with Horse and Hound

British Hunting Ban an Accident?

Former British Home Secretary Jack Straw says that the passage of the foxhunting ban in England was the result of a misstatement by then Prime Minister Tony Blair. In Straw’s just-published memoir, he claims Blair was “put on the spot” by a question on live TV and “accidentally” announced he would support a hunting ban.

Straw claims that Blair apologized to him the following day for the slip-up. Straw believed at the time that the hunting ban was a “nonsense issue” that could have been ignored. Blair, he claims, felt similarly. However, once Blair “mis-spoke” it just wouldn’t go away. The contoversial issue prompted mass protests, marches, and even an invasion of Parliament by protesters.

Blair, in his own memoir published in 2010, said that the hunting ban was “one of the domestic legislative measures I most regret.” Claiming not to know enough about the debate, he nevertheless said that he (1) engineered sufficient loopholes in the Act so that hunting could continue and (2) instructed his Home Office minister to steer the police away from enforcing the law.

Some pro-hunting supporters are skeptical of Blair’s claim. They wonder why, if he was truly opposed to the Act, did he take the extraordinary step of employing the rarely-used Parliamentary Act to force the ban into law.

For more details from Straw’s memoir regarding the ban, see Hannah Furness’s article in The Telegraph.

Posted September 25, 2012