§ Mr. David Marshall
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of the rat population of Great Britain; what measures he is encouraging to reduce it; and whether his Department is investigating the possible growth of a more virulent species of rat.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
Information is not held centrally on rat population. The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, which is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, places a general duty on local authorities to ensure that their districts are kept free from rats and mice so far as practicable. There is no evidence to show that there has been a growth of a more virulent species of rat.