Orders of the Day — Hunting Bill

– in the House of Commons at 1:02 pm on 18th November 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

On resuming—

Lords message considered.

Photo of Mr Paul Tyler Mr Paul Tyler Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 1:44 pm, 18th November 2004

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Leader of the House is in his place. Has he given you any indication that he intends to make a statement on what has obviously gone wrong today? Does he accept that this is no way to run a national Parliament, let alone a ping-pong tournament?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

Nothing has gone wrong—absolutely nothing. I am running the proceedings in the House.

Photo of Mr Peter Pike Mr Peter Pike Labour, Burnley

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance. A paper is going around that I have not had the opportunity to see, but if any amendment to the Bill is carried today and if the two Houses cannot reach agreement on the Bill at the end of the day, will you be able to invoke the Parliament Act?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that point of order. The Parliament Act is applicable if agreement on the Bill as a whole is not achieved. That will not be affected if the House agrees to either of the two motions that are being proposed today. Beyond that, I do not want to be drawn into ruling on hypothetical situations, because it might be thought that I was trying to influence the debate. It is up to the Minister to explain the effect of the motion that he is bringing before the House.

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Labour, Vauxhall

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you clarify whether, if you chose to use the Parliament Act and it was used under your guidance—you have to follow the rules—you could be swayed at all by a vote in this House? Do you agree that the only way in which you can be prevented from using the Parliament Act is by a vote in this Parliament telling you not to use it, and can we have that vote?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

The hon. Lady is correct; that is the case.

Lords amendments: Nos. 1 to 44 and 46 to 54.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

I inform the House that privilege is involved in Lords amendments Nos. 10C, 12C and 52C. If the House agrees to the amendments, I will arrange for the necessary entries to be made in the Journal. I inform the House that I have selected the amendment to the Minister's amendment in the name of Opposition Members.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. For clarity, there are two amendments in the names of Opposition Members. Which one are you referring to?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I beg to move, That this House
insists on its disagreement to Lords amendments Nos. 1 to 44 and 46 to 54, disagrees with the Lords in their amendments 10C, 12C, 46C and 52C, but proposes the following amendment in lieu—

Leave out Clause 15 and insert the following new Clause:—

'Commencement

(1) The following provisions of this Act shall come into force on 31st July 2007—

(a) sections 1 to 4,

(b) Part 2 in so far as it relates to sections 1 to 4,

(c) sections 11 to 14 in so far as they relate to sections 1 to 4,

(d) Schedule 1, and

(e) Schedules 2 and 3, except in so far as they change the law in relation to an activity to which section 5 applies.

(2) The following provisions of this Act shall come into force at the end of the period of three months beginning with the date on which it is passed—

(a) section 5,

(b) Part 2 in so far as it relates to section 5,

(c) sections 11 to 13 in so far as they relate to section 5, and

(d) Schedules 2 and 3 in so far as they change the law in relation to an activity to which section 5 applies.'.

Essentially, I am inviting the House to restore the Bill to the form that we have previously agreed, but I shall also be inviting it to consider proposals in respect of commencement. I want to explain what I am trying to do today. As always, the Government want to be helpful and constructive, giving people time to adjust to the reality of legislation on the statute book. I shall then explain the procedure. I want to do those two things very clearly and without taking interventions, so there is absolutely no doubt about what I am saying. Of course, I will then be prepared to take interventions from hon. and right hon. Members.

This House previously agreed to propose a delay in commencement until July 2006. I have tabled a motion proposing July 2007, and my hon. Friend Peter Bradley has proposed 2006. Those are both choices that would enable this House not only to be reasonable but to be seen to be reasonable by going the extra mile, if we like. The House insists on the Bill as it has already agreed it, with only that date being changed. That is what is before us today.

