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It is a pleasure to contribute to a debate on this subject, as I have done on a number of occasions. It is important to commence my remarks, following those of Mr Robinson, by saying that, coming from a rural constituency, and indeed a farming background, I think that the important point needs to be repeated once again: what we are talking about is the impact of a disease on the lives and livelihoods of farmers and their families. The impact of this terrible disease is, I believe, the biggest issue the farming industry currently faces, certainly south of the border.
Given all that, I think that we need to be reminded why we are here. Sadly, this is not about the welfare of the badger—of course, it should be—but about the future of the farming industry. It was on that basis that I first engaged with this issue, at the beginning of the randomised badger culling trials some 15 years ago. I was a member of the then Agriculture Select Committee that was looking at the issue and I strongly supported the roll-out of what was effectively evidence-based policy making introduced by the previous Government, and indeed proposed by Professor Krebs as a result of some earlier work under the previous Conservative Government. It was about building up an evidence base on which to go forward with a policy to bear down on this terrible disease, which is having a devastating effect on livestock farmers, especially in some parts of the country, such as west Cornwall.