HC Deb 28 June 1920 vol 131 cc64-5W

Captain COOTE asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture whether he has received any complaints as to the compulsory slaughter of animals suffering from foot-and-mouth disease; whether this disease is dangerous to the public health in any animal except cows giving milk; whether the average bullock would be perfectly recovered within two months after being first attacked by the disease; and whether segregation would be equally as effective as slaughter besides being more economical?

Sir A. BOSCAWEN: The Ministry is aware that in a few cases individuals would prefer to run the risks involved by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease rather than have their stock slaughtered, but the general opinion of agriculturists is strongly on the side of the policy of stamping out adopted by the Ministry, as may be seen from the Report of the Departmental Committee on the subject in 1912. The disease is not directly dangerous to the public health and, as a rule, horned stock will recover from it; but the disease is highly contagious and any widespread outbreak might have a serious effect upon milk production. In certain cases where the circumstances were favourable the Ministry has successfully carried out a policy of isolation, but such a method is rarely applicable because of the lack of suitable accommo- dation on the ordinary farm, and would not be effective as a general policy. As a rule, an outbreak is detected at an early stage, and it is more economical for the industry as a whole to proceed to slaughter than to attempt a system of isolation, especially in view of the fact that the export of pedigree stock to foreign countries, which is a very valuable trade, is seriously hampered so long as foot-and-mouth disease exists in this country. The policy of the Ministry has been completely successful in checking the spread of the disease in the numerous outbreaks that have occurred of late, and has earned for the Ministry the thanks of the farmers in the districts affected.