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Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which 10 diseases of pigs in the United Kingdom cause the greatest economic losses to the agriculture industry; what is his Department's estimate of the loss caused to the agriculture industry by each disease; what significant changes he has predicted in the incidence of each of these diseases in the next 10 to 20 years; how much money the Government are spending on research and development on each of these diseases in the current financial year; and what differences in diseases are being observed between pigs reared indoors and out of doors.

Mr. Waldegrave: This question can be answered only at disproportionate cost.

Sheep

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his estimate of (a) the percentage and (b) the number of sheep which are seropositive for maedia visna; and what steps are being taken to control the disease and to warn farmers of the dangers of buying infected animals.


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Mr. Waldegrave: A survey carried out by MAFF in 1993 suggests that around 0.4 per cent.--70,000 sheep--of the national flock may be infected by Maedi visna.

We have taken a number of steps to alert veterinary surgeons and sheep farmers to the risks of infection in sheep. In particular, representatives of the state veterinary service have addressed the Sheep Veterinary Society and briefed individual breed societies. An information sheet is also available for veterinary surgeons and sheep farmers.

Maedi visna is not a notifiable disease. Responsibility for protecting sheep lies primarily with flock owners. Effective disease control measures are part of the basic principles of good stock management.The sheep and goat health scheme operates a maedi visna accreditation scheme for farmers wishing to achieve disease-free status, and to provide an accredited source of unaffected sheep for other flock owners.

Caseous Lymphadenitis

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what reliable diagnostic tests are available for the detection of animals infected with caseous lymphadenitis; what is the total of Government spending on the development of improved diagnostic tests for caseous lymphadentitis; and what steps are being taken to warn farmers of the dangers of buying infected animals.

Mr. Waldegrave: The only available reliable diagnostic test for caseous lymphadenitis is to identify the causative organism from material from animals suspected of having the disease.

Caseous lymphadenitis is not a notifiable disease and there is no Government spending on the development of diagnostic tests. Responsibility for control measures lies with the sheep and goat industries, and individual farmers who have been advised to protect their flocks and herds using good husbandry practices.

Anticoccidial Drugs

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many types of anticoccidial drugs are available in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Waldegrave: Our records indicate that there are approximately 30 anticoccidial veterinary medicines licensed in the United Kingdom. They cover a wide range of substances, but fall into three main types:

ionophore antibiotics, sulphonamides and potentiated sulphonamides and antiprotozoals.

The majority of these are administered in feed or drinking water. Two formulations are prepared in tablet form, and three are administered by injection.

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to which anticoccidial drugs resistance has developed in the United Kingdom; how widespread is this resistance; and what assessment he has made of the threat resistant coccidia pose to the production and welfare of broiler chickens.

Mr. Waldegrave: Anticoccidial resistance has been reported to amprolium, thiamine analogue; arprinocid, Purine analogue; clopidol, hydroxyquinalone; decoquinate, hydroxyquinalone; methylbenzoquate, hydroxyquinalone; monensin, ionophore; and zoalene, nitrobenzamide, in the United Kingdom. The use of anticoccidials is closely monitored by the veterinary


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pharmaceutical industry and, although anecdotal evidence suggests that resistance has developed to other chemicals, strategies for the control of avian coccidia remain generally effective.

The Government are currently funding several research projects into avian coccidiosis. Some of this research is aimed at assessing the threat of resistant coccidia to the protection and welfare of broiler and laying chickens. Results are awaited.

Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in which countries there are (a) virulent and (b) non-virulent strains of the bovine immunodeficiency virus; and what plans the Government have for the eradication of virulent BIV from the United Kingdom.

Mr. Waldegrave: To date, only three isolations of bovine immunodeficiency-like virus have been recorded from two herds in the United States of America. It has not been possible as yet to ascribe virulence or non-virulence to this virus. There is, however, serological evidence that BIV exists in cattle in a number of countries, including the United States of America, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Venezuela and Costa Rica, and the virus probably has a worldwide distribution. Experience to date in those countries would suggest that the virus does not produce a specific disease condition and we understand that no control measures are applied in any country. The Government have considered all the available evidence about the virus very carefully and do not consider it necessary to introduce an eradication programme.

Dogs (Tapeworms)

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food where are the main foci in the United Kingdom of infection of dogs with the tapeworm echinococcus granulosus; and what is his estimate of the cost of treating dogs in these areas to ensure eradication of the infection.

Mr. Waldegrave: The main focus of the tapeworm echinococcus granulosus infecting dogs in the United Kingdom is north Gwent, Powys and west Herefordshire. The cost of treating and eradicating the disease cannot be estimated until a survey is carried out, but that cannot be done until a reliable cost-effective diagnostic test becomes available.

