§ Mr. Meale
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to his answer of 28 January,Official Report, column 414, to the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce), when he expects to make a statement on Government grants for fox destruction, following research by Dr. Ray Hewson of Aberdeen university.
§ Mr. Lang
I have considered the report "Victim of Myth" and whether as a result of its findings any changes should be made to the present arrangements for the payment of grants to fox destruction clubs in Scotland. These grants are designed to meet 50 per cent. of the cost of the clubs with the balance being met by the members.
While the study is to be welcomed, I do not, however, consider that it supports conclusively the claim that the killing of foxes in the interest of sheep farming cannot be justified in Scotland. The evidence is that foxes do predate on lambs, possibly at about 2 per cent. of all births, and that, as the report itself points out, if foxes are numerous predation on lambs may increase. Group activity by farmers has proved effective in reducing their losses.
I therefore intend to continue the present scheme of grants to clubs for the purpose of controlling predation by foxes on sheep.