time to two private members' Bills to stop the taxpayer footing
more hunting bills
Government should give time to two private members' Bills on wild
mammal welfare - one in the House of Commons and one in the Lords
- rather than wasting more taxpayers' money on a Hunting Bill that
will never be acceptable to Parliament," warns Mark Hudson,
President of the Country Land and Business Association.
CLA has worked determinedly to promote the principles behind these
Bills - the only sensible alternative to a hunting ban. The Bills
are identical and aim to give wild mammals a similar level of protection
to that enjoyed by pets and farmed animals.
Hudson continues: "Now that the Government's Hunting Bill has
failed, the CLA is calling on Government not to introduce yet another
Hunting Bill in 2004 as is rumoured. Instead, time should be invested
in the only realistic alternative on offer.
further Hunting Bill would be the fifth since 1997. Over 400 hours
of Parliamentary time have been spent on Hunting Bills since 1997.
If the Government is serious about promoting the welfare of wild
animals it should make time for these Bills that both aim to amend
the Wild Mammals Protection Act 1996.
Öpik MP -who came 12th in the private members' ballot - will
introduce a Bill exactly the same as that introduced by Lord Donoughue
earlier this year and which completed its stages in the Lords. At
the same time as Lembit's Bill is introduced in the Commons, Lord
Donoughue will re-introduce his Bill again in the Lords.
the Government has any reservations about these Bills they should
let Lembit Öpik and Lord Donoughue know so that they can amend
their Bills to accommodate its concerns, where reasonable. We are
asking the Government to speak now or forever hold its peace.
we suspect the Government doesn't want either of these Bills to
succeed because it is more concerned with appeasing its own backbenchers
and it is less interested in acting in the best interests of wild
mammals. The Government seems intent on ignoring its own evidence
such as the Burns Inquiry Report, the Hunting Hearings, and the
findings of the Durrell Institute at Kent University* that land
managers preserve more habitats when involved in sports.
2001 manifesto said that it would enable Parliament to reach a conclusion
on fox hunting - there was no manifesto commitment to ban the pursuit
of other wild mammals. Labour also said that if the issue continued
to be blocked, it would examine how the disagreement could be resolved.
Any resolution must therefore be acceptable to both Houses of Parliament
(Commons and Lords) - a ban can never be a resolution. Even with
the removal of the hereditary peers under the House of Lords Reform
Bill, there would still be massive majority against a full ban in
the upper house.
CLA is working to achieve this resolution by supporting these Bills.
We urge the Government to do the same."
Chalmers, CLA Regional Director North added: "Hunting appears
to be the only rural issue which this Government seems to care about
and spends a disproportionate amount of time on. Surely sustainable
communities and an assured future for rural businesses should come
further up the political agenda?"
speak to Mark Hudson, contact Richard Jarman, Head of Communications
on 07803 006574. To speak to a legal expert about CLA's policy on
hunting generally or these Bills specifically, contact Christopher
Price, CLA Public Law Adviser on 07870 655 301.
To speak to Douglas Chalmers, Regional Director North, contact Office:
01524 782209, Mobile: 07764 588 475, Home: 017683 53329
The Wild Mammals (Protection) (Amendment) Bill No 2 will be introduced
by Lembit Öpik MP in the House of Commons on Wednesday 7th
Lord Donoughue's Bill was re-introduced into the House of Lords
on the morning of Thursday 18th December 2003. The Bill will have
its Second reading on Friday 16th January 2004. The Bill will have
its Committee stage and Report stage on Wednesday 4th February 2004.
If all goes to plan, the Bill will have its Third reading on Wednesday
11th February 2004 and be sent to the House of Commons on that day.
Under both the Bills it will be an offence for any person to intentionally
cause undue suffering to any wild mammal. However, there will be
a defence if what is done is either:-done in accordance with a recognised
code, or done in the normal and humane conduct of a lawful and customary
activity, unless any suffering should reasonably have been avoided
or substantially alleviated.
An independent Authority oversees the production of the code, or
codes. It may recognise any body as the proper authority for making
a code and approve any code produced by that body. The Authority
will be composed of persons nominated by interested bodies including
the Country Land & Business Association.
The approved code is then submitted to the Secretary of State to
be either recognised in regulation or refused. If refused the Secretary
of State must give reasons. The intention here is to keep the code
as separate from Government as possible whilst recognising that
it must have parliamentary approval if it is to constitute a defence
to a criminal charge.
*Field Sports and Conservation in the United Kingdom by N. Leader-Williams
Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent
(Nature 29 Vol. 423 29 May 2003)