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House of Commons
Session 2005 - 06
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Supplement to the House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
15 June 2006



8th June 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of the residents of Bishop Auckland constituency and others,

Declares that the campaign for global justice on trade, aid and debt must continue in 2006 even more strongly than in 2005. The Petitioners further declare that it is vital that the Government continue to increase aid for developing countries in order to Make Poverty History and reach the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons pass the International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Bill 2005-06 which would enshrine a target of 0.7 per cent. GNI for spending on overseas development aid and create a requirement for an annual report to Parliament on the UK's international development assistance.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.



12th June 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of concerned residents of Shropshire and Mid-Wales,

Declares that there is a severe financial crisis in the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust that is threatening services at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Secretary of State for Health to introduce legislation to provide funding to solve the financial crisis of the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust and to secure future services in full at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.



14th June 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of residents of Milton Keynes

Declares that the proposed erection of a 24m Lattice Tower telecommunications mast at Fingle Drive, Stonebridge, Milton Keynes will have an adverse visual impact on the local community.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to work with Milton Keynes Council to prevent the erection of this mast.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


Observations by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the Petition [9th May] from Dog breeders, dog owners and dog lovers against the Government's proposals for revision of the current law on tail-docking.

    In its Regulatory Impact Assessment published alongside the Animal Welfare Bill in October 2006 the Government made clear that its preference was that there should continue to be freedom of choice over tail docking of dogs.

    However, the question of tail docking is an extremely emotive one on which sincere views are held by those on all sides. The Government therefore decided that it is a subject on which Parliament should make the final decision. We therefore tabled at Report stage of the Animal Welfare Bill (on 14 March 2006) a New Clause which would prohibit prophylactic docking other than on working dogs and amendments to that New Clause which would prevent all prophylactic docking. Rejecting the New Clause would have preserved the status quo and freedom of choice. These amendments did not represent the Government's preference but were intended to help the Commons express its preference.

    The New Clause was approved on a free vote by 476 votes to 63 votes. The amendments to introduce a full ban were rejected by 267 votes to 278.

    If the Bill is passed by Parliament as it is currently drafted following the free vote by the House of Commons then it will be legal for a vet to dock a dog's tail for therapeutic purposes or if the dog is likely to work. However, where the dog is not of a type likely to work or it is unlikely that it will work then it will not be legal to dock that dog. This formulation is intended to prevent cosmetic tail docking where the risk of injury is much less while allowing freedom of choice where there genuinely is a greater risk of tail injury.

    The Bill is now being considered by the House of Lords.

12th June 2006


Observations by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the Petition [9th May] from UK farmers and others for an improved test for bovine TB and other measures to combat the disease.

    The Petition from UK farmers and others declares that a more accurate, non user sensitive Bovine TB test should be introduced, along with new measures to stop the spread of the disease from wildlife and further research on vaccination.

    The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to stop the slaughter of healthy British cattle and to introduce:

    1.An accurate test for Bovine TB;

    2.New measures to combat the disease at source (e.g. wildlife); and

    3.Vaccination of domestic and farm animals.

    Bovine Tuberculosis

    Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is one of the most serious animal health problems that we currently face in Great Britain. The Government is strongly committed to working constructively with stakeholders to reduce the economic impact of bTB and maintain public health protection and animal health and welfare. A range of measures is already in place to reverse the long-term upward disease trend. We have also developed, on a partnership basis, a 10-year strategic framework for the control of the disease in cattle within Great Britain. An ongoing Government research programme will continue to further our scientific understanding of bTB.

    Testing for bovine tuberculosis

    SICCT test

    The single intradermal comparative cervical tuberculin test (SICCT), commonly known as the tuberculin skin test, is the well-established screening test for TB in cattle in Great Britain (in compliance with European Union law (EU Directive 64/432 as amended by 97/12/EC). It is a test approved and recognised by the EU Commission and the International Animal Health Organisation (OIE) as the primary, effective tool for the diagnosis of TB in cattle and other species, by virtue of its overall accuracy, robustness and relative simplicity (as demonstrated in several field evaluations conducted throughout the world). The test detects an animal's immunological response against the bacterium that causes bovine TB.

    The accuracy of any test is measured in terms of its specificity (proportion of uninfected animals correctly identified as negative) and its sensitivity (proportion of infected animals correctly detected as positive). The specificity of the SICCT is above 99.9%. Its sensitivity is between 77% and 95%. The test is designed to detect an immune response at a relatively early stage in the infection process. It is a reliable disease control tool, especially at a herd level.

    Animals disclosed as reactors to the diagnostic skin test cannot be regarded as healthy. They are likely to have been exposed to infection and pose a threat to public health.

    TB testing must be carried out only by trained and competent veterinary and technical staff. The way that instructions, procedures and interpretive material for TB testing are promulgated, reviewed and used has recently been independently assessed. The final report of the assessment is awaited.

