The Hunting Act 2004
The Hunting Act 2004 came into force on February 18th 2005. It affects England and Wales but not Scotland, which has its own hunting legislation, or Northern Ireland. The legislation was the subject of huge controversy throughout the many years it was debated in Parliament. The 700 hours of parliamentary time spent considering hunting and massive demonstrations against a ban meant that the injustices and flaws of the new law were a matter of public record long before it ever came into force.
On 19th February 2005 every hunt in the country met and they have continued to do so ever since. There have been just nine attempts to prosecute MFHA hunts under the Act and six of them failed. The first, involving Exmoor huntsman Tony Wright, eventually reached the High Court where a very important judgment limited further the chances of hunts being convicted under the Hunting Act. There have only been three successful prosecutions involving MFHA packs and one of those is currently subject to repeal.
The coalition Government formed in 2010 has promised a free vote on the Hunting Act. In June 2010 the Prime Minister’s office confirmed that commitment saying:
“The Hunting Act was passed by Parliament in 2004. It has not been a demonstrable success, and is difficult to enforce. It is an unnecessary drain on police resources and there have been few prosecutions. Only three hunts have been successfully prosecuted for illegal hunting.
“That is why the Government wishes to give Parliament the opportunity to review the Hunting Act and, if it wishes, repeal this legislation. We will put forward a motion before the House of Commons on whether the Hunting Act should be repealed and, if the motion is carried, we will bring forward legislation in due course.”
The MFHA continues to work with the Countryside Alliance to achieve the full legalisation of foxhunting.