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Defra: Virology

Volume 689: debated on Tuesday 20 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs funding was given to the work of virologists in agencies over each of the past five years; and what allocation is in place for the next two years, [HL1872]

Our agencies deliver a range of services to the department, which are supported by Defra funding from various budgets. These services include surveillance, research and emergency response capability that cover a number of specialist areas including virology. The department does not allocate a set amount of funding specifically to fund virologists; rather it is the responsibility of the agencies to ensure that an adequate service is provided.

Information on planned agency expenditure is set out in the department's estimates for the coming year, and details of actual expenditure are available in the annual report and accounts published by each agency after the end of the financial year.

The majority of Defra funding into the field of virology supports the work of the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), which focuses on animal health. Defra funding to support the VLA over the past five years is set out below:

2002-03

£79.694 million

2003-04

£87.812 million

2004-05

£84.963million

2005-06

£97.181 million

2006-07

£95.500 million (planned expenditure)

Defra also provides funding for plant and fish virology at the Central Science Laboratory and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science respectively.

Over the next five to six years Defra, BBSRC and the Department for Trade and Industry will be working in partnership to co-fund a £120 million project to build a new virology facility based at the Pirbright Laboratory.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the reply by Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton on 1 February (HL Deb, col 334), who are the virologists employed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and what are their relevant qualifications and agency location. [HL1908]

Information on the number of virologists employed by Defra (broken down by agency, qualification and location) is set out in the table below:

Agency

Location

PHD

BSC

MSC

Technician

Total

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

Weymouth

5

9

14

Central Science Laboratory

York

3

12

15

Veterinary Medicines Direcorate

Weybridge

5

1

6

Veterinary Laboratories Agency(VLA)1

Weybridge

84

1 Staff qualifications are not kept centrally at the VLA and there would be a disproportionate cost involved in obtaining this information for virologists. That said, they include postgraduates, graduates, three clinical veterinarians and two honorary university professors, and range from world experts in their field to those working in a technical capacity at the laboratory bench.