Today, in a response to a question from Green Co-Convenor Patrick Harvie MSP, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“I have always been an opponent of fox hunting and remain an opponent of fox hunting”.
She continued to say:
“Be under no doubt at all this government opposes fox hunting and that’s the position we have long taken and the position we continue to take.”
In response, OneKind Director Harry Huyton said:
“We welcome the clear statement from the First Minister today that she and the Scottish Government are totally opposed to fox hunting. These were in stark contrast to the Conservative manifesto commitment to a vote to repeal the Hunting Act in England and Wales.
Fox hunting is cruel, outdated and unnecessary. There is no place for it in a modern Scotland, and I look forward to seeing the Scottish Government translate today’s rhetoric into action, starting with a public consultation that specifically puts forward a proposal for a full ban on mounted fox hunting.”
Notes to editor:
1. OneKind is a Scottish animal protection charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals.
2. Patrick Harvie’s question in full:
“A few days ago, the Prime Minister showed how hugely in touch she is with the priorities of the country by declaring that she’s always supported fox hunting and maintains a commitment to its reintroduction.
Today, the conservative manifesto promises a step backwards in reintroducing this cruel and barbaric act to parts of these Islands. And it was also revealed that one of Ruth Davidson’s former colleagues who resigned recently is a member of a fox hunting club in Scotland claiming that it was part of her way of life. An estimated 800 foxes are killed by hunts each year in Scotland, 20% of which are killed by packs of hounds rather than being shot in clear breach of the Wild Mammals Act.
And the First Minister will be well aware of the huge amount of anger and concern there is among members of the public about this issue.
Does she agree with those members of the public who contacting all parties at the moment to demand a ban on this brutual act?
Does she agree with her own party leader in Westminster who opposes fox hunting and if she does, will the law in Scotland totally oppose fox hunting?
2. The First Minister’s answer in full:
“Well firstly before I go onto position of Scottish Government, I do think it says a lot about the priorities of Theresa May and the Tories when they go out of their way to deny parliament any say over the hugely important issues associated with Brexit and yet they are committed to give parliament a free vote on re-introducing fox hunting. If ever there was something that said this is a government that has got completely the wrong priorities this I suspect this is it.
Obviously when David Cameron was talking about this previously that raised an issue about differences between the law between England and Scotland and at that point we committed to looking at loopholes in the Scottish Law as Patrick Harvie will be aware, we’ve had Lord Bonomy look at this in detail, we are now consulting on Lord Bonomy’s recommendations and considering whether changes in the law are required as a result of that.
Yes, I do understand the concerns of the people who are writing to us. I have always been an opponent of fox hunting and remain an opponent of fox hunting and we need to make sure the operation of the law in Scotland is appropriate, and that’s exactly what this process is intended to ensure.
Firstly, I think while I do understand the concerns that people are expressing and share some of those concerns. I do think Patrick Harvie mischaracterises the position of the Scottish Government. The exemptions in the current law are of course exemptions which were debated and agreed in this parliament before I think Patrick Harvie was a member of it. In the first session of this Parliament there was a member’s bill brought forward and these issues were fully debated at that time.
There have been concerns raised about what I’m describing as loopholes and whether we need to tighten the law further. So, we have embarked on a process. We have had Lord Bonomy look at this in detail and we are now consulting on what Lord Bonomy has said. I think given that this is a live consultation we should allow this consultation to take its course. If Patrick Harvie wants to submit to this consultation, and he may have already done so, in which case I apologise, then he can submit to this consultation and argue for us to go further than we are and it will be considered as part of that consultation.
I think we should go forward with this process and that’s the right thing to do. But be under no doubt at all this government opposes fox hunting and that’s the position we have long taken and the position we continue to take.”
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