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'.—(1) Not later than 6 months after the date on which this Act is passed the Secretary of State shall by order make a scheme for the collection and disposal of infirm, diseased and dead agricultural animals (in this section referred to as "fallen stock") which would have been collected by hunts but for the enactment or coming into force of the Schedule to this Act.
(2) A scheme shall regulate—
'.— (1) The Secretary of State shall by order make a scheme for the making of payment to persons in respect of losses incurred by them as a result of—
(2) A scheme may, in particular—
'.—(1) The Secretary of State shall by order make a scheme for the making of payments to persons—
(3) A scheme shall also, in particular—
(5) Sub-paragraph (6) applies to any dispute as to a person's entitlement to payments under a scheme or the amounts of any such payments which—
So begins consideration of the Bill following our deliberations in Committee upstairs. I am grateful to the junior Ministers from the Home Office and the Lord Chancellor's Department for their presence here to assist us. It is perhaps worth pointing out at the outset, however, that today is a black day for British agriculture—a black day in a black fortnight. There appears to be no sign of the problems caused by the foot and mouth outbreak lifting in the next few days or weeks, so it might have been more appropriate, even though the Bill was introduced by the Home Office, for an Agriculture Minister to respond to the debate, particularly on the new clause.
Irrespective of what that Minister said yesterday, and rather than rely on the efforts of the two junior Ministers, it might have been more appropriate for one of his deputies to be with us, at least to assist in our debates.
Amendment No. 36 stands in the names of the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik), my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Luff), the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding) and the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), and I leave it to one of them to speak to it. Amendment No. 40, which stands in my name and those of my hon. Friends the Members for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington), for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) and for Mid-Norfolk (Mr. Simpson), deals with compensation.
I shall briefly discuss the new clause, which would require the Secretary of State to put in place an alternative scheme for the collection and disposal of farmers' fallen stock in the absence of the hunts that currently carry out that service. As you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will know, a further agricultural benefit to farmers, in addition to that of pest control, is provided by hunting with dogs.
My hon. Friend complains about my use of the word "dogs". He will understand, however, that I use that generic term to make our debates more understandable to Labour Members. I hope that he also understands that I include hounds within it. As the Chairman said in Committee, no doubt he will have an opportunity to dilate on that particular semantic discussion.
The collection from farms of fallen stock—that is, unsaleable dead farm animals—or the humane killing and collection of injured or sick animals, known as casualty stock, is an extremely important service. Those of us who represent farming constituencies—and, indeed, others who do not, but who have some knowledge of the rural economy—will appreciate that, nature being what it is, farm animals die. They die in abattoirs, obviously, because they are moved through abattoirs to get into the human food chain, but, sadly, they also die on farms. Were it not for the activities of many hunts in England and Wales—the jurisdiction that the Bill will cover—and in Scotland and, I dare say, Northern Ireland, the farming economy would be under even more strain.
The importance of hunts in collecting fallen stock is perhaps emphasised by the example of the Avon Vale hunt in my constituency. It is a mile away from Bromham, where a case of foot and mouth disease was confirmed yesterday. I understand that Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food officials have been in touch with the hunt with the intention of introducing better arrangements, so that it can still pick up dead stock and have dead stock delivered to the kennels. Were it not for the hunt, what on earth could the farmers do? By its action, the Ministry has demonstrated the importance of the service to agriculture throughout the countryside.
The point is well made. Indeed, a number of Agriculture Ministers have acknowledged, both in the House and outside, the role played by hunts in the collection of fallen stock. Despite his views on hunting, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has acknowledged candidly the value of that role.
The hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) mentioned the outbreak of foot and mouth, and said that the hunt provided a valuable service in collecting fallen stock. The new clause refers to
diseased and dead agricultural animals".
Have we learned nothing? Is the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) saying that it is right for hounds to be given diseased animals to eat?
It is a pity that the hon. Gentleman intervened in the way he did, at the time when he did. If he had visited a hunt kennels, he would understand that not all casualty stock is eaten by hounds. If an animal was diseased, and if the meat of that dead animal is likely to infect the hounds, no sensible keeper of hounds will feed it to them. The collection of diseased and dead animals from farmland, however, is vital to the proper maintenance of the rural economy. If the hon. Gentleman does not know that, he should have found it out by now.
I have given way to the hon. Gentleman once. If he waits, he will be able to make his own speech in due course, and I dare say that we shall all listen with rapt attention.
The Cobham report, commissioned in 1997 and entitled "Countryside sports: their economic, social and conservation significance", reported that 179 hunts handled 352,000 carcases in 1995—an average of more than 2,000 carcases per hunt. The report estimated that, when the work of the harrier and beagle packs was taken into account, the total number of carcases handled annually by all packs, including foxhounds, deerhounds and harriers, was more than 400,000.
Other reliable survey information demonstrated the economic value of the work done by hunts in clearing fallen stock; and, as my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) pointed out, Agriculture Ministers have been the first to admit that their work is valuable. When he was an Agriculture Minister, the Minister
of State, Department of Social Security, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), said in a written answer
a small survey undertaken by the State Veterinary Service earlier this year"—
the year was 1998—
indicates that … 55 per cent. of calves, 35 per cent. of adult bovines, 25 per cent. of sheep and goats, and 10 per cent. of pigs and lambs, which have fallen, may be disposed of through hunt kennels."—[Official Report, 25 June 1998; Vol. 314, c. 606W.]
Those bare figures, given by a member of the Government, who is now in a different Department, amply demonstrate the value of hunts to the agricultural economy.
Is not it true that, if that collection facility is removed, the cost will fall on agriculture, particularly cattle producers, who face an appalling crisis at present?
My right hon. and learned Friend is entirely right. In my constituency and, to a lesser extent but a still significant one, in his, livestock farmers are the main source of farming activity. Their average incomes are about £7,000 of £8,000. One cannot run a family on that sort of money The cost of fallen stock is met by farmers in some cases, but if that additional burden had generally to be paid for by farmers, because the service provided by hunts was removed by the Bill, no doubt unwittingly by its proposers, it would add yet further to the economic burdens suffered by our farming constituents.
It is not a party political point. There are Labour Members who represent farming areas and they surely must have spoken to their farmers and heard about their economic difficulties. To have placed upon them yet one further burden as a consequence of the removal of the collection of fallen stock would, as a matter of common sense, be a terrible blow.
Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that, although it may be illegal, in practice, what will happen is that farmers will simply dig a hole to dispose of those animals? That will be very bad for the environment, but it will be an inevitable consequence of the Bill, even though that practice may be illegal.
I sincerely hope that, if the Bill goes through without new clause 1, farmers will not do that—I am sure that no responsible farmer will do so. There would be an environmental risk, particularly if farmers dug pits near rivers or other water courses. The likelihood is that, should that happen, the water courses would be contaminated, to the danger of the entire rural environment in that area.
My hon. Friend is accurate in what he says. It underlines the general point that I make: the service provided by hunts in removing fallen stock is recognised not only by the Labour Government, but by organisations that recently banned hunting throughout their land.
Can my hon. and learned Friend give some estimate as to the total cost? According to the Cobham report, about 415,000 carcases are involved. I am told that the cost of removing a cow and a horse can be up to £20 each and a pig £10 per 50 kg. If we are talking about 415,000 carcases, the average cost to agriculture could be anything up to £80 million a year. We are talking about very large sums.
My hon. Friend is right. His ability to do the arithmetic is no doubt better than mine.
The point does not need repetition. The valuable service that is provided by hunts in dealing with fallen stock has been recognised for years. It is recognised across party—[interruption] It is recognised even by the Prime Minister, I understand from my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh). Ouite where he said that, I do not know and quite whether he knew what he was saying, I do not know either.
My hon. Friend is of course quite right.
Before moving on to amendment No. 40, I should like to remind the House of some facts— of which I am sure that those who have taken an interest in the Bill will be aware. Two local studies have been conducted—one in west Somerset and one in Wiltshire—of the value of the fallen stock service provided by th hunts. The West Somerset district council report, produced in 1998–99, showed that operating fallen stock services in the study area collected a total of more than 12,000 carcases annually, and that farmers estimated tl at the service saved them each an average of £212.50 annually. Alternative disposal methods were estimated to be about five times as expensive as use of the hunt service.
The Wiltshire county farms report, published in 1995, indicated that 89 per cent. of farms disposed of cows, sheep and horses through hunt kennels and that 77 per cent. of farms had used the hunt to dispose of livestock in the previous 12 months. The report also found:
the hunt currently provides an important carcass disposal service to Council tenants, particularly those which are dairy farmers".
I return to the point made just a few moments ago by my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire. We are discussing evidence of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food making use of the fallen stock service provided by the Avon hunt at a time when, sadly, there are a great many more beasts to be cleared from farms.
Although the service was traditionally provided without charge, some hunts now require a contribution to help meet the costs of their fallen stock service. However, the types of sums that the hunts are charging are way below an economic cost. If one were to employ a knackerman or another professional agency to clear fallen stock, the sums required would—as the West Somerset district council report indicated—be far higher. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, in this week of all weeks, when we are discussing foot and mouth, those oncosts would be unbearable.
Perhaps I misheard or misunderstood the hon. and learned Gentleman. Is he telling the House that MAFF officials took animals infected with foot and mouth and passed them over to the hunts, so that the hounds could devour those diseased animals? Is that what he is saying?
I am not sure that I accept the use of the alternative—I think that the hon. Gentleman both misunderstood and misheard what I and my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire said. MAFF has suggested that the hunt should be used to clear fallen stock not because that stock has been infected by foot and mouth, but because those animals were already casualties from another cause. Some stock may, for example, have broken a leg in a fence or be suffering from some other non-contagious condition that, as Lord Burns might have said, turned out to be fatal or compromised their welfare.
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the matter we are discussing is not one that should divide those who are for a hunting ban and those who are against one? Surely it is a matter of good public policy that, particularly now, there should be a safe, efficient and effective way of dealing with casualty stock. The almost half a million carcases that are going to the hunts each year will have to go somewhere in future. That is what this discussion is all about.
The hon. Gentleman is precisely right. Some people would say—although I as the Member for Harborough would disagree—that the south-west of England, part of which he represents, is the headquarters of the livestock farming industry. Nevertheless, it does not matter whether when one represents Somerset, Montgomeryshire, Northumberland, Sussex, Staffordshire, Buckinghamshire or Leicestershire, the point is the same: those animals will have to be cleared off the land in one way or another.
I hope that Ministers will be able to appreciate the point that we are making. Conservative Members believe that the scheme that we are proposing in new clause 1 is essential. I accept that the new clause may not be perfect in every detail, but I trust that the Home Office lawyers who have been so careful in drafting the schedule and the Bill will, if necessary, be able to adjust its wording to make it suitable.
However, the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) is right: despite the differences between his party and mine about hunting, the new clause proposes an essential scheme for the maintenance and preservation of the rural economy.
I have no quarrel with the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath), but there is disagreement between his party and the Conservative party. If hunting is banned, there will be no one to fulfil the obligation regarding fallen stock. Hunts will not retain kennel staff merely to clear away fallen stock in the countryside. If the hunts go, the fallen stock system will go too.
It is possible that my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Soames) may have misunderstood slightly the point made by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome. I do not know the hon. Gentleman's views on hunting, but I assume that he, like my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex and I, abhors the Bill. If the House has its way and the Bill becomes law, the job of Opposition Members is to mitigate its worst effects on the wider rural economy, and specifically in respect of fallen stock. Farmers will be placed in desperate economic straits and put to huge expense if hunts are banned and the fallen stock service is lost. New clause 1 would provide some mitigation for the worst effects.
Other hon. Members may have other and better points to make in respect of new clause 1, but I intend now to speak briefly to amendment No. 40, which is designed to create compensatory schemes for people suffering a loss due to the cessation of businesses and jobs as a result of a hunting ban, or for people whose jobs or businesses are materially affected by a hunting ban. The proposed schemes would also provide for compensation for loss due to damage done by wild mammals that were previously controlled by hunting, and for loss due to deprivation of any services previously provided by hunts.
The debate is very timely, in the context of the present foot and mouth disease outbreak. On behalf of my constituents and those represented by other hon. Members with rural constituencies, I again express regret that no Minister from MAFF is present to give the House that Department's view of the matter. We know what the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said yesterday about economic loss, and I doubt that many Conservative Members were very impressed. However, the right hon. Gentleman's remarks gave me to understand that we are not likely to hear him address the House on the subject again.
As I said, amendment No. 40 would compensate people whose business or job is materially affected by a ban on hunting, and people who are materially affected by costs, expenses or losses because of the loss of services provided by hunts. The Burns report contains a great deal of information about the economic effect that a ban on hunting would have. I shall not bandy figures with those who disagree with me on the question of hunting, which is the main principle at issue, but I shall draw the House's attention to some of the information that ought to inform the debate. I trust that it will persuade those listening that the amendment is worthy of consideration and support.
Hunting with hounds makes a fourfold contribution to the rural economy. Hunts and hunting organisations employ full-time and part-time staff. The people who participate in hunting with hounds employ stable staff, or provide further employment by keeping their hunting horses at livery. Hunts, hunting organisations and their members and followers incur direct expenditure on goods and services in order to participate in hunting. Finally, expenditure by participants in hunting with hounds stimulates the rural economy by creating a demand for other goods and services. The indirect expenditure arising from hunting generates income and jobs for others. It can enable small businesses to have enough overall income to trade profitably. All of that will go, or will certainly be badly affected, in the event that hunting is banned.
Other speakers will be able to provide the House with information relating to their areas of the country. I should like to illustrate the points that are relevant to this debate by referring to my county of Leicestershire. The gross contribution to the economy of Leicestershire from its seven packs and their members' hunting expenditure is nearly £9.2 million per annum. In the great scheme of things, and compared with the social security budget, I appreciate that £9.2 million is not a great deal of money, but to the farriers and those who work in the livery stables and the clothing shops in Leicestershire, that £9.2 million is hugely important—it helps their families to survive. We estimate that about 750 full-time and part-time jobs in Leicestershire rely directly on hunting.
Let me bring this down to an even smaller compass. In the village where I live, other than those who commute to Leicester—of whom there are not many—all the jobs depend, in one way or the other, upon the hunt. That is not to say that all those who live or work in the village are employed directly by the hunt. However, they have something to do with horses; they have something to do with the clothing industry that makes riding clothes, boots and saddles.
Just a little way down the hill from where I live is a small rural industrial estate where there is a metal worker, a mechanic and a riding equipment and clothing shop. All three of those small businesses are dependent on the hunt for the majority of their income. Abolishing the hunt will destroy livelihoods which those people have spent their lives working to create. We will throw out of work any number of perfectly innocent victims of the Bill.
My hon. and learned Friend makes a very valid point for rural areas. It is, of course, also true for an urban area such as Walsall, which is the centre of the leather industry. It is an important contributor to saddlery, making the finest saddles, I would argue, in the world. That means that saddlery and leather companies are dependent on this business, which supports the wider economic interest of an urban centre such as Walsall.
My hon. Friend makes a particularly telling point which demonstrates the inter-relationship between the rural and urban economy. We cannot simply say that this is an urban or a rural issue. The matter affects all our constituents. My hon. Friend's constituents in the leather trade in his part of the west midlands no doubt sell their products across the country and, I dare say, abroad to Ireland, America and France where, if the Bill becomes law, many of the more well-heeled members of our society will take their horses—or at least themselves—to hunt. My less well off constituents will lose their jobs. The less well-off leather workers in my hon. Friend's constituency may lose their jobs. Hunting will go on, but not in this country, and it will be to the economic disadvantage of his constituents and nine.
Will my hon. and learned Friend remind the House that there is a precedent? The House considered compensation in our deliberations on the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000, when the Government were driven to offer a compensation scheme. As they conceded the point in the context of fur farming, there can be no possible opposition to a concession it, this area.
