I was 'pressured' into vote for cull, says Bath MP Don Foster

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Written by:   | Posted 28-August-2013 11:29

Bath MP Don Foster has admitted he was pressurised into voting in favour of this week’s controversial badger cull.

The Liberal Democrat, who is a communities minister, had written to constituents suggesting that he might abstain in a Commons vote on the anti-bovine TB cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset earlier this year.

But he was told by Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael that this was not an option, and that he had to toe the coalition line.

Mr Foster said this week: "My preferred option would have been to abstain. I had, and still have, reservations regarding the cull.

"I shared my concerns with relevant ministerial colleagues.

"However, after discussions with the chief whip, it was made clear that abstention was not an option for a Government minister."

Mr Foster added that standing down would have been counter-productive.

"I could achieve more remaining in my ministerial post than by resigning over this issue."

Efforts by coalition whips ensured there was a 49-vote victory for the Government in the last vote on the cull, in June, when Labour tried to get the exercise scrapped.

North East Somerset Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and Chippenham Liberal Democrat Duncan Hames also voted for the cull, along with North Wiltshire Tory James Gray.

About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in controlled shootings over six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

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