See also Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - First Report

Some recent parliamentary questions and answers

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons animals with foot and mouth disease anti-bodies and no other symptoms of the disease were slaughtered during the foot and mouth outbreak. [24389]

Mr. Morley: Foot and mouth disease (FMD) antibodies are not found in healthy livestock in FMD free countries. Their presence indicates that the animal has been exposed to the virus. Such exposed animals could be diseased and infectious or they could be convalescent. It is also possible that a carrier state may develop in some animals which have FMD antibodies whereby the animal can carry the virus for prolonged periods and could possibly cause a recrudescence of disease. This is particularly so in the case of sheep. It is therefore essential that animals with FMD antibodies are promptly culled as part of the control mechanisms in place to eradicate FMD.

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Mr. Collins: To ask the Prime Minister if all papers under his control relating to the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak are being made available to Dr. Iain Anderson as part of his inquiry into lessons learned from the foot and mouth outbreak. [31396] 30 Jan 2002 : Column: 319W

The Prime Minister: The Government are committed to full co-operation with the inquiry.

Mr. Collins: To ask the Prime Minister if he (a) has given and (b) will be giving (i) oral and (ii) written evidence to Dr. Iain Anderson's Lessons Learned Inquiry into the foot and mouth outbreak. [31397]

The Prime Minister: I am giving full co-operation to Dr. Anderson in this important inquiry and had an initial meeting with him on 22 January.

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Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the recommendations made by each of the working groups at the International Conference on Control and Prevention of Foot and Mouth Disease held in Brussels in December 2001; what plans she has to implement those recommendations in the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement. [27656]

Mr. Morley: The Conference's working groups usefully highlighted some of the key areas the European Union needs to address and we will be working with our European partners in due course on a Commission proposal for a replacement European Council Directive concerning the prevention and control of foot and mouth disease. The outcome from the UK's own independent inquiries into the foot and mouth outbreak will also inform these deliberations.

The conference identified the need to develop a broad range of disease control options, based on science and including emergency vaccination, to meet particular circumstances. It was agreed that flexibility in the choice of methods of controlling and eradicating the disease and improved communications are required and that there is an urgent need for tests to differentiate between infected and vaccinated animals. The conference also considered ways of preventing future outbreaks, including tightening upon import controls at the European border.

Copies of the final conference report have been placed in the House of Commons and House of Lords Libraries. It can also be viewed on the DEFRA website www.defra.gov.uk/footandmouth.

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Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if the Scotland Office will (a) co-operate with and (b) 27 Feb 2002 : Column: 1291W give evidence to the temporary committee of the European Parliament set up to look into the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Scotland in 2001. [36731]

Mrs. Liddell: The remit of the EP Temporary Committee on Foot and Mouth disease is:

Based on the above, to make proposals to look into vaccination policy in particular and for political and legislative initiatives, with regard to the prevention and fighting of diseases in the agricultural sector in general.
The Committee was not set up 'to look into the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Scotland in 2001'.

The Government are ready to co-operate with the Committee but have not so far been invited to give evidence to the Committee. If and when an invitation is received, the Government will consult closely with the devolved Administrations, including the Scottish Executive, in considering their response.

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Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of blood tests taken from (a) sheep, (b) cattle and (c) other livestock during the foot and mouth outbreak tested positively for the FMD virus. [27025] 15 Jan 2002 : Column: 278W

Mr. Morley: Information on blood tests taken by species is not available. However, of the 2,372 premises from which samples were taken, 56 per cent. returned positive results. Details of numbers of premises sampled, by county and by premises status, along with the numbers returning positive results, are available in the Library of the House.

Note: A negative lab result does not mean that infection was absent. Each case is confirmed on the basis of a clinical diagnosis of foot and mouth disease by the vet on the farm, supported by convincing clinical evidence. Source: DEFRA Disease Control System database as at 4 December 2001. These figures may be subject to change while the data validation exercise is being carried out.

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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many samples tested for foot and mouth disease of (a) cattle, (b) sheep, (c) pigs and (d) other species proved (i) positive and (ii) negative. [24089]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 19 December 2001]: Details of individual samples taken are not recorded centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, 2,359 premises which were affected by foot and mouth disease had samples taken for laboratory testing, of which 1,328 returned positive results and 1,026 returned negative results. I should point out in this context that a negative result does not necessarily mean that there is no virus present. Five results are currently unknown.

Source: DEFRA Disease Control System database as at 17:00 18 December 2001.


Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farm animals were slaughtered (a) on non-contiguous premises, (b) on infected premises and (c) as dangerous contacts on contiguous premises in (i) November and (ii) December 2001. [26355]

Mr. Morley: In November and December 2001, there were no cases of foot and mouth disease and therefore no animals were slaughtered on infected premises and no animals were slaughtered as dangerous contacts on contiguous premises. 14 Jan 2002 : Column: 121W However, during November 2001, 71 farm animals were slaughtered on non-contiguous premises. 70 of these animals were slaughtered as dangerous contacts, one was slaughtered on suspicion. In December 2001, one farm animal was slaughtered as a dangerous contact on a non-contiguous premises.

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Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farms were subject to contingency culls undertaken in each county area during the foot and mouth disease epidemic; and what percentage these culls represent of all culls. [26025]

Mr. Morley: During the foot and mouth outbreak in Great Britain, animals from 2,026 infected premises, 7,494 dangerous contacts premises (of which 3,329 were contiguous premises) and 257 slaughter on suspicion premises, have been slaughtered. No other farms have been designated for culling. A breakdown of the animals slaughtered by county, by species and by premises type is available on the DEFRA website www.defra.gov.uk http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/cgi-bin/htm_hl?DB=ukparl&STEMMER=en&
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Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department is taking to validate (a) alternative and (b) complementary testing procedures where positive foot and mouth disease cases are confirmed. [27623]

Mr. Morley: DEFRA supports a programme of applied research and test development at IAH, Pirbright. A priority is the development of more rapid and reliable 22 Jan 2002 : Column: 782W diagnostic tests for use in the laboratory and in the field. Another priority is to develop better methods for identifying infection among vaccinated animals so that vaccinated animals could be safely kept alive. All such tests must be properly validated to ensure international acceptance.

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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in how many confirmed cases of foot and mouth disease samples were subjected to laboratory testing. [24090]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 19 December 2001]: Samples were taken for laboratory testing from 1,728 premises which are confirmed as infected premises. Source: DEFRA Disease Control System database as at 17:00 17 December 2001. http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/cgi-bin/htm_hl?DB=ukparl&STEMMER=en&
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