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I rise in support of the motion. I congratulate colleagues on both sides of the House who tabled the motion and
I thank the Backbench Business Committee for enabling the debate to take place. It has become clear over recent weeks and months that some colleagues who initially supported a cull are now beginning seriously to question that position. I thank Mrs Main, who, I appreciate, has now left the Chamber, because she was one of the first people to draw to my attention some serious reservations about what the Government had done.
The starting point on this issue and the common ground we are probably all on is that we do have a serious problem in England with bovine TB. So how do we reach agreement on reducing the scale of the problem, leading hopefully to its eradication? Both sides need to be honest. Under the previous Government we spent 10 years and some £50 million on trialling culls, and the outcome was no real meaningful contribution to eradicating TB in cattle. With the recent pilot culls we have witnessed an abject failure for farmers, taxpayers and wildlife.
The two pilot culls failed to achieve their own success criterion of culling 70% of badgers in six weeks. Against sound science, they were extended and spectacularly failed again to cull target numbers. The leaked IEP report shows that DEFRA failed to meet its main test for humaneness, as we have already heard this afternoon and will no doubt hear again—