[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 14 July 2006, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Anger over 'anti-hunt propaganda'
Hunting
The hunt ban caused controversy for many MPs
The government is being accused of funding "anti-hunt propaganda" in a new guide to the British constitution.

The guide says Labour MP Kate Hoey almost certainly did not reflect the wishes of voters in her London seat when she voted against a hunting ban.

Tim Bonner, spokesman for the Countryside Alliance, said there was no evidence for the claim.

But the Citizenship Foundation, which produced the guide, insisted it was designed to be impartial.

Case studies

The Department of Constitutional Affairs paid the foundation 197,000 to produce the guide, which is being sent to all secondary schools and sixth form colleges.

It is aimed at helping teenagers understand Britain's "unwritten constitution" and get them engaged with the political process in a time of low turnouts.

The authors, Tony Thorpe and Richard Jarvis, has used a series of case studies to liven up the 146-page booklet.

They use the case of Cherie Blair being fined for not having a valid train ticket to show how everybody is meant to be equal in the eyes of the law.

And they point to Ms Hoey as an example of MPs acting on their "personal belief".

Voters' wishes?

The short section says: "Kate Hoey is MP for Battersea, an area very close to central London.

"Most people in Britain (around 70%) particularly those living in towns and cities, supported the move by the government in 2004 to ban fox hunting with dogs.

"Ms Hoey disagreed, believing that a kind of law of this kind was a mistake.

"In voting against the bill to abolish fox hunting, Kate Hoey almost certainly did not reflect the wishes of most of her constituents."

Ms Hoey is now chairman of the Countryside Alliance, which says the passage is full of errors and it will be asking the Citizenship Foundation what it will do about it.

Ms Hoey is in fact MP for Vauxhall, not Battersea.

And the alliance said even anti-hunt groups had not been able to produce polls suggesting 70% support for a hunting ban since the mid-1990s.

'Inaccurate'

Mr Bonner said a regional breakdown of polling did not suggest that people in London were any more supportive of the ban than people in other parts of the country.

"The last election result in Vauxhall [when Ms Hoey won a majority of 10,000] certainly did not suggest that Kate was not reflecting the wishes of her constituents," said Mr Bonner.

He suggested the authors of the guide had fallen foul of the traditional propaganda from anti-hunt groups and the assumption that people in cities hated hunting.

"The reality for a long time has been that nobody actually gives a dam," he said.

If forced to make a decision, people might not like hunting but thought the "legislative assault" was unnecessary, he argued.

Mr Bonner was worried about the guide, 90,000 copies of which are being sent to schools across the country.

"It's disseminating information which is patently untrue, it's spreading anti-hunt propaganda," he said.

'Impartial'

The Department for Constitutional Affairs said the Citizenship Foundation had handled the content of the guide.

A spokeswoman for the Citizenship Foundation apologised for the mistake over Ms Hoey's constituency and said efforts would be made to repair it.

But she said it was the only mistake found so far in the guide.

"It's designed to be impartial throughout and we would be disappointed if anyone thought it was propaganda," said the spokeswoman.

"The example of Kate Hoey is designed to be an illustrative point to demonstrate that MPs do not necessarily support the causes within their geographic areas."




SEE ALSO
New push for written constitution
07 Mar 06 |  UK Politics
Guide to 'constitution' launched
10 Jul 06 |  UK Politics

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



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific