7 December 2000
‘Hunting to dominate election run up’
By FWi staff
THE inclusion of a bill on banning hunting with dogs in the Queens Speech means the issue is likely to dominate the run up to the general election, predicts the The Times.
It says the Government is moving at full speed by introducing a hunting bill in the Commons on Thursday (07 December) with a second reading debate to be staged before Christmas.
The bill will allow MPs three options on the issue — a ban, the compulsory licensing of hunts or voluntary self-regulation.
The Queens Speech contained only 15 bills, half the usual number, indicating that the Prime Minister plans to go to the country soon.
The same newspaper reports that the Countryside Alliance has vowed to press on with a huge march in London to demonstrate the strength of feeling against a fox hunting ban.
And the British Association for Shooting and Conservation has warned that a ban on hunting with dogs could threaten the work of gamekeepers who keep down fox numbers.
Leading anti-blood sports MP Mike Foster says the Governments decision to promote legislation could signal the end fox hunting within months, reports The Guardian.
But Mr Foster, who attempted to get private members bill banning hunting through the commons, hinted that it was more likely that the House of Lords would hold up legislation.
In The Daily Telegraph columnist Boris Johnson says the Government is picking on “a few thousand eccentrics” whose activities are “supremely irrelevant to the lives of 99.99% of the nation”.
He claims attempts to ban hunting are “a piffling populist gimmick, a pathetic glace cherry on the dismal gruel of the Queens Speech”.