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An end to the ban on hunting with dogs has been called for by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.

United Kingdom
Owen Paterson says he believes ban should be overturned, and expresses support for 'managing animal levels'.

Speaking in an interview, he said ‘no-one is more keen than me to see the Hunting Act repealed because I believe in the management of wildlife’.

Last year, Mr Paterson, 56, said he was not expecting a vote on the issue in 2013, because it was clear the Government would lose.

But speaking to Country Life magazine, he made his views on the controversial matter perfectly clear.

Hunting with dogs was outlawed by Labour in 2005.

But in their 2010 manifesto, the Conservatives promised a free Parliamentary vote on whether to overturn the ban, but many doubt it will happen because of Liberal Democrat opposition.

A keen rider, Mr Paterson, the Tory MP for North Shropshire, is seen as the Cabinet’s leading supporter of hunting and other country sports.

To the delight of the farming community, he has controversially given the go-ahead for two pilot badger culls later this year, despite widespread opposition from conservationists and wildlife charities.

Speaking on the issue, he said: ‘You’re talking to the only MP who had a pet badger as a child, but in October [when the cull was first postponed], the situation was being portrayed as an either-or-vaccine or cull - and I was a bloodthirsty idiot.

‘The vaccine is 10 years away and we’re heading for total costs to the taxpayer of £1billion. We all respect the science, and the best examples of that is how culling has worked in Ireland-where the disease is at an all-time low-New Zealand, Australia and America.’

He has also come out as keen proponent of genetically-modified (GM) crops and argues they should be sold in Europe, despite consumers concerns about ‘Frankenstein foods’.

It is understood he has the firm backing of Chancellor George Osborne, who believes GM food could provide opportunities for British farmers.

But the Mail has highlighted concerns over GM-foods for years - dismissed by Mr Paterson as ‘complete nonsense’ - amid fears that tampering with their genes could damage natural ecosystems or even affect human health.

Mr Paterson yesterday vowed to fight to wean farmers off subsidies as part of a massive overhaul of Europe’s costly agriculture policy.

After late-night talks in Brussels, Mr Paterson has called for a reduction on EU support in a bid to make the sector more competitive.

He said: ‘I’m pressing for further progress towards an open market that makes farmers less dependent on subsidies.’

The full interview appears in this week’s Country Life.




Hunting is cruel and socially unjustifiable. Thousands of animals die as victims of this 'sport' every year. The cruelty of hunting involves the causing of pain towards animals. Hunting ignores the fact that animals (ourselves included) are beings that suffer and enjoy our lives, and that as such we have our own value, regardless of how useful we are to others.

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