Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Does this mean the vote to repeal the Hunting Act is on?

Defra today released the full list of ministerial responsibilities for its new (wholly-Conservative) team.
Top man Jim Paice, as widely expected and welcomed in the industry, has become Minister of State for Agriculture and Food.
His responsibilities include:
• Farming
• Food
• Animal health (including endemic and exotic diseases)
• Responsibility and cost-sharing
• Welfare of farm animals
• Single Payments Scheme
• Forestry (including Forestry Commission)
• Agriculture and forestry carbon budgets
• Hunting and shooting
• Agricultural Wages
• Gangmasters Licensing
• Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS)
• Better regulation
• Deputising for the Secretary of State at EU Agriculture Council

Now, the appearance of 'Hunting and shooting' seems significant. A quick trawl through the archive shows none of Labour’s last Defra team was responsible for either of these things.
Shooting is obviously a major industry, and a popular country pursuit, so it is good news that a minister is now overseeing it.
But what about hunting? It has proved impossible to get any information out of the new coalition government about the likelihood of the Tory promise of a free vote on repealing the Hunting Act 2004.
But surely you wouldn’t have a minister responsible for something which remains illegal, would you? It is certainly back on the radar.
I understand new Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will be setting out her priorities later this week. I suspect this subject will be raised.


  1. As someone who lives in a marginal Liberal Democrat/Conservative constituency in the West Country, I certainly hope that a vote to repeal the Hunting Act is NOT on.

    Many years ago I used to vote Conservative, however I wanted to see an end to the anachronistic cruelty of hunting and coursing and my Conservative MP was not even prepared to listen to any arguments against hunting. (Ironically I noticed that when the Hunting Act was going through parliament the supporters of hunting were displaying car stickers with the slogan 'Listen To Us', yet previous Conservative governments were never prepared to listen to the opponents of hunting.) Consequently, three or four general elections ago, I switched my vote to the Liberal Democrats who, much to my surprise, won the constituency and have held the seat ever since.

    I support many Conservative Party policies and would have liked the opportunity to vote for them in the recent General Election, however their regressive policy of repealing the Hunting Act makes them unelectable as far as I am concerned. Therefore, I voted Lib Dem once again in order to retain the hunting ban. In my view the Hunting Act should be strengthened to remove all loopholes and allow easier prosecution of those who are currently ignoring or abusing the law.

    If David Cameron really wants to govern for the 'good of the country' and wants to put his 'Big Society' ideas into practice then he should accept that the vast majority of the British public support the ban on hunting and, therefore, he should NOT attempt to repeal the Hunting Act. Also, his acknowledgement that hunting and coursing really are history in Britain, never to return, would be a sign that the Conservative Party has genuinely modernised itself - this issue is the Conservatives' 'Clause Four Moment'. Moreover, any move to repeal the Hunting Act would be extremely divisive both within parliament and within the country at large - something that the new coalition would surely wish to avoid.

  2. "Moreover, any move to repeal the Hunting Act would be extremely divisive both within parliament and within the country at large"

    It allways has been a divisive issue but that did not stop the class hating bigots in the labour party avoiding the issue.