HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 cc770-1W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on levels of cases of bovine TB. [129496]

Mr. Bradshaw

In the period January to July 2003, there were just over 2,1001 new bovine tuberculosis (TB) incidents in Great Britain. This represents an increase of approximately 2 per cent. over the same period in 2002 when 2,065 new incidents were recorded. To date, just over 1,0001 of the new incidents recorded in 2003 have been confirmed, 8401 are unconfirmed and just under 2601 remain unclassified pending the results of tissue culture tests.

Defra is working hard to address the problem of bovine TB, and last year we spent £72 million on a programme of public health protection measures, cattle testing, cattle controls and extensive research. In February this year, we announced a review of the current TB control regime. We expect to consult on proposals for a long-term TB strategy for GB, and on short-term policy options, later this year. 1 Provisional figures—subject to change as outstanding TB test and culture results become available. Notes: The TB testing and control programme was severely disrupted during the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in 2001. Since testing resumed in 2002, resources have been concentrated on herds with overdue tests which would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also, the proportion of high risk herds being tested post-FMD is greater than that prior to the outbreak. As result, the number of TB breakdowns being recorded post-FMD is not comparable to that prior to the FMD outbreak.