Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2005-06

Thursday 9 March 2006

Thursday 9 March 2006

Avian Influenza 'observatory'

The Committee took oral evidence from Defra on Avian Influenza (AI) on 15 November 2005. Since that time Defra has continued to develop a suite of policies with the objective of equipping the UK with the necessary tools to deal with AI should an outbreak occur.

The Committee does not believe that now is the right time to hold a full-scale inquiry into this area of Defra policy. Instead, we have decided to establish a specialist group from within the Committee to act as an 'observatory' and closely monitor events in this field, both at home and overseas. In addition to monitoring policy developments and news announcements in the area, the group will receive an informal briefing from the Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Fred Landeg, on the latest situation, and members of the group will observe part of Defra's National Avian Influenza Exercise (Exercise Hawthorn) on 5 and 6 April.

The Observatory will also be tasked with deciding when it would be appropriate for the main Committee to launch a full-scale inquiry into any aspect of the way the UK Government is responding to this threat.

Membership of the Observatory is as follows:

  • Rt Hon Michael Jack MP

  • Mr David Drew MP

  • Patrick Hall MP

  • Lynne Jones MP

  • Mrs Madeleine Moon MP

While not officially calling for evidence on this subject, as would be the case if a full inquiry were to be held, members of the observatory would welcome receiving relevant information from those with a particular interest or expertise in this area.

For further information, please contact Jenny McCullough, Second Clerk of the Committee, on 020 7219 2735.