§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
The Government share the widely expressed public abhorrence against cruelty to badgers. In the last four to six weeks we have received about 150 letters from hon. Members and about 200 letters from members of the public about it. We are considering those representations, but I must make it clear that cruelty to badgers is already prohibited by law. The baiting of any animal is expressly prohibited by the Protection of Animals Act 1911. The penalty for the offence was doubled, under the Protection of Animals (Penalties) Act 1987, to a fine of up to £2,000 or six months' imprisonment, or both. Further specific protection to the badger was given in the Badgers Act 1973, which was greatly strengthened by amendments made in the Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1985, which provide that if, in any proceedings for an offence of attempting to kill, injure, or take a badger, there is evidence from which it could reasonably be concluded that at the material time the accused was attempting to kill, injure or take a badger, he shall be presumed to have been attempting to kill, injure or take a badger unless the contrary is shown.