To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the recommendations made by each of the working groups at the International Conference on Control and Prevention of Foot and Mouth Disease held in Brussels in December 2001; what plans she has to implement those recommendations in the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement.
The Conference's working groups usefully highlighted some of the key areas the European Union needs to address and we will be working with our European partners in due course on a Commission proposal for a replacement European Council Directive concerning the prevention and control of foot and mouth disease. The outcome from the UK's own independent inquiries into the foot and mouth outbreak will also inform these deliberations.
The conference identified the need to develop a broad range of disease control options, based on science and including emergency vaccination, to meet particular circumstances. It was agreed that flexibility in the choice of methods of controlling and eradicating the disease and improved communications are required and that there is an urgent need for tests to differentiate between infected and vaccinated animals. The conference also considered ways of preventing future outbreaks, including tightening import controls at the European border.