May 20, 2010
BBC News today announced that the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition document promises a free vote in Parliament on the repeal of the 2004 Hunting Act. That’s good news to pro-hunting forces. Notwithstanding earlier promises by Conservative candidates, the forced coalition with the Liberal Democrats had cast doubts on the ability of Conservatives to fulfill their promises for a free vote.
Pro-hunting activists have long strived to re-elect a Conservative government, inherently more sympathetic to hunting, in the hope of overturning the Hunting Act. However, the election gave the Conservative Party only a narrow victory margin. To form a government, Conservative Party leader David Cameron, the new Prime Minister, was forced to establish a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, no friends of hunting. That coalition placed in doubt whether or not the Conservatives had the strength to make a serious attempt at repeal.
The coalition document, while promising a free vote, does not state when that vote will take place. BBC News notes that many in the hunting fraternity do not mind the delay, fearing that if there were to be a free vote now, Parliament, as currently constituted, would not overturn the Act.
Horse and Hound Hunting Editor Catherine Austen quotes British MFHA Chairman Stephen Lambert as saying, "The important thing is that the government is intending to honour its commitment to having a vote.... We are delighted about that and look forward to it happening at an appropriate moment. I think everyone is well aware that the government has got many problems on its hands and that hunting must take its place in the queue."
For further details, go to:
BBC News article on Coalition Deal
Horse and Hound article on Repeal of the Hunting Act