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Backbench Business — Badger Cull

Part of Royal Assent – in the House of Commons at 2:10 pm on 13th March 2014.

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Photo of Geoffrey Robinson Geoffrey Robinson Labour, Coventry North West 2:10 pm, 13th March 2014

I thoroughly agree and thank my hon. Friend for that apposite intervention.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, who represents a farming constituency, and who indeed is a farmer himself, was right when he said that vaccination would not have been an absolute solution for mad cow disease and that it is not yet a science-based solution to this problem. I will mention in passing something I read in the March edition of a scientific journal—I do not suppose many colleagues will have heard of it. It talked about novel particulate vaccines utilising polyester nanoparticles, or bio-beads, which I assume would be ingested orally, that work rather counter-intuitively with the animals and could be a way forward. I do not know about that, but it is clear to me that much less research is now being done. Could not all the money that is being spent—wasted, frankly—on the culls be put into vaccine research? Ultimately, that is the only solution. A vaccine will not be a silver bullet, but it could be effective alongside all the measures the Government are considering, as part of a shared policy.

I will end my remarks by joining Members on both sides of the Chamber in saying how great it is that this debate has been arranged by the Backbench Business Committee. It is absolutely perfect. The hon. Member for The Cotswolds is perhaps lucky that the report is not yet out. If it had been, he might have had much less to say. He must accept that there is never a perfect time for these things. I congratulate the Committee, because I think that this has been one of the best debates.