That is a rational argument. Unfortunately, it may not touch the intellects of those who vehemently oppose hunting. That is something with which my right hon. and learned Friend and I will have to deal. We must do our best to persuade the House and the country as a whole of the cogency and good sense of the points that we make.
I think that the hon Gentleman will be making his own speech in a few moments.
Many right hon. and hon. Members will wish to speak from their own experience and that of their constituents about fallen stock and the compensation that will become necessary as a consequence of the Bill's draconian effects.
I have taken up quite enough of the House's time; the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) is itching to get to his feet. I urge the House to consider carefully the points that I made—albeit briefly. Before hon. Members come to a decision on the measure, I urge them to do their best to mitigate its worst effects. Without our new clause and amendment and without the amendment that will be proposed by the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire, the Bill will be far worse than it need be. Its supporters will have to answer for that in due course
Mr. Lembit Ãâpik:
Like many of the amendments tabled on Report, amendment No. 36 is intended to mitigate the worst of the injustices that the Bill would inflict on those individuals who lose their right to hunt. In introducing the amendment I hope to illustrate that—as the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) rightly pointed out—our proposals have nothing to do with whether one agrees with a ban on hunting with dogs. They are entirely about fairness and about compensating individuals, as we should do if we ask people in any walk of life profoundly to change their life style on account of legislation.
The proposals on fallen stock reflect that view. Anyone who has ever had to deal with that issue would agree that the logic of the arguments that have been made simply serves to underline the importance of our holding an objective view on the consequences of a ban on hunting with dogs.
The purpose of the amendment is to provide the Secretary of State with the latitude to introduce a sensible compensation scheme, following consultation, for the losses in employment and the effects on damage and pest control in some parts of Britain that will arise from the restrictions introduced by the Bill. The amendment gives the Secretary of State plenty of scope to work out the details. The issue is important and must be handled through consultation with the organisations and individuals most affected by the Bill.
The amendment specifically requires the Secretary of State to consider schemes to compensate individuals who lose business as a result of the Bill and who suffer greater depredations by foxes and other predatory animals because the traditional means of control is no longer available. Such schemes should
specify the descriptions of losses and businesses"—
the amounts of the payments.
provide for the procedure to be followed
and introduce a system of arbitration in the event of disputes. The system of compensation would be introduced by statutory instrument, thus giving the House a further opportunity to consider the matter.
Our challenge is to establish a compensation system that genuinely brings fairness into the ban on hunting with dogs. It cannot be just to take away a person's livelihood without making good the loss through compensation. Similarly, it cannot be morally just to take away a person's ability to control a pest without making good the loss that results from the damage caused by that pest.
Burns was clear on that point. Paragraph 10.60 of the report states:
In the event of a ban on hunting, consideration would need to be given to possible action in respect of the fallen stock service provided by many hunts and to whether there would be a case for compensation if hounds had to be destroyed and hunts had no further use for their kennels.
There are other examples of Burns's acknowledging that as a salient and important point, but perhaps most important of all, the Burns report states:
It would be a matter for the Government to consider, in the event of a ban and in the light of clearer guidance about its likely effects, whether any compensation should be paid in this particular case.
To interpret that, Burns is basically saying that it is a Government responsibility to make a judgment about the case for compensation.
I understand that Deadline 2000 does not believe that there is a case for such compensation. I could go through its arguments, but there would not be much point in my doing so because, clearly, I disagree with them, and there other hon. Members who will no doubt seek to explain why they do not believe that the farming community deserves compensation as a result of a ban on hunting with dogs. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the individuals who hunt with dogs in the uplands of mid-Wales—which, as hon. Members know, is the area that I know best in this regard—would definitely expect an increase in predation on their stock if they could not pursue and dispatch foxes with dogs. Without rehearsing the details of the argument yet again, the reason for that is simple.
As Burns acknowledged, people in the uplands of mid-Wales genuinely believe that hunting with dogs is the most effective means to control foxes, and Burns had some sympathy with that view. So the ban will remove a pest-control procedure which has been long established in the area and which is largely regarded as effective by the experts in pest control—the farmers and the huntsmen. If that were the case for any other abolition or prohibition of a pest-control method, I should like to think that the House would, as a matter of course, consider the case for compensation.
My concern is that because we sometimes stray into areas not directly related to the objective consequences of our actions, those who simply do not like hunting and want to ban it think that there is no case to compensate those who hunt for the loss that they will incur as a result of the prohibition. Obviously, hon. Members are entitled to make up their own minds, but I simply disagree with that view. We have to subjugate our feelings to our values—one of which must surely be that of fairness.
I ask my hon. Friend to bear in mind two points, the first of which is the Bill's significance to those whose paid employment depends on the continuation of hunting. If hunting ends, they will simply lose their jobs, because it will not be legal to employ them to do what they are trained to do.
Secondly, given that this proposal extends beyond the principle of hunting and could therefore be supported by hon. Members who would like to abolish hunting but who nevertheless understand the fairness case, I hope that my hon. Friend will press amendment No. 36 to a separate Division.
Indeed. I would have made that request later, but I shall do so now. I hope that we shall have a separate vote on amendment No. 36—if you see fit, Mr. Deputy Speaker—because compensation involves a free-standing, specific and crystal-clear binary decision. In other words, although we can discuss fallen stock—also a fairly clear issue—it must be a matter for the House to state publicly in its vote whether we believe that, as I claim, a moral wrong will be committed if we take away such rights without compensating those who will lose their jobs and their ability to control pests in the way that they have done previously. That is a powerful reason to have a separate vote on amendment No. 36.
The hon. Gentleman has repeatedly said that there is some sort of moral wrong in criminalising an activity and not paying compensation to those who would break the law as a result of continuing that activity. We regularly criminalise certain activities. The House has criminalised all sorts of things, from burglary to whatever. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that, in all cases when we change the law, we ought to compensate those who carry on an activity that was not previously criminal? I do not seek to equate hunting with burglary; I am saying something quite different. [Interruption.] I am trying to be brief, so I do not want to deal with that matter further. The House regularly makes criminal certain things that were previously legal—whether handguns or whatever—and in those circumstances, we do not always pay compensation.
The Minister has talked himself into a hole. He used burglary as his first example. Of course, we would not compensate individuals if their right to burgle houses were taken away. However, what kind of a comparison was that? Burglary was never legal; it certainly has not been in my lifetime. It is not sensible to compare burglary with foxhunting, which is manifestly legal and, more to the point, regarded as a legitimate activity by a large proportion of people.
The Minister needs to think hard about the logic of his argument. I have not a shadow of a doubt that the individuals in my constituency who go hunting foxes with dogs genuinely do not think that they are committing a moral wrong. In fact, I would go further: they do not understand why that civil liberty is being taken away. For that reason, the case for compensation in this example is very much more like the case for compensation when fur farms were closed down and when handguns were taken away. Those examples relate much more closely to the character of this debate than does any comparison with burglary.
The hon. Gentleman is right to say that I used the wrong example. Burglary has always been illegal. However, badger baiting has not always been illegal. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that we should have compensated badger baiters? Dog fighting has been banned. Is he suggesting that we should have compensated those who participated in that? Handguns were banned. Is he suggesting that everyone involved with them should have been compensated? What is he suggesting as a general moral principle? He is ducking the issue by picking up on the particular point I made when I compared foxhunting to burglary. I accept that that was probably a bad example, but will he now deal with the much sounder pints that I have just made?
I accept the Minister's point about the comparison with burglary, so let us move on from that. He has given three much more interesting examples that serve merely to highlight the case for compensation.
The Minister asked about badger baiting. Badger baiting was never a form of pest control, and I do not think that anyone never pretended that it was. It was a form of entertainment through the torture of animals. The Minister has sat through the lengthy debates in the House and in Committee, so he knows that at least a proportion of the people who control foxes with dogs do not regard it as anything less than a legitimate form of pest control. Even if he wants to claim that some people go foxhunting purely for sport, I hope that he will at least accept that a proportion of them believe that the Government's proposals will outlaw a legitimate form of pest control.
The Minister cannot question the fact that some people will lose their jobs, and that that is not their fault. Those people will not understand why, in relation to compensation, the hon. Gentleman seeks to compare the abolition of badger baiting with a ban on the hunting of foxes with dogs as a means of pest control.
Does my hon. Friend accept that many of us who want hunting to be banned and who see compensation as a separate issue are not yet convinced by the Minister's response? Frankly, I feel slightly uncomfortable about his intervention.
When fur farming was banned, members of the public who were involved in a legitimate activity—an activity that many of us thought was reprehensible for animal welfare reasons—were compensated when their right to engage in it was taken away and, as I understand it, they have gone abroad and used the money to set up farms in Denmark. I fail to understand the difference between fur farming, which was reprehensible and legal, and foxhunting, which I also regard as reprehensible and legal. What is the difference?
My hon. Friend takes a very different view from me on the question of a ban or foxhunting, but he highlights a fundamental point. We should not be divided on the issue of justice.
The Minister's second example was dog fighting. Again, that was never a form of pest control. It was a barbaric form of entertainment based on the torture of animals and it had no legitimate justification in terms of the wider interest. Furthermore, although I do not want to put words in the mouth of Lord Burns, I am fairly confident that had he been commissoned to study bear baiting and dog fighting, his report w ould have provided an unarguable case in favour of a ban without compensation. Of course we would not pay compensation in those circumstances and those examples are inappropriate.
The Minister's third example is, however, appropriate. The banning of handguns removed the ability to participate in a legal activity that the Government regarded as dangerous. I did not agree with them, but the ban warranted compensation. The Minister was wrong to say that none was paid, because an enormous amount was provided. To the hon. Gentleman's credit, he is nodding in agreement, but he cited the banning of handguns as an example of where we should not pay compensation. His acknowledgement makes the opposite case.
The hon. Gentleman refers to handguns, and the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr Baker) referred to fur farmers, as did I. The banning of self-loading rifles in the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 is another example because compensation was paid to those people who lost their large-magazine self-loading rifles.
I am sure that we could give many other examples, and there is a common theme to those that have been cited. When we have banned an activity—either on moral grounds or because it is in the public interest to do so—as long as we have genuinely believed that the individuals who will lose their livelihoods or incur costs have not acted in an overtly reprehensible manner that affected the quality of our society, we have paid compensation.
Perhaps Labour Members do not want to pay compensation because they believe that people who hunt with dogs are so barbaric and reprehensible that they do not deserve to have that right. I remind the House of the precedents: handguns, fur farming and self-loading rifles. We all have different opinions about me morality of using such items or being involved in such activities, but I like to think that we are united in agreeing that we need to treat people fairly. People who hunt with dogs will not understand the logic of compensating for the closure of fur farms and not compensating foi the closure of an entire industry. Thousands of jobs are at stake and, in some areas, the ban may have a serious effect on predator activity.
I hope that my hon. Friend will not pursue to great length the activity of hunting but will concentrate instead on the people whose jobs depend on it. Many kennel maids and hunt staff are among the lowest-paid people in the industry. Clearly they should be compensated if hunting is banned. It is reprehensible that the Bill does not recognise that group of people and their rights.
I was coming to that issue—although as my hon. Friend has raised it, I shall not dwell on it for too long. People who are directly involved in the industry—perhaps looking after kennels or dogs—may not have strong views about hunting with dogs. Hon. Members on both sides of the House might be able to strike up a friendship with them and come to respect them. They might understand that they have a great love of animals and the countryside. Were Labour Members and others who oppose compensation to meet them, they would discover that they are ordinary folk who are having their livelihoods removed without receiving compensation. It is simply not just to do that to individuals. That may not be high parliamentary language, but the problem is simple: we are about to punish people for a decision which we are making and in which they have played no part. Normally we compensate people when we do that.
I am concerned that some Members who support the ban are unwilling to accept the simple and powerful objective that lies behind amendments Nos. 36 and 40. It is almost as if they think that it is a sign of weakness to compensate individuals who are losing their livelihood and that it is dangerous to associate the case for compensation with a ban on hunting with dogs. Some comments suggest that the distinction has been blurred. Taking away the right to hunt with dogs is one thing, but not compensating individuals who have been involved in that activity in good spirit and good faith, and as morally as they can, is another.
I believe that amendment No 36 raises a materially different issue from that which arises from new clause 1. I would be grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if you would allow a separate vote on amendment No 36, so that we might make a clear statement on where the House stands on the case for compensation for those who lose out in the ways that I have described.
Changes in public policy have never resulted automatically in compensation being paid. If that were the position, when we changed the law on anything under the sun, people would be knocking on the door of the relevant Minister pleading for compensation. Let us say that there was a change in the law on drink-driving, the limit was reduced and some publicans lost trade—publicans would tell Ministers that they wanted compensation.
Three examples have been cited, and I have a fourth and better one.
I am advised by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lancashire (Mr. Pickthall) that it did. However, the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) gave us three examples, and I have a fourth, which is more relevant.
The right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), as the then Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, presided over the BSE catastrophe. The entire head deboning industry was wiped out. The heads of animals were cut off, and they were of no use to us in Britain because we do not eat cheek pouches. However, in France they are a great delicacy. The pouches were turned into a pâté in France, and that kept an industry running in Britain.
The head deboning industry went down the pan and the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham swept to one side pleas for compensation. I would give greater credence to pleas from those on the Opposition Front Bench for compensation if they could point to a record of providing it when they were in government, of compensation being given as a result of changes in public policy.
In substance, the hon. Gentleman is right. Head deboners were not compensated, and I have always been troubled by that decision, which probably was wrong. However, I was also responsible for firearms legislation at the end of the 1980s. The hon. Gentleman will remember that owners of large-magazine, self-loading rifles were compensated. I was glad to play a part in that process.
BSE is slightly more relevant to the debate than self-loading firearms. That brings me to my point, having been prompted by the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier). I believe—I am sure that the view is not shared by any Opposition Members—that diseased animals should not be fed to hounds. That is wrong. Have we learned nothing from the catastrophes and the chaos of the past decade? It is wrong to feed diseased animals—not animals that have broken a forelock or have tripped, become concussed and then died—to hounds. Diseased animals should be incinerated.
I am surprised that the hon. and learned Member for Harborough made no reference to the Burns report as new clause 1 is all about the disposal of fallen stock. At paragraph 3.59, on page 62, Burns refers to the EU waste incineration directive, which introduces new requirements for hygiene and incinerators. Because of the requirements of the new directive, Burns says:
It is not clear…whether all the hunts would be able to continue the fallen stock service even if hunting was not banned.
We have not heard the whole story from the hon. and learned Gentleman, just a partial rendition.
Before the hon. Gentleman accuses me further of misleading the House, would he care to read the entire paragraph that he has cited? It adds, in terms, that the hunts have incinerators that they might find it expensive to upgrade. Diseased fallen stock are not fed to the hounds; it is those that have died as a result of breaking a bone or other injury. I said that when the hon. Gentleman intervened on my opening remarks; it may be that he has forgotten that, but if he wishes to make a point on the basis of the Burns report, he should do that report justice by reading the whole of the paragraph to which he refers.
I was going to continue my point about diseased animals by referring to the Phillips report—not, thankfully, all 16 volumes of it, but just volume 1. Hunt kennels and knachers' yards earn a multiplicity of references throughout all 16 volumes; if the hon. and learned Member for Harborough has the report to hand, he might consider page 86, paragraph 438. As far as hunt kennels were concerned, there were no adequate checks between 1991 and 1996 on whether hounds were fed specified risk material. They could well have been, and I suspect that they were. The regulations in place at the time—the 1982 regulations—required knacker meat to be treated as unfit for human consumption and to be stained, but there were no provisions in respect of specified risk material.
Who knows what dreadful, contaminated stuff was fed to the poor hounds in the kennels? It is wrong for diseased animals to be fed to other animals, and the new clause serves no useful purpose.