Let me come to the procedure. I suggest to the House that it is clear but complicated, and I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for the clarification that you gave before we started the debate. I want to give hon. Members complete certainty about the impact of what we are asking the House to agree to today. I am advised that passing either motion on commencement would not in any way affect the application of the Parliament Act. We would be passing not an amendment to the Bill, but a motion to propose an amendment in lieu. In other words, we would send the Bill to the other place as previously passed by this House in its Parliament Actable form. Alongside it, if passed, would be the motion making the proposal that the other place amend the Bill in order to delay commencement of the ban. From that point on, the only question is whether the Bill becomes law with the agreement of the other place or via application of the Parliament Act, with or without the proposed change in the date of commencement.

If we send a motion proposing an amendment to the Lords and they accept it, it will form part of the Bill as enacted. If there are no other disagreements, the Bill will pass without the Parliament Act. If there are disagreements, the Parliament Act will enact the Bill as first sent to the other place, but with the amendments proposed by this House today. If neither of the amendments is carried, I will move that this House insists on its disagreement with all the Lords amendments and disagrees to their amendments in lieu. Our position is very simple.

Photo of Andrew Dismore Andrew Dismore Labour, Hendon

As my right hon. Friend knows, the Countryside Alliance has threatened to drag this through the courts. Can he guarantee that the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the judicial council of the other place will absolutely agree with the interpretation that he has given us today?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My hon. Friend knows that it would be unwise of any Minister to predict what they will do about anything, be it the original Bill, an amended Bill or any other legislation. I can say, however, that if we do what I suggest and pass the Bill in its Parliament Actable form—that is, if we reject the Lords amendments and invite the Lords to take the common-sense step of agreeing to our proposition for a delay in the date of commencement—that sensible approach would lead only to the courts' considering whether the date of commencement should be a date that we have agreed in this House or the original date three months hence, in February 2005. I think that the position is entirely clear, and although I appreciate the wish of some hon. Members to make it more complicated, I shall do my best to keep it simple.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I give way to the right hon. Gentleman, who I am sure will help me in that regard.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Chair, Constitutional Affairs Committee

I am trying to help with clarification. The Lords having already rejected the 18-month delay, if this House sent that proposal to them by passing the second of the two motions—which would require the Minister to move it—what would happen then? Would the proposal come back to us for further consideration, or for us to suggest a further alternative? If the Lords insisted on, let us say, three years or two and three quarter years, what process would follow?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I think that if the Lords did not accept our proposed date of commencement, we would have reached the end of the road. The Bill would be Parliament Acted with no change in the date of commencement.

Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Affairs, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Welsh Affairs

I am not convinced that the Minister is necessarily correct, but perhaps he can put me right. As I understand it, there are two debates going on, one about the nature of the Bill and the amendments and the other about the date of commencement. The date of commencement is not connected with the question of the Parliament Act. In theory, we could go on arguing about the commencement till kingdom come, regardless of whether the rest of the Bill is enacted.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In theory, we could indeed continue to argue about it for a long time. I am giving the hon. Gentleman an assurance that we will not.

Photo of Gregory Barker Gregory Barker Opposition Whip (Commons)

Does the Minister understand that everyone in the countryside who cares for liberty and the environment will see that his machinations over commencement have absolutely nothing to do with reasonableness, as he is suggesting, and everything to do with shabby political horse-trading between Labour Members behind the scenes? The whole thing is a disgrace.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I know that no hon. Member would seek to mislead the House, but it sounds as if the hon. Gentleman wants to mislead the countryside. In our original discussions with organisations that have been involved in this debate for many years, including the Countryside Alliance, those organisations—including the Countryside Alliance—accepted that the issue was cruelty. That is the subject that has dictated the debate about legislation on hunting. Let me also tell the hon. Gentleman, yet again, that people in the countryside are divided on hunting, just as people in urban areas are. This is not about a divide between urban and rural people.

This House voted on Tuesday to insist on the Bill in the form in which we sent it to the Lords in September—that is, what is generally called the banning Bill. The Lords have now insisted on their feeble version of the registration scheme, so it is the Lords who have chosen confrontation, and I regret that. At this stage, I sense no appetite among supporters of a ban in this House for any change in the House's well-established position. It is the will of this House of Commons to have this Bill. I should make clear that it is not this House that is insisting; it will be the House of Lords, if it does not accept what we are saying today, that will have provoked the application of the Parliament Act.

There remains the question of when the Bill is to come into force. As it stands, it will come into force in three months, on 18 February 2005. That three-month period applied to the original Bill, involving a tribunal system which I sought to persuade colleagues to support and which would have come into force three months after the Bill. This House has reasonably proposed a delay of about 18 months, until 31 July 2006, for the start of the ban on hunting—but not on hare coursing events, which would be banned three months after implementation in any case.

In their amendments the Lords suggested a three-year delay for all hunting, including hare coursing events, until 1 December 2007 or even later; but that would be for their registration Bill. At the same time, they voted against our suggested amendment proposing commencement on 31 July 2006. In doing so, they have in effect voted for a ban that will come into force in February next year. All the Lords' decisions on the Bill have been, in my view, irrational. With this one, they have behaved like turkeys voting for Christmas. I cannot believe that they meant it, although my noble Friend Lord Whitty made the position absolutely clear to them.

My proposed amendment in lieu would give the Lords another chance. It takes the same form as our earlier suggested amendment. It would bring the Bill into force on 31 July 2007 for hunting purposes, but again not for the purposes of hare coursing events. By sending it back to the Lords, we will give them a straightforward choice between the date that we suggest and three months from Royal Assent today. If they seek to insert a different date or to change the clause in any other way, this House will insist on the three-month period, because that will keep the Bill within the Parliament Act.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

Is my right hon. Friend aware that those of us who want a total ban were willing, and continue to be willing, to go along with the earlier postponement to 31 July 2006, but no later than that? Is there not a danger that what he now proposes will give the impression that we are terrified of the threats of violence and thuggery from those who intend to break the law? Given that the House of Commons has agreed to a total ban six times in the past four years, what we propose—unlike what my right hon. Friend now proposes—is surely compromise enough, and responsibility for any further delay lies entirely with the House of Lords.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My hon. Friend is quite right. I think it showed great willingness to be reasonable on the part of Members to agree to the delay of commencement until 2006. I am asking them now to go the extra mile. Whether they do so or not is in their hands. It is Members of this House who will vote on the two motions in lieu; I simply seek to persuade them to consider the 2007 option.

My proposal for a delay until July 2007 would indeed be a compromise between the Lords' proposal for 1 December 2007 and the House's earlier proposal for 31 July 2006. Hon. Members will know that my hon. Friend Peter Bradley has tabled an amendment to reinstate the 31 July 2006 commencement date, which gives my hon. Friend David Winnick an opportunity to vote in the way in which he has suggested. I do not feel passionately about the choice between the two dates, but it is important for us to demonstrate—as my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North did when he agreed to 2006 on the last occasion—that this House is being reasonable, as well as insisting on the Bill being in the form for which this House has voted on a number of occasions.

Photo of Rob Marris Rob Marris Labour, Wolverhampton South West 2:00 pm, 18th November 2004

When the original Alun Michael Bill, as it came to be called, was recommitted to the Standing Committee on which I sat, I tabled 45 amendments, which the Government adopted, to make it a banning Bill. I deliberately did not table amendments to change the three-month implementation period, and nor did the Government. Will my right hon. Friend explain why he appears to have changed his position, because he could have tabled an amendment in Standing Committee to change the three-month period? He did not do so, but he now seeks July 2007.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

When the Bill came before the House last year and it became clear that it could be reintroduced and have the Parliament Act applied to it, I thought that common sense would prevail and that people involved with hunting would say, "Well, if the elected House of Commons in the Parliament of this country is intent on taking that decision, we had better start thinking about it." However, those who oppose a ban on hunting have encouraged their followers to believe that legislation will not be introduced. Ordinary people, who have perhaps been misled by their leadership, should be given time in order to prepare for a ban, deal with animal welfare considerations and change the activities and businesses in which they are involved. That is the common-sense and generous way in which to approach the Bill, without changing the nature of the legislation, on which this House has agreed on more than one occasion.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short Labour, Birmingham, Ladywood

