Under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 local authorities have a general responsibility in this matter. My Department has given local authorities advice on the problem of Warfarin resistance after undertaking field investigations and research. A further investigation is planned of the extent of the area of resistance and of the effect of the counter-measures adopted by the local authorities concerned.
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that Warfarin has been a considerable factor in keeping down the rodent population, particularly on farms, and will he ensure that research continues into a chemical preparation to take the place of Warfarin if resistance becomes a major factor in Scotland?
Yes, one cannot predict that far ahead, but research is continuing, and I have already discussed with the hon. Member some of the problems involved. I have noted the point.
Will my hon. Friend confirm that the powers of the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act are sufficient, and say what his Department is doing to encourage local authorities to meet this problem?
We have made an assessment of the position. In Scotland it is suggested that the best way to tackle this is to reduce the number of rats within the area of resistance. With that method of handling—it is rather different in other parts of the United Kingdom—it is better to involve local authorities, and we are working very closely with them on the general policy.