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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): There are no free postal deliveries for candidates for local government elections. I understand the elections to the Greater London Council were classified as local government elections. Prior to 1973 the election of councillors to the GLC was based on multi-member electoral areas, the largest of which was Croydon in 1970, with an electorate of some 240,000 electing four candidates.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The Government have funded work since 1996 to explore non-chemical methods as alternative approaches to sheep scab control. This programme is based on findings from earlier published work funded by MAFF at the Royal Veterinary College. The earlier results showed evidence for an immune response in the blood of sheep affected with sheep scab mites. To determine the significance of this finding and to investigate the various biological process involved, funding was provided for a four-year collaborative research programme at £350,000 to £400,000 per annum. The results of these studies in 1999 show that the approach to the immunological control of sheep scab is complex and requires an understanding of a number of key elements if a vaccine is to be developed. A new three-year programme with funding continuing at £350,000 to £400,000 per annum has been approved which will focus on these key elements.
The overall sheep scab research programme since 1996 has included studies on the factors influencing the spread of sheep scab, factors associated with infestation and those involved in the development of clincial disease. A report on the studies dated August 1999 is available from MAFF Chief Scientist's Group. This work has also shown that there may be some potential for the control of sheep scab by the use of a natural fungus that infects the mites. Further work to investigate the potential of this approach is built into the new three-year programme.
Baroness Hayman: The Health and Safety Executive sponsored a study by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) in 1993 which considered levels of endotoxins in dipping baths before and after dipping and airborne concentrations of endotoxin to which workers dipping sheep were exposed. This was a pilot study to identify whether further research was needed. The results indicated that there was potential for worker exposure to endotoxin during sheep dipping but the airborne concentrations were lower than those reported in other industries such as wool processing. The report has been publised by the IOM.
Baroness Hayman: We understand that the British Wool Marketing Board is supporting recommendations made by the Environment Agency in asking wool producers to observe a three-month withholding period between dipping and shearing in respect of the wool clip for the year 2000. The adequacy of the three-month withholding period will be reviewed during the course of the 2000 marketing year.
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