The last Labour government killed more badgers than any other administration and it served only to demonstrate culling does nothing to halt the spread of TB, a shadow minister has said.
Huw Irranca-Davies said the Government must acknowledge its culling policy was both ineffective and expensive.
But Environment Minister George Eustice said the culls, which have been piloted in Gloucestershire and Somerset, had provided “incontrovertible” evidence of a reduction in the disease as part of a wider strategy.
Speaking at Defra questions in the Commons, Mr Irranca-Davies said: “Despite the Government’s protestations, the last Labour government killed more badgers than any other government – over 10 years and with a £50m trial.
“It showed and concluded it could give no meaningful contribution to the eradication of TB.
“The Government’s badger culls have not just been a disaster for wildlife but have also come at a huge financial cost. In the first year the culls went ahead, we know the Government spent £9.8m on them.
“With Ministers proposing to extend the badger culls, possibly to 10 areas and after that to 40 areas, how much more can taxpayers expect to fork out for these ineffective and inhumane badger culls?”
Mr Eustice replied: “The RBCTs (Randomised Badger Culling Trial) that were carried out demonstrated over time the cull did lead to a significant reduction in the diseases – that is incontrovertible.
“The experts we have in Defra recommend a cull as part of the strategy and it is absolutely wrong for (Labour) to say they will ignore the evidence, ignore the advice of the chief veterinary officer to do that.
“On the cost, the first year the cull clearly had elements of analysis, post mortems, research, policing, that you wouldn’t have when you rolled this out more widely.
“We are committed to having a badger cull as part of our 25 year strategy.”
While Bovine TB has been largely confined to the South West and Wales there have been some notable cases in Yorkshire, most notably the case of Doncaster’s Boxster the Bull which was proven to be TB-free, despite being diagnosed by Defra as being infected.