Voting against the barbarity of hunting

Karin Smyth Pigeon July 2015

Click to enlarge Karin Smyth’s July article in The Pigeon magazine

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth has reaffirmed her support for the ban on hunting with dogs.

Ahead of a Commons vote on Wednesday (15 July) the Labour MP confirmed she will firmly oppose any measures that are brought forward to weaken or repeal the Hunting Act.

Below you can read an article Karin Smyth wrote for the July edition of south Bristol magazine The Pigeon, which includes more of her thoughts about hunting.

At a time when many people are anxious about their finances, housing and employment, much of the contact I’ve received as a newly-elected MP has understandably come from constituents worried about their own personal situation. I’m working hard to help people right across south Bristol who need help.

Interestingly, wildlife and animal welfare issues have also figured prominently in my postbag and email inbox. That might raise an eyebrow, but residents’ concerns on these matters don’t surprise me at all. The way we treat animals is a reflection of the way we treat humans.

I’m proud that Labour governments of recent years put these issues high on the political agenda. The landmark Animal Welfare Act, for example, set new standards for the treatment of animals, introducing new duties of care for owners, and providing tough new sanctions for those who break the law.

In recent weeks many people have made contact having read about the prospect of the new Conservative government reversing legislation, introduced by Labour, that outlaws hunting with dogs. There’s been fierce opposition to any repeal of this ban. I welcomed the Hunting Act’s introduction and still support it. There is no place for the barbarity of hunting in a civilised society, so I will firmly oppose any measures that are brought forward to repeal it.

There have also been widespread concerns about the threat to bees, a vital part of our food chain, from neonicotinoid pesticides. Over two years ago the European Food Safety Authority reported three of these pesticides pose an unacceptable danger, recommending they shouldn’t be used on crops that attract bees. The coalition government refused to support a European ban, but thankfully Ministers were eventually forced into action by the EU Commission in December 2013.

Now there is renewed pressure from the National Farmers Union to allow these pesticides again, even though the government’s own Chief Scientific Adviser acknowledged they are highly toxic to many species of insects. I’m not an expert on these matters, but I believe Ministers should listen and heed the advice from people who are experts – their own specialist scientific advisors – and reject calls to allow mass use of these pesticides.

With my Bristol and London offices now established, and a programme of face-to-face constituency surgeries in operation, I’d urge you to get in touch if you feel I can help, whether with a confidential personal or family issue, or with a wider concern such as those outlined above. You can email or write to Karin Smyth MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.