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Can We Trust Politicians?



 Added by  Martin (Guest)
 17 Jul 2010, 9:46 AM


We are being told by the media that Britain has sunk into a pit of debt which is five times deeper than previously feared, with the country now owing the equivalent of £200,000 per household!
 
Instead of the £1 trillion reading normally presented as the nation's debt,
the UK is in the red by closer to £5 trillion, figures from the Office for
National Statistics reveal.
 
The oft-quoted £903bn figure for public sector net debt is a borrowing sum
calculated by the ONS according to international standards. But a broader set of ONS figures taking in Government liabilities show unfunded
public service pension obligations could add another £1.2 trillion and
liabilities in unfunded state pension schemes a further £1.35 trillion.
 
In reality it does seem that bovine TB is not really the threat to human health some claim so why are we spending so much money on compensation, research, fighting legal cases, killing cattle ...

becky
COALITION MISSES ITS CULLING TARGETS BUT CLAIMS SUCCESS
 
Ninety badgers have been killed during the hastily-introduced three-week extension in the Somerset “pilot” culling area. This takes the total across the whole cull period to 940, which the Coalition Government claims is a 65 per cent reduction in the local badger population.
 
The Badger Trust puts this news into context:
 
• This is short of the 70 percent minimum required. It has taken 63 days to achieve against 12 days in the authoritative £50 million Randomised Badger Culling Trial [1].
 
• The licence stipulated a minimum number of 165 badgers to be removed during the extension. As only 90 were in fact killed the consortium must explain how this satisfies one of the licensing conditions [2].
 
• Defra has stood down humaneness observation teams and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency has advised that data collected during the extensions should be avoided [3].
 
• Cage trapping had to be introduced after only 3 weeks as free-shooting (which is what was supposed to be being trialled) was not successful.
 
• A top level group of scientists advised the Coalition of the need for coordinated, sustained and simultaneous culling for any beneficial effect at all [4]. It has not been.
 
• Furthermore, the badger population of the area has been gerrymandered downwards from 4,300, to 2,972 to 1450, making the “target” easier to achieve.
 
• This seems to ignore the fact that what's known as the perturbation effect--stirring up a population that could be carrying disease-- increases the risk to neighbouring farms. This risk is now even greater because of longer culling periods.
 
• No confidence whatever can be placed in this unscientific approach, particularly when the Chief Veterinary Officer had advised that a further increase in the number of badgers culled after the initial six-week period would improve the disease control benefits [5] and the Secretary of State included the point in his Commons statement [6], that the further increase would enable benefits to accrue earlier.
 
The Coalition Government claims the pilots were to check whether the free shooting method was effective, safe and humane. To be effective culling must be simultaneous and coordinated. The pilots have achieved neither, and checks on humaneness have been abandoned.
 
NOTES
 
[1] RBCT. http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/isg/report/final_report.pdf
 
[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/somerset-badger-cull-extension-granted
 
[3] Official correspondence from October 11th released to the Badger Trust.
 
[4] “If culling is not conducted in a coordinated, sustained and simultaneous manner according to the minimum criteria, then this could result in a smaller benefit or even a detrimental effect on confirmed cattle bTB incidence. [N.B. the minimum criteria are defined as: covering at least 70% of the land within the culled area (based on RBCT experience. . .” http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/documents/bovinetb-scientificexperts-110404.pdf
 
[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/somerset-badger-cull-ends
 
[6] http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/November-2013/5 November/6-DEFRA-BovineTB.pdf
 
becky
Poll reveals vaccination to be favourable amongst voters when considering parliamentary candidates.
 
Polling undertaken with YouGov (2) showed;
 
• Nearly half of adults in GB (45%*) claim a parliamentary candidate's position on how best to deal with the bovine TB would affect how favourably that parliamentary candidate would be regarded
 
• 35% claimed they would view a parliamentary candidate more favourably if they support vaccination of badgers
 
• Only 6% would view a candidate supporting a badger cull more favourably
 
http://www.league.org.uk/news/1166/Charity-warns-MPs-of-potential-backlash-if-badger-cull-roll-out-is-supported-
 
becky
This week the secretary of state for the Environment, Owen Patterson was brought before a Parliamentary Committee to defend key policy issues - including the embarrassment of DEFRA's badger cull. The cull has now become, as predicted by every credible expert prior to commencement, a truly farcical failure and a stain on the government's already grubby British wildlife and environmental policy.
 
