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 understand what my hon. Friend is saying. I was closely acquainted with the last serious outbreak of foot and mouth, which happened near land that I farmed. It is the responsibility of the veterinarian on the spot to decide on the level of precautions to be taken. However, I am sure that in the process of tightening SVD precautions the vets will bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said.

The risk of spreading the virus to neighbouring fauns through contaminated feeding stuffs or undisturbed slurry is considered to be minimal. We must take the professional advice that is available. We believe that the underlying policy and the action taken are uniformly applied. We do everything possible to minimise the risk of further contamination. As both my hon. Friends, with their agricultural experience, will know, whenever such an outbreak occurs there is a natural fear and people seek to pick up the smallest of points if they believe that there is danger to their stocks.

A comparison has been made with the speed of settlement in another outbreak. I hope that my hon. Friend will appreciate that the time taken to settle such detailed and complex issues depends essentially upon local factors. It is not possible to compare the time taken in one case with another. We are dealing with people and with human judgment. Inevitably, there will be differences between one case and another.

I hope that what I have said will have made it clear to the House that the Government will continue to regard swine vesicular disease as serious. We continue to be fully committed to the objective of trying to rid the country of that scourge, notwithstanding the difficulties. We welcome the full support received from the whole of the agricultural industry to that end.