Animal Aid

Reading MP Under Fire from 'Pro-Bloodsport Toffs'

Posted 12 December 2007

Demo details

Date: 13 December 2007
Location: Broad Street (outside John Lewis)
Time: 1pm

Animal Aid activists will take to the streets of Reading town centre on 13 December, dressed as game shooters and sporting ‘Labour Supports Bloodsports’ rosettes. Appropriately attired in plus-fours, flat caps and silly moustaches, the group will be in town to highlight a serious point – that the government is hellbent on appeasing the bloodsports lobby, and that Reading West’s MP, Martin Salter, is the man orchestrating the support.

The Reading visit comes two days before national campaign group, Animal Aid, stage a ‘Labour Supports Bloodsports’ Weekend of Action (15 & 16 December). During the weekend, supporters from all over the country will hold information stalls in their local towns and cities with the aim of generating public opposition to the government's stance.

Martin Salter is the government’s official parliamentary spokesperson for shooting. In a recent document setting out policy options, he wrote:

‘As a political party, we want to go much further than merely promising not to restrict shooting. We want to actively encourage people to take up the sports and to develop policies under which they can develop and prosper.’

At Labour’s September annual Conference, Salter – who is also a Labour vice chair – hosted a reception for pro-shoot lobby group, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC). Salter was recently made a BASC ‘Centenary Patron’. Ministers who gave pro-shoot speeches at the event included the Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe; Rural Affairs Minister, Jonathan Shaw; and Home Office Minister, Vernon Coaker.

Other born-again bloodsports enthusiasts within the government include Schools Minister, Jim Knight, and even Animal Welfare Minister, Jeff Rooker.

Every year, 40 million pheasants and partridges are intensively reared by the shooting industry. As part of the production process, scores of thousands of breeding birds are confined in metal battery cages for the whole of their productive lives. The new Animal Welfare Act is an opportunity to outlaw these contraptions through a new Code of Practice. But, the government arranged for the Working Group that is currently writing the Code to be dominated by shooting industry figures.

Animal Aid, which first exposed gamebird battery cages in November 2004, has revisited two of the four producers known to operate the system (see Note 1). The undercover footage we shot during the height of the 2007 egg production season shows stressed, diseased, wounded and feather-pecked birds – as well as several dead pheasants, lying on the metal grille floors.

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

‘It is thoroughly hypocritical that the same government that helped secure a ban on hunting with dogs should seek to appease bloodsports fanatics by promoting the shooting of factory farmed birds for sport. Animal Aid activists will be letting the citizens of Reading know that this government has blood on its hands and will be asking voters to urge Labour to end its support for the pro-shoot lobby.’

Notes to Editor

  1. Animal Aid's covert filming of gamebird battery cages was undertaken on June 20 at G & A Leisure, Bettws Cedewain, Powys; and on June 21 at Hy-Fly Game Hatcheries, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancs.
  2. The Code of Practice for Gamebird Production is expected to be brought into force in 2009.
  3. Around 40 million factory farmed pheasants and partridges are released for shooting every year.
  4. Many shot birds are not eaten. Country Life magazine has reported that some are buried in specially dug pits.
  • More information from Andrew Tyler at 01732 364 546.
  • Still images ‘grabbed’ from the undercover battery cage footage available on request.

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