§ Major OWEN
asked the Minister of Agriculture the reasons why his Department refused to agree to the suggestions of the local authorities of Anglesey, Carnarvon, Denbigh and Merioneth regarding the application of Parts II. and III. of the Sheep Scab Order, seeing that these suggestions were made at a conference convened at the request of the Ministry in order to arrive at a uniform dipping period for the respective counties, and that the counties concerned did submit an agreed scheme?
Owing to the prevalence of sheep scab in North Wales it has been necessary for some years past to require the double dipping of all sheep in that area during a specified period of the year in order to check the spread of the disease. It is essential that the period chosen should be as short as possible in order to prevent the risk of sheep which have been dipped being brought into contact with undipped sheep. The period should, if possible, be limited to six weeks or less, but owing to local difficulties it has been extended to two months in North Wales. Hitherto the period most suitable for Anglesey and Carnarvon has been 1st August to 30th September, whereas the most convenient date for the remainder of North Wales is 16th July to 15th September. The recent conference was convened in order to arrive if possible at an agreed period of not more than two months suitable to all the North Wales counties. The conference ultimately suggested the 16th July to 30th September, thus extending the period over 2½ months, and further proposed that sheep should be allowed to be moved out of the area if they had been dipped at any time during the suggested period of 2½ months.1240W
The Conference therefore failed to arrive at a period which would meet the requirements from a disease point of view as well as local convenience. A double dipping period of 2½ months would defeat its own purpose by creating fresh difficulties in isolating dipped from undipped sheep over so long a period. I could not agree to the suggestion that sheep which had been dipped at any time during the previous 2½ months should be allowed to be moved out of the infected area, as this would not be an adequate safeguard against the risk of infection to other districts and would be strongly opposed by authorities in the Midland counties, who recently protested against the movement into their areas of sheep which had been dipped within the previous 56 days when that period was extended from one of 28 days by the Ministry in 1926. An extension of the dipping period alone would create dissatisfaction on the part of the owners who had dipped early in the period and found themselves called upon to carry out another double dipping in respect of sheep which they desired to move out of the area in the latter part of the dipping period. Moreover, seeing that the number of outbreaks in the five northern counties included in the double dipping area increased from 126 in 1926 to 191 in 1927, a tightening up rather than a slackening of the provisions with regard to double dipping would seem to be required in North Wales.