[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 25 July, 2005, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Hoey to lead Countryside Alliance
Kate Hoey
Kate Hoey has been Labour MP for Vauxhall since 1989
Former Labour sports minister Kate Hoey has been named the new chairman of the Countryside Alliance.

Ms Hoey, 59, a long-standing defender of hunting, said the appointment was a "great honour and a great challenge".

Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik, co-chair of the Middle Way Group on hunting, said Ms Hoey's determination would help "challenge existing prejudiced law".

Tory peer Lord Mancroft has been named deputy chairman. He and Ms Hoey will take up their new roles in the autumn.

'Basic rights'

Ms Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxhall in south London since 1989, said: "It is a great honour and a great challenge to take on this role at such an important time for the countryside.

"There should be no difference between the way a government treats people in town or country.

"Rural issues, just like urban issues, are about basic rights."

Kate's determination and skill will undoubtedly help the Alliance challenge existing prejudiced law and amend it into more sensible and workable legislation
Lembit Opik

She said rural people had the right to equality of health care, education, decent affordable housing and for their businesses to diversify, develop and compete with those in urban areas and abroad.

They also had "the right to engage in country sports and other activities without prejudiced legislative assault", she said.

"A true democracy respects the rights of all minorities and I look forward to contributing to the Alliance's campaign to ensure that the rural minority is treated with tolerance, fairness and respect."

Mr Opik said Ms Hoey's appointment was "a tremendous development for countryside interests".

'Courage'

"On hunting with dogs she knows the Hunting Act didn't improve animal welfare, but actually increases suffering through alternative control methods," he said.

Peter Luff, Tory co-chair of the Middle Way Group, said: "The debate over the countryside and its traditional activities is at a crucial stage and Kate's appointment is good news."

Labour's Baroness Golding, co-chair of the Middle Way Group, said: "Kate has the courage and independence of mind that will, I'm sure, see the ridiculous Hunting Act amended to a sensible and proper animal welfare law."

The Countryside Alliance was formed in 1997 and has been vociferous in its campaign to stop hunting from being banned - a battle it lost in February with the introduction of the Hunting Act.

The Alliance has 105,000 members, a regional structure in England and Wales and devolved operations in Scotland and Ireland.

Ms Hoey takes over as chairman from John Jackson. Lord Mancroft has served on the board of the Alliance since 1997, while Labour peer Baroness Mallalieu remains president of the Alliance.


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific