EDM 915

This is interesting. Early Day Motions are a bit like e-petitions for MPs! They have no necessary influence on anything and yet can raise the profile of an issue.

And there is one entitled Action Plan for Hen Harriers which has the following text;

That this House welcomes the DEFRA plan for brood management trials for Hen Harriers; notes the support of Natural England, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, National Gamekeepers Organisations and National Parks; and expresses the desire that licensing this trial will deliver important evidence that will lead to self-sustaining and well-dispersed breeding populations of Hen Harriers across the UK to be recorded, collated and put to good use.

EDMs can be signed by all MPs but ministers and shadow ministers rarely do sign them.

EDMs usually are proposed by a cross-party group of MPs – this one isn’t.  The four proposers are DUP MPs which is fascinating in itself. One of the proposers is the strongly pro-shooting Jim Shannon, MP for Strangford.

At present this support for the ridiculous and highly controversial issue of brood meddling has only five supporters – the four DUP proposers and an SNP MP from Dundee.

I expect we shall see some of the Conservative MPs who spoke in favour of grouse shooting sign up too – but maybe not. I would be quite surprised and very disappointed if any Labour MPs apart from Kate Hoey (Countryside Alliance) support this EDM, but we shall see.

The Lib Dems? They shouldn’t touch it with a bargepole.  There are an awful lot of RSPB members in LibDem constituencies.

This looks to me to be a foolish move by someone – maybe by Jim Shannon encouraged by the less bright supporters of grouse shooting.  If it gets much support it should be very obvious that it is almost entirely Conservative support. I look forward to scores of Tory MPs signing it and few opposition MPs – that would focus the mind of politicians on this issue and increase the chances that it will be an election issue.

I believe that an MP can change their mind and remove their name from an EDM – if your MP signs this EDM you should consider contacting them to voice your disapproval and put them on the spot.

I’ll watch this space and give you occasional updates.

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24 Replies to “EDM 915”

  1. Why are the DUP so apparently concerned about the status of Hen Harriers in Great Britain?! Hen Harriers have their own separate problems in Northern Ireland, so why don't they assist efforts that go to towards helping them here - or maybe those efforts don't support shooting enough for them to get involved...
    Am dismayed to see David Simpson, my own MP, has signed it. I think it's worth sending him some correspondance, perhaps he'll see the light. Maybe.

    1. JamesO - please do write to him. Ask him whether he knows that conservationists are against this plan. Ask him why this EDM came from the DUP when it is an English project? And do ask him what he is doping in NI to help HH. Good plan!

      1. Done and done. Here is my email in case anybody wants to use it as a template:

        Dear David Simpson MP,

        As a keen bird and raptor enthusiast, and a member of your constituency, I was more than a little dismayed to see that you had signed an Early Day Motion titled 'Action Plan for Hen Harriers', which shows support for the controversial Natural England Hen Harrier Brood Management Scheme.

        This scheme is not designed with the conservation of hen harriers in mind, although it is often peddled as such. It is, instead, designed to reduce the perceived effect of natural densities of breeding hen harriers on the surplus numbers of grouse desired by those with shooting interests, in an effort to appease upland landowners and grouse moor managers. As such, to even consider rolling out this scheme while the population of hen harriers in the whole of England can be counted on one hand is nothing short of ridiculous. It is therefore no surprise that none of the dedicated wildlife conservation organsiations, such as the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts, support this scheme in any way - are you aware of this?

        As has been made abundantly clear for years through evidence by satellite tagging, criminal investigations, and numerous scientific studies, the main reason why hen harriers, and other birds of prey, are suffering in upland Britain is because they are systematically illegally persecuted (shot, poisoned, trapped) on grouse moors by gamekeepers and moor managers due to their perceived predation on young grouse. The predator/prey relationship that hen harriers and red grouse enjoy has been in place for as long as both species have lived in the same areas (thousands of years!), and it is only now that humans feels they are entitled to a huge proportion of the grouse population to shoot for sport, that the hen harrier is now suffering for it.

        The only conservation plan for the hen harrier that can be truly sustainable in the long term is to end illegal persecution through tighter regulation on shooting and increased law enforcement efforts. I'd like to make it clear that I do not oppose shooting, neither would I necessarily support a ban on grouse shooting. However, the grouse shooting industry is out of control in Britain - self regulation does not work - and it needs a very close eye kept on it for the sake of the sensitive habitats and wildlife found in the uplands.

        I would strongly encourage you to withdraw your support from the unsustainable and misleading brood management scheme, and instead show support for the ending of illegal activity through regulation and enforcement. I would like to know why the DUP has such concern for the status of hen harriers in England, and why this EDM has come from the DUP when it is an English project?

        In addition, hen harriers in Northern Ireland have separate problems of their own, including habitat degradation and loss (although I would speculate that persecution plays its part too!), and seeing as you clearly have some level of concern for hen harriers in the British Isles, I'm sure the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group would love to have your support in any efforts they undertake to conserve our local hen harriers. Do you have any plans to help hen harriers in Northern Ireland?

      2. If you wish to see NI MPs have nothing to do in England with a matter that is devolved to NI, Soctland and Wales, perhaps you'd ike to remove the almost 4,000 signatures on Mr Gamble's petition, that come from outside England?

