with Horse and Hound

British PM Has New Plan to Ease Hunting Ban

British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking Members of Parliament who will support a backdoor attempt at easing the foxhunting ban, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

Cameron along with environment secretary Owen Paterson want to use a device known as a “statutory instrument” in Parliament to amend the Hunting Act—which currently allows only two hounds to flush a fox to a gun—to allow packs of up to forty hounds to flush a fox to a gun. They have scheduled parliamentary time on March 26 for debate and are seeking support from all parties, this in response to pleas from Welsh farmers experiencing increased depredation by foxes.

The Times reports that statutory instruments are normally used to make minor technical changes to laws, and its use for such a controversial topic would be “highly unusual.”

The Times report fails to note that the hunting ban was instituted in the first place through the use of another obscure parliamentary device called the Parliamentary Act. This device was enacted in 1949 to curb serious abuses by the House of Lords, and no Englishman that I talked to at the time could remember any prior implementation of the Parliamentary Act. It may be fitting to see that what enters by the “back door” can exit by the “back door”!

Click for more details in the Sunday Times article by Jonathan Leake and Marie Woolf.

Posted March 16, 2014