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Imported Poultry (Fowl Pest)

Volume 437: debated on Monday 5 May 1947

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asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the recent serious outbreak of fowl pest in the United Kingdom, he will arrange with the exporting countries of dead poultry to the United Kingdom to export in future dressed and not undressed fowls, so as to prevent the further infection of home poultry stock.


asked the Minister of Food what is the total of undressed poultry imported from the United States since the New Year; and what precautions are taken against these dead birds bringing in poultry pest.

About 1,500 tons of undressed poultry have been imported from the United States this year. Officers of my Department and of the Ministry of Agriculture are examining measures to minimise the risk of fowl pest being brought into the country through the medium of imported poultry and the noble Lord's suggestion will certainly be taken into account.

In view of the serious figures given by the Minister of Agriculture about these recent outbreaks, will the hon. Lady see that not only do we prevent undressed fowls from coming into the country, but also that their heads are cut off before they come into the country?

No, Sir, I cannot promise that. We do not want to prohibit poultry from being imported into this country. I think the noble Lord is wrong about the heads, and that infection is due to the fact that the poultry offal is unsterilised and is then used as swill.

Is the hon. Lady aware that if drastic action is not taken, and the pest is allowed to continue, there will be few eggs and poultry from home producers?

Does the hon. Lady realise that in one instance the infection has been definitely traced to a head having been thrown down and a fowl having picked it up and contracted this disease? In view of the fact that 10,000 home birds have had to be slaughtered as a result of this pest, does not the hon. Lady think it better not to import fowls in the numbers in which they are being imported?

Is the hon. Lady aware that this disease is prevalent also in countries in Eastern Europe from which we are increasing our poultry imports?

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies of the Minister of Agriculture and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food on this question, I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment. It is thoroughly unsatisfactory.