§ 2. Mr. Derek Page
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has for instituting a compulsory warble fly eradication scheme, bearing in mind the effectiveness of modern treatments and the success of the eradication schemes in Ireland.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Mackie)
The initial re- 428 sults of these schemes are of great interest, but a compulsory scheme of this kind would not be practicable here because our cattle population is so much larger. The prevention of warble infestation is a matter of good husbandry. The best way to achieve it is to use systemic insecticides in the autumn. Our Department co-operates with interested organisations in publicising the benefits of this treatment.
§ Mr. Page
Bearing in mind that our population and facilities are also much greater as well as the number of cattle; and the very great success of the Irish measures, and the great effectiveness of the new systemic insecticides, is it not unfair to the farmers who use these insecticides that their cattle stand to be re-infested by the cattle of people who do not?
§ Mr. Mackie
I appreciate that point very much. But my hon. Friend will appreciate that we have over 11 million cattle in this country and that to use the Irish system under which treatment would have to be given within the nine weeks from mid-September to mid-November would be impracticable. It would mean treating over one million cattle a week. I am sure that hon. Members opposite would hate us to employ more people for this purpose. They are kicking up enough fuss about the number of people we employ now.
§ 3. Mr. Derek Page
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has regarding the extent of warble fly infestation of cattle imported from the Republic of Ireland in each of the last four years; and what is the present level of such infestation.
§ Mr. John Mackie
It is possible to judge whether cattle are warble infested only during the period March to June; our veterinary officers have reported that cattle landed from the Republic of Ireland in that period showed a much lower level of infestation in 1965 and 1966 when it was about 3 per cent. compared with 1963 and 1964 when it varied from 40 to 60 per cent.
§ Mr. Mackie
I hope that the farmers appreciate that we give all the help that we can. I do not doubt my hon. Friend's figure of £2 million. It is up to the farmers to carry this out themselves with all the help which the Ministry can give them.