Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
WEDNESDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2000
80. Who is doing the auditing at the moment
of the surveying of welfare?
(Mr Hathaway) The welfare auditor who did the first
report, Dr James Kirkwood, has now stood down. We have a new welfare
auditor in place at the moment in succession to him. I would have
to check my notes but my recollection is that he has asked for
his name not to be made public at this stage.
81. You have chosen not to audit the humaneness
of the trapping procedures. Is there a reason for that?
(Mr Hathaway) I am not sure I would entirely agree
with that. The welfare auditor was not prevented from looking
at any aspect of the trial. You will see that in his report he
does not interpret the precise words of his remit in a narrow
way. He feels free to comment beyond that and we would not wish
in any way to prevent him from doing so.
82. Would it be fair for me to suggest it might
be worth revisiting more explicitly whether you might want to
look at the humaneness of the trapping procedures?
(Baroness Hayman) I think we are arguing semantics
rather than reality here. I have talked in the light of the auditor's
report about the traps themselves, the mesh of the traps, for
example. There is a conflict between size of mesh to minimise
the possibility of an injury to any animal and size of mesh to
allow quick and speedy despatch by a single bullet. We do have
a project on comparing the different traps that are available.
In that sense, we are picking up on issues about trapping regimes
that came out of the report and will continue to do so.
83. Is there a point in the report where some
sort of recommendations will come out of that investigation or
is that once again an iterative process?
(Baroness Hayman) I would not want to wait until the
next formal report if something clear came out of that bit of
research as to something that was better to do. We would act upon
that then but certainly the attitude has been to put into the
public arena when pieces of work were done and action that was
84. You have already explained why there was
a delay in appointing an external expert to verify the statistical
basis. It was hard to find someone. When can we expect to see
the first report from Professor Mollison on that?
(Baroness Hayman) I understand it came into the office
yesterday. I have not seen it but I am told (a) that it is not
very long and therefore I do not think we need to go through a
great process of showing it to other people and getting responses
in; (b) it does not raise any fundamental issues, which I suppose
is the most important thing, so my instinct is to say we could
publish it immediately and let people comment on it. Obviously
the ISG in particular will want to look at it, but I do not see
any reason for delaying publication.
85. I think a lot of people in this room will
be very keen to see that report based on what we were discussing
before you came into the room.
(Baroness Hayman) I see absolutely no reason why it
should not be published, just as it is now.
86. Finally, some people feel that MAFF is less
interested in husbandry solutions than in badger solutions. They
cite the delay in responding to the Independent Husbandry Panel
report which came out in May. Have you any response to that?
(Baroness Hayman) We are trying to put emphasis on
all areas of the government strategy. We are taking the husbandry
report seriously. I think it was important to publish quickly
and get the responses to it, but we must move now to a government
response on that and take appropriate action. I am interested
in working with farmers' representatives about how you can most
affect behaviour, because I think that is important, and get information
across. Equally, looking at testing regimes, looking at movement
controls, is an important area. Research on the badger culling
trials is important, the work on other wildlife and the work on
pathogenesis. You cannot ignore the major area that was pinpointed
in Krebs where the major research resource, because it is labour
intensive, is going. I think it would be irresponsible to ignore
that and a lot of other people focus on that so it appears as
if it is the sole MAFF focus. It is not.
87. Are you considering in your deliberations
making husbandry related payments to farmers? Is that one of the
things that is in the pot?
(Baroness Hayman) Other people put that into the pot
quite a lot. I think there are two issues here. One is whether
you do pay people for good practice that is in their own interests;
the other is whether we do have the causal link established that
shows value for money. There are two fairly fundamental issues
to be grappled with, but it cannot be ignored as an issue because
other people would argue it.
88. Part of the purpose of the TB99 survey was
to provide data on other possible relationships between TB in
cattle and either their environment, husbandry or other factors.
We have already heard the ISG express concern about the delay
in TB99 usage. What steps are being taken to deal with that?
(Baroness Hayman) TB99 is very important. Therefore,
I was disappointed that when the swine fever outbreak occurred
it was necessary to divert some of the State Veterinary Service
into the very operation dealing with swine fever, but it was the
very clear advice of the Chief Veterinary Officer. I do not think
you can be staffed up all the time to deal with something as resource
intensive as that outbreak. Necessarily, people were diverted
onto the work. In terms of what we are doing now, we have restarted
the questionnaire and the work is going on. There has been quite
a lot of training of new staff and existing staff to participate
in it. There is some sensitivity to the issue, particularly in
trial areas, of not having the TB99 work going on and therefore
releasing staff from Bury St Edmunds, making the first releases,
if you like, being the people who are going back into the south
west. That was something I talked about last time I was at Bury
last week. Yes, it has been unfortunate that we lost a few weeks
in the middle there, but we are, I hope, back on track now.
89. You have mentioned that a reasonable amount
of data has already been produced from TB99 and you are asking
the ISG whether they wish to see that released. Has that data
given any indication of alternative views of how to control TB
(Baroness Hayman) The ISG itself will publish an initial
analysis of the data in their third report, which will be early
next year. I would not want to preempt that.
