HL Deb 03 June 2003 vol 648 cc151-2WA
Baroness Byford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has decided to use lay testers to reduce the backlog of overdue bovine tuberculosis tests. [HL2882]

Lord Whitty:

The State Veterinary Service has made a concerted effort over the last 15 months to reduce the TB testing backlog built up during the foot and mouth disease outbreak. At the end of March this year the number of overdue herd tests had been reduced to just over 4,500, down from 27,000 at the end of 2001. With continued co-operation from farmers we hope to have cleared the backlog by the summer.

Non-veterinarians are not permitted under existing legislation to carry out TB testing. However, Defra is planning to consult stakeholders in the summer on proposals to permit specially trained lay-testers to carry out the procedure.