Swine Vesicular Disease

Part of Petition – in the House of Commons at 11:22 am on 22 May 1981.

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Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare 11:22, 22 May 1981

I am sorry to tell my hon. Friend that I am not an expert on the disposal of pigs that have been slaughtered after an SVD outbreak. It is important that they are disposed of in a safe manner, that the virus cannot be transmitted and that public funds are protected if there is any value in the residual carcases. I can arrange for my hon. Friend to investigate one of the premises, if he so wishes, next time an outbreak occurs.

I come now to the detailed points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks on behalf of his constituent. I am afraid that it is almost inevitable that damage will occur to property. My hon. Friend mentioned ceilings, tiles and electrical installations. The process of disinfection uses large quantities of water and the pressures must be high if the water is to get into all the crevices, cracks, roofs and fittings. In those circumstances it is normal practice for the Ministry to accept liability for the damage arising and for it to pay the cost of repairs. In Mr Atkinson's case the Ministry's local surveyor has been responsible for determining the matter in the usual way. I understand that a conclusion based upon his report will be reached shortly. The issue has taken longer to resolve than usual for the reasons that I have already described, coupled with a disagreement about slurry removal.

In Mr Atkinson's case there were two lagoons holding 1·4 million gallons each of slurry. There can be good veterinary reasons why even potentially infected slurry is better left where it lies, because the virus will eventually destroy itself. In all these matters there must be an individual judgment. The veterinary officer on the spot is responsible for what takes place. The House will accept that it is a matter of considerable pride that there was no spread of disease from that farm, despite the concern expressed by my hon. Friend.