Derek Thomas: 'Fox hunting vote unlikely to happen'
Scilly's MP Derek Thomas has said that he is not against fox hunting but does not believe a free vote will take place.
He states on his website that in any vote in Parliament he would "support and see no problem" with the idea of hunts being subject to some sort of legislative control, but "such legislation should be designed to address concerns about potential misconduct, not to prevent it from happening at all".
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Expanding on the issue to This is Scilly News during his recent visit to the islands, he said: "Do people really care about the hunting issue? It's never been raised on the doorstep. I was surprised it's in the manifesto. It's the least of all our priorities.
"The legislation is ridiculous. It was a class war that took place and it distracted people from the Iraq war. It was poorly done and in the end the Labour government's own recommendation was just to provide licenses for hunts. It was the backbench parliamentarians that actually forced the ban so it wasn't even what Tony Blair intended.
"It's not the most important thing. To be fair, even though it's in the manifesto I don't think we'll have time to raise it. We've got a huge agenda with Brexit. There's limited parliamentary time in the next five years.
"We won't wake up one morning and there's a vote to repeal the ban completely because there's too much in it that does need to be addressed. There are very few MPs who were born in the last 40 or 50 years who would vote to repeal the ban on stag hunting because it has no benefit. You can easily manage the stag population.
"Where fox hunting is concerned, I'm in favour of licensing. I go along to local hunt meets where they just lay a scent trail and what they want is licenses, which is what you have in Scotland. In Scotland, hounds can chase foxes."
He added: "After Labour passed the Hunting Act they did an independent inquiry into the benefits or otherwise of it and their independent commission found that it was no more humane now than it was before the ban in terms of managing the fox population."
Derek also addressed reports that Theresa May had dropped a Tory pledge to push for a total ban on ivory trading, saying: "At the moment any sort of ivory trade other than antiques is banned. My understanding from Defra is that we're going to ban all imports and exports of ivory wherever it's from. The government are committed to doing it.
"The manifesto covers key areas. A lot of the stuff that's already been agreed doesn't get undone because a manifesto comes out. We had already agreed to ban the ivory trade."
On what people spoke to him about during his day on Scilly, he said that national rather than local issues were at the forefront of voters' minds: "The people that have spoken to me - there are a few that have deliberately avoided me and looked the other way - but the ones I've spoken to all want Theresa may to be Prime Minister. They say she's the one to take us out of Europe. Some people said you don't even need to give me the leaflet, she's the one. That's been said to me at least a dozen, two dozen times."
Derek is standing against Liberal Democrat Andrew George and Labour's Chris Drew in the upcoming election, both of whom are against fox hunting.
Chris said: "I am pledging to Keep The Hunting Ban if elected as your next Labour MP for St. Ives Constituency. I am incredibly disappointed that Cornwall's Conservatives want to reintroduce this cruel blood sport into our communities.
"I will vote against any attempts to repeal the ban as well as supporting increased sentences for people who treat animals cruelly and imposing and enforcing a ban on the trade of ivory."
Andrew said: "I share concern about the Conservatives’ plan to repeal the Hunting Ban and the clear intention of my Tory opponent to vote for that repeal. I just hope people wake up to this and that this risk is exposed to the voting public in this area.
"When I was an MP for this area I withstood threats and vociferous opposition from supporters of hunting as I led the campaign from our benches through the 700 hours of debate in the Commons until we finally saw the Hunting Act passed in 2004. It would be a retrograde step for the Tories to reverse this."