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which 10 diseases of sheep in the United Kingdom cause the greatest economic losses to the agriculture industry; what is his Department's estimate of the loss caused to the agriculture industry by each disease; what significant changes he has predicted in the incidence of each of these diseases in the next 10 to 20 years; how much money the Government are spending on research and development on each of these diseases in the current financial year; and what action is being taken by the Government to inform farmers of the optimal way to control each of these diseases.

Mr. Waldegrave: This question can be answered only at disproportionate cost.


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Cattle Diseases

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which 10 diseases of cattle in the United Kingdom cause the greatest economic losses to the agriculture industry; what is his Department's estimate of the loss caused to the agriculture industry by each disease; what significant changes he has predicted in the incidence of each of these diseases in the next 10 to 20 years; how much money the Government are spending on research and development on each of these diseases in the current financial year; and what action is being taken by the Government to inform farmers of the optimal way to control each of these diseases.

Mr. Waldergrave: This question can be answered only at disproportionate cost.

Leather Trade

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the losses to the farming, skin and leather industry from poor quality sheep skins; what assessment he has made of the causes of damage to sheep skins; what changes have been observed in the causes of damage to sheep skins since the deregulation of sheep scab; and what percentage of sheep skins are now top quality.

Mr. Waldegrave: As far as the farming industry is concerned, there is no direct correlation between the quality of sheep skins and the prices paid for animals going for slaughter. My Department produced a leaflet this autumn in conjunction with the industry, encouraging farmers to treat their sheep against sheep scab. This initiative should help reduce the amount of damage caused by all ectoparasites. The skin and leather industries are the responsibility of the President of the Board of Trade. However, I understand that no Government studies are available to provide answers to the questions the hon. Gentleman raises.

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the losses to the farming, hide and leather industry from poor quality cattle hides; what assessment he has made of the major causes of damage to cattle hides; and what percentage of (a) United Kingdom, (b) Danish and (c) German cattle hides are now top quality.

Mr. Waldegrave: As far as the farming industry is concerned, there is no direct correlation between the quality of cattle hides and the prices paid for animals going for slaughter. The Government have mounted over a number of years a successful campaign to eradicate warble fly which is considered to be a major threat to the quality of cattle hides. The skin and leather industries are the responsibility of the President of the Board of Trade. However, I understand that no Government studies are available to provide answers to the questions the hon. Gentleman raises.

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his estimate of the number of jobs lost in the United Kingdom leather trade in the last five years as a result of the decrease in quality of sheep skins and cattle hides.

Mr. Waldegrave: The skin and leather industries are the responsibility of the President of the Board of Trade. However, I understand the Government have no firm


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information on the impact of the quality of sheep skins or cattle hides on employment levels in the leather industry.

Sheep Scab

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the total number of outbreaks of sheep scab in the United Kingdom in the 12 months prior to deregulation; how many outbreaks of sheep scab there have been in the United Kingdom in the last 12 months; and in which areas of the United Kingdom sheep scab has been found since the deregulation of the disease.

Mr. Waldegrave: The total number of confirmed cases of sheep scab in the United Kingdom between 1 July 1991 and 30 June 1992 was 195. The collation of official records on the number of sheep scab outbreaks in Great Britain was discontinued after deregulation. In Northern Ireland, where sheep scab remains a notifiable disease, there have been 61 outbreaks over the last 12 months.

Industry reports have indicated that sheep scab has been discovered in every county in Britain. A surveillance exercise during the spring identified 177 batches of sheep suspected of having sheep scab from 869 visits to sheep sales and markets. These and other reports confirm that the disease is probably spread across the whole country.

The Government announced on 17 May that they would conduct a publicity campaign and increase the official veterinary presence at sheep markets. Surveillance at 766 market days since 1 September has resulted in 44 animals with sheep scab being withdrawn from sale and treated. These animals were found at markets in north Humberside, south Wales, the highland region and borders region of Scotland.

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps are being taken to monitor the development of resistance of sheep scab to insecticides in the United Kingdom; and what information he has on the insecticides sheep scab has developed resistance to in other countries.

Mr. Waldegrave : Sheep scab was notifiable in the United Kingdom between 1974 and 1992, with the compulsory national dipping of sheep in organochlorine, organophosphate or synthetic pyrethroid plunge dip formulations. During this period, there were no reported incidences of dip formulations failing to be effective. Monitoring for insecticide resistance in United Kingdom populations of sheep ectoparasites--including the sheep scab mite Psoroptes ovis --has been undertaken for the past three years, under a Government-funded research project. There is no current evidence to suggest that the scab mite is resistant to any licensed synthetic pyrethroid or organophosphate formulation applied to sheep in the United Kingdom. In Argentina, the sheep scab mite developed resistance to the organochlorine insecticide BHC--HCH, benzene hexachloride, hexachlorocyclohexane or lindane--in 1962 and then to the OP, diazinon, in 1970. The development of resistance in both cases was directly related to the standard of Argentinian sheep husbandry. There is no evidence that similar resistance has developed elsewhere.

