Parliamentary sketch – Badgering the lobbyists
The job of MPs (and Lords) is to lobby and to be lobbied. But they must do this for the good and not for what they can get out of it personally.
Those politicians who claim that they had “done nothing wrong” when they’re caught red-handed requesting or accepting additional payments for just doing their job must be deluding themselves.
So, the Government must bring in new rules which make it clear that such behaviour is unacceptable. It’s just a pity the PM wants to use the opportunity to settle scores with the trade union backers of the Labour Party; when that presents important but different challenges to the problem of individual MPs accruing clandestine payments for services they should be rendering free anyway.
This week also provided a chance to tell Parliament that West Cornwall could be the ground breaking focus for the first community Bovine TB project in the country with a plan to vaccinate badgers over the 200 square kilometres of the Penwith district between now and 2018.
I had proposed this initiative six months ago to a, then, sceptical audience. But support for the proposal is gathering pace. I am fortunate to be strongly supported by the able and highly respected Professor Rosie Woodroffe of the Zoological Society of London with whom I am jointly submitting a bid to Government Farming Ministers to part fund our proposed community-led initiative aimed at eliminating Bovine TB from the Penwith peninsula – an area facing one of the most chronic TB problems in the country. The initiative entails a partnership between farmers, veterinarians, wildlife groups and the local community with guidance from scientific experts.
The initiative involves three main components: the vaccination of badgers by trained volunteers (which we believe is likely to be more productive and less costly than culling and with greater prospects of long-term elimination of infection); improved cattle management – through biosecurity advice and, possibly, more stringent cattle testing; and scientific monitoring – to assess and interpret impacts of the interventions for both badgers and cattle, so that the lessons learned from the West Cornwall work can then be transferred to other parts of the country.
While two other areas – Somerset and Gloucestershire – face protests from animal rights activists who oppose the badger culling pilots, I hope that our initiative will attract visitors to the area to both learn about our plans and to even come on holiday to take part in what will be a fascinating though challenging project.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
4th June 2013