HL Deb 24 October 1989 vol 511 cc1257-8

Baroness Sharples asked Her Majesty's Government:

What has been the result of recent small-scale trials to control the Blandford Fly, and whether approval will now be given for a full-scale programme of control next spring.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Employment (Lord Strathclyde)

My Lords, the results of the small-scale trial were received by the Health and Safety Executive on 4th October 1989. These, together with an application from the North Dorset District Council for full-scale treatment next year, will be considered at the next meeting of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides Scientific Sub-committee on Wednesday, 6th December 1989. Ministers will then decide whether approval will be given on the basis of the recommendations of the advisory committee.

Baroness Sharples

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that encouraging reply. However, is he aware that over 1,300 people have been bitten by this pestilential insect which measures only 10 millimetres across the wingspan? Those people in the Dorset area have had to be treated by their doctors.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I am aware that in the areas of North Dorset and East Dorset district councils and Poole borough council last year there were 1,371 reported cases of people being bitten. Those cases were reported by their doctors. That is obviously a tremendous number of people.

Baroness Turner of Camden

My Lords, can the Minster tell the House whether this fly is the result of a mutation? Do we know how it has suddenly arisen in the Dorset area?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, that does not appear to be the case. I understand that in the early 1970s there was a similar infestation. The actual fly—which is something like a black fly—is professionally called Simulium posticatum. The fly is common in other parts of the world and indeed in this country.

The Viscount of Oxfuird

My Lords, can my noble friend tell me whether this fly is prevalent in any other part of the country apart from Blandford in Dorset?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, the fly exists in Scotland but does not seem to have provided the same sort of concern that it has in north Dorset. I do not know why that should be so.

Lord John-Mackie

My Lords, is the environmental lobby against spraying to kill the fly?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, there is a suggestion that it should be killed by spraying with Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis—otherwise known as Bti. That is a bacteria which when ingested by the larvae will kill them.

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that as the Blandford Fly does not seem to damage people in Scotland, that shows that we are of tougher fibre?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I am sure that the House will agree with my noble friend.

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