I know from my postbag how important animal welfare is to people in Bolton. Ever since I was first elected as an MP, I have received regular emails and letters urging me to oppose fox hunting – something which I have always done.
I believe that there can be no place in a civilised society for animal cruelty and that is why I want to assure you all that I will fight Conservative plans to repeal the ban on hunting with hounds.
Theresa May has said she ‘has always been in favour’ of this cruel blood sport. I find that unacceptable.
Support for the ban comes from rural and urban areas alike and, along with the majority of British people, I agree that the ban on fox hunting must remain.
The recurrent attention paid to fox hunting by the Conservatives shows how out of touch they are with most people’s view of hunting with hounds.
Not only is fox hunting cruel, but it beggars belief that the Tories regard holding a free vote on the issue a priority when we face a crisis in housing, health and education.
I am fighting the General Election on a manifesto that includes a commitment to defend the Hunting Act, which bans hunting with hounds. I am proud that it was a Labour Government that introduced the Act in 2004. We should be building on the success of the Hunting Act, and making more progress on animal welfare issues, not returning to old cruelties.
Only a Labour government can be trusted to protect animals and promote their welfare.