Let me try to reassure the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice), who seeks always to find a way to denigrate hunting or show that its practitioners act improperly. No hunt, no huntsman and no hunt staff would ever feed to their hounds anything that it would be improper for them to eat. I know that the hon. Gentleman's pea-like brain will find the proposition impossible to understand, but those people love their hounds and would never do any such thing.
In his ignorance, the hon. Gentleman does not understand that hunt kennels are approved premises for rendering animal by-products, including carcases, under the Animal By-Products Order 1999. Diseased stock would be disposed of by hunts absolutely properly.
I support the proposals in new clause 1 on the disposal of fallen stock. The views of the hon. Member for Pendle on hunting and the countryside are way off-beam, compared with what really goes on. However, the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) made a reasonable, sensible and careful case, as he always does. In the past two years, for example, the market in bull calves collapsed and it was impossible to sell them. Had it not been for the hunt service putting those animals down humanely and disposing of them, the countryside would have been a shambles.
I remember when my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer), the former Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and I served together at MAFF. We were concerned about the tidiness of the countryside and the possibility of farmers burying stock, and the remains of diseased animals leaching into the water supply. That ceaused us extreme anxiety. I remember the seriousness with which MAFF dealt with the matter and tried to produce a satisfactory proposal.
The countryside would have been a shambles, were it not for the hunt service. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) said, the hunts have worked with farmers in every county at a time of great difficulty for farmers. When we consider the pressure that farmers are experiencing as a result of the wicked, awful foot and mouth outbreak, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal observed, how can the House waste a day debating the banning of a perfectly legal pastime? That reflects a warped and improper sense of priorities, at a time when farmers the length and breadth of the land are worried for the future of their industry.
We shall all leave the hon. Gentleman alone in a darkened room and let him keep taking the tablets.
Hunting with hounds provides a genuine agricultural benefit to farmers, in addition to pest control. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough pointed out, the collection from farms of fallen stock—that is, unsaleable dead farm animals—or the collection and humane killing of injured or sick animals is an extremely important service.
The Minister of State, Department of Social Security, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), then an Agriculture Minister—and a very good one, incidentally—stated in a written answer—[Interruption.] I hope that the Under-Secretary will be good enough to do me the courtesy of listening to what I am about to say. If he could spare me a moment of his valuable time, instead of conferring with Deadbeat 2000, I should be grateful.
The parliamentary written answer to which I want the Under-Secretary to pay attention was from his right hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr, then a Minister at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. It stated:
a small survey undertaken by the State Veterinary Service earlier this year indicates that around 55 per cent. of calves, 35 per cent. of adult bovines, 25 per cent. of sheep and goats, and 10 per cent. of pigs and Iambs, which have fallen, may be disposed of through hunt kennels."—[Official Report, 25 June 1998: Vol. 314, c. 606W.]
Has my hon. Friend noted that it is he who has had to bring those figures to the notice of the House? Surely that is precisely the kind of information that the Government should have brought to the notice of the House in order for there to be a proper debate, but perhaps it is not in the brief of Deadbeat 2000.
The information is not in the brief of Deadbeat 2000, as it would show hunting for what it is—an integral part of the countryside, not just for sport but for the proper use and support of the farming industry.
Does not my hon. Friend's point make it plain that the House is entitled to the advice of Agriculture Ministers, because the new clauses impact on agriculture? Is it not a scandal that no Agriculture Minister is present in the Chamber to advise us? If Agriculture Ministers could not be present, the proper course would be to adjourn the debate until they could be present.
I wholly agree. My right hon. and learned Friend will recognise that had I worked for him, as I did for my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal so happily for almost 18 months, he would have insisted that a junior Agriculture Minister was present in the House with the Home Office team, in view of that Department's obvious ignorance of what MAFF does.
I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman has been in the House for only a short time and that he will not be with us for much longer. We seek the presence not of officials but of Ministers. It is not they who are lighting the bonfires and dealing with the foot and mouth outbreak, but the state veterinary service—and a very good job it is doing. It is right and proper that an Agriculture Minister should be present, not least to dig the poor, wretched Under-Secretary out of the hole into which he is getting himself.
The Government cannot ignore the consequences of a ban, or merely wish or magic them away. One cannot ban hunting overnight without proposing compensation or some other arrangement for the farmers or the good order and stewardship of the countryside. Neither can one abolish overnight, at a time of enormous difficulty for agriculture, the method by which fallen stock has previously been disposed of. The Government cannot ask us to take such legislation seriously and not to believe and understand the deep and burning resentment in the countryside. That feeling exists not just because people who live in the countryside have given up on the Government for failing to understand the thrust of their complaints, but because of the Government's total ignorance and inability to understand the consequences of what they are doing.
I do not wish to bang on about figures, but I should like briefly to mention some significant ones. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough mentioned the Cobham report, which states that 179 hunts handled 352,000 carcases in 1995. The national survey of hunts recorded that 200 of the packs surveyed currently provide a fallen stock service. Those hunts handled a total of 366,000 carcases in the previous 12 months, at an average cost to each of £18,000 per annum.
Indeed it has. That is why my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham expressed concern about the absence of a MAFF Minister. It is not the poor, wretched Home Office that will have to deal with farmers ringing up and saying, "I've got 10 bull calves to be put away this morning. There is no market for them, so I'll have to get them destroyed. How am I to dispose of them?" What is to happen to such farmers? Will they have to ring the Reading office, which is Sussex's nearest regional office? What will the MAFF regional office tell them? It cannot tell them to find a knackerman, as there are no knackermen left. Those are the serious consequences.
The Under-Secretary is right to say that, by and large, we had a cordial and reasonably civilised debate in Committee. However, we are now dealing with the consequences that would flow from a ban on hunting. Those consequences are serious and cannot be magicked away. They require the most serious and detailed answer, to show that the Government understand and have catered for the consequences of hunts closing down and the lack of a collection service in, for example, West Sussex, which has a substantial dairy industry and a pretty substantial beef industry. The county places many requirements on hunts, which provide a wonderful social service for the farmers and the countryside by clearing away fallen stock. I urge my hon. Friends and Labour Members whose minds are not closed to these matters to think very carefully about the importance of the new clause.
I wish to speak to amendment No. 36, to which the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) also spoke. Before I do so, may I declare an interest? Many Members will know that I am retiring at the election—and I am going fishing. It is time somebody spoke up in this debate for the fishing industry. No one knows better than fishermen the damage that mink do to the countryside and especially to fish. Mink do not eat many fish, but they destroy many of them. They bite them, tear lumps out of them and leave them looking deformed. Damage to fish by mink has cost one of my local fishermen who stocks a pool in Newcastle-under-Lyme £1,000.
I know that the Labour party has an anglers' charter and that that says that Labour will protect the environment for all to enjoy, especially anglers, but I must tell the Minister that if the Bill is unamended and mink hunting is banned, we shall not be meeting our manifesto promise. Many think that angling is just for a few people, but it is a big tourist industry. It has been encouraged in rural areas in order to attract work—but I see that the Minister wants to intervene.
No; I beg his pardon.
Gamekeepers and water bailiffs who man many rivers call in mink hunts to sweep the rivers in order to get rid of mink. I have a letter from the Northern Counties hunt in Yorkshire, which states that more than half its call-outs are from gamekeepers on the Esk, Dove, Seph, Leven, Rye and Derwent, and from water bailiffs on the Ure, Cock Beck and Wharfe. Unless we consider the damage that mink do to our rivers, our wildlife and our fishing industry, we will not be taking the Bill seriously.
Many people will lose their jobs as a result of damage by mink. I say to the Minister in all seriousness that unless he can find £40 million to eradicate mink, he should not be supporting the banning of mink hunting and certainly should be considering compensating many anglers and river keepers—
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Lady, but I am having a little difficulty linking her remarks to the particular terms of the amendment, which seeks compensation for people affected by this Act.
No, but mink are hunted with dogs. Mink are controlled by mink packs and mink hunting will be banned if the Bill is enacted. We really should be considering the fact that the Bill will ban mink hunting. I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for pointing that out, but I thought that that would be understood.
Is the hon. Lady saying that damage to people involved in, say, fishing and so forth will be very much the same as that suffered by, say, a sheep farmer who loses lambs? She is trying to draw an analogy between foxes that predate on lambs and mink that predate on fish. She is saying that there is a case for compensation for the people about whom she is concerned, just as I am concerned about compensation for people who suffer as a result of fox predation.
I agree. The poor fishing stock owner in my constituency never had the advantage of mink hounds, but he knew that the Government were not prepared to invest anything in controlling mink. It is estimated that it will cost £40 million to control mink if hunting them is banned. I seriously think that the control of these vicious pests should be considered when looking for compensation for people who will lose their livelihoods as the result of the ban.
I rise to support my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) on new clause 1 and amendment No. 40. I do so on the basis that I am strongly opposed to the Bill, which I regard as an outrageous infringement of civil rights.
If we are to have this Bill at all, clearly we must try to address some of its consequences. The question of fallen stock is a very important consequence. The House would therefore be absolutely right to support the new clause, which would at least provide a scheme for dealing with fallen stock. I hope, too, that the House will recognise that if there is a ban, a very heavy cost will fall on the agriculture industry in the dealing with fallen stock.
It is bizarre that at the very time when the agriculture industry and livestock producers in particular are facing the crisis of foot and mouth disease, this House should be contemplating imposing on them yet a further charge. That makes it even more scandalous that there is not an Agriculture Minister on the Government Front Bench.
I am perfectly prepared to accept that the Minister of Agriculture is engaged elsewhere—although in his case it is probably in a broadcasting studio—[Interruption.] Labour Members may whine but the Minister of Agriculture made it absolutely plain to the House yesterday that he thought it inappropriate and a waste of his time to explain to the House the problems of foot and mouth disease and to account for his policies. We regard it as his duty to be in the House.
Let me remind you, if I may, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that when I was Minister of Agriculture dealing with BSE, I came to the House on many occasions. On about 30—or perhaps 20—occasions, I or my ministerial colleagues came to the House, usually, or at least often, at the request of the then Opposition to account for our policies. We never suggested that that was a waste of our time or otherwise inappropriate: we regarded it as our duty. I very much regret the absence of Agriculture Ministers.
I return to the subject of new clause 1. We must not impose on livestock producers an even heavier burden at this time. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Soames) is wholly right to speak of the very important services that hunts provide in the disposal of fallen stock. If we must have a Bill such as this, not to make proper provision for such disposal is a dereliction of duty.
To put some value on the service, a New Forest pony might fetch—if one is lucky—£5 at the Beaulieu road market. However, to remove a dead pony that has been knocked over, as so many are every week by motor vehicles, to a knacker would cost in excess of £70. That is a measure of the loss to the commoners of the New Forest that we would be looking to this legislation to replace.
My hon. Friend is right to bring the detail before the House. If one wants more general information, one will find it in the Burns report on page 62, where it states that something like 336,000 carcases are disposed of by hounds. Dealing with such a number would be a significant cost to agriculture.
My right hon. and learned Friend is characteristically generous with his time.
Just outside my constituency is Ashdown forest, as my right hon. and learned Friend will know, in which there is a splendid and very healthy population of deer. Unfortunately, the deer are often run over. It is the hunt that collects those deer and, if necessary, puts them down and takes them away. If the hunt do not undertake that task, whom does he envisage doing so? Would it be Wealden district council, which presumably does not have a team of knackermen on standby? Who would do that extremely important work for the community?
My hon. Friend shows the importance of Report stage, which is being truncated. The House has naturally focused on the responsibilities of hunts for the disposal of fallen stock, but my hon. Friend has reminded us about deer on the roads. If there be no hunts, the cost will fall on district councils, and thus on the council tax payer. That is another example of the Government's not thinking through the problems that they are obliged to face.
Amendment No. 40 deals with compensation. I am perfectly prepared to accept that there have long been differences of opinion on compensation. The hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) made a fair point against me. When I was Minister of Agriculture I did not provide a compensation scheme for head deboners. However, I provided extensive compensation schemes for the farming industry. I did not provide such a scheme for head deboners partly because of the precedents, which were comprehensive, and partly because of the fear of establishing another precedent that could subsequently be prayed in aid.
I was uneasy about that decision at the time, but I made it. On reflection, I think that it was probably wrong for a number of reasons—at least I would not make such a decision now. To start off with, the argument has moved on, partly as a result of law. The incorporation in domestic law of the European convention on human rights, in particular the obligation to pay compensation when people's property rights are interfered with, has changed the discussion in this area; the debate has moved on.
Then there are the precedents, some of which operated at the time and some of which have been brought into operation since then. The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 provided for compensation in respect of the owners of the firearms confiscated, although it did not extend to consequential loss. The same was true in respect of handguns. The scheme for fur farmers is more generous, and if it is properly implemented will probably extend to consequential loss. The precedents are changing in favour of compensation.
I am bound to say also that in the end it is a matter of principle, which makes me uneasy with the decision that I took with regard to head deboners. The plain truth is that we are proposing—in my view, wholly wrongly—to take away people's livelihoods. My hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) reminded us of saddlers. The Burns report identifies many other occupations of people whose activities are related to hunting. We will deprive them of their livelihoods. We will take away the employment of the people who work directly for the hunts, whether as kennel-men or kennel-maids or in the stables, and also of those who service the hunting industry. For what reason? The honest answer is that we are destroying people's livelihoods to indulge the prejudices and views of certain people in the House.
There should be a cost attached to that. If we are really going to do such a frightful and odious thing, by God we should pay for it. I do not see why honest, law-abiding citizens, who for generations past have earned their living in a way that they deem wholly respectable—and so do I—should lose their jobs without compensation. That is a scandal. I hope that this matter will be pushed to a Division, because I want to see Labour MPs voting against compensation. By doing so, they will declare their true colours. I view their position on this matter with contempt.
I do not want to encourage the debate to be any more bad-tempered than it has become. [Interruption.] I am surprised that hon. Members are allowed to call each other pea-brained, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) said, if one is pot-bellied one gets away with making such allegations in the House.
I have voted for the principle of the Bill, but I want some of the consequences of its enactment to be considered carefully. [Interruption.]
No, I want to make my point.
My experience as a member of the Select Committee on Agriculture, limited though it is, tells me that Conservative Members should be a little more sanguine about the BSE saga, given the consequences for many in agriculture about which they now complain and which lie at their door due to their incompetent handling of the crisis. [Interruption.] Given the problems that my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle referred to, and the outbreak of classical swine fever, which is still relatively—[Interruption.]
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
Given the great concern of farmers in East Anglia about the outbreak of classical swine fever and the present immense concerns about animal disease and the foot and mouth outbreak, the House and the Minister should reflect on what should happen to diseased animals in future. New clause 1 would introduce a regulated scheme under the control of the Secretary of State for the safe disposal of sick and dead animals.
Surely one of the lessons that we should learn from the past few years is that we must take greater care when dealing with sick animals. If we had a scheme that required animals to be checked by a vet, would not some of the recent outbreaks have been detected earlier than they were? We have the bones of a good scheme, but I am not sure that it is ideal as currently phrased. It should not be limited to animals that would hitherto have been collected. I believe that there is an argument for a national scheme for the disposal of diseased and fallen stock.
I am sure that we welcome the hon. Gentleman's support, but does he agree that, if we have such a scheme, the cost should not fall on the livestock producer?
I note that the new clause tabled by Conservative Members states that the charges should meet the cost of the scheme. This issue should be debated, because such a scheme is clearly in the national interest. Measures that would enable speedier detection of the problems to which I have referred could contribute to the safety of our agriculture industry.
The answer to this problem is to rebuild the knacker industry, which was the traditional way of getting rid of dead stock in this country and in many parts of the world. That could be done within existing means.
I am less certain of that than is my hon. Friend. Given that the scheme could be widely drawn, there is no reason why there should not be alternatives and there would be good arguments for tightening up on notification before disposing of fallen stock. I hope that the Minister will carefully explain why it would not be sensible to consider the new clause more carefully, subject to amendments made elsewhere.