Chicken Diseases

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which 10 diseases of chickens in the United Kingdom cause the greatest economic losses to the


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agriculture industry; what is his Department's estimate of the loss caused to the agriculture industry by each disease; what significant changes he has predicted in the incidence of each of these diseases in the next 10 to 20 years; and how much money the government are spending on research and development on each of these diseases in the current financial year.

Mr. Waldegrave: This question can be answered only at disproportionate cost.

Animal Transportation

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what steps he has taken to satisfy himself that all the animals shipped from Plymouth to France on the night of 1 December were fed and watered within 15 hours of the start of their journey, and that all aspects of the journey plan for these animals were complied with;

(2) what plans he has to stop the transport of livestock in unattended lorries;

(3) how many livestock transporting lorries were left unattended for the voyage between Plymouth and France on the night of 1 December; how long the animals in these lorries were left unattended; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Browning: I am informed that five livestock lorries were without drivers on landing at Calais after the aircraft which was to carry the drivers across the channel had been prevented from taking off by fog. Drivers were found for all of them and the longest period of delay was about three hours. During this period, the lorries were under the direct supervision of a veterinary surgeon employed by the shipping company to accompany the animals during the voyage. He has reported that the livestock were unaffected by the delay. Nevertheless, it is possible that delays of this sort could result in animals travelling for more than 15 hours without food and water, and as a result of this incident a notice has been served on the shipper prohibiting the carriage of livestock in lorries unaccompanied by their drivers.

Farm Animal Mutilations

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many prosecutions have been brought under the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968 in each of the last five years in respect of unnecessary pain or distress caused by farm animal mutilations.

Mrs. Browning: Information on the number of prosecutions in respect of pain or distress caused specifically by farm animal mutilations is not available.

Veterinary Inspectors

Sir Peter Fry: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the role of veterinary inspection centres in promoting good animal health practices.

Mrs. Browning: One of the functions of the veterinary investigation service is to provide a diagnostic, advisory and consultancy service to private veterinary surgeons in agricultural practice and when an advisory farm visit is undertaken within this service, when a further investigation is carried out for disease surveillance purposes or when the service arranges promotional


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activities, every opportunity is taken to promote good animal health practices.

Sir Peter Fry: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what time veterinary investigation officers are allocated for research and investigating changes in endemic diseases.

Mrs. Browning: Approximately one-third of the time of veterinary investigation officers is allocated towards the monitoring of endemic disease, the detection of trends in such diseases and the investigation of new and emerging diseases. Basic research is not a function of the veterinary investigation service.

Sir Peter Fry: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the effect of time recording in the veterinary investigation service; and what is done with the information collected.

Mrs. Browning: Work recording in the veterinary investigation service is a normal management function used to monitor activities and to apportion staff time to the various programmes of the Department in which they are involved.

Sir Peter Fry: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what literature the veterinary investigation service has produced in the last year for distribution to farmers or veterinary surgeons.

Mrs. Browning: Eleven out of 13 veterinary investigation centres send out a regular monthly newsletter to veterinary practices. The other two centres send out either an amended monthly report or a newsletter at less frequent intervals. A large number of advisory leaflets are also produced by the centres for veterinary surgeons in relation to specific disease topics. The veterinary investigation service is a frequent contributor to agricultural sections of local newspapers and contributes to local radio broadcasts. In the last year, 45 articles, short communications or letters have been published in scientific journals by the veterinary


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investigation service and staff have contributed to a further 19 articles in the scientific press.

Sir Peter Fry: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what will be the future involvement of veterinary inspection centres in animal health schemes.

Mrs. Browning: The future of the animal health schemes is currently under review as a result of the review of the animal health and veterinary group.

Sir Peter Fry: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans has he to further reduce the number of veterinary inspection centres.

Mrs. Browning: I have no current plans to reduce the number of veterinary investigation centres.

Ministerial Speeches

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on what occasions since 1979 civil servants in his Department have been asked to draft speeches of a constituency nature for use in a Minister's own constituency.

Mr. Waldegrave: As far as we are aware, none. Civil servants may provide factual briefing for Ministers on matters relating to their own Departments. In addition, Ministers in preparing for a constituency speech can draw on material produced by their Department during the normal course of business.

Animals (Drowning)

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in what circumstances drowning is permitted as an acceptable or humane method for killing animals.

Mrs. Browning: I know of no circumstances in which I would consider the intentional drowning of conscious animals for which the Department has responsibility to be either acceptable or humane. The EC directive on the welfare of livestock when slaughtered or killed, which will be implemented next year, does not permit drowning.


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