From the report of the EFRA Committee into Foot and Mouth

29. In any event, throughout the course of the outbreak achievement of the targets set for culling animals proved difficult.

Given that the objective was to carry out slaughter and disposal of livestock on infected premises within 24 hours of the disease being confirmed, and within 48 hours on contiguous farms, the length of time actually taken was extremely disappointing.

The Secretary of State recently confirmed that the average time between a report of foot and mouth disease and the disposal of livestock over the course of the outbreak was 105 hours ,[88] a figure which rose to 130 hours at the height of the outbreak, between February and May.

There was considerable variation in the time taken between slaughter and disposal in the different outbreak areas. As a result, particularly in the first few weeks after 20 February, considerable backlogs of animals awaiting slaughter, and of carcasses awaiting proper disposal, built up: for example, by 21 March 390,000 animals had been authorised for slaughter, but only 262,000 had been killed.[89] By 8 April the backlog of animals awaiting slaughter had risen to 478,000,[90] and on that date 329,000 carcasses awaited disposal.[91] On 21 April there were 100,000 carcasses awaiting disposal in Devon alone.[92] Delays in slaughter cannot but have contributed to the spread of the disease.

30. The logistical task of marshalling resources for inspection, testing, slaughter and disposal would appear to have been beyond the capacity and perhaps capability of MAFF from an early stage in the outbreak. It nevertheless took until the middle of March for the Army to be engaged to assist.[93] The Lessons to be Learned inquiry should examine the reasons for this apparent delay and recommend future practice. Brigadier Alex Birtwistle should be asked to produce a report on all the logistical aspects of dealing with a major foot and mouth outbreak. STYLE=&URL=/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/cm020417/text/20417w01.htm#20417w01.html_spnew8



Foot and Mouth

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) on how many infected premises .slaughter was completed within 24 hours of a clinical diagnosis of the disease during the foot and mouth epidemic; [47605]

Mr. Morley: Information regarding the time taken to .slaughter on infected premises is presented in two charts, copies of which have been placed in the Library.

When looking at the charts the following should be taken into consideration:

    The 24-hour target policy was based upon the time from which suspicion of disease was first communicated to DEFRA offices, not the .time and date of clinical diagnosis. The .time to .slaughter has been calculated as the difference between this .time and date and the .time and date by which all animals on each premises had been .slaughtered .

    Premises which presently have missing dates, negative times to .slaughter and times to .slaughter greater than 500 hours have been excluded. The charts have been created from the data within DEFRA's Disease Control System Database and they may be subject to change as the data cleansing exercise is carried out.

    The charts are based on a majority of data held on DCS and give a representative picture of the .times taken to .slaughter .

    Although a total of 2,026 infected premises (IPs) were reported in the UK, the ".time to slaughter " charts do not include IPs that were previously Dangerous contacts or .slaughter on suspicion cases. These premises have not been included since, at the time , it would not have been identified that a 24-hour target was to be

17 Apr 2002 : Column: 932W

    worked towards. The charts are based on around 1,500 premises, the final difference being down to missing dates and negative times to .slaughter .

    The percentage target hit, on its own, does not reflect the number of premises that were having to be dealt with—a 50 per cent. hit may be representing a figure of two cases or 200.

    The charts do not give context to the underlying data. They obviously do not give any information regarding the reasons why culls may have taken longer than 24–48 hours, and cannot describe the practical difficulties faced by regional offices attempting to .slaughter premises quickly in often extremely difficult circumstances. The count of premises .slaughtered does not take into account the number of animals involved (size or herd) or the species.

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make representations to the European Parliament inquiry into foot and mouth to include Somerset in their programme of visits. [49038]

Mr. Morley: It is a matter for the European Parliament Temporary Committee to decide their programme of visits.