... and it is not only badgers ... read the article at:
 
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/philip-mansbridge/badger-cull-and-wildlife-protection_b_4180391.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
 
becky
Questions from MPs to Paterson in the Select Committee - does Paterson really know what he is talking about? Re Q83 we understood the farmers & the NFU were paying for the culling costs?
 
Q83 Mrs Lewell-Buck: Secretary of State, following on from Neil’s comments with regard to the badger culls, as you are aware, the guidance that was issued from Defra to Natural England in respect of these culls repeatedly and specifically stated that the culls must be carried out in six weeks and must cull 70% of the badger population. You have already touched on the fact that that has not happened and has failed. I am curious, in terms of the extensions that are happening in Somerset and Gloucestershire, who is paying for that and will Defra be making a contribution?
 
Mr Paterson: Yes, the payments will carry on exactly under the arrangements agreed for the six weeks. However, you have missed the point that up to the end of July a further 20,000 completely healthy cattle have been hauled off to slaughter. These are pilots to establish whether this method is safe, humane and effective and we are learning a lot from them already. We have set a target to make England TB free in 25 years time. The Australians did it in 22 years and these are the very, very early days. These are two trial pilots looking to see how we remove diseased wildlife. We have a lot of work going on in badger vaccines, a huge amount of work going on in cattle vaccines and are looking at other controls, but you just have to keep your eye on the bigger picture. It is not an option to carry on, as the last Government did, only addressing this bacterium in cattle. We are unique of all the countries with a serious cattle industry in only addressing disease in cattle. No one else has done it.
 
Q84 Mrs Lewell-Buck: With all due respect, Secretary of State, the criteria that were set out initially have failed, yet you have sanctioned extension of these culls at the risk of spreading TB. The Chief Veterinary Officer has revealed in leaked documents reported to the press that he has been given the green light to ignore the scientific criteria for these and any future culls. Do you not think this has damaged the credibility of all involved and, perhaps, in some way the public has been misled?
 
Mr Paterson: No. I am not sure you listened to my earlier statement. In the RBCT, three of those only achieved 32%, 35% and 39%. This is a four‑year programme. These are pilots to establish whether this method is safe, humane and effective. In the background, this disease is rampaging on, healthy cattle are being slaughtered and our cattle industry is destined to be destroyed. That is the big picture you have to look at. It would have been much better, I could not agree more, if more had been taken earlier and it would have been ideal if they had got 70% within the six weeks. However, you have to look at what happened under the RBCT when, in some areas, they got off to a slower start, but at the end of the RBCT—and we hope to improve on a lot of conditions set by this with bigger areas, harder boundaries and all that—we will get a reduction in disease. I would ask you to look at the other countries I have mentioned. There is no other country in the world that has attempted to get rid of this disease without addressing it in wildlife.
 
Q85 Iain McKenzie: Secretary of State, would you agree that the public look upon the evaluation of this process of eliminating TB with a badger cull as more of a focus on the effectiveness of the slaughter rather than the safe and humane method? You have already indicated it took Australia 22 years; are we going to see that length of time of slaughter of badgers to reach TB‑free?
 
Mr Paterson: I have set a target of 25 years and have been criticised by some saying it is too short and others saying it is too long. I think it is realistic, because I have taken the progress made in the countries I have cited. The NFU had quite an interesting poll in June, which showed that a bit less than a third supported what we were doing, more than a third were vigorously opposed and a further third were neutral, i.e. they did not know, they were not interested or had no strong opinion.
 
Q86 Iain McKenzie: That would still be the majority who are not buying into the culling.
 
Mr Paterson: No, there is a balance out there and there is very little understanding. A year ago, I was very much criticised for not deploying vaccination. There was a binary choice presented to the public by those who opposed the cull saying we could have vaccinated. Sadly, we do not have a cattle vaccine. Obviously, we vaccinate for all sorts of other diseases. It would be ideal if we had one and we would deploy it. The badger vaccine, sadly, will not work on diseased animals, so the idea that I was just being pigheaded and was going purely for culling when there was a vaccination option was incorrect. What we have done in the succeeding months is we have got the message across that there is, sadly, no valid vaccine that will work and that we have to follow the methods used in every other serious country with a problem of bovine tuberculosis in cattle and in wildlife.
 
Q87 Sheryll Murray: Very quickly, Secretary of State, we know that there are an increasing number of cases of this disease in domestic animals, like domestic cats. If we did not take this action would you see this increasing, do you think?
 
