Hunting laws ‘need changing’ says MP

Turning a blind eye to flouting of the hunting ban could encourage other law breaking, says North Devon MP Nick Harvey. Turning a blind eye to flouting of the hunting ban could encourage other law breaking, says North Devon MP Nick Harvey.

Friday, December 27, 2013
3:35 PM

North Devon MP Nick Harvey fears ignored hunting ban could lead to other laws being broken.

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FLOUTING the hunting ban could lead to other law breaking in rural communities, North Devon MP Nick Harvey has claimed.

Mr Harvey made his comments in a national newspaper following the annual Boxing Day hunts in the region.

He told the North Devon Gazette: “The message it sends is that you can break the law with impunity – and in areas where policing is increasingly thin, there is a risk people could come to think that other laws can be selectively ignored or disregarded.”

In his national interview, he suggested young people saw the ban being routinely broken and wondered what message that sent to them about drink driving or other laws

“My concern is that Parliament has passed an Act which is in practice impossible to enforce - and if we leave this unresolved indefinitely, we risk undermining the rule of law,” continued Mr Harvey, who voted against the original ban.

“I am not suggesting anyone is currently breaking the drink driving laws – young or old. But I am pointing to that as an example of another law which might in the long run become less observed, if people came to perceive that the rule of law generally could not be enforced.”

He said his concern was not to debate hunting, but the impact of the ban and called for it to be modified in England and Wales to bring it in line with Scottish law, where mounted huntsmen can chase a fox in the interests of pest control provided dogs are muzzled and the fox is either shot or killed by a bird of prey.

But Peter Heaton-Jones, the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for North Devon, called Mr Harvey’s comments ‘bizarre’.

“I have read and re-read the comments from our local MP and I have to say I find them quite bizarre. He seems to be openly accusing large numbers of people in North Devon’s rural communities of deliberately breaking the law, which is bad enough.

“But then to draw a link between the alleged non-enforcement of the hunting ban and drink-driving by young people is barely credible.”

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