New Clause 13 — Registered Hunting: Absolute Bans: Deer, Hares, Foxes and Terrierwork

Part of Hunting Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 30th June 2003.

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Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire 6:30 pm, 30th June 2003

Yes, indeed I shall vote against new clause 13. I cannot think why the hon. Gentleman asked that question because I thought that I had made that obvious but if I had not, I shall now. I hope that many Labour Members will join me in voting against it because of the absurd procedure that the Minister disgracefully put in place to try to disfranchise them.

The group of amendments offers three approaches. First, there is the Minister's desperate struggle to keep his much abused licensing system, although frankly his attempt to add further bans wrecks any principle that ever existed behind the approach. The new clause tabled by Mr. Banks, which is supported by 150 Labour Members, would introduce a straightforward outright ban on all forms of fox hunting at all times of the year.

Incidentally, I mention in passing new clause 6 and amendment No. 1, tabled by my hon. Friends in the middle way group, which would allow terrier work underground to be licensed, a move that would be much welcomed by the shooting lobby. The Minister has failed to answer my procedural question: if he introduces amendments in the other place to differentiate—I have no idea how he would—between hunt terrier men and gamekeepers, and if, at a later stage, the Bill is subject to the Parliament Act, is it his understanding that any such amendment passed in the other place would be part of that Parliament Act procedure? I suspect not and if he has not tabled amendments in this place, any such lip service to the gamekeepers may bite the dust subsequently. Perhaps the Minister would care to give his view on that.