Tag Archives: Hunting Act

Urgent threat to the Hunting Act – act now!

Last week, while everyone was preoccupied with the Budget, the Tories announced (very quietly) that on Wednesday 15th July there would be a vote over an amendment to the Hunting Act of 2004.

Now, it’s not news that (some of) the Tories want to see an end to the Hunting Act 2004, which banned hunting with dogs. They had a manifesto commitment to a free vote on repealing the Act. What they’ve done now is rather different – it’s not a free vote on repealing the act, it’s trying to bring in a Statutory Instrument that would undermine the Act, and make it impossible to enforce.

The proposed amendments would allow an unlimited number of hounds to ‘flush out’ a fox, as long as the plan is then to shoot it. This amendment will, in effect, allow Hunts to return to hunting with hounds. As you can probably imagine, it will be very hard to get a clean shot at a fox when it is surrounded by a pack of hounds as well as the hunters and hunt supporters themselves. It would also be hard to stop the hounds killing the fox before it can be shot.

The proposed changes cherry pick some of the bits of current Scottish legislation, without the higher penalties that are available in Scotland. The Hunting Act of 2004 is a much more successful piece of animal welfare legislation, with 64% of prosecutions under it being successful. The Scottish legislation is much harder to enforce, with only 35% of prosecutions succeeding. The proposed changes would make it impossible to police.

So, why are they using the sneaky approach? It’s probably because they realise they will never have enough support from MPs to repeal the Act. The Act is one of the most popular bits of legislation going – 80% of the British public support it. Not all Tories would vote for it to be repealed. When I contacted my Conservative MP, in the run up to the election, about his views on the Hunting Act, he wrote back reassuring me that he would vote against any repeal of the Hunting Act.

By introducing the changes like this, instead of outright repeal, I think that they hope it will pass under the radar. There’s only 90 minutes allocated to debate the changes (the original legislation was debated for 700 hours). As it’s not downright repeal, maybe some MPs will be (willingly) fooled, or not think it’s important enough to turn up and vote against. And because the proposed changes are similar to the current legislation in Scotland, I think the hope is that SNP MPs will feel like they can’t vote against the changes.

So, what can we do? It’s vital that we use the few days we have to get in touch with our MPs and urge them to vote against the legislation. Petitions are all very well, but we need every MP to have been contacted by constituents, so they know that how they vote will be scrutinised. The Hunt lobby will also be mobilising, but, if we all act, there are enough of us to outweigh them. I’ve contacted my MP asking him to vote against the changes. I urge you to as well – by email, phone, Twitter, in person… If you don’t know how to get in touch with your MP, find out who it is on http://www.theyworkforyou.com – you can send them a message through that site, or use the power of a search engine to find out their contact details once you know their name. You could also use a search engine to look for details of your MP’s office, with surgery times and contact details. Or use this simple RSPCA tool to help you send an email to your MP.


Election summary

Thank goodness there’s only one day to go until the election. In case you still haven’t decided whom to vote for, here’s a quick summary of where the parties stand on some issues relating to wildlife and the environment.

Summary of where the parties stand on some nature issues
Summary of where the parties stand on some nature issues

Of course, this table is a very simplified summary. If you want to find out more, please read the full posts:

Fellow blogger Georgia Locock has been looking through the party manifestos to see what they have to say on a variety of other nature issues (sadly, in most of cases she’s investigated, most of the parties have little to say, reflecting the importance they place on these issues). Do have a look at her posts, as they provide a useful summary of the issues, even if the party manifestos are uninformative:

I hope that, if you can vote in the UK, you will consider some of these issues (along with other important things like the NHS) when deciding who to vote for. And if you’re wavering on whether to vote or not, please do, as there is real difference between the parties on some of these issues.

I’m looking forward to normal service resuming on this blog, focusing on my wildlife adventures rather than politics. But we only get a chance to vote in a national election once every five years, so we need to make the most of it.

5 more recent posts that have made me think

  1. The Dreams and Realities of Large Carnivore Reintroductions in the UK: this post by Rewilding the UK explores the possibilities of reintroducing a large carnivore into the UK, and concludes that lynx are the most likely large predator to be able to live sustainably in the UK, without too much conflict with people. I love the idea of lynx returning to the wild here…
  2. 10 Years on, How Effective has the Hunting Act Been? More than just badgers explores the effectiveness of the Hunting Act, and suggests ways in which the legislation could be improved to reduce loopholes and protect our wildlife from cruelty. This is a timely piece, given the public commitment from some Tories to repeal the Act if they get elected.
  3. Wildlife Aid releases ‘Saving Harry’: the Wildlife Aid Foundation have released a beautiful animation and song to draw attention to the plight of hedgehogs in the UK. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0XKKpVUgTM
  4. Somerset Levels Update: Reflections on Flooding: A New Nature Blog summarises a report by the RSPB into last winter’s horrific flooding on the Somerset Levels, looking into what caused the floods (apart from lots of rain!), and how they could be prevented in the future.
  5. “This World is Not My Home” and Other T-shirts I Can’t Wear Anymore: Such Small Hands reflects on Christians’ relationship with the world, and the view that what happens in the world doesn’t really matter, as our home is in heaven. She disputes this view, concluding powerfully: “I believe we have a responsibility to work for justice and restoration in the world precisely because this world IS our home and because the Creator has given it value.” I find this post really thought-provoking, as sometimes I fall into the trap of feeling that my love for nature is trivial or ‘worldly’. This is a useful reminder for Christians that we have a responsibility for what goes on here and now.