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Licences to cull badgers for control of tuberculosis: repeal

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Labour, Cambridge 3:15 pm, 5th March 2020

Why does it take the Government so long—since 2018—to respond, and why do they finally respond on the day that we discuss this issue in Committee? We probably all know the politics behind these things, but it is disappointing when it involves such an important subject, discussion of which has been so eagerly awaited by so many people, because it is a highly controversial subject. The science involved is complicated.

In the spirit of sharing the responsibilities across the shadow team, I will pass over to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham East in a moment—I hope that she will be called to speak. However, the Labour Front Bench welcomes the Government’s belated response. We also find some things in the response helpful, and we think the Government are changing direction, but not quickly enough. We will make a more considered and detailed response when we have had time to consider it in detail, but our belief is that far too many badgers have been unnecessarily killed. The science is not clear and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that there is as much transmission from cattle to cattle. It is not a simple issue. We fully recognise the huge damage, economic cost and distress that bovine TB causes in many areas. As I say, we welcome the direction of travel, but we believe that it should be much swifter.