§ 12. Mr. Etherington
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his policy towards random sampling for disease in cattle.
§ Mr. Soames
A substantial proportion of cattle are at present subjected to ante-mortem veterinary examination at slaughterhouses, and all will be from 1 January 1993. All carcases are already subject to meat inspection. In general, I believe that random sampling has only a limited role to play in the control of cattle disease.
§ Mr. Etherington
I apologise for my gaffe, Madam Speaker. It is the sort of thing that happens when one is running to and from a Committee.
The Minister must be well aware of the very great public fear of mad cow disease. He will be aware also that that fear will dissipate only when there is thorough research into the subject. Can he therefore tell us whether there is vertical transmission of mad cow disease and what live research is being undertaken into the subject?
§ Mr. Soames
There is absolutely no evidence whatever of vertical transmission, and nothing has occurred to cast any doubt on the opinion of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and its expert advisers that measures taken will eradicate the disease. We have a substantial and important research programme to which we are wholly committed and with which we shall press ahead.