Letter: Concepts of cruelty,class... and cookery

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From Mr Elliot Morley, MP

Sir: Polly Toynbee made a pretty feeble defence of hunting. All the traditional defences for hunting - it controls foxes, it protects foxes (yes, I know they are contradictory), it's humane, it has support in the countryside, it protects the environment - have long been discredited.

So what's left? Labour should respect the rights of an eccentric minority group. Not much of an argument, particularly as there are lots of minority groups that are not just eccentric, but pretty unpleasant, who could resort to that. Nor would a ban stop the hunters' "fun". Hunts could switch to drag hunting if they choose.

Labour is committed to a free vote on this issue so that parliament can decide once and for all. This has been the parrot cry, from judges to the National Trust, as an excuse for not taking action. As far as the obsessional enthusiasm for the sport is concerned, this includes breaking agreements with John McFall, MP, about a form of words to protect wild mammals from deliberate cruelty in return for dropping the anti-hunting parts of the Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill.

The chance of this Bill becoming law has been ruined in the Lords by unnecessary amendments insisted on by the Blood Sports Lobby who are prepared to allow deliberate cruelty to continue rather than compromise their "sport". That's the kind of sinister cynicism Polly Toynbee should be concerned about.

Yours sincerely,

Elliot Morley

MP for Glanford and

Scunthorpe (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

1 November

The writer is Labour spokesperson for animal welfare.