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Volume 927: debated on Tuesday 8 March 1977

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress is being made in the brucellosis eradication programme; and if he will make a statement.

Progress in the eradication of brucellosis continues to be very satisfactory. By 31st December last, 78,847 herds were accredited in England and Wales, and a further 13,152 undergoing testing. All herds in Scotland are now either accredited or undergoing testing, and the number of accredited herds in Great Britain as a whole now stands at 102.113–65 per cent of the total.On 19th January last year I announced the areas in England and Wales in which compulsory eradication was to begin in 1976 and 1977, and gave a tentative programme of the dates from which compulsory eradication would be applied to the remaining areas of the country. I have recently reviewed the progress made in areas not already scheduled for eradication to begin this year and have decided that the remaining parts of Somerset and Buckinghamshire should be added to the list of areas in which compulsory eradication will begin on 1st November next. The necessary order under the Diseases of Animals Act will be made as soon as possible. Firm decisions on the areas in which compulsory eradication will begin in 1978 will be taken and announced later this year. These will, of course, take account of any EEC scheme for assisting the accelerated eradication of brucellosis that may be adopted.In some areas of England and Wales, notably the initial eradication areas, infection has now reached a very low level and herd breakdowns are becoming increasingly less frequent and less severe. I shall therefore be considering in the next month or so what attested areas should be declared, so enabling movement controls in these areas to be relaxed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland intends to carry out a similar review in Scotland to consider whether further attested areas should be declared.At the same time, consideration will be given to the merits of prohibiting the

use of S.19 vaccine in those areas. Officials of our two Departments hope to be in a position to discuss proposals with the farmers' unions and other interested organisations in the early spring, with a view to decisions being made and announced by the summer.—[Vol. 903. c.