Many of us think that the constant dithering over the Bill brings our political processes into disrepute. We thought that we had reached an agreement with the Government on 2006 to settle the matter. Will the Minister explain what could possibly be gained by extending the implementation date to 2007?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

If my right hon. Friend had listened to my response to my hon. Friend Rob Marris, the answer would be clear: it is because the people involved in hunting are unwilling to accept that the Bill will completely change their situation and make illegal some of the activities in which they participate. I want law-abiding people to obey the law, and I hope that they will do so. The change in the implementation date will make it more possible for them to obey the law, without giving rise to employment problems or animal welfare difficulties, concerning, for instance, the disposal of packs of dogs. That is a perfectly reasonable way in which to proceed. I say to my right hon. Friend that being reasonable, which is all that I seek, cannot bring this House into disrepute. I ask the House to insist, as it has done, on the nature of the legislation that it passes, but to do so with a reasonable implementation date.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

The Minister said that the countryside has been misled. Is not the truth that the countryside has been misled by the honeyed words from No. 10 to the effect that a ban would not be implemented?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is totally wrong, as he very often is. I did not say that the countryside has been misled; I said that those who are active in hunting have been misled by their leaders into thinking that this House would not act. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has acted with integrity throughout: he made it clear that he wanted to see a compromise and that he supported the Bill in the form in which I brought it to the House. He also made it clear that he respected the fact that for many years this has been a free vote issue for hon. Members—I thought that it was a free vote issue for hon. Members on both sides of this House. That is acting with integrity, and it does the right hon. and learned Gentleman no credit to cast doubt on that.

Photo of Patrick Hall Patrick Hall Labour, Bedford

I agree with my right hon. Friend on the need to go the extra mile, but will he accept that many Labour Members think that we went that extra mile with the July 2006 date? If he does not feel strongly about 2006 or 2007, will he assist other hon. Members and me by explaining why he has introduced the 2007 implementation date?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Essentially, the 2007 date gives the House the option of being reasonable, as we were on the last occasion when we proposed 2006. It also gives the House the option to go the extra mile. It is between the date that we proposed and the date agreed in another place. Either 2006 or 2007 would be reasonable, but 2007 would go the extra mile.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Will my right hon. Friend clarify this point? Two months ago, he moved that the implementation date be postponed to 31 July 2006, and the House of Commons voted in favour of that. Now, he says that he wants to be reasonable by postponing the implementation date for a further year. What has happened between his moving that motion two months ago and today to make 2007 more reasonable than 2006?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

First, if one of the choices is reasonable, the other choice is even more reasonable. Secondly, on what has changed, we have continued to have discussions and arguments in the public domain in seeking to demonstrate that this House is being reasonable, and I have therefore put the two options before the House. I am convinced that the House will be reasonable and that one option is more reasonable than the other.

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Will the Minister clarify whether he accepts the fact that, if the Bill were introduced within three months, it would have a substantial impact on rural areas? If either of the two amendments were defeated in the Lords, is the Minister saying that he accepts in principle that the Bill would have a substantial effect and that he would introduce measures to ameliorate the effect on hunts and on the rural economy?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

No. As I have explained to the hon. Gentleman before, the effect on the rural economy—this is demonstrated in the Burns report—will be small, but the Bill will affect some individuals. Although it is not wrong to impose a three-month limit, which raises no serious issues, delaying implementation until July 2006 would provide a reasonable and generous opportunity to prepare for the application of the legislation, and a delay until 2007 would provide an even greater and more generous opportunity. That is the only difference.

Photo of Elfyn Llwyd Elfyn Llwyd Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Earlier this week, it was trailed that some elements within the Government are concerned about the possibility of a judicial review of the procedure. The right hon. Gentleman may know that the main criterion is to have acted reasonably—this afternoon, he has repeated the word "reasonable" 25 times.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

That is because I am being reasonable, and I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has noticed. I have received legal advice, and we are content that the Bill and the process will not lead to difficulties of the sort that, for instance, an attempt at judicial review might bring about. It is, of course, open to organisations to seek judicial review—I understand that the Countryside Alliance has sought to do so—to give notice and to take action in the courts, if they wish to do so. However, my legal advice is clear.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

