( by Private Notice)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to an outbreak of "grass sickness" among horses in Aberdeenshire, from which many horses have already died; whether a vaccine which has been successfully employed in combating this disease has been distributed throughout the counties of Forfar, Perth and Kincardine, and what steps he proposes to take to secure a similar and immediate distribution to farmers in the County of Aberdeen, where this vaccine is at present unobtainable?
I am informed that a disease of horses called grass sickness has existed for several years in Aberdeenshire and other parts of Scotland, and that many horses have died of the disease. I understand that an attempt has been made to prepare a serum against the disease, but I am advised that the use of that serum is still in the experimental stage, and its efficacy has not yet been established. It is not the function of the Ministry to deal with non-scheduled diseases in Scotland, that being a function which has been allocated to the Scottish Board of Agriculture.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that this disease has only recently appeared for the first time in Aberdeenshire, and will he consider the question as to whether it should be made a notifiable disease in view of the fact that it is now spreading to an alarming extent, and in almost every case it is fatal?
As I have said, this is not one of the scheduled diseases, and, therefore, it is not under the purview of the Ministry of Agriculture. I would suggest to my hon. Friend that any further questions should be addressed to the Secretary for Scotland.
As the right hon. Gentleman admits that there is serious disease among horses in Scotland, will he consider the advisability of closing the border between the two countries to prevent the spread of the disease southwards and save the farmers of England from being overrun with this disease, as they were by the cattle disease from Ireland?
I shall require notice of that question.