Dear Chris Skidmore MP,
I am writing to ask you to commit to supporting the Hunting Act 2004 over the course of this Parliament and to support the intended spirit of the legislation, that is, to prevent the hunting of foxes and other mammals with dogs.
An overwhelming majority of the public think fox hunting should remain illegal, which has been shown consistently since the ban was introduced by a variety of pollsters using different methodologies. Two examples of such polls are listed below:
YouGov, July 2019, 79% of the public think fox hunting should stay illegal, including 69% of Conservative voters:
Ipsos Mori, December 2017, 85% of the public think fox hunting should stay illegal, including 73% of Conservative voters:
If the public were ever offered a referendum on fox hunting, it's clear that the mandate to keep the ban would dwarf that of any referendum in recent years including Brexit, Scottish participation in the union and rejection of the Alternative Vote.
As such you should strive to uphold the "Will of the People", as your party is so fond of saying in relation to those other issues, and retain the ban on fox hunting.
Please commit to supporting the ban on fox hunting over the next five years in Parliament and, if the opportunity should arise, use your power to strengthen the ban where possible and prevent unnecessary damage to Britain's valued wildlife.
Thank you for contacting me about fox hunting.
I appreciate the strong feelings many people have on this issue and I share your concern for ensuring the welfare of animals. As you may know, fox hunting is banned under the Hunting Act 2004, so whether or not an offence is being committed depends on whether or not the behaviour violates its provisions.
Since the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004 many hunts have turned to trail hunting as an alternative to live quarry hunting. This involves a pack of hounds following an artificially laid, animal-based scent. It closely mimics the hunting that took place before the ban, but does not involve a hunt for a live fox, so is not banned. For an offence to be committed it is necessary to prove that a wild animal is being hunted intentionally.
If any wild animal was hunted intentionally, this can lead to a prosecution and an unlimited fine. Between 2005 and 2017, a total of 778 individuals were prosecuted under the Act and 469 individuals were found guilty.
Of course, anyone who believes that an offence has taken place during a hunt, including during a trail hunt, should report the matter to the police.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
I can only conclude from Chris Skidmore's reply that he did not, in fact, read my letter. His reply indicates that I was complaining about trail hunting, when I did nothing of the sort, and he fails to commit to support the Hunting Act throughout the next parliament.