Wednesday 17 October 2007

Who is responsible for hornets?

Life doesn't always conform to the structure of Government. This was illustrated yesterday in the House of Lords when Lord Rooker answered a question on hornets. Baroness Masham of Ilton had asked "Whether there has been a recent increase in the number of hornets coming into the south of England from Europe, either as a result of climate change or in imported wood; and whether the sting of such hornets is a significant risk to health and safety"

Lord Rooker is the Minister of State within DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs). He revealed "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." When pressed on "which department or agency does record the rise in numbers in species such as hornets?" he replied "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...Defra is responsible for the health of the planet and the health of animals, and others deal with human health."

The exchanges continued -

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.. "