Mr Paterson: I would not want to be alarmist, but obviously if this disease got out of hand there is a risk of it getting into other hosts. The Germans have a problem in deer; the French have a problem in deer.
 
Q88 Sheryll Murray: Has there been an increase in cases in domestically kept pets?
 
Mr Paterson: I have seen reports of a small number. I could not give you the exact number; perhaps we can get back to you on that. Perhaps that is something for the Department of Health. However, we should respect the fact that this is a zoonosis and before pasteurisation, before the War, it killed 2,500 to 3,000 people a year. This is a serious disease that we have to treat with respect.
 
Q89 Richard Drax: The numbers are not as high as you wanted, Secretary of State, and you are learning from the pilots. What are you learning? What is there to learn? Why are the numbers so low? What is going wrong, if that is the right way of phrasing it?
 
Mr Paterson: Let us wait until we get the evaluation by the independent panel, but the most obvious thing is that six weeks is not long enough. That was just an arbitrary time period.
 
Q90 Richard Drax: It was a slightly overambitious target, perhaps.
 
Mr Paterson: Of course, the details were all set up before I arrived as Secretary of State last year and I have just taken on and gone through a rigorous administrative and legal process, but the first lesson is that six weeks is obviously not long enough. There will be other lessons we will learn when we get the evaluation from the independent panel.
 
Q91 Chair: On a general point, Secretary of State, when a species is given protected status, does the Department review this policy? Apparently, pine martens are eradicating capercaillie in Scotland. Within the Department, do we have a policy of reviewing wildlife that is given protected status after a period of years?
 
Mr Paterson: We are looking at the whole of wildlife law—we and the Commission look at that—but we have no plans at all, certainly not in the foreseeable future, to change the current arrangements. It is worth pointing out that the Protection of Badgers Act was set up to stop the disgusting practice of badger baiting, which is really horrible. However, at the time, I do not think it was ever intended that it should be a blanket protection. Section 10(2)(a) always allowed you to issue licences to remove badgers for the purpose of prevention of disease. The Act has been abused and, of course, if measures had been taken to stop the spread in the wildlife population, we would not be in the mess we are now.

 
becky
There is clearly concern among the Conservative Party for the Government's badger culling trials, yet the arrogant Paterson barges on regardless and refuses to even acknowledge the serious concerns.
 
The Conservative MP Anne Main who leads the EDM299 on the badger cull concerns now has a link on her website (http://www.annemain.com/content/anne-main-leads-calls-scrutiny-badger-culls) which includes a link to her letter to Owen Paterson calling for scrutiny of the badger culls.
 
'Anne Main calls on Secretary of State to commit to publishing independently assessed evidence from the pilot badger culls, once the culling in the pilot areas has finished'.
 
Her letter to Paterson commences with 'As you know there remains considerable anxiety within the party about the current pilot badger culls in England ...' but will he take any notice?
 
 

 
becky
Should MP's be accusing Owen Paterson of misleading the House after agreeing to an extension to the six week trial culling of badgers' period?.
 
MP's were asked to vote on the badger cull after the Opposition Debate. They based their decisions on government literature which laid down specific conditions for the badger cull - a min 70% badgers were to be killed in a min of 150km2 in a MAX 6 WEEK PERIOD.
 
These conditions were the result of a lengthy consultation in 2011 https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/guidance-to-natural-england-on-the-implementation-and-enforcement-of-a-badger-contro...
 
which led to the publication of
'Bovine TB and Badger Control: Consultation on Guidance to Natural England on the implementation and enforcement of a badger control policy July 2011' https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/82297/bovinetb-guidance-ne-110719.pdf
 
which led to the publication of
 
DEFRA Guidance to Natural England: Licences to kill or take badgers for the purpose of preventing the spread of bovine TB under section 10(2)(a) of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69464/pb13692-bovinetb-guidance-ne.pdf
 
Defra's own Policy Statement on badger control from Dec 2011: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69463/pb13691-bovinetb-policy-statement.pdf
 
Para 5.30 reads 'Culling would also need to be carried out simultaneously across the entire area, so that culling takes place on all participating land within a maximum period of six weeks'.
 
