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Written Answers to Questions
Tuesday 30 March 2004
ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS
Animal By-Products Regulations
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she has established the penalties that will apply from the failure of the UK fully to (a) implement and (b) enforce the Animal By-Products Regulations. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The UK has provided for the administration and enforcement of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002 by the Animal By-Products Regulations 2003. These came into force in England on 1 July 2003, in Scotland on 1 October 2003, in Wales on 31 October 2003 and on the 3 December 2003 in Northern Ireland.
Had any part of the UK failed to observe our EU obligations, this could have led to enforcement action being taken by the European Commission in the European Court of Justice (ECJ). If a Member State fails to take the necessary measures to comply with the judgment of the European Court of Justice within the time limit specified, the Member State may incur either a lump sum penalty or a daily penalty payment. The penalty payment would be based on a uniform flat rate amount, multiplied by two coefficients, one reflecting the seriousness of the infringement, and the other the duration. This would then be multiplied by a factor reflecting the ability to pay and the number of votes the UK has in Council.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discretion she has under European Union law to delay full (a) implementation and (b) enforcement of the Animal By-Products Regulations. 
Mr. Bradshaw: As the EU Animal By-Products Regulation (EC 1774/2002) is directly applicable in all Member States no discretion is available to delay either the implementation or the enforcement of the Regulation. However, where possible the UK secured transitional measures where it was clear that sectors of industry needed further time to comply with the requirements of the Regulation.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has made to the European Commission concerning the payment to farmers of consequential losses arising from the imposition of TB restrictions on their farms. 
Mr. Bradshaw: No such representations have been made.
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Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether live cattle imported from mainland Europe are tested for TB infection prior to being imported into the UK. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Where the Member State, or the part of the Member State, where the herd is situated is recognised as being officially free of tuberculosis (as defined by EU Directive 64/432/EEC), a TB test is not required prior to import to Great Britain. This applies whether for breeding, production or slaughter. All cattle must be tested if they do not come from a officially TB free area.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice was given in (a) 1999 and (b) subsequent years to the Veterinary Investigation Service by the Health and Safety Executive concerning the safety of their laboratories handling TB contaminated material; what action was taken as a result of that advice; and what the cost of that action was. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Veterinary Investigation Service merged with the Central Veterinary Laboratory and became the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) In 1996.
VLA in Truro was served with a Crown Prohibition Notice by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 16 August 1999. The HSE considered that it was unsafe to work with TB infected badger carcases without the provision of "local exhaust ventilation".
VLA commissioned contractors to construct ventilated down-draught autopsy tables. The prototypes were installed at the Truro Regional Laboratory and were approved for use by the HSE. Subsequently, further autopsy tables were installed at all the remaining Regional Laboratories. The total cost was around £90,000. An additional sum of about £20,000 was spent on refurbishment of the Truro badger autopsy room.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures have been taken to assist farmers suffering multiple breakdowns safely to dispose of milk produced from reactor cows. 
Mr. Bradshaw: No particular measures are required as, currently, milk from reactor cattle can be sold for human consumption, provided it has been heat-treated.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to what extent reactive culling undertaken in the Krebs trials is comparable with reactive culling trials undertaken previously. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The randomised badger culling trial is the first culling trial in Great Britain to include scientific controls, allowing a rigorous estimation of the impact of a reactive culling protocol. No other such reactive culling trials have previously been undertaken in Great Britain.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the Government reconciles its commitment to protect the badger populations with its commitment to maintain biodiversity in indigenous birds and mammals. 
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Mr. Bradshaw: As has been previously explained the badger benefits from legal protection introduced to outlaw cruelty towards animals. For example, the Protection of Animals Act 1911, which amongst other things, made the baiting of animals illegal, and the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, which made certain specified acts of cruelty illegal.
There is no reconciliation to be made with our stated commitment to biodiversity. The Department has put in place 391 species action plans, which are designed to help those species whose populations that are endangered or vulnerable.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether all TB hotspots in the UK have been identified. 
Mr. Bradshaw: There is no universally accepted definition of a "hotspot". Testing cattle herds for TB at regular enough intervals will, combined with other methods of surveillance, allow identification of areas of emerging infection in cattle.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the consequences for the spread of bovine TB are of badger migration into areas which are already colonised by established badger social groups. 
