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Backbench Business — Badger Cull

Part of Royal Assent – in the House of Commons at 4:35 pm on 13th March 2014.

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Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 4:35 pm, 13th March 2014

No, and I refer the hon. Gentleman, who makes a valid point, to the figures for the past three years, which have shown a downward trend.

I say to the Minister that the two key tests for the Government of effectiveness and humaneness have been failed. So let us not keep inflicting this costly policy failure and public relations disaster on farmers, taxpayers and wildlife. Let us learn the lessons from these two failed and costly culls, stop them now and look at the alternative way forward, which can be cheaper, more humane and more effective.

Look instead to Wales, where there has been a significant and substantial reduction in TB, at twice the rate of the decline in England. That happened without culling, but with vaccination and stringent cattle measures. Look to Northern Ireland, where BTB is declining faster, without culling, than in the Republic, where culling is taking place. Look closer to home, in England, where the incidence of BTB began to decline even before the culls started. We repeatedly pointed out that trend to Ministers, who either ignored or denied it. The trend is even more apparent now that Ministers have admitted that the figures incorrectly overstated BTB.

More and more MPs from across the parties, including independent-minded Government MPs, are calling on Ministers to pause and think again. There is a different approach to tackling TB in cattle and wildlife, if only Ministers would listen to the evidence, and to the increasing numbers of MPs of their own party who have lost faith in these deeply flawed culls. We want the Government to work with the science and across political parties to seek a new, lasting consensus on the way forward. Labour, scientists, and many farmers want to do that, so I repeat the offer that I made to the Secretary of State in writing in December: work with us, with farmers, and with the evidence to agree a new, better way forward.