HC Deb 08 November 1999 vol 337 cc456-7W
Mr. Amess

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which recommendations of the Kennedy report on quarantine the Government have not accepted. [97051]

Ms Quin

The Pet Travel Scheme pilot is essentially the scheme recommended by Professor Kennedy, except that cats and dogs originating in rabies-free islands (other than assistance dogs from Australasia) will only be allowed to enter the UK once the full scheme is in operation.

The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens considered Professor Kennedy's recommendations on exotic diseases other than rabies. The Committee agreed that treatment should be given to all imported pet cats and dogs for a tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) and ticks. The ACDP advised that treatment be given not less than 24 hours and not more than 48 hours before embarkation to the UK. Professor Kennedy recommended that treatment be given no more than 24 hours before embarkation. This would represent a modification of Professor Kennedy's Recommendations 1, 2, 35 and 36.

As regards microchips, animals will be allowed to enter the UK with any microchip fitted. Where a microchip is fitted that does not comply with the ISO standards recommended by Professor Kennedy, the owner of the animal will have to provide a reader. Thus Recommendations 11 and 22 have been accepted but with modification.

In the Pet Travel Scheme, authorised transport operators will carry out pre-entry checks on pets. Thus, Professor Kennedy's Recommendations 16-18 and 28 will be implemented in a different way from that proposed.

Professor Kennedy recommended that the Minister examine further the need for a database of health certificates (Recommendations 13 and 14). It has been concluded that a database is not necessary for the operation of the pilot scheme.

The recommendations that Professor Kennedy made in respect of species other than pet cats and dogs will be considered later (Recommendations 30 to 33 inclusive). Consideration of Recommendations 9 and 38 (research projects) will also be taken forward in due course.

Mr. Amess

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what date has been selected for the operation of the pilot scheme of quarantine reform. [97052]

Ms Quin

An announcement will be made as soon as possible.

Dr. Cable

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which countries are currently deemed rabies-free by his Department in respect of quarantine regulations. [95636]

Ms Quin

The present quarantine regulations apply to animals from all countries entering the UK, except those from the Irish Republic, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

By April 2000, the Pet Travel Scheme pilot scheme will be introduced. Eligibility will be confined to cats and dogs entering the UK from western European countries (including UK and Irish animals returning from these countries) that meet the Scheme conditions. Assistance dogs from Australia and New Zealand that meet the Scheme conditions will also be eligible.

Not all countries in western Europe are considered rabies free, but Professor Kennedy found that provided dogs and cats were microchipped, vaccinated and blood tested, the risk of importing rabies in animals from these countries was comparable to that under the existing policy of quarantine.

The Office International des Epizooties (OIE), the international veterinary organisation sets down criteria for countries to be regarded as rabies free, but it does not publish a list of those countries.

My Department is currently considering the status of other islands, whose authorities claim to meet the OIE criteria for rabies freedom, for participation in the full Pet Travel Scheme which will come into effect by April 2001. Australia and New Zealand are known to meet these criteria.