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BSE

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 9:40 pm on 25th June 1996.

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Photo of Angela Browning Angela Browning Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) 9:40 pm, 25th June 1996

I will not give way again.

The feed recall scheme is under way, and from 1 August it will be an offence for mammalian feed to be kept on farms, in stores or in mills. The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) raised several points, particularly on research in the United States. I have the latest information, but it is detailed. It might be more helpful to invite the hon. Gentleman to the Department, so that we may discuss each of his points in depth. We have answers to them, but more work needs to be done before the results of that research can be considered conclusive.

The selective cull policy is designed to reduce the incidence of BSE more rapidly than relying on the reduction of contaminated feed. We estimate that without any slaughter policy, there would be just over 8,000 cases of BSE this year, 5,000 next year and 2,800 the year after. That is in any case an encouraging and rapid downward trend. The purpose of the selective cull is to reduce the incidence of BSE even more rapidly and to provide reassurance in the home and export markets.

Some hon. Members questioned the scientific basis for a selective cull. There is no perfect science for estimating numbers, but from our computer modelling, we can see that the selective cull will enable us to reduce the number of BSE-infected cattle much more rapidly. I believe that the industry recognises that that will be helpful.

I believe that we need to get the detail right with the industry and, as my hon. Friends have reiterated, the policy will need the co-operation and support of the House. We shall be talking to those involved in the industry over the next two to three weeks and we shall make sure that we listen to what they have to say about compensation for those animals that come forward, and we shall—