    Gamma interferon

    In order to further improve bTB diagnostics, the Government has conducted a field trial to assess the potential benefits of the additional usage of the gamma interferon (IFNg) blood test. This test can detect some infected animals that are negative in the SICCT test and may detect animals at an earlier stage of infection when the SICCT test may be negative. However, the IFNg test is slightly less specific than the SICCT test, which means that it is more likely to incorrectly identify negative animals as being infected. The field trial has helped to establish that the use of this test in parallel with the SICCT test may serve to improve the detection of infected cattle in herds with persistent bTB problems, or with a high prevalence of disease, and so hasten the elimination of infected cattle. Following encouraging results from the trial, preparations are now being made for wider use of the IFNg test in prescribed circumstances. A Gamma Interferon Working Group has been established to prepare and deliver a policy for increased use of the test. The results of the field trials on IFNg usage will be published shortly.

    Measures to control bovine tuberculosis in cattle

    There is clear evidence that movements of cattle in GB contribute to the spread of bovine TB. Government has recently introduced additional measures in England to reduce the spread of disease by testing cattle from high risk herds before they are moved.

    International evidence indicates that bovine TB in cattle cannot be eradicated by cattle controls alone when there is a secondary reservoir of infection from wildlife. Scientific evidence supports the view that badgers are a significant source of TB infection in cattle in Britain. With that in mind, the Government has recently undertaken a public consultation on the principle and delivery of badger culling to reduce risk of transfer to cattle. The Government does not rule out culling of badgers to control and reduce TB, but only if the available evidence suggests that it would be successful in the long term, and that a cost-effective, practical, sustainable and humane policy could be developed and implemented. Any policy must form part of an overall approach to bovine TB that balances cattle and wildlife controls, and would have to take account of legislation protecting the welfare of badgers. Any necessary culling would be carried out with due regard to welfare conditions.

    Vaccines to protect cattle from bovine tuberculosis

    Vaccine development is a long-term goal and it is unlikely that an effective vaccine will developed and licensed for use within the 10-year timeframe of the Government's strategic framework for the sustainable control of bTB in Great Britain.

    The aim of vaccination is to prevent disease by strengthening the natural immune response to infection by the bacterium known as Mycobacterium bovis, which causes TB in cattle and other mammals. Approximately 60 vaccine candidates including some emerging from the human TB research programme have been tested in laboratory animals, and over 10 have been tested in cattle. The most promising candidates have been those based on boosting the immune response to the existing BCG human vaccine, which is a modified form of M. bovis. It is not possible to use BCG in cattle at present under EU legislation because it interferes with current diagnostic tests.

    In January, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency began further work looking at new vaccine candidates and delivery protocols in a natural transmission study in cattle.

    In relation to a badger vaccine, the first field study to collect data for licensing injectable BCG in badgers is underway. Initial survey work is complete and live trapping and sampling is due to begin shortly, with a view to starting vaccination in September. Further work is required on oral vaccine delivery, immunological monitoring of effective immunisation of badgers and effect of exposure of non-target species.

    New vaccination regimes for both cattle and badgers offer a potentially important future addition to available disease control tools. Over the past 7 years more than 10.5 million has been invested in vaccine development and associated research, which remains a major element of the Government's approach.

12th June 2006


Observations by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the Petition [20th March] from Friends of Grizedale Forest against plans to redevelop the Grizedale Visitor Centre, Cumbria.

    The Petition from the Friends of Grizedale objects to the redevelopment of the Grizedale Visitor Centre on the grounds of the 50,000 extra visitors and traffic entering the valley via a class C road system, the unsympathetic architectural design of the development and environmental concerns for the whole area.

    Forestry Commission Plans

    The redevelopment of the Grizedale Centre is important to the re-establishment of the 2,447 hectare Grizedale Forest as a key visitor attraction in the Lake District. It will provide an enhanced quality visitor experience building on the existing facilities. The underlying principles of the project are:

* Sustainable and integrated approaches to buildings and activities including a sustainable wood fuel heating system and transport for visitors to the site;

* Encouraging longer stays in the area by providing linked packages of activities with other tourist providers in the area;

* Maintaining the special qualities of the area and landscape.

    Planning Application

    In accordance with the Department of the Environment Circular 18/84 Crown Land Development, the Forestry Commission submitted an 18/84 Notification to the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) on 4th October 2005. This was treated as a full planning application and included all documents and reports requested by LDNPA including a Transport Plan, Flood Risk Assessment and Economic Appraisal as well as full Architectural and Landscape drawings.

    This notification was considered by the LDNPA Development Control Committee on 17th January 2006. At this time a number of objections were considered by the planning authority, but on condition that the Forestry Commission provide a seasonal all day shuttle minibus service connecting with the public transport network, the plans were approved.

    As the Forestry Commission's plans have received the same scrutiny as any other development requiring planning permission and were approved, subject to conditions which have been accepted, then there are no grounds for the Commission to withdraw their development plans.

14th June 2006

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