Mr. Andy Stewart
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is yet in a position to relax movement restrictions imposed because of blue-ear pig disease; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Gummer
The Government's prompt action in response to suspicion of this disease in Great Britain appears to have been successful in containing its spread. In the light of accumulating knowledge about the development of the disease it is now possible to reduce the size of the restricted area, which was imposed on 13 June, around those farms in Humberside where the disease is suspected or has been confirmed. This action, which will take effect immediately, will release movements of pigs from over 100 large livestock units from all restrictions.
Restrictions on farms where the disease has been confirmed or is suspected will remain, but some changes in the movement controls which are applied to affected farms and within restricted zones can now safely be made. These changes are being finalised in the light of comments made by the industry; the details will be announced shortly. These changes will be welcomed by the farmers concerned.
Investigations of the original source of infection in Great Britain are continuing, and developments on farms where disease has been found or is suspected are being closely watched. The fact that these changes can now be made reflects the success of the Government's prompt actions when early reports of the disease were reported and is a tribute to the effectiveness of the state veterinary service in responding to new challenges.