§ Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Minister of Agriculture in view of the fact that his Department have stated that rooks are beneficial rather than harmful to agriculture, he will take steps to discourage the wholesale slaughter of these birds which has taken place in previous years.
Mr. T. Williams
The statement that my hon. Friend refers to went on to say thatwhere the numbers are excessive the harm they do outweighs the good.I do not agree that there has been a wholesale slaughter of rooks in the past years. An investigation carried out by the British Trust for Ornithology in 1944–46 showed that the rook population had increased very substantially since 1930, and there is reason to believe that this increase has since continued. The action taken last year on the advice of my Department did little more than offset the natural increase of the year.