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Animals: Abuse

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were (a) prosecuted and (b) convicted for offences of animal cruelty in (i) Lancashire and (ii) England in 2007. [179358]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 15 January 2008]: Information on the number of defendants prosecuted and convicted for offences of animal cruelty in 2007 will not be available until the autumn of 2008.

Avian Influenza: Testing

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria he uses to identify sites for testing for the H5N1 virus; and if he will make a statement. [179931]

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Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 17 January 2008]: Surveillance for avian influenza focuses on species of wild birds that experts believe to have a greater potential role in the spread of avian influenza viruses including ducks, geese, swans, gulls and waders. Sampling is targeted as much as possible to areas where there is an abundance of these species and domestic poultry. The aim is to focus on areas where an introduction of HPAI H5N1 would be more likely to be detected and to areas where an introduction may have more significance to poultry health. More than 6,000 birds were tested last year alone. The numbers of birds tested is in part dependent on the numbers of birds found dead by regular patrols of certain wetland reserves or reported by the public. There have been over 2,000 patrols undertaken since the start of this migration period in September/October at over 200 sites. The number of dead birds can be lower during a milder year. No cuts have been made to active patrolling or testing and in some areas patrolling has been increased due to national and international avian influenza incidents. Samples are also collected from live caught birds at several wetland sites throughout the UK and birds shot through normal wildfowling.

We adopt a partnership approach to such surveillance with over 20 organisations which own sites where testing takes place. These include the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the British Trust for Ornithology, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Countryside Council for Wales, the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and local authorities.

Additionally a separate survey takes place across the whole of the UK to monitor any unusually high levels of mortality in wild birds of any species. We also test a random sample of poultry premises from across the UK. During an outbreak, we enhance the level of surveillance that takes place in the surrounding area based on expert ornithological advice.

Avian Influenza: Vaccination

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken by his Department to ensure that sufficient vaccines are available in the UK should there be a widespread outbreak of avian influenza; and how many vaccines are necessary. [177725]

Jonathan Shaw: As part of our contingency planning for an avian influenza outbreak, and in view of uncertainties in the nature and spread of the virus, we maintain a supply of 10 million doses of vaccine. Five million doses of vaccine are stored in the UK and a further five million doses are kept on a supply contract in Spain, although the contract states that the vaccine must be delivered to the UK within seven days if required. This vaccine could be used against both H5 and H7 strains of the virus, should a veterinary risk assessment indicate it is necessary.

Currently, only birds in English zoos are permitted to be vaccinated because of their vital role in global conservation. We have also produced a delivery plan, available on the DEFRA website, which outlines guidelines for delivering a vaccination programme in
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birds outside zoos and is adaptable to a range of different epidemiological circumstances which would determine how many doses of vaccine were needed depending on the area to be vaccinated. This plan, which has been developed and agreed with stakeholders, would have to be approved by the European Commission in the event of a decision to vaccinate.

Bluetongue Disease

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance and measures are in place for farmers who fall outside the immediate surveillance zone in detecting and preventing the spread of the bluetongue disease. [177653]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government are working closely with a core group of industry stakeholders to decide on actions necessary to combat bluetongue disease across the country. To this end, a policy statement (with supporting rationale) and an economic assessment have been agreed. These set out the strategy and priorities for the winter period. The UK remains committed to a disease control approach which aims to contain the disease within the current restricted zones.

Comprehensive information is available to farmers on the DEFRA website, via our telephone Helpline and through local Animal Health offices. We have published information on detecting and preventing the spread of bluetongue disease, including how to spot the clinical signs, midge mitigating measures, and what to do if farmers suspect signs of disease. This is also available on the DEFRA website.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why the decision was taken to source and supply the anti-bluetongue virus vaccine from one supplier. [177713]

Jonathan Shaw: Following a full assessment of the three bids submitted to supply bluetongue vaccine, which included input from veterinary experts and the farming industry, we chose Intervet as the preferred bidder on the basis of technical specification, delivery timetable and price. Intervet has been developing a bluetongue serotype 8 (BTV-8) vaccine for over a year, has an established track record in producing vaccines for other diseases, and supplies vaccine for DEFRA’s avian influenza vaccine bank. Livestock keepers will be offered the opportunity to purchase vaccine from the bank and I am confident that the Intervet vaccine will offer them the best value and most effective option.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on development of (a) cattle and (b) badger vaccines for bovine tuberculosis; and if he will make a statement. [177374]

Jonathan Shaw: The research programme for producing an effective vaccine against tuberculosis in (a) badgers and (b) cattle remains broadly in line with the timetable outlined in the Krebs report (1997).

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Identification of candidate vaccines and development of differential diagnostic tests started in 1999 and is ongoing. Experimental investigations of vaccination protocols are progressing, including a natural transmission study in cattle looking at various candidate vaccines. Badger vaccines are further advanced with a three and a half year vaccine field trial to gather safety data and assess the efficacy of injectable Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), and a project on the development of oral formulations.

Badger vaccines are likely to be available sooner than cattle vaccines. An injectable badger vaccine could be available within three to five years, and an oral badger vaccine in five to seven years. It will probably be at least eight years before a cattle vaccine is available. As with all research there is no guarantee of success

In addition to developing the vaccine itself, there are a number of important legal, commercial, regulatory and policy issues surrounding the implementation of a bTB vaccine. Work has begun to identify and address these issues so we are able to make full use of a vaccine once it becomes available.

