§ Mr. Pawsey
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) how many pig herds have been slaughtered since the inception of the scheme to eliminate Aujeszky's disease; how many pigs this represents; and what has been the cost;
(2) why the scheme to eradicate Aujeszky's disease is now expected to cost double the approved estimate prepared by his Department; and what proportion of the cost is represented by administration;
(3) whether he plans to finance part of the increased cost incurred by the Pig Disease Eradication Fund Ltd.
§ Mrs. Fenner
Four hundred and eighty three herds, involving some 400,000 pigs have been slaughtered since the Aujeszky's disease control and eradication programme began. Compensation and related costs stand at about £24.5 million to which must be added some £3.5 million consequential loss payments plus interest charges on loans raised by the producers' company.
The poll document which described the scheme which producers agreed to finance emphasised that it was very difficult to give a precise estimate of the net cost of compensation for animals slaughtered and stated that the net cost might be at least £6 million excluding consequential loss payments and interest charges. The cost has proved higher because valuations for pigs slaughtered have been higher than estimates and the salvage returns lower. The substantial costs of administering the scheme have been met by the Government.
As I have explained, the scheme was only undertaken at the insistence of the industry and on the clear understanding that pig producers would finance the compensation and related costs arising.