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Hunting Act reform vote debacle makes repeal case stronger, says Countryside Alliance boss Barney White-Spunner

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 29, 2014

Rural voters and farmers have been let down by politicians' failure to take decisive steps on the Hunting Act, says Sir Barney White-Spunner

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Farmers and others in rural Britain must be given a full explanation as to why the Government has failed to change the Hunting Act "to protect both lambs and the welfare of foxes".

That is the demand made by Sir Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance, in response to days of conjecture over the future of the controversial act which has "brought the Hunting Act and all political parties further into disrepute".

This week, David Cameron moved to stamp out rumours of an amendment to the Act, potentially allowing more than two dogs being used to flush out a fox, which already happens in Scotland and which hunters say would be more humane.

But that forced Owen Paterson to reiterate the following day that a free vote on repeal laid out in the Coalition agreement still stands, though many believe that support for such a move has evaporated.

In his weekly newsletter to CA members, Sir Barney said research carried out in Scotland and published last October by the Federation of Welsh Farmers Packs "proved the blindingly obvious: that using a pack of hounds was much more effective in finding and flushing."

A study commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports at the time said the report's foundations – increasing attacks, rising fox numbers and that hunting controls numbers – were unfounded.

Sir Barney continued: "Defra said it would consider the research and the Prime Minister let it be known that he was 'sympathetic', but other than that nothing has happened. There has been no official response to the proposal, to our knowledge no Statutory Instrument (the means by which the law could be amended) has been drafted, and certainly the process of taking an amendment through Parliament had not even seen the starting grid.

"That will not be good enough for those at the sharp end in rural Britain. The Government needs to give a proper explanation of why it will not make a change in the law which would protect both lambs and the welfare of foxes. Hill farmers are not interested in party political blame games.

"Likewise, Labour needs to explain how its ridiculous obsession with fighting the class war through a debate on wildlife management fits with its increasingly tenuous claim to be a 'one-nation' party.

"The Act has been shown once again to be as far from logical and evidence-based legislation as any law on the Statute Book.

"A sad story perhaps, especially if you are lambing in the hills, but one which only redoubles our determination to keep hunting and builds even further the case for repeal."

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  • taylersuicide  |  March 31 2014, 4:33PM

    on 27th March I received a number of emails from various members of parliament and a couple of lords as well. They all went along with the news: "Further to our recent correspondence concerning proposals to amend the Hunting Act, I am pleased to confirm that this was ruled out yesterday by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. I welcome this decision, however, should you have any further concerns please do not hesitate to get back in touch with me." So are a number of MP's lying to me or is your journalism incorrect?

    |   -66
  • C_Freak  |  March 30 2014, 8:54AM

    This un buries thee Fox2012. . It ses it aw abowt thee. http://tinyurl.com/or5gex6

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  • Fox2012  |  March 30 2014, 2:43AM

    "to protect both lambs and the welfare of foxes"!!! Staggering even for the Countryside Alliance. Only those so warped by mindless blood sport could ever claim a fox being torn apart for the enjoyment of a tiny few is good for their welfare! The CA are quite pathetic. They do not represent rural people they just pretend that all hunters are the only voice in the countryside. Yet with 80% of the rural population matching the 80% in urban areas wanting to keep the ban its clear what the truth actually is. It really makes not a jot of difference how much Mr Spunner and the CA whine and moan. The hunting ban is here to stay and Cameron cannot save them. Labour will see of any attempt to seek repeal of the ban. The only future amendment to the legislation will not be done by those who want to undermine the ban. It will be done by those who want to see the ban stronger. A two year minimum prison term for illegal hunting is the bare minimum the public would be happy with. If fox hunts want to continue then they need to switch to real Drag Hunts as they do not use fox hounds and their bloodhounds are not trained to kill. Their dogs have never killed any animal. If not then turn out the lights as you leave. Society has made it clear again and again. Your vile deliberate animal cruelty is not wanted and never will be.

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  • nickthompson  |  March 29 2014, 1:23PM

    We have pensioner's dying from the cold because they cannot afford to heat their home, vast numbers of folk relying on soup kitchens, and food banks, and thousands of ordinary working, and middle class people, many on benefits because their pay is below that which our government believe is the minimum income on which they need to exist, and they STILL struggle to make ends meet, then we have those who wish to get the hunting with dog ban reversed, I have a message for Sir Barney White-Spunner and his ilk, what the British people want is FAIRNESS IN SOCIETY, NOT FOX HUNTING.

    |   -7
  • Barri  |  March 29 2014, 12:51PM

    Rubbish !

    |   -8