More and more of the economic and social life of our country is moving online. Access to high speed broadband is now widely recognised as an essential service alongside water, electricity and gas. It has been a challenge to this, and previous, governments to roll out broadband in the countryside. We therefore welcome the Government commitment, expressed in last week's Autumn statement to invest £1 billion in broadband and mobile technologies.
The question I have been asked consistently since the Government withdrew its proposals to amend the Hunting Act in July in response to the SNP's decision to vote against the changes is why Defra did not wait until the implementation of English Votes for English Laws (EVEL).
Today (18 February) marks 11 years since the Hunting Act 2005 came into force. You'd have thought it would be old news by now. However ask your local MP what issue appears more often than any other in their inbox and there is a fair bet that he or she will say, not the NHS nor Syria nor the EU, but hunting.
According to the latest European Food Standards Agency report (2010), lead from game meat represents less than 0.1% of the total dietary lead exposure. Compare this to cereals and potatoes which come in at over 40%. In fact, the average person gains more than 60 times more lead from beer than game meat.
The current situation is not a fudge or a compromise: it is an unjustified and illiberal attack on a rural minority based on nothing other than prejudice. We want to see this issue resolved for good, but that must be on the basis of principle and evidence, not an irrational prohibition.
The recent article by Joe Duckworth, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) on this site will probably sound reasonable to anyone who, like Mr Duckworth, has little or no experience of hunting and wildlife management. But dig deeper into what he espouses and the cracks in his argument quickly become apparent.
If you think it is acceptable for Parliament to legislate against a group of people because it does not like them, then fine, leave the Hunting Act in place. If, however, this is a debate about wildlife management and animal welfare, then we need to repeal the Hunting Act and start again.
This Boxing Day is the tenth since the Hunting Act was passed by Parliament. It came into force six months later. For hunting, and for many people in the countryside, this was the lowest moment, but hunting still thrives despite all the fears and the dire predictions. How is it that an activity that was outlawed after an epic and bitter political campaign has survived?
25/12/2014 22:28 GMT
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