Gordon has thrown his support behind calls to strengthen the Hunting Act – 14 years after it was introduced by the last Labour Government.
A committed animal welfare campaigner, he joined Labour colleagues in Parliament, to press the Government for the eradication of loopholes, such as ‘trail hunting’. Trail hunting has arisen since the ban on hunting was introduced, and is an entirely different practice to drag hunting, which is a traditional and legitimate pursuit that does not use animal scent or involve the killing or chasing of wild animals.
Labour announced last Boxing Day that in government they would consult on bringing forward the following amendments to the Hunting Act 2004 to address some of these loopholes:
1: Review sentencing to ensure effective deterrence includes the use of custodial sentences in line with other wildlife crimes.
2. Strengthening the criteria on which research licenses are issued.
3. The removal of the exemption “Use of dogs below ground to protect birds for shooting”, as it risks fights between dogs and wild mammals.
4. The introduction of a ‘recklessness clause’ to prevent trail hunting from being used as a cover for the illegal hunting of live wild animals.
Gordon said: “Over the years as the MP I have been regularly contacted about fox hunting and I have been very active in speaking up in Parliament on animal welfare issues. Myself and many of my constituents feel very strongly about this. Fox hunting is a barbaric sport and has no place in today’s society.
“A recent poll by Survation found that only 16% of those living in rural areas believe hunting with dogs is a reflection of countryside values, while 67% do not. It also showed that a mere 4% of people living in the countryside ever take part in hunting with hounds. In contrast, 91% said they thought observing nature was a greater reflection of countryside values.
“As someone who fought tirelessly as a MP with many others in the early 2000s to get the Hunting Act through under the Labour Government at the time, I want the Tory Government to ensure that any loopholes currently open to exploitation through newly developed practices are closed. Myself, the Labour Party and many others are committed not just to maintaining the hunting ban, but to strengthening it.”