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After section 6
Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3
Mike Rumbles (Liberal Democrat)
The issue of compensation is extremely important for people who are going to be affected by the bill. I thought that the intention of the debate was to remove the effects of the bill from people who engage in legitimate pest control activities but, so far, it is not clear who will be affected by the bill. It is clear that the mounted hunts and those who engage in hare coursing will be affected, but it is not clear who else will be clobbered by the bill.
During stage 2, I lodged a compensation amendment because I have a fundamental problem with how the bill has been drafted. I said earlier that I thought that it should have focused on the mounted hunts and on hare coursing. We all know that baiting foxes is already illegal. However, the bill has not focused on those activities, and that is the problem with it. My compensation amendment failed in committee by one vote. It failed because the Executive opposed it. I was told that the Executive opposed anything that would cost money. There is no doubt that a compensation scheme will cost money, but that is not to say that it is not the right thing to introduce. I am heartened by the Executive's present position and by the fact that the argument has been won. It is right to give compensation to those people whose activities the Parliament chooses to make illegal.
This is not like other situations, in which a company or an industry goes bust and we try to help it. The Parliament is legislating to outlaw
It is most appropriate to set up an independent commission on hunting compensation. When there is a dispute, it is useful to have an independent mechanism to adjudicate on compensation. Amendment 84—although it at least advocates the principle of compensation—leaves the compensation process in the hands of Scottish ministers. I am pleased that the argument has been won and that the Executive is paying attention to people's basic human rights. Compensation is absolutely essential. Whichever of the three amendments is chosen—and I would like there to be as much debate as possible in the time that we have available—all members should vote for one of them.