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Backbench Business — Badger Cull

Part of Royal Assent – in the House of Commons at 3:12 pm on 13th March 2014.

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Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Labour, Poplar and Limehouse 3:12 pm, 13th March 2014

My hon. Friend makes a valid point. One of the successes of the Backbench Business Committee’s procedures is that they have allowed Parliament to chivvy the Government along. For DEFRA, that has happened in relation to dangerous dogs, wild animals in circuses and bovine TB. The debates keep these matters alive in the eyes of the media, of the public and of those on all sides who are concerned about the issues. It is certainly not a waste of time to hold this debate today. It might be premature to do so before we have seen the report, but I hope that the Government will hold a debate in their own time when it is published, or that we will at least have an oral statement so that we can question the Secretary of State about its findings.

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire has suggested that the report has been quoted selectively. He even quoted some statistics from it himself. Some of it is in the public domain. As soon as all of it is there, it will provide more evidence and give us more opportunities to make judgments. We have heard about the conflicting interpretations of what is happening in Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland. I have not heard anything so far to persuade me that we arrived at the wrong conclusion in 2009-10.

I understand the total frustration and anger among those in the farming community. They want to see something being done about bovine TB, and the cull at least provided evidence that something was being done. I still think that it was the wrong thing to do, however, and I hope that the Government will not extend the culls in due course. In the speeches from both sides of the House today, no one has said anything other than that they want TB to be eradicated. We want it to be done as efficiently, professionally and quickly as possible. I have the utmost respect for the Minister; we have dealt with each other on many occasions, and I know that he is committed to this subject as a result of his own farming and family interests. We want bovine TB to be beaten as quickly as possible, and I hope that this debate will bring us closer to achieving that as soon as possible.