Ministers have rejected calls for the Government to abandon its planned cull of badgers to tackle TB in cattle.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister Lord de Mauley yesterday confirmed the culling policy would be piloted initially in two areas next summer.
An independent panel of experts would evaluate the controlled shooting of badgers and report back to ministers for them to decide whether to order more extensive culling.
Labour's Lord Hoyle said scientific evidence suggested the killing of badgers would make no difference to the problem, with some "eminent" scientists arguing it could make it worse.
"In view of that will you now follow the policy of the Welsh Assembly and decide on a policy of vaccination, rather than elimination," he demanded at question time.
Lord de Mauley disagreed with Lord Hoyle on the science. "Ultimately, of course, we want to be able to use vaccination both for cattle and for badgers."
Independent crossbencher Lord Krebs, who carried out a scientific review of the bovine TB issue in the 1990s and has been critical of the Government's move, asked how the success or failure of the two pilots would be judged. "Is it not right that the Government should take the opportunity between now and next summer, when the cull is proposed to resume, to review all the options for controlling TB in badgers – bearing in mind that not even the most optimistic proponent of culling would consider it is a credible strategy for eradication of this dreadful disease," Lord Krebs said.
The minister told him an independent panel of experts would oversee the two pilots to test assumptions about the humaneness and safety of the culling plan. He said ministers were constantly reviewing their options and working hard on vaccination research.
Lib Dem Lord Greaves asked how much the aborted culls had cost and who was going to pay. Lord de Mauley said there had been £750,000 on surveying costs, £300,000 on Natural England's costs and £95,000 on "humaneness monitoring".