The Christmas period is a time of tradition, but there is one tradition I am glad we have got rid of - hunting with dogs. I'll fight to keep it that way.
I was pleased this week to meet with my Labour colleague and Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Kerry McCarthy MP. Kerry is campaigning to keep the issue in the spotlight, which is important given that we know the Tories are keen to scrap the ban. And what better time to remind the government of the opposition to hunting with dogs than just before many hunts ride out on their biggest days of the year – Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Hunting with dogs was banned by the Labour government in 2004, and many of you will remember that Tory attempts to scrap the ban earlier this year had to be abandoned when it became obvious the government would lose the vote.
MPs from all parties – including an increasing number of Conservatives – know that fox hunting is simply wrong. It is impossible to comprehend why a very small number of people still want to torture animals in this way.
Each year, polls show that more and more of the public both in rural and urban areas are against this barbaric activity. I received lots of emails, letters and phone calls from residents here in Heywood and Middleton earlier in the autumn urging me to vote to keep the ban. People do not want to see fox hunting return, and I will continue to campaign with my Labour colleagues and others to keep the ban in place.