§ Mr. Charles Morrison
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to control the movement of diseased elm; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Anthony Stodart
The Forestry Commission has been authorised to make an order under the Plant Health Act 1967 the general effect of which will first of all be to prohibit movement of diseased elm out of the severely affected areas unless it has been debarked or treated in a prescribed manner, and, secondly, to permit control of any movement of diseased elm elsewhere in the country.
Apart from introducing these movement controls the Forestry Commission will also be informing local authorities of the circumstances in which they will authorise use of special powers of inspection or control for dealing with the disease itself. The guiding principle here is that the powers will be made available only where they would be meaningful, and where the local authority which wants to use them can show that efforts to deal with centres of infection by voluntary measures are not succeeding. Thus, the powers will not normally be appropriate in areas where the disease is too widespread to be contained effectively. However, even in such areas the commission will not preclude applications for selective use of powers in local situations where there are good natural barriers to the disease, and where special provision may be justified to supplement voluntary action which would otherwise be frustrated. Local authorities concerned will be expected to meet the administrative costs of any small-scale measures of this kind.