Friday 19 January 2018

MP recalls smuggling hedgehog into Commons chamber

Michael Fabricant MP made the revelation as he urged ministers to better protect hedgehogs
Michael Fabricant MP made the revelation as he urged ministers to better protect hedgehogs

A Conservative MP has recalled when a hedgehog he brought into the House of Commons "did something terrible" in his hand before scurrying away.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) said his decision to bring a hedgehog into the chamber was "completely out of order", adding he believed then speaker Betty Boothroyd would not have approved.

He told MPs about the incident as he urged ministers to protect the prickly mammal from being eaten by badgers.

But shadow environment secretary Kerry McCarthy insisted more should be done to protect the habitats of hedgehogs rather than "blaming the badgers".

Fellow Conservative Oliver Colvile (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) has been leading a campaign to "save the hedgehog", calling for the creature to be given better legal protection by the Government to halt a decline in the population.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Fabricant told environment minister George Eustice: " You have already pointed out the issues regarding Bovine TB.

"But can I also say that the member for Plymouth, who is not here, and I share a love of hedgehogs, we really do.

"I remember once, Mr Speaker, years ago bringing a hedgehog into the chamber which was completely out of order."

Mr Fabricant reassured Speaker John Bercow the hedgehog visit was not during his time but when Baroness Boothroyd was in the chair.

He added: "(Baroness Boothroyd) did not approve, I can well think.

"It actually did something terrible in my hand and I dropped it and it scurried off.

"But anyway, we're going completely off the point.

"The point I wish to make is that the number of hedgehogs is falling and it's partly because they are part of the food chain of badgers.

"I simply want to say although badgers are cuddly, hedgehogs may have spikes but they're cuddly too and we need to remember that they are being attacked by so many badgers where there aren't culls."

Mr Eustice replied: "You are a real advocate for hedgehogs and there are many members of this House who are supporting the cause of hedgehogs, including (Mr Colvile).

"The point I would make to you is yes it is the case, and some research suggests, that badgers do compete with hedgehogs for some foods in their environment, but there are many, many other pressures on the hedgehog - including people not having their gardens particularly hedgehog-friendly.

"So everybody can play a role in terms of helping our hedgehogs recover."

Labour's Ms McCarthy said: "It is of course national hedgehog week and we need to do all that we can to protect their habitats rather than blaming the badgers."

Press Association

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