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Volume 113: debated on Wednesday 25 March 1987

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he intends to take with regard to Professor Dunnet's recommendations on the future of the consultative panel on badgers and tuberculosis; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have accepted Professor Dunnet's recommendation that the consultative panel should be kept in being. And, as further recommended, we have discussed with the panel's membership what changes could usefully be made in its composition and operation.As a result of these discussions we have agreed that it would be desirable for the panel to have an independent chairman as is the case with the majority of similar Government advisory bodies. We are therefore appointing Mr. Mark Thomasin-Foster, an Essex farmer and National Vice-Chairman of the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group to this post. We believe Mr. Thomasin-Foster's background in both farming and conservation make him particularly well equipped for this role. Other appointments to the panel will be made shortly. In the light of Professor Dunnet's recommendations we have also amended the terms of reference of the panel, in particular

to reflect more accurately the objective of our policy on badgers and bovine tuberculosis. The terms of reference are now:

  • (i) to keep under review the evidence relating to bovine tuberculosis in badgers, including its distribution, its prevalence and its relationship to bovine tuberculosis in cattle;
  • (ii) to advise on operations to be undertaken by the Ministry in order to limit the transmission of tuberculosis from badgers to cattle;
  • (iii) to recommend research appropriate to the problem of badgers and bovine tuberculosis.