Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60
MONDAY 11 DECEMBER 2000
60. Were they any better at the end? Some of
them came as quite unpleasant surprises; were they any better
at the end than the beginning?
(Mr Black) Throughout this I have to commend the work
of the CVO. We set up weekly meetings with him and his offices
right from the start and communication was one of the issues that
we discussed. Gradually they managed to get their machinery in
place and their communication has been better as the disease outbreak
has gone on. Clearly it was a new experience for them as well
as for us and so we have all had a lot of learning to do.
61. What in practice was the means that you
were using as representatives of the industry for communicating?
How in practice was that taking place?
(Mr Black) Our web site has carried
62. No, with government. You make the point
that their web site was slower than yours in your memorandum,
but how were you communicating with government? What were the
practicalities of that?
(Mr Black) Our weekly meetings with the CVO.
(Mr Godfrey) And much more. Our regional manager was
talking to the local vets on a daily basis.
63. Daily communication on the ground and what
about at policy level where you were trying to get changes in
(Mr Houston) That was slower.
64. To whom were you communicating your requests,
for example, to go to the 3km kill-out zones? Which layer of government
or Civil Service was receiving that information?
(Mr Black) There were discussions taking place with
the CVO's meetings in relation to the kill-out zones.
65. How quickly were you making those suggestions
(Mr Sheldon) We first suggested extending the automatic
kill out zones at the turn of August into September.
66. The end of August/beginning of September.
And when did they actually happen? When was it subsequently introduced?
(Mr Black) Chairman, if the dates are going to be
accurate we would have to come back to you on that.
67. Are we talking about a short delay or a
(Mr Houston) It was only with the very latest cases
that the 3 km kill-out zone was brought in?
(Mr Sheldon) Approximately two months' delay.
68. Do you think that was unreasonably long?
Did you make the case to a Minister or was it a senior official?
(Mr Sheldon) We made these recommendations to the
Chief Veterinary Officer. We did also have conversations with
other MAFF officials and were recommended to communicate on technical
matters through the Chief Veterinary Officer because the Minister
in the end would act on advice from him, quite reasonably I think.
69. Was this oral communication at the end of
August/beginning of September or in writing?
(Mr Sheldon) In the first instance it was orally at
one of the weekly meetings with the Chief Veterinary Officer.
70. Gentlemen, in one minute, literally, you
will have the benefit of hindsight. What would be the recommendations
if Government were faced in the next few years with another swine
fever outbreak, take that as a hypothesis, what are the lessons
to learn from this one?
(Mr Black) Chairman, we must have a scheme in place
so we all know exactly what the rules are at the onset of an outbreak
of a notifiable disease. Those rules need to be such that there
is scope for the Chief Veterinary Officer to take action immediately
without affecting the physical ability of people to continue their
right to go about normal business.
71. And because we have a significant number
of outdoor pigs compared with a much more indoor pig industry
based on the Continent, one should be cautious before one draws
too many lessons from Continental experience; is that true?
(Mr Black) Yes.
72. Thank you very much indeed, gentlemen. We
are now going to talk to the Minister. You are very welcome to
sit and listen.
(Mr Black) Thank you very much.