§ Ms Quin
The position as at 30 October 2000 was as follows:
Year of birth Total number of confirmed cases 1974 1 1975 0 1976 2 1977 10 1978 6 1979 41 1980 101 1981 261 1982 1,393 1983 4,461 1984 8,067 1985 11,065 1986 19,732 1987 36,869 1988 22,186 1989 12,645 1990 5,640 1991 4,575 1992 3,155
Year of birth Total number of confirmed cases 1993 2,359 1994 1,206 1995 294 1996 13 1997 0 1998 0 1999 0 Unknown 43,345 Total 177,416 1A third case of BSE in an animal born in 1996 was confirmed on 30 October 2000. The animal was born in May 1996, before the feed ban is considered to have been fully effective.
§ Helen Jackson
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action the Government are taking to prepare in the event that BSE is present in the United Kingdom sheep flock. 
§ Mr. Nick Brown
The Government are adopting a precautionary approach and have for some time been operating a risk reduction strategy in this area in line with advice from SEAC and, more recently, the Food Standards Agency. This includes an ongoing research programme, including development of rapid screening methods, a national scrapie plan to eliminate scrapie from the national sheep flock (on which the Government initiated consultation in August) and the removal of the specified risk material from the food chain.
Genotypically susceptible sheep dosed orally with infected brain material from cattle have developed BSE in scientific experiments. To date, however, BSE is not known to have occurred naturally in sheep, although this possibility is being checked by an ongoing research programme. The Government have in hand preparation of a contingency plan setting out actions that might be taken in different scenarios if in the future BSE is found to be present in sheep.
§ Ms Quin
Arrangements are already in place to provide tissues and body fluids from cattle with BSE and cattle incubating the disease. The Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) holds an archive of material from BSE-infected cattle. Scientists may apply directly to the TSE Office at the VLA to request samples of these tissues for use in research. Applications are approved by the TSE Research and Surveillance Unit in MAFF on the basis of the supplies available and the merit of the research. Scientists also need to show that they have the containment facilities available to perform the research and any necessary Home Office or import licences. Where sufficient supplies exist, reasonable requests will be granted and the tissues will be released once funding for the research is secured.
§ Ms Quin
All of the projects funded as a result of the 1996 open competition have finished. None has resulted in the development of a test that can be used in the live animal. One project has resulted in a diagnostic test (called DELFIA) which has been submitted for validation by the EU Commission. Tests which pass the EU assessment may be used in national surveillance schemes. This test uses brain samples and so can be used only on dead animals. MAFF is now funding the assessment at Ames in the United States. The test is performed on blood samples and early results suggest that it can diagnose sheep with scrapie. MAFF is funding its further development as a diagnostic test in the live animal.
§ Ms Quin
To our knowledge, none of the unfunded proposals submitted under the 1996 open competition has resulted in a diagnostic test that can be used in the live animal. Swiss researchers who submitted a proposal under the competition have since developed a test called the Prionics test. However, this is not the same test as that submitted under the open competition. The Prionics test has been assessed by the EU Commission and has met their criteria. The test is currently being used in abattoir surveys of cattle in Switzerland and France. It is also used in the UK for the confirmation of clinical cases. This test uses brain tissue and cannot be used in the live animal.
§ Dr. David Clark
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many cases have been brought before the courts in each of the last five years relating to breaches of regulations relating to BSE. 
§ Ms Quin
[holding answer 30 October 2000]There were no cases brought before the courts in the calendar year 1995 relating to breaches of regulations and orders relating to BSE. For the years 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 the figures are:
Regulations 1996 1997 1998 1999 Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection Regulations 1995 3 6 16 14 Fresh Meat (Beef Control) No. 2 Regulations 1996 0 0 1 0 Specified Bovine Offal Order 1995 4 1 0 0 Specified Bovine Material Order 1996 2 2 0 0 Specified Bovine Material Order 1997 0 0 3 0 Specified Risk Material Regulations 1997 0 0 7 11 Totals 9 9 27 25
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food ceased to have responsibility for bringing such cases before the courts at the beginning of April of this year.
Additionally, there were 12 cases in 1998 and 84 cases in 1999 where applications were made to the magistrates for orders relating to the disposal of goods ineligible for export.
Other authorities may also have been responsible for bringing cases before the courts.