A pro-fox hunting Tory peer today claimed he cared more for the animals he wants to see ripped apart than campaigners who support a bloodsports ban.
Lord Mancroft triggered uproar in the Upper House when he insisted he and his hunting pals were more concerned about foxes’ welfare than animal rights activists who back the 12-year-old ban.
The Eton-educated peer boasted how he was chairman of the Council of the Hunting Associations and chairman of the Master of Fox Hounds Association.
They were “the only two organisations, clearly, which have any interest in the welfare for the animals concerned”, he claimed.
In unusually rowdy scenes in the Second Chamber, Lord Mancroft said Labour were “interested in the law, the application of the law, and the political debate but apparently show absolutely no interest in welfare of the quarry species who are supposedly the object of this Act (which bans hunting with hounds)”.
According to his publicly-available register of interests, the peer is also deputy chairman of the Countryside Alliance.
The Government was forced to shelve plans for a free vote on scrapping the hunting ban after Theresa May surrendered her Commons majority at last month’selection.
At the height of the campaign, the Prime Minister let slip her bid to reintroduce the hated pastime.
She told the Mirror: “Personally I have always been in favour of fox hunting and we maintain our commitment – we have had a commitment previously as a Conservative Party – to allow a free vote.”
Furious Tory candidates later blamed the blunder for jeopardising their chances of an outright victory.
But Lord Mancroft backed the plan and in a pre-polling day email told supporters that Mrs May’s then huge opinion poll lead presented a “seminal moment” for their campaign to bring back the cruel sport.
A Tory majority of 50 or more MPs should be enough to secure a repeal of the 2004 Hunting Act in a Parliamentary vote later this year, he believed.
“This is the chance we have been waiting for,” Lord Mancroft wrote.
“A majority of 50 or more would give us a real opportunity for repeal of the Hunting Act.
“This is by far the best opportunity we have had since the ban, and is probably the best we are likely to get in the foreseeable future.”
League Against Cruel Sports chief operating officer Philippa King said: “With repeal of the Hunting Act looking further away than ever, it’s perhaps understandable that Lord Mancroft has sought a new job in comedy.
“There is no other logical explanation for his claim that hunts have any interest whatsoever in animal welfare.
“Time and time again, hunts have been documented raising and releasing foxes.
“Those foxes are then chased across the countryside before being either shot or torn apart by hounds. That doesn’t sound like animal welfare to me.”