Hunting Act January 2017
Thank you for contacting me about your concern towards the Hunting Act. Failure to elect a Labour Government has sadly left many issues of animal welfare, on which I and my party have campaigned, vulnerable for the next few years.
I believe we have a moral duty to treat animals in a humane and compassionate way and that national governments must work together to fight animal cruelty.
I realise the government is still aiming to have a free vote to amend the Hunting Act. They will be voting on the language of the legislation to weaken the already existing act – effectively preventing 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 opposed these proposals because I believe they were designed to wreck the Hunting Act. I do not believe they were about controlling fox numbers in the countryside. Instead, I believe they were 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 it still stands by its commitment to hold a free vote on repeal of the Hunting Act, with a Government bill in Government time.
The last Labour Government enacted the Hunting Act in 2004 which controlled the hunting of wild mammals with dogs and prohibited hare coursing in England and Wales. We have a proven track record in government: introducing the Animal Welfare Act 2006, legislating to ban fur farming, securing a ban on cosmetic testing on animals, and, of course, the Hunting Act 2004. The Labour Party deeply care to ensure animal welfare rights.
At the last general election, I stood on a manifesto that included a commitment to build on this strong record on animal welfare. I have consistently voted in support of the ban on hunting and will continue to do so.
The Labour Party has pledged to defend the Hunting Act. The Conservative Government have not. The 2010 Conservative manifesto said the Hunting Act was "unworkable" and promised a free vote by MPs on its repeal.
If, and when, the time comes for a vote to repeal or amend the Hunting Act, I will continue to fight for animal welfare rights.
Thank you again for contacting me and raising this concern on the issue.