        1. Weavers - except that this is a UK petition so that would be very foolish wouldn't it?

          The fact that these e-petitions get responses, usually very poor ones, from Westminster politicians is irrelevant. E-petitions are not binding on any parliament but that doesn't mean that they aren't noticed by politicians across the UK and may well influence what happens in devolved administrations.

  2. Not quite sure why Chris Law (SNP - Dundee West) has signed this as he doesn't appera to have any wildlife killing credentials. Indeed, it looks like he might hav esigned in error given that a recent (yesterday) tweet from him said "Disgraceful rhetoric from the DUP in Northern Ireland claiming ‘No Surrender’ to the EU". Strange bedfellows...

  3. No surprises from certified nitwit Jim Shannon. 😉


  4. Aren't the DUP and SNP meddling in on an issue that is only applicable to the well being, or otherwise, of Hen Harriers in England. I thought they had their own legislature for these type of matters.

    Secondly, have all of the relevant National Parks in England signed up to brood meddling? Their EDM seems to suggest that they have.

    1. Strange comment Mr Whitehouse , it clearly states "breeding populations of HH across the UK to be recorded" and HH's of course disperse widely from their natal area .
      I do however agree that this is a very strange development, and I am glad Mark is all over it .I just hope it is not the beginning of something more sinister, than the DUP making an arse of themselves again. Shannon of course is a well known basket case and lickspittle to the Tories, so anything is possible , watch this space with interest.

  5. The wording of the EDM appears to say it is the populations of hen harriers that will be 'recorded, collated and put to good use'. Intriguing ... How do you put a population of HHs to good use?

  6. I wouldn't have thought anyone involved in this ludicrous scheme would want to publicise it - but that's grouse shooting for you.

    What does surprise me - and I wonder if anyone has pointed this out to him - how much damage this fringe issue is doing to Michael Gove's credibility - he clearly wants to win votes by plucking low hanging fruit during his time as SoS, and making some big promises for when he is long gone - but winning votes all depends on whether you believe him or not and I'll leave it to blog readers to decide for themselves whether Defra/NE's actions on hen harriers make you more or less inclined to believe anything Michael Gove is promising.

  7. Throughly agree with Roderick Leslie’s comments
    It is interesting that the DUP shooters should put forward this EDM. All in all, in the longer term this could well work in favour of, sooner or later, getting this very nasty blood sport of driven grouse shooting banned once and for all.
    The reasons for this are, that it all helps to raise the issues of this very nasty so called sport, higher up the awareness ladder in the average MP /person.
    Also I would have thought that most open minded MPs would have to be “pretty thick” not to think, “why should this issue be being raised by people like the DUP, there must be something more behind the words of the EDM.”
    Finally it might give an indication of what MP support there is for this nasty blood sport.

    1. I wonder if Mr Cunningham and Mr Shannon are buddies? A sample of other Early Day Motions recently signed by Mr Shannon suggests they might be. For example, EDM 922 'New Quay's All Weather Life Boat' and EDM 904 'Hospital Car Parking Profits' both signed by Messrs Cunningham and Shannon, despite the one being a Welsh issue and the other an English matter. Then again, back on home turf for Mr Cunningham is EDM 911 'Police Funding in the West Midlands and Coventry', rather mysteriously signed by.. well bless my soul, who'd've thought it, the Member for Strangford, Mr Shannon. Mr Shannon clearly feels he has plenty to say well beyond the bounds of his constituency, and preferably in tandem with his old mucker. Strange bedfellows, perhaps, but it's maybe worth reflecting upon Mr Cunningham's Scottish roots in order to find an explanation.

  8. Does seem strange that an SNP MP from Dundee (hot bed of Hen Harrier breeding) would sign this, but there are a few pro-shooting types amongst them re: recent Parliamentary reception at Holyrood hosted by Kate Forbes (SNP MSP, Environment Committee member) promoting healthy and sustainable Red Grouse!

  9. I noted that Jim Cunningham is down on the EDM

    So I wrote this

    Dear Jim

    As a Labour Party Member I am concerned RE your support for the EDM Hen Harrier Action Plan. I suppose that if you actively enjoy shooting grouse yourself then it is quite possible that you could be mislead into the belief that this is a good idea, however the Hen Harrier Brood Management plan is not, nor ever will be a step towards sustainable Hen Harrier populations in England.

    Natural England’s own data show that as many as 70 % of Hen Harriers are illegally persecuted mainly on Northern England’s grouse moors. Until all illegal Hen harrier persecution is stopped, then such brood management plans are meaningless and actually pointless. Natural England have now with this scheme become apologists for the shooting industry, who really need to clean up their act. There are two very good campaigns at the moment, one to ban driven grouse shooting and another to licence it. Details of relevant petitions can be found here (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/201443 ) and here (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/207482) the latter being supported by the RSPB who certainly don’t support the EDM.

    I hope you find this helpful

    Yours sincerely

    1. I've written to Mr Cunningham, too, but so far have not made it past his Office. Given his propensity to sign any old EDM that is also supported by Jim Shannon, I fear that may be as far as it goes.

    1. Glenhawk, when I copy & past onto Microsoft Word I am given a - 'Script Only' option. Then I copy this & paste it onto my eMail. Hope that helps. Cheers, Dick

  10. EDMs are not binding either, so your argument is rather pointless. Either it is acceptable for devolved matters to be considered by people from across the UK, or it isn't. To pick and choose is illogical.


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