When 180 people to date have been convicted under the Hunting Act, including representatives of well-known hunts such as the Fernie and Quantock Staghounds, can DEFRA minister Jim Paice honestly claim that “it simply doesn’t work” and “makes a mockery of the law”?

Live animal hunting is illegal because it is no longer considered “great sport” to harass a wild animal to exhaustion point and savage it to death. The huge crowd attending the Avon Vale Hunt’s Boxing Day meet at Lacock, and the alleged 250,000 attending similar events around the nation, are insignificant compared with the 69 per cent of the population who support the Hunting Act.

We have a history of legislation prohibiting sports in which suffering is inflicted on animals. We have overwhelming evidence proving that hunted animals suffer extreme mental and physical distress, fear and anxiety, and that foxes killed by hounds die painfully with extreme multiple bite wounds in the chest and abdomen. The Hunting Act is perfectly logical with a sound purpose.

The Avon Vale Hunt’s behaviour since the Hunting Act was passed has not encouraged sympathy for the pro-hunt minority. Where its bad record includes 20 hounds chasing a fox all over a garden near the A360, a fox killed on a Ministry of Defence airfield, a horse panicked into jumping out of its field severely injuring itself, and vicious attacks on monitors, the fox-hunting majority are bound to object. This is not what one would expect of anyone genuinely hunting within legal limits. If they were would they take such a hostile attitude to monitors, and why are few meets now advertised in Horse and Hound?

Eighty suspect hunting incident reports passed by the League Against Cruel Sports to the National Wildlife Crime Unit last season is not a record to be proud of.

Hopefully, Parliament will keep its attention focussed on the critical state of our economy, and on social issues such as gun crime and the welfare of the frail elderly, and leave the Hunting Act intact.

Katherine Watson (Miss), Rushton Drive, Bramhall, Stockport.