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Bovine Tuberculosis and Antibiotic Resistance

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: Samples from cattle and badgers, where M. bovis is isolated, are not tested for antibiotic resistance. However, a feature, of M. bovis strains is their resistance to pyrazinamide.

All mycobacteria isolated from humans with tuberculosis are tested for antibiotic resistance. Between 1993 and 1997 there were an average of 42 M. bovis isolates reported from humans per year. A total of 24 were resistant to isoniazid, 4 to isoniazid and rifampicin and 1 to ethambutol during this time. Records are not available for years prior to 1993.

The Shikimate Pathway

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Donoughue: The noble Countess may be referring to the Shikimate pathway. The Shikimate pathway is an important biosynthetic route in plants that leads to the formation of the aromatic amino-acids tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine. Glyphosate inhibits one of the enzymes in the pathway, leading to the death of the plant by preventing it from synthesising these essential amino-acids.

The advice available to me is that the Shikimate pathway does not exist in humans and other mammals.

OP Sheep Dips: Classification

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why, in view of the requirements for training, personal protective equipment, engineering controls and disposal in connection with organophosphate sheep dips, these products do not fall under Article 4.3(b) of Council Directive 90/676/EEC so as to be required to be dispensed by veterinary prescription.[HL2847]

Lord Donoughue: The Government are advised on the authorisation of veterinary medicinal products by the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC). In considering the distribution of products, the committee has regard to the criteria in Article 4 of Directive 81/851/EEC, as amended by Directive 90/676/EEC and implemented by Regulation 3 of the Marketing Authorisations for Veterinary Medicinal Products Regulations 1994.

Whether organophosphorus (OP) sheep dips should be Prescription Only Medicines (POM) has been considered by the VPC. In its report on the effectiveness of the Certificate of Competence Scheme and other matters, which was published on 17 February 1997, the Committee advised that the PML (Pharmacy and Merchants' List) classification remained the most appropriate for OP sheep dips and the Committee gave the following reasons for its advice. Sheep farmers were experienced in the handling of sheep and no specific veterinary expertise was required for dipping. While it was a requirement that POM status should apply where particular veterinary expertise was needed to avoid unnecessary risk to the animal, operator, consumer or the environment, it was considered that the reclassification of OP sheep dips to POM status would not significantly improve the protection of human safety. Sheep dips are often used prophylactically by farmers and the committee further considered that a POM classification could discourage this, possibly leading to a further increase in the level of ectoparasitic diseases in sheep.

OP Sheep Dip Manufacturers: Inspections

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Upon how many occasions and upon which manufacturers of organophosphate sheep dips have inspections been conducted in accordance with

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    Article 34 of Council Directive 81/851/EEC, as amended by Council Directive 90/67/EEC, since the original directive came into force.[HL2848]

Lord Donoughue: All manufacturers of veterinary medicines are inspected by the Medicines Control Agency at least every two years, including the following manufacturers of organophosphorus sheep dips:

Schering-Plough Ltd.

Bayer Plc, Veterinary Business Group

Osmond and Son (Dublin) Ltd.

Battle, Hayward and Bower Ltd.

Novartis Animal Health, Agricultural Division

Grampian Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Robert Young & Co. Ltd.

OP Sheep Dips: Suspected Adverse Reaction Cases

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Donoughue on 16 July (WA 39), whether the follow-up of (a) individuals who have reported suspected adverse reactions to exposure to organophosphate sheep dips; or (b) those on whose behalf reports have been made by medical practitioners could be conducted by the Veterinary Products Committee without breach of confidentiality.[HL2873]

Lord Donoughue: The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) would be the relevant body to conduct any follow-up, as it operates the Suspected Adverse Reactions Surveillance Scheme (SARSS). There is nothing to prevent the VMD from making further contact with individuals who have reported suspected adverse reactions due to exposure to an OP sheep dip or medical practitioners who have submitted reports on their patients' behalf. The working group established by the Presidents of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Psychiatrists is expected to make recommendations on the design of clinical studies recommended by the Veterinary Products Committee. In the event that these recommendations include follow-up of reports made under SARSS, this could be undertaken by VMD or, with permission of the individuals concerned, by another body.

Northern Ireland: Civic Forum

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they welcome the establishment of a civic forum in addition to the elected Assembly in Northern Ireland; how they understand its purpose; what consultations are under way on the subject; and when it is likely to be functioning.[HL2878]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): The Government certainly welcome the forthcoming establishment of the civic forum. Its purpose will be in line with the terms of reference set out in the agreement; that is, it will act as a consultative mechanism on social, economic and cultural issues. In the period before devolution we will be consulting with the First Minister designate, the Deputy First Minister designate and the Assembly, so that arrangements can be put in hand to help secure its earliest appropriate establishment.

Disabled People: Personal Adviser Pilot Projects

Lord Higgins asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the article on page 10 of the Financial Times of Thursday 9 July anticipating a statement by the Secretary of State for Social Security to the House of Commons on the subject of pilot projects to help the disabled was the result of either an official briefing or a leak.[HL2741]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The article referred to followed a routine ministerial briefing and did not anticipate a statement in the House of Commons. The article in question contained no new announcement of government policy. It covered the introduction, later in the year, of personal adviser pilots under the New Deal for Disabled People; and our plans to pilot benefit changes to help disabled people who want to work. Parliament was already aware of these initiatives.

Pensions: Contribution Records

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people of pensionable age are receiving less than the full state pension because of defective contribution records.[HL2930]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: I refer the noble Earl to the reply I gave him on Tuesday 21 July, Official Report, WA 89.

Association of Chief Police Officers, Scotland

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Sewel on 20 June (WA 76): (a) why the annual reports of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Scotland, only contain an abstract of the accounts and not the full accounts;

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    (b) who are the appointed accountants and auditors for the Association of Chief Police Officers, Scotland, for each year; and (c) whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the full accounts for each year since 1993.[HL2906]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): I refer the noble Earl to my letter of 6 June in which I explained that the content and form of the accounts which the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) publishes in its annual reports is a matter for the association itself and is not prescribed by the Government.

Similarly the appointment of accountants and auditors by the association is a matter for it to decide.


Lord Moran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether ivermectin, though it is not formally licensed for use on farmed salmonid fish and has therefore not been through the necessary ecotoxicity assessment, is nevertheless used on a number of fish farms under the "cascade" regulations which permit a vet to prescribe a non-approved medicine to "a small number of animals"; whether its discharge to the marine environment is explicitly permitted by a number of consents issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency; and, if so, whether they stand by the Written Answer by Lord Donoughue on 3 March (WA 158); and[HL2834]

    Whether, in view of the conclusions of the two papers referred to in the Written Answer by the Lord Donoughue on 3 March (WA 158) the toxicity and environmental risks of ivermectin, it would now be prudent to stop all use of ivermectin on fish farms, including use under the "cascade" arrangements.[HL2835]

Lord Sewel: The Veterinary Medicines Directorate has received no application for a marketing authorisation for the use of ivermectin on farmed salmon.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has consented a number of applications for the discharge of ivermectin prescribed under the "cascade" arrangements. Conditions have been attached to the consents. These are intended to satisfy SEPA's statutory functions in relation to protection of the water environment.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has received requests from a broad range of interests to call-in certain discharge consent applications in relation to the use of ivermectin for his own determination. The matter is under careful consideration.

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