§ 3.10 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the amount of compensation paid to farmers in respect of fowl pest during the past year; what is the estimated cost of protective vaccination; and how efficacious is such vaccination.]
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD (EARL WALDEGRAVE)
My Lords, the amount of compensation paid to farmers in respect of fowl pest in the last financial year was £4,598,292. Effective vaccines, correctly used, with repeat vaccinations carried out at the correct intervals, might be expected to protect at least 85 per cent. of birds so vaccinated. I am not at present in a position to give an estimate of the cost of producing and administering vaccine in this country.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for his Answer, so far as it goes. But would he agree with me that, taking the figures which are quoted in the Report of the Committee on Fowl Pest Policy, it looks probable that we could get vaccine for something under £2 per thousand birds vaccinated; and that, on that generous estimate, allowing for costs, it is unlikely that the cost of the vaccination of the entire poultry flock of this country would reach £2 million. If he would accept those rather simple calculations, would he not agree that at least very serious consideration should be given to the policy of discontinuing the slaughter of poultry affected by fowl pest and substituting therefor vaccination at the earliest possible opportunity?
My Lords, serious consideration is being given to the comprehensive and lengthy Report on this subject submitted by Sir Arnold Plant. I cannot really add anything that would be helpful to your Lordships about the costs of vaccine. It is difficult 338 to work out what the figure of £2 per thousand birds would come to. But I have heard that if we could get an effective vaccine and if we could be sure it would be used, and of a number of other things, it might cost between £1 and £2 million per year. But the effectiveness of vaccination would depend upon the efficiency of the vaccine, on the skill of the administrator, on the weight of infection and upon whether vaccine was being generally used. This is a very complicated matter which we are examining with urgency at the moment.