Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, rose on the floor of the House of Commons today to question the The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson on the effectiveness of the badger cull.
After hearing the Minister’s confirm that he has received the report from the Panel looking at the effectiveness of the badger cull, Stephen Metcalfe proceeded to tell the Secretary of State that it appeared that here in the UK it had been more difficult to achieve the desired results of tackling Bovine TB through a badger cull.
Stephen asked: “Does my right hon. Friend agree that although the badger cull may have played a part in tackling bovine TB in other countries, in the UK it has proved more difficult to achieve our desired result? Will he therefore agree to look at all other options, and accept that if one course of action fails, it is time to look for another?
Mr Paterson responded: “My hon. Friend mentions other badger culls. The most obvious nearby country that has had one is the Republic of Ireland, where the number of cases went down from 44,903 in 1999 to only 15,612 last year. There are clear lessons to be learned from other countries—my hon. Friend is absolutely right—but the circumstances here are not entirely the same. That is why our strategy encompasses a whole range of other activities involving the vaccination of badgers, the vaccination of cattle and a strict cattle movement regime, which has been a key to success in other countries.”
Mr Metcalfe commented: “This is an issue that many people in South Basildon and East Thurrock feel very strongly about and I have received a lot of correspondence questioning the effectiveness of the cull.”
“Bovine TB is undoubtedly an issue that needs tackling but we need a strategy that produces demonstrable results and clear evidence that the problem at hand is being resolved. If culling has failed to produce these results in the pilot areas, then it’s time to rethink the options.”