All of these documents repeatedly state cull must be intensive in a 6 week period in order to minimise risk of perturbation, as spelled out in yet another paper from scientists, including the Chief Vet: 'DEFRA Bovine TB - Key conclusions from the meeting of scientific experts, held at Defra on 4th April 2011' http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/documents/bovinetb-scientificexperts-110404.pdf
 
A Parliamentary Briefing Paper issued to inform Members of both house at the start of the badger cull reproduces the conditions of the cull in detail including the 6 week limit http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN05873.pdf
 
Owen Paterson's belief that he can simply change the conditions of the license on a whim shows utter contempt for MP's and the Parliamentary process. It has to be considered an abuse of the Parliamentary process for a Govt dept to issue a Policy Statement containing specific conditions and then have a Minister ignore those conditions on a whim.
 
Leaders of the House of Commons should mount a challenge, particularly as the Badger Trust is now embarking on legal action - yet more costs from the public purse...

 
becky
Tory MPs are pressing Owen Paterson over badger cull. Tory backbenchers have demanded that independent evidence be published into Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s controversial badger cull.
 
The Shropshire Star reports today ((http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2013/10/20/tory-mps-pressing-owen-paterson-over-badger-cull/)) that t least 11 Conservative MPs have written to the North Shropshire MP to ask for the information which will determine whether pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire are successful.
 
Earlier this week Mr Paterson, who introduced the cull in a bid to eradicate Bovine TB in cattle, admitted the Gloucestershire cull had killed less than half of the animals it set out to. He has applied to extend the six-week trial that has just finished in Gloucestershire by eight weeks, after it killed just 708 badgers, or 30% of the local population. To be successful 70% of the local population needs to be eliminated, or 1,650 badgers, meaning the trial succeeded in killing 43% of the animals it intended to.
 
The letter to Mr Paterson, which was drafted by Anne Main MP for St Albans, said: “As you know there remains considerable anxiety within the party about the current pilot badger culls in England.
 
“There is a need to keep Parliament informed of the results once the trial period has finished and before any decision is made on future culls.
 
“Now that the pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire are nearing the end of their allocated time frame, we remain concerned that the government will not release any further information on how the humaneness of the cull is being assessed or what threshold will be used to assess if the cull has reached its humaneness target.
 
“Whilst we appreciate that the Government will release data on the cull, this will only be after you have reached a decision on whether the pilots have met their targets and can be rolled out to wider areas.
 
“We therefore urge you to commit to publishing the independently assessed evidence from the pilot culls, as well as taking advice from a range of experts on humaneness, after culling in the pilot areas has finished and before any decision has been made.
 
Mr Paterson was unavailable for comment.
 
becky
Email from Rethink bTB 19/10/13 asking if Patterson Supports Rethink? See the 2nd edition of the paper 'Bovine TB, Time for a Rethink' at
www.rethinkbtb.org/a_better-way.html
 
Minister of Cock-Ups Admits BTB Reactors Really are Perfectly Healthy (and admits losing control)
 
From the London Evening Standard today:
 
Mr Paterson ...................................... He added: "I have to remind people that up to the end of July a further 20,000 perfectly healthy cattle have been hauled off to slaughter at horrendous expense to the taxpayer because we've lost control of TB. We've lost 305,000 cattle over the last 10 years.
 
http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/badger-cull-faces-legal-challenge-8891414.html
 
becky
Some rather dubious comments from Paterson during question and answer time on 10 October 2013:(http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131010/debtext/131010-0001.htm#13101061000010).
 
Paterson said 'I can report to the House that some of the animals we have shot have been desperately sick—in the final stages of disease ... Can he provide clear evidence? As his department is not conducting PMs how can he know that any animals were TB-affected? Interestingly the paper 'The prevalence, distribution and severity of detectable pathological lesions in badgers naturally infected with Mycobacterium bovis ' describes TB pathology from RBCT badgers. Very few of them had advanced disease.
 
Speaking about the Somerset cull and the current extension to continue the killing Pater son 'We are clear—and we have had advice from the chief veterinary officer—that the number that was achieved in Somerset will lead to a reduction in disease.' So, why has the culling been extended in Somerset with the associated huge publicly-funded policing costs?
 
... and what about Paterson's claim that 'the average Irish badger is now 1kg heavier than before the cull.' - they monitor the weight of badgers over in Ireland do they?
 
becky
'Tory Owen Paterson blames BADGERS for "moving the goalposts" as he extends cull', was the Mirror headline (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/owen-paterson-blames-badgers-moving-2354396?dm_i=1NFN,1WHVH,906LDO,6TODE,1) on 9 Oct 2013. He made this stupid and bizarre claim after announcing the pilot cull in Somerset would be extended for another three weeks
 
Bungling Owen Paterson said the “badgers had moved the goalposts” when asked to explain why he was continuing the slaughter. He admitted that marksmen had only shot 850 animals during the six-week cull - fewer than half the 2,000 target.
 
