Bluetongue Disease

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans that the penetration of bluetongue vaccination in UK livestock will reach 85 per cent. [227324]

Jane Kennedy: Vaccination against bluetongue in England and Wales is voluntary. Vaccine was first made available from 30 April 2008, and the Protection Zone was extended step by step as further vaccine consignments were delivered. Initial vaccine uptake was high - reaching between 80 per cent. and 90 per cent. in the South East and East of England, but uptake in the counties of northern England and in Wales has been lower.

To date the overall uptake of vaccine across the whole of England is about 60 per cent.

My Department has underwritten vaccine supply to ensure that it is available. Beyond that I have made no plans to reach specific levels of vaccination at specific times. Vaccination is the responsibility of the livestock industry. An industry-led communications campaign has promoted the benefits of vaccinating, and the risks of not doing so.

Vaccination in Scotland will be compulsory. The whole of Scotland will become a Protection Zone from 3 November.

21 Oct 2008 : Column 156W