Helen remains committed to retaining the Hunting Act

I believe we have a moral duty to treat animals in a compassionate way and I agree the unnecessary and prolonged suffering of defenceless animals has no place in a civilised society. That is why I am proud of the last Labour Government's strong record on animal welfare, including the Hunting Act 2004 which I am committed to defending. It is clear that the overwhelming majority of the British public also support the ban on hunting with hounds. Indeed, a recent poll shows that a record high of 83% back the ban.

As I am sure you are aware, however, the Conservative Party's election manifesto included a commitment to give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote. The Government announced in July last year that, instead of holding a vote on repeal, it planned to amend the Hunting Act to effectively prevent enforcement of the ban on fox hunting.

There is an exemption to the Hunting Act which allows farmers to use two dogs to flush out a fox before it is shot. The Government proposed amending the Act to remove the limit of two dogs to flush out and stalk wild animals. This was due to be debated in the House of Commons on 15 July 2015 but the Government postponed the motion when it became clear it would not win a vote to approve its proposals.

I oppose the Government's proposals because I believe they are designed to wreck the Hunting Act. I do not believe they are about controlling fox numbers in the countryside. Instead, I believe they are designed to make prosecutions impossible and that the Government made a sneaky attempt to bring back fox hunting by the back door. It is very disappointing that despite clear opposition to the cruel practice of hunting with hounds, from people up and down this country, the Government has confirmed that it still stands by its commitment to hold a free vote on repeal of the Hunting Act. 

I appreciate the concerns raised by organisations such as the League Against Cruel Sports and I believe the Government's plans to amend or repeal the Hunting Act distract from the real issues affecting rural communities such as low wages and a lack of affordable, and adequate, transport and housing. I believe the Government should also be focusing on improving infrastructure and protecting public services.

There have been over 370 successful prosecutions under the Hunting Act and the Government should ensure that the legislation is enforced.

I can assure you that I fully support the ban on hunting and I will therefore vote against any further attempt by the Government to weaken the Hunting Act and will do all I can to prevent the Government from trying again to bring hunting back by the back door.

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published this page in National Issues 2016-10-26 15:56:38 +0100

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