Ministers call for free vote on repeal of fox hunting ban

As thousands turn out for Boxing Day hunts, supporters say the law is unenforceable

The Agriculture minister, Jim Paice, has claimed the Hunting Act is not working – renewing pressure on David Cameron to schedule a free Commons vote on repealing the ban, as supporters prepared to turn out at 300 hunts across Britain today.

Mr Paice 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.

"Frankly, it [the ban] is a mess. It has been criticised by virtually all levels of authority – by the courts, by the police – as unenforceable.

"Efforts by the pressure groups to force the police to enforce it are just distracting the police from more important issues. To me the whole thing is making the law a bit of a mess and making a bit of a mockery of it."

His fellow Defra minister, Richard Benyon, the Conservative MP for Newbury in Berkshire, said: "I have been and remain a supporter of hunting and I believe the Hunting Act has been bad for the countryside and bad for wildlife," while David Cameron describes himself as a "country boy" and says he wants to overturn the hunting ban "mistake".

The Countryside Alliance estimates that more than 250,000 people will attend Boxing Day hunts. Alice Barnard, its chief executive, said: "It is a point of pride for rural communities across Britain that, despite the prejudice and ignorance of some, hunting remains as strong as ever."

But the League Against Cruel Sports published a poll of 2,126 people suggesting that two-thirds believe the Hunting Act should remain in place. Forty-eight per cent said a vote to repeal it was the least important animal welfare priority. A third of people thought tackling dangerous dog owners should take priority, while others cited farm animal welfare, reducing testing on animals and promoting responsible pet ownership.

Joe Duckworth, the league's chief executive, said: "It comes as no surprise that the public has shown there is no appetite to waste Parliamentary time on voting to repeal the Hunting Act. The vast majority has absolutely no desire to see wild animals being chased and killed legally in our countryside."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea