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From Hansard Nov 7th 2011

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111107/text/111107w0001.htm#11110712000520

Mr Paice: The AHVLA executive team initiated a review of the delivery of laboratory services across England and Wales as part of an exercise to identify additional savings that need to be made in 2012-13, while enabling the agency to continue to deliver important scientific services to Government and the livestock industry.

This review built on the recommendations of the VLA Sustainable Surveillance project which recommended that the post mortem examination of carcasses, which makes up the most valuable aspect of surveillance work, be de-coupled from the provision of laboratory services functions, removing the requirement for co-location of the two work areas.

Important disease surveillance work such as post mortems carried out at each of the 16 sites will continue and it is expected that test turnaround time will be improved.

AHVLA's ability to respond to disease outbreaks will be maintained as confirmatory tests for notifiable and non-notifiable diseases are carried out at Weybridge which is not part of the regional laboratory network.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration she has given to the public safety implications of using shooting as part of the proposed badger cull for (a) those taking part in the cull and (b) other countryside users. [77514]

Mr Paice: Controlled shooting in the field (including at night) is a method which is widely and safely used for culling a range of other mammals. To obtain a licence to carry out culling, operators would be required to

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demonstrate competence and attend a Government-approved training course. Safety and security would be key elements of the training.

We are also looking at what information on those taking part in a cull would need to be held and how, so that their personal safety is not compromised.

We are in discussion with the Association of Chief Police Officers and with the Home Office regarding the police response and associated costs related to the proposed badger control policy.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the effects of a badger cull using shooting on access to parts of the countryside affected by the cull; [77515]

(2) whether any footpaths or bridleways will be closed as part of the proposed badger cull using shooting. [77518]

Mr Paice: Specific licence conditions, for example those relating to shooting close to areas where there is a public right of way, will be considered on a case-by-case basis by Natural England.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she has had discussions with (a) the Ramblers Association, (b) the British Horse Society and (c) other groups involved in access to the countryside on the potential effects on them of the proposed badger cull using shooting. [77516]

Mr Paice: I have not discussed the proposed policy with the Ramblers Association or the British Horse Society. Any organisation or individual was able to submit a response to the 2010 or 2011 consultation on the policy.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether her Department has received any representations expressing concern about the policing of a badger cull. [77517]

Mr Paice: Responses to the 2010 public consultation on the proposed badger control policy raised a number of important issues. A summary of responses was published in July 2011 and is available on DEFRA?s website at:

http://archive.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/tb-control-measures/index.htm

We are discussing the issue of policing of a badger cull with the Association of Chief Police Officers and with the Home Office.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the cost to farmers of the proposed badger cull using shooting. [77520]

Mr Paice: We have estimated that farmers and landowners who apply for licences are likely' to incur a cost of around 1.4 million for one 350 sq km area to carry out the culling operation (including the costs of coordination and surveying). This is based on DEFRA's estimated cost of culling?the industry believes that it can be delivered for less.

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Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with Ministers in the Welsh Government on the proposed badger cull using shooting. [77521]

Mr Paice: Bovine TB is a devolved issue; however, this disease does not respect national borders and we continue to cooperate and work closely with the Welsh Government and seek to co-ordinate activity as far as possible.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what meetings she has had on the proposed badger cull using shooting since May 2010. [77522]

Mr Paice: Details of meetings with outside interest groups (ie any group or individuals, including lobby groups and other non-governmental organisations which have an interest in the policy of the Department) are now published on a quarterly basis. Details of all ministerial meetings up until the end of March 2011 are available online at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/about/who/ministers/transparency/

Since March 2011, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman), has met with the following organisations to discuss options for the control of TB?I was also present at the meetings as indicated.


Name of external organisation

26 April 2011

Country Land and Business Association

26 April 2011

Badger Trust

27 April 2011

Wildlife Trusts

27 April 2011

British Veterinary Association/British Cattle Veterinary Association

28 April 2011

National Farmers Union

28 April 2011

RSPB

4 May 2011

National Trust

5 May 2011

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

5 May 2011

RSPCA

10 May 2011

Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust*

16 May 2011

British Association for Shooting and Conservation*

24 May 2011

National Farmers Union

24 May 2011

British Veterinary Association/British Cattle Veterinary Association

24 May 2011

Country Land and Business Association

25 May 2011

Association of Chief Police Officers

I also met with the following organisation to discuss options for the control of TB:


Name of organisation

3 May 2011

Tenant Farmers Association