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Backbench Business — Badger Cull

Part of Royal Assent – in the House of Commons at 3:02 pm on 13th March 2014.

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Photo of Roger Williams Roger Williams Liberal Democrat, Brecon and Radnorshire 3:02 pm, 13th March 2014

I will not give way as I have almost used up my time allowance.

Continuing results from the RBCTs show continuing benefits from proactive culling many years after the conclusion of the trials. The TB situation continues to improve in New Zealand and Australia. Improvements are also evident in southern Ireland where, the hon. Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge might like to note, a reactive cull has been used. Surprisingly, those areas that used reactive culling in the RBCTs now show improvements compared with the survey areas. Perhaps we should re-examine the use of reactive culling.

More support for culling could be generated if we had a better test for TB in live badgers. The good news is that the polymerase chain reaction test is making progress and hopefully by next year we will have a conclusive test. I am sure that the culling of infected setts, as identified by PCR tests, and the protecting of healthy setts would be supported. I ask the Minister whether there is any advance on those tests.

I am told that badgers culled in the pilots vary in weight from 6.5 kg to 22 kg. Evidence of disease in the lightest badgers probably implies that they would not survive the winter and would die in considerable distress of starvation, hyperthermia and disease. I have not heard anything today that would lead me to believe that the BCG vaccine alone will lead to an elimination of disease in the wildlife reservoir. I believe a cull is also needed as part of a wide-ranging policy, and for that reason I cannot support this motion.