Minister Jim Paice says Hunting Act is unworkable

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice (left) with huntsman George Adams and foxhounds Agriculture Minister Jim Paice, pictured left, is in favour of hunting with dogs

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The Hunting Act "simply doesn't work", Agriculture Minister Jim Paice has said, as hundreds of hunts gathered for their traditional Boxing Day meets.

On a visit to hunt kennels in Peterborough, the Conservative minister said he supported hunting with dogs.

He added that the coalition agreed there would be a vote on whether to repeal the act when there was "time in the parliamentary calendar".

The 2005 act makes it illegal to hunt wild animals using dogs.

Hunt supporters describe the act as expensive and failed, and are calling for it to be repealed. But opponents say there is no desire among the general public to bring it back.

Ahead of the annual hunt in Milton Park, Peterborough, Mr Paice, whose ministerial portfolio includes hunting, said: "The current law simply doesn't work.

"I personally am in favour of hunting with dogs - and the coalition agreement clearly states that we will have a free vote on whether to repeal the act when there is time in the parliamentary calendar to do so."

Anti-hunt campaigner Michael Haines and supporter Tracy Casstles give their views on fox hunting

Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said 250,000 people were expected to come out to support their local hunt.

It was a point of pride for rural communities across the UK that, despite prejudice, hunting remained as strong as ever, she added.

Tracy Casstles, also from the Countryside Alliance, said the act was "confused" and a waste of police time, as she insisted hunts tried to work within the law.

Hunt saboteur Michael Haines, however, said he has seen the law being broken "every single week".

League Against Cruel Sports chief executive Joe Duckworth said it was "utterly appalling" that people could think "chasing a wild animal with hounds to the point of exhaustion and then taking pleasure in watching it being killed was acceptable".

"This cruel blood sport has thankfully been made illegal in this country and there is absolutely no desire among the general public to bring it back."

North Devon Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey said the law was "dangerous" because of the impracticalities of trying to enforce it.

Devon and Cornwall Police have never issued any cautions, fines or convicted anyone associated with hunting since the ban came into effect, and Mr Harvey said: "I think Parliament has passed a piece of legislation that it is not possible in practice to implement, and I think that's dangerous.

"The message that sends out is that some people's activities are beyond the arm of the law."

But Labour's Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, rejected calls to change the current law. She said: "There is no place for animal cruelty in a civilised society and most people back Labour's ban on hunting wild animals with dogs.

"People are worried about their incomes falling, prices rising and losing their jobs, yet this out of touch Tory-led government want to bring hunting back."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    "The issue with hunting which concerns me is not whether animals need to be culled. It is the pleasure involved with such culling in these circumstances."

    Exactly. The ban is intended not to save animals from pain but human souls from improper pleasures. As HL Mencken said, puritianism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. Puritanism thrives in the progressive breast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Let's face it, the hunters want to hunt in this way because they find it fun - a "sport". It's also ludicrous to call a fox "cruel", since that is to endow it with human qualities. Cruelty is inflicting pain for pleasure, with full awareness of the victim's suffering, in violation of morality. Animals lack such awareness or morals and therefore cannot be cruel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    A petition calling for a ban was collected in Cornwall which collected over 50.000 signatures.

    A rural area and collected in mid-winter so not swelled by holidaymakers so that expels a few myths!!!!.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Jim Paice perhaps you do not want the police to enforce the law.Ifthe law does not work amend it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    So called 'hunting' with dogs is the tormenting and terrifying of animals. It should, of course, be banned - you couldn't get away with it if it took place where more people could see what goes on.
    What is worrying is that people take pleasure in such cruelty. They should seek medical help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    If the last Labour government has spent more time protecting the economy and less time finding things to ban and outlaw to keep their narrow minded supporters happy, the country wouldn't be in the mess it is. If they'd tried to ban grey hound racing, pigeon racing or curb pub opening times, there'd have been a revolution... The hunting ban is another ridiculous Labour invention.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    What would make sense would be to poll rural communities to see if they support hunting.

    There is not really much point in considering the views of urban city dwellers who make up the bulk of our population, as they are unaffected by foxes and hunting in the same way as rural communities. Yes, they have urban foxes, but the same issues don't apply.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    While I fully agree with Oscar Wilde, the Law against hunting with dogs is a result of party-political manoeuvring and is perforce perverse and ill-written. It was passed, not for concern with animals, but in despite to curtail the activities of Labour's class-enemy. It should be repealed as soon as possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    This was always about a principle and it is clear that the voting public have no appetite to resurrect blood sports. The arguments are well-rehearsed, but the dire warnings made by the Countryside Alliance about the loss of a rural way of life were exposed for the nonsense that they always were. Hunts haven't ceased but now operate (mostly?) within the law that governs everyone. We've moved on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Bloodsports maybe cruel, but fact is many wild animals/birds die from slow painful starvation due to human expansion & pollution/chemical damage to their environments/habitats food sources
    Being ripped apart by a dog is quicker than slow/painful starvation.

    Those who are so against dogs/blood sports should FIRST look at their OWN lifestyle & its destructive pain afflicting CONSEQUENCES

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Interesting comments. Left vs Right, Town vs Country. I was born in the country and have lived here most of my life here, and swing to the right, but I can't stand hunting, and I know a lot of people here where I live who support that view. I know it all looks very jolly, but fundamentally hunting with dogs is wrong and should be consigned to the history books.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Yawn. Oh dear, here we go again. We have some seriously under exercised foxes and hares here in Suffolk. There is the danger they may become an 'obesity timebomb' issue if not hunted, and add to the carbon emissions of the county...........the 'poor' who moaned about hunting with dogs should therefore have a new tax thrust upon them to compensate the Government for this......

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    This useless but annoying interference will be voided but when are they going to "Man Up" and set public execution by garotte or H,D and Q for the habitually criminal and feckless? I see that the lunatics who already wreaked such havoc on society are having another go at restricting the reasonable use of physical chastisement on our children! What species do these people think they are?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    This will lose the Tories a lot of votes. The public don't like being reminded that the Conservatives are a bunch of over-privileged toffs.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    .. now, hunting Bankers with dogs might have some appeal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Amazing that this piece of legislation was given more time in Parliament than going to war in Iraq .......with tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    I'm amazed its taken the tories 18 months to get this back on the agenda. Still, like peerages, trust funds and privileged education we're all in this together....... er, oh no maybe we're not.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Pro-hunt people always come up with this nonsense that only townies oppose hunting. Well, I grew up in the countryside. The hunt met outside my house, and hunted the farms around me, and I still think hunting is barbaric, cruel and unnecessary, as do most other country people.


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