HC Deb 29 November 1990 vol 181 c1004
6. Mr. Anthony Coombs

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what arrangements there are in place to monitor his Ministry's voluntary code of practice on protecting farms from rhizomania.

Mr. Curry

Our guidelines to civil engineering contractors on precautions against the spread of animal and plant diseases emphasise the need for the plant health and seeds inspectorate to be consulted from the planning stage of all major works affecting agricultural land.

Mr. Coombs

Given the appalling devastation that rhizomania can mean for sugar beet farmers, because the sterilisation of affected land can last for 25 years, will my hon. Friend listen sympathetically to the demands of the National Farmers Union, which is seeking a statutory system of compensation for consequential losses for growers of sugar beet affected by rhizomania and a code of practice to protect sugar beet farms from the coercion of contractors, in particular?

Mr. Curry

There is no provision for payment for consequential losses even in the animal sector, let alone the plant sector. If I were to suggest that such compensation would be likely to be introduced, I should be telling my hon. Friend something that is not the case. As to contractors, we plan to reissue our guidelines in the new year. A statutory basis would not make sense and would be bureaucratic and almost impossible to enforce—but we shall certainly be ready to intervene where there are difficulties. I am prepared to review the controls that we impose in respect of rhizomania, to ensure that, within the requirement to be absolutely strict about preventing the spread of the disease, we are as intelligent and flexible as possible.

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