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Avian Influenza: Disease Control

Volume 469: debated on Monday 10 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received from cage bird societies and other organisations forced to cancel events because show licences were revoked as a result of the outbreak of avian flu; what compensation is available to organisers of cage bird show events in such circumstances; and if he will make a statement. (170285)

DEFRA officials and I have received a small number of representations from cage bird societies and other organisations who have been forced to cancel events as a result of the ban on bird gatherings following the recent avian influenza outbreak. We put the ban in place due to the high risk nature of bird gatherings when there is great uncertainty over the presence of undetected infection in other parts of the country immediately after an outbreak. We kept this ban under constant review and, following a veterinary risk assessment once we knew more about the spread of disease, we lifted the ban after 11 days.

It is a long established principle that the Government do not meet the costs of consequential losses due to disease control measures. It is inevitable that such measures for avian influenza will disrupt bird gatherings due to the need to prevent wide-scale disease spread for both animal and human health reasons. No Government could commit itself to insure bird keepers against the cost of all the losses resulting, directly or indirectly, from disease outbreaks or the action taken to deal with them.