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Backbench Business — Badger Cull

Part of Royal Assent – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 13th March 2014.

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Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:45 pm, 13th March 2014

I am not going to give way, but I know what the hon. Lady is going to say.

We recognise that there are challenges with shooting badgers. That is why we issued best practice guidance that specified a range of less than 70 metres using a rifle, that they should target the chest, the type of rifle that could be used and that the animal must be stationary and over a bait point. It might be that lessons can be learnt from that to improve the proficiency of marksmen and we can obviously consider that.

I want to pick up a point made by my hon. Friend Mr Amess about monitoring. He said that it was insufficient and we do not accept that. We were required to monitor 60 of the culls but monitored 88 and we were required to carry out 120 post-mortems but carried out 150. We did more monitoring than was required.

As Roger Williams and my hon. Friends the Members for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) and for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish) said, this is a devastating disease having a devastating impact on cattle farmers. When I visited one of the Gloucester culls I met a Gloucestershire farmer who had been under restriction for 12 years. He was not moving cattle on or off; it was being caused not by cattle but by a large badger sett on his farm that was infected by TB. I saw another farmer who had lost an entire pedigree herd as a result of the disease. We know that if we do nothing it will cost us £1 billion over the next 10 years and, as I said at the start, although we are pursuing a range of options, no single measure on its own is the solution to the problem. There is no example anywhere in the world of a country that has successfully tackled TB without also tackling the reservoir of disease in the wildlife population.