Badger cull decision goes to the wire

A government announcement on a badger cull to combat bovine tuberculosis in cattle is going to the wire.

Government ministers effectively have one remaining day to announce their decision if they are to meet a self-imposed target.

It follows a statement by farm minister Jim Paice, who said he wanted to make an announcement before Parliament breaks for the summer.

“We will make announcements fairly soon – before the House rises, we hope,” Mr Paice told MPs on 30 June.

The House of Commons rises for its summer recess on Tuesday (19 July). An announcement on that day is thought to be unlikely because few MPs are expected to attend Parliament.

An announcement is equally unlikely on Friday (15 July) because the House of Commons is not sitting.

This leaves Monday (18 July) as the last remaining date for a government announcement to MPs in person, rather than by written statement.

Failure to make an oral statement to MPs will leave the government open to accusations that ministers are afraid of being held to account.

The government could, of course, choose not make an announcement at all. In doing so, it is likely ministers would argue that making a decision before the summer recess was an aspiration rather than a deadline.

* Farmers Weekly has set up a dedicated channel for all stories connected to proposals for a badger cull.

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