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Pest Control: Fleas And Warble Fly

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 22 November 1977

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2.40 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government, in view of the considerable increase in fleas and warble flies, what advice they have given on how those pests can be controlled.

My Lords, the human flea is no longer a significant problem in this country. By contrast, the cat flea appears to be on the increase, due to the increase in the number of domestic animals. Advice on suitable measures for preventing and controlling infestations of fleas in domestic and other premises is available from local health departments. As regards the warble fly, the agriculture departments have maintained regular annual publicity enjoining farmers to treat their cattle. This advice has not been taken by all farmers and the incidence of the fly is increasing. The Government have announced their intention to introduce a compulsory eradication programme in the autumn of 1978, subject to the availability of resources. A Consultation Paper will be issued shortly.

My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for that very interesting Answer. In view of the fact that the female flea can lay six to 10 eggs per second all through the day, is it not important, when, as the noble Lord has mentioned, they are changing their diet from animals to human beings, that there should be some real forms of control? Also, I should like to thank the noble Lord for the second answer which he gave, because it will be most advantageous if this programme is carried out in 1978.

My Lords, the control of infestation is, of course, the responsibility of local authorities under the Public Health Act 1936 and the similar Act of 1961. Many local authorities also provide both advisory and treatment services, and have contracts with pest control firms.

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether the abolition of the human flea is to the credit of the Government, and whether that is to be included in the next Election Manifesto? May I also ask him whether he is aware that the idea did not occur to me?—the suggestion was made to me by my noble friend Lord Sainsbury.

My Lords, I think it is greatly to the credit of the Labour Party, through whose efforts there has been a very great improvement in our living conditions during this century.

My Lords, on the important matter of the warble fly, is my noble friend aware that a compulsory scheme for the eradication of warbles has been in force in the Republic of Ireland for two or three years, that it is proving extremely effective, but that it must be universal and repeated over two or three years if it is to succeed? Will the Government bear that in mind in any scheme which they brine in for this country?

Yes, my Lords, certainly. It is hoped to start the five-year eradication programme in the autumn of 1978, and it will be backed up by a full and intensive publicity campaign.