Those who argue the case for compensation are in great danger of over-gilding the lily. Many decisions made in Parliament on the rules and regulations under which people have to operate routinely put those people to expense. Indeed, we sometimes put people out of work, but we do so because we have good reason. Pest control has been mentioned. The pesticide and pharmaceutical industries exist in such an environment that should a perceived danger—let alone an actual one—become apparent, the House would think it responsible to act without discussing what compensation should be given to companies that would have to replace their manufacturing processes and that had invested heavily in research funding.
I shall develop my point before taking an intervention; I shall be happy to do so when I have made clear what I am trying to say. There is no automatic right to compensation when the House legislates to change employment or profit opportunities. On the other hand, when we took guns from people, we gave them the value of their gun. When the state takes from its citizens, there is a case for defining narrowly, not broadly, and the amendments are insupportable—a lawyer's nightmare would result from proceeding on such a basis. They are widely drawn because they are part of an important and emotional debate.
My hon. Friend mentions handguns, to which I referred earlier. He will no doubt recall that there was considerable debate about compensation, which he rightly said was paid for the market value of guns, but dealers were not compensated for loss of profits or future business. A limit was put in place.
I understand that compensation should not be given when Parliament legislates; equally, I understand why compensation should be paid, but where is the consistency? How can it be right that mink farmers were compensated when no compensation is proposed in the Bill? What is the difference? Can the hon. Gentleman answer that point? Was it wrong to compensate mink farmers?
At this distance, I do not remember the details of the compensation and I do not like to make up an answer, but, as the Minister pointed out, there is a distinction between paying for guns that were taken and compensating manufacturers who could no longer make them or dealers who could no longer sell them. My problem with supporting the amendments is that they are much closer to the latter.
The amendments carry an implication that would be the equivalent of compensating not only those from whom we took guns, but shopkeepers who could no longer sell them and the manufacturers who could no longer make a profit from selling them. That is the distinction that I draw.
I do not seek to be unhelpful, but is the hon. Gentleman saying that, despite his concerns about the construction of amendment No. 36, a debate should be held on compensation? If so, am I right to say that he is describing where he would draw the line and that, even if I would draw that line somewhere else and although the practical outcomes would be different, we agree that there is a principle at stake?
The short answer is yes. I accept that a debate should be held about the principle, but my problem is that the amendments strike the wrong balance. We must be careful, as we were with mink farmers, and we must consider whether people are able to diversify and reuse their materials. For example, many who argue for the banning of hunting say that it could be replaced by drag hunting. We should debate the nature of the compensation—
I must finish.
There is a nub to the argument. That should be addressed, and I hope that the Minister will do so. The amendments are far too widely drawn and are part of the bigger battle rather than part of a careful look at whether compensation should be paid when it is clear that harm is being done and that those to whom harm is being done have no alternatives.
I suppose that we can give one cheer, but no more than that, for what might be the valedictory address of the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Dr. Turner). He at least had the good grace to recognise that there is something to the case that has been advanced, but I am one of those who finds this a particularly sad day.
My hon. Friend is being characteristically generous to the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Dr. Turner). Is not it his interpretation that the hon. Gentleman began his speech supporting compensation, saw the Minister frowning at him intensely and retreated at a rapid rate of knots? Which press release will the hon. Gentleman issue in King's Lynn?
I do not know how many more press releases the hon. Gentleman will be able to issue in King's Lynn because before too long Mr. Henry Bellingham will grace these Benches again. Although it is always appropriate to introduce a note of levity to any debate, and my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) is particularly good at that, I find this a sad day—indeed, a grotesque day. All around the countryside, farmers are facing ruin. All around the country, farmers are wondering not whether they will be compensated under the Bill, but whether they will survive at all.
We should be debating those grave issues, so it is grotesque for the Government to set aside a whole day to debate this mean, spiteful, vindictive, unnecessary and meddlesome legislation. The Government talk about human rights and civil liberties, yet they seek to extinguish the rights and liberties of some of the most decent, law-abiding people this country knows, many of whom are poorly paid.
In many ways, the most telling comments came from the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik), who has taken a distinguished and a distinguishable line in all our debates on hunting. He described them with a simple word, saying that they are about fairness. That is what our debates are about: being fair to people whom we are attacking.
I am not one of those who have been deluded into thinking that tonight we can convert Labour Members sufficiently to defeat the Bill on Third Reading. No, the Bill will be passed and the steamroller majority to which I referred in the earlier debate will be brought into play. There will be honourable exceptions, such as the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding). I am extremely sorry that my fellow Staffordshire Member will no longer represent part of the county of Isaak Walton after the election.
Apart from a few honourable exceptions, Labour Members will go into the Lobby in serried ranks to carry the Bill—which will be an act of appalling injustice if adequate compensation is not provided for those who will be deprived of their livelihoods.
I hope that the Minister will demonstrate clearly that he understands the points that have been made. He has already apologised for one extremely inapposite analogy, in which he sought to equate what we are discussing with burglary—he withdrew that, which was good—but he did not really face up to the question of compensation. Members of the official Opposition and Liberal Democrats have made a number of points about that: we have been at one on compensation, although we may take different lines on hunting. I think that the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker), for instance, is wholly on our side.
We have talked about handguns, and the compensation provided under the very silly legislation introduced by a Government whom, in other respects, I was prepared to support. I said at the time that I thought the legislation unnecessary and silly, but the fact remains that those deprived of handguns were given compensation—albeit, perhaps, less than they should have received. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) mentioned an earlier Bill under which, much more justifiably in my view, other firearms were taken away. In that case, too, proper compensation was provided.
Compensation has been provided in other instances, the most recent being the Government's Bill banning mink farming. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme rightly spoke of the terrible depredations caused by mink in the countryside, particularly at the expense of the angling community. In doing so, she in effect appealed to the Government to be consistent. They have compensated those who were farming mink; they must now compensate those who will suffer from the activities of mink if hunting is not allowed.
The Minister must face up to these issues. In example after example, the Government have shown that they do not understand the countryside, and do not appreciate the problems faced by people there. I hope that my hon. Friends will lose no opportunity to point out to their farming and other constituents just how far removed the Government are from an understanding of the countryside. There is, however, just a small chance for the Minister to salvage a little honour.
That would be wonderful. Failing that, though, the Minister can at least show that he recognises the justice of the case being made for compensation.
Many of my hon. Friends have referred to the absence of any Agriculture Minister. One should be present. The issue we are debating is admittedly peripheral, given that we are debating it at a time of grave crisis in the countryside; but there should nevertheless be a Minister present to recognise the havoc that the Bill will cause. Where is the Minister? Where is a member of the ministerial team? Why cannot this Minister send his parliamentary private secretary—to whom he was talking a while ago—to find an Agriculture Minister, and explain that there is a demand in the House for an Agriculture Minister to come and listen to the debate?
I am delighted that an agriculture spokesman is present. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we will happily produce one ourselves the moment a Minister enters the Chamber. Opposition Members are slightly different, of course, in that we have a genuine understanding of the plight of the countryside and of what the countryside is all about.
If we do not receive an adequate response to our basic call for compensation, the Government will have covered themselves in dishonour and obloquy, and will be remembered and castigated in the countryside for generations.
In many respects, I have considerable sympathy with the principles behind the new clause and amendments. I sympathise with the case for a scheme to deal with fallen stock, given that the Bill would remove the methods currently available to some farms. I also sympathise with the call for compensation. I believe, however, that the way in which the new clause and amendments address those issues leaves much to be desired.
I agree with a good deal that was said by the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Dr. Turner), especially in regard to the new clause. If there is a case for a
Government scheme to deal with fallen stock, that case must surely rest largely on the importance of ensuring that diseased stock is handled carefully and properly, and that any disease carried by fallen stock does not spread. It can be applied equally well to fallen stock on farms where there happen to be hunts at present, and to fallen stock on farms where there are no hunts. If there is to be a scheme, it should surely involve all fallen stock rather than, as new clause I clearly states, fallen stock
which would have been collected by hunts but for the enactment or coming into force of the Schedule to this Act.
I feel that that aspect of the new clause should rule it out.
Even now, the collecting of fallen stock by hunts leads to what is, in a sense an unfair relation between one farm and another. Some farms can dispose of fallen stock rather more cheaply than others. If hunting is abolished, that will no longer exist.
There is, of course, a case for saying that the finances of farming will be affected. We ought to ensure that there is a cheap way in which farms can dispose of fallen stock, or else introduce another form of compensation scheme so that farmers' incomes do not drop unnecessarily. Providing only for areas that are currently lucky enough to contain hunts that can collect their fallen stock comparatively cheaply, however, would simply continue the current unfairness.
I think that there is a good case for compensating those whom the Bill puts out of jobs. It is true that there are precedents in both directions. Presumably the question of redundancy payments would arise: not much compensation might be necessary. In any event, the amendments involved do not just cover those who would be put out of jobs. Amendment No. 36 in particular clearly refers to compensation for loss of stock as a result of, for example, foxes taking stock after the abolition of hunting. Amendment No. 40 is slightly less clear in this respect, but I assume that its reference to losses would also mean compensation for farmers who lost stock when a fox got into the henhouse. I do not think there is much of a case for that: after all, henhouses are attacked by foxes now, regardless of whether hunting takes place in the areas concerned.
There are strong arguments for the proposition that, if hunting is abolished, the fox population is likely to fall. I believe that farmers will take it upon themselves to reduce the fox population by, for example, shooting more foxes. Clear arguments have been advanced by the pro-hunting lobby that one reason why the fox population is high is that hunting exists. If that is a valid argument—I believe it to be so to some extent—once hunting has been abolished, there should be less reason for people to be compensated as a result of foxes taking stock. Therefore, I do not see that there is a good argument for that.
Indeed, it will be impossible to say whether a particular attack by a fox on a henhouse would or would not have taken place had hunting still been in existence. Who can say which foxes would have been hunted and killed had hunting not been abolished? That aspect of the two compensation schemes rules them out, too.
I must apologise because, in an earlier intervention, I may have inadvertently misled the House. I was trying to work out exactly what the cost would be to the farming community if the fallen stock service provided by the hunts were taken away. I was trying to extrapolate figures from the Cobham report, which estimated that the total number of carcases handled annually by all packs—fox, deer and hare—was 415,000. I understand that it is reasonable to suggest that a knacker man would levy a charge of approximately £70 for the collection of a cow or a horse. I was simply multiplying 415,000 by £70. If we do that, we will get a very large figure.
That is the figure that I put to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier), but I accept that that might be an exaggeration. I think that the case is interesting enough without having to resort to extrapolation. I shall try to share without information I have. The costs involved are an interesting fact, especially today, when the farming community is reeling from the impact of further costs imposed on it by the foot and mouth epidemic.
The national survey of hunts has found that, in the past 12 months, hunts collected 48,000 nimals. The average price difference for collection by other means is £50 per beast, which means that the cost of collecting cows and horses alone would impose an a iditional burden of £2,400,000 per annum on farmers. This is a considerable sum.
The Cobham report calculated that 179 hunts handled 352,000 carcases in 1995, an average of 2,035 carcases per hunt. When the work of the harrier and beagle packs that also collected fallen stock was taken into account, it came to the figure of 415,000. The national survey of hunts records that 200 of the packs surveyed currently provide a fallen stock service. Those hunts handled a total of 366,000 carcases in the previous is 12 months at an average cost to each hunt of £18,001 per annum.
The question is complicated by the fact that the hunts make some charge. In recent years many of them have not been able to provide a completely free service. Some of them charge £20 for cows and horses, £10 per 50 kg of pig, £5 for each sheep and nothing for calves. One will see from those figures and facts that it is quite a complicated story.
I take on board the interesting point made by the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) If one is devising a compensation scheme, one will have to have some cognisance of the fact that the service is not available in all parts of the country. Presumably, when they produce such an amendment, Opposition spokesmen are prepared to negotiate on the issue. If the Minister comes back with good arguments about why the amendment may not be fair in all the circumstances, the Opposition will be prepared to withdraw it. I accept that he is a Home Office Minister, not an Agriculture Minister, but presumably the relevant information can be passed to him. It is incumbent on him to share with the House exactly what is going on in the countryside, how many of the carcases are being collected and what total cost would fall on the farming community.
I am happy to take back the figure that I gave earlier. I was trying to work it out as an Ordinary Back Bencher, but the Minister will have much more accurate information. I wish that he could share it with the House.
Before my hon. Friend moves on, can he pick up a point that was made by the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel)? He talked about a level playing field, but he missed the point that a ban, and therefore the elimination of the fallen stock service, would have a disproportionate impact in areas with a particularly heavy livestock population such as in my patch, north Shropshire, and in Cheshire, the south-west or parts of Wales. The impact would be devastating in areas where there is a heavy concentration of livestock. Perhaps more arable areas such as Newbury will not be so badly affected.
That is a fair point. I must accept that, if hunting is abolished and the fallen stock service vanishes, the type of area that I represent, a very arable area, could probably take the measure on board, leaving aside for the moment the other problems that agriculture is facing. We are not a livestock area. I accept the point that, for hon. Members representing livestock areas, the impact of the end of the fallen stock service may be much more severe. I am sure that the hon. Member for Newbury, who is a fair man, would accept that point and that, in certain parts of the country, the measure could have a serious effect on farmers who rely on that service.
I hope that the Minister will be able to share with the House exactly how the service can be replaced. The argument has been made several times, but it must be emphasised: surely, at this time of all times, whatever our views on hunting, we do not want to impose a further cost on farmers. When the farming community is going through a particularly sensitive and traumatic time, it would be unfair for the House of Commons and for Ministers to send out the message that they are ignoring the problem; that it is just a minor one that could be swept under the carpet. The Minister must come back with a sensible response. He must not simply dismiss our arguments, but accept that the collection of fallen stock is a valuable service and that, should it disappear, something must be done to replace it.
There has been a lot of argument about the number of jobs that will be affected. Those who support the Bill argue that the number of jobs that will be lost as a result of it is much less than the number alleged by the Countryside Alliance, but Burns accepts that between 6,000 and 8,000 full-time equivalent jobs depend on hunting. Obviously, an additional number of part-time employees may lose their jobs. That brings the full-time equivalent jobs lost to anything up to 13,600. That is a very large number.
I accept that, when Ministers are dealing with such a debate, they must tread carefully because the one thing that worries them more than anything else is arguments about compensation. The figures are potentially enormous and the Government do not want to be stuck on that particular needle. I understand where the Government are coming from, but they must understand that the people involved often earn very small salaries—that point has been made many times. A lot of them may earn about £10,000 a year. They may have jobs that are difficult to relate to any other activity. For them, the loss of hunting will be a devastating blow.
The proposed ban on hunting is different from many other bans. Certainly, it is unfair to equate it with the abolition in the 19th century of cock fighting or bear baiting. Those were minor activities carried out by groups of people who were simply interested in viewing animals being torn apart. Those activities did not offer full-time equivalent jobs to up to 16,000 people. They were not traditional activities. Foxhunting is quite a different matter. The Government must seriously address the issue of what will happen to those people. How they will find other jobs? How will they be retrained, and at what total cost to them?
The Burns report, which is very fair, honestly attempted to try to examine both sides of the issue. It stated:
In the event of a ban on hunting, consideration would need to be given to possible action in respect of the fallen stock service provided by many hunts and to whether there would be a case for compensation if hounds had to be destroyed and hunts had no further use for their kennels.
I appreciate that Ministers do not want to set a precedent and that they have to he responsible for the public purse, and all those other arguments, but I hope that they will give some hope to those people. As hon. Members have said, there are precedents for compensation. Section 5(1) of the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000, for example, which is the Government's own legislation, states:
The appropriate authority may (and, in the case of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, shall) by order make a scheme for the making of payments by that authority to persons in respect of income and non-income losses incurred by them as a result of ceasing, by reason of the enactment or coming into force of section 1, to carry on their businesses".
