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TULIP Siddiq was in thick of the charge to stop David Cameron allowing the Commons to vote on relaxing the ban on fox-hunting this week. She wasn’t alone, however.
With two of her better known constituents – comic actor Ricky Gervais and writer Jane Fallon – the new Hampstead and Kilburn MP co-signed a letter to the Prime Minister suggesting that he think again, which as it happens he did; although more because of the SNP’s decision to vote on an issue they had previously said it was unlikely to get involved in, rather than Tulip’s letter.
Tulip, Ricky and Jane had nevertheless told DC that the move would “signify a grossly retrograde step in the fight for animal rights”.
Back at the Town Hall, meanwhile, council leader Sarah Hayward was hailed for being “brave” for telling Twitter that she didn’t really care too much about the issue over how legal it should be for foxes to be chased across fields and flushed from their hiding places by an unlimited number of hounds to be shot. There were bigger priorities, she said.
“OK. Admission,” tweeted Cllr Hayward. “I don’t care about fox hunting. If pushed I’m against, but always been of the view there are bigger issues to solve first.”
OK. Admission. I don’t much care about fox hunting. If pushed I’m against, but always been of view there are bigger issues to solve first.
— Sarah Hayward (@Sarah_Hayward) July 13, 2015
@Sarah_Hayward Thank goodness someone brave enough to say it! Me neither.
— Annoné Butler (@bookishwgc) July 13, 2015
TULIP SIDDIQ, JANE FALLON and RICKY GERVAIS’ LETTER TO DAVID CAMERON IN FULL
Dear Prime Minister,
As you will no doubt be aware, your Government – fulfilling a commitment made in your own party’s manifesto – intends to move a free vote in Parliament on the repeal of the Hunting Act 2004. Tomorrow, the Commons will also be voting on a Statutory Instrument to amend the Act which, if passed, would increase the number of exemptions and remove the current two-dog cap for legal hunts.
We are writing to express our deep concern at these twin moves. If successful, they would signify a grossly retrograde step in the fight for animal rights – first fatally undermining, and then entirely repealing, the existing legislation. But they also risk further damaging the British public’s trust in politics by wasting Parliamentary time on an issue which the vast majority feel was settled over a decade ago, when the Hunting Act was passed.
If the Government wishes to devote precious Government time to debating issues related to animals, then we would far rather it be used to debate how animal rights can be enhanced rather than hampered. Time could instead be devoted to, amongst many other things, discussing how Britain can make a renewed effort to reduce animal testing; banning the use of wild animals in circuses; or reviewing the existing, ineffective legislation on the inhumane mass breeding and selling of dogs and cats. Not only would you have our full support if you devoted time to discussing these long-overdue matters, but you would also command the approval of the vast majority of the British public.
We regret that, instead, Parliamentary time will be devoted tomorrow to debating how the provisions of the Hunting Act can be watered down. Evidence from Scotland – where there is no two-dog limit for hunts – suggests that the proposed Statutory Instrument may considerably weaken the enforceability of the Hunting Act 2004. Indeed, there have been no successful prosecutions of mounted hunts under the Scottish legislation – by contrast, there is a prosecution every fortnight under the law in England and Wales. Given the exemptions that are already in place under the Hunting Act, we simply cannot see the need for further, retrograde changes to the existing law.
In light of these concerns, we therefore urge you to withdraw the Government’s plans for a free vote on the 2004 Hunting Act. The present legislation is effective, balanced and supported by the vast majority of the public. There is no public appetite for a change in the law, and there would be little public sympathy if the Government were to devote further Parliamentary time to debating such an issue.
Tulip Siddiq MP