Control of Pesticides etc.

Part of Orders of the Day — Food and Environment Protection Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 3:46 pm on 26th June 1985.

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Photo of Mr John Carlisle Mr John Carlisle , Luton North 3:46 pm, 26th June 1985

Of course I have seen the report. I do not minimise the dangers or the allegations. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) will have seen the figures put out by the British Agrochemicals Association and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which show that a large number of allegations are found to be unjustified after investigation. That is not to say that members of the public are not expressing an anxiety that anyone would express after seeing a low-flying aircraft near or over his house. Anyone would be anxious about what would happen if he came in the path of the spray. I am saying that not every allegation is found to be justified after investigation.

Accuracy is important. The industry is concerned about it, if only because of the cost of the chemicals. It would be foolish for any farmer or grower to spray a crop in a strong wind—this cannot be done under the code of conduct — because he would probably spray his neighbour's crop instead of his own. The code of conduct lays down strict rules so that no spraying can take place when the wind is above a certain speed. Some drift could occur, but the 200 ft recommendation solves the problem of spray drift, which the hon. Member for Pontypridd over-emphasised.

The hon. Member argued for more effective communication. Most hon. Members would support him in that, as would most people in the industry. The debates on the Floor of the House today and in Committee will have informed the trade that the public needs to be told what is happening. The trade has already responded. It fully realises that the public must be told where spraying is to take place and that it has a duty to people who live in the area. The point has been well taken.

In general, we must be careful not to discourage the aerial spraying industry, which is engaged in an expensive and necessary operation. It is necessary, not only for the large areas of cereal crops in the East Anglia region which I represent but, as the hon. Member said, in the Highlands and overseas. If we lost the technique of aerial spraying and the ability to spray, food production would suffer. The message must go from the House that aerial spraying should continue under the strictest control and with cognisance of the public's anxiety. I do not think that it is the duty of any Government to give instructions to the industry. It will sort itself out in its own way. The market should take its own course. If aerial spraying proves to be an impossible operation for farmers because of its expense or practicalities it will go away. I believe that aerial spraying will be with us for a long time and that it will be of great benefit to agriculture and the community.