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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Members of the judiciary are holders of public office and are, therefore, within the ambit of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The committee, however, has not sought to consider the position of the judiciary as such. In considering any recommendations the committee might make, the Government would have due regard to the constitutional position of the judiciary and in particular to the key constitutional principle of judicial independence. Lords of Appeal fall within the committee's terms of reference both as holders of public office and as members of the Upper House.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): There are no new grounds that would justify a review of the decision on which of the measures within the Rural Development Regulation EC No. 1257/99 should be included in the England Rural Development Plan.
Baroness Hayman: As announced in the Action Plan for Farming on 30 March, the Government have lodged a pig industry restructuring scheme notification with the European Commission. The scheme includes both an outgoers and ongoers element. Under state aid rules, the Commission must clear the scheme before it can be introduced. In the meantime, discussions are continuing with the industry and with other interested parties on the detailed requirements of the scheme. There are no plans to exclude a specific group of pig farmers from the scheme.
Baroness Hayman: The Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) provide estimates of future BSE cases in Great Britain for the current year and the following two years. These forecasts do not include Northern Ireland.
At any point in time there are insufficient data on current cases, such as results of all brain examinations, to extrapolate accurate estimates beyond that point. They did not therefore produce forecasts for 2000 or 2001 during 1997. Forecasts for 2000 and 2001 which have been produced by the VLA model are shown in the following table.
|Year 2000||Year 2001|
|Date of Prediction||Lower||Central||Upper||Lower||Central||Upper|
The Wellcome Trust Centre for Epidemiology of Infectious Disease (WTCEID) published forecasts of future BSE cases in 1997. If 10 per cent maternal transmission for the last six months of the incubation period is assumed, the number of BSE cases in 2000 and 2001 were estimated to be between 198-280 and 76-105 respectively. In 1999, the group presented revised estimates to the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC). In 2000, it was estimated that there will be 1,527-2,202 BSE cases and in 2001, between 733-1,283 cases. With the acquisition of additional data since 1996 and 1997, the confidence intervals surrounding the central estimates for cases in 2000 and 2001 have narrowed considerably.
Predictions of future BSE cases are based upon existing case data, knowledge of mechanisms of transmission and assumptions about the rate of decline of exposure. The models used by VLA and WTCEID outlined above are different. Each model will generate variations in the predictions depending on the set of criteria used and the process is continually refined to take account of the progress of the epidemic and improved understanding of the disease. The epidemic still continues to decline in line with the current, and therefore most accurate, predictions.