Friday, November 19, 2004

A quick note on fox-hunting

To all those concerned about the ban on fox-hunting - get over it. No, I don't approve of the ban either. I have no intention of ever fox-hunting, but I think it has served a useful purpose in pest control in the past, and it obviously maintains a focus for a rural community. Yet there are strong animal welfare arguments, and I think the image painted of the fox-hunting community as largely angelic is a complete charade. They are more than willing to catch foxes and keep them alive purely to be released for the chase; they hold little regard for the sanctity of farmer's property and roam almost wherever they like.

That said, I still do not think it is the government's place to take such measures. Ultimately it does not harm other people and providing that the hunt stays within the limits of the law in its actions, then I have no problem with people hunting if they wish to spend their time in such a way. However, the reason that this illiberal measure has been passed is because of the "unwritten constitution" of the country so much vaunted by the conservative sections of the media who defend the right to hunt with such passion.

To which I say: the ban on fox-hunting serves you right. The entire reason that the government can get away with a ban like this is because there is no written constitution that delineates the powers of the government. Furthermore, the checks needed upon a government are sadly missing when the second House is prevented from blocking legislation due to the Parliament Act (although, admittedly, the idea of an appointed House having power is also wrong), yet in the House of Commons there is no separation between the legislative and the executive branch of power. You keep vaunting the merits of an unwritten constitution, but it is precisely this lack of clear governmental control which allows such measures to be passed through.