Dr. Ian Gibson (Norwich, North) (Lab): My right hon. Friend makes the point that the most likely explanation for the cause of the outbreak is wild fowl. Is it not just as possible and just as likely that purchasing turkey chicks from Hungary might be an important factor? Has he investigated that to see whether it happens with British industries?
David Miliband: There may have been one aspect of the question from the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth) that I did not answer, and it is linked—the so-called Hungarian connection. The chicks all came from within this country, so there is no Hungarian connection of that sort. The factory involved in the Hungarian outbreak was not a Bernard Matthews factory.
Today The Independent reports:
Britain's first outbreak of bird flu may have been caused by semi-processed turkey meat imported directly from Hungary, where the disease is prevalent, the Government said last night.
Large quantities of the meat - 38 tonnes of it a week - have been brought in to the processing plant of the Bernard Matthews turkey farm at Holton in Suffolk, where a week ago thousands of live turkeys in an adjacent shed were found to be suffering from the H5N1 strain of the virus...
Besides putting a question mark over the bio-security regime of the Bernard Matthews organisation, the revelation raises questions about whether any of the imported meat that may have been infected with H5N1 has got into the human food chain. The shipments of part-processed meat, brought to Suffolk for final processing, are thought to comprise thousands of birds, and the plant is next door [to] the shed where the British birds fell ill.
Surprising that Mr Miliband could rule out so clearly the Hungarian connection when the affected farm was next door to a turkey processing plant importing processed turkey meat from Hungary. But I suppose that he was asked about turkey chicks rather than dead turkeys. But, with hindsight, the Secretary of State was not really giving us the full picture.