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Shropshire hunts welcome PM's support for changes

North Shropshire | News | Published:

Fox hunters in Shropshire have welcomed David Cameron's support for relaxing the laws on hunting.

It comes after Downing Street said the Prime Minister had "sympathy" with calls for the rules on foxhunting to be loosened.

MPs and campaigners are pushing the Government to scrap the ban on using more than two dogs to flush out foxes so they can be shot.

Environment Secretary and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson said foxes had increasingly been causing problems for sheep farmers by preying on lambs.

"We will look at all research into this with interest," he added.

Members of the North Shropshire and South Shropshire hunts said changes would be welcomed by farmers.

Farmers say limited pest control measures permitted under the 2004 Hunting Act are not working.

They point out that the change – likely to require a vote in Parliament but not a fresh Bill – would bring the law in England and Wales into line with that in Scotland.

South Shropshire Hunt master Otis Ferry said: "I think the fox hunting legislation has been ridiculed right from the start.

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"It seems like nonsense you have to allow only two dogs to flush out foxes.

"Changes would be welcomed by the farming community and everyone who has been involved."

Hunt master Richard Cambray, of the North Shropshire Hunt, said: "Any relaxation of the current rules would be welcomed by the farming community.

"It would make our lives easier."

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Oliver Cartwright, spokesman for NFU West Midlands, said: "Anything farmers do on their own land is there business, providing its legal."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "There is a very specific issue here around pest control and the impact it has on particular farming communities, such as hill farmers.

"The Prime Minister has some sympathy with these concerns. They have been voiced by MPs from across the House."

The spokesman said the coalition agreement included provision for a free vote on hunting and declined to rule out holding one before the general election.

"Given the cross-party nature of concerns raised in this area, it is something the House may wish to consider," he said.

"There are various ways in which the House can consider these things. I wouldn't guide you in any particular direction.

"We are at the stage where concerns have been raised. The House in various guises may be looking at this further.

We will have to wait and see what further views there may be."

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