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16 October

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, [is the Minister] aware that the son-in-law of a very great friend of mine was killed this July in Sussex due to a single sting in his foot when he got out of his bath and stood on a hornet? The figures that I have had from the Library go only to 2005, when there was a huge rise in the number of people with stings going into hospital. Is the Minister aware that there is an increase in hornets in the south of England, as people have told me?

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My Lords, I sympathise greatly because of the individual tragedy that the noble Baroness has brought to the attention of the House. I learnt more about hornets listening to the “Today” programme today than I did from Defra. Basically, they are not part of the food production chain. In my first sentence I said that no information on hornets is kept by the Government, and I am in some difficulty. I understand from the expert on the “Today” programme that these are English hornets and not French hornets, so we must not be cruel to the French. [...]

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, can the Minister say which department or agency does record the rise in numbers in species such as hornets? As we have seen with bluetongue, which has been brought in by the midge population, the spread of different insect populations can cause massive economic hardship.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I cannot fudge this; I am definitely the bluetongue and the foot-and-mouth Minister. There is no Minister for hornets. The Government simply do not have any information. I have asked the National Bee Unit—we have a bee unit, as bees are part of the food production chain—but there is no hornet unit and there is no Minister for the hornet; I have no idea. The noble Baroness has, of course, asked about a human health issue. Defra is responsible for the health of the planet and the health of animals, and others deal with human health.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, can the Minister inform the House, from his breadth of experience, how noble Lords might recognise a hornets’ nest and what actions they should take when they come across one?

Lord Rooker: Visit the shadow Cabinet, my Lords.


Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, does the Minister think that his department and the Department of Health should come together and do more research on insects as a whole?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I assure the noble Baroness and the House that I shall be drawing this matter to the attention of the two Permanent Secretaries who could not come to an agreement about who would answer this Question in the first place.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 22nd, 2007 11:36 am (UTC)
Defra is responsible for the health of the planet

My god, that's some remit.
Oct. 22nd, 2007 11:41 am (UTC)

And WHY did they let her on the Today programme? I was listening to that piece going 'eh?' and losing my last remaining fiath in the programme with every passing second. With that and being miffed at the Guardian I have NEARLY NO NEWS SOURCES LEFT.
Oct. 22nd, 2007 11:44 am (UTC)
You have webofevil ;)
Oct. 22nd, 2007 11:51 am (UTC)
I can certainly say that hornets are on the increase from my wholey scientific standpoint of having never seen one during my entire childhood growing up in Cornwall, and yet having now seen two in the last two years. One of the bastards flew in the window of Dad's van and was captured and identified as a hornet, and not two weeks later one flew in the bedroom window. these things are like the cruise missiles of the insect world! I blog the picture of it as I recall...ask B, he knows...
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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