(Dr Reynolds) About 1,200 questionnaires have been
completed so far and the ISG has been able to look at the majority
of those and conduct an early analysis. It is too soon to say
whether anything is emerging and the ISG is looking at the information
and what can be put out in their third report as an indication
of how valuable the data will be.
90. You touched on the testing regime. There
have been suggestions that we should increase the frequency of
testing. What is your view on that?
(Baroness Hayman) I think we have to test on the frequency
that is necessitated by incidence, so we are in a framework that
testing frequency reflects the incidence. One thing that I am
actively pursuing is looking at the possibility, for example,
in parishes that are on a three yearly testing regime, of moving
to a rolling programme of testing, so that a third of the parishes
were tested each year rather than that being an area where there
was no testing at three yearly intervals. I think there are ways
in which we can look at improving that regime, to give us more
confidence within it.
91. Is this a resource-led decision?
(Baroness Hayman) It is a decision that has resource
92. Indeed, but is it being led by the amount
of resources that would obviously be involved in increasing the
frequency of testing?
(Baroness Hayman) We put into our planning for SR2000
additional funding for testing. You have to make some judgments
about the increase in incidence and therefore what the costs will
be because of that because incidence triggers an obligation to
93. But you set out a pattern of increase which
is continuing at an alarming pace.
(Baroness Hayman) Yes, and I hope that that will give
some flexibility to do things like changing, as I described, the
testing pattern in terms of having a rolling programme, which
is actually the same amount of money but more expenditure up front.
It is the timing of the expenditure. I hope that we will have
the flexibility in the funding that is now coming in to improve
the testing regime.
94. You hope but do not seem certain. I think
you are demonstrating a very strong resource relationship.
(Baroness Hayman) I hope I am demonstrating that the
only reason I can say that that is what we are going to be able
to do is because we have some more money to do it.
95. You are saying that but I am also reading
into it that there is a clear money implication to increasing
the frequency of tests, which is obvious. That appears to be one
of the guiding principles behind this decision.
(Baroness Hayman) I think value for money is a guiding
principle behind any decision that you take in spending public
96. My question is in respect of the road traffic
deaths of badgers and the Independent Scientific Group was concerned
that this has been so long delayed. It was announced last week.
What is the problem? Is it just that MAFF is in its usual financial
mess and is short of resources to do its job properly, which is
something it always tells the fishing industry, and presumably
now it applies to RTA testing which costs MAFF, does it not?
(Baroness Hayman) The resource problems in the RTA
are different from financial resource problems. The first problem
was the Health and Safety Executive ending of testing of badger
carcasses without the appropriate facilities to provide protection
for the workers concerned. The resource had to be found and was
found to instal safe areas for doing that badger carcass testing.
That was not a money problem. The money was there but it takes
some time to set up those lab facilities. We then had a backlog
of carcasses for testing that were from the trials, rather than
from the road traffic accidents. The advice of the ISG was that
frozen carcasses were not the best material with which to deal
and that the priority had to be to deal with the trial badgers.
We have done that now and we are now in the position that we have
the capacity to do the RTA. Again, we run into a problem which
is not simply of financial resource; it is a human resource problem
about who actually collects these carcasses because again there
are health and safety implications there. We have started the
RTA collection and I hope that, as the demands from the swine
fever epidemic diminish, we will be able to increase the human
resources going into the RTA, but I do not think you can simplify
it as much as to say it is just a matter of MAFF not having the
money to do it.
97. The numbers of people collecting is a staff
resource and therefore a financial issue.
(Baroness Hayman) Yes, but it is trained staff as
98. Is there a problem with laboratory facilities?
You say in the progress report, paragraph 34, "There are
now five laboratories with suitable facilities for carrying out
badger post mortems and these should provide sufficient capacity
for the culling trial to be completed." Are they also going
to provide sufficient capacity to carry on the RTA studies?
(Baroness Hayman) Yes. There will be times when there
is additional pressure on the facilities because there are carcasses
coming in from proactive culls and from the RTA. The proactive
culls and the reactive culls do not take place all the time, so
there will be an issue of smoothing out the demand on the facilities.
Again, I suppose you could provide enormously more lab facilities
that were for some parts of the year not being used at all in
order to deal with the peaks of demand. I think the advice that
I have had is that we now have enough facility to deal on a steady
basis with both the RTA and the culling trials but it would be
wrong to say that there will not be specific limited periods when
there may be pressure because those two things are coming together.
99. The bodies will be put in cold storage at
(Baroness Hayman) Yes. As I say, freezing is not ideal
I am informed.
(Dr Reynolds) Deep freezing carcases that have come
from a road traffic accident survey is a particular disadvantage
because these carcases may already be quite damaged as a result
of a road traffic accident and on top of that freezing them. The
quality of material for pathology is really quite poor.
(Baroness Hayman) It is easier to freeze, as I understand,
carcases which have come out of the trial because they tend not
to be in that sort of state.