asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that certain war agricultural committees are giving instructions for rabbits on certain land to be poisoned; and whether other means can be found to exterminate these rabbits in such a way that they can still be of food value?
Yes, Sir. The use of cyanide gas is strongly advocated as a means of exterminating rabbits which would otherwise be left as breeding stock after the employment of the normal methods of trapping or snaring and for this purpose farmers are enabled to obtain gassing power at half the normal price. Having regard to the damage caused by rabbits to food production, I am quite satisfied that the need for their destruction overrides any consideration of their food value.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the trappers are in the districts concerned and that the consumers are in the industrial areas, and cannot we have the rabbits for food instead of poisoning them?
We only poison them when we cannot trap them. We always trap a certain number, and if the hon. Member can find a means of getting the gassed rabbit out of its hole, he will be able to eat it, because it is not poisoned.