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TB fight MP lists 300 questions

By London Editor JOHN HIPWOOD

Shropshire Tory MP Owen Paterson is to give ministers and civil servants a headache by tabling no fewer than 300 parliamentary questions on the link between badgers and tuberculosis in cattle - in one go.

The North Shropshire MP said he was tabling the questions in a bid to get the Government to wake up to the growing problem of TB.

He has already tabled about 200 questions on the Government's policy on tackling bovine TB.

"We have learned some really interesting and useful information from the answers, but we need to know a lot more," he said.

"Tabling questions in batches of 20 or 30 at a time was having no impact, so I decided to put down this monster number in one hit. I hope it will make people sit up and realise that this is a serious problem.

"The Government is going to spend about 2 billion over the next 10 years on not curing a disease which is increasing at 20 per cent a year," said Mr Paterson.

The North Shropshire MP said that the impact of bovine TB was already being felt in some hotspot areas like the one in his own constituency around Market Drayton and the Staffordshire border.

Today he was visiting Devon and Cornwall to gather further information from farmers before holding meetings with representatives from the RSPCA and the Federation of Badger Groups.

"My aim is to bring forward policies which ensure a managed, sustainable wildlife population living in harmony with a healthy catle population," said Mr Paterson.