Benn pledges to fight to retain hunting ban and AWB

HILARY Benn has told the Labour Party Conference he intends to fight Tory plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board and bring back fox hunting ‘every step of the way’.

In what was likely to be his final conference speech with his current Defra brief, the former Defra Secretary mocked some of Prime Minister David Cameron’s most recent claims.

“David Cameron tells us we are all in this together. Really? If that’s so, then why are you determined to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board. For 70 years it has ensured a fair deal and fair pay for farm workers, overtime rates, standby allowances, bereavement leave,” Mr Benn said.

“Even Mrs Thatcher did not dare do this. All in this together, Mr Cameron? No. This is a shabby little plan and we will oppose it every step of the way.”

He then questioned how a government that says it is ‘compassionate’ could want to bring back ‘the barbarous spectacle of fox and stag hunting, and hare coursing to our countryside’.

“Mr Cameron, this isn’t compassion. It’s animal cruelty and we will oppose it every step of the way,” he said.

He also attacked the coalition’s claims to be the ‘greenest ever’ government when it is ‘about to unveil cuts that will surely affect farming and the natural world’. He said it was also ‘undermining confidence in feed-in tariffs, dithering on the renewable heat incentive, says it’s alright to go on throwing waste into landfill when it could be recycled, reducing funding for our national parks and abolishing the Sustainable Development Commission’.

He contrasted these policies with Labour’s successes in ‘making our planet fair’ while it was in power. He listed the world’s first climate change legislation, two new national parks, a huge increase in recycling and ‘putting food production at the heart of our future security’ as among Labour’s achievements. .

“Every one of these was once just a dream, but it was our values and our politics that made them happen. It was a Labour Government that made them happen,” Mr Benn said.

Mr Benn has put his name forward into the ballot for Shadow Cabinet posts under new Labour leader Ed Miliband, but is thought unlikely to given the Defra brief again, if he is successful.

Readers' comments (5)

  • What a cock!!

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  • I am a socalist and proud of it but man, do I get exaspirated at Labour's propensity for shooting themselves in the foot. I have no problem with people being vegetarian - we live in a free country. But you would not make a pacifist head of the armed forces, you would not make an aethiest the archbishop of canterbury and by the same arguement, you do not make a vegetarian the minister of agriculture. Why not? its taking the piss,thats why not.

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  • My goodness, when is the farming community going to grow up? No matter what your line of employment you should be welcoming a compassionate politician who sees further than status won through bumptious grandstanding. Enlightened 21st century people work for an end to persecution of wildlife and that includes bloodsports. There's a vital race on to survive harmoniously with other living beings on this planet - if only to save our own skins - and Benn is leading the front.

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  • hmm, just where does all that soya and wheat etc I eat as a vegetarian come from?

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  • Hilary Benn you are a fool if you really believe that the fox has benefitted through this stupid hunting ban. There are 2 types of people who support the hunting ban, one - hard line left-wing socialist and two - neurotic women. Labour never has and never will govern for the people of the countryside as your leader said hard fought freedoms and liberties must be respected. Except of course if you happen to be English. You really are a joke and I find it sickening that you are even considering putting yourselves up for re-election.

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