To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many analytical laboratories across the UK have the (a) equipment and (b) expertise to provide a testing service for (i) anthrax, (ii) botulism, (iii) staphylococcus enterotoxin B, (iv) ricin, (v) plague and (vi) smallpox. 
Most of the clinical microbiology laboratories within national health service trust hospitals and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have the equipment and expertise to undertake initial testing for anthrax, botulism and plague. Subsequent confirmation and specialist tests are carried out only by a small number of specialist laboratories.Smallpox is categorised as a Hazard Group 4 pathogen and consequently testing for smallpox can only be undertaken in laboratories that are designated as suitable for handling this Hazard Group. Only two laboratories in the United Kingdom, both within the HPA, are fully equipped to test human specimens for smallpox.Testing for staphylococcus enterotoxin B is carried out at the HPA's Food Hygiene Reference Laboratory.Testing for ricin is carried out by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what methods are recommended by his Department and its agencies to routinely test for (a) anthrax, (b) botulism, (c) ricin, (d) staphylococcus enterotoxin B, (e) plague and (f) smallpox. 
Guidance on the laboratory handling and testing of diagnostic samples for anthrax, botulism, plague, staphylococcal enterotoxin and smallpox and is available on the Health Protection Agency website at http://www.phls.org.uk.Testing for ricin is not routinely undertaken and there are currently no laboratories in the health service that can test for ricin. This service is provided by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down.