There is no doubt that the Hunting Bill, if enacted, will be on all fours with section 5(1) of the 2000 Act. For better or for worse, although I would regret it, Parliament may in its wisdom decide that those 8,000 full-time jobs have to go. Parliament took a similar decision on fur farming, which accounted for far fewer jobs. Perhaps the Government found it easy to be generous in that case because fewer jobs were involved. Nevertheless, Parliament and the Government took the decision to stop fur farming, and quite rightly said that they had to compensate people.
The fur farming compensation scheme is also very different from other previous proposed compensation schemes, such as those for BSE and natural disasters, and perhaps including the foot and mouth disaster that we have been talking about this week. Those are natural disasters. The Government do not will BSE or foot and mouth on the nation; they have to try to cope with those difficult problems.
Ministers can create strictly constrained compensation schemes, and they are very anxious not to open the floodgates to wider compensation schemes. However, in all fairness, when Parliament deliberately takes a decision to abolish, for example, fur farming, hunting or—as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) said—self-loading rifles, is there not an obligation on Parliament to pay compensation?
I accept my hon. Friend's point that there is a difference in scale between fur farming and hunting, and the compensation that might be required. However, does he agree that it would be outrageous and despicable if the Government were to take the view that they would pay for the principle of equity only if they thought that they could afford the price?
That is a very fair, rational and ethical point. I was trying to deal with the practicalities of what the Government can or cannot afford to do. If the Government have decided to abolish hunting—they have provided Parliament with the means of abolishing it—there is no way in which I would ever be able to persuade the Minister to compensate those who are losing their sport, those whose hunting horses are no longer needed or anyone else who is affected by abolition. I would never get away with that argument with the hon. Gentleman—who is a tough but fair-minded Minister.
Precisely because he Minister is fair-minded, however, I think that there may be some hope of persuading him that if Parliament takes a decision affecting people employed full time in what has hitherto been a perfectly respectable and legal occupation, a moral injunction would be placed on the Government to provide some type of compensation. Who am I talking about? Very often, they are in very modest occupations, such as groom, farrier, saddler, kennel huntsman, or gamekeeper. They may find it very difficult to find another job.
My hon. Friend has talked about the moral case for the Government to provide compensation, but has he considered that there may be a legal case for providing it? Has he considered the 1986 Lithgow v. United Kingdom case—which clarified the point not only that people may be deprived of their possessions only in exceptional circumstances, when it is in the public interest to do so, but that compensation should be paid except in exceptional circumstances? Does he think that if the Government were to proceed with the Bill without compensation provisions, it could give rise to a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights?
I think that that is a very fair point. In his reply, the Minister—who is a Home Office Minister, not a MAFF Minister—could try to deal with it. I have no doubt that the Government are open to challenge on the matter in the European Court of Human Rights. Article 1 of protocol 1 of the European convention on human rights provides:
Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.
Ministers have to try to convince the House, and, presumably—if they proceed with the ban—the European Court, that they can satisfy the provisions of article 1 of protocol 1. It is not good enough for the Minister to brush aside the issue and say, "My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has put his imprimatur on the Bill, as is required by human rights legislation. Everything is all right, chaps; do not worry. There is nothing to worry about." I think that there is a lot to worry about. If I were a Minister, I would certainly be worried about a challenge being made in the European courts. A hunting ban would, for example, interfere with the rights of landowners.
I hesitate to intervene on the hon. Gentleman, who might pull out his Hansard on me, however, he will be aware that the European convention is now, of course, part of United Kingdom law. If the point that he is making were taken, it would not have to be dealt with in Europe, as in the past, but could be dealt with in our own courts.
My hon. Friend will be aware that, under the European convention on human rights, which has now been incorporated into our own legislation, every Bill passed by Parliament has to have a certificate stating that the legislation conforms with that convention. If what he is saying is correct, dogs he think that the Minister might have difficulty issuing such a certificate for this Bill?
That is precisely the point that I made a moment ago. When we raise issues in this type of debate, the Minister replying may say, "Of course that point has been dealt with; my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has issued a certificate", as if that were the end of the argument. Civil servants do not seem to brief Ministers to reply to the legal issues that have been raised.
I believe that a ban could be in breach of protocol 1 because it would interfere with the property rights of landowners who participate in hunts on their own land. In reply to the specific point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton Brown) that such a ban could be deemed by the courts as an interference with "substance of ownership" and with the "peaceful enjoyment" of those possessions, such a right is guaranteed in the first sentence of article 1.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cotswold mentioned the case of Lithgow v. United Kingdom, which I do not want to deal with in detail. However, without trying to get into a long legal debate with the Minister, it would be very interesting if, with the help of those who advise him in these matters, he could tell us that Lithgow does not apply in this case. The European convention states that deprivation of possessions is acceptable only if it is in the public interest and conforms to international law or practice. Will the Minister say whether he believes that the European Court, or our courts, would interpret that to mean that a ban on hunting—which is a departure from existing practice—was in the public interest?
All such matters will be determined later in the courts if the ban on hunting comes into force, but I shall end with two brief points.
Does my hon Friend realise the seriousness of what he has just said? In the past, Britain has led the rest of Europe in matters of human rights and individual freedom. Although I very often disagree with my hon. Friend about matters European, it seems to me that we ought to be the leaders in that regard: we should not rely on the European Court to protect human rights that, historically, we have protected for ourselves. My hon. Friend is saying that the Government are doing something that no previous Governmetent would have done, and that British citizens will have to appeal to the European Court for protection. Is he fully cognisant of how serious a matter that is?
That is why the issue is so important. We must pause and hold our breath for a moment to consider the issue raised by my right hon. Friend. Britain is one of the freest countries in Europe. As far as I know, Parliament has never decided unilaterally to take away the traditional rights of a quarter of a million people—and certainly the jobs of 8,000 people—simply because the Government believed that those people are acting unethically.
The proposal to ban hunting represents a major step. Before they proceed, hon. Members must be aware of the legal arguments involved. Those arguments can be dismissed as mere lawyer's talk, but what is the law for? The law is something very precious, whose purpose is to protect freedom and traditional liberties. That is why we have it.
The Government may have shot themselves in the foot on this matter. They have made it even easier for people to appeal to the European convention and other authorities. If this Bill is enacted, it could well fall foul of that convention.
However, let us talk not of laws, lawyers, conventions and Europe, but concentrate instead on ordinary people and the English countryside. At present, struggling farmers receive a free service. I accept that that service is not available throughout the country, and that in certain circumstances a nominal charge may be made, but the service exists. The Bill will take away that service.
Does not my hon. Friend agree that the problem is not merely that the service will be taken away, but that it is irreplaceable? There is no other infrastructure in the countryside to cope with the problem of fallen stock. Are not the Government therefore shooting themselves in the foot in a major way?
One Labour Member attended the debate for a short time and in a throwaway remark said that the knacker industry would take care of the problem. I wonder whether that hon. Gentleman knows what is happening to the knacker industry in rural areas, or to small rural abattoirs. I wonder whether he has tried to visit one recently—if he could find one that still exists. If the fallen stock service is removed, can the knacker industry cope?
I am prepared to accept that I do not have access to all the figures, but common sense suggests that removing the free service provided by hunts might mean that what remains of the knacker industry will promptly up its charges.
The hon. Gentleman to which my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) refers represents a Scottish constituency. Was not that hon. Gentleman imposing his prejudice on my English constituents, and those of my hon. Friend, whereas we have no say about what goes on in regard to this matter north of the border?
When Opposition Members make a reasonable point such as that, Ministers say merely that this Parliament is supreme and that the Scottish Parliament is only a devolved Parliament. In his opening comments, the Minister implied that the Scottish Parliament is only a semi-Parliament, or half a Parliament. However, that does not resolve the problem that we have no control over the knacker industry or hunting in Scotland. Those obvious and powerful points have been made many times, and I need not repeat them.
I make one final plea to the Minister. I do not ask for a general compensation scheme for people who are losing their sport, but I do ask that the Minister be understanding of the plight faced by the 8,000 people on low incomes who will lose their jobs as a result of the Bill.
The hon. Gentleman is being careful to draw a fairly tight line with regard to who he thinks should be compensated. However, does not he agree with the hon Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) that that is not what the amendments do? Amendment No. 36(1)(b) deals with compensation for
damage by wild mammals which were previously controlled by activities prohibited by this Act.
The hon. Gentleman is making a reasonable point, but is not he speaking against the amendment, which was tabled by Conservative Members and some Liberal Democrat Members?
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would agree that it is terribly important that we do not indulge in debating points when we are dealing with real jobs and real people. Free votes on matters of conscience require hon. Members to develop their own arguments in their own way. We must relate those arguments to real conditions on the ground.
The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) is a reasonable gentleman. If the Minister were to tell him that the compensation scheme was too widely drawn and that it would cost a lot of money, but that he understood the argument and was prepared to respond positively, I am sure that the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire would be happy with that reply.
The Middle Way Group proposal is about the principle of compensation. If the Minister were to say that the Government accepted that there was a case for compensation, we could reply that we were not hung up about the words in our amendment. However, we are committed to the principle of compensation. My hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) raised some genuine matters that we need to debate.
That is a very fair intervention. I hope that the Minister will think on it. He may not be able to give us even half of what we are asking for tonight, but he is a fair-minded person and will know that many people on low incomes are very worried about losing their jobs. I hope that the Minister, when he replies to the debate, will be able to give them some hope that some compensation may be available to them.
I am grateful to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. At the outset, may I say that farmers in my very rural Cotswold constituency will not understand why a debate lasting a full parliamentary day is being given to this Bill, when they are surrounded by cases of foot and mouth disease? Cases of the disease have been announced in Wiltshire and Herefordshire. My farmers' livelihood hangs on a thread, and they will not understand why Parliament is discussing this Bill rather than what is, for them, a matter of life and death. However, it has been decreed that we should discuss this matter, so that is what I shall now do. 7 pm
The new clause proposes an alternative method of disposal of fallen stock. Lord Burns, in his comprehensive and seminal work on hunting says, at paragraph 10.60:
In the event of a ban on hunting, consideration would need to be given to possible act on in respect of the fallen stock service provided by many hunts and to whether there would be a case for compensation if hounds had to be destroyed and hunts had no further use for their kennels.
New clause 1 and amendment No. 40 deal with those two matters.
I do not believe that the Government have properly considered the mattes of fallen stock. In preparation for the debate on the Burns report, I asked the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the right hon. Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Ms Quin), two questions. Having given the breakdown of the number of animals that were estimated to be disposed of by hunts, the right hon. Lady said:
No estimate has been made of the cost to the livestock industry of using outlets other than hunt kennels to dispose of carcases. However, the safe disposal of fallen stock is an important issue and officials will continue to liaise with the livestock and disposal industries to examine the best approaches to this issue."—[Official Report, 28 July 2000; Vol. 354, c. 1123W.]
I have no doubt that the Minister will wish to update us as to what the thinking has been since that reply. Considering that the question was posed against the background of the Burns report, which the Government had had adequate time to consider, I thought that that was an extraordinary answer.
Will my hon. Friend return to his earlier point about compensbtion being crucial? Is it not true to say that if this were a Bill to ban bingo in cities, the party that would be the first to demand that those concerned with bingo—the people who open the doors, take the money and run the operation—were compensated would be the Labour party? But apparently, because it takes place in the countryside, hunting does not count.
My right hon. Friend makes some extremely telling remarks [Interruption.] Labour Members laugh. They laugh at the fact that they have produced a Bill that will deprive a substantial number of people of their livelihood without compensation. If that is not a disgrace, I do nut know what is.
The actions of the members of the governing party will be scrutinised carefully by those in the countryside when they consider, very shortly, how to cast their vote, and I think that the governing party will get a big shock. Voters will be deeply influenced by what the Minister of Agriculture said yesterday in relation to the foot and mouth outbreak, and they will certainly be influenced by the conduct of the Gorernment in this debate.
The second question that I asked in preparation for the debate on the Burns report was to the then Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food—now the Minister of State, Department of Social Security. I asked what alternative arrangements had been made for considering the disposal of fallen stock and the destruction of animal casualties if hunting were banned. The Minister replied:
There are already arrangements for disposing of fallen stock and the destruction of animal casualties other than via hunt kennels. Disposal can be by rendering at an approved rendering plant, incineration or burial".—[Official Report, 17 July 1997; Vol. 298, c. 278W.]
Let us deal with those three possibilities. Unless the Minister can tell us otherwise, we will assume that the 200 hunts that currently deal with fallen stock handle 415,000 carcases in the course of a year. That is a considerable number of carcases, and it will require a considerable quantity of alternative disposal methods, knackers' yards and knacker men to deal with them. I am a farmer—it is in the register of members' interests—and I know that knacker men deal with animals which have, for example, a broken leg from an accident in the field. If those animals have to be loaded up into some form of transport to be hauled miles to the nearest slaughterhouse or facility that is licensed to take them, there will be a serious animal welfare problem.
In the past few days, since the fool and mouth problem began, we have seen how easy it is for virulent diseases to be spread as animals are transported from one end of the land to the other to be slaughtered. The increased journeys that the animals have to endure constitute an animal welfare problem, but the spread of disease is a real problem as well.
I am loth to interrupt my hon. Friend in mid-flow, but there is an important distinction to be made here. In relation to this Bill we are talking largely about animals that are completely healthy. Dairy cows that have slipped in the yard because the ground is icy or that have died giving birth are impossible to move. The whole point about the hunt service is that the hunt staff come round immediately, within half an hour, and put the animal down, on the spot, without causing distress.
My hon. Friend, who understands these matters better than most hon. Members, is entirely right. The hunts offer an animal welfare-friendly service that is second to none. It would be a retrograde step if that service were in any way disrupted.
The idea, voiced by the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice), that hunts are somehow peddling diseased animals that should not be fed to hounds, is a despicable slur on the hunting industry, which is very reputable. If the hon. Gentleman has evidence, he should report it to the local trading standards officer, who will investigate it immediately. The fact that he has been unable to produce any evidence today shows the poverty of his case.
My right hon. Friend is entirely right. The hon. Member for Pendle clearly does not understand the industry and, indeed, the countryside—which he purports to represent—with any great depth of knowledge or feeling for those who work there. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) says, from a sedentary position, "Bitter and twisted." That is his description, not mine.
Serious issues surrounding the disposal of stock have been touched on tangentially in the debate. One is how the fallen stock will be dealt with. I intervened on my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) to ask what will happen to fallen stock. There is legislation preventing the burying of stock, and I sincerely hope that it will not be contravened. However, some of the livestock farmers on the top of the Cotswolds in my constituency are hanging on by a thread. Every day, extra costs are likely to be imposed on them by the foot and mouth crisis. The Government, insensitively, are talking about compulsory insurance costs. Disposal will be yet another cost, and it may be that, to remain in business, a livestock farmer will find it necessary to contravene a regulation and bury his livestock.
Mention has also been made of animals being left to rot in the field. Many farmers are facing bankruptcy. That is not an exaggeration; a parliamentary answer indicates that 41,000 people have lost their jobs in the agricultural industry in the past two years. There is clear evidence that many farmers are going out of business. If they are going out of business, they may well be forced to leave animals to rot in the fields or the buildings where they have fallen. That would be very detrimental for the country. If the Minister proposes to ban hunting and, therefore, to put a stop to the disposal of fallen stock by the hunts, he has to come up with some clear answers.
My hon. Friend would receive great reinforcement for his argument from page 63 of the Burns report, which contemplates precisely what he suggests—namely, that fallen stock will either be burnt or buried, with potential risks to the environment.
I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for giving the House a helpful reminder of a paragraph of which I was, of course, aware. If the Minister needs further reminders, he might recall that, when the landfill tax was introduced—making it more difficult to dispose of rubbish by landfill—the incidence of illegal fly tipping greatly increased. If that argument does not persuade the Minister that my suggestion about what is likely to happen in the countryside will be borne out, he should think carefully.
