The Countryside Alliance met the Chair of the Petitions Committee, David Rowlands AM, over concerns about the authenticity and transparency of petitions presented to the Assembly.
In recent weeks two anti-shooting petitions have been presented to the National Assembly for Wales, one calling for the ban on the use of Larsen traps, the other opposing the continuation of the use of firearms on land owned or managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Both petitions contained false and misleading information, and were written provocatively with the intent to mislead the public and politicians.
The Countryside Alliance has diligently reviewed the Larsen trap petition and discovered that of the 1,904 signatures received by the Assembly 61.3% of them resided outside of Wales and came from as far afield as America, Canada, Greece, France Switzerland and Israel. Yes, Israel. The bulk of the signatures from Wales came from the urban areas of Cardiff and Newport. In a hazardous guess, I would say that most of the people who signed the Larsen trap petition have absolutely no idea what one is or indeed what it looks like.
The petition to ban Larsen traps was laid on the Assembly website and therefore is in the public domain and open to the scrutiny of the signatures. The NRW petition however was submitted via one of the mass petitioning websites and therefore we are unable to verify the signatures but we are sure it would also make interesting reading.
The Countryside Alliance is calling for this process to be reviewed and for petitions to be scrutinised to ensure that they contain signatures from the people of Wales relating to matters in Wales, or at the very least from in the UK. At the last evidence session, despite this recommendation being supported by the Chair David Rowlands AM, it was glossed over but the Alliance has already begun the process of overturning that rule. We will raise this issue again at the earliest possible convenience to ensure that there is an open and transparent count of the signatures that reach Cardiff Bay that genuinely reflects the mood of the people of Wales rather than this current sham.