§ Mr. Beith
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether any body for which he is responsible is conducting research on giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum); and whether, in view of the skin damage suffered by children who come into contact with it, he will issue advice to local authorities as to how it can be controlled.
§ Mr. Strang
My Department is not now actively conducting research on giant hogweed although the Royal Botanic 107W Gardens, Kew, investigated the anatomical structure and the toxic effects of this plant some years ago and still retains an interest in the classification of the genus. We have no proposals to issue advice, as suggested, to local authorities on the control of the plant. My right hon. Friend's powers to prescribe weeds as injurious and to take action against them are intended primarily to safeguard food production. There is no evidence that this plant is either common on agricultural land or a threat to agriculture.