HL Deb 27 April 1998 vol 589 cc9-10WA
Lord Davies of Coity

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have plans to place research on animal health and welfare on the basis of a requirements document, similar to that for food research. [HL1561]

Lord Donoughue

We published on 20 April a document setting out our future animal health and welfare research requirements and inviting tenders for research work to be financed in the year starting on 1 April 1999, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. This document focuses particularly on animal welfare, organisms capable of causing food poisoning and bovine tuberculosis. Further documents setting out animal health and welfare research requirements will be published in future years.

This is a broad programme. One of the key elements builds on our current work to improve our understanding of how E.coli behaves on farms and to identify the critical control points for risk management. This will complement work being financed by other departments.

The document also takes forward the recommendation in the Krebs Report that our research effort into bovine tuberculosis should be refocused along two main approaches: understanding the causes of outbreaks and developing improved strategies to reduce the number of outbreaks. The Ministry's research programmes generally operate on a rolling three-year cycle, so for most of the programmes the document covers only approximately one-third of the total research effort. For bovine tuberculosis, however, the whole programme has been reviewed in the light of the recommendations in the Krebs Report. The new TB programme picks up the individual recommendations the report makes for research and lays the foundation for developing soundly based control strategies in the future, including in the longer term the development of a cattle vaccine.

The document also makes a significant movement in the direction of allocating research contracts by open competition, which will help to ensure that work is undertaken by those best qualified to do it. This also responds to another of the Krebs recommendations and must be right if we are to achieve value for money in this area.