I’m someone who is a self-confessed animal lover, and believe passionately that the way we treat our animals and pets speaks a lot about the society that we live in.

Which is why I’m proud to be part of a Labour family which speaks up passionately in defence of animal welfare, as well as seeking changes to the law to improve the way we treat our animals.

In my opinion one of the most important animal welfare achievements of the last Labour government centred on the introduction of the fox hunting ban (Hunting Act 2004) in England and Wales. Rather than a radical shift this change merely built upon 150 years of progressive improvements which began in 1835 when dog fighting as a ‘sport’ was banned, as even in the Victorian era it was considered too barbaric.

However, since the ban over a decade ago the law has never always been properly enforced, and continued attempts to weaken or repeal it continue (we should remember that hunting is still legal in Northern Ireland).

Once the chasing and killing of animals was banned, those hunters who were no longer able to do this could have converted to drag hunting, (a sport using foxhounds to search for a non-animal scent laid by a drag pulled on a string).

Sadly many hunters chose not to and instead invented what has come to be known as ‘trail hunting’ which involves mimicking traditional hunting by following an animal-based scent trail and often leads to live animals being chased, and killed.

As a member of the National Trust I feel strongly that the practise of ‘trail hunting’ must end, as well as ending any form of animal hunting on National Trust land. Which is why I was delighted to join the League Against Cruel Sport’s in Parliament several weeks ago to offer my backing to their Hunting Kills campaign.

This campaign aims to strengthen legislation in both the Hunting Act 2004 in England and Wales, and the Wild Mammals Protection (Scotland) Act 2002. By strengthening the law around this issue we can end the practise of ‘trail hunting’ which is simply used as a cover for those seeking to continue to hunt and kill foxes with dogs.

As a society we reject the outdated calls to return to a time of blood sport, where people gained enjoyment out of the hunting and suffering of animals – this is shown in poll after poll as overwhelming numbers of people opposing fox hunting with dogs (the most recent poll conducted at the end of 2017 revealed that over 85% of the public backed a ban, an all-time record high).

I completely support this sentiment which is way I’m right behind the League Against Cruel Sport’s campaign. Let there be no ambiguity on the issue, as a society and a nation we are against these practises, however, only by keeping the conversation going can we ensure the Hunting Ban is maintained, and strengthened over time.

Never again should we return to an outdated system used by a tiny minority in order to get a cheap thrill.

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