» Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Fox Hunting

Asked how the Prime Minister would be voting on the issue of fox hunting later today, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said he thought it was important to put today’s events into context. The Government had been trying for seven years to find a middle way to resolve this issue. However, it was clear that attempts to do so had not succeeded. Nevertheless, two manifesto commitments had been given to let Parliament resolve the issue and the Government was determined to live up to them. As we had underlined from the outset, it was up to individual MPs to exercise their free vote in the House. If the issue was raised during PMQs today, no doubt the Prime Minister, who was an MP just like any other, would take the opportunity to make his voting intentions clear. Asked if he was really suggesting that journalists were not entitled to know how the Prime Minister was planning on voting, the PMOS said he thought it was more appropriate for the House to be informed first. There wasn’t long to wait. He added that the Prime Minister had not changed his view on fox hunting. Put to him that if the Prime Minister was committed to fulfilling his manifesto pledges, a ban on fox hunting would be brought in within three months rather than delayed for two years, the PMOS said the Prime Minister believed that the delay was important both to give those involved time to adjust to the new situation and also to give voters a chance to express their own views, should they want to, at a General Election. The Government had committed itself to resolving the issue of fox hunting within this Parliament. In the Prime Minister’s view that commitment had to be respected, despite the fact that it hadn’t been possible to find a way through. Asked if he was ‘seriously suggesting’ that the Prime Minister believed that fox hunting should become the main issue in a General Election, the PMOS pointed out that the purpose of General Elections was to allow voters to express their views on any matter.

Asked to explain his use of the phrase ‘middle way’ in answering an earlier question, the PMOS said that Alan Michael’s initial proposal had tried to bring about a compromise. Unfortunately, it had not won sufficient support – a reality which we had recognised and taken into account.

Asked if the Prime Minister continued to believe that invoking the Parliament Act if necessary was an appropriate way to resolve the issue, the PMOS said he did not think that it would be useful to get drawn into a discussion about hypothetical scenarios. That said, there had been several attempts to try to find a way through. Unfortunately, all had failed. Consequently, as Alun Michael had said this morning, if the Commons expressed its free will, it was important for people to respect it. Asked if there was a guarantee that a ban on fox hunting would be introduced whatever happened or whether he was suggesting that one way to ‘resolve’ the issue was to decide not to introduce a ban at all, the PMOS said that it was a matter for a free vote. Everyone knew how the Commons had voted in the past on this matter. It would be more helpful were people to exercise a little patience and wait and see what happened both in the Commons today and in the House of Lords rather than engage in hypothetical and speculative discussions.

Asked if the Prime Minister had other important business to attend to between 5pm and 7pm and 9pm and 10pm tonight, the PMOS confirmed that there were existing diary commitments. However, as always, the Prime Minister recognised the importance of Parliament and carrying out his duties as an MP.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. Happy to live up to manifesto commitments on animals
    Happy to renege on human issues like University Top Up Fees

    Hummm interesting morals and values

    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 15 Sep 2004 on 7:36 pm | Link
  2. You saying you’d rather see an end to top-up-fees instead of an end to the hunt?

    I’m not saying I wouldn’t rather the same, but both statements reflect "interesting morals and values". 🙂

    Comment by Gregory Block — 16 Sep 2004 on 10:56 am | Link
  3. It just amazes me that our elected representatives can spent so much of our money and their time on a minor issue like fox hunting. Where many of them appear to have concluded that foxes have human traits such as the recognition of life and death and the ability to rationalise being chased by dogs as indicating imminent death.

    On the other hand they are perfectly willing to join Mr Liar in breaking promises to humans.

    The humans asked Labour to not introduce top up fees and some voted for Labour because of the promise.

    I am not aware of the foxes asking for a bill or of foxes voting for Labour.

    and finally Yes if the deal is a binary, hunt foxes or no top up fees then as we don’t yet have Animal Farm I vote to continue hunting and getting rid of top up fees.

    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 16 Sep 2004 on 1:23 pm | Link
  4. Well I hope the Labour MPs who voted to ban hunting and are so keen to see the Parliament Act brought into play, remember that "you reap what you sow" and that using the "Nuclear Option" for what to the vast majority of the electorate is an irrelevent issue, only lowers the threshhold for use of the Act, by a future Right wing government who also perhaps has a wish to abolish a minority interest which they don’t share, such as trade union membership.

    Comment by Red Robbo — 17 Sep 2004 on 8:44 am | Link

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


September 2004
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Aug   Oct »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh