§ Mr. PATRICK WHITE
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) at what date gooseberry mildew was first dealt with by his Department by ordering the destruction of affected bushes; whether it is on the increase or decrease; and if he will state why wholesale destruction of gardens of gooseberries is resorted to in Ireland while the treatment of pruning the bushes is considered sufficient in England?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
I presume the hon. Member refers to American gooseberry mildew and not to European gooseberry mildew. The destruction of bushes affected with the former was first ordered by the Department in 1908, but at that time spraying and pruning were, in some instances, permitted as an alternative for the purpose of ascertaining whether such treatment would effectively control the disease. As a result of experience, the Department have come to the conclusion that the only effective method of dealing with the disease is to have diseased bushes destroyed. The Department are satisfied that the action taken under the American Gooseberry Mildew and Black Currant Mite (Ireland) Order, 1908, has resulted in reducing the extent and controlling the spread of the disease in Ireland. I have to refer the hon. Member to the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries for information as to the views of that Board on the treatment of the disease in England.
§ Mr. WHITE
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) how many experts on American mildew are engaged by his Department, and the annual cost of administration, salaries, etc.; whether he is aware that one of his officers condemned a bush in county Meath, as suffering from American mildew, and ordered its destruction; that an affected part of the same bush was sent in another name to his Department and the decision returned to the sender stated that the part of the bush was not affected with mildew but with another harmless disease; and whether, having regard to the proved fallibility of his Department, there is any higher scientific court of appeal before the decree of his officials becomes absolute?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
The inspection for the purposes of the American Gooseberry 995W Mildew and Black Currant Mite (Ireland) Order, 1912, are carried out by the Itinerant Instructors in Horticulture employed under the County Committees of Agriculture and by the horticultural inspectors on the Department's central staff. The number of instructors is at present forty-one and the number of inspectors four. In addition, Mr. G. H. Pethybridge, Ph.D., B.Sc., the head of the Department's Plant Disease Division, and Sir F. W. Moore, M.A., M.R.I.A., keeper of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, are expert advisers to the Department on the subject. The work done by these officers in connection with the Order, however, forms only a small portion of their duties, and it would not be possible to apportion the amount of their salaries which might be taken as included in the cost of the administration of the Order. Parts of gooseberry bushes are frequently forwarded to the Department for examination, who are not aware of any case of incorrect diagnosis. The Department are the constituted authority for dealing with plant diseases under the Destructive Insects and Pests Acts, 1877 and 1907.
§ Mr. WHITE
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) whether he is aware that Mr. John Sweetman, Kells, has twice been fined at the suit of his Department for not destroying gooseberry bushes growing in a walled garden and which it was alleged were suffering from American mildew; if he will state approximately what portion of each bush was affected; whether in England such cases have been 996W dealt with by pruning the bushes, and that none have been wholly destroyed for a number of years; whether, in the opinion of the experts of his Department, the treatment given to the bushes by Mr. Sweetman's gardener had not killed the disease and the period of infectivity had been passed, he will state the object of ordering the destruction of the bushes; and under what Section of what Statute such order was legalised?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
The Department are aware that Mr. Sweetman was twice fined by the Kells Petty Sessions Court for failing to comply with notices served on him under the American Gooseberry Mildew and Black Currant Mite (Ireland) Order, 1912. In the case of the bushes in his garden, the disease manifested itself on the young shoots and on the fruit. The Department's experts are not of the opinion that the treatment to which the bushes have been subjected has killed the disease. On the contrary, they are of opinion that the bushes, if allowed to remain in their present condition, will continue to be a source of infection. The object of ordering the destruction of the bushes is to prevent the spread of the disease. The Order is made by virtue of the powers conferred upon the Department under the Destructive Insects and Pests Acts, 1877 and 1907 (Section 2 of the Act of 1877 and Section 1 Sub-section (1) of the Act of 1907). I have to refer the hon. Member to the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries for information as to the procedure in England in dealing with this disease.