The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian network founded in 1973


The last hurrah for fox hunters?

By Phil Murphy and John Deane

From The Universe, November 9 1997

The MP hoping to pilot a Bill through Parliament to outlaw hunting has insisted his measure will reach the statute books - despite Government warnings that no extra Parliamentary time will be allotted to help it on its way.
Mike Foster, Labour MP for Worcester, published a draft copy of his Wild Mammals (Hunting with Dogs) Bill on Tuesday. Formal publication was due to follow this weekend, with the first crunch vote taking place on November 28.
It includes maximum penalties of 5,000 fines and up to six months' imprisonment for huntsmen who flout the law, or even those who allow hunting to take place on their land. Yet there were fears among anti-hunt campaigners that comments from Downing Street on Monday spelled the death-knell for the bill, with the Government insisting it had "enough on its plate" and would not be able to find extra time for the measure.
Mr Foster said his family had faced personal abuse since he agreed to sponsor the bill.
"In the summer, we were subjected to death threats and abuse, which were aimed at me and my family," he said.
The threats stopped only after Commons colleagues referred to them publicly.
"Clearly people in the hunting community knew it did them no good to have this level of intimidation against me," he said.
But Mrs Foster and her children abandoned their home last week while a pro-hunting campaign was taking place in Worcester after claims that racists and other extremists might be attaching themselves to the protest.
Nevertheless, he did not regret backing anti-hunting legislation as his first major public act as an MP. "The experience I have had since launching this bill has been wonderful overall in the sense that I have seen how the place works and I have a greater insight into the workings of the House, which will make me a better MP in the longer term."
MPs from all parties attended a photo-call outside the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday to show support for the measure.
Roger Gale, Tory MP for North Thanet and chairman of the all-party animal welfare group, acknowledged that Mr Foster's bill faced real problems in the absence of Government support.
"A Private Member's Bill is an extremely fragile Parliamentary instrument," he said. "It's very easy to block."
"This is a Bill whose time has come. Whether it gets through now or in a year's time is almost irrelevant."
Mr Gale said support for a ban on the Tory side of the House should not be underestimated, with former Ministers Sir Teddy Taylor and Anne Widdecombe backing the bill.
While he did not blame the Government for failing to support the bill, Mr Gale said: "My quarrel is not that they are not doing it; my quarrel is that they gave the impression before the Election that they would facilitate this."
But Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, accused the Government of "treachery" and said he hoped Labour MPs would make their leaders change their mind.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance attacked the bill as "unworkable".
"Mike Foster's bill is draconian and unworkable and for anybody who owns a dog it makes it into an offence if the dog hunts anything," said the organisation's Janet George.
"This would affect totally innocent dog owners and makes the Dangerous Dogs Act look sensible.
"But, fortunately, it is doomed to fail and everybody who has got a dog can thank their lucky stars for it"
Reproduced with thanks
See Article: Dogged MP pins ban bid on poster campaign offers a ray of hope for female deer 

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