HC Deb 05 February 1998 vol 305 c772W
Mr. Edwards

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the membership of the Expert Group recommended by the Krebs Report on Bovine Tuberculosis in Cattle and Badgers. [28492]

Dr. John Cunningham

I am pleased to be able to announce the membership of the independent Expert Group to oversee the experiment recommended in Professor Krebs' Report to assess the effectiveness of badger culling in reducing TB breakdowns in cattle herds. I am grateful to Professor John Bourne for agreeing to chair the Group and to Dr. Christl Donnelly who will be Deputy Chairman. In addition, Sir David Cox, Professor George Gettinby, Professor Ivan Morrison and Dr. Rosie Woodroffe have all kindly agreed to serve as members.

The terms of reference for the Group are: 'To advise Ministers on implementation of the Krebs Report on bovine TB in cattle and badgers by: overseeing the design and analysis of the randomised experiment to test the effectiveness of badger culling as a means of controlling bovine TB; regularly monitoring the progress of, and outputs from, the experiment and assessing any important differences in results between the treatments; monitoring the data on the M bovis situation in areas and species outside the experiment; reporting to Ministers on progress; and advising, as requested, on related issues.'

We are currently consulting on how the report's recommendations should be implemented. Firm decisions on implementation of the report's recommendations will not be made until the end of this consultation period and until further consideration has been given to the public expenditure, legal and practical implications. We shall make another announcement once this further work has been done. In the meantime, I have asked the Expert Group to press on with its work on the detailed experiment design.

The Group has a key role in providing independent expert advice as we carry this important work forward. In addition, my ministerial colleagues and I and MAFF officials will seek to ensure that close contact is maintained with all the key interested parties, including wildlife, conservation and farming organisations on implementation of the Krebs report.

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