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It would appear that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s admission in the House of Commons—that there will be no change to the Hunting Act due to lack of agreement among coalition ministers—is not his final word on the subject. (See earlier FHL news item.) The ban on fox hunting with a full pack of hounds could be relaxed after all, according to Christopher Hope in The Telegraph.

Cameron’s words in the House of Commons notwithstanding, the Prime Minister has asked government officials to gather factual evidence to support a change to the Hunting Act.

Under the ban as currently constituted, in cases where the landowner wants foxes killed, no more than two foxhounds may be used to flush a fox to a gun. Cameron along with Environment Secretary Owen Paterson had earlier proposed to amend that restriction, through a parliamentary device known as a statutory instrument, to allow up to forty hounds to flush a fox to a gun.

Their proposed amendment was in response to complaints by Welsh sheep farmers of fox depredation on their flocks. Critics argued, however, that it was a “back door” attempt to reintroduce foxhunting. Cameron and Paterson were unable to garner sufficient votes, even within their own party, to bring the matter to a vote.

Cameron now hopes to build a case based on hard evidence to persuade recalcitrant members of his coalition government that the ban should be eased in some parts of the country. The hill farmers argue that fox control under the ten-year-old ban has been insufficient, and changes are needed to ameliorate the growing threat to their livelihood.

Before achieving leadership of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister Cameron rode with the Heythrop Foxhounds. Click for more details in Christopher Hope’s article in The Telegraph.

Posted April 6, 2014

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