We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I can confirm that the concerns of the hon. Member for South-East Cornwall (Mr. Breed) about the deficiencies in the clause are right. The principle deficiency is that it gives the right to any individuals to vaccinate their animals if they choose.
During the outbreak, people said that there were many downsides to vaccination—we should not forget that. If we moved to having prophylactic vaccinations, unwelcome consequences in terms of how meat would have to be deboned, hung and heat-treated would follow and cause many difficulties. That fact is not lost on farmers and exporters in the debate on vaccination and although that, in itself, is no reason not to consider vaccination, one should not leave individuals to decide, alone, to vaccinate their herd or flock without having an overall strategy for using vaccination.
The new clause would also be against EU directive 85/511, which says that the detail of any vaccination programme must be submitted to the European Commission for scrutiny and approval, and approval cannot be presumed; the Commission cannot give carte blanche to anyone for vaccination. The reason is that, in these days of international global trade and an EU single market, what one member state does may have implications for another. A logical approach must therefore be taken to vaccination. That is why we and the Dutch are sponsoring a major EU conference next week to explore those issues.
We accept that vaccination should be a weapon in our armoury. It was an option open to us during the epidemic and we never closed the door on it. After detailed scientific evaluation, I think that the conclusion will be that vaccination would not have worked because of the scale and spread of the epidemic. Vaccination could not have been used in the classical fashion of being a disease control measure. However, as the hon. Member for Congleton (Mrs. Winterton) rightly stated, technology moves on and tests get better. The tests that were available have not yet been internationally validated, and that is an important fact. I am not saying that they will not be validated.