SNP MPs to oppose relaxation of hunting ban in UK

Move likely to fuel Conservative demands for greater powers for English MPs

British prime minister David Cameron: opponents argue he is trying to end the outright ban on fox-hunting by deceit. Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

British prime minister David Cameron: opponents argue he is trying to end the outright ban on fox-hunting by deceit. Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

 

Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs will today vote against plans to soften the 10-year-old ban on fox-hunting in England, in a move likely to fuel Conservative demands for greater powers for English MPs to control legislation that affects their voters.

Last week, prime minister David Cameron had to postpone plans to change House of Commons rules before the summer break in a way that would have excluded Scottish and Northern Irish MPs from voting on some legislation that comes before the house.

A compromise paper on “English votes for English laws” – which has come to be known as “Evel” – was due to have been published last night, but its publication was delayed by the cabinet office, partly because it was eyeing the SNP’s attitude towards the fox-hunting vote.

Under the proposal before MPs, hunts would be able to use a full pack of hounds to chase foxes, rather than just two at present – though the fox would have to be killed by a rifle shot and not torn apart by hounds. Opponents argued Mr Cameron is trying to end the outright ban by deceit.

However, the SNP, which has long had a practice of excluding itself from votes on issues affecting England only, last night decided its 56 MPs would vote, in a move that infuriated Conservatives, even those opposed to fox-hunting.

Fuel demands

“In these circumstances, it is right and proper that we assert the Scottish interest on fox hunting by voting with Labour against the Tories’ proposals to relax the ban – in the process, reminding an arrogant UK government of just how slender their majority is,” said the SNP’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson.