§ 21. Mr. Russell Brown
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he is making on lifting the ban on British beef. 
§ Mr. Rooker
The Commission has approved a draft proposal for the Export Certified Herds Scheme which will be presented to the Standing Veterinary Committee very soon. The scheme would operate in Northern Ireland initially but the principles could be extended to Great Britain once the computerised tracing system is fully functional.
In October we submitted proposals for a UK scheme to export beef from cattle born after 1 August 1996 (Date Based Export Scheme). In its Opinion of 9 December the Scientific Steering Committee gave a positive response to the principle of a Date Based Export Scheme. Officials are currently discussing the next steps with the Commission.
§ Mr. Clifton-Brown
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research his Department evaluated from other EU countries prior to its decision to ban the sale of beef on the bone. 
§ Mr. Rooker
The research into BSE infectivity on which the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee based its recent advice on dorsal root ganglia and bone marrow was carried out in the UK. The Committee keeps under review research findings worldwide, but, in the absence of any relevant research results from other countries, this particular advice was based solely on UK research.