The hon. Gentleman makes his point well. The most successful methods for coping with this antibiotic problem are actually complementary and alternative medicines, of which homeopathy is proving one of the most successful modalities.
The placebo argument—that this is all in the imagination—is often used against homeopathy, but Buttercup and Daisy do not understand double blind placebo-controlled trials. Farmers do understand them, and when I sat on the Science and Technology Committee during the 2010 to 2015 Parliament, Roger Williams, the then Member for Brecon and Radnorshire from the Liberal Democrats, told me, “As a livestock farmer, I of course use carbo veg”—Carbo vegetabilis, which is known colloquially as the corpse reviver—“when I can’t do anything else with an animal that I think is going to die.” It is very often the medicine of last resort both for animals and, of course, for humans. Farmers will not waste money on something that does not work, as I am sure my hon. Friend the Minister agrees.
As I mentioned at Prime Minister’s questions two weeks ago, the World Health Organisation says that homeopathy is the second largest medical system in the world, with 300,000 doctors treating 200 million patients annually. I suggest to my hon. Friend that that is pretty powerful evidence—they would not otherwise be training and practising—and we should look at that. There are actually 700 vets in 36 countries who are members of the International Association for Veterinary Homeopathy. The German Ministry of Food and Agriculture backs homeopathy. In January 2018, it said that it
“supports the use of homeopathic remedies and the free choice of therapy for veterinarians.”
Why are we getting all these attacks? It actually has nothing to do with healthcare—it is to do with protecting vested interests, and a sense of defensiveness against the perceived threat to conventional practitioners, to drug companies supplying drugs and to currently held scientific beliefs. The scale of the vicious attacks that colleagues have had over the years by those opposed to homeopathy is testament to that. Given the hate mail that has been sent to MPs during past Parliaments, jamming their mail boxes, I believe those people could now face prosecution under new legislation. They ridicule and humiliate anybody who supports this very valuable branch of medicine. They use legal threats to clinical commissioning groups. I am kind of curious about this—I have a feeling that the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons was itself threatened with legal action by this group. Once there is a writ and something is through the door, of course, the whole legal process starts; that is why I had a letter from a lawyer of theirs.
The antis also claim that there is no scientific evidence that homeopathy works, but of the 189 randomised control trials up to 2014, 41% were positive, finding that homeopathy was effective. The figures for conventional medicine are just about the same, at 44%. There is no difference. There is good statistical evidence that both homeopathy and conventional medicine work.
I also had the honour to serve on the Health Committee in the 2010 to 2015 Parliament; in fact, I chaired it for a while, when we got the long-term care and conditions report out. In 2014, I cross-examined the Secretary of State for Health about his views. He said:
“the system we have is that we allow GPs to decide whatever they think is in the clinical interests of their own patients.”
If my memory serves me well, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend Steve Brine, who has subsequently signed a motion, was one of those under attack for supporting homeopathy. He said in answer to a question:
“Complementary and alternative medicine treatments can, in principle, feature in a range of services offered by local NHS organisations, including general practitioners.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 631, c. 149.]