Bill Wiggin MP vented his frustration with the cattle TB skin test in Parliament.

North Herefordshire MP Bill Wiggin questioned the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson MP, in the House of Commons on Thursday 3 April after a statement on the Government’s strategy for TB and its assessment of the badger culls.

Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire) (Con): “I welcome the vaccination programme around infection hot spots, but the skin test is clearly failing as the number of carcases rejected post-slaughter more than doubled between 2012 and 2013 and is increasing again this year. My constituents are having cattle which have passed the skin test condemned without compensation at slaughter.

“The Government are consulting on a risk-based trading strategy which is completely flawed because it is based on the skin test, and the electronic device that Nottingham Trent university is working on is supposed to be three years away.

“What can the Secretary of State do to save my constituents from the total loss of condemned carcases and having their time wasted on futile consultations and their cats infected, all because we do not have a proper skin test?”

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Owen Paterson): “Our proposal is for badger vaccination on the edge of the hot-spot areas. There is no point in vaccinating in the hot spots as, sadly, the animals are already diseased and infected. The idea is to get a buffer zone around the edge.

“I do not entirely agree with all my hon. Friend’s comments on what we are doing elsewhere. We are all, sadly, very aware of the ineffectiveness of some of our technology. We know that BCG is not a perfect vaccine, and we are fully aware that the skin test is not a perfect individual animal test, but it is currently the method used in every other country with a major problem of TB in cattle and it does give a broad result, within which other countries have managed to bring this disease down.”

After the debate Bill Wiggin MP said: “TB is a notifiable disease which is having a profound effect on Agriculture. I am deeply concerned about the effectiveness of the skin test as the statistics for carcasses being rejected post slaughter seems to be increasing.

“My preference would be to use a cattle vaccine but the European Union is preventing us from doing that.”

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