07/03/2014 - Back Bench Debate on Badger Culling, Thursday 13 March 2014
I am writing on behalf of Mid Sussex Constituency Labour Party to call on you to attend the House of Commons back bench debate next Thursday 13 March on Anne Main MP's motion for the Government to pause, reflect and adapt its policy on bovine TB (bTB), and, in supporting her motion, which has cross-party support, to represent the well informed views of many of your constituents that badger culls must be stopped.
The Defra Independent Expert Panel's report shows that the recent pilot badger slaughters in Somerset and Gloucestershire were inhumane and ineffective, as experts had predicted. They caused the barbaric, futile killing of badgers last year. More than 5% of the badgers took over five minutes to die (exceeding the test for humaneness); some, terrified, fled to die of their wounds.
As our Member of Parliament, we urge you now to heed the work of the Conservative Bow Group on this subject. In March 2012, as you will be aware, they released a policy paper by Dr Brian May, Lord Krebs and Graham Godwin-Pearson that urged the Government not to resume badger culling as an attempt to halt the spread of bTB. They said it would be more costly and less effective than Defra claimed, and had been shown to make bTB worse. Recent experience has vindicated their advice then, when they called instead for vaccination.
Badgers can be vaccinated through a volunteer led scheme - Badger and Cattle Vaccination Initiative (www.bacvi.co.uk). BACVI say early results show a reduction of 74% in badgers testing positive to bTB after vaccination. Work is under way in many areas with knowledgeable and trained volunteers. This is the only available long term solution - humane and effective - to support farmers in their fight against a badger-borne disease that devastates their livestock.
Dr J M Walmsley
Mid Sussex Constituency Labour Party