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Hunting Act 2004

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 18 June 2015

4. Whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to repeal the Hunting Act 2004; and if she will make a statement. (900409)

As we said in our manifesto, we will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act 2004 on a free vote on a Government Bill in Government time.

The Secretary of State will understand that my constituents and, indeed, the whole country are overwhelmingly opposed to the repeal of the foxhunting ban. As she said, the Government have made a clear commitment to a vote on repeal, but she has not made clear the nature of that vote. Will she confirm that the vote will be on a parliamentary Bill that is considered in this House and the other place in the normal way?

I confirm that that is what we are committed to. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that that pledge was part of our manifesto, which people voted on at the general election, and we are committed to fulfilling it.

We on this side of the House are confident that we would win a vote to prevent the repeal of the Hunting Act, but it is clear from the Minister’s answer that no plan is in place for a vote. On that basis, and given that 80% of voters support the ban on hunting, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield) pointed out, why does not the Secretary of State just drop the idea and get on with the job of making sure the legislation is enforced?

I am a bit surprised to hear the hon. Lady talk about her side of the House, given that this has always been a free vote matter that is up to the conscience of individual Members. I have made it very clear that I support repeal of the Hunting Act and would vote on that basis, but I recognise that Members need to make their own decisions on the issue, so I am surprised to hear that the vote would be whipped by the Labour party.