Pow says no!

Rachael Maskell is Labour’s Shadow Minister for Digital, Culture Media and Sport. So we had probably better be nice to her. Last month she asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he would be willing to make an assessment of the “potential merits of requiring that any fox or wild animal killed in trail hunting be reported by a hunt and that that data be made accessible to the public, identifying the hunt and the number of animals.

The Secretary of State rarely goes into bat for written questions like this. Especially those that court controversy from the start. Instead Taunton MP Rebecca Pow (Under Secretary of State for  Environment, food and rural affairs) was given the thankless task of responding.

The Under-Secretary proved good with chapter and verse. She stated clearly that “the Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt a wild mammal with dogs except where it is carried out in accordance with the exemptions in the Act. The Government will not amend the Hunting Act 2004.

Those found guilty under the Act are subject to the full force of the law, and enforcement is an operational matter for the police.”

As an exercise in not answering the question, it was a master class.

As a statement of the very obvious it was beyond dispute.

But Ms Maskell’s question was not about enforcement. The question was about data recording and accessibility to that data. And while those on both sides of the argument continue in a state of cold warfare, having some actual data with which to discuss the merits or otherwise of either side’s position, might actual be helpful.

A propos of which it surely would not be so hard for DEFRA and the Home Office to get together for five minutes and agree that the Police should both record and keep records to enable that data to be collected?

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