The RSPCA said the pilot was a “farce”.
 
“The six-week trials were intended as a way of testing the effectiveness and humaneness of shooting badgers as a means of controlling bovine TB in cattle.
 
"If they have failed to kill the numbers needed in the set time frame – then surely it can clearly be judged to be ineffective,” said the charity’s chief executive Gavin Grant.
 
He added: “Frankly this whole situation is a farce.
 
"They keep moving the goalposts on how many badgers exist and how many need to be killed, but whatever the figures it is clear that the system has failed.”
 
But Mr Paterson rejected the claim, saying: “I am not moving the goalposts, the badgers have moved the goalposts.”
 
becky
'Tories underestimate strength of feeling on badgers at their peril', says ominic Dyer is policy adviser with charity Care for the Wild International (careforthewild.com).
 
'Labour is right to oppose the badger cull policy after waking up to the new power of the wildlife protection vote, argues Dominic Dyer.'
 
'The badger cull is political poison which is seeping through the veins of the British electorate at a rapid pace. No other wildlife management policy in the past 40 years has united so many people from all backgrounds and walks of life in a wave of anger and revulsion.'
 
'This is why the Labour Party came out strongly against a national badger cull policy at its conference in Brighton this week. Ed Milliband knows if he is to have any chance of forming the next Government he must listen to the growing power of the wildlife protection vote.'
 
'Since the badger cull pilots started a month ago, we have seen thousands of people come together in a peaceful and dignified way in the form of wounded badger patrols, badger vigils and marches. I have spoken to thousands of people at anti-badger cull events in towns and cities across the country, from Taunton to Bedford, Northampton, Kettering and Manchester.'
 
'Many of the people I have met do not fit the stereotypical animal rights campaigner; some are lifelong Tory supporters, others are councillors, teachers, vets, nurses or retired members of the armed forces. A vast majority have never before joined a protest march, but they are united by a wonderful British steel and determination to stand up the Government and the National Farmers’ Union to protect badgers from a senseless slaughter.'
 
'With Tory Party membership at an all-time low of 134,000 – a 60% drop since David Cameron became leader – there is also growing concern at central office on the impact of the badger cull. Lifelong Tory members and activists are turning their back on the party in anger at the policy and this is worrying David Cameron’s campaign strategy team, headed by Lynton Crossby.'
 
'With reports from the cull zones of shooters failing to get anywhere near their kill targets and with costs spiralling, David Cameron was forced to intervene to prop up the collapsing policy ahead of the Tory conference in Manchester this week.'
 
'But his weak support for Owen Paterson will not go unnoticed ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle. The Prime Minister knows that Paterson is expendable and he will not allow the badger cull policy to become a millstone around the neck of the Tory Party ahead of the 2015 election.'
 
The article can be read in full at http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Tories-underestimate-strength-feeling-badgers/story-19864288-detail/story.html?ito=email_new...
 
becky
Email from GK 20/9/13:
 
A little clarification may be helpful. This information comes from Hampshire County Council to whom I spoke this afternoon.
The ban only covers land owned by the County Council.
 
It does not cover land owned by the various district councils which cover the Hampshire county area.
 
These local district councils are Basingstoke and Deane, East Hampshire, Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport, Hart, Havant, New Forest, Rushmoor, Test Valley and Winchester.
 
Each of these Councils owns land within their areas and the County Council ban does not cover any land which they own.
 
For culling to be banned in land owned by these councils each council would have to agree its own motion.
 
Southampton may have a Hampshire postal address but it is also outside Hampshire County Council's remit.
 
The vote was passed "overwhelmingly" but unless a councillor asks for each councillors vote to be individually recorded no records are taken of votes cast. Sadly, in this case, no councillor made such a request so we can't make any party political analysis !
 
This typifies the "patchwork" nature of English local government; the same situation will apply in many county areas.

 
becky
'LEAVE our badgers alone.' That was the message from Hampshire councillors who overwhelmingly backed a motion this week to ban badger culling on county-owned land. A somewhat surprising result if one looks at the political make up of the council - see below. Is this showing an evaporation of support amongst grass roots Tories and Lib Dems for this Government policy?
 
Political composition of the County Council
· Conservatives - 46
· Liberal Democrats - 16
· UKIP - 10
· Labour - 4
· Community Campaign (Hart) - 1
· Independent - 1
 
 
Lib Dem Cllr Rupert Kyrle put forward the motion at the full council meeting in Winchester on Thursday (Sept 19).
 
