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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...