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Anti-hunting groups have spent £30 million on their campaign, claims the Middle Way Group, whose publication coincides with the Second Reading of the Government’s Hunting Bill in the House of Lords today.

This figure is the estimated combined expenditure by LACS, RSPCA and IFAW on anti-hunting issues and has been condemned by Peter Luff MP, co-chair of the Middle Way Group, as “a vast, wasted fortune”.

“If this is the case, it is an unbelievably high sum and the really sad point is that not one animal’s life will be saved as other methods of control will still be used,” says Peter.

There are no exact figures available for the equivalent money spent on pro-hunting campaigns.

Simon Hart, director of the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Hunting says: “We have always said we’d spend whatever it takes, but it wouldn’t be anything like that amount. I would hazard a guess of approximately half, but it is impossible to say for certain.

“Everyone involved in the pro-hunting campaign wishes that the £30m could have been spent on something constructive. I am amazed by how much of members’ money has been spent by those organisations on anti-hunting campaigns.

“To squander massive amounts of cash in fulfilling a political obsession is outrageous, and a disgraceful reflection on the leadership of these organisations.”

The Middle Way Group proposes that hunting should continue but “on a level which means that the activity is accountable to Parliament”, involving the issue of hunt licences and an amendment to the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996.

“Wildlife protection must extend beyond the hunting with dogs issue,” said Baroness Golding, co-chair of the Middle Way Group. “The sums spent in supporting this and previous Bills are totally out of proportion. A ban would increase animal suffering and we know that no animals will be saved. The Lords will, I hope, listen to the Middle Way Group’s proposals for licensing hunts and inject a large portion of reality into this Bill when we come to debate it.”