The Minister is not being unreasonable with the House this afternoon, even to those of us who fundamentally disagree with the Bill and who are 100 per cent. in support of hunting. He is advancing a number of propositions, but is he prepared to advocate from the Government Front Bench that Labour Members should vote for 31 July 2007?—[Interruption.] I am not saying that he is mandating Government Members; I am suggesting that he might advocate that they vote for the amendment that would enable the country as a whole to take a decision on this issue, because between now and then there will be a general election, which can perhaps finalise the matter.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments and for his recognition that I am trying to be reasonable. I am glad that he spotted that each individual Member on this side of the House will make up their own mind and vote as they see fit. I have tabled the motion on 2007 and will invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to join me in the Lobby to vote for it. I make it clear—because at that point only motions moved by a Minister will be considered—that I intend, should the 2007 date be defeated, to move the second motion to give the House an opportunity to vote on the date of 2006. I am grateful for the opportunity to clarify that.

Photo of David Clelland David Clelland Labour, Tyne Bridge

On the question of possible challenges in court to the Bill once it is enacted, what legal advice has my right hon. Friend received as to whether such challenges would be more or less likely to succeed if the Bill were to be further complicated by amendments at this late stage?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am advised that the Bill is sound and secure with or without any such changes. My hon. Friend can have full confidence in that.

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Given that it is a free vote, will the Minister tell the House how the Prime Minister is likely to vote?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Given that it is a free vote, it is up to the Prime Minister just as it is up to the hon. Gentleman. The way in which all right hon. and hon. Members vote, or do not vote, will be clear when the record of the Division is published.

Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour/Co-operative, North West Leicestershire

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, despite the hyperventilation of some sections of the media, the latest date for a general election is late June 2006? In contradistinction to Sir Nicholas Winterton, I suggest to my right hon. Friend that the rationale for his motion might be that to add one further year beyond that latest date for the next election would allow for the election of a more hung Parliament and delay the issue into the middle distance.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My hon. Friend has made his point. I make proposals based on the practicalities of animal welfare and issues of that sort.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art

My hon. Friends and I trust my right hon. Friend, but it is what might happen afterwards that really concerns us. If both the amendments on the implementation date fall, he will then move the Bill as it left this place before. In those circumstances, would not it be much clearer were the Government to say—perhaps he can say now—that during the new Session of Parliament a one-clause Bill will be introduced with an implementation date of 2006, so that there is no dubiety, as they say in the trade union movement?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am not prepared to do that. It is an option for the Government to introduce a one-clause Bill to delay implementation, but that would have two disadvantages. First, it would be some time later, and part-way through the period to February 2005, and therefore would not provide immediate clarity on the date of commencement. Secondly, it would mean this House and another place spending more time debating this issue, on which plenty of time has been spent over many years. It would be better for us to agree today a motion proposing an amendment in lieu and to invite another place to agree with it, and then to have drawn a line very clearly under the whole issue and to have given a very clear date of commencement for the legislation.

The important point is to put the issue back to the Lords to ask them to think again. Do they want the hunting ban to start this February or at whatever later date this House suggests? They will have a straight choice, and we should leave it to them. They claim to defend the interests of people and animals involved in hunting—I refer of course not to the whole House but to those who support hunting. If they want the ban to start sooner, so be it.

In asking the House to support the motion, I hope that it will respond in the spirit in which Members have questioned me today, and send to the House of Lords a reasonable proposition, as well as the Bill in the form on which this House has already agreed.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons 2:15 pm, 18th November 2004

Before I call Mr. Gray to move his manuscript amendment, I make it clear that the debate will also cover motion b, in the name of Peter Bradley.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I beg to move manuscript amendment No. 1,

"leave out from '52C' to end."

