To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his policy on the future use of sheep dip compounds; and if he will now make it his policy to refuse future licences for the organo-phosphorous range of products.
All sheep dips must be licensed under the Medicines Act 1968. It will continue to be our policy to issue licences for products that meet the strict requirements of safety, quality and efficacy after independent scientific assessment.
I do not thank my hon. Friend for that answer because it ducks the question of the future of organo-phosphorous dips. Is he aware of the number of farmers and farm workers who have been physically damaged by the use of those dips, which have precisely the same origin as the nerve gases used in warfare? Does he agree that farmers should be required to wear full protective clothing in the future and that fair compensation should be paid to those damaged in the past?
Of course we are aware of the reports from people who have suffered allergies or reactions to the use of any compound, including pesticides and sheep dips. There are 99,000 sheep farmers in England, Wales and Scotland and we have reports of 63 adverse reactions. We are terribly sympathetic to farmers who suffer an adverse reaction, just as we are sympathetic to anyone who suffers an adverse reaction or has an allergy. I urge my hon. Friend to urge his constituents to send full medical reports to the independent veterinary products committee which is reviewing all organo-phosphate chemicals and sheep dips and any evidence will be taken into account. However, the Government do not insist on farmers using only organo-phosphate sheep dips. There is an alternative which is not made of that particular chemical.