HC Deb 29 June 1967 vol 749 cc131-2W
Mr. Kitson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made with the eradication of swine fever from Great Britain; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peart

No case of swine fever has been confirmed since 27th June, 1966. It is extremely unlikely that undisclosed swine fever now remains in this country and it is unlikely to recur unless the virus is introduced from outside. Accordingly swine fever is considered to have been eradicated from Great Britain.

A campaign for the eradication of swine fever was begun in March, 1963, and in the first nine months of the programme, there were over one thousand outbreaks and more than a quarter of a million pigs were slaughtered at a cost in compensation of nearly £3½ million. In 1964 the number of outbreaks was just over four hundred, and in 1965 just over one hundred, while in 1966 up to 27th June there were only twenty-five outbreaks. Compensation to farmers whose pigs were slaughtered has cost the taxpayer a total of over £5½ million.

Swine fever has been a serious problem in this country for more than a hundred years and many methods have been employed for its control prior to March, 1963. Furthermore, we are the first country in the world in which swine fever has been established as an endemic disease, to have achieved eradication. This is a truly magnificent achievement.

All sections of my veterinary staff in the field and in the laboratory must be congratulated on this triumph. British farmers have made a great contribution to the success of the policy; we must not forget the losses they and others have experienced through the imposition of restrictions which have been necessary in fighting the disease. In the understanding and acceptance of these restrictions, farmers and auctioneers have made a most valuable contribution. Practising veterinary surgeons have played a substantial part by the early reporting of their suspicion of the disease.

The campaign has demonstrated to the full that, in all organised measures for the control of disease of farm animals, co-operation is the keynote of success.