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Point of Order

Volume 564: debated on Thursday 13 June 2013

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Thank you for taking this short point of order; I do not want to delay the main debate. It is a question of the accuracy of the record for the public and for Parliament, and I am indebted to Brian Simpson MEP, an agriculture spokesman, for unearthing the facts. On a matter as vital and sensitive as bovine TB, and related issues, it is important that we deal with the evidence and the facts.

The UK Government’s position has been that field trials for the cattle vaccination in the UK are prohibited under EU law, thus preventing the development of a cattle vaccine in the UK. However, recent statements from the Commission for the Environment and Rural Affairs Committee report published on 5 June show that clearly this is not the case. Field trials can be allowed without a need to amend existing EU legislation if certain criteria are put in place. Moreover, according to the Government’s statements, the Government were told last year to come forward with a programme for the field trials. However, nothing has yet been published. Finally, even though the Secretary of State has made clear that this will take 10 years, the Commission has said that that is indicative only and that the timetable could be compressed.

Madam Deputy Speaker, can you give me advice as to how we can set the record straight and get clarity on such an important issue for farmers and the rural community?

I agree that this is an important issue but I must tell the hon. Gentleman something that I think he already knows: that is not really a point of order but a point of debate. He has got his points clearly on the record today and I am sure that he will find other parliamentary opportunities to explore them. It is not a matter for the Chair and it does not require a ruling.