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The Judiciary and the Committee on Standards in Public Life

Lord Mancroft asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Farmers: Retirement Scheme

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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.

Pig Industry Restructuring Scheme

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made with the pig industry since the Prime Minister's meeting on 30 March, when some £26 million was allocated; and whether some pig producers may be declared ineligible for the restructuring scheme.[HL2210]

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.

Salmon: Sterilisation

Lord Moran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the sterilisation of artificially reared salmon before they are released into the environment can be guaranteed to be 100 per cent effective.[HL2112]

Baroness Hayman: We are not aware of any current commercial techniques for the sterilisation of salmon that can be guaranteed to be 100 per cent effective.

BSE Cases: Predictions

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the Veterinary Laboratories Agency's and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Epidemiology of Infectious Disease's forecasts for United Kingdom BSE cases in 2000 and 2001 (a) in 1997; (b) in 1998;

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    (c) in 1999; and (d) at the latest date available; and to what factors any changes are ascribed.[HL2062]

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.

Predictions of the Number of Confirmed BSE Cases Expected in 2000 and 2001 (VLA)

Year 2000 Year 2001
Date of Prediction LowerCentralUpperLowerCentralUpper
September 1998451618784
January 1999548729911
April 19997439511159
June 19997639731183260393526
October 19998831,1071,331323468613
January 20008891,1141,339325470615
April 20008871,1121,337325470615

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.

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