§ Mr. Nick Brown
I am concerned about the rising incidence of tuberculosis in cattle. We cannot stand by while the disease spreads. I intend to consult my colleagues and hope that we will soon be able to make an announcement with details of our plans.
We need to have a co-ordinated strategy. It must put public health first.
The Krebs report published last December recommended that in the long term we should look for a cattle vaccine. This is now built into my department's research requirements and we want to draw on the best expertise in the country. Some of the necessary preliminary work has already been undertaken.
The traditional way of dealing with tuberculosis in cattle has been through testing, removal of reactors and movement controls. We will maintain this policy, which is in any event required under EU legislation. I have asked officials to tell me whether these controls need to be strengthened.
The Krebs report found that there was indirect but compelling evidence that badgers were a significant source of infection in cattle. It made recommendations that we should have a culling trial. We have now also received detailed recommendations on the design of such a trial from Professor Bourne's Expert Group. I have asked my Department to prepare their report for 740W publication, while we consider the best way forward. Any measures taken will take full account of the Government's established commitment to animal welfare.