Tracey Crouch, minister for sport, predicts that 30 to 40 Conservative MPs will help defeat attempts to repeal the hunting ban by either abstaining or voting against it.
By Emily Gosden, Rosa Prince and Michael Wilkinson
30 May 2015
Scores of Conservative MPs will block attempts to overturn the ban on foxhunting, a government minister has said.
Tracey Crouch, the minister for sport and an opponent of hunting, said she expected 30 to 40 Tories to either abstain or vote against repeal of the Hunting Act in a free vote promised by the Conservative government.
She said she believed this would be enough to prevent a repeal bill passing – irrespective of whether Scottish National Party MPs took part.
"I just don’t believe in hunting, I don’t enjoy the sight of one animal tearing another animal to pieces,” she said.
The new intake of Conservative MPs were “younger [and] more diverse in their background and many are from urban areas”, she said. “Many of them share my views.”
Analysis of MPs’ public statements and data collected by campaign groups suggests that at least 28 Conservative MPs are thought likely to vote against the repeal and at least two are likely to abstain.
Among the newly-elected MPs who have publicly declared they are against fox hunting are Andrea Jenkyns, who defeated shadow chancellor Ed Balls; Kevin Foster, who defeated the Lib Dems in Torbay; and Will Quince, MP for Colchester.
Caroline Dinenage, the minister for equalities, and Dominic Raab, the justice minister, are patrons of the Blue Fox Conservatives Against Fox Hunting group, along with Ms Crouch, Mike Weatherley, Sir David Amess and Sir Roger Gale.
David Cameron has personally backed a repeal and said that people should have the “freedom to hunt”.
Nicola Sturgeon’s party has yet to decide whether it will vote on the repeal as the Act does not apply in Scotland, which has its own hunting ban.
Simon Hart MP, who supports the repeal of the ban, told the Telegraph that while he also expected similar levels of Tory support – forecasting 300 out of 330 Conservative MPs may vote for repeal – he believed the vote could still pass.
He argued that combined with Labour rebels, DUP, Plaid and abstentions it would be enough for a majority.
Ministers have insisted that a vote on repeal will be brought forward as a government bill in government time, in line with the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge.
However such a bill was absent from the Queen’s Speech, triggering claims the issue was being delayed as politically toxic.
Mr Hart suggested a vote should be held soon.
"These things are never easy but if there is the political will then it can be done," he said. "I can’t see what the advantage is of leaving it. Why hang around? It seems to be a running sore and it would be nice to bring it to a conclusion."
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