Hunting vote postponed to avoid government defeat

Leading animal welfare charity the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is delighted that the Government has come unstuck in its attempts to sabotage the Hunting Act.

The Government announced today that it was postponing a vote scheduled for tomorrow on wrecking amendments to the Hunting Act, following on from the announcement by the SNP that its MPs would vote against a return to cruelty.

The proposals put forward by the Government amounted to bringing back hunting by the back door.

One crucial amendment removed the limit of a maximum of two dogs being used to flush a fox (or other mammal) to guns and for other exemptions. Hunters would instead have been able to use as many dogs as they liked.

Another key amendment related to the use of dogs pursuing wild mammals underground. Currently this is only permitted in relation to protecting game birds, but this amendment would have removed this limitation and permitted sending a pack of terriers down holes to ‘flush out’ a fox.

The Government’s proposals would have made it far easier to break the hunting ban and avoid prosecution, not only in the case of fox hunting, but also in stag and hare hunting.

Despite the Government’s claims, its proposals were not tiny amendments to bring the English legislation in line with the Scottish ban, but rather many important amendments covering the majority of the hunting exemptions which would have made the  Act almost unenforceable.   Whilst these amendments would have made the Hunting Act far weaker than the laws in Scotland, we also welcome comments from the SNP that they are looking to strengthen the Scottish law on hunting.

UK Director of IFAW, Philip Mansbridge, said: “IFAW is delighted that the Government’s tactics to bring back hunting with dogs by the back door have monumentally failed. By trying to rush these amendments to the vote without offering the opportunity for full and proper debate, they used underhand methods to avoid calling for an honest vote on repeal that they must surely have thought they would lose.

“It should be no surprise that dirty tricks have played a part; everything connected to hunting – using trail hunting as a false alibi, undermining criminal trials and misinformation in the media – is stained with deceit and propaganda.

We know that we cannot rest easy, as there is still a threat to the Hunting Act and further votes may yet happen. Watering down the Hunting Act with obscure amendments would only serve to please a minority of vocal pro-hunt supporters. IFAW will continue working with supportive MPs from all parties who reject a return to cruelty, and represent the vast majority of the British public who find bloodsports abhorrent.”

Many MPs have spoken out about how important their constituents’ views are, and some have received many hundreds of letters and emails over the last few days urging them to vote against amending the hunting ban. IFAW congratulates the majority of MPs across the political spectrum who were prepared to vote down these amendments, and supporters of IFAW and other animal welfare charities who have made their views known.

With the UK still facing economic uncertainty and issues of far-reaching consequences, the Government should now be concentrating on dealing with real problems experienced by the wider community.

IFAW is ready to oppose any new proposals that the Government may bring forward to water down or wreck the Hunting Act in the future. With hunting, the focus should be on better enforcement of the law and there should be no return to cruelty.


For further information please contact the IFAW Press Office:

Ally MacDonald; Email:; Tel: 0207 587 6725 / 07860 755876