Badger culling prompts fierce debate in UK Parliament

Chris Williamson MP (centre) pictured with costumed campaigners opposing the badger cull.The contentious badger cull issue won’t go away for the Government. Despite pilot culls that appear to have failed and coalition MPs lining up to voice their concerns and doubts, it looks as though the Government is determined to announce in the New Year that it intends to roll out badger culling nationwide next summer.

The latest debate took place in Westminster Hall in the House of Commons. A full house on both sides showed it’s a live issue in the House. Even the Conservative Party’s Chief Whip was there. The debate clipped off at a busy gallop. It even got a bit heated. There was at least one offer to “intervene” in every speech.

SEE ALSO: Badger cull pilot fiasco, not the end of the story

Chris Williamson MP, who led the debate and spoke strongly against the cull, said: “What I find so scandalous about the whole process, apart from the fact that the Government have disregarded scientific and public opinion, is that the Government have withheld information about the humaneness of the cull.”

All the right points were made about how science argued against the effectiveness of a cull, how it could increase the problem of bovine TB instead of tackling it, how the costs had risen beyond all estimates and how vaccination was the way to go.

The Government side clung on to its arguments about how culls had worked on completely different animals in different countries.

After almost two hours of debate, where the Chief Whip must have recognised they were on a sticky wicket, the Coalition Minister stood up to give his reply. He read out what felt and sounded like a pre-written speech that didn’t address much of what had gone before. No change in policy, no acceptance of the fact that the media regularly describe the issue as a fiasco and no sense that there was a willingness to accept that the policy might be flawed.

There was one clear unspoken and known fact in the hall – this is an issue that will not go away. It is clear that there is a groundswell of cross-party opinion that the issue must be debated in the full chamber of the House of Commons before any further roll out of any more culls. With election fever nearing, it would be a surprise if any party went out of its way to align themselves with the at best questionable and at worst needless slaughter of badgers. Time will tell.

--RM

Ask your MP, if they have not already done so, to sign the Early Day Motion (EDM 661) tabled by Anne Main MP, calling on the Government to allow another vote in Parliament before further culling is rolled out.

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