Foot-and-Mouth Disease

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington 12:00 am, 24th July 1952

asked the Minister of Agriculture on what international bodies concerned with foot-and-mouth disease Her Majesty's Government are represented.

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

The International Office of Epizootics, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

Is the Minister satisfied that these organisations are effective to combat the present outbreak in France, Britain and other European countries, and will he initiate joint discussions with the French Government to set up a European authority under F.A.O. to combat foot-and-mouth disease?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

I am satisfied that these bodies are all very much alive to the problem facing them. I am also satisfied that in recent months they have been coming together and working along parallel lines on the same problem. In reply to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary, I will look into that point and will continue to have it under review.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that action similar to this was taken by the United States Government with Mexico when they formed a joint commission?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

Will the Minister bear in mind that there is a special agricultural sub-committee of the Strasbourg Assembly considering European agriculture, to which we are submitting a memorandum? Will the Minister see that that committee receives a memorandum from him, and suggest to them that this is the sort of practical job which they can do, instead of the rather vague things they are doing at the moment?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

I will certainly consider that proposal.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

asked the Minister of Agriculture what further recommendations to combat foot-and-mouth disease he has received from those international bodies on which Her Majesty's Government are represented.

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

No further recommendations have been received since I answered the hon. Member's previous Question on 3rd July, and I would refer him to the reply I then gave.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the county of Somerset have been reported to his Department during the last three months; and if he will now permit the free movement of livestock in that county.

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

None, Sir. Restrictions were imposed in Somerset and other counties in southern England as a precaution, in view of the risk of introduction of infection from the Continent. The position in France is still serious and the peak of infection in northern France appears to be moving westwards. Consequently, although the position is kept continuously under review, I do not think that the time has yet come to remove the restrictions.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the very considerable hardship and hindrance which this long protracted restriction is causing to many farmers in their production? Can he say when it will be possible for him to modify or lift the restrictions, at any rate over a limited area?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

I cannot give any specific date, but I think my hon. Friend will agree that it may very well be that the maintenance of the controlled areas is an important reason why Somerset has kept clear. Throughout the country the farmers have co-operated in a wonderful way, and I only hope that they will complete the last lap and thus continue the great progress which has been made.

Mr. T. Williams:

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman see that he is not hustled into removing restrictions, in view of the potential danger of further outbreaks?

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that, under Section 12 of the Diseases of Animals Act, 1950, owners of animals or those having charge of them in an area infected with foot-and-mouth disease, may put up a notice forbidding people to enter premises without permission; whether he is aware that these notices have been widely ignored in spite of his appeals; how many people have been prosecuted for ignoring these notices; and if he will introduce legislation to increase the maximum penalties that can be incurred by those not observing the existing law, and take power to close rights of way in infected areas.

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

I am not aware that the notices are being widely ignored and I have no information about the number of prosecutions, as they are undertaken by local authorities. The maximum penalty for disregarding such a notice is a fine of £50 for a first offence, which I consider to be adequate. Power already exists, under the Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Infected Areas Restrictions) Order, 1938, to close any footpath or right-of-way in an infected area, and this power is exercised where necessary by my veterinary inspectors.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

Is it the case that rights of way can be closed by law and that if they are closed there can be a prosecution if they are used by the public?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

Yes. Local authorities and the police are responsible for enforcing these regulations.

Photo of Mr Anthony Hurd Mr Anthony Hurd , Newbury

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he can now announce the terms of reference and membership of the Departmental committee to be appointed to review the measures taken to combat foot-and-mouth disease in this country.

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

No, Sir, but I hope to do so in the fairly near future so that, if the present epidemic abates sufficiently, the committee will be ready to start work in the autumn.

Photo of Mr Anthony Hurd Mr Anthony Hurd , Newbury

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that we may unhappily be faced with another invasion of infection from the Continent in the early autumn and that it is important that this Departmental committee should begin to gather information about the measures which ought to be taken?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

If we are unfortunate enough to have another epidemic it is certainly not my intention to put off unduly the inquiry.

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the Departmental committee which he proposes to set up to inquire into the prevention of foot-and-mouth disease will include representatives from Scotland.

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

It is my intention to consult with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland on the selection of at least one member of this committee.

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

Is my right hon. Friend quite sure that one member is enough?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

I propose to keep down the number of this committee.