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Bovine TB

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in Northern Ireland. [22652]

Angela E. Smith: The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, has in place a bovine tuberculosis (TB) control programme, which aims to bring about a substantial reduction in TB disease levels in Northern Ireland. The incidence of TB has been decreasing in Northern Ireland since early to mid-2003. This trend has continued during the first eight months of 2005.

The control measures are based on a programme of testing, the slaughter of infected animals, the restriction of movements of animals to and from infected herds and surrounding herds, and the tracing of contact animals.

Following the TB Policy Review undertaken in 2002, DARD has introduced a number of new measures to strengthen the control of TB in Northern Ireland. The most important of these measures are tighter restrictions on overdue tests and changes to the valuation system, including the establishment of an independent appeal panel to resolve valuation disputes.

Work is also under way on the feasibility of further measures that can be introduced to control TB. This includes a pilot on the use of the gamma interferon blood test, in combination with skin testing, to assist in the detection of TB in cattle in certain circumstances, and a review of the existing arrangements for TB testing arrangements.

In relation to badgers and TB, a Badger Stakeholder Group was established in May 2004 to review all the relevant information available on badgers and to consider the potential need for a badger management
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strategy to help reduce TB levels in Northern Ireland. At present, work is under way to develop cost/benefit information to assist the group. No decision will be taken on badgers in Northern Ireland until the work of the Badger Stakeholder Group has been completed.

Breast Cancer

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the level of uptake of the breast cancer screening programme was in (a) each Northern Ireland parliamentary constituency and (b) each health board area in each of the past three years; and what steps are being taken to promote uptake of screening. [23379]

Mr. Woodward: The information requested is not available on a parliamentary constituency basis but in respect of health board areas the uptake rate 1 of breast screening is as set out in the following table.

Year ending: March

Each of the four health boards is actively involved in a variety of ways in seeking to improve uptake of breast screening. Particular attention is being paid to those in disadvantaged areas, ethnic minority groups, women with learning/literary difficulties. Tailored training and education updates have been introduced for GPs, nurses based in general practice, and Action Cancer and Ulster Cancer Foundation personnel; information sessions have been held for women, carers, and staff in day/adult centres.

Buckley Report

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the legal costs incurred in acquiring an injunction preventing the publication of information from Sir Michael Buckley's report in a local newspaper. [23438]

Angela E. Smith: No legal costs were incurred in acquiring the injunction.

Cancer Patients (Parking Charges)

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will exempt cancer patients from parking charges in NHS hospitals in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [23380]

Mr. Woodward: Decisions about charging for car parking at hospitals, and exemptions from them, are matters for individual health and social services trusts. Not all acute hospital trusts charge for car parking. For those that do, the hospital travel costs scheme provides for patients who are in receipt of certain state benefits, or who are on a low income, to be reimbursed for hospital travel costs, including car parking charges.
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On 13 October, the Parliamentary Health Committee announced an inquiry into co-payments and charges in the NHS, including charges for amenities such as car parking. I will wish to consider the findings of the inquiry when it is complete.

Cattle Exports

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list organisations in Northern Ireland which have been consulted on the proposed change in legislation relating to cattle exports. [23319]

Angela E. Smith: The organisations in the following list were consulted on amendments to Northern Ireland export controls which would be needed to allow the export of cattle born on or after 1 August 1996 and beef or bovine products derived from them.

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Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the value of exports of live cattle from Northern Ireland was in 1995. [23383]

Angela E. Smith: In 1995, the value of live cattle exports from Northern Ireland was estimated to be £34.6 million. This figure relates only to movements out of the UK.

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