MP Shapps cornered over fox hunting debate

PARLIAMENTARY hopeful Mike Hobday has accused MP Grant Shapps of supporting plans to repeal the ban on fox hunting.

Mr Hobday, the Labour prospective MP for Welwyn Hatfield, hit out after Tory leader David Cameron said he would give MPs a free vote on repealing the Hunting Act should his party win power at the next General Election.

Mr Hobday said: “Grant has been very critical of the Hunting Act, so the strong implication is that he falls into the same category as 99 per cent of Conservatives of wanting to repeal the Act and allow the cruelty to resume.”

Under the Act, which was passed by Parliament in 2004, hounds are permitted to flush out a fox, but cannot kill it.

And Mr Hobday, a former head of public affairs at the League Against Cruel Sports, is keen to see the Act remain in place.

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“I think fox hunting is a cruel and unnecessary activity,” he said.

“It is wrong in a modern society for people to get pleasure out of allowing animal suffering.”

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Responding to the allegation that he has been critical of the Act, Mr Shapps said he was not a fan of the way in which it was passed through Parliament.

“The Hunting Act was passed using the Parliament Act, which has only been used four times in history - three of which were under Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister,” he said.

Mr Shapps admitted fox hunting was an issue that aroused “very strong” passions.

But he stressed he had not yet decided how he would vote should the opportunity to repeal the Act arise.

He told the WHT: “If and when a relevant vote comes before the House I will consider the options, which might include a variety of possibilities including some form of licensing, a total ban or lifting of the law – and no doubt several other options.

“I will listen to the arguments on both sides come that time.”

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