§ 2. Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
If he will make a statement on the progress of the trials investigating the control and spread of bovine TB. 
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Elliot Morley)
Six triplets have been enrolled in the badger culling trial and initial proactive culling has been carried out in three of them. We aim to announce the remaining trial areas in the course of this year.
§ Mr. Winterton
Although bovine TB is a highly complex scientific issue, does the Minister agree that it is also an urgent economic issue for farmers, particularly the dairy farmers in my constituency of Macclesfield, in Congleton, in Eddisbury and in other constituencies elsewhere in the country? Although there is a need for scientific investigation, does he agree that that should not be used as an excuse for Government inaction? What steps are the Government now taking urgently to control the spread of bovine TB?
§ Mr. Morley
We regard bovine TB as one of the most serious issues that MAFF faces. We have committed significant resources to the Krebs experiment, but it would be undermined if we took action outside the trial areas. However, we are concerned about the spread of TB. We have set up the TB forum, which has the freedom to consider the situation outside the experiment areas, and we shall listen to its advice carefully.
§ Mr. David Drew (Stroud)
I am sure that we shall debate the matter at greater length in Westminster Hall this afternoon. Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a need to consider help with consequential loss, particularly when herds that have been closed can be re-closed because of the increased incidence of bovine TB? We must consider in particular the discrimination against those farmers who seek to reduce their cost base by increasing collaboration and by sharing milking. They are the very people who are most adversely affected by that awful disease.
§ Mr. Morley
I understand my hon. Friend's point. As he knows, we have increased compensation to farmers by 200 per cent., to reflect the problems that they face because of TB. We are not in a position to make extra compensation for consequential losses, but we will keep the situation under review.
§ Sir Michael Spicer (West Worcestershire)
Is the Minister aware that the delays, uncertainty and secrecy surrounding the studies of badgers and TB are causing great consternation throughout Worcestershire, which is one of the areas in which the trials are meant to be taking place?
§ Mr. Morley
There have been delays and problems with recruitment, the weather and interference. Some of 391 those problems were predicted and we were not surprised by them. The independent scientific group still believes that the experiment is on course and that we can deal with the problems, and we are tackling them.