His motion argued that culling was not a scientifically proven solution to the TB problem."
 
http://www.thisishampshire.net/news/hampshirechroniclenews/10688398.Badger_culling_banned_by_Hampshire_County_Council
 
becky
One would like to believe that the MPs that are responsible for the existing policy are fair, sane and intelligent people who really do try to do their best whilst they are in office and bother to properly research a subject ... sadly this is not always the case ...
 
'Outspoken" (www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Dead-badger-dumped-MP-s-doorstep/story-19770222-detail/story.html) Ian Liddell-Grainger, the Conservative MP for Bridgwater, without any evidence to back up his accusations, immediately blamed those against the badger cull for depositing, in the early hours of the morning, a dead badger on his doorstep recently. He then went into more detail, and launched a stinging attack on cull protesters, in his column in the WMN's sister title, the Western Daily Press, including the comment (about those who are anti cull) "... since they are all malingerers and scroungers there is no real incentive to leap out of bed as soon as the dawn chorus strikes up."
 
What arrogance and he should really make an effort to get involved with those against the cull. As someone who has been involved with all sectors embroiled in this policy for many years, including those who are anti-culling, I can tell him that I have come across none that are malingerers and scroungers and, in fact, are from all walks of life including many professional people who care passionately about the countryside, wildlife and justice. Perhaps he should join one of the 'badger patrols' or 'camps' - and meet some of the people he is calling 'malingerers and scroungers' with 'no real incentive to leap out of bed as soon as the dawn chorus strikes' and see how wrong he is. These people are prepared to stay up most of the night to look out for wounded badgers or to peacefully protest against a policy that an increasing number of people now believe is very wrong.
 
becky
MP David Heath rapped over badger cull 'censorship' (www.thisissomerset.co.uk/MP-David-Heath-rapped-badger-cull-censorship/story-19785631-detail/story.html#axzz2ehcm1IFI)
 
AN animal protection society has criticised the MP for Somerton and Frome over the badger cull in Somerset. David Heath, who is also minister of state for DEFRA, came under fire over the release of a report assessing how humane the cull is. The Humane Society International has asked to see a DEFRA document that assessed badger suffering. But the society claims that DEFRA refused to supply it for nearly eight months and, when it did, the majority of the 28-page document was blacked out.
 
It also claimed that Mr Heath misled a fellow MP who asked why the document had been censored. Mr Heath told Adrian Sanders MP that releasing the details could adversely affect public safety or damage the environment. He said non-disclosure of information was allowed under Environmental Information Regulations.
 
However, Gerrard Tracey, of the Information Commissioners Office, ruled on August 6 that Mr Heath's explanation was not valid. He said that the regulations did not allow for this information to be withheld.
 
A statement from the society said Mr Heath had "misrepresented information" as he "should have been fully aware of this at the time of his response".
 
Mr Tracey has ordered DEFRA to provide the information withheld in the document to be released to the society.
 
A Defra spokesperson said: “We have been granted an extension and are considering whether to appeal the Information Commissioner’s decision.
"The humaneness evaluation criteria, as agreed with the independent panel of experts, will be published along with a full account and assessment of the pilot culls once they have concluded.”
 
becky
DEFRA Minister David Heath Accused of Misleading MP about Badger Cull Suffering
 
Heath misrepresented information about badger humane assessments
says the Humane Society International/UK
 
http://www.hsi.org/world/united_kingdom/news/releases/2013/09/heath_misled_090613.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed
 
Mr Heath misled Adrian Sanders MP in a written response on 2nd Sept. Mr Sanders asked Mr Heath why DEFRA had heavily redacted a document about assessing badger cull suffering before releasing it to Humane Society International/UK for public distribution. Mr Heath stated: 'Not doing so could adversely affect public safety and/or damage the environment. Non-disclosure of information in this manner is permitted and is in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations, which include specific exceptions.'
 
In fact, the assessment of badger suffering was ordered to be released last month. That was the decision of the Information Commissioner’s Office, which in a decision dated 6th August had found that DEFRA was wrong to apply the Environmental Information Regulations in defence of its refusal to disclose. Mr Heath should have been fully aware of this at the time of his response....
 
becky
During the Opposition Debate on the badger cull in the Commons last week, Mary Creagh MP who was leading the debate referenced a letter she'd received from Glos farmers unhappy about the cull. This was met by boorish jeers from the other side and a haughty jibe from Lib Dem Agri Minister David Heath.
 
