What lies ahead?
The Labour Party has released its Animal Welfare Manifesto, which includes a number of proposals that could affect the future of shooting.
The 10-page document, announced recently by Sue Hayman, the shadow environment secretary, proposes, among other things: the prohibition of keeping gamebirds in cages and a plan to ban snaring. It also includes proposals to further regulate the use of dogs in fox control by removing the exemption that allows terriers to kill foxes to protect gamebirds.
Tim Bonner, chairman of the Countryside Alliance, said that it was “in parts a deeply ignorant document”.
He said that the current Labour Party had a “comical view of rural Britain”. Mr Bonner took aim at the focus on grouse shooting.
“The document contains a commitment to ‘implement an independent review into the economic, environmental and wildlife impacts of driven grouse shooting and model alternatives’. Although as the shadow secretary of state, Sue Hayman, has already decided that ‘there are viable alternatives to grouse shooting, such as simulated shooting and wildlife tourism’ it is difficult to see how any review is going to be particularly independent.
Christopher Graffius, BASC’s executive director of communications, said: “Labour’s plan to remove specific shooting-related exemptions from the Hunting Act is of particular concern. These exemptions were made to honour the pledge made by the Labour government that shooting would not be affected by the hunting ban.
“These were approved by Labour parliamentary majorities and the code of practice on the use of a dog below ground to protect gamebirds was issued by a Labour government.”
However, SHADOW DEFRA minister David Drew commented at a recent BASC rural reception: “Countryside issues matter to Labour and the party wants to make sure the environment is top of the agenda.”
BASC council member Martyn Jones – a Labour MP for 23 years until his retirement at the 2010 general election – also spoke at the reception.
He said: “It is important that Labour recognises the importance of its rural constituents and it will not succeed as a party if it ignores those voices from the British countryside.”