Hunt­ing world scents vic­tory

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country - KG

THERESA MAY’S an­nounce­ment last week of a Con­ser­va­tive man­i­festo com­mit­ment to a free vote on re­peal­ing the Hunt­ing Act 2004 has fired the field­sports fra­ter­nity with hope that, this time, the num­bers will add up. When a vote was mooted in 2015, SNP leader Ni­cola Stur­geon swiftly scup­pered it, de­spite Scot­land hav­ing its own hunt­ing laws; in 2014, De­fra’s at­tempt to al­low the use of more than a cou­ple of hounds to flush foxes in up­land ar­eas blighted by sheep pre­da­tion was aban­doned.

The hunt­ing fra­ter­nity, which has held the bal­ance of power in ru­ral seats be­fore, will be mo­bil­is­ing ahead of the elec­tion, but although a Con­ser­va­tive land­slide is pre­dicted, there are plenty of anti-hunt­ing Tory MPS and, cur­rently, few ru­ral Lib­eral Democrats. In ad­di­tion, not ev­ery­one can face the prospect—it took 700 hours of Par­lia­men­tary debate (more than on the Iraq war) be­fore the 2004 Act was passed.

Coun­try­side Al­liance chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Bon­ner says over­turn­ing the ban would ‘cor­rect an his­toric in­jus­tice’ and that it ‘never had any­thing to do with foxes’. He com­ments: ‘Hunts are the sub­ject of con­stant vin­dic­tive al­le­ga­tions by an­i­mal-rights ac­tivists. Very few hunts have been con­victed un­der the Act, but the im­pact on hunt staff is un­pleas­ant and, in some cases, in­tol­er­a­ble. Mean­while, vast amounts of po­lice time are wasted.’

Theresa May has promised a free vote on the Hunt­ing Act 2004 if she is elected

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