Amendment No. 40 deals with compensation. It has already been made clear that compensation has been awarded in other cases. When we discussed the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill, the Government were perfectly prepared to compensate fur farmers for the loss of business—and rightly so. As my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) pointed out, under section 5(1) of the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000, the Minister is required to provide compensation for fur farmers who go out of business.
If the Government are going to put out of employment the 6,000 to 8,000 people whom Burns estimates will be directly affected if hunts are put out of business, it would be wholly immoral not to compensate them. The Government are only too keen to compensate the car industry when its workers are put out of their jobs. Why is it that, through sheer prejudice, they do not even consider compensation for people who will lose their jobs under this Bill?
Increasingly, huge numbers of the urban population are becoming aware of the current suffering of the rural population. The Government must think carefully about compensation. To introduce a Bill with no provision for compensation will cause large waves of sympathy for people in the countryside.
As my hon. Friend is a farmer who also represents an important fanning constituency, does he agree that many farmers can no longer afford proper veterinary care—to their great sadness and the bad luck of their animals? Without the hunts, there is no chance that they could afford services to dispose of their fallen stock.
My hon. Friend is right. He, too, understands the agriculture industry better than most Members of the House. For example, if a farmer has calves that are worth less than the auctioneer's selling fee of £1, he cannot afford to call out a vet at a call-out fee of at least £25 before the cost of drugs. Such circumstances cause severe difficulty. Currently, hunts provide a subsidised service at a realistic cost.
No doubt the Minister will tell us what alternative arrangements are to be set up, but those arrangements will have to be paid for at an economic cost. That is likely to increase considerably the current costs of dealing with fallen stock. The bureaucracy and inspection involved in any Government scheme are likely hugely to increase its cost. My hon. Friend makes a good point. An animal welfare problem is already brewing in the countryside. If no cheap method is available to dispose of fallen stock, the problem will increase substantially.
The Minister and other hon. Members have talked about the moral aspects, but there is also a strong legal case. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) recognised that when he had to take extremely difficult decisions on BSE compensation. Sadly, that incident cost the taxpayers well over £3 billion. We never want it to be repeated. I hope that the present foot and mouth epidemic will not grow too much, but I suspect that it will and that the Government will find that they have to compensate a large number of people whose stock has been slaughtered. If that is right in those circumstances, surely it is right to compensate people who lose their jobs as a result of a ban on hunting.
As I pointed out earlier, the Lithgow v. United Kingdom case in 1986–8 EHHR 329—clarified the conditions under which compensation had to be paid. The Government should follow the dictum without having to be told to do so by the European Court, even if the convention is to be incorporated in our own law: it rightly states that it is only acceptable to deprive people of their possessions or livelihood when that is strictly in the public interest. There could, of course, be a severe argument as to whether it is strictly in the public interest to ban hunting. The Lithgow judgment states that deprivation of the use or peaceful enjoyment of possessions without compensation is justified only in exceptional circumstances. I am not a lawyer but I cannot for the life of me see that the prejudice shown by the Labour Government and their Back Benchers in banning hunting could possibly be construed as being in accordance with the requirement that such things should be done only in exceptional circumstances. These are not exceptional circumstances; this is a measure that merely meets a prejudice.
The Government must think carefully. They are about to undergo a severe test with the electorate. No doubt, the electorate will make their views known—especially in rural areas. People in those areas will listen carefully to this debate. The Minister would do himself a great deal of justice if he reconsidered. The issue is one of conscience, not of spite or prejudice—as the hon. Member for Pendle would have us believe. It is one thing for the Government to impose a ban on hunting, even though that is wholly reprehensible; it is something wholly different—a prejudice that is without precedent—to impose such a ban without compensation. I urge the Minister to think again.
As many Members know, I support a ban on hunting and want it to be implemented as soon as possible. Indeed, my criticism of the Government—of late—has been that they have so delayed the introduction of the Bill that it is unlikely to reach the statute book before the end of this Parliament. We are thus, to some degree, wasting our time in debates on the matter in this place and elsewhere.
I preface my remarks with that statement of my belief because I have some support for the principles espoused today by hon. Members on both sides of the House. With respect to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) the argument is not one of Government versus Opposition. The matter is subject to a free vote. Members from all parties speak from different perspectives.
It is not helpful to those of us who want to argue about compensation and about the impact of fallen stock on the farming industry to present the matter as a Labour-Tory argument. If it is, the Tories will lose—the number of Members demonstrates that. If we can go back to arguing about principles, there is a chance that those of us who hold the same views might make some progress.
I have some sympathy with new clause 1. It is about farming; it is not about hunting, bingo or anything else. I do not criticise the Government for the fact that no Agriculture Ministers are in the Chamber. With due respect, they have rather a lot to do at present. I should be extremely disappointed if they had to sit in this place for hours discussing a measure on hunting instead of trying to deal with foot and mouth disease, which greatly affects the farming industry in my constituency and elsewhere in the country. I am pleased that they are not in the Chamber.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department and his colleagues must, however, acknowledge that there is an impact on farming that should be discussed with their colleagues at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Whether or not we are in favour of hunting, surely we must all agree that the removal of current provisions that allow for hunt kennels to deal with fallen stock will have an adverse effect on farmers. That is the fact of the matter, and I, as someone who wants to ban hunting, recognise that.
The farming community is up against the wall at the moment and having a torrid time as a consequence of foot and mouth disease, the legacy of BSE and the drop in farm-gate prices across a range of products, so I do not want to burden it with any more costs now. In fact, if the Minister puts no other scheme in place, the closure of hunt kennels will add to farming costs, but that is not an argument for keeping hunting. My opposition to hunting is based on moral and animal welfare grounds, but we must ensure that the farming community does not suffer as a consequence of any decision by Parliament to ban hunting.
I agree with my hon. Friend the member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) that it is invidious and odd to include in new clause 1 the words
which would have been collected by hunts but for the enactment or coming into force of the Schedule to this Act.
Perhaps those words were included because the new clause would not have been acceptable without them. Nevertheless, fallen stock are an issue for the whole farming industry. I am worried, frcm an environmental perspective, about fallen stock being allowed to rot in the fields or, indeed, being buried, which may affect watercourses. That is not the best way to deal with fallen stock.
Surely, during the past few years we have learned to be a little careful about how we deal with animal health. We cannot be cavalier any more; we have caused ourselves major problems because of our treatment of animals. We must ensure that the best system is in place, and leaving fallen stock to market forces, which appears to be the solution on offer, is not a sensible way forward.
If we were to tell a farmer—no matter how angelic he may be—that he is in a difficult position and his balance sheet is very bad, but we will give him no help at all so he must deal with fallen stock in the the cheapest way possible, it would be a recipe for disaster. That is a farming point for the Home Office Minister, but he must address it in his response, otherwise many of us will have great sympathy for new clause 1. Perhaps its wording is not quite right, but the Minister must say, "Yes, we recognise that there is a problem, and we will do something about it." He has not yet done so.
I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument closely. He and I differ on whether it is moral to hunt with hounds, but that is irrelevant as the argument that he puts forward is sound. Will he help the House by telling us his views on the alternative to hunt kennels taking fallen stock? How does he believe we should deal with the matter?
I have considerable sympathy with new clause 1, which has been tabled by four Conservative Members, but with the caveat referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury which I have just endorsed. New clause 1 seems to be an adequate way to deal with fallen stock. We must find a way to allow farmers to deal with fallen stock safely, without threatening animal health or the environment, and in a way that they are likely to endorse. That is our objective.
Would the hon. Gentleman care to speculate on what method might be employed? After all, the hunts offer a subsidised service. If the same service is to be provided elsewhere, someone must pay for it. Will he suggest who might pay for it?
Other methods are currently used. Although hunt kennels deal with many animals, other animals are dealt with differently. I refer the hon. Gentleman to new clause 1, tabled by his colleagues, which mentions the
collection and disposal of fallen stock".
I am not particularly bothered about how it is dealt with, provided that the method is safe and that there is no disincentive to farmers to follow the recommended course of action.
I shall deal with a second point—compensation—because I am keen to give the Minister a chance to reply, at length, I hope, to the points that have been made. I ask him to give us a statement of his principle. The hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) made the case for not giving compensation when the House legislates. He asked why compensation should be paid when the House passed many measures that impact on various people. That is a perfectly respectable philosophical position to adopt, but it is equally respectable to say that when we take away people's livelihoods, compensation should be paid as of right. However, it is indefensible to say that we will pay compensation in certain circumstances, but not in others. That is what the Minister has suggested.
I ask the Minister not to deal with handguns or bingo, or whatever, but to address the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000. As a Member of Parliament, I am genuinely troubled that a compensation scheme was introduced for an activity that was legal, that involved people's livelihoods and that the House rightly chose to ban because of the impact on the animals involved.
There is a close parallel with the Bill. I genuinely fail to understand why it is right to compensate fur farmers for their loss of livelihood, but not those who are employed in hunting in any way. I do not understand how that position can be adopted. I hope that the Government did not do so because there were few mink farmers so it did not cost much to compensate them, but many people are involved in hunt kennels, so it would cost a lot to compensate them. That would be a Treasury argument, and I hope such arguments are not being deployed to deal with moral problems. I ask the Minister to make a clear statement on the Government's policy on compensation. When and why is compensation paid? How can he justify including no such proposal in the Bill, when the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000 included generous provisions.
I, too, am not a lawyer, but I ask the Minister to respond to the points made on legal advice, as that may help to illuminate the debate. What advice has he been given by Home Office lawyers on the likelihood of a successful challenge to the Bill if the Government are not prepared to include compensation?
Time is getting on and many of the points that I would have made have been made already, so I shall be relatively brief, but I should like to repeat some earlier comments. It is absolutely crazy in the eyes of many people who live in the country that we are debating hunting today, when we are looking at probably the worst crisis that the nation has faced since 1967, with foot and mouth disease. I was about 11 when the last crisis happened, and it was absolutely horrific.
Farmers in my area are absolutely worried stiff. People have stopped travelling around. I cancelled meetings at the weekend. Foot and mouth is the one subject that we should be discussing, but instead we are debating hunting. That is absolutely extraordinary, and the public must think that we are simply mad. We are also mad, given the Government's extraordinary hypocrisy.
I was rung on Saturday afternoon by a man who was desperate; he had 17 carcases in the back of his lorry but was banned from moving them under emergency regulations, so I contacted the private office of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. I should be grateful to the Minister if he would listen, rather than talking to his Whip, because this is relevant and he might like to talk to his colleague at MAFF.
I am pleased to say that those in the office were very efficient; they sent a fax to my constituent and gave him a special licence to move those carcases. It is worth quoting paragraph 3 of the licence, because it states:
A carcase to which this licence applies may be moved from the premises on which it is to a rendering plant, a knacker's yard or a hunt kennel.
So the private office—the inner sanctum—of the Minister at the heart of the operation, whom the Government tell us is beavering away on the national crisis, is giving out special licences with the specific instructions that 17 decomposing carcases should, if necessary, be taken to a hunt kennel. That represents the grossest hypocrisy, given that today we are debating the abolition of the free service provided by hunts.
I should like to stress the fact that the service is free to farmers in hunting areas, and it is humane. My hon. Friend the Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown), who has temporarily left his seat, mentioned that fact. Hunt servants come out immediately as soon as a healthy cow falls down in the yard and breaks her leg. One phone call and the kennel huntsman comes around and puts the animal down humanely. The hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) is in a complete muddle. He is bleating on about diseased animals, but the vast majority of those casualties are healthy animals that suffer from accidents.
The hon. Gentleman mentions that his constituents had 17 decomposing carcases in his vehicle. What were the circumstances that led to his constituent having so many decomposing carcases in his vehicle?
That question is extraordinary. We have a national crisis with foot and mouth, and the movement of all beasts has been stopped, except by those who have a special licence. That is why my constituent rang me.
Within hours, carcases begin to decompose. That is what the hon. Gentleman does not understand. The vast majority of casualties on farms are healthy, and he has not taken that point on board. They are not diseased, and the hunt comes in if an animal has an accident. It is put down swiftly and humanely. [Interruption.] The animals have not got foot and mouth: they are healthy animals. The hon. Gentleman should listen.
I am making myself clear. I am talking about healthy animals that have suffered an accident on a farm and are put down in a humane manner. Someone has to dispose of the bodies. At the moment the animal is killed; it then has to be taken away and disposed of. The hunts provide a free service so that there is no health problem for farm animals or any human beings in the area.
This is a massive problem. Because the Government have made such a middle of the beef export regime that is being reinstated, live calf exports are not allowed. An area such as mine has a large dairy population and large numbers of bull calves have to be put down on the farm.
I think that I understand the confusion of the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice). For the sake of the record, it might help if the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) could explain that the 17 carcases were not diseased. If he knows the reason, it might help if he explained why the animals died.
The man who collected the carcases is totally separate from the hunt service and he had them on his premises. Because of the emergency regulations, he was not allowed to move them although he would normally have done so.
The key issue is the volume and the disproportionate impact in rural areas. In my patch, the Wynnstay hunt has disposed of 2,500 calves, the North Shropshire hunt of 2,500 and the South Shropshire hunt of 3,000. Those are very large volumes of material.
To set the record straight, is the hon. Gentleman now telling the House that the 17 decomposing carcases were being held in a knacker's yard and that the knee knackerman wanted to move them to the hunt kennels? Is that what he is saying?
The hon. Gentleman is trying to be clever, and trying to make a muddle out of a desperately serious problem in an area such as mine. He is laughing about it. The man is separate from the hunt service and he collects animals. Those animals were destined for another destination, but they were temporarily frozen in his yard.
As other hon. Members have said, there are parallels to the hunt service, but the key point is that it handles large volumes of material However, it cannot take it all, because of the muddle that the Government have made of the calf scheme. Therefore, the physical problem that the Government are landing themselves with is enormous. The Minister is looking confused, but who is going to dispose of the 2,500 calves that each of those three hunts in my area deals with? Who will do that when the ban goes through?
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is trying to make a serious point and we are trying to understand it. I am listening carefully, but I am looking a little bemused because I still do not understand the relevance of the carcases to the point that he wishes to make. I encourage hi n to calm down the rhetoric, if he makes his point, I shall try to answer it.
I shall try in very simple terms to explain that there is a free hunt service and that, in my patch, three separate hunts have taken 2,500 calves each. Because there is such a volume of material, other people also provide a service. In this case, a knackerman had 17 carcases that he had taken from different farms. Because of the emergency regulations, which he was obeying, they were temporarily frozen, on his van, and he was concerned that they were begin ling to heat up and decompose. He telephoned me and I obtained the licence from the Minister's colleague in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. There are two separate services, but the point I am making is that the hunt service has reached its capacity now.
I am sorry that my hon. and learned Friend is in a muddle as well. The simple fact is that such a volume of material has to be disposed of that it is not just the hunts that take it away. The hunts are at capacity, and there are other methods. In this case, the knackerman had collected the carcases and was going to take them to a renderer, but he was temporarily stopped. The key point is that, if the Bill is enacted, there will be no service, and the hunts provide an extremely humane, free and efficient service. It will require an enormous state effort to replace it.
I am amazed that the Minister still looks bewildered, but it is a huge physical problem. In areas such as mine with a large livestock population, many animals, sadly, have accidents and have to be disposed of. I am absolutely staggered that the Minister is still in a muddle. He really must talk to his colleagues in MAFF.
I am familiar with the role of the hunt. Certainly, my hunt takes fallen stock and often deals with it very efficiently; it provides a service to local farmers. I am very familiar with that process, and I am also reasonably familiar with the restrictions that are being applied. I think that I have grasped the hon. Gentleman's point. Is he saying that if the hunt service disappears, that will remove a proportion of the capacity to deal with fallen stock?
I was trying to figure out the point about the carcases, but I am not sure that they are entirely relevant. The hon. Gentleman is making a separate point with which I shall try to deal. I was perplexed—everyone, including those on the Opposition Front Bench, was perplexed—because we could not figure out the role 0f the carcases. I think that they are a separate matter, and I hope that I have been helpful in trying to clarify the hon. Gentleman's point.
