27 Apr 2001 : Column: 403W

Written Answers to Questions

Friday 27 April 2001

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Pig Farming

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many pig farmers were offered aid under the Outgoers 1 Scheme; on what basis tenders were assessed; and if he will make a statement. [159829]

Ms Quin: The Pig Industry Restructuring Scheme (PIRS)--Outgoers, closed for applications on 2 March, and all applicants were informed of their success or otherwise on 23 March. There were a total of 1,237 bids in the UK as a whole (England 650, Northern Ireland 510, Scotland 53, Wales 24). A total of 205,327 sow places were offered, greatly exceeding the target of 120,000 sow places.

As was made clear from the beginning, successful bids under PIRS--Outgoers would be assessed on a value for money basis. To achieve this, bids were assessed using a value for money criteria agreed by MAFF and the devolved authorities in advance of opening the bids. This was done in order to avoid any accusations of manipulating the criteria to achieve a specific result.

The criteria defined what would be judged as value for money in terms of cost per sow place. It was agreed that bids greater than 125 per cent. of the average (the top 10 per cent. and bottom 10 per cent. of tenders were removed while calculating the average figure) tender bid in terms of £ per sow place would be rejected. The highest tender to be accepted was calculated at £237 per sow place, giving a maximum payment of £142 per sow place (the full 60 per cent. allowable was paid to successful applicants).

The final result of PIRS--Outgoers was a total of 432 accepted bids (England 315, Northern Ireland 87, Scotland 20, Wales 10), with an average tender of £185 per sow place (average payment of £111 per sow place). A total or £10.6 million has been offered to the successful applicants.

Payments are now being made to the first claims under PIRS--Outgoers from successful applicants.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Watts: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what the estimated cost is to each British family of the measures taken to eradicate (a) foot and mouth disease and (b) BSE in Britain. [156268]

Ms Quin [holding answer 30 March 2001]: It is, at present, too soon to carry out an estimate of the cost of measures taken so far to eradicate foot and mouth disease to each British family.

27 Apr 2001 : Column: 404W

The total cost of the BSE crisis to the UK up to and including 2000-01 was approximately £3.5 billion. This figure relates to various financial measures, and not solely eradication measures. To calculate a more specific figure, relating solely to eradication measures and the average cost per family, would involve disproportionate cost.

Mr. Luff: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what advice he has given to the operators of landfill sites about the precautions they should take to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease. [153822]

Ms Quin [holding answer 15 March 2001]: The disposal of carcases during the foot and mouth outbreak takes place in accordance with the detailed 'Best Practice' protocol prepared by the Environment Agency, MAFF and the Environmental Services Association. This protocol provides in-depth advice to landfill site operators, in order to minimise the risks of disease spread.

My Department authorises the disposal of carcases under the Animal By-Products Order (1999) for each and every landfill site. The Environment Agency is responsible for modifying the waste management licences to allow the burial of carcases, and each licence modification refers to the 'Best Practice' protocol.

Mr. Baldry: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what compensation will be available to livestock farmers who have been unable to move stock to slaughter as a consequence of their being in foot and mouth exclusion zones. [155657]

Ms Quin [holding answer 27 March 2001]: Compensation is not generally payable for consequential losses caused by foot and mouth controls, for example those caused by movement restrictions. There are no plans to make such payments in response to the current outbreak, but the situation will be kept under review.

The Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme was opened to applicants on 22 March 2001. As with the Pig Welfare Disposal Scheme in Norfolk and Suffolk last year, this voluntary slaughter scheme is intended to help resolve serious animal welfare difficulties arising from disease control measures which cannot be alleviated by movement under licence or in other ways. It is not a market support measure. The Government will meet the costs of transport, slaughter and disposal of animals under the scheme.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if (a) he, (b) ministerial colleagues and (c) his officials were in discussions with timber merchants with a view to supplying pyres for the disposal of carcases for foot and mouth in the three months prior to 19 February. [155268]

Ms Quin: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien) on 23 April 2001, Official Report, column 50W. Ministers were not involved in any such discussions with timber merchants.

