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Foot and Mouth

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 11th March 2004.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West 11:30 am, 11th March 2004

What her most recent assessment is of the role that vaccination may play in a future outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare)

Emergency vaccination would be considered as an additional tool to the culling of susceptible animals on infected premises, and those animals that were epidemiologically linked.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

Only "considered", when to protect an export market of only £500 million the taxpayer spent £9 billion slaughtering 7 million animals, many of them unnecessarily? We now know that vaccinated animals are perfectly acceptable in the marketplace. Should we not have a firm policy—not merely consider it—that we shall never again slaughter millions of animals without good reason? If there is another outbreak of foot and mouth, the great danger is that we shall be subject to the waste, futility and cruelty of mad cull disease.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare)

It was not without good reason. Indeed, if that action had not been undertaken, the epidemic would have lasted much longer and would have been much more serious.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare)

Yes. There are eventualities—for example, if a new strain of foot and mouth were to hit us, for which no vaccine was available—when it might not be practicable in a short space of time to use vaccination.

Photo of Mr Lawrie Quinn Mr Lawrie Quinn Labour, Scarborough and Whitby

Given the important role undertaken by the veterinary profession during the last outbreak and the shortages in that profession, what strategic discussions or reviews have been conducted by the Department with vets to ensure that we have enough vets in the right places, able to respond to the outbreaks that none of us wants to see?

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare)

All those things were considered in the Government's response to the Anderson inquiry. As my hon. Friend may know, we intend to hold a contingency exercise this summer—in case of a future foot and mouth outbreak—in which vets will play a central role.