§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, in view of the fact that during the six years that the present Swine Fever Orders have been in operation the proportion of the pig population of the country deemed to be affected by this disease has steadily increased, with a consequent large 348W and hitherto ineffective expenditure of public money both upon compensation and upon administration and a shortage of pigs throughout the country, resulting in the present high cost of bacon and other pig meat, he is prepared, without delay, to abandon the present swine fever policy of the Board in favour of a policy less vexatious to the agricultural community?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I cannot accept the hon. Member's assumption that the present shortage of pigs and the high cost of bacon and other pig meat are caused solely, if at all, by the methods adopted by the Board for dealing with swine fever. I would suggest to him that a partial explanation, at any rate, is to be found in the fact that between 1908 and 1912 the amount of pig meat imported into this country fell from 7,753,799 cwts. to 6,057,952 cwts., a drop of nearly a million and three-quarters hundredweights; the high prices consequently obtainable induced many breeders to sell their breeding sows for slaughter. The Board's swine fever policy is based upon the best expert advice obtainable, and, disappointing though the results have been, I am not prepared to abandon it until a satisfactory alternative has been discovered. If I am right in interpreting the hon. Member's question to mean that ho knows of such an alternative policy, and is in a position to prove its superiority. I shall be glad if he will be good enough to communicate it to the hon. Member for the Eye Division for the consideration of the Swine Fever Committee.