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for what reason the Government have prevented chemists and other parties from offering advice on the efficacy of homoeopathic Borax in the prevention of foot and mouth disease. [157709]

27 Apr 2001 : Column: 405W

Ms Quin [holding answer 9 April 2001]: Products that are presented for the treatment or prevention of disease in animals, or which have that function, must be authorised under the terms of the Marketing Authorisations for Veterinary Medicinal Products Regulations 1994 before they can be legally sold or supplied in the United Kingdom. This ensures that such products are properly assessed and are demonstrated as being safe, of consistent good quality and effective when used in accordance with the label instructions.

Some pharmacies have advertised the homoeopathic product Borax 30 as a preventative measure against foot and mouth disease. However, this product has not been authorised under these regulations. We have received no scientific evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness against foot and mouth disease and we have not assessed its safety or quality.

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had with homoeopathic vets concerning the use of homoeopathic Borax in the prevention of foot and mouth disease. [157707]

Ms Quin [holding answer 9 April 2001]: My officials have been in correspondence with the Veterinary Dean of the Homoeopathic Faculty in London on the use of the homoeopathic product Borax. In this correspondence we have stressed that foot and mouth disease is a notifiable disease and, if suspected, must be notified to the local MAFF Divisional Veterinary Manager.

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what evidence he has assessed on the (a) safety and (b) quality of homoeopathic borax in the prevention of foot and mouth disease. [157711]

Ms Quin [holding answer 9 April 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 24 April 2001, Official Report, column 257W.

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the Government will issue advice to farmers on the use of homoeopathic borax in the prevention of foot and mouth disease. [157708]

Ms Quin [holding answer 9 April 2001]: Advice regarding the use of the homoeopathic product Borax has been given to farmers via the MAFF foot and mouth website, and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate website.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make it his policy to offer financial compensation for residents of properties who have been subject to extreme inconvenience and disruption from prolonged burning of carcases adjacent to their homes. [157714]

Ms Quin [holding answer 9 April 2001]: Compensation is payable for the market value of animals slaughtered to control foot and mouth disease. It is not payable for the consequential losses caused by foot and mouth controls, or for any inconvenience caused to residents by the cremation of animal carcases.

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many (a) farmers and (b) others are prevented from (i) sending or (ii) receiving mail due to the restrictions imposed as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak; what mechanisms he intends to put in place to

27 Apr 2001 : Column: 406W

ensure that such persons will be able to vote by post at the forthcoming local elections; and if he will make a statement about the implications of the foot and mouth outbreak for those who wish to vote by post. [156811]

Ms Quin [holding answer 3 April 2001]: There is no reason why farmers on infected premises should be prevented from sending and receiving mail. Movements on and off an infected premises are licensed by the State Veterinary Service. These licences would set out the cleansing and disinfection arrangements that should be followed and might specify a prescribed route so as to minimise the risk of spreading disease. In some cases arrangements have been made for mail to be left at, and collected from, the farm boundary.

The new rules on absent voting allow for postal votes on demand. The Home Office has made large quantities of postal vote leaflets (including application forms) available to electoral registration officers. They have been encouraged to publicise the availability of postal votes, particularly in areas affected by foot and mouth disease to ensure that no one is disfranchised.

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent research he has commissioned on the risk associated with grain exports being a source of infection for foot and mouth disease. [156742]

Ms Quin [holding answer 3 April 2001]: A general risk assessment of the grain trade spreading foot and mouth disease have been carried out and posted on the MAFF website http://www.maff.gov.uk/. Grain that is now available for export will have been harvested in the summer of 2000 (or earlier). It could not have been infected at the time of harvest as foot and mouth disease was not present in the country at that time. The grain is stored under conditions which would effectively prevent surface contamination, and is protected during transport in covered vehicles. In addition, no movement of grain is permitted from UK farms where foot and mouth is suspected or has been confirmed. There is therefore no reason why grain exports should not continue.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has for sheep to be ear tagged; and if he will make a statement. [159379]

Ms Quin [holding answer 26 April 2001]: The Sheep and Goats Identification (England) Order took effect on 1 September 2000. This legislation requires all sheep and goats born after 1 January 2001 or first moved off their holding of birth after that date to be permanently identified with an eartag or tattoo identifying the animals' holding of birth.