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when he expects to make a decision on policy on badger culling; and if he will make a statement; [177375]

(2) what assessment he has made of research on the effects on cattle health of culling badgers as a response to bovine TB; and if he will make a statement. [177564]

Jonathan Shaw: The question of whether badger culling has a role to play in controlling bovine TB in cattle is complex and presents very difficult choices.

Results from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial show that small-scale badger culling can increase levels of bovine TB in cattle. However, they also suggest that co-ordinated and efficient culling carried out over areas larger than the RBCT and sustained over a number of years could prove beneficial. However, Professor John Bourne’s report said that culling could not meaningfully contribute to the control of bovine TB.

The Secretary of State has been clear that the next step is for DEFRA’s ministerial team to have discussions with interested parties. He has already met with former members of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB, including Professor John Bourne, and separately with the former Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir David King.

While we are keen to make progress on reaching a decision, there is no specific timetable for doing so.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times and in what circumstances his Department used its powers to appoint an independent valuer in cases of bovine tuberculosis; and what the outcome was regarding compensation paid on each occasion. [177631]

Jonathan Shaw: Since 1 February 2006, compensation for cattle compulsorily slaughtered for bovine TB control reasons has mainly been determined through table valuations. However, where inadequate (or no) sales data have been collected for a particular
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category, and a previously determined market average price is not available, the level of compensation is determined by an independent valuer.

Since table valuations were introduced, compensation has been determined in this way in approximately 2 per cent. of cases—which equates to about 635 animals between February 2006 and November 2007. When independent valuers are appointed, their decision is binding on both DEFRA and the cattle owner.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate has been made of the percentage of (a) badgers and (b) cattle affected by tuberculosis in hotspot areas. [178359]

Jonathan Shaw: The randomised badger culling trial (RBCT), which ran from 1998 to 2006 and was centred on areas of high bovine TB risk, found evidence of Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) infection in badgers in all RBCT areas where culling took place.

During the RBCT, patterns of M. bovis infection were also investigated in badgers killed in road traffic accidents (RTAs). The overall prevalence of M. bovis infection in RTA badgers (15 per cent.) was similar to that recorded in badgers culled in the "proactive" RBCT areas (16.6 per cent.) between 2002 and 2005. However, when a sample of the proactively culled badgers were subjected to a more detailed post mortem analysis, prevalence levels nearly doubled.

The following table lists those counties in Great Britain with a TB herd incidence greater than the national average in January to November 2007.

Worst affected counties in Great Britain TB incidence( 1 ) (percentage)



Hereford and Worcester




















Great Britain


(1 )Confirmed new TB herd incidents (breakdowns) as a percentage of the number of tests on unrestricted herds (not including pre-movement tests). Provisional figures, subject to change as more data become available.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment has been made of the merits of (a) pre-movement testing of cattle for bovine tuberculosis and (b) the previous rapid tracing system. [178360]

Jonathan Shaw: Pre-movement testing has not replaced the system of bovine tuberculosis (TB) tracing carried out by Animal Health following the confirmation of the disease in a herd. The two measures are complementary. Pre-movement testing is designed to reduce the risk of the disease spreading
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between herds. However, it does not apply to all herds, just one and two-yearly tested herds, and no policy can be 100 per cent. effective. Tracings remain essential in containing the risk from animals which have moved out of herds that are subsequently found to be infected.

Monitoring of the impacts of TB pre-movement testing is ongoing and key statistics are produced each month and published on the DEFRA website. Evidence to date shows that new TB incidents are being prevented by pre-movement tests. Infection is also being picked up earlier in high risk herds. Between 27 March 2006 and 30 November 2007 635 reactors were detected in 344 herds in England from pre-movement tests(1).

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many officials in his Department have worked on bovine tuberculosis and related matters in the last five years. [178365]

Jonathan Shaw: Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is one of DEFRA’s top animal health priorities. While there are
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teams in core DEFRA and the relevant agencies—Animal Health, the Central Science Laboratory and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency—with roles dedicated predominantly to bTB policy, delivery and research, others have roles in which bTB-related work forms only part of their responsibilities. Additionally, resources are deployed flexibly in response to changing business demands.

Therefore, a full response to the hon. Member's question could be made only at disproportionate cost to the Department.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of bovine tuberculosis in cattle there were, and how much compensation was paid for affected cattle, in each county in the last five years. [178369]

Jonathan Shaw: The information is as follows:

Table 1 sets out the number of cattle slaughtered under bovine tuberculosis control measures and compensation paid in Great Britain in each of the last five calendar years for which full-year data are available.

Table 2 sets out a full county breakdown of the number of cattle slaughtered over this period. A full county breakdown of the amount of compensation paid is not available.

Table 1: Cattle slaughtered under TB control measures in Great Britain and compensation paid: 2002-06( 1)
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006

Cattle slaughtered






Compensation paid (£)






(1) Includes cattle slaughtered as reactors, inconclusive reactors and direct contacts. 2005 and 2006 figures are provisional, subject to change as more data become available.

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