16 Jan 2006___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/cm060116/text/60116w06.htm#60116w06.html_sbhd9
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what appeal procedures are in place against the results of the tuberculosis test when a vet makes an error in administering the test. [41181R]
Mr. Bradshaw: Testing, techniques and methods of interpretation are tightly prescribed in EU law. To prevent errors, rigorous training procedures are in place for those authorised to carry out bovine tuberculosis testing work. Any errors in administering the test would be dealt with on a case by case basis.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in what circumstances her Department would not approve the use of a private tuberculin test; and in how many cases the use of such a test has been refused in the last two years. 
Mr. Bradshaw: In the case of statutory tuberculin testing of cattle, any request to release tuberculin for a further private test will always be declined by the Department. Approval for private tests is generally granted in the context of a test for purchaser assurance, or as a condition for cattle export in herds not subjected to tuberculosis restrictions.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to introduce polymerase chain reaction testing to reinforce the tuberculosis test in cases where reactors are found. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We are continuing to fund projects at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency to develop methods (including polymerase chain reaction-PCR) for detecting Mycobacterium bovis in clinical samples. PCR methods potentially offer extra flexibility and speed in confirming M. Bovis in post-mortem cattle samples. So far, however, PCR has not shown itself to be superior in terms of sensitivity, specificity or overall reliability to conventional culture.
At present it is unrealistic to consider PCR methods as a viable alternative to the existing primary surveillance tool for TB in live cattle (i.e. the tuberculin skin test) or to other ancillary ante-mortem tests that are used when skin test reactors are found.
Mr. Bradshaw: The use of the tuberculin skin test and the gamma interferon blood test in parallel has the potential to significantly increase the detection of infected cattle in herds where TB has been confirmed. Defra does use the gamma interferon test in identified problem TB herds at a rate of about 6,000 animal tests a year. EU legislation allows the blood test only to be used to supplement the skin test.
16 Jan 2006 : Column 911W
Preparations are now being made for wider use of the gamma interferon test, in prescribed circumstances. A working group has been established to prepare and deliver a policy for increased use of the test.