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October 29, 2012

For the Badgers' Sake, Let's Ensure This Stay of Execution Becomes a Permanent End to the Cull

Humane Society International/UK

  • A stay of execution for badgers? Stuart Matthews

by Mark Jones

Members of Parliament debated the badger cull on Thursday 25 October and voted overwhelmingly, by 147 votes to 28, against it.

The vote followed a five-hour backbench debate on a motion put to MPs by Green MP Caroline Lucas in the House of Commons chamber.

The motion read: That this House notes the e-petition on the planned badger cull, which has gathered more than 150,000 signatures; and calls on the Government to stop the cull and implement the more sustainable and humane solution of both a vaccination programme for badgers and cattle, along with improved testing and biosecurity.

Views for and against a cull of badgers were heard before MPs voted. The motion, calling on the government to stop the cull, attracted the support of 147 MPs, whilst 28 MPs voted against it. A list of Members and how they voted can be found at the end of the transcript of the debate.

Four MPs, Caroline Lucas, Alison McGovern, Henry Smith and Mike Weatherley, had approached the Backbench Business Committee to request the debate after the Stop the Cull e-petition reached the 100,000 signature target required for it to be considered for discussion. The petition has, to date, attracted more than 164,000 signatures.

I am delighted that MPs have voted to defend England's badgers against the threat of a pointless and unjustified slaughter. The motion gained support from Members of Parliament from all political parties, and I would like to thank them all for showing their support for our beleaguered badgers and for listening to the science, and to the many thousands of supporters of Humane Society International/UK and our TeamBadger coalition partners, who took the time to contact their MPs to express their concerns.

The government has so far refused to listen to experienced scientists, disease experts and tens of thousands of compassionate people opposed to the cull. Surely now it must listen to the will of parliament and abandon its badger cull policy for good.

Licensing farmers and their agents to shoot at badgers in the dark is not a credible bovine TB control strategy fit for the 21st century. We need a modern and humane approach to tackling this disease based on sound science, on cattle and badger vaccination, good farm bio-security and high cattle welfare.

Speaking at the end of the debate DEFRA minister David Heath reiterated the government's stance and confirmed that it intends for the culls to proceed in summer 2013.

Badgers have been given a stay of execution until next summer. HSI/UK, and our partners in Team Badger, will work hard during that time to ensure that the planned culls are abandoned once and for all.

Mark Jones is executive director of Humane Society International/UK.

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