Michael Fabricant questioned Nick Brown (Minister of Agriculture) yesterday (Tuesday) when he gave his statement in the Chamber of the House of Commons on Foot and Mouth Disease. The following is taken from Hansard:
Mr. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield): Now that the epidemic has become a pandemic, I welcome the Minister’s commitment at least to look at the possibility of using vaccines. How much vaccine is in the United Kingdom and how much might have to be imported? What contingency plans does he have to distribute the vaccine to vets?
Mr. Brown: Purely on a contingency basis, plans are quite far advanced. Some 500,000 shots are lined up for this strain of foot and mouth disease and I have access to an additional 5 million vaccinations, if they are needed. A vaccination strategy requires repeat vaccination. It is not an intervention that is carried out just once. We must also consider the time that it takes for the vaccine to have an effect. The shot that we have had made up is particularly vigorous and would have an impact on the animals between four days and a week.
Mr. Fabricant: What about distribution?
Mr. Brown: The hon. Gentleman, from a sedentary position, asks about distribution. We can get our hands on it fairly quickly.
"I think his answer about how this will be distributed to vets and others was rather vague" says Michael Fabricant "but I hope he will have the courage to make the decision quickly when the time comes. There have already been too many delays which have made a bad situation worse".
Meanwhile, Michael has tabled a series of written Parliamentary Questions to Nick Brown concerning the speed at which the Foot and Mouth telephone helpline and correspondence from MPs and farmers are being answered. "Local farmers, butchers and vets have complained to me that they can either get no answer from MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) to their urgent appeals for help and advice or the answers come too late by which time the whole situation has moved on several notches".