There was a mixed reaction to the fact there was no reference to the Hunting Act in The Queen’s Speech delivered at the State Opening of Parliament on 27 May from those on both sides of the hunting debate.
Some anti-hunting campaigners expressed satisfaction that David Cameron’s outlined programme for the coming session did not mention his manifesto pledge to offer a vote on repeal of the act. The RSPCA heralded it “a victory for foxes”.
However, the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) was more circumspect, issuing a statement reading: “The potential repeal of the Hunting Act may not be in The Queen’s speech, but we don’t think for a second that the issue has gone away. The threat to the Hunting Act remains.”
The move came as a surprise to some following the commitment in the Conservative Party manifesto to give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a Government bill.
On the other side of the debate, the pro-hunting lobby was less concerned by the absence of any mention of repeal.
Tim Bonner, the director of campaigns at the Countryside Alliance told H&H: “There was never any expectation that a repeal Bill would be part of The Queen’s Speech.
“It is obviously not one of the Government’s priorities, but a vote on repeal is a manifesto commitment and all the signs are that it will be delivered quickly and dealt with speedily.
“We look forward to the Government bringing forward its proposal and believe that any debate on the failed Hunting Act will see a majority of MPs voting to get rid of it.”
Prior to the Hunting Act becoming law, there was much debate in the Commons and the Lords.
The two Houses were unable to reach an agreement so Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House of Commons, invoked the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 to pass the bill.
As a result the Hunting Act 2004 achieved royal assent on 18 October 2004 and came into force on 18 February 2005.