We understand that the farmers referred to have repeatedly written to David Heath, Lib Dem Agri Minister, asking him to meet with them and other badger friendly farmers but he has repeatedly said he does not have the time. Interestingly we we see from this story in the Somerset Standard (www.thisissomerset.co.uk/MP-enjoys-day-successful-shoot/story-19068822-detail/story.html#axzz2V3OJ3Mbs) that he managed to find the time to meet up with a local shoot.
 
becky
Is the current Government manipulating science? The bovine TB debate over whether or not to trial a cull badgers in two hot spot areas this year has become increasingly political, despite uncertainties regarding the science and significant public opposition to culling.
 
According to an article in the Independent yesterday leading UK scientists have accused the Government of abusing science after the EU strongly criticised the research it used to justify its position on the nerve agent pesticides widely linked to declining bee populations.
 
Despite massive public opposition, Owen Patterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, opposed the ban on the use of the pesticides in April, although its opposition was not enough to prevent a Europe-wide prohibition being implemented from December 1 this year.
 
The Government justified its decision to oppose the ban on research by its UK Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), which the EU said today was so weak that it did nothing to change its rationale for the ban.
 
It identified "several weaknesses" in the research, which "raised concerns" about how its authors "elaborated and interpreted the study results to reach their conclusions".
 
Furthermore, a source at the European Commission said that the organisation was "puzzled" at why Britain seemed so determined to vote against the ban on the basis of this research, amid mounting suggesting a link between the pesticides and declining bee populations that has been peer-reviewed - evaluated by experts in the same field to determine whether it is worthy of publication in a recognised journal.
 
There have been hundreds of proper papers that have been through the peer-review process but for some reason Defra (the Environment Department) and Ian Boyd (it's chief scientific advisor, who also advises re the bovine TB issue) ) chose this. Instead of doing a study and putting it through peer review, they just put it on the Internet - that's not how science proceeds," Professor Goulson added.
 
becky
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/183229/bovinetb-letter-paterson.pdf
 
A depressing read for those of us that have been campaigning on this subject for years and seen the goalposts moved so regularly. The timescale for vaccination - because of the EU bureaucracy - is now a staggering ten years before cattle vaccination can be introduced and even then this is only a possible guideline. Badgers are being vaccinated NOW so why can't farmers have the right to vaccinate their cattle NOW?
 
becky
No wonder cattle vaccination is STILL years away - in a letter from Tonio Borg, of the European Commission to Secretary of State to Owen Paterson, MP published recently, it stated that
:
"In the past four years the Commission has allocated considerable funds to support the UK bTB programmes (EUR 116,3 Mio in total). We therefore expect significant improvements in the epidemiological situation in 2013 that show efficient use of Union funds. This is absolutely necessary in view of a further renewal of the EU financial support to this programme."
 
A significant proportion of this EU (or taxpayers') money was used to increase bTB testing (using the same old imperfect test) - good for vets but not for farmers.
 
Sally
Welsh public don't want badger cull, were the wise words of Welsh deputy farming minister Alun Davies who recently squashed any hopes that a badger cull will take place in Wales to combat bovine tuberculosis.
 
At the NFU Cymru conference in Builth Wells on 1 November, Mr Davies said that the arguments for and against a cull were over and that culling was no longer on the agenda.
 
He told farmers that "When I was campaigning for re-election it was clear that there was no support in the Welsh public for a badger cull; in fact there is active opposition. Politicians in every constituency would lose their deposits if they were campaigning for a cull today. We can constantly look back and wish that things were different but there is no support among the Welsh public or indeed the Welsh government to go ahead with a badger cull. There is simply not a majority in the Senedd to pass the policy you require; it is a matter of mathematical reality.''
 
He insisted that the Welsh government was the only UK administration that was actively tackling the reservoir of TB in badgers. The first cycle of a five-year badger vaccination programme was completed last month. "I know we have a policy that is in tune with the public mood," Mr Davies added.
 
He sympathised with farmers whose herds were infected by bovine TB. "One of the great tragedies of the debate is that it is centred on the future of the badger and not the future of Welsh agriculture," he said.
 
Information from Farmers Weekly 3/11/12 http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/02/11/2012/136038/Welsh-public-don39t-want-badger-cull-says-minister.htm
 
becky
Prof Robbie McDonald (chair in natural environment, University of Exeter and former head of wildlife science and deputy chief scientist of the Food and Environment Research Agency) says culling or vaccinating badgers will yield "unimpressive" results in controlling TB.
 
