As you read the article look out for Present Perfect and Past Simple sentences.
The present perfect sentences are about sometime in the past, but the exact time is not mentioned, i.e. the time is unspecified. This non-specific past time use is one of the four main ways of using the present perfect tense.
The past simple sentences are also about the past, but the the time is clearly stated. We know exactly when these actions happened (e.g. yesterday / December 26th etc)
There is a grammar explanation of present perfect vs past simple after the article
Challenge to the Hunting Act
The Agriculture Minister, Jim Paice has challenged the Prime Minister, David Cameron to repeal the law which bans hunting with dogs. This comes after around 250,000 people turned out for over 300 traditional Boxing Day hunts across the UK on 26th December. Previously, Jim Paice has said that the ban ‘simply doesn’t work’ and has made a ‘mockery of the law’. Additionally, hunt supporters have described the act as ‘failed’.
Support for fox hunting
The Prime Minister has made it known that he personally supports the lifting of the ban, but he has not set aside any Parliamentary time for a vote to repeal the act (Note: ‘Act’ is another word for ‘law’).
In his statement on Boxing Day, The Agriculture Minister went on to say that ‘virtually all levels of authority – the courts and the police – have criticised the hunting act as unenforceable. Making the police enforce the law just distracts them from more important issues’.
A spokesman for The Countryside Alliance (who are committed to seeing the ban overturned) said yesterday that, ‘It is a point of pride for rural communities across Britain that, despite the prejudice and ignorance of some, hunting remains as strong as ever’.
The Government has promised to allow MPs a free vote on whether to bring forward legislation to repeal the Hunting Act, but as yet, they have not specified a date as to when this might happen.
Support for the ban
The Chief Executive of The League Against Cruel Sports responded yesterday by saying: ‘It is utterly appalling that people can think the act of chasing a wild animal with hounds to the point of exhaustion and then taking pleasure in watching it being killed is acceptable. Thankfully the hunting act has made this cruel bloodsport illegal and there is absolutely no desire among the general public to bring it back.’
The League Against Cruel Sports has also published a poll of 2,126 people suggesting that repealing the fox hunting ban would be deeply unpopular with the general public as 66% of those polled believed that the ban should stay in place.
Additionally, the Labour Environment spokesperson saidyesterday that there was “no place for animal cruelty in a civilised society”.
Present Perfect vs Past Simple
One of the uses of the Present Perfect is to talk about a time in the past without specifying that time
1. I have been to France twice
(From this statement, we understand that the speaker has visited France two times in their life before now. But, we do not know if it was in 2010, 2004, 1998…we do not know the exact date.)
2. The Government has promised to allow MPs a free vote on repealing the Hunting Act
(Again, we know that this happened at some point in the past before now, but not exactly when this took place…it could have been one week ago, 2 months ago, 1 year ago – the time is unspecified)
3. Hunt supporters have described the act as ‘failed’.
(Can you see here again that the past time is not specified?)
The difference between the present perfect and the past simple is that with the past simple we normally say the exact time that something happened
1. I went to France last August
(Here, the exact time ‘last August’ is stated, so we use the past simple/preterite tense. In British English, it would be wrong to say I have been to France last August.
2. A Labour MP said yesterday that there was “no place for animal cruelty in a civilised society”.
(Here the exact time of the action happening is stated – yesterday, so we use the past simple.)
3. Around 250,000 people turned out for over 300 traditional hunts across the UK on 26 December.
(Can you see that again here the time is explicitly stated? – 26 December