To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the merits of a compulsory national vaccination programme against bluetongue disease.
In collaboration with a core group of industry stakeholders, the Government fully considered the option of a compulsory vaccination programme. However, this would cost the farming industry at least 50 per cent. more than voluntary vaccination and, because of the associated increase in regulatory burdens, would slow down the distribution of vaccine in a situation where speed will be of the essence. Moreover, the lack of scientific evidence to support an immediate prospect of eradication through vaccination suggests that the case for compulsion is weak.
Together with the core group, the Government have therefore developed a vaccination plan that avoids the negative consequences of compulsion, but promotes mass take-up of the vaccine through an industry-led campaign.