§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make a further statement on the spread of bovine tuberculosis in the south-west region since 1 January; what measures her Department is taking to curb it; and what progress has been made to date.
§ Mr. Soames
There have been 153 confirmed cases of tuberculosis in the south-west region up to the end of September compared with 97 cases for that period in 1992. 507W When an outbreak of disease is detected, action is taken to prevent the spread of disease from the premises concerned by the slaughter of affected animals and movement restrictions. An investigation is carried out to ascertain the cause of the breakdown and if badgers are thought to be involved then appropriate action is taken in line with the interim strategy recommended in the report on badgers and bovine tuberculosis presented to the Department by Professor Dunnet in 1986.
We are reviewing the current badger control arrangements. As part of this review members of the consultative panel on badgers and bovine tuberculosis and I attended a seminar on 3 November which considered the latest position of scientific research into this complex issue in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The panel will be discussing the way forward on badger control arrangements at its meeting on 18 November. The Government will need to consider carefully the views of the panel before making an announcement.