§ Mr. Temple
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the average age of veterinary officers in the field staff during the 1951–52 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease; how many were over 50; what was the position during the 1967–68 outbreak; whether he is satisfied that his Department's policy on recruitment of veterinary officers accords with recommendation 15(2) and paragraph 212 of the report of the Departmental Committee on Foot-and-Mouth Disease 1952–54; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Mackie
I regret that information about the average age of the veterinary field staff during the 1951–52 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease is not readily available and could not be provided without undue expenditure of time and effort. Of the 359 staff in post in February, 1952, about 100 were aged 50 or over.
In July, 1967, the average age of the veterinary field staff, including senior officers, was 48.8 years. Of the 400 staff in post at that date 197 were aged 50 or over.
As regards recruitment, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) on 24th February, 1970. Since then further steps, including the introduction of an improved pay scale for the recruitment grade of veterinary officer, have been taken to attract younger recruits. The new scale provides for increases additional to those resulting from the recent Central Pay Agreement. I am satisfied that we are doing all we can in this direction and that the veterinary 237W staff in the field service continue to be of the high calibre referred to by the Gowers Committee.—[Vol. 796, c. 306–7.]