HL Deb 15 January 1990 vol 514 cc511-2WA
Lord Lyell

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they are taking on the Tyrrell Committee report on research in to spongiform encephalopathies.

Baroness Trumpington

Dr. Tyrrell of the Medical Research Council was asked by the then Minister and the Secretary of State for Health to chair a research consultative committee of scientific experts to advise on the research work in progress and additional work required into the disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and to set out the priorities for further work. Copies of the committee's interim report have been placed in the Library of the House. The report recommends a comprehensive programe of research on the epidemiology, transmissibility and diagnosis of BSE with the aim of extending scientific knowledge about this new disease so that animal and human health can continue to be protected and the disease eventually eradicated.

The Government have considered the report very carefully and accept the recommendations of the committee. A number of projects are covered by the substantial programme of research that is already in progress, representing spending of some £1.3 million in the current financial year. Preparatory work is in hand on the other projects which the Tyrrell Committee recommended as urgent and of high priority. This represents additional funding from my department's votes of some £2.2 million in 1990/91 and 1991/92, and 1.7 million in 1992/93. The Secretary of State for Health is setting in hand the high priority research that is within his department's responsibility and the Secretary of State for Education and Science is considering the advice of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils on what additional allocation would be appropriate from the science budget to the Agricultural and Food Research Council in support of its proposed programme of research, including research into slow viruses.

The undertaking of such a large-scale programme of research into BSE demonstrates the Government's determination to deal with this disease.