My point is the hypocrisy of a Government who from their inner sanctum recommend that people use the services of the hunt kennels and two days later push through a Bill that will ban that service. I hope that the Minister has taken that point on board, but I shall write to him with the figures for Shropshire. They are enormous and it is the volume of material that we should consider.
If the hon. Gentleman wants to make a serious point of detail on this issue, I shall happily engage in correspondence with him. I will be as helpful as I can.
I am grateful for that offer.
I shall quickly deal with the issue of compensation. Again, there will be a disproportionate effect in rural areas. The Burns report talked about several thousand job losses. That may not sound very many to Labour Members representing urban constituencies, but a small saddler whom I know employs seven people and 75 per cent. of his turnover is devoted to hunting. That firm will close. I know a small family feed merchant that supplies the hunting community. It employs only three people, but it will close completely. That is 100 per cent. devastating for those businesses and those people. The disproportionate effect of the ban has not been considered by Labour Members.
Even employers of significant numbers of people will be affected. A feed merchant who shifts 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes of hay and straw a year employs 12 people, and half those jobs will be lost. That is appalling for the people involved. Labour Members have not taken into account the fact that there will be no public gain from a ban; they merely feel that the toffs may have taken a hit. Such ludicrous prejudice will damage hard-working, sensible and law-abiding people, whom the Minister earlier called burglars. That was outrageous.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me the opportunity to say that he has completely traduced what I said. I was intervening on the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) who stated the general principle that people should always be compensated if the law were to remove their livelihood. I gave the very bad example of burglars, which I withdrew during the course of the debate. I in no way wish to compare hunters with burglars. That was never my intention. If the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that I sought to do that, he is traducing me. People who hunt in my constituency—many of whom I know well—are good and decent, and I would not put them in that category. My point was entirely different.
New clause 1 and amendment No. 40 relate to the disposal of fallen stock, and to compensation, which is also addressed in amendment No. 36. I take those important matters seriously. However, before I address the specifics, I shall deal with foot and mouth disease. I sympathise fully with the farming community—as I am sure every hon. Member does—following the recent outbreak. No doubt the whole House hopes that it will be contained quickly.
I represent a largely rural constituency and I am well aware of the anxieties felt by the farming community. Thankfully, there have been no reports of foot and mouth disease in my constituency today, but there is much fear and concern among farmers and other constituents.
One or two other hon. Members made that point more aggressively, and I shall deal with it in a moment.
Foot and mouth disease poses a serious threat to livestock farmers throughout the country. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food informed the House yesterday of the steps that he and his officials have taken to control the disease so that we minimise the disruption and damage that it is capable of causing to the agricultural industry and to rural communities in general.
Some quarters have suggested that we should not enact the Bill when our farmers are facing what could be a grave crisis. Let me repeat that I have every sympathy for our livestock farmers and fully understand their anxieties. I completely support the measures that my right hon. Friend has put in place, which will be debated at greater length tomorrow. However, that does not mean that we should not proceed with the Bill. The issue of hunting with dogs needs to be resolved. The number of private Members' Bills and the amount of parliamentary time that has been devoted to it in the past 20 years bear witness to that fact. The Bill finally gives us the opportunity to deal with the issue. The question of what Parliament will do has been hanging over rural communities for a long time and people want it resolved.
Foot and mouth disease is taken enormously seriously by hon. Members on both sides of the House, whether they are for hunting or in favour of a ban. It is wrong to suggest, as some hon. Members have got close to doing— although no one transgressed the line—that the only people who are concerned about the farming community, or foot and mouth disease and its impact, are those who support hunting. People who support a ban are also seriously worried about the problem. The issues are, to some extent, separate However, I appreciate that there is some overlap when it comes to fallen stock.
The Bill will not come into effect until a year after Royal Assent. I am sure we all fervently hope that by that time the problems of foot and mouth disease will be a distant memory. It would be wrong to abandon the Bill now.
New clause 1 would require the Secretary of State to make a scheme for the collection and disposal of infirm, diseased or dead animals, which it refers to as fallen stock. The disposal of fallen stock is controlled by the Animal By-Products Order 1999. That specifies a number of permitted disposal routes for fallen stock, including rendering, incineration, disposal via a knacker's yard or hunt kennel and, in restricted circumstances, burial or—appropriately at the moment—burning on-farm.
If the hunts' collection service is withdrawn, farmers will need to use an alternative method of disposal. There are 288 hunt kennels and 73 knackers' yards in Great Britain that can handle fallen stock. The Burns report estimates that 200 hunts disposed of 336,000 carcases in one 12-month period. A small and limited survey by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food last year suggested that, of the animals that die or are killed on farm, about 40 per cent. of calves, 33 per cent. of adult bovines and 11 per cent. of sheep are disposed of to hunt kennels.
We all endorse what the Minister said about foot and mouth disease. We know that he represents an agricultural constituency and that many of his farmers will be as worried as those in my constituency and elsewhere. However, foot and mouth disease has nothing to do with the fallen stock that is covered by the new clause. Livestock that are at risk from the disease are handled by the state veterinary service in a completely different way. My hon. Friends have made it clear that the hunt service is fully stretched and has been tested to the limit in the past two years. Given what the Minister said about the one-year gap, it would be impossible for any organisation to step in and fill that role.
I agree with much of what the hon. Gentleman says. Animals that are affected by foot and mouth disease are dealt with separately. However, as several hon. Members said, many animals that are not diseased might have to be disposed of on the land. It will not be possible to remove or sell some animals. They may be ordinary fallen stock that have been injured or have died without being diseased. In such circumstances, hon. Members have asked what we should do about fallen stock. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that there is over-demand for the disposal services that the hunt and others provide to get rid of undiseased fallen stock.
I have an important point to make. It has been insinuated that hunt kennels take meat that is unfit to feed to hounds. Will the Minister confirm that all hunt kennels that receive fallen stock are licensed by the Animal By-Products Order 1999 and are rigorously inspected by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and trading standard officers? If any offences are committed, those bodies will come down with the full force of the law on hunt kennels.
I have no problem in confirming that.
While the clause—[Interruption.] I listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice), and I see the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) pointing at him. My hon. Friend was asking questions because he was confused by some of the arguments of Opposition Members. I do not want to rehearse those arguments. The hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) even succeeded in confusing those on the Opposition Front Bench. Perhaps the best thing to do is move on.
The new clause seeks to provide a collection and disposal service for fallen stock that otherwise would be collected by hunt kennels. In pra ctice, it would be impossible to identify which animals went to a hunt kennel and which to a knacker's yard or other disposal facility. The new clause would establish a collection service for what would appear to be all fallen stock.
A difficulty with the new clause is that it seeks to provide a collection and disposal service also for infirm, diseased and dead agricultural animal which are referred to as fallen stock. I am concerned that that would inadvertently open up the possibility for the killing of animals that are not 100 per cent. fit, or animals suffering from a minor ailment where veterinary treatment would be a more appropriate disposal.
The new clause would mean that instead of fallen stock being disposed of by one of the routes that I have mentioned, the Minister would regulate the collection and disposal of fallen stock. It would require the Minister to put in place a collection scheme for dead stock, to set up communication lines for the prompt notification of fallen stock to the body responsible for collection, to arrange for the transport and disposal of fallen stock and to regulate the cost of the scheme.
The Government would need to establish centres for farmers to give notification of fallen stock, to acquire sufficient vehicles to collect the stock promptly, and to ensure that disposal outlets were prepared and capable of receiving stock at that time. Such a collection scheme would require the Government, in effect, to set themselves up as a nationalised industry; otherwise, they would have to contract out. The service would have to be run almost entirely by the Government. It appears that the Opposition are proposing the setting up of a nationalised industry.
I was a little surprised by that. It appears that the clause would transfer the current responsibility in the private sector for waste disposal in the livestock industry to the Government. The Government are keen to see a proper collection service for fallen stock, but we remain of the view that waste disposal should be carried out by the private sector, not by a nationalised industry. It is strange that the Conservative party is proposing nationalisation while we are proposing to keep the service within the private sector. Perhaps that is new Labour.
Surely the Minister will acknowledge that the alternative methods of disposal, which are burial, subject to strict regulations, and incineration, which is subject both to licensing and the requirement of planning permission, already involve a significant amount of Government intervention and regulation, and rightly so. The hon. Gentleman will know that clause 2 provides for the schedule to come into force 12 months after Royal Assent. Is he confident that it would be possible within 12 months to set up alternative methods of disposal which would deal with all the carcases that are currently being disposed of by hunts?
We cannot consider only hunt kennels and their role in the agriculture sector, but I appreciate the fact that many farmers find the free disposal of fallen stock a substantial advantage. We cannot consider in isolation the possible implications of a ban on hunting in relation to the collection of fallen stock. Disposal goes far wider than hunt kennels. As a result of BSE controls, farmers have been facing increased costs in disposing of their fallen stock. As we have heard, there has been a decline in the number of disposal outlets.
Furthermore, the European Commission has proposed a new animal by-products regulation, which is expected to come into force in 2003. As drafted, the regulation would control the disposal of ruminant animals that die on farm. It would introduce environment standards for small incinerators. It would require all premises that collect fallen stock to meet certain standards.
As a consequence, some hunts may be unable or unwilling to continue to provide a fallen stock service to farmers, even if hunting were not banned as a consequence of the proposed legislation. Accordingly, the Government are keen to address the wider issue of fallen stock as a whole, and not only in terms of the impact that the Bill might or might not have.
I will make some progress and then I will give way.
The Government want to facilitate the setting up of a collection and disposal service for fallen stock, but we do not want it to be run as a nationalised industry. I understand that officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have had meetings with representatives of the livestock industry and are seeking to discuss and formulate future arrangements for a wider disposal of fallen stock.
I can assure the House that the Ministry takes the issue extremely seriously, as do the House and the Government. We want to work with those affected to ensure that we can provide the most practical and efficient solution to the problem. I cannot predict what form the MAFF solution will take, but I do not believe that matters would be helped by agreeing to a prescriptive clause such as new clause 1.
With that reassurance, the Government are alive to concerns about the disposal of fallen stock, which go much wider than the possible consequences of the Bill. I invite the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) to consider withdrawing the new clause.
I welcome the assurance that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is addressing the issue, and that needs to be done. Can the hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that whatever scheme is produced by the Minister will, first, not increase costs to farmers and, secondly, will not increase the dangers of animal health problems or dangers to the environment?
I wish that, off the top of my head. I could give those categoric assurances. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to do so. These matters must be discussed between the industry and the Ministry. In the past, we have normally taken the view that where an industry produces—I am not sure whether this is the right word—a by-product, which is in this instance fallen stock, it is the responsibility of those who produce the by-product to ensure that it is properly and environmentally sensitively disposed of. I am sure that the Liberal Democrat party would support the "polluter pays" principle. We would apply that sort of approach.
We are aware of and sensitive to the serious problems that are facing agriculture, not just over the past few weeks but over a much longer period. The Government will be much more sympathetic to the problems of the industry and will not merely apply a broad-based principle. I have talked to the farmers in my constituency, and they are concerned about what would happen if the hunt were to go. It is a real issue for them, and one that the Government need to consider in a wider context.
The Bill forms part of the wider issue. If people think that by keeping hunting they will somehow deal with the issues involving fallen stock, they are much mistaken. In considering the European regulations and the wider interest, we can see that the matter needs to be dealt with as a whole.
Can the Minister clarify a point for me? In the debate two weeks ago on the BSE crisis, there was much talk of joined-up Government and Departments working together. Have his Department and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food co-ordinated effort with regard to the impact of the Bill? Will solutions be in place before the problems are created?
MAFF has been very much involved in the Bill. The Bill was presented in such a way as to ensure that the House had an opportunity to debate three options. MAFF has considered the options and their implications. If—still an "if—the House were to pass the Bill, it would still have to go to the other place, and we are all aware of other issues that might affect it. It may be that we shall have to consider it within the broader context of what we shall do generally about fallen stock. The Bill and other issues will affect farmers with respect to fallen stock. Considering the Bill in isolation would not resolve the problem. The suggestion from some Opposition Members that the Bill represents the whole fallen stock issue is simply nonsense. The issue goes wider, and the farming community deserves a better answer.
I shall give way once more, but I want to make some progress after that.
Will the Minister give us one good reason why he cannot answer the basic question of what he will do about fallen stock after the Bill has been passed" Who will pay for it? Will he assure us that the farming idustry, which he has admitted is on its knees, cannot pay?
If the hon. Gentleman had listened to what I said, he would realise that I have dealt with that issue. [Interruption.] Even if he does not accept that, I am going to move on. This matter of fallen stock and farming goes far wider than the Bill. The problems of the farming industry face my constituents every day. The Government seek serious answers to serious problems, but the hon. Gentleman seeks flip solutions. If that is his approach, he is not doing justice to his own constituents.
Amendments Nos 36 and 40 raise another important issue: compensation. The Government take seriously the job losses that may arise in the event of a ban on hunting. The details of such losses were set out in the Burns report, and I need not cite them. No hon. Member wants anyone to lose a job. All those who voted for a ban on hunting will have taken account of the employment implications before they decided how to vote. I certainly weighed that factor before deciding how to cast my vote. I concluded that the House needs to make judgments, as we did on handguns and other issues.
We must consider the wider good of the whole of society. Enactment of a ban must be seen in that context. Whatever passions have been aroused by legislation that has resulted in lost jobs in years gone by, the House has, by and large, sought to do the right thing. The House has considered job losses seriously; that issue was a key factor on Second Reading.
Both amendments would offer compensation at a level set by the Secretary of State, which would be paid to those whose paid employment depended on hunting with dogs. Who are those people? Apart from those directly employed by hunts—even Burns was unable to set an exact number of those people, which suggests some ambiguity—many others might claim to be in that position, particularly if generous compensation were on offer.
What about a farrier who depended on a hunt for 30 per cent. of his business? The business would probably continue, though perhaps with a reduced turnover. Would the owner, or the employees of the business, qualify for compensation? What would happen if a hunt decided, once the ban had come into force, to convert itself into a drag hunt? Why should an employee of that hunt, whose job description and conditions of service might change only slightly, be eligible for compensation?
Amendment No. 36 was tabled by the Middle Way Group and suggests that compensation should be paid in respect of damage caused by species of animals that had previously been hunted by dogs. I do not want to be too unkind about that well-intentioned suggestion, but it is not close to common sense. Foxes and other predators damage crops and livestock. From Burns, we know that in the event of a ban on hunting, other methods of fox control would be used. How it would be possible to say that damage had been caused by a fox that would have been controlled if hunting had still been legal I simply do not know.
Amendment No. 40 was tabled by Opposition Members and seeks to provide compensation for anyone deprived of any service previously provided by hunts. Leaving aside the possibility of a claim on the public purse for any service unrelated to hunting that a huntsman may once have provided to the population as a whole, where on earth would the line be drawn? As Burns made clear, hunts provide a wide range of services, including voluntary assistance. It would be a bureaucratic nightmare to try to assess every claim.
On grounds of practicality alone, I would not recommend that the House make either of the amendments. The Government, as guardians of the public purse—the taxpayer's money—could not, as a matter of principle, support them. The commitments in them would be completely open and would not allow the kind of controls on the public purse that I expect.
In the past, compensation has been paid to those who, as a consequence of legislation, have been deprived of their property. The most notable recent example was firearms compensation, following the tragedy at Dunblane. However, as I have already pointed out, certain dealers in firearms were not compensated for the loss of their profit. We generally have no paid compensation from public funds to those who may have lost their livelihoods as a result of legislation. To go down that route would set a precedent that might have unpredictable consequences if it were done in the way that the amendments propose.
