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Warble Fly

Volume 21: debated on Thursday 1 April 1982

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how effective the Government's scheme to eradicate warble fly has been up to date; and what further measures are being introduced.

Since the current campaign to eradicate warble fly began in the autumn of 1978, surveys show that the prevalence of infection in the national herd in Great Britain has been reduced from 38 per cent. to less than 1 per cent. Under arrangements recently announced, infestation of cattle with warble fly has been made notifiable from 15 March and additional requirements for treatment of infected herds have been introduced. We hope that the farming community will continue to co-operate in these arrangements so that the eradication programme can be completed.

I welcome that reply. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that continued vigilance will be maintained until this pest is totally eradicated from our cattle, with the consequent improvement in quality and the comfort of the animals?

Agricultural Departments can now order the treatment of all cattle on premises where infestation has occurred and restrict the movement of cattle from those premises. They can also order treatment of premises where infestation is suspected because of their proximity to infected herds or because they have received cattle from such herds. I am satisfied that those measures, together with great co-operation from the farming community, will help us to eliminate the last 1 per cent.

Can the Minister tell us the incidence of warble fly in the House of Commons?

Can my hon. Friend assure the House that there will be no move by the conservation lobby to try to protect the last warble fly?

I am not sure whether my hon Friend wishes to have a serious answer to that, but I know of no conservation measures. We are keen only to eradicate the warble fly.

Although I do not wish to get under my hon. namesake's skin, may I ask the hon. Lady whether she is aware that Opposition Members welcome the fact that the warble fly has been made notifiable? Will she also put her mind to the problem, mentioned in her publication on the increase in the incidence of notifiable disease, of enzootic bovine leukosis and reconsider the Ministry's position on that dangerous disease?

I shall examine the comments on the disease to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but I know that he will appreciate that it does not concern warble fly.