Countryside Alliance - we'll fight to scrap hunting ban
The new head of the Countryside Alliance has vowed to campaign to overturn the “silly and ludicrous” ban on hunting.
Lieutenant General Sir Barney White-Spunner argues that Labour’s controversial Hunting Act attacks “the kind of people who hunt, rather than what they actually do”.
The comments by Sir Barney, a former head of the UK Field Army, follow David Cameron renewing a promise of a free Commons vote on repealing the legislation.
Sir Barney was last week revealed as the new executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance, replacing Alice Barnard at the head of the organisation.
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In a newspaper interview, Sir Barney, a long-term supporter of country sports, said: “The Alliance is absolutely committed to getting the Act repealed. We think it is a ludicrous bit of legislation, shoddy in its design.
“It comes from being drafted by a government that objected to the kind of people who hunt, rather than what they actually do,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
He added: “Lots of people are still hunting, but under restricted circumstances. You can hunt a rabbit but not a hare, a rat but not a mouse.
“You can use a terrier to flush out a fox if it’s damaging game birds. It’s a very silly Act and a ludicrous waste of police time and it will ultimately be repealed.
“We are confident common sense will prevail.”
Sir Barney, from Beaminster near Bridport in West Dorset, left the Army in December after a military career which included commanding British forces in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Countryside Alliance has more than 100,000 members, but Sir Barney said the pressure group needs “to get bigger”.
“Hunting is only a small part of it,” he said, adding that getting high-speed broadband to the countryside is also key.
Asked about people opposing hunting for the destruction of animals, he said: “One respects that viewpoint. They are free to think that.
“But equally they must respect those who don’t find anything wrong with that.
“Nobody takes pleasure in the kill; it’s more the hunt and everything that goes with that. People need to live and let live.
“We don’t live in a world where animals have the same rights as humans and nor will we while we still eat fish and eggs.”
It has been claimed a pledge in the coalition Government agreement to let MPs oppose Labour’s totemic Hunting Act was “dead and buried”.
But asked by the Western Morning News last year whether the Government still abided by the promise, the Prime Minister said: “There’s no change in the position, and the commitment is the commitment. I’m sure at some stage the vote will be held. I don’t have a timing for that.”