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Why I'm voting against the government's Hunting Act amendments this week

Hulme_bridge.jpgOver the weekend, my five year old daughter asked me what I’d be voting on in Parliament this week. After trying to explain to her what fox hunting was and what it entailed, she asked me, “surely everyone will be voting against that?”

“You’d be surprised!” I said.

Like my daughter, most of us find the idea of hunting a defenceless animal an abhorrent and cruel practice. The overwhelming majority of people in the UK remain strongly opposed to fox hunting, and an Ipsos MORI survey has shown that 80% support the ban, which was introduced by the previous Labour government over fifteen years ago. This has been reflected in the hundreds of emails and letters I’ve received recently from constituents outraged at the government’s plans to undermine the Act.

Since the Hunting act came into force in 2005, there have been over 370 successful prosecutions, but David Cameron’s government are now trying to weaken the Act with proposed amendments that campaigners say will make it virtually impossible to tell when a hunt is breaking the law. The Tories’ preoccupation with fox hunting while working families across the country are struggling to make ends meet shows just how out of touch this government really are.

I do not believe the Government's plans are about controlling fox numbers in the countryside. Instead, I believe they are designed to make prosecutions impossible. Far from undermining the Act by trying to water-down the current legislation, the government should instead ensure that the legislation is enforced, while focusing on the real issues that affect rural communities, such as low wages and a lack of affordable, and adequate, transport and housing.

I believe we have a moral duty to treat animals in a humane and compassionate way and agree that the unnecessary and prolonged suffering of defenceless animals has no place in a civilised society. That’s why I’ll be voting against the government’s proposals to weaken the act on Wednesday and why I fully support retaining the ban on hunting.

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