Forget hunting - here are some animal rights issues the Government should address

Share
Related Topics

From tomorrow, anyone who goes hunting with hounds will be on the wrong side of the law. The last legal avenue of resistance was closed yesterday when the Countryside Alliance failed in its effort to have the ban overturned and was refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords. The last legal meets will take place today.

From tomorrow, anyone who goes hunting with hounds will be on the wrong side of the law. The last legal avenue of resistance was closed yesterday when the Countryside Alliance failed in its effort to have the ban overturned and was refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords. The last legal meets will take place today.

Thus ends a long and, for some, picturesque tradition. The ban on hunting was not something that this newspaper sought. We regarded hunting as an unedifying practice. But we did not see it as something that required the attention of the law, still less the hours and days of parliamentary and judicial time that were squandered on it. Poll after poll showed that although many people felt strongly for or against hunting, they were the minority. The majority of voters are indifferent to hunting - and remain so. There was absolutely no need in our view for the Government to have embroiled itself in the subject at all.

The sorriest aspect of this whole sorry saga, however, is not the ban on hunting itself so much as the diversion of time, energy and money that the protracted legislative process entailed. If the Government had wanted to please the Animal Rights movement - and a great many more people besides - there were many more worthwhile and productive routes it could have taken.

The first priority would be to tighten regulation on the use of animals in laboratory experiments. There is no reason whatsoever why live animals should be used for testing cosmetics, for instance. Their use in medical research could be far more limited than it is, and subject to much stricter regulation. Where alternative means are available, they should be used.

It is almost 20 years since vivisection on chimpanzees was outlawed. The very reason why chimpanzees were judged so useful for medical research - their physiological similarity to humans - was why such experiments were banned. Keeping animals so like ourselves in laboratory conditions was rightly regarded as unacceptable cruelty. Using them in experiments was seen, also rightly, as a violation of their rights. Yet the next logical step - a ban on vivisection on all primates - has not even been broached. It is high time it was. For some reason, the ban on fox-hunting took priority.

Certain farming practices would also have been worth scrutiny. Battery hens are raised in atrocious conditions. The RSPCA will soon release cinema adverts exposing the conditions inside a broiler-chicken shed. There is almost no legislation, in this country or anywhere else, to protect the billions of chickens reared for food every year. The exotic animal and bird industry would be another target for tighter regulation. The European Union bans the import of protected species, but this does not prevent tourists from buying them outside the EU and trying to bring them into Britain.

And if the Government felt that it had no alternative to tackling field sports and that there was political capital to be made from so doing, there were more disgraceful country pursuits than fox-hunting to which they could have directed their legislative zeal. Take snaring: all snaring is banned in most EU countries, but only some types of snares are banned in Britain. And of animals regularly trapped, only badgers enjoy the partial protection of the law. Ministers might also have fixed their sights on practices that are already outlawed, such as badger-baiting, but continue with the knowledge, and in some cases the complicity, of local people.

Probably none of these issues would have fired the same degree of controversy that the ban on hunting has done. On most, there would have been a broad consensus that tightening the law was desirable. Instead, we have the ban on hunting, which has divided town from country and needlessly exposed the residual class resentment that lies all too close to the surface of British life. What a scandalous waste of precious government time.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Renewable Energy Construction Manager

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A rare shot of Clegg taking a stand on Cameron's right  

David Cameron might prefer another Lib Dem coalition after all

Andrew Grice
Imagine...  

Imagine... it’s 2014 and the drums of war are beating again

Boyd Tonkin
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices