Parliamentary sketch – I don’t mind being badgered by constituents

Posted on: 31st October 2013

So, our Badger Vaccination project has commenced. It was a privilege to join a small and dedicated group of volunteers very early last Saturday morning to check the traps (at an unspecified location in Penwith) to witness the bovine TB vaccine first administered.

Badgers are charming and reclusive animals, though understandably less charming when cornered in a trap with dodgy looking human beings looming down on them!

Just six farms in the area are included in this year’s pilot which will be completed in the coming weeks. The intention then is to scale the project up over the next five years to cover all 200km² of Penwith in the expectation that this will help to get on top of a disease that has had such a devastating effect on livestock, farmers’ livelihoods and on badgers.

From Penwith I drove to Mullion to conduct my first casework surgery in the village for some time. I met old friends and colleagues from the village of my birth and upbringing. Places change but many of the issues remain the same. Concern about employment, housing, the planning system, the NHS and care services but there was also a fascination in what is going on in the Westminster village.

I had to explain why it is that we are to have Chinese companies providing our nuclear generated electricity? And why the Government feels it is okay to have companies owned by foreign Governments – including by Communist ones – controlling major chunks of the British economy (all Chinese generating companies are 100% state owned, while EDF, the principle partner in the new Hinckley Point Power Station, is 85% owned by the French Government) while it is not okay to have companies owned by the British Government participating in the economy (e.g. Royal Mail) except in emergency situations (e.g. bailing out the banks)?

Reasonable questions but not easy to answer!

I was also asked to explain why it is that the nuclear energy industry is supposed not to receive any public subsidy? Even the most elegant explanation I have heard from Government Minsters fails to reassure me that there will not be substantial public money subsidising nuclear energy generation and that (just as with the banks) the Government will have to step in when as, seems inevitable, the nuclear generating plant and the companies behind it find that they are not able to handle the nuclear waste arising from the site nor the capacity to decommission the plants at the end of their useful life.

A note of scepticism on my part! I think I’ll go back to vaccinating badgers…

Andrew George MP

29th October 2013