Leading animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports has welcomed a commitment from the Conservative party in its manifesto, published today, to safeguard the Hunting Act.

 By including the promise ‘no changes will be made to the Hunting Act’, the Conservatives have finally ditched previous promises to try to make fox hunting legal again.

 In every election manifesto since the law was passed in 2004, the party has promised to reverse the law and make the bloodsport legal again. 

 However, In the 2017 general election Theresa May faced a backlash at the polls after she promised to hold a free vote on it. Returned to Number 10 with a diminished majority, the former PM later scrapped it.

 Andy Knott, MBE, League Against Cruel Sports Chief Executive Officer, welcomed the move. He said: “The League has long been lobbying the Conservative Party to keep the ban in place. And while this pledge does not go anywhere near as far as Labour’s promises to strengthen the Hunting Act, it is nevertheless a significant step for the party and for the countryside.

 “Animal welfare is an issue that can bring a country back together, united against hunting and other forms of animal cruelty, and it speaks volumes when a party that has spent the last 14 years loudly promising to overturn the hunting ban changes its position in this way.

 “This general election we are calling on parties of all political colours to commit to protecting the welfare of wild animals by strengthening the Hunting Act, and we are campaigning hard to see more MPs in parliament who support animal welfare issues than ever before.”

The League is calling on voters to ask their candidates where they stand on hunting by visiting unitedagainsthunting.co.uk/take-action  and, with just one click, sending each on an email asking them to complete a short survey on their views.

Recent polling, commissioned by the League and run independently by YouGov, shows a cross-party consensus for the introduction of jail sentences for illegal hunting with dogs. A fine is the only option currently available to courts. 74 per cent of respondents who expressed a view support prison sentences for illegal hunting.

The polling also showed that 79 per cent of respondents who expressed a view think the Hunting Act should be amended to ensure foxes are not killed by hunts, whether intentionally or otherwise, when they claim to be following trails or so-called ‘trail’ hunting.

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Notes to editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,639 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th - 30th October 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Despite hunting being made illegal in 2004, hunting packs still go ‘trail’ hunting, which often results in foxes being ‘accidentally’ killed. There are 191 fox hunts operating in Great Britain today, 14 years after the Hunting Act 2004 was enacted that outlawed the practice. In total, hunts can go out almost 10,700 times a year – and each time a fox’s life is put at risk.

Strengthening the Hunting Act would include:

  • The introduction of a recklessness clause, to prevent the use of ‘trail’ hunting as an excuse when animals are accidentally killed by hunts
  • Remove exemptions from the Hunting Act so they cannot be abused and used as excuses to continue to hunt with hounds
  • Introduce prison sentences for people who are convicted of illegal hunting

Separate polling commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and carried out independently by Ipsos MORI in 2017 shows that 85 per cent of respondents are in favour of keeping the ban on fox hunting. Data is available here.

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

To find out more about the League’s general election campaign, see unitedagainsthunting.co.uk

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).