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Non-Indigenous Rabbits (Import Prohibition)

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 8 July 1954

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10.8 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture
(Mr. G. R. H. Nugent)

I beg to move.

That the Non-Indigenous Rabbits (Prohibition of Importation and Keeping) Order, 1954, dated 10th June, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 15th June, be approved."
This order is made under the Destructive Imported Animals Act, 1932. The effect of it is to implement one of the more important recommendations made by the Myxomatosis Advisory Committee to the effect that non-indigenous rabbits should not be imported, and that powers should be taken to prevent their importation. At the present time myxomatosis is spreading rapidly among the rabbits in this country. Large numbers are being destroyed, and it would obviously be in every way detrimental if there could now be imported non-indigenous rabbits which were immune to this particular virus, so setting up a new rabbit population to take the place of those that are dying out. It is for that reason that I am now moving this Order, and I ask the House to give it their approval.

10.9 p.m.

We support the Order which is a very sensible provision to prevent what might happen if certain commercial interests think it desirable in their own interests to import a species of rabbit that would be immune from the disease which we rather hope will wipe out all or most of our rabbit population.

One question which occurs to me in this regard is this: if myxomatosis completely wipes out our rabbit population, and by means of this Order we are prevented from getting any imported rabbits at all, from whence will the Prime Minister get future Ministers to replace some of those who look like going shortly?

Question put, and agreed to.