Houghton and Sunderland South MP, Bridget Phillipson has criticised the government’s handling of its planned cull of badgers after the Secretary of State, Owen Patterson MP, failed to answer in parliament how much the latest u-turn could cost the tax payer.
Last week the Secretary of State for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Owen Patterson MP announced the government would postpone its planned cull of badgers until 2013 after admitting his department had underestimated the total number of badgers in each cull area by 5300.
Labour opposes a cull on badgers because it’s bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.MPs have now voted 147 to 28 to abandon a cull.
Despite the government passing on the cost for undertaking the cull to farmers and landowners, according to Defra's own impact assessment a cull will cost more money than it saves.
“For farmers in the cull area, monetised costs exceed expected monetised benefits”
Defra, Measures to address bovine TB in badgers, impact assessment, November 2011
In addition the Former Chief Scientist to Defra, Professor Sir Bob Watson, has also questioned the economic case for a cull.
“I would say the economics is very close as to whether it is worth it. But the government has made a decision.”
Professor Sir Bob Waton, BBC, 17 September 2012
Commenting after the debate, Bridget Phillipson MP said:
“The government’s handling of this flagship policy to cull badgers raises further questions about its competence and ability to govern our country effectively.
“The Secretary of State was unable to tell MPs the potential cost to the tax payer if Farmers took legal action and demanded compensation.
“Labour have continued to warn that a cull would be bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife. I will continue to put pressure on the government which clearly still has questions to answer over this latest u-turn.”