In the first half of May the country caught what many would describe as “election fever” with politicians appearing on various channels to newspapers. One thing was for certain, you could guarantee that the election would make an appearance. A couple of weeks ago the results were announced that the Conservative party had “won a majority” and David Cameron was there to stay in Downing Street; this result being a sore topic for many across the country.
Regardless of your opinions on the Conservatives or David Cameron, our Prime Minister has pledged to “repeal” the fox hunting ban of 2004. A bill to axe the 2004 Hunting Act will not be appearing in this week’s Queen’s Speech but legislation is expected to appear before Christmas 2015. While the new laws would allow hunting to continue, under consideration is a compromise that would protect foxes and other wild animals from “unnecessary cruelty”. Other options on the table are licensing or tougher regulation of hunting than existed before the ban came into force in 2005.
At the moment their is a “compromise” that is said to be put forward to appease animal welfare groups who are appalled at the idea of this act being abolished, those who are “pro hunting” argue that the fox hunting ban is good for the countryside; keeping the overall fox population numbers down to manageable levels and protecting other wildlife. Anti hunting activists feel the act of hunting is a cruel senseless one, hunting a defenseless animal in packs, some likening it to the human equivalent of “gang mentality” attacking one defenseless creature in a pack for sport, for entertainment.
Since the ban came into force a decade ago, hunting of foxes with dogs is banned but hunts are legally allowed to use hounds following an artificial scent. The other issue is hunters just aren’t taking their hunting safety seriously. The Countryside Alliance and Vote-OK say that a repeal is needed to lift the threat of criminal prosecution from members of hunts where foxes are accidentally killed in this process.
A Countryside Alliance source said: “We have always been open to a middle-way option if that would put the issue to bed. We have always been open to anything logical that isn’t just an illogical hatchet job.”
However animal welfare campaigners and many Labour MPs are unlikely to support a middle-way option and would want to block anything that waters down the ban.
The Prime Minister is understood to be considering a compromise package because of the huge support among voters for the original ban back in 2004. It is possible that the Queen, in her 62nd address to Parliament on Wednesday, will allude to a free vote on hunting within the year. A number of Conservative MPs stood at the general election with the backing of Vote-OK, a pro-hunting umbrella group, on the promise that they would vote for repeal in the Commons. Yet animal welfare campaigners are alarmed at the prospect of repeal of the 2004 act, which was hugely popular among voters across the country.
There are many sides to this argument, I personally feel that the ban is a highly appropriate one and that if there really is a need to control population numbers then surely there is a more humane way to do it?