It’s hard not to be optimistic. Royal Windsor Horse Show brought in spring with unforgettable displays of horsemanship — little and large.
And now that the Conservatives are back in, their promise to offer a free vote in government time over the future of the Hunting Act 2004 offers — for the first time in years — a real hope for us all.
Horse & Hound’s position has always been clear: we support any opportunity to change this bad piece of legislation. For more than 10 years hunts have been operating under a law that has proved to be unworkable and unfair, and should never have reached the statute books — it is a “running sore in the countryside”, as Simon Hart MP said recently.
The use of the Parliament Act to push the ruling through was one of the most astonishing moves in modern politics.
Many of us would wish for a repeal — others argue that clauses such as the two-hound rule be removed. Some believe we should continue as we are. We can however be assured that those in power within Defra and other government departments are in meetings with the leaders from the Countryside Alliance and the Council of Hunting Associations to find a workable solution.
We wish them well.
But there is one area over which there can be no compromise: last week’s heartfelt comment by Old Berks huntsman Michael Scott spoke for us all when he said: “We hope that one day hunt staff will be able to go about their duties on a hunting day without fear of prosecution.” If there is one thing we would like to see changed, it is to allow the decent people whose lives depend on hunting to be allowed to do so in peace.
We will be keeping a close eye on proceedings and pass on news as we hear it. The election was won, now let the battle on behalf of hunting commence.
Kylie O’Brien; Horse & Hound Acting Print Editorial Director