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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Questions on the proposed Welsh badger cull

Here is the transcript of my question to the Rural Affairs Minister yesterday on her new plans for a badger cull in North Pembrokeshire and the consultation she has initiated:

Peter Black: Will the Minister make a statement on her strategy to tackle bovine TB. OAQ(3)1150(RAF)

Elin Jones: We are continuing with our comprehensive approach to eradicate bovine TB. This approach was accepted by the European Commission in our TB eradication plan for 2010. My most recent announcementshave concerned a consultation on TB in non bovines and the culling of badgers in an intensive action area in west Wales. I will continue to provide updates as the programme develops.

Peter Black: As that consultation is ongoing in terms of the intensive action area why, as part of that consultation, did you not provide options to people responding to it in terms of vaccination of badgers? Also, when you come to completing the online consultation form, it is easy to type 'yes’, but if you want to type 'no’, you have to write an essay. Do you not think that that consultation is slightly biased in favour of the outcome that you want?

Elin Jones: Your question is presuming what outcome I want. I am not aware of the mechanism of responding to the consultation on the internet—I do not intend to use it myself—but I will look at that issue, and if I consider it to be unfair, I will change it.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Minister, do you agree that it is odd that a Liberal Democrat Assembly Member is doing his best to oppose the pilot badger cull while his party at Westminster is trying to promote a similar pilot scheme in England? Can you also explain the propaganda that is being presented by the Badger Trust with figures showing a reduction in bovine TB, when it is my understanding that the increase shown over 10 years is still evident?

Elin Jones: I agree with you, Rhodri Glyn—it is odd. On the upward trend for TB, that is still true in Wales and is particularly true in the area that we have designated for the badger cull. That is why we are now looking at having to take those steps to eradicate the disease, not only from cattle in that area but also in wildlife, so that we can ultimately eradicate the disease in its entirety.

William Graham: Minister, I restate the Conservative benches’ support for the policy that you have tried to implement so well, and I trust that the pilot scheme will be entirely effective and provide the necessary evidence to carry through the effective eradication of this appalling disease.

Elin Jones: Thank you for your support on this matter, and for your consistency as a political party in that support.
So bovine Tb figures have been increasing over the past 10 years!
Isn't that the lifetime of the Welsh Assembly? Is there a connection between the two? Is Rhodri suggesting that poor management/direction from the WA could well be the cause.
The WA seems not to seek credit for the remarkeable decline in bovine TB in the past year.
It's not all bad news as you would like us to believe Rhodri.
(Except we learn that the Audit Office (supposedly set up to oversee good practice and financial management) itself loses £1m. Unbelievable.)
Sadly for him Winston Graham picked the short straw - the cull is unpopular with most of the Conservatives I know and I know many.
Despite what Elin Jones and Glossop wish us to believe the cull does not have overwhelming support in Wales (or England)
WA try listening to the people of Wales (not only a lobbying group)and be true science led (not science that is NOT peer reviewed and usually not credited.)
Else come the election and before that the referendum we'll have once again a cry from the politicians 'lessons must be learnt'.
Derek Hector
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