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Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether farmers are able to obtain insurance cover for TB infection in dairy cattle after a TB breakdown and subsequent claim. 
Mr. Bradshaw: It is Government policy to pay compensation at 100 per cent. of the market value, with no upper limit, for cattle that are compulsorily slaughtered under TB control measures. Farmers therefore do not need to take out insurance for their animals. Theoretically, insurance can be bought to cover other consequential losses for which compensation is not
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paid, but this is a commercial matter between the farmers and their insurers. Section 34 (5) of the Animal Health Act 1981 explicitly allows insurers to deduct the amount of Government compensation from the value of any payout that they make.
Insurance companies will make their own decisions on whether to insure, and about the size of premiums, based on their assessment of the risk. Recent contact with insurance industry early in 2003 indicated that, although companies are honouring existing policies, they are not offering new policies to cover TB in cattle herds, particularly in areas where TB is increasingly prevalent. This is because farmers do not wish to take the cover in areas where the risk is low (such as Yorkshire), but do wish to purchase cover in areas of high incidence (such as the South West). However, the insurance companies consider that the financial risks in offering insurance policies in areas of high incidence are too high at present.
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Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total cost was of compensation paid to farmers in respect of compulsory purchase of bovine animals slaughtered as a result of TB infection (a) between 1994 and 1998 and (b) since 1998. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The data requested are provided in the tables.
Cost of compensation paid in Great Britain as a result of TB infection between 1994 and 1998 Cost (£)(1)
(1) The Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer—Animal Health 1998.
Cost of compensation paid in Great Britain as a result of TB infection between 1999 and 2002 Cost (£)(2)
2002 (3)23, 138,512
(2) The Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer—Animal Health 2002.
(3) In 2001, the TB testing and control programme was largely suspended due to the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. Since testing resumed in 2002, resources have been concentrated on herds with overdue TB tests that would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also, the proportion of high risk herds being tested post-FMD is greater than that prior to the outbreak. As a result, the number of TB reactors identified and slaughtered (and hence compensated for) in 2002 is not comparable to those identified and slaughtered in previous years.
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Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of shortages of large animal vets for successful control of TB in cattle. 
Mr. Bradshaw: There are no plans to carry out such an assessment. However, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee issued a report on Vets and Veterinary Services on 23 October 2003 (HC 703), which considers wider concerns about the numbers of large animal practices and the contribution of the veterinary profession to the wider animal health and welfare strategy.
The report contains a number of recommendations and conclusions, and we will be seeking the views of the veterinary profession and other interested parties on the issues raised.
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Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of whether badgers are capable of accessing mineral and feed troughs positioned at heights in excess of those advised by the Department; and what height that evidence indicates badgers are capable of accessing. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Recent work carried out by the Central Science Laboratory has established that badgers are capable of climbing into feed troughs set at 115cm above ground level, at which height they are inaccessible to cattle.