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The Government’s much-delayed response to the Godfray report, published this morning, finally concedes to implement more effective methods of containing bovine TB, such as cattle and badger vaccinations. Of course, scientists, activists and politicians have been saying that for years. Can the Minister explain why it has taken the culling of an estimated 130,000 badgers for the Government to come to the same conclusion that most of us came to years ago? Will she provide an estimate of the number of badgers that will be killed before the switch to vaccinations and other non-lethal preventive measures?
The Government’s U-turn on the badger cull is welcome. I would like to think that it is because the Prime Minister knew that my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge and I were going to speak to the issue, but I suspect there is someone else he listens to more. It is simply inexcusable, however, that further inhumane killing of this iconic species will continue for several years, especially as the Government have conceded that that is not the most effective strategy for containing bovine TB.
The former Government adviser Professor Ranald Munro recently said that a large number of badgers are likely to have suffered “immense pain” during culls. It is evident that the correct thing for the Government to do would be to bring forward the ban and start implementing non-lethal alternatives without delay.