asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the fact that the Ministry of Agriculture want rabbits destroyed irrespective of any consideration of their food value and that the Ministry of Food, by controlling the price of rabbits, has discouraged their destruction; and will he, in view of this conflict of policy, give instructions for the decontrol of rabbit prices?
There is no conflict of policy. Price control for wild rabbits was introduced by the Ministry of Food in full agreement with the Agricultural Departments. There is no evidence that the present maximum price is discouraging rabbit destruction where trapping can be effectively used. Complete extermination normally involves gassing during the breeding season under arrangements made by the Agricultural Departments. Decontrol of prices would conflict with the extermination policy and might lead to the retention of a nucleus of breeding stock, apart from the risk of exploiting consumers of rabbit flesh.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider organising the poachers in order to get rid of the rabbits?