§ 35. Mr. Dudley Smith
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is taking to counter the plum tree disease now particularly prevalent in the West Midlands; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Strang
I assume the hon. Member is referring to the disease known as Plum Pox or Sharka Disease. The action promised in the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Johnson) on 18th December 1975—[Vol. 902, c.721–3]—is now in full operation. Briefly, we are requiring the destruction of infected and suspect trees, etc., on the nurseries that supply growers with plum trees. Compensation is paid for any apparently healthy trees that have to be destroyed in order to prevent the disease from spreading. Similar drastic action would not be justified on plum orchards, but with guidance from the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service growers should be able to achieve a satisfactory level of control. The National Fanners' Union was fully consulted about these measures.