Melton fox hunters angry over postponed vote on dog use

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Hunters in Melton have reacted angrily to today’s (Tuesday) late postponement of a parliamentary vote on a move to relax foxhunting laws in England and Wales.

The scheduled ballot, which could have allowed an unlimited number of dogs to be used to flush out a fox instead of just two, was shelved after indications by the Scottish National Party (SNP) that their MPs would oppose it which might have resulted in the bill being defeated.

The Quorn Hunt, which has kennels at Kirby Bellars, questioned the right of the SNP to intervene in an issue which didn’t concern their country and said it was hopeful the law change to allow multiple dogs would come in eventually.

Spokesman Rad Thomas said: “What possible right do the SNP have to force a postponement on this vote? I think it’s absolutely disgraceful and disgusting.

“I wouldn’t say the law is being relaxed with this vote - it is being realigned so it is more in line with Scotland, where they are allowed to use more than two dogs.

“If the vote eventually goes through it will be a step forward for the hunt because the legislation which came in 10 years ago is so ambiguous that everyone has interpreted it differently.”

Mr Thomas said foxhunting had remained popular with consistently good turnouts with the Quorn, which was formed in 1696, despite the restrictions of the Hunting Act a decade ago which banned the hunting of wild mammals with dogs other than to use them to flush out prey. He added: “The legislation made us more and more determined to enjoy the hunt until the law is changed and it becomes much more meaningful again.

“Hunting with hounds is the only selective method of controlling foxes - it weeds out the weak and sick ones and no other method can do this.”

Anti-hunting groups said amending the act would have ‘returned hunting by the back door’.

At the time of going to press no-one from the Belvoir Hunt, which has hounds kennelled at Belvoir Castle, nor the Cottesmore Hunt, which has kennels at Ashwell and hunt at Whissendine and Little Dalby among other places, was available for comment.