Wales politics

Badger cull: Carwyn Jones says plan dropped 'because of law and science'

Carwyn Jones
Image caption Carwyn Jones says ministers followed the law and scientific advice over its bovine TB policy

The decision to abandon a cull of badgers in Wales was based on science and the law, not politics, says First Minister Carwyn Jones.

He was facing questions after a scientist advising the Welsh government resigned over the change of policy.

Ministers have dropped plans for a pilot cull in west Wales as part of plans to deal with TB in cattle.

Mr Jones said the Welsh government had a long-term intention to eradicate the disease.

The previous Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition Welsh government had planned the pilot cull in north Pembrokeshire.

However, Environment Minister John Griffiths revealed last month that the now Labour-run Welsh government was scrapping the plan in favour of vaccinating badgers.

Prof Chris Pollock resigned as an adviser, saying he was not confident vaccination would work and "had no option but to resign".

'Unscientific approach'

At his weekly question time in the Senedd, Mr Jones said: "We have taken a science-led approach.

"We have also had to consider of course the state of the current law which provides a certain level of protection for badgers."

He added: "As ministers the only considerations we took into account were the science and the law. That's it. Politics did not come into it."

Conservative opposition leader Andrew RT Davies accused the Welsh government of pursuing an "unscientific approach".

Meanwhile, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams asked why the government had not published a strategy for treating stroke patients, two years after a cross-party committee of AMs called for one.

Wales was the only UK country without such a strategy, she said.

The government was developing a four-year "national stroke delivery plan", said Mr Jones.

'Undermine confidence'

Local health boards and social services providers were expected to work together to meet patients' needs, he added.

Mr Jones also denied accusations by Plaid Cymru that his administration was planning to downgrade district general hospitals.

The cabinet has endorsed a report, commissioned by NHS chiefs, which sets out the benefits of centralising some services.

Plaid leader Leanne Wood said the government wanted to "undermine public confidence in the Welsh NHS".

Mr Jones said the government wanted a "safe and sustainable" health service, adding: "No hospital was under threat. No hospital was ever under threat in Wales."

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