Wildlife Crime — [Andrew Rosindell in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:29 pm on 20th March 2019.

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Photo of Sue Hayman Sue Hayman Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:29 pm, 20th March 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. When the Labour party consulted on the animal welfare plan last year, that was one of the main issues that came up over and over again.

Labour’s Hunting Act 2004 was a key milestone in banning that blood sport, but we have heard today about new practices that have developed to exploit loopholes in the legislation. We want to call time on those who defy the law and tighten up the Hunting Act to ensure that it does what it was intended to do. As we have heard, a poll commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports found that only one in six rural residents believe that hunting with dogs reflects countryside values. More than nine in 10 think that countryside values are really about observing nature.

The Law Commission’s 2015 report on wildlife law states that the current legislation governing the control, exploitation, welfare and conservation of wild animals has turned into a complex patchwork of overlapping and sometimes conflicting provisions. It has recommended reforming wildlife law in England and Wales to reduce its complexity. In 2015 it produced an excellent report and a draft Bill that deals with many of the issues we have discussed today. I want to ask the Minister why the Government have not taken the recommendations of the extensive piece of work that they commissioned any further.

I urge the Minister seriously to consider drafting a database of wildlife crime for England and Wales so that we can have a much better idea of the scale of the problem, set out the plans for the future of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, as its funding is due to run out in 2020, and really listen to the concerns that Members have expressed today so that wildlife crime in this country can be tackled once and for all.