The right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) mentioned the compensation scheme for the fur farming industry, which was shut down as a result of the prohibition on fur farming. That case is hardly analogous. The Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000 closed down an entire industry. The Bill, by contrast, simply restricts certain activities. Those who own hounds will still be able to use them for drag hunts, while those who own horses will be able to ride as part of an organised hunt or otherwise. Those who serve such people, such as the blacksmiths who shoe horses or the grooms, will still be required.
Hunt employees are precisely that—employees of individual hunts. It is open to those hunts, if they decide not to go in for drag hunting or some similar activity, to offer their staff appropriate payment Before anyone tells me that hunts do not have resources, I can say that the hon. Member for Gainsborough said in Committee that hunting
is an expensive sport requiring a great deal of commitment and involving large businesses."—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 23 January 2001; c. 45.]
I shall make one further point, having been on my feet for long enough. It has been suggested that the absence of provision for compensation renders the Bill incompatible with the European convention on human rights. Our legal advice is that that is not the case. We are not dealing with deprivation of property, but with control of the use of property. There is a requirement in all but exceptional cases to pay compensation for deprivation of property, but there is no such requirement in relation to measures constituting the control of the use of property. We are satisfied that the Bill, without any provision for compensation, is fully in accordance with article 1, protocol 1 of the convention.
The Middle Way Group accepts that the amendment may not be perfectly formulated. We are not hung up on its precise wording. Will the Minister clarify whether he is saying that, on principle, he and the Government oppose providing compensation for those who lose their livelihoods—indeed, their way of life—and that he does not believe that the circumstances are the same as those surrounding fur farming? If he is saying that, will he make clear why he sees a distinction between fur farming, as described by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker), and foxhunting?
I may not have satisfied the hon. Gentleman, but I have set out the argument. The Government do not believe that it would be right to set the precedent that would be created by accepting the amendments, quite apart from the drafting problems inherent in them. I do not invite the House to accept either amendment, and I hope that hon. Members will see fit to withdraw them.
Perhaps I acted with an abundance of caution. One never knows where one is nowadays with the new procedures in this place.
The Minister's answer, which was no doubt sincerely meant, demonstrated more than anything the need for a Minister from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to be present this evening. The hon. Gentleman seemed to get a little lost when he dealt with some of the points that needed to be covered, not least the Government's proposals for the removal of fallen stock under any scheme that they may be preparing. It may well be that the Ministry is having discussions with relevant parties. In the context of new clause 1, it would have been more helpful if we had been told what stage those discussions had reached, and their detail. However, we shall have to do the best we can with the answers that the Minister gave.
In the three and a half hours or so that we have spent discussing two important subjects—the collection of fallen stock and compensation—there were a number of extremely useful contributions, not least that from my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd), who spoke of the leather workers of his west midlands urban constituency. My hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) spoke of the clearing up of fallen ponies rather than farm animals from the New Forest.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer), and the hon. Members for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) and for Stroud (Mr. Drew) also contributed. Towards the end of the debate, there were particularly trenchant contributions from my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), and from my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill), who speaks with all the authority not only of someone who is a farmer, but who, I believe, has an interest in the slaughterhouse industry.
We heard a particularly worthwhile contribution from the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) who, if I may summarise, said that to advance the Bill without compensation is just not fair. No reasonable hon. Member could disagree with him. Without either amendment No. 36 or amendment No. 40, the Bill is not fair. No one outside the House would disagree.
Had the right hon. Gentleman been present for any part of the debate, I might have taken the time to hear what he had to say, but as he has been absent—no doubt for very good reasons—I shall refer to his hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice), with whom I always enjoy debating the issue, because he engages in the issues. Whether I agree with him or not does not matter. What is important is that the hon. Gentleman exposed us to his views and allowed us to deal with them in a way that he may not have found helpful.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Soames), as always, contributed his special knowledge as a former Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and as someone who has represented farming constituencies for many years. I was also grateful to hear the views of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding), who, sadly, has announced that she will not put herself forward for re-election. Even though she may soon no longer be a Member of the House, I hope that she will continue to campaign on behalf of those in her constituency and all who support the views that she and I hold about the need for the preservation of mink hounds and mink hunting.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), as always, applied his acute legal mind to a number of issues, including the European convention, and the fact that unless the Bill is amended in the way that we suggest, it will fall outside the convention.
The hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Dr. Turner) made what I would loosely describe as a confusing contribution. He began by giving some sort of support to new clause 1 and the need for something to be done about fallen stock; then he got into rather an intellectual muddle about compensation. No doubt, as my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) pointed out, that will give him much sport when he comes to draft his press release.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack), as usual, gave a superb performance and demonstrated in a short space of time that this was a grotesque day for the farming world, and that the Bill was a grotesque Bill which did nothing to protect farmers or to advance the interests of the rural economy.
The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) spoke, and was followed by my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh), who spoke from knowledge of his constituency about the need for compensation for the economic hinterland that exists behind hunting, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown), who gave a particularly powerful speech, based on his knowledge as a farmer and as one who represents a rural and hunting constituency.
The hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) made an interesting contribution. As someone who wants hunting banned quickly and who complains that the Government did not introduce a Bill earlier, he said none the less that the issue under discussion this evening was not hunting, but farming. However, even his friends on the Labour Benches were unable to see that.
I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson). Because I was being obtuse, I did not fully understand his point, which was that the Government seem to extol the fallen stock service, through MAFF, but are prepared to introduce through the Home Office a Bill that damages the farming economy. He gave us direct evidence of the valuable work done by the hunt in his constituency and by neighbouring hunts.
No, I will not give way; I have explained why.
Following my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire, we had the contribution from the Minister, for whose contribution; we are always grateful. His understanding of new clause 1 seemed to boil down to this: "Something needs to be done. I think MAFF is doing something, but I'm not terribly sure what it is." When the Government find out, no doubt they will be the first to tell us. We know that the Minister for Agriculture does not like coming to the House. I only hope that the hon. Gentleman's boss, the Home Secretary, will be able to elucidate further—or even the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Jane Kennedy), when she winds up some other debate.
When the Minister dealt with compensation, he seemed to be completely at sea. He said that we must make judgments. Indeed we must. We will make a judgment both at the general a lection, and in the Division Lobbies shortly. He seemed to say that if we banned hunting, we would cause economic loss, but he was not prepared to do anything about it.
The economic loss that will be caused by the Bill and by the banning of hunting is both foreseeable and devastating. We already know that the rural economy is on a knife edge. If the Bill is not amended as we propose, it will drive a nail into the coffin of farming. A Government who fear precedent—the Minister said that he feared creating a precedent—are a Government who fear their own shadow. The shadow of that Government sits on the Conservative Benches, and we are itching to replace the Government. I can assure the House that the Under-Secretary's performance, which was no doubt given with the best will in the world, has done his party no favours. I trust that when the Division bell sounds, all hon. Members who believe in justice and fairness will follow us through the Lobby tonight.
|Division No. 131]||[8.20 pm|
|Allan, Richard||Hawkins, Nick|
|Ancram, Rt Hon Michael||Hayes, John|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Heald, Oliver|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)|
|Baker, Norman||Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David|
|Ballard, Jackie||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Beith, Rt Hon A J||Hoey, Kate|
|Bell, Martin (Tatton)||Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Bercow, John||Horam, John|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Howard, Rt Hon Michael|
|Blunt, Crispin||Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)|
|Body, Sir Richard||Hunter, Andrew|
|Boswell, Tim||Johnson, Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Brady, Graham||Kirkbride, Miss Julie|
|Brake, Tom||Laing, Mrs Eleanor|
|Brand, Dr Peter||Lansley, Andrew|
|Brazier, Julian||Letwin, Oliver|
|Breed, Colin||Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Lidington, David|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Lilley, Rt Hon Peter|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Livsey, Richard|
|Burnett, John||Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)|
|Burstow, Paul||Llwyd, Elfyn|
|Cash, William||Loughton, Tim|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)||Luff, Peter|
|Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Chope, Christopher||McCrea, Dr William|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Mclntosh, Miss Anne|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew|
|Collins, Tim||Maclean, Rt Hon David|
|Cormack, Sir Patrick||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Cotter, Brian||Madel, Sir David|
|Cran, James||Major, Rt Hon John|
|Davey, Edward (Kingston)||Malins, Humfrey|
|Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)||Maples, John|
|Day, Stephen||Mates, Michael|
|Edwards, Huw||Maude, Rt Hon Francis|
|Evans, Nigel||Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian|
|Faber, David||May, Mrs Theresa|
|Fabricant, Michael||Mitchell, Austin|
|Fallon, Michael||Moss, Malcolm|
|Fearn, Ronnie||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Flight, Howard||Norman, Archie|
|Forth, Rt Hon Eric||O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman||Öpik, Lembit|
|Fraser, Christopher||Ottaway, Richard|
|Gale, Roger||Paice, James|
|Garnier, Edward||Paisley, Rev Ian|
|George, Andrew (St Ives)||Paterson, Owen|
|Gidley, Sandra||Pickles, Eric|
|Gill, Christopher||Prior, David|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Gorman, Mrs Teresa||Robathan, Andrew|
|Gray, James||Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)|
|Green, Damian||Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)|
|Greenway, John||Ross, William (E Lond'y)|
|Grieve, Dominic||Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John||Ruffley, David|
|Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie||St Aubyn, Nick|
|Hammond, Philip||Sanders Adrian|
|Harris, Dr Evan||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Harvey, Nick||Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian|
|Shepherd, Richard||Tonge, Dr Jenny|
|Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)||Tredinnick, David|
|Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)||Viggers, Peter|
|Spicer, Sir Michael||Webb, Steve|
|Spring, Richard||Wells, Bowen|
|Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John||Whitney, Sir Raymond|
|Steen, Anthony||Whittingdale, John|
|Stinchcombe, Paul||Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd|
|Streeter, Gary||Wilkinson, John|
|Stunell, Andrew||Willis, Phil|
|Swayne, Desmond||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Tapsell, Sir Peter||Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)|
|Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)|
|Taylor, Matthew (Truro)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Taylor, Sir Teddy||Mr. Nicholas Soames and|
|Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)||Mr. Edward Leigh.|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Clelland, David|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||Clwyd, Ann|
|Ainger, Nick||Coaker, Vernon|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Coffey, Ms Ann|
|Allen, Graham||Cohen, Harry|
|Anderson, Rt Hon Donald (Swansea E)||Colman, Tony|
|Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)||Cook, Frank (Stockton N)|
|Ashton, Joe||Cooper, Yvette|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Corbett, Robin|
|Austin, John||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Bailey, Adrian||Corston, Jean|
|Banks, Tony||Cousins, Jim|
|Barnes, Harry||Cox, Tom|
|Barron, Kevin||Cranston, Ross|
|Bayley, Hugh||Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret||Cryer, John (Hornchurch)|
|Begg, Miss Anne||Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)|
|Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)||Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)||Davidson, Ian|
|Benton, Joe||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)|
|Berry, Roger||Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)|
|Blackman, Liz||Dean, Mrs Janet|
|Blizzard, Bob||Denham, Rt Hon John|
|Borrow, David||Dismore, Andrew|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Dobbin, Jim|
|Brinton, Mrs Helen||Dobson, Rt Hon Frank|
|Brown, Russell (Dumfries)||Doran, Frank|
|Browne, Desmond||Dowd, Jim|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Drew, David|
|Burden, Richard||Drown, Ms Julia|
|Burgon, Colin||Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)|
|Butler, Mrs Christine||Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)|
|Caborn, Rt Hon Richard||Efford, Clive|
|Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)||Etherington, Bill|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Fitzpatrick, Jim|
|Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)||Fitzsimons, Mrs Loma|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Flint, Caroline|
|Cann, Jamie||Flynn, Paul|
|Caplin, Ivor||Follett, Barbara|
|Casale, Roger||Foster, Rt Hon Derek|
|Caton, Martin||Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)|
|Cawsey, Ian||Foster, Michael J (Worcester)|
|Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)||Gapes, Mike|
|Chaytor, David||Gerrard, Neil|
|Chidgey, David||Gilroy, Mrs Linda|
|Clapham, Michael||Godsiff, Roger|
|Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)||Goggins, Paul|
|Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)||Gordon, Mrs Eileen|
|Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)|
|Clark, Paul (Gillingham)||Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)|
|Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)||Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Grocott, Bruce|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)||Grogan, John|
|Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)||Gunnell, John|
|Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)||Merron, Gillian|
|Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)||Michael, Rt Hon Alun|
|Hancock, Mike||Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)|
|Hanson, David||Milburn, Rt Hon Alan|
|Healey, John||Miller, Andrew|
|Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)||Moffatt, Laura|
|Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)||Moran, Ms Margaret|
|Hendrick, Mark||Morley, Elliot|
|Hepburn, Stephen||Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Hill, Keith||Mountford, Kali|
|Hinchliffe, David||Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)|
|Hood, Jimmy||Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)|
|Hope, Phil||Naysmith, Dr Doug|
|Hopkins, Kelvin||O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)|
|Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)||Osborne, Ms Sandra|
|Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)||Palmer, Dr Nick|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||Pearson, Ian|
|Humble, Mrs Joan||Perham, Ms Linda|
|Hutton, John||Plaskitt, James|
|Iddon, Dr Brian||Pollard, Kerry|
|Illsley, Eric||Pond, Chris|
|Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)||Pope, Greg|
|Jamieson, David||Pound, Stephen|
|Jenkins, Brian||Powell, Sir Raymond|
|Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)||Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)|
|Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)||Prescott, Rt Hon John|
|Jones, Helen (Warrington N)||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)||Prosser, Gwyn|
|Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)||Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce|
|Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)||Quinn, Lawrie|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)||Rapson, Syd|
|Joyce, Eric||Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Rendel, David|
|Keeble, Ms Sally||Roche, Mrs Barbara|
|Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)||Rogers, Allan|
|Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)||Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff|
|Kelly, Ms Ruth||Rooney, Terry|
|Kemp, Fraser||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Khabra, Piara S||Roy, Frank|
|Kidney, David||Ruane, Chris|
|Kilfoyle, Peter||Ruddock, Joan|
|King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)||Russell, Bob (Colchester)|
|King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)||Sarwar, Mohammad|
|Kingham, Ms Tess||Savidge, Malcolm|
|Ladyman, Dr Stephen||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Lammy, David||Shaw, Jonathan|
|Lepper, David||Sheerman, Barry|
|Leslie, Christopher||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Levitt, Tom||Short, Rt Hon Clare|
|Lewis, Terry (Worsley)||Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)|
|Love, Andrew||Singh, Marsha|
|McCafferty, Ms Chris||Skinner, Dennis|
|McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)||Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Smith, Angela (Basildon)|
|McDonagh, Siobhain||Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)|
|Macdonald, Calum||Smith, John (Glamorgan)|
|McDonnell, John||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|McKenna, Mrs Rosemary||Spellar, John|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Starkey, Dr Phyllis|
|McNamara, Kevin||Steinberg, Gerry|
|McNulty, Tony||Stewart, Ian (Eccles)|
|MacShane, Denis||Stoate, Dr Howard|
|Mactaggart, Fiona||Sutcliffe, Gerry|
|McWalter, Tony||Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Mallaber, Judy||Taylor, David (NW Leics)|
|Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)||Timms, Stephen|
|Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)||Tipping, Paddy|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Todd, Mark|
|Marshall-Andrews, Robert||Trickett, Jon|
|Martlew, Eric||Truswell, Paul|
|Meacher, Rt Hon Michael||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)||Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Turner, Neil (Wigan)||Wills, Michael|
|Twigg, Derek (Halton)||Wilson, Brian|
|Twigg, Stephen (Enfieid)||Winnick, David|
|Tynan, Bill||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Vaz, Keith||Wood, Mike|
|Walley, Ms Joan||Woolas, Phil|
|Walley, Ms Joan||Worthington, Tony|
|Ward, Ms Claire||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Wareing, Robert N||wyatt, Derek|
|Whitehead, Dr Alan|
|Wicks, Malcolm||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)||Mr. Colin Pickthall and|
|Mr. Stephen Hesford.|