Hunting world scents victory
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