HC Deb 20 May 1954 vol 527 cc138-9W
Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture the present extent of the spread of myxomatosis among rabbits; whether the disease is proving equally virulent and fatal in all the districts affected; and what steps are being taken to make a thorough clearance of surviving rabbits.

Sir T. Dugdale

There are now areas of infection, some covering many square miles, in Kent, East Sussex, Essex and East Suffolk, and the disease has spread into Norfolk. Isolated outbreaks have been confirmed in the Isle of Wight and, in the last 10 days, in Radnorshire, Gloucestershire, Cornwall and Bedfordshire. It would be early to expect the development of an epidemic such as: occurred in France last year, and the disease appears to be causing a varying mortality among rabbits in the affected areas.

I am advised that the best time for killing off surviving rabbits will be in the autumn and winter when herbage has died down and the disease has abated. Discussions have taken place with representatives of farmers and owners, farm workers and forestry and other interests, and instructions will shortly be sent to county agricultural executive committees on the planning of these follow-up operations.