After a 10-month ban due to the foot-and-mouth crisis, hunting returned to the countryside today, prompting Sir Paul to call for a total ban on blood sports. Sir Paul and his daughters Mary and Stella have written a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior British law makers pleading for a ban on hunting with dogs. Earlier this year, the House of overwhelmingly approved a controversial draft law for a ban on hunting with hounds but the House of Lords, Britain's upper chamber, rejected the proposal. Thus the issue must return to the Commons. As a new vote is said to be a long way down the Prime Minister's agenda, Sir Paul in his letter calls for a free vote in the House of Commons on the issue at the earliest possible opportunity. His letter reads as follows:The letter was signed by a group of celebrities including TV presenter Michaela Strachan, actress Jenny Seagrove and model/actress Twiggy Lawson, Betty Driver, Elizabeth Emanuel, Julia McKenzie and Radio One DJs Marc Riley and Mark Radcliffe, aka Mark and Lard.The Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP
Secretary of State Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Nobel House 17
Smith Square London SW1P 3JR
26 December 2001
Dear Mrs Beckett,All around the country today people on horseback will be marking Boxing Day by following packs of hounds chasing and savaging hundreds of wild animals in the name of sport.
For the past 200 years Parliament has been outlawing cruelty to animals. The once popular activities of bull baiting, bear baiting, cock fighting, dog fighting and badger baiting are now illegal. Today, the hunting of deer, foxes, hares and mink with dogs is the only activity where animal is set against animal for so-called 'sport' that has not yet been consigned to the history books.
Your Government has promised to give the House of Commons an "early opportunity to express its view", to have a "free vote" and to "enable Parliament to reach a conclusion on this issue". The time to do this has come. We urge the Government to use its powers over Parliamentary procedures to ensure that a ban is introduced as quickly as possible.
We want to live in a country where it is illegal to inflict pain and suffering by hunting wild animals with dogs: an activity that we, along with most British people believe is cruel, unnecessary, unacceptable and outdated.
cc. The Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Tony Blair MP
(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)
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