asked the Minister of Agriculture whether Ministry of Food depots that are being used for the storage of imported grain have been made proof against rats and mice; and whether he will permit local authorities to send their rodent officers to inspect these stores.
So far as is practicable, the depots, are made proof against rats and mice. They are periodically inspected and structural defects remedied. It is not, however, possible to make all the structures rat proof, nor is it possible to prevent entry of rats and mice into buildings which are in regular use for receiving and delivering grain. The inspection of stocks in Ministry of Food depots is carried out by my officers, and it is not necessary to duplicate inspection by calling upon local authorities.
Is it not advisable, in certain cases, to allow local authorities to inspect these depots in their areas?
I do not see the need for duplication. The hon. Member will be aware that the president of the National Farmers' Union at Thirsk yesterday made an inspection and expressed himself as quite satisfied.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no president of the local branch of the National Farmers' Union?
Does not the right hon. Gentleman understand that his answer was a "verminological" inexactitude?
asked the Minister of Agriculture what quantity of imported barley and maize stored by the Minister of Food in aerodromes and depots has in the last 12 months been treated by his infestation operators against infestation by weevil; and whether he is now satisfied that there is no weevil active in this imported grain.
During the 12 months ended 31st December, 1948, I arranged for the fumigation of over 105,000 tons of imported barley and 182,000 tons of imported maize, stored by the Ministry of Food. In addition, chemical spraying as a routine measure was carried out on stocks in many warehouses during the summer, but I am unable to give figures as to the volume of food so treated. I cannot guarantee that there is no weevil active in this imported grain, as complete elimination of insect life is rarely possible, even with the most efficient methods of control. The stocks are, however, under regular inspection, and are generally in good commercial condition.
Is the Minister ensuring that the weevil-infested grain is disposed of as soon as it is practicably possible?
Will the cost of this cleansing be charged to the Ministry of Food, because it is their fault?