Equine Welfare (Ragwort Control) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:21 pm on 21st March 2003.

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Photo of Richard Younger-Ross Richard Younger-Ross Liberal Democrat, Teignbridge 12:21 pm, 21st March 2003

I congratulate Mr. Greenway on introducing the Bill and I hope that it receives the necessary support today to pass into Committee.

Ragwort is an attractive plant. When we moved into our house some 12 years ago, I was delighted by the yellow-flowered plant that we found growing in our new garden. I did not know what it was; not many people do. It was pointed out to me fairly soon that it was a weed that we should not have, and we spent a long time trying to extract it from the garden. It is, however, extremely persistent and its removal is very difficult. In fact, it took us a number of years to eradicate it, which we did by digging it out over time.

The hon. Member for Ryedale mentioned the cinnabar moth, which is very distinctive. I do not see many of those moths around where I live, perhaps because we got rid of the ragwort. Pernicious poison is absorbed from the plant by the moth, making the moth poisonous to its predators. That shows how poisonous the alkali in the plant are.

The hon. Gentleman kindly mentioned my Adjournment debate, in which I tried to persuade the then Minister, Mr. Morley, to take greater action to rid the countryside of ragwort, because it was a concern to farmers and to those with equestrian pastimes or equestrian stables in my constituency. I did not set great store by the response that the then Minister gave.