I've now had sufficient opportunity to consider the Government's response to the E-petition, "Licencing of upland grouse moors and gamekeepers", see here for link . In both my own and many other peoples' opinions the response failed to address the core proposals within the petition, simply sought to trivialize and obfuscate the possible benefits that might arise from a system of regulation and , even worse, took the opportunity to promote the economic benefits of shooting and its management activities. No real appreciation of the effects of raptor persecution were acknowledged, quite the opposite in fact.
Recent years have seen raptor persecution proceed unabated, despite the Government's preferred interpretation, has seen the Hen Harrier driven to extinction as a breeding species in England and, in recent days , has seen the worst poisoning incident ever in the Highlands of Scotland where 14 Red Kites and 4 Common Buzzards have been found in a single confined area. And yet we are still asked to accept the Government's version of success in reducing the problem and the absence of a need to improve the situation plus, other than a small minority, its promotion of the reputation of the shooting industry!!
Little wonder then that my conclusion is to continue fighting the issue!! But before raising the subject of raptor persecution yet again, I have decided to take the Government to task on what I believe was not only a tawdry response on their part, but one that failed to embrace the spirit of the democratic process provided by the E-petition system. The dismissive position adopted by the Government, not the tone or even the content of the response, which can be dealt with separately, bears examination as 10,000 plus people had indicated that, given the prevailing levels of raptor persecution, some form of regulation was desirable. No opportunity was taken to justify why no further action against persecution was necessary, simply that the shooting industry was deemed to be a valuable economic asset ignoring completely the necessary and costly attention continually requiring to be exercised in combating persecution activities by Police Forces and the voluntary sector.
I can only imagine that the expenditure required in maintaining the E-petition system is not inconsiderable. As such its operation ought to reflect the best position possible within our democratic process, which, in some circumstances, might even result in potential legislation being debated. That the process can simply dismiss a proposal out of hand, without a recognition of the need for change in order to eliminate persecution, smacks of arrogance and the process simply being used to "pull teeth" of that part of the electorate passionately concerned about the issue. In these days of concerns being raised about voter apathy, it might be suggested that the ready dismissal of proposals of this kind is hardly a positive expression of practice !!
Now, you might well consider ,"why dwell on the inadequacies of the E-petition system" when the real subject we're all concerned about is associated with raptor persecution and measures to secure its reduction.
It's my opinion , and I hope you agree with me, that long discussions or presentations about licencing are not, in the short term likely to result in change. Raising concerns, as a parallel objective, about the handling of the petition is likely to bring to the attention of a wide spectrum of senior elected members and their officials the facts associated with raptor persecution and the likelihood of further action. In this context I intend writing to the following,
The Right Honourable, David Cameron, Prime Minister.
The Right Honourable, Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister.
Owen Paterson, MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
The Right Honourable, Patricia Hodge, MP, Chair, Public Accounts Committee.
Natascha Engels, MP, Chair, Backbench Business Committee. (oversees the E-petition process ).
Maria Eagle, MP, Shadow Environment Minister.
Alan Reid, MP, Argyll and Bute ( my own MP ).
Following all this the examination and comparison of any responses received can be completed and the necessary steps considered of pursuing the raptor persecution issue still further.
And, best of all, I can take the opportunity to inform the Government that the E-petition is now officially closed , contrary to the comments made in their response !! Don't lose sight of the fact that , in thirteen months time, there is the General Election. Now is the time to begin raising issues with MP's and to continue to do so!!