to identify and to fell all the diseased trees? Will he consider further measures to try to bring this about?

Mr. Stodart

I do not think that I can go back on the statement that I made to the House. We must, sadly and regrettably, admit that we lost the battle on Dutch elm disease.