8 July 2015 by Ben Glaze
Queen guitarist Brian May says the Prime Minister has “smashed” the Hunting Act
Rock legend Brian May has blasted David Cameron’s sly scheme to destroy Labour’s ban on fox hunting.
Currently farmers can still flush out foxes using two dogs for “pest control” purposes. But MPs will have a free vote next week on scrapping the limit on hounds, making it much harder to prosecute hunts.
Animal rights activist and Queen guitarist Brian May told the Mirror:“This smashes the Hunting Act. They will be able to bring back the whole pack of dogs. This is to benefit people who want to pursue a sadistic bloodsport for fun.”
The plot was slipped out under the cover of yesterday’s Budget.
PM Cameron, who rode with a hunt before becoming Tory leader in 2005, plans to use a loophole known as a “statutory instrument” to avoid a full Government Bill and limit debate to just 90 minutes. The pro-hunt Countryside Alliance welcomed the news.
Should fox hunting be banned?
Executive Director Barney White-Spunner said: “These amendments would bring the law into line with Scotland. They will ensure farmers can choose how to manage the fox population. Traditional hunting will remain illegal.”
David Cameron to relax laws on fox hunting – burying the bad news on Budget day
8 July 2015
Blood-thirsty toffs will be delighted that MPs are set to vote on relaxing laws so it’s harder to prosecute fox hunters. David Cameron will reward his fox hunting chums with a vote on relaxing the 10-year-old ban next week.
The Tories plan to use a “technical change” to lift restrictions so the Prime Minister’s posh pals can unleash an unlimited number of hounds to flush out foxes. The sneaky plot was slipped out under the cover of today’s Budget, sparking claims ministers were exploiting the political showpiece to bury bad news.
Current hunting rules mean farmers can still flush out foxes using two dogs for “pest control”. But MPs will have a free vote on scrapping the restriction on the number of hounds, making it much harder to prosecute hunts.
Mr Cameron will use a parliamentary loophole known as a “statutory instrument” – meaning he will not need a full Government Bill and there will be just 90 minutes of debate next Thursday, July 16, before a vote.
League Against Cruel Sports Director Robbie Marsland said: “This is nothing but sneaking hunting in through the back door. By amending the Hunting Act like this, the Government are deliberately and cynically making it easier for hunts to chase and kill foxes, and harder for them to be convicted when they break the law. This is not about hunting foxes for pest control – it’s about hunting foxes for fun.”
The Mirror exclusively revealed last month how Mr Cameron texted hunt supporters as his election victory unfolded, thanking them for their backing. Charles Mann of pro-hunting campaign group Vote-OK said: “The Prime Minister sent this text to us early this morning ‘Please thank Vote-OK for all their amazing work’.”
Vote-OK’s campaigners swooped on key election battlegrounds to canvass for Tory candidates in the run-up to polling day.
Some anti-hunt Tories are expected to try and block easing the rules, which would bring Wales and England into line with Scotland.
The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman said: “Upland farmers in the Highlands can use an unlimited number of dogs to flush out a fox, while those on the Welsh hills or the North Yorks Moors are limited to two. This is about technical changes to look at how you resolve that.”
SNP MPs are likely to abstain, meaning the restriction could be relaxed even if some Conservatives vote against.
Mr Cameron, who pledged to repeal the Hunting Act in the Tory manifesto, insisted: “It’ll be an opportunity for the House of Commons to debate an issue and then have a vote.” L
abour accused him of “resorting to desperate measures to bring back fox hunting”. Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Maria Eagle said: “David Cameron’s proposals have more to do with controlling his backbenchers than fox numbers in the countryside and Labour will oppose any such measures. The Tories should be focusing on the real issues facing rural communities like low-wages and a lack of affordable and adequate transport and housing.”
But the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance welcomed the “positive news”. Executive Director Barney White-Spunner said: “It is a step forward and would mean that farmers and hunts will be able to use packs of hounds to find and shoot foxes. Traditional hunting will, though, remain illegal. These amendments would bring the law into line with Scotland and ensure that farmers are able to choose how to manage the fox population in the most effective and humane manner. We still believe that the Hunting Act needs to be scrapped, but in the circumstances these amendments meet the immediate needs of the rural community. There is solid support for hunting among MPs and we believe that there will be a majority for these logical, evidence-based changes.”