Hunting

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th December 2000.

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Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice Labour, Pendle 12:00 am, 11th December 2000

If the Church Commissioners will review their policy of allowing tenants of Church Commission land to decide whether to allow access to hunts. [141906]

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

The commissioners have no plans to review their policy on hunting on their land and will continue to allow tenants to decide for themselves whether to allow hunts on the land they rent from them.

Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice Labour, Pendle

That is a very disappointing reply from my hon. Friend. We shall debate the Hunting Bill next Monday and some hon. Members may look to the Church for guidance on the issue, but, yet again, there is just a deafening silence. When will the Church of England get off the fence on an issue that is so crucially important for many of its communicants and many of our constituents?

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

I am not entirely sure that there is a deafening silence, given that I have just responded to my hon. Friend. As I told him on 8 May, there is not a single viewpoint on hunting within the Church and the commissioners feel that it is right that tenants should be able to make their own decisions. The Church has noticed that, coming up fast on the starboard side, there is a vote next Monday. The commissioners will monitor the progress of any proposed legislation and will decide how best to deal with the ban on hunting, when and if it becomes law.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

May I warmly thank the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) for his robust reply and urge him to continue to resist the siren voice of intolerance that is represented by the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice)? As long as the hon. Member for Middlesbrough takes such a robust and principled stance, he will enjoy the support not only of Conservative Members but of millions of decent, right-thinking, tolerant folk the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

I am not entirely sure that that was a question—it was more like a statement. I am sure that the whole House has heard the hon. Gentleman's views.