The annual Countryside Alliance Christmas Reception took place in Parliament on Monday this week (10 December).
Over 50 MPs and Peers joined the Countryside Alliance campaigns team for a reception in one of the House of Commons dining rooms. The event was an opportunity to update parliamentarians on current Countryside Alliance campaigns, including improvements to firearms licensing, support for upland farmers in any new agricultural policy, and action to tackle illegal hare coursing/poaching.
The event took place just hours after the Prime Minister confirmed that the vote on the EU Withdrawal Agreement was to be postponed in a day of high political drama.
Countryside Alliance President, Baroness Mallalieu QC, welcomed guests by saying these were “strange and difficult times” and that “the work of the Countryside Alliance was more important than ever in making the voice of rural communities heard in Parliament.” Chief Executive, Tim Bonner, thanked the parliamentarians present for their help throughout the year on a number of areas and pieces of legislation, including the draft Animal Welfare Bill which the Government is now reconsidering thanks to concerns raised by the Countryside Alliance and others.
Tim also paid tribute to Graham Downing who leaves the Countryside Alliance this year after 24 years as a firearms consultant. Graham takes up the role of Secretary of the British Shooting Sports Council following the retirement of David Penn.
James Somerville-Meikle, Political Relations Manager at the Countryside Alliance, commented: “It was good to see a number of parliamentarians who we have worked with over the last year, and some new faces who we look forward to working with in 2019. The Alliance works with a broad range of MPs and Peers and that was reflected in the turnout at our Reception.”