Prof John McInerney (emeritus professor of agricultural policy, University of Exeter) says cost of each pilot trial £1.5m. Will save £970,000 in disease costs
 
Prof Christl Donnelly, professor of statistical epidemiology, MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling, Imperial College London says the badger cull won't lead to the greater benefits NFU claim.
 
Source: EcoAudit http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/oct/17/badger-cull-science-cows-tuberculosis?newsfeed=true
 
becky
The overwhelming public opposition against the cull (around 160,000 signatures on the Government e petition (http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257) has resulted in a parliamentary debate on the matter set for 25th October. The call for the parliamentary debate was supported by a cross-party group of 36 MPs. Six hours have been set aside for the debate. It is not only the public who are opposing the cull trials. Many of the top scientists have come out publicly against the proposals over the last few months. Only last weekend the UK's leading animal disease experts wrote to the Observer demanding that the 'mindless'" cull be abandoned and stating that much stricter measures on controlling the spread of TB between cattle and a vaccination programme were necessary.
 
Angela Smith MP, chair of the all-party group on wildlife, said: "I am delighted because public opinion on the proposed cull is clearly against it. It is only right, in the interests of democracy, that parliament should be able to make a decision."
 
"If we win the debate in the Commons, it will be incumbent on the government to respond. If they ignore parliamentary opinion they will stand accused of arrogance in the face of parliament, public opinion and science."
 
Jeff Hayden, of the Badger Trust, said: "Government policy must reflect the wishes of the people and that is expressed through parliament. Now the possibility of the cull has become real and near, more people are starting to understand the facts. We are now confident that an even bigger majority of people oppose the government's cull."
 
The Badger Trust's solicitors have written to Natural England, which issues culling licences, stating: "In light of the government's own evidence that starting a cull only to stop it shortly afterwards would make matters worse in terms of spreading the disease, please confirm that Natural England will not set a start date until the debate has taken place."
 
The motion to be debated states: "This house recognises that significant, independent scientific research has demonstrated that culling badgers will have little effect on reducing the rate of bovine TB; acknowledges that culling may even exacerbate the problem; notes that the e-petition against the current plans for culling passed in a very short period of time the 100,000 figure required to make it eligible for debate in parliament and that it continues to attract impressive levels of support from members of the public; calls on the government to stop any planned or present culling of badgers; and further calls on the government to introduce a vaccination programme and measures to improve biosecurity with immediate effect."
 
becky
Understandably the RSPCA is concerned regarding its Freedom Food status being used by those farmers who intend to participate in badger culling. It has told members of its Freedom Food scheme that they will be suspended if they take part in the English badger culls, which are due to start this autumn. letter sent by Freedom Food to its members says participation by them in the cull would ‘bring the scheme into disrepute’.
It says that, ‘based on the current science, welfare concerns and a realistic assessment of what is practical, a widespread cull of badgers is totally unacceptable to the RSPCA’.
 
The letter tells members the scheme’s position on the badger cull is reflected by the provisions on wild animal control set out in these welfare standards ‘that must be applied by all Freedom Food scheme members’.
Under the standards, Freedom Food members are required to apply ‘all reasonable non-lethal and humane methods of wild animal exclusion/control’. The RSPCA adds that it believes it is ‘unacceptable to use lethal methods of wild animal control as routine practice’.  As such Freedom Food would regard it as unacceptable for any of its members to voluntarily take part in a badger cull for the above reasons. To do so would also bring the scheme into disrepute and be a clear breach of the membership agreement, resulting in suspension.
 
This seems fair bearing in mind the overwhelming public opposition and confusion regarding the science and proper justification for such culling. What is of great concern, however, is the apparent response from the current Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson. In what could be considered as veiled threat/attempt to blackmail, he has warned the RSPCA to be ‘wary’ that its political campaigning activities do not compromise its charitable status!
 
Information from:
http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/hot-topics/bovine-tb/rspca-freedom-food-to-suspend-badger-cull-farmers/50442.article
 
becky
Tewkesbury Borough councillors have decided against passing a motion at a meeting on Monday which would have backed the government scheme to cull badgers. Last Thursday, Forest of Dean District Council voted to ban any culling of badgers on land it controls.
 
Taunton Deane Borough Council in Somerset is due to vote later on the issue.
 
Info from BBC www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-19784170
 

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