I appreciate the strong feelings that many people have on this issue and I share people’s concern for ensuring the welfare of all animals.
The Prime Minister has said that a majority Conservative Government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time.
The Government had intended to give the House of Commons an opportunity, on 15 July, to amend the provisions for exempt hunting so that farmers and gamekeepers could decide, based on the terrain and other circumstances, if it is appropriate to use more than two dogs to flush out foxes. Conservative Members would have received a free vote. I am unable to say how I would have voted as the matter was never debated by Parliament. Statutory Instruments do not have the effect of repealing Acts of Parliament. In the end, the matter was postponed, there was no debate and no vote on the Statutory Instrument took place. The matter is not currently an item on the parliamentary agenda.
In the instance of a vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act I will vote to retain the legislation as I view it as necessary to protect animal welfare.
I am sorry if this is not the response you are seeking but I do appreciate that many people have strongly held views about hunting. I respect this and that is why the issue has been voted on with a free vote for many years.