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Foot and Mouth

15. Paul Flynn (Newport, West) (Lab): What her most recent assessment is of the role that vaccination may play in a future outbreak of foot and mouth disease. [160293]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): Emergency vaccination would be considered as an additional tool to the culling of susceptible animals on infected premises, and those animals that were epidemiologically linked.

Paul Flynn : Only "considered," when to protect an export market of only £500 million, the taxpayer spent £9 billion slaughtering 7 million animals, many of them unnecessarily? We now know that vaccinated animals are perfectly acceptable in the marketplace. Should we not have a firm policy—not merely consider it—that we shall never again slaughter millions of animals without good reason? If there is another outbreak of foot and mouth, the great danger is that we shall be subject to the waste, futility and cruelty of mad cull disease.

Mr. Bradshaw: It was not without good reason. Indeed, if that action had not been undertaken, the epidemic would have lasted much longer and would have been much more serious.

Mr. Morley: It would probably still be going on.

Mr. Bradshaw: Yes. There are eventualities—for example, if a new strain of foot and mouth were to hit us, for which no vaccine was available—when it might not be practicable in a short space of time to use vaccination.

Lawrie Quinn (Scarborough and Whitby) (Lab): Given the important role undertaken by the veterinary profession during the last outbreak and the shortages in that profession, what strategic discussions or reviews

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have been conducted by the Department with vets to ensure that we have enough vets in the right places, able to respond to the outbreaks that none of us wants to see?

Mr. Bradshaw: All those things were considered in the Government's response to the Anderson inquiry. As my hon. Friend may know, we intend to hold a contingency exercise this summer—in case of a future foot and mouth outbreak—in which vets will play a central role.