All three MPs would have voted to relax fox hunting laws

Library image.
Library image.

All three of the area’s MPs would have voted in favour of relaxing fox hunting laws.

The poll, which was due to take place tomorrow (Wednesday), was postponed after the SNP said they would vote to block the amendment.

...they are farmers protecting livestock using guns, so I’m very comfortable with that.

MP Nadine Dorries

Currently the law restricts people to using a maximum of two dogs to flush out and stalk foxes and other vermin, which are then shot.

The planned debate and free vote was due to be on proposals that will allow foxes to be hunted by packs of hounds in England and Wales again, which is in line with current legislation in Scotland.

MP for Bedford and Kempston Richard Fuller said he would ‘probably’ have voted for the changes, while Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries and North East Beds MP Alistair Burt have both said they would vote for the amendment.

Ms Dorries said: “I wouldn’t vote for repeal but I would vote for bringing the legislation in line with the Scottish example, which works well. The people who use that model of hunting do not use horses, they are farmers protecting livestock using guns, so I’m very comfortable with that.”

The vote has been shelved after SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said the party would vote after previously pledging that they would stay quiet on issues affecting England and Wales only.

The party leader has said that David Cameron and his government are ‘out of step’ with English opinion on the issue.

Ms Dorries said: “It think it is interesting that they would vote against a measure that is already in Scotland.

“I think what they have done is reinforce the need for English votes for English laws.”

In a statement posted on his website Mr Burt has said he will not be swayed in his vote for the amendment by the opinion of his constituents.

He said: “An MP is elected to exercise his or her judgement on issues of the day. Each vote in Parliament cannot be considered a referendum, on which every constituent has been canvassed. My responsibility is to make a decision and rightfully inform my constituents, some of whom will agree and some disagree.

“My responsibility is not to pass on that responsibility to a simple majority who choose to contact me, ignoring my consideration or those who take a minority view, or who share my view and choose not to contact me.

“These views may influence a voter when an election comes, and those who disagree with me have their opportunity to vote me out of office.”

Fellow MP Mr Fuller told Bedford Today: “I understand how the issue raises emotions on both sides but those emotions could obscure the argument.”

The RSPCA has branded the government vote as a tactical amendment to the Hunting Act 2004.

A statement published on the animal charity’s website said: “It would weaken the Act to such an extent that it would become extremely difficult to enforce on illegal hunting with dogs.

“In many respects it’s the first step at dismantling the Act and the protection it provides for wildlife.”