Hunt leader: Vote to repeal could be win
HUNT leader Sir Barney White-Spunner has spoken out for the first time against the Government's refusal to allow a vote on repealing the hunting ban because it would be lost in Parliament.
Sir Barney, the Dorset-based chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, criticised the view taken by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson that a free vote must not be rushed as it would be lost.
It is the first such intervention from a community that had backed the Government line that ministers had more important things to worry about.
After Christmas, Mr Paterson said he wanted the Hunting Act repealed, but confirmed the Conservatives' promise of a free vote on whether the issue should be debated by MPs again would not happen any time soon.
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Sir Barney said he disagreed and said he was confident the vote could be won as more MPs might change their mind on repeal if the issue was debated again. "We believe that a vote on repeal could be won, whether this year or next, not least because any debate would again expose the Act as an illogical and illiberal mess which does nothing for animal welfare," he said.
Sir Barney believes there are fewer Conservative MPs opposed to repeal but that Scottish Labour MPs, voting on a law which only affects England and Wales, are a problem.
Anti-hunt groups, including the League Against Cruel Sports, IFAW and the RSPCA, said the vast majority – some three-quarters – of the population want the Act to stay.
Meanwhile, a fundraising campaign has been launched to help pay the legal bill and fines of the three huntsmen with the Heythrop Hunt, and the hunt itself, who all pleaded guilty to four separate charges of illegal hunting last season in the Cotswolds.
Sir Barney described the court case against the Heythrop as 'the RSPCA's vendetta'. "