Injurious Weeds.

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture. – in the House of Commons at on 13 December 1937.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many county councils employ full-time inspectors to deal exclusively with the problem of noxious weeds; and in how many cases have these inspectors other duties to perform?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I am informed that in eight counties one or more officials are engaged full time, or practically full time, on this work during the appropriate season of the year. In other counties the work is carried out by officers of the council who have other duties to perform.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that the very small number of full-time inspectors for this special work is any guarantee that the farmers are doing their duty by the land and by their neighbours?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The hon. Member will realise that the enforcement of weed destruction can be carried out in conjunction with other duties, and the necessity for employing a whole-time officer varies considerably. In some counties the local authority find it sufficient to employ officers who are also engaged in other duties.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

In view of the small number of counties employing inspectors for this important duty, is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the work is done effectively and that farmers in any county are not victims of inefficient neighbours?

Photo of Sir Francis Acland Sir Francis Acland , Cornwall Northern

Is not the Minister aware that the only thing which will really remedy this and other problems effectively would be to have a special authority in each county area to see that the land was made really good use of, as was suggested in the "Times" newspaper a fortnight ago and by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), in detail, 12 years ago?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

In answer to the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), the local authorities have really been very active in this matter. In the year 1936 nearly 10,000 cases were investigated by agricultural committees. With regard to the second supplementary question, there does exist in every county now an authority charged with a number of agricultural duties, including that of enforcing the destruction of injurious weeds.

Photo of Sir Francis Acland Sir Francis Acland , Cornwall Northern

Not a special one, though.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many farmers have been prosecuted during the present year for failing to keep their land free from noxious weeds; how many farmers have been given notice to leave the farm for the same reason; and will he state the counties where such action has been taken?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

County agricultural committees have been authorised to undertake prosecutions in respect of injurious weeds during the present year in 23 cases. In some instances either the offender subsequently cut the weeds, so that prosecution became unnecessary, or else the case has not yet been heard. I have information, however, of 10 prosecutions in which the hearing has taken place, the counties concerned being Derby, Kent, Norfolk, Stafford, East Sussex, and Denbigh. I have no information as to cases of farmers receiving notice to quit from their landlords on account of the prevalence of injurious weeds on their land.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any idea how many fines have been inflicted in connection with this matter?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Where there have been prosecutions, the penalties imposed have ranged from ordering the defendant to pay the costs of the prosecution to a fine of £10.