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Baroness Byford: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, is any research being done on the extent of the spread? A reply on that point would be helpful to my noble friend. That question has been asked in another place and in this House. If there is no such research, is it likely that some work will be done on the matter as that would be a huge help in controlling the future spread of ragwort?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, some university research is being conducted on that matter but I cannot say whether there is a project directed specifically at the spread of ragwort. Therefore, I cannot reply to that point. I shall try to cover it in correspondence with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke.

The Lord Bishop of Hereford: My Lords, I want to press again the question of control by chemicals, and safeguards that need to be built into the code of practice about avoiding non-target species that could suffer if that form of control were ever used. Can some stronger safeguards be built into the code? Chemical control of ragwort needs to be highly specific. That is difficult, granted the nature of herbicides to be used. If there were more safeguards along those lines, we would feel reassured.

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Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, in Yorkshire two years ago, there was an immense amount of flooding. After that there seemed to be an upsurge of ragwort, and it is thought that some of the seeds were carried down in the water in the rivers and spread around. I agree that there is a need for more research.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, normal wind conditions are clearly not the only way in which ragwort seed is spread. That is certainly true. It is also spread by animals and vehicles. We need to take account of all those factors.

The right reverend Prelate made a point about the application of herbicides. The code already talks about targeted use. If we are trying to restrict the effect on any other hedgerow and field plants, we clearly need to

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ensure that that is as tight as possible. Representations on that front will clearly be taken into account in drafting the final version of the code of practice.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, I am not sure whether it is appropriate for me to utter very much, as I have already indicated that I shall not press the amendment. I thank everyone who has spoken, and I particularly appreciate the manner in which the Minister responded to me. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Fire Services Bill

Bill returned from the Commons with the amendments agreed to.

        House adjourned at twenty-four minutes before midnight.

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