HC Deb 09 February 1989 vol 146 cc769-70W
Ms. Walley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what figures are available as to the present number of rats and the numbers in the most recent two years;

(2) what arrangements are being made to monitor the changes in the number of rats.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

Information is not held centrally on rat numbers. The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, which is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, places a general duty on local authorities to ensure that their districts are kept free from rats and mice so far as practicable.

Ms. Walley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will seek a report from water authorities on the action they are taking to repair sewers as a means of controlling the public health nuisance from rats.

Mr. Howard

In 1987–88, water authorities spent some £308 million on maintaining and extending their sewers and sewage treatment facilities—an increase of 30 per cent. in real terms on 1981–82. The extent to which sewer condition affects the size of the rat population is not, however, clear. Water authorities also carry out rodent control exercises in sewers and along river banks.