The Countryside Alliance’s political team has created this brief of the rural pledges contained in the newly launched of the Conservative Party Manifesto in Halifax. On hunting, the Prime Minister has today confirmed (18th May) that any government she leads after 8th June’s General Election will ‘Grant a free vote, on a government bill in government time, to give parliament the opportunity to decide the future of the Hunting Act’.  Such a commitment has been part of the last three Conservative election manifestos so this latest pledge is in-keeping with the party’s long-held view on the issue.

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner commented: “There will be a huge amount of support for this commitment in the countryside where people understand that the Hunting Act never had anything to do with foxes but was a misplaced and prejudiced attack on a group within the rural community.

“The Hunting Act continues to cause real problems. Hunts are the subject of constant vindictive allegations by animal rights activists, and employees are often investigated and sometimes prosecuted. Very few hunts have been convicted under the Act but the impact on hunt staff is unpleasant and in some cases intolerable. Meanwhile vast amounts of police time is being wasted investigating spurious allegations, and when cases to reach court they can consume huge amounts of resource.

“Overturning the ban and allowing properly conducted hunting with dogs to restart would correct an historic injustice and get rid of one of the most illiberal laws passed in modern times. At the same time it would relieve the police and courts of a substantial burden and allow hunt staff to carry out their jobs without the constant fear of prosecution.”

At this point there is no further information on the timing of any free vote.

Follow Tim on Twitter @CA_TimB

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