Foxhounds in good voice
On 18 February 2005, the government hailed a historic victory when the Hunting Act finally came into force. So what effect has the ban on foxhunting had?
Well, judging by a day spent with the West of Yore hunt in North Yorkshire, preparing for the new autumn season, you would never know.
One of the fears expressed by the organisations like the Countryside Alliance and the hunting fraternity was that jobs would be lost and packs of hounds would have to be put down.
Has that happened? Well, not really, according to West of Yore kennel huntsman Richard Tabberer: "My job hasn't changed at all. I'm one of the lucky ones. I've still got a job.
"But I know friends who have lost their job." This may be the case but the half a dozen hunts that the Politics Show contacted this week all said they knew of no job losses or hounds put down.
West of Yore: A good day was had by all
But what of the claim that the act would stop hunts killing foxes?
In October 2005, the League Against Cruel Sports' chairman and lead barrister John Cooper said: "The Hunting Act is a popular act, the ban is being enforced and most importantly animals are no longer able to be abused in the name of this barbaric blood sport."
However, it seems very difficult to distinguish between what is legal and what is illegal.
The Politics Show spent the day with the West of Yore hunt this week and, despite following the hunters on foot and by car, we did occasionally lose the huntsmen and women in thick undergrowth.
We could not even ascertain whether or not a fox was killed - legally or illegally. So we asked the master of the hunt, Tim Easby.
Tim Easby: We remained within the law
His opening answer was as you might expect: "We have had a great day out. We have remained within the law."
When pressed by our reporter Mark Denten on whether a fox had actually been killed, again Tim was a little wryly evasive: "At the end of the day, it is not illegal to kill foxes, providing we do it within the parameters of the law."
The West of Yore hunt did however tell us that they had killed around 20 foxes - legally of course - since the ban came into force and the Countryside Alliance says several hundred have been killed across the country.
So what does a Labour MP who voted for the ban make of all this?
The MP for the North Yorkshire constituency of Selby John Grogan is still convinced he did the right thing:
Mr Grogan said: "Some foxes will be shot to protect farms but the idea of the Act was to stop cruelty - to stop chasing foxes through the countryside to their deaths.
"As far as I can see the practice has been more or less wiped out. I think there will be prosecutions eventually for those breaking the law."
Politics Show looks at whether the ban is really effective with live guests on the show.
Let us know what you think.
Join presenter Cathy Killick for Politics Show on Sunday, 30 October 2005 at Noon.
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