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17 Oct 2001 : Column: 1248W
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how long foot and mouth disease can remain active in the digestive tract and faeces of (a) carrion crows and (b) foxes. 
Mr. Morley: These species are not susceptible to infection by the foot and mouth disease virus. If they ingest the virus there is no true infection or colonisation of the digestive tract. If the virus is ingested, any remaining virus particles, which have survived the activities of digestion, will only persist in the gut for a day or two and will be excreted naturally. However, crows and foxes are not capable of excreting sufficient virus to infect one of the farm species.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received on the handling by her Department of the foot and mouth outbreak. 
Mr. Morley: The Department has received representations from an extremely wide range of interested parties on all aspects of the foot and mouth outbreak. Since the start of the outbreak, we have regularly consulted a wide range of stakeholders and worked closely with them in the development of our disease control policies.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will bring forward specific proposals to assist the local parish council surrounding the Great Orton disposal site. 
Mr. Morley: The Department has engaged consultants to prepare detailed restoration and aftercare proposals for the site. The final form of the proposal is nearing completion and in the very near future a copy of the formal proposals will be submitted for approval by the Cumbria county council. Part of this process will involve the county council consulting a number of statutory agencies, the local council and the local parish council for their views.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reasons were for the decision to scrap the EpiMan data management and prediction system for controlling a major foot and mouth epidemic. 
Mr. Morley: The EpiMan data management and prediction system was not scrapped. The modelling component (Interspread) for evaluating control measures and predicting the future course of the epidemic has been used extensively and almost on a daily basis. One scientific paper has been published describing its use during the early stages of the epidemic. The data management component was not used in full as it was designed to administer all tracings associated with Infected Premises and other control activities from a central disease control centre. The widespread geographical distribution of infection did not lend itself to such a central administration. Staff in DEFRA built on their experiences from dealing with the outbreak of classical swine fever and produced a generic disease control database, which has proved to be of great benefit.
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Mr. Morley: I am very much aware that the outbreak is having a considerable impact on farming and a range of industries throughout the UK. However, it is not possible, at this stage, to make a reliable estimate of the longer-term economic consequences. Work is in hand to complete a national assessment, the details of which will be made publicly available.
Mr. Morley [holding answer 15 October 2001]: The total amount paid in statutory compensation in Great Britain as at 10 October is £1,047,102,708. This comprises £1,020,769,169 for animal compensation payments and £26,333,152 for items seized and destroyed such as hay, feed, fodder and semen straws.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what arrangements she has made to encourage (a) individuals, (b) companies and (c) organisations affected by foot and mouth disease to submit evidence to the inquiries the Government have established; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The inquiries which the Government have announced into the current foot and mouth disease epidemic are independent. It would, therefore, be inappropriate for DEFRA to decide how to encourage any person, company or organisation to submit evidence. It is for the chairmen of the independent inquiries to encourage interested parties to submit their views.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what arrangements she has made for the Government inquiries into foot and mouth disease to receive representations from hon. Members; and if she will make a statement. 
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contribution her Department is making to the research being undertaken to develop a vaccine against foot and mouth disease, which does not result in a carrier state. 
Mr. Morley: As yet no vaccine is available that can provide a guarantee of preventing the carrier state. The Department is funding a programme of research on foot and mouth disease, concentrating on (i) vaccine development (ii) molecular structure of the virus (iii) improved diagnosis and (iv) epidemiology. During the current financial year, we are committed to spend just over £900,000 on this programme, of which £268,000 will be devoted to three projects on vaccine development. In addition, one project from the 'improved diagnosis'
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programme is specifically examining the carrier state in cattle. The Department has also received six proposals for future research and development into vaccine development and use.
Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects that Somerset will be adjudged not to have high risk status in respect of foot and mouth disease. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 15 July 2001]: The county of Somerset was classified as foot and mouth disease free from 9 October, while the single unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset was declared foot and mouth disease free on 11 September. The unitary authority of North Somerset was classified as foot and mouth disease free on 16 October 2001.
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