POLITICS

Foxhunting like dolphin slaughter says SNP's Pete Wishart as party considers voting on English ban

13/07/2015 13:41 BST | Updated 13/07/2015 15:59 BST
Ben Birchall/PA Archive
The Avon Vale hunt makes its way to the village of Laycock, Wiltshire on the traditional Boxing Day meet as a poll by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA found that eight out of ten people believe foxhunting should remain illegal.

SNP MPs could vote against changes to England’s foxhunting law because it is akin to “dolphin slaughtering in Japan”, a senior nationalist claimed today.

David Cameron is proposing a free vote on whether to water down the foxhunting ban, which animal rights activists fear could see a return of the controversial sport.

The change to the ban would only affect hunting in England and Wales, but the SNP are yet to decide whether to vote on the issue on Wednesday.

The party’s MPs will meet tonight to scrutinise the proposals to determine if some of the changes around the research and observation clauses will have an impact on Scotland.

Pete Wishart, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, was repeatedly challenged on the BBC’s Daily Politics today as to whether his party would take part in the vote.

He said: “People have very, very strong views about things like animal welfare, we take an interest in things like dolphin slaughtering in Japan and whale hunting so there are a number of things we have to look at. This is what we’ve been lobbied on by our constituents and I think the right and responsible thing is to get together to discuss all these things and make a decision.”

Mr Wishart said he had received “something like 2,000 emails” on the issue, despite it not appearing to affect his constituents north of the border.

The proposed changes involve removing the two-hound limit on hunting foxes for pest control purposes.

Despite Mr Cameron intending to vote in favour of changing the law, many Tories are vehemently against the change.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch is one of those opposed to foxhunting, and the change may struggle to pass through the Commons if the 56 SNP MP’s do decide to vote against it.

An SNP spokesperson said today: “As with all proposals from the UK government, SNP MPs will decide our position once we have assessed the detail of what is being proposed.”

Animal welfare campaigners will march on Parliament on Wednesday to protest against the changes, led by Queen guitarist Brian May.

The musician-turned-activist last week accused pro-hunt group the Countryside Alliance of being a “bunch of lying bastards” during a heated exchange with its welfare consultant Jim Barrington on BBC’s Newsnight.