Parliament marked 14 years since the introduction of the Hunting Act last week, and Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins, has added his weight to the campaign for a strengthening of the rules to stop illegal fox hunting.
Toby said, “Animal welfare is something that I and my constituents care deeply about and fox hunting is one of the subjects that people contact me about every week. I am immensely proud of the previous Labour Government for introducing the ban on foxhunting but there are too many loopholes that mean foxes are still being chased and brutally killed. Trail hunting is clearly being used by some hunts as a cover for foxhunting. We need to strengthen the Hunting Act and ensure that illegal hunts result in prosecutions. I will be contacting Derbyshire Police to arrange a briefing on how the Act is policed in Derbyshire, and learn more about any attempts to get around the principles of the bill.”
A recent poll by Survation found that only 16% of those living in rural areas believe hunting with dogs is a reflection of countryside values, while 67% do not. It also showed that a mere 4% of people living in the countryside ever take part in hunting with hounds. In contrast, 91% said they thought observing nature was a greater reflection of countryside values.
Labour have proposed the following amendments to the Hunting Act 2004:
Review sentencing to ensure effective deterrence includes the use of custodial sentences in line with other wildlife crimes.
Strengthening the criteria on which research licenses are issued.
The removal of the exemption “Use of dogs below ground to protect birds for shooting”, as it risks fights between dogs and wild mammals.
The introduction of a ‘recklessness clause’ to prevent trail hunting from being used as a cover for the illegal hunting of live wild animals.
Toby added, “I appreciate that there is a sense of tradition and a number of jobs related to hunting, but local hunts can maintain this with drag hunting. There is no excuse for foxes to be killed. Trail hunting has been used as a screen for foxhunting and it is important that nobody should feel that they are above the law.”