Saturday, 14 March 2015

Out Foxed

I was lucky to be brought up in a rural area, spending most of my time outdoors my grandfather and uncle worked as gamekeepers in County Durham. I have eaten my fair share of game and still enjoy the odd pheasant when visiting my mam for Sunday dinner.

I accept that where game is kept for shooting, there is a real need to control fox numbers, but there is no need to resort back to hunting with dogs to achieve this. While I recognise the value of shooting sports and other forms of hunting to the rural economy I see no reason to change the law on hunting with dogs.

It's ten years since Parliament voted to end hunting with dogs. Legislation put forward by the Labour Government at the time was controversial, Peter Atkinson, Hexham's Tory MP at the time voted against the ban.

Supporters of the Hunting act believed that the unnecessary and prolonged suffering of defenceless animals has no place in civilised society and the legislation was passed with the majority of MPs voting in favour of a ban on hunting with dogs.

Despite the controversy at the time, most people now support the ban on hunting with dogs. A poll conducted in 2010 showed that 76% of the population were opposed to repealing the hunting act the figure drops to 71% when only rural areas are included in surveys.

The Labour Party has used this ten year anniversary to set out key commitments to protect animals in the next parliament including, defending the Hunting Act, ending badger culls which scientists consider to be inneffective and banning the use of wild animals in circuses.

The hunting ban shows how far we have come since the days when blood sports such as dog fighting and badger baiting were quite common in rural areas. I'm not sure why the Conservatives and even the Lib Dems have shown interest in the possible repeal of the Hunting Act by calling for a free vote on the issue.

After 10 years it's time to move on.

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