Praise for shooting and angling from Tories – and Labour says country sport 'safe'
The Conservative and Labour parties have both reaffirmed their support for country sports at their party conferences.
At the Conservative conference in Manchester last week Defra Secretary Owen Paterson, praised shooting and fishing at the rural reception organised by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Angling Trust.
Mr Paterson said: "Everything that BASC and the Angling Trust do is slap bang in the middle of the DEFRA brief to grow the rural economy and improve the environment. We have a different view to the last Government, we have to manage the countryside and wildlife and we are not frightened about doing that."
He also highlighted the benefits that shooting can bring to the countryside. He said: "Last week I visited the village of Helmsley, North Yorkshier, which was an excellent example of a thriving community built around shooting.
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"The high street was busy at 7am with 4x4s, people, the coffee shops were open and busy, pork pies were being sold and there were four hotels that had been done up and were full because of people going to this rural, remote part of the country to shoot."
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP praised the work of Mr Paterson, he said: "We have a real friend in Owen Paterson, he is robust on rural issues and I can't remember another secretary of state that has been as strong as he is on difficult issues."
He also emphasised the Conservative party's dedication to the countryside, he said: "My one message here at the Conservative conference is that I cannot think of another party that will look after rural dwellers and those that make a living out of the countryside better than we will."
BASC chairman Martyn Howat said: "We have more than 130,000 members who come from different socio-economic backgrounds. They are our most useful resource, with knowledge second-to-none on conservation issues. BASC aims to work with all governments and political parties to promote shooting and conservation to the highest standards but it is important that government policy is evidence-based and for regulation to be implemented only as a final resort."
Labour too insisted at their conference the previous week that the future of shooting and angling would be assured under a Labour government.
Diana Johnson, Labour's shadow crime and security minister, and Huw Irranca-Davies MP, shadow food and farming minister, praised the lobbying work of BASC and the Angling Trust. Mr Irranca-Davies said: "We have worked together in the past and been enormously productive on many issues such as water quality and moorland conservation. It is everyone's countryside and we need to make sure it works for everyone."