In my right hon. Friend the Minister's statement of 27 March he indicated that, once we were beyond the current difficulties, we would be looking at a range of issues surrounding the operation of the livestock sector to see if more could be done to minimise disease risks still further. This work will include consideration of the identification and tracing of sheep.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received concerning meat imports from countries within the EU where foot and mouth has been diagnosed; and if he will make a statement. [158963]

27 Apr 2001 : Column: 407W

Ms Quin [holding answer 26 April 2001]: I have received a number of representations concerning the importation of meat from EU countries in which foot and mouth disease has been diagnosed. These countries are France, the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands and in all cases, import restrictions were placed on products derived from foot and mouth disease susceptible species in line with Community legislation. Restrictions have now been lifted in respect of France and the Republic of Ireland.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what role tag markings play in tracing animal movements from auction marts to farms during the foot and mouth crisis. [154284]

Ms Quin: Cattle have a unique individual identification displayed on their eartag. When an animal moves an entry must be made in the farm register recording the animal's unique identity where it has moved to. This information must also be sent to the British Cattle Movement Service at Workington, for entry on the Cattle Tracing System database. Movements of cattle via auction marts can therefore be traced by reference to farmer's records, to auction mart's records and to those held at the BCMS.

Sheep and goats born after 1 January 2001, or moved off the holding of birth after that date are required to be identified by means of an eartag (or tattoo). There is no requirement for markets to record eartag details. Sheep, goats and pigs when they move within Great Britain are required to be identified by a temporary paintmark which identifies the premises from which the animal last moved. Markets are required to keep records of all batches of sheep, goats and pigs moving through the market and their temporary mark.

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many livestock in Wales he estimates will be slaughtered owing to foot and mouth disease outbreaks; and how many have been slaughtered to date. [155017]

Ms Quin: As of 10 April 2001, a total of approximately 84,600 sheep, 7,800 cattle, 500 pigs and 17 goats have been slaughtered in Wales.

The Government have published independent research on the epidemiology of the foot and mouth outbreak. The reports support the view that this outbreak will last several months and that there will continue to be new cases throughout that time. The epidemiological forecasts foresee the outbreak lasting at least until June and possibly beyond July. However, the Chief Veterinary Officer will not make a specific prediction on how long the outbreak will last, nor can we make a specific prediction of the number of animals that will be slaughtered.

Mr. Key: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what virus dissemination prediction (a) models and (b) equipment are in use in connection with foot and mouth disease. [156920]

Ms Quin [holding answer 27 March 2001]: The Ministry has access to a Gaussion plume dispersion model for modelling spread up to 10 kilometres, and access to a Meteorological Office NAME model for predicting spread over long distances. There is also a collaborative arrangement with the Danish Meteorological Institute and

27 Apr 2001 : Column: 408W

the Ris National Laboratory using the Rimpuff model and numerical weather prediction models. These models have all been scaled specifically for the biological parameters for foot and mouth disease and validated against previous outbreaks. The output from the UK Meteorological Office is input into MAFF geographical information systems to link with out database of farms and infected premises.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what the frequency was of contact between his Department, including its regional offices, and suppliers of materials required to deal with the current foot and mouth epidemic in the last 30 years. [156416]

Ms Quin [holding answer 30 March 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 23 April 2001, Official Report, column, 50W in connection with a number of related questions.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the potential benefits of the use of homeopathic Borax as a means of preventing the spread of foot and mouth; and if he will publish the scientific evidence he has received on this. [158498]

Ms Quin: We have not received any evidence of the effectiveness of Borax against foot and mouth disease nor have we received any other scientific evidence to demonstrate its efficacy, safety or quality. Without such evidence which is required for the authorisation of a veterinary medicinal product, no claim for treatment or prevention of disease is allowed under the legislation.


Next Section Index Home Page