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Volume 124: debated on Friday 18 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what advice his Department gives to farm workers and the public about the harmful effects of bracken on people and animals; and if he will make a statement.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the enforcing authority for the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 which places duties on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work and those who may be affected by work activities. HSE inspectors give advice on health and safety matters, including the effects of bracken during the course of their visits.The agricultural development and advisory service of MAFF provides advice concerning the harmful effects of bracken on farm animals.It is known that in some circumstances bracken can be toxic to animals which eat it.The significance of the toxic properties of bracken for people is currently being considered by the relevant Government Departments.