UK Politics

Fox hunting vote shelved by government

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Media captionTheresa May is asked about her views on fox hunting

MPs will not vote on whether to repeal the Hunting Act for at least two years, the government says.

The Conservatives promised a free vote on fox hunting in their general election manifesto, and during the campaign Theresa May said she was in favour of bringing it back.

But Mrs May lost her majority in the election and now ministers say will be no vote in this "session".

The current Parliamentary session is due to last two years.

Tony Blair's Labour government introduced the Hunting Act, which bans the use of dogs to hunt foxes and wild mammals in England and Wales, in 2004.

Under David Cameron, the Conservative manifesto also promised a free vote on whether to repeal it - but no vote was held, with the widespread view that it would not pass.

Image copyright PA

There was no mention of a vote in the Queen's Speech, and the decision to shelve it during this two-year session was confirmed by environment minister Therese Coffey.

Responding to a written Parliamentary question from Labour's Catherine West, she said: "The Government's manifesto includes a free vote on the Hunting Act 2004, but we are not planning to bring forward a free vote in this session."

Conservative MP and former party chairman Grant Shapps welcomed the announcement.

"Fox hunting, the insane policy signalling election campaign was about to go off-the-rails, is officially dumped", he tweeted.

Lib Dem rural affairs spokeswoman Baroness Parminter added: "It was a ridiculous idea to reopen a debate which was comprehensively decided on ten years ago.

"In these uncertain times, the government should be focusing on the real priorities for rural communities and protecting the wildlife and countryside that they cherish."