I share your concerns about the future of the Hunting Act and I can assure you that I will vote against repeal. As I say to my constituents whenever I am contacted about issues like this, I am proud of Labour’s history on animal welfare and am pleased that we have been able to make so much progress in the protection of animals. We have successfully banned hunting with dogs, secured an end to cosmetic testing on animals, banned fur farming and we introduced the Animal Welfare Act in 2006, which requires owners to ensure that the welfare needs of their animals are met.
The Labour Party introduced the Hunting Act ten years ago despite enormous opposition. However we did this because we believe it is a cruel practice. Hunting with dogs causes unnecessary suffering to animals in the name of sport and has no place in a civilised society. This remains the case and I was pleased that Labour committed to defending the act in the 2015 General Election manifesto. Now that we are in opposition, we are clearly unable to meet this pledge but I hope you will be assured that I will do what I can to put pressure on the Government to rethink their policy to repeal the act.
Repealing the Hunting Act and continuing the badger cull would constitute a huge step backwards for animal welfare and it is disappointing that the Government is choosing to push ahead with their plans in the face of significant public opposition. As you mentioned in your email, the overwhelming majority of people in this country support the Hunting Act and want to see it kept, and strengthened. Public opinion is also clear on the badger cull. I am appalled that the Government have made this one of their key priorities over the next 12 months. Culling badgers when the science does not support it and hunting with dogs is not only morally repugnant, but there are also so many other important issues facing our country at the moment that should be the priority of any government.