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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): In order to sustain military operations against terrorism, up to 49 members of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force will be called out compulsorily next month under the call-out order made on 11 October 2001 and Section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996. The majority of those called out will undertake aircraft movements duties at the air transport main operating bases in the UK.
In addition, a new call-out order has been made under Section 56 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable reservists to continue to be called out to support operations in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This took effect from 2 March 2002, the date the previous order expired. Only reservists who volunteer will be called out under this order.
We continue to call out members of the reserve forces to support operations in the Balkans and the no-fly zones in the region of Iraq. Overall they make a very valuable contribution to our operational requirements.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Directive 98/34/EC, as amended by Directive 98/48/EC (the directive), is applicable in broad terms to proposed national measures relating to industrially manufactured products, agricultural products or information society services. Notification of such proposed measures in draft is required if they will contain technical regulations; that is, technical specifications, other requirements or rules on services (as defined by the directive); and
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The major cause of BSE cases has been the contamination of ruminant feed with mammalian meat and bone meal (MBM) containing the disease agent. Measures in place to protect animal health have been significantly strengthened over time, notably in 1995 and 1996. Of course measures taken will not protect cattle already incubating the disease but will prevent further infection through feed. The normal range of the incubation period makes it inevitable that further cases, which were infected before the enhanced measures became effective, will continue to appear, albeit at a declining rate.
More significant are BSE cases borne after 1 August 1996 when UK feed controls are considered to have been fully effective. The department continues to examine veterinary advice on the possible causes of all such cases for evidence of control failure or new routes of transmission of the disease. Such routes may include maternal transmission, environmental contamination or contamination of imported feed ingredients. To date, BSE has been confirmed in 14 animals born in the UK after 1 August 1996.
Lord Whitty: The department regularly holds emergency exercises involving notifiable animal diseases which may involve liaison with the police and other enforcement bodies. Such exercises are generally authorised and supervised by the divisional veterinary manager or regionally by a head of veterinary service.
Detailed information on the number of emergency exercises specifically related to foot and mouth disease is not held centrally and can only be collected at disproportionate cost. However, between 1994 and 1999 MAFF carried out 84 separate exercises aimed at planning to control notifiable animal diseases. todd
In the event of a decision to vaccinate, the National Disease Control Centre would have responsibility for the procurement and distribution of vaccine, so the local disease control centres do not need to be aware of the drawing rights.
Lord Whitty: Veterinary officers of the State Veterinary Service attend an initial veterinary officer training course which incorporates one day's training on foot and mouth disease and other exotic diseases. Training includes a visit to the Pirbright Laboratory. Refresher training is provided by line managers. Training in the form of contingency planning exercises takes place at least once a year at animal health offices. Staff also receive ad-hoc training on an ongoing basis on a range of disease control work (e.g. training on computer systems). The training arrangements for dealing with BMD outbreaks remain in place, although SVS managers are already reviewing their local training requirements. todd
Lord Whitty: The regime of visits and inspections described in the contingency plan ensures that the State Veterinary Service comes into contact with many livestock farmers. However, livestock farmers closest contact is with local veterinary inspectors, who are private veterinary surgeons approved by my department to undertake certain official duties.
There is currently no system in place for monitoring the delivery or effectiveness of animal disease control information to farmers. This is something that we will wish to consider as part of the department's lessons learned exercise.
Lord Whitty: We consult widely with business and other interested organisations in the UK as the ecolabelling criteria for different product groups are being developed to ensure they are aware of new proposals and have opportunities to comment. Part of the department's website gives full background to the scheme and explains the advantages of participating (www.defra.gov.uk/environment/ecolabel/index.htm). We have published a promotional leaflet for business and consumers, called Pick the Flower, and last year we produced the first in a series of point-of-sale leaflets for consumers about specific product types. Plans are under way to issue a newsletter for business and consumers about greener products in order to raise general awareness of good practice on environmental labelling and to encourage participation in authoritative schemes like the EU Ecolabel.
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