Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Thursday, 25 October 2012 16:28 UK

Abandon badger cull, Green MP demands

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Green MP Caroline Lucas has called on the government to abandon its "misguided" plans to cull thousands of badgers in England.

Ms Lucas told the Commons on 25 October 2012 that this was what the "majority" of the public wanted and what "science demands".

Earlier in the week the government announced the cull was being delayed until next summer, after widespread protests against the scheme.

But Ms Lucas argued that the cull should be abandoned altogether, during a backbench business debate on the subject.

"The science is on our side on this," she insisted, claiming a cull would not be effective and could potentially be counter-productive.

The government insists the move is necessary to protect cattle from bovine TB; last year, 26,000 cattle in England had to be slaughtered after contracting the disease.

But opponents argue it is unnecessary and cruel.

Ms Lucas argued instead for a vaccination programme for badgers and cattle, along with improved testing and biosecurity.

Her motion was supported by a cross-party group of MPs who said they were agreed on the need to tackle the problem but argued that shooting badgers was not the answer.

Labour's Iain McKenzie said a cull was a "shot in the dark" because there was "no accurate way" of knowing how many badgers there are in a particular area.

For the cull to be effective 70% of the badger population has to be killed.

Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynksi made a speech in which he told MPs that more than 2,000 cattle were slaughtered in Shropshire last year as a result of bovine TB.

The Shrewsbury and Atcham MP spoke of the "devastating" impact on dairy farmers and their families when "whole herds" of cattle are taken away to be killed.

He recalled how many in his constituency had been reduced to tears by the problem.

There is an "extraordinary crisis" in Shropshire, he said, and urged: "Action must be taken and must be taken now."

But Liberal Democrat MP John Hemmings said this was exactly why the cull should not go ahead because it will make the situation "worse".

Sir James Paice, until recently an agriculture minister, said the government was right to delay the cull "given the circumstances", although he regretted that those circumstances had arisen.

"It should have happened in the summer in my view, notwithstanding the Olympics, and it should certainly have started by 1 October.

"I am concerned that the groups of farmers and their contractors were not ready to go when the first licence was issued in September," he said.

He warned that other European countries would block attempts to get a cattle vaccine and the Diva test to identify vaccinated animals approved for use.

Watch part two of the vote, including the vote on the motion, here.

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