Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tony's Trade-Off

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tony's Trade-Off

Article excerpt

THE PRIME MINISTER'S decision to allow an early Commons debate on foxhunting has been welcomed by Labour MPs as well as by the anti-hunt lobby.

They should, however, beware. The timing and wording of the announcement suggests that it is no more than a cheap gesture to Government backbenchers for closing ranks behind Mr Stephen Byers, the beleaguered Transport Secretary. If Mr Blair were serious about banning foxhunting, he would make clear his intention to use the Parliament Act to overrule the House of Lords, given the near-certainty that the upper house will vote for hunting to continue. All he is promising is an indicative vote, not a commitment to force an Act onto the statute book before the next General Election. In other words, the Prime Minister is offering the appearance of reform, without committing himself to the substance. The same appears to be the case with devolution to the English regions. A long-awaited white paper, setting out how referendums could be held, has been delayed. …

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