Ash Dieback Disease

Part of Opposition Day — [9th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:49 pm on 12th November 2012.

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Photo of Andrew Miller Andrew Miller Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons), Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons) 5:49 pm, 12th November 2012

That is precisely why I began by referring to the definition on DEFRA’s website, which encompasses the broader conservation issues. The National

Trust, of which I am proud to be a member, welcomes the Government’s commitment to further research and calls for money to be committed to plant health, which is hugely important.

In my capacity as Chair of the Select Committee I wrote to the Minister on Friday—it is perfectly reasonable that he has not replied yet; I do not criticise him for that—asking what scientific evidence there is to support the theory that cases of Chalara fraxinea in East Anglia were caused by airborne spores from Europe. Will he put on the record the scientific citations that support that? He cannot do so because there are not any. An eminent group of people for whom I have the greatest respect has come up with possible explanations, but the Minister did not say that, given the way fungal infections spread, it is equally possible that these cases started some time ago and came from imported seedlings. He does not know the answer and perhaps he will confirm that.