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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Badgers in the Assembly again

This is from yesterday's questions to the Business Minister in the Assembly Plenary. I have just asked a question of the Rural Affairs Minister as to how her officials are conducting themselves in North Pembrokeshire and will post that and the response tomorrow.

Peter Black: Minister, I asked you two weeks ago whether you would ask the Minister for Rural Affairs to make a statement on the activities of Government officials in Pembrokeshire in relation to the culling of badgers. You will recall that Government officials are going around with a large police presence and covered faces, and are effectively intimidating local people, many of whom are elderly and infirm, in the pursuit of that cull. Since I asked you that question, I have had further communication with residents in that area who refer to the fact that the police, in pursuit of the cull, are stopping cars under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, and questioning residents who are driving in this area. This behaviour is not only unacceptable on behalf of any Government, but the reasons given by the Assembly Government about why contractors have to act in this way do not stack up in terms of the overwhelming evidence that residents are only seeking to establish the identity of contractors and those who are working with them, and that they are peacefully trying to enforce their rights. Therefore, once again, will you ask the Minister for Rural Affairs to make a statement on this issue so that she can answer for the conduct of her officials and those contractors that the Assembly Government has employed to carry out this cull?

Jane Hutt: There are issues in preparing the pilot scheme, and it is important to record that, when issues of this nature were brought to our attention on 18 May, the contractors were simply trying to carry out their work but were concerned about harassment and intimidation. That is why they took action to protect their anonymity. Those challenges have to be considered sensitively and we must ensure that the preparatory work is done in consultation and is practical, so that the police and local communities are engaged in those preparations.

An idea for the Assembly is to have a referendum on the bovine tB erad programme on the same day that a referendum will be taking place on the referendum on new powers, prob october, this would ensure a beter turnout, cull should be suspended immediately as it has no democratic basis
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