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Westminster hunting vote delayed but not abandoned
The UK government's decision to reschedule the vote came as anti-hunting protesters gathered at the Houses of Parliament to protest against changing the law. Inevitably there are political and constitutional ramifications to the move, but equally there is no doubt that MPs of all parties have been hearing a loud, clear message from people across the UK – don’t bring back hunting. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was quoted as saying there had been "overwhelming demand" from people in England for Scottish Members of Parliament to vote against the amendments.
The sudden proposal to introduce amendments that would fatally weaken the Hunting Act 2004, allied to comparisons with the Scottish legislation, was misguided and OneKind welcomes the decision to drop it. The Hunting Act changes apply to England and Wales but were presented as bringing the Act in line with Scotland, where a pack of dogs can be used to "flush out" a fox to be shot, compared to just two in England and Wales.But the welcome decision by the 56 SNP MPs to vote against the amendments, plus Labour and up to 30 Conservative MPs opposed to hunting, meant the government's change stood little chance of being approved.
The SNP says it will now consider tightening the law in Scotland to match England and Wales. As Advocates for Animals, this organisation took a leading role in achieving the Scottish legislation thirteen years ago – but there are difficulties with enforcement and sensible proposals for change have recently been made by the League Against Cruel Sports.OneKind will be backing those proposals and we urge the Scottish Government to act quickly to make it quite clear that there is no place for cruelty to wild animals in this modern nation.
Thank you to all animal welfare supporters and organisations who contacted MPs on this issue. As far as we understand it, the vote is postponed rather than abandoned and the threat to wildlife welfare remains. The lobbying will have to continue and intensify – but for now, the foxes have won the day.