§ Lord HYLTON
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why they used the phrase "if myxomatosis loses its virulence" in a written reply dated 18th July [col. 307] when it has been plainly noticeable that the disease has already lost its virulence at least in Somerset, and that it is no longer a reliable agent of rabbit population control.
Lord STRA BOLGI
My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has accepted that it would be realistic to allow for the possibility that myxomatosis may have a diminishing effect on rabbit populations; but we do not yet have scientific evidence to support the noble Lord's contention. My right honourable friend's Pest. Infestation Control Laboratory periodically monitors the virulence of the various strains of myxomatosis. The last study indicated that, while there was evidence of enhanced immunity to myxomatosis among some rabbits, there had been no reduction in the virulence of the most common strain of the disease, which remained a major check to rabbit numbers whether in Somerset or elsewhere in England. The results of a further study currently in progress are expected later this year.
House adjourned at eight minutes before two o'clock.