Leading article: Let sleeping hounds lie

 

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As hunts gathered all over the country for their Boxing Day meets, the agriculture minister, Jim Paice, said that the ban on hunting wild animals with dogs "simply doesn't work". Some construed his words as a plea to bring forward the Government's promised parliamentary vote on repealing the controversial law. But it could have been just an elementary statement of fact. It would have been none the worse for that.

The 2005 law was comprehensively misbegotten. It was Tony Blair's way of honouring a misguided promise to backbenchers representing mainly urban constituencies. It created fresh acrimony between town and country that spilled on to the streets of Westminster and far beyond. And even when it was passed, many felt betrayed; they had believed it would end fox-hunting for good.

Confusion in the law is generally a bad thing. The fact that this law is, in the minister's opinion, unworkable, however, may be the best consequence of a botched job. The last thing town or country now needs is a reprise of the pro- and anti-hunt protests of six years ago.

With another year to the next Boxing Day, we rather favour letting sleeping hounds lie.

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