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Schmallenberg Virus (Wales)

Volume 541: debated on Thursday 1 March 2012

DEFRA officials have been in regular contact with officials from all the devolved Administrations—including those from the Welsh Government—to discuss the Schmallenberg virus. There have been meetings and regular reports on the situation, both national and international.

Diolch, Mr Speaker. Does not the sudden outbreak of the Schmallenberg virus prove the need to preserve Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency services in livestock-intensive areas such as Carmarthenshire?

I hope—as, obviously, does the hon. Gentleman—that the virus does not spread as far as Wales. We believe that it has come, midge-borne, across the channel, and, as I said earlier, we hope that it will not continue to spread. However, we do not consider it necessary to revisit the issue of the two laboratories in Wales. As has been said repeatedly before Committees at which the hon. Gentleman has been present, we believe that the overall laboratory services will be sufficient, under the reorganisation, to continue the surveillance.

Will the Minister assure the House that any plans he makes to restrict livestock movements will involve proportionate measures, so that those involved in embryo or semen exports are not affected?

I assure my hon. Friend that we have no plans to introduce any export restrictions, and that, although one or two third-party states are beginning to raise question marks over not just UK but European livestock because of Schmallenberg, any further regulations will be based on the best scientific advice.