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Foot and Mouth Disease: Disease Control

Volume 468: debated on Wednesday 28 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the likely timetable for each measure put in place to control (a) foot and mouth disease and (b) bluetongue. (162224)

For foot and mouth disease (FMD), the FMD Surveillance Zone was lifted on 5 November. On 6 November the EU agreed to relax the current FMD export restrictions on meat and meat products. On 19 November the FMD Restricted Zone was lifted.

The EU decision has split the UK into the following three areas:

1. FMD Free Export Area—Meat and products originating from susceptible animals in this area will be eligible for export under normal Community rules subject to certification.

2. FMD Restricted Export Area—Meat and products originating from susceptible animals in this area will be eligible for export provided they meet certain conditions, including providing documentation confirming the completion of a 21 day standstill and residency period (7 day standstill in the case of pigs).

3. FMD No Export Area—Meat and products originating from susceptible animals in this area cannot be allowed to be exported.

A map detailing these areas is available on the DEFRA website and I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Libraries of the House.

The FMD Restricted Zone was lifted when the new EU Decision came into force on 19 November. If no further amendments are made to the EU decision, the provisions on meat and meat products are expected to apply until mid December, and those on live animals until the end of the year.

A further surveillance programme of sample herds and flocks is to be carried out to confirm disease freedom with the European Commission. Subject to the satisfactory outcome of this surveillance, restoration of international disease freedom under OIE criteria could be considered at the earliest in January 2008.

For bluetongue, the timetable will be dependent on developments in the disease situation. OIE guidelines state that, following confirmation of bluetongue disease, a surveillance programme has to demonstrate no evidence of Bluetongue circulating in the country or zone over the course of two years before restrictions can be lifted. However, there is limited scope within EU legislation to amend the size of zones in this period.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government have put in place a revised national contingency plan following the recent foot and mouth outbreak. (166735)

The national contingency plan is published and laid before Parliament annually. It was last laid in December 2006. The next plan will reflect the results of a consultation exercise which concluded on 11 October 2007, and lessons learned from the recent foot and mouth disease outbreak. At present, we plan to lay it before Parliament in December.