What’s the hold-up on hunt ban?

Despite strong denials, the Scots hunting community is accused of exploiting loopholes in the law.
Despite strong denials, the Scots hunting community is accused of exploiting loopholes in the law.

Labour’s Lanark-based regional MSP Claudia Beamish has stirred up a row at Holyrood, accusing the Scottish Government of dragging its feet over a promised ban on blood sports.

Ms. Beamish, her party’s spokesperson for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, has criticised the SNP administration “for their failure to implement recommendations” of the Lord Bonomy review on the operation of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act. 

She claimed this week that the review “exposed loopholes in current legislation which allows mounted hunts to flush out foxes”. Scottish Labour wants to see this scrapped and the number of dogs used in all exemptions reduced to two.

She continued: “The Scottish Government commissioned the Bonomy review four years ago and it announced its findings on foxhunting two years ago. 

“Despite the Scottish Government committing to closing the loophole which allows hunts to flush out foxes with dogs, a Bill has not been brought forward to tackle this.

“There are only 14 months left of the current Parliament so I am calling on the Scottish Government to set out a timetable for proposals.

“More clarity is needed from the Minister, Mairi Gougeon, than a simple “Yes” which she gave in answer to a recent question in the parliamentary question.

The Scottish Government must take action to consign this cruel practice to history.”

The Bonomy Review was launched by the Scottish Government on Boxing Day, 2015 after widespread fears among anti-animal cruelty campaigners that the 2002 legislation designed to protect hunted mammals was just not working in practice.

Lord Bonomy duly produced his findings less than a year later, in November 2016 and the Scottish Government launched a consultation period on the recommendations 13 months later,in October, 2017.

That exercise went on until January, 2018 and the results of it - showing major support for a complete hunting ban - were published in June, 2018.

Since then, claim Labour, little if anything has happened despite, exactly a year ago this week, the Scottish Government pledging to introduce a bill to close the 2002 Act’s loopholes by the end of the current parliamentary session. That session ends in 14 months’ time and Ms Beamish is concerned that time will soon run out to turn the Bill into law.

A requested response from the SNP is awaited.