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Backbench Business — Badger Cull

Part of Royal Assent – in the House of Commons at 12:56 pm on 13th March 2014.

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Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans 12:56 pm, 13th March 2014

I beg to move,

That this House
believes that the pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have decisively failed against the criteria set out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in guidance to Natural England for licensing of the culls, which stipulated that 70 per cent of the badger population should be culled within a six-week period;
notes that the costs of policing, additional implementation and monitoring, and the resort to more expensive cage-and-trap methods over an extended period have substantially increased the cost of the culls, and strengthened the financial case for vaccination;
regrets that the decision to extend the original culls has not been subject to any debate or vote in Parliament;
further regrets that the Independent Expert Panel will only assess the humaneness, safety and effectiveness of the original six-week period and not the extended cull period;
and urges the Government to halt the existing culls and granting of any further licences, pending development of alternative strategies to eradicate bovine TB and promote a healthy badger population.

I thank you for your gracious comments, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am sure that the debate will be very well attended and, bearing that in mind, I hope that colleagues will accept that I will not be taking any interventions during my opening remarks. I know that the many right hon. and hon. Members here today will make this a lively and impassioned debate.

This is a timely debate, coming before any further roll-out of the culls, and particularly in the light of concerns being raised from many quarters about the culls. I am grateful to the Backbench Business Committee for granting a full day’s debate and vote on the Floor of the House. I have received a large amount of cross-party support for this debate. It is important to note that this is not a matter of one side of the House versus the other. The House wants a chance to vote on this issue and I have made repeated calls for it to be brought back before the House. I tabled my first early-day motion on 25 June last year calling for the matter to return, and 149 Members from both sides of the House supported it. I then tabled another on 31 October asking for a return, which attracted 107 Members. In a well-attended Westminster Hall debate on 11 Dec, I pleaded with the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend George Eustice, to bring the matter back before the House. Well, I have brought it back, with the support of many colleagues of all political parties. I hope that colleagues today will examine their consciences and try to do the right thing. I know that this is not an easy subject, and that feelings are running high on both sides, but we must not be seen just to be doing something, if we are now convinced that the facts and evidence indicate that we might have taken the wrong approach.