Mr. Bradshaw: There will be some movement of badgers even within areas of high density where social groups are virtually contiguous. However, rates of movement between groups are likely to be lower at high population density. Wherever movement between groups occurs there is the potential for disease transmission.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of whether the Krebs trials should be halted immediately. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) is under constant assessment. The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) carry out periodic interim analyses of RBCT data. If the ISG's analyses were to reveal any significant findings they would be reported to Ministers. An Independent Review Group, chaired by Professor Charles Godfray, has just completed an assessment of the RBCT and associated work, and the state of progress. The Review Group's report is expected to be published soon.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the PathMan project to which her recent consultation document Preparing for a New GB Strategy on Bovine TB refers is; and when results are expected from it. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The 'PathMan' project is not referred to in the consultation document "Preparing for a new GB strategy on bovine TB".
'PathMan' is a web-based data capture and project management system specifically developed for a complex project involving collection of data from multiple collaborators or sites. It is being used to collect project data (epidemiology, pathology, bacteriology, histopathology and immunology) from the examination of 200 tuberculin skin-test positive and 200 suspected
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false negative cattle in order to understand the pathogenesis of naturally infected animals. The project is due to end in September 2005.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the reasons why the Krebs reactive trials led to an increase in bovine TB; 
(2) whether the Krebs reactive trial proved conclusively that badgers are involved in the spread of TB among cattle. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The report of the review group chaired by Sir John Krebs, published in 1998, concluded that "there is strong evidence for an association between TB in badgers and cattle". The result from the reactive element of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial adds to the sum of that evidence. Further research and analysis is under way to investigate the reasons for this finding.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what factors in the Thornbury trial contributed to the success of the trial in reducing bovine TB. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Both the gassing method of culling to thoroughly eliminate the badgers, and the steps taken to prevent recolonization for several years, were both factors likely to have maximised, the reduction of any effect of badgers on cattle TB in the Thornbury trial area.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which voluntary groups have made representations to her Department on the welfare of badgers. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Defra periodically receives representations from a range of organisations on issues relating to badgers. Unfortunately, information is not kept in a form that would allow us, without disproportionate effort, to identify which representations specifically concerned badger welfare.
However, I can reveal that the following organisations contributed to the recent public consultation exercise on licensing under the Protection of Badgers Act, 1992. The welfare of badgers was a central issue of this exercise.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust
Dorset Badger Group
East Surrey Badger Protection Society
Herefordshire Badger Group
National Federation of Badger Groups
North East Essex Badger Group
North Northants Badger Group
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
The Wildlife Trusts
West Sussex Badger Protection Group
Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group
In addition, I have recently received a representation from Naturewatch concerning legal provisions to combat badger cruelty.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) establishments and (b) research staff there are to provide the experimental resources needed to develop TB vaccines in badgers. 
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Mr. Bradshaw: Defra funds research projects to develop diagnostic tests and vaccines for TB in badgers. These are collaborative projects between the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) at Weybridge and researchers in the Republic of Ireland.
Four staff are engaged at VLA on these projects.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to create partnerships with farmers by means of granting them licences to kill badgers in TB-infected areas as a means of improving control strategies for TB in cattle. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We have no current plans for such partnerships. As the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made clear at the recent National Farmers Union AGM, we are open to radical solutions. If scientific evidence suggests that badger culling would be effective we will want to consider if we can develop a practical and cost-effective policy.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the likelihood of eradicating bovine TB by concentrating on biosecurity measures in the cattle industry without taking measures to eliminate the disease in the wildlife reservoir. 
Mr. Bradshaw: None. The control of TB in cattle is a complex problem and there is no single solution.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she has identified economic benefits to the UK of allowing TB to be present in the national cattle herd. 
Mr. Bradshaw: No.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the relevance to the UK of the results obtained in the Republic of Ireland following use of BCG vaccine on badgers. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government is aware that there has been recent research in the Republic of Ireland on vaccination of badgers with BCG. However, as this work has not yet been published, we are unable to comment on its significance.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the highest density of badgers recorded at any one location in England has been; and where that location was. 
Mr. Bradshaw: A density of 38 badgers per km 2 has been reported at Wytham Woods near Oxford 1 . As far as we are aware this is the highest density of badgers recorded at a location in England.
1 Macdonald, D. and Newman, C. (2002) Population dynamics of badger Meles males in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom: numbers, density and cohort life histories and a possible role of climate change in population growth. Journal of Zoology, 256, 121–138.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with her counterparts in the Republic of Ireland about public attitudes to control of TB in wildlife. 
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Mr. Bradshaw: No such discussions have taken place.