Before I speak to the amendment and to the amendments proposed by the other place, I should explain why my name appears on the amendment with what might reasonably be described as a fairly unholy alliance of individuals. Our reason for tabling it is simple and principled—namely, because the way in which the Minister tabled his motion would have required us either to vote against the amendments tabled by the other place in order to secure his timing proposals, or to vote against his timing proposals. That is wrong. It is reasonable that we in this place should speak and vote in support of amendments proposed to us by our noble Friends, and that we subsequently have the opportunity to support what the Minister has proposed with regard to timing. It is unreasonable, however, to place us in the position of being unable to speak in favour of the amendments from the other place in order to try to secure the delay that the Minister proposes. We are therefore ready to consider the entire question of the Minister's motion and to seek to strike down the part of it that is to do with the timing of an outright ban.

Today's debate is not only about implementation dates, which the Minister largely focused on—it is about all the proposals from the House of Lords. I shall try to address several of those as well as the very important issue of when the Bill and the ban should be implemented.

Before I do so, I should say that this debate has all the feelings of the final act of a sombre and melancholy tragic drama. For me, it is the end of a kind of parliamentary nightmare—a ghastly rural soap opera in which ignorant urban interests triumph over the countryside. For a few moments last night, I was glad that this would be the last time that I rose at this Dispatch Box to discuss hunting—[Interruption.]

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. There is far too much noise in the Chamber; it is unfair to the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It then occurred to me that although this is the last time that I will rise at this Dispatch Box to discuss hunting, I can look forward to the opportunity this time next year of rising at the Government Dispatch Box as the Minister responsible for proposing the repeal of this disgraceful, prejudiced and ignorant little Bill.

Last night, when she moved the amendments in the other place, Baroness Mallalieu, who is, among other things, president of the Countryside Alliance—I pay tribute to her and to the Countryside Alliance for the wonderful work they have done over many years in seeking to save the liberties of the countryside—said that this is a "rank bad" Bill. That sums up the Bill: it is indeed "rank bad". She continued:

"Its foundations are naked prejudice and wilful ignorance. It is without rationality, without principle, and it runs counter to all the evidence gathered . . . at the Government's own inquiries."

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I shall get into my stride and then I shall happily do so.

Baroness Mallalieu said that the Bill was a badly drafted measure, which

"allows terrier work . . . in order to protect a pheasant or a partridge but not to protect a lamb or a curlew, which allows the hunting of rats but not mice, rabbits but not hares; which destroys jobs . . . homes . . . and does so without compensation".—[Hansard, House of Lords, 17 November 2004; Vol. 666, c. 1556.]

The noble Lady, a Labour peer, puts her finger on the spot. It is a "rank bad" Bill, which her amendments would do much to improve.

The House made clear its views on licensing versus banning less than 48 hours ago. I was delighted to go through the Lobby with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Minister for Rural Affairs and Environmental Quality and his boss, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to vote for the Lords proposals on licensing, although we ultimately lost the vote. It is odd that we are considering using the Parliament Act to drive through a Bill against which the Prime Minister voted only two days ago. That is a constitutional peculiarity to which I shall shortly revert.

Photo of Robert Smith Robert Smith Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons)

The hon. Gentleman believes that he may not discuss hunting again for some time but, depending on the outcome of votes today, the Minister has already contemplated a one-line Bill. Given the flaws that the hon. Gentleman has already identified, if the Government use the Parliament Act to force through the Bill without accepting the registration scheme, is not there every chance that they will have to revert quickly to the matter to make the measure workable?

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I fear that the hon. Gentleman is right. The Bill is badly drafted and even if, like so many Labour Members, one were committed to abolishing hunting, the measure is not the way to do it. It will not work; it will prove impossible to police; its definitions are difficult to understand—it is extraordinarily badly drafted. I therefore believe that we shall have to revert to it.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I shall give way to Dr. Turner and subsequently to Sir Gerald Kaufman, who was so complimentary to me yesterday when we met in the Lobby.

Photo of Desmond Turner Desmond Turner Labour, Brighton, Kemptown

Will the hon. Gentleman enlighten me? Perhaps I am being even thicker than usual, but the effect of the manuscript amendment would simply be to disagree with the Lords. We would not change one jot or comma of the Bill. If the amendment were accepted, we would go straight to the point at which the Parliament Act would be invoked. Am I right?

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I claim no great expertise in some of the more abstruse parts of parliamentary procedure, but my understanding is that the hon. Gentleman is wrong. The purpose of the manuscript amendment is to seek an opportunity to vote in favour of the other place's amendments and subsequently to vote for or against—we will have to decide—the Minister's proposal. The precise consequences will become clear later.

Photo of David Cameron David Cameron Conservative, Witney

Has my hon. Friend read any legal advice about whether the Bill is more likely to be effectively challenged if the delay is three months, 18 months or three years?

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I am grateful for that interesting intervention. The answer is a straightforward no. I have seen no legal advice and have no idea whether challenges are more likely if the delay is three months, 18 months or any other time. I suspect that, if the Bill is bad for human rights reasons or if the Government make bad use of the Parliament Act—several legal challenges are pending on that—the courts will find that to be the case, so it is not for us to prejudge the outcome. I fear that I cannot help my hon. Friend.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

Before I give way to the right hon. Gentleman, I must tell hon. Members that, only yesterday, we met in the Lobby and he was extraordinarily complimentary, not necessarily about what I was saying but at least about the way I was saying it. I am most grateful for that.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

I stand by that. I respect and admire the hon. Gentleman's parliamentary performances, even if I disagree with him. Through some recondite parliamentary procedure, which I do not understand despite all my years in the House, my name has appeared on the amendment. I make it absolutely clear that I shall not vote for the amendment and I shall advise my hon. Friends not to do so.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I am most grateful for that clarification. I am relieved that my name and the right hon. Gentleman's do not appear on the same proposal. I am sure that the House will note the great relief all round.

Photo of Tom Levitt Tom Levitt PPS (Rt Hon Hilary Benn, Secretary of State), Department for International Development

As the Official Report will show, the hon. Gentleman told the House a few moments ago that the Prime Minister voted against the Bill. That is not true. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will put the record straight. Like everybody who voted for amendments to the Bill, the Prime Minister did so in the sincere belief that they would improve it. I happen to disagree, but I stress that nobody voted against the Bill the other day when we discussed only amendments.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

My instinct is to say that anyone who votes for an amendment that fundamentally changes the Bill thereby votes against the measure. If the proposal of Huw Irranca-Davies had been accepted on Tuesday, a licensing regime would have been introduced. It seems straightforward to me that the Prime Minister effectively said that he did not want a ban. Even if that were not the effect of his vote on Tuesday, it reflects his comments in press conferences and what his official spokesman has been authorised to say on countless occasions. It is plain that the Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister and others oppose a ban and would like a middle way. Unfortunately, they have not achieved their aim because of the actions of Back Benchers. None the less, that was their view.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack Conservative, South Staffordshire

Is not the simple truth that the Prime Minister, with the support of many Cabinet colleagues and others, was trying to restore the measure to its original form, which the Minister introduced? He is nodding assent.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

My hon. Friend makes a good point, which speaks for itself.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

Does my hon. Friend agree that we should be careful not to describe the amendment that Huw Irranca-Davies tabled as a middle way or a compromise? It proposed a ban through a tight licensing regime.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

My right hon. and learned Friend is right.

Photo of Peter Atkinson Peter Atkinson Assistant Chief Whip, Whips

My hon. Friend mentioned a potential challenge. The Joint Committee suggested that a three-month ban was unreasonable and potentially open to challenge under the Human Rights Act 1998. Has he noticed that coursing is not included in both extensions that the Minister proposes? If something is unreasonable for hunting, why is it not unreasonable for coursing?

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

My hon. Friend makes a good point about the Joint Committee, which has tentatively concluded that a measure that included a three-month ban would not comply with the Human Rights Act 1998. That will be tested in the courts. He also makes a good point about hare coursing, which is, bizarrely, singled out for an immediate ban. Hare coursing kills fewer hares than shooting or hare hunting, which would be allowed. It would be delayed for three years if the Minister's amendment were passed. However, hare coursing, which aims not to kill hares, would be banned in three months.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. There are still too many conversations. [Interruption.] Order. Clare Short, too many conversations are happening. Perhaps they can be conducted elsewhere and not in the Chamber.

Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Affairs, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Welsh Affairs

In terms of legal challenge, does Mr. Gray accept that the biggest problem is the way in which the Bill is constructed? For example, if a member of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found a dead mouse in someone's back yard and reported them to the police, it would have to be proved that the cat had killed the mouse, because if the dog was found guilty that person could go to prison.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire 2:30 pm, 18th November 2004

The hon. Gentleman makes a good but abstruse point. Perhaps we should move on.

I want to focus particularly on the question of when and why the Bill should be implemented—either immediately, or effectively immediately, within three months; within 18 months, as the Minister's Parliamentary Private Secretary, Peter Bradley, has suggested; or within two and three quarter years, which the Minister himself seems to be suggesting.

I believe that when the Government originally proposed 18 months it was not for animal welfare reasons; it had about it the stench of political expediency. They wanted to allow the ban to come into force after the general election and for hunting not to become an issue in that general election. In that context, Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and indeed people in the countryside, are, for that very reason, perfectly content with an immediate ban.

A significant number of people who believe in hunting want an immediate ban so as to focus attention on opposition to the Government in the run-up to the general election. I have not gone along with that view, as it seems to me that there are some extraordinarily important animal welfare reasons for seeking to delay the Bill's implementation. This is all to do with animal welfare; it should not be to do with the election, political expediency or arguments. It should be to do with the best way of implementing what is to Conservative Members an obnoxious move.

That is why we are quite content to accept what the Lords propose—namely, a three-year delay. If we were given the opportunity to vote on it, we would doubtless at least consider what the Minister proposes, which is a delay of two and three quarter years. That is reasonably sensible.

It might be worth touching on why I believe that to be the case, why I believe that 18 months is no good at all and why three months is even less good. First, the Minister has said that the reason for the delay is to assist with re-homing hounds, as he calls it. The notion of re-homing hounds is absurd. Anyone who has ever been to a hunt kennels knows that the notion of removing any one of 100 dogs, some of which are as large as this Table and which have been living together for years—indeed, they may have been bred for generations for the purpose of hunting—and re-homing it in the front room of someone's bungalow is a great deal less—

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for not giving way. I am just getting into my stride and we do not have much time.

The notion of re-homing hounds is extraordinarily absurd. We need to find a way to reuse the hounds. The animal welfare committee in this House proposed that, for example, they might be exported to take part in hunting overseas. That is an absurd suggestion.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

Mr. Cawsey was on the animal welfare committee and I happily give way to him.

Photo of Ian Cawsey Ian Cawsey PPS (Mr David Miliband, Minister of State), Department for Education and Skills

May I offer clarification to the House? The report that the hon. Gentleman is referring to, which looked into the welfare implications for hunting dogs, was not from a committee of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare. The group commissioned the report, but the people on the committee were from the Kennel Club, the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA, as well as a veterinary surgeon from the university of Bristol, who specialises in dog behaviour. We did not agree with the idea of dogs being re-homed abroad—we had grave reservations about it. We simply said that when a ban was put in place in Scotland that is what some hunts did.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I am happy to accept the hon. Gentleman's correction on that point. That was a very select little committee and the report it produced has been rubbished, to use that common new Labour word, by a variety of learned people, including the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

The truth of the matter is that if hunting were banned within three months there would be a significant problem over what to do with hounds. I think everybody agrees with that.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

No, I will not. The problem will not only be with hounds. I have here an interesting letter that the British Horse Society addressed to the Minister this week on the subject of the consequences for horses as well as hounds. Incidentally, the person who wrote the letter, Mr. Graham Cory, was until recently the Minister's horse tsar in the Department before becoming chief executive of the society.

Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Conservative, Cotswold

This is a question not only of animal welfare, but of those who will lose their job, livelihood and income for feeding their family, so will my hon. Friend press the Minister for some form of compensation package for such people in my constituency and elsewhere?

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

My hon. Friend makes an extremely good point, which I shall discuss in a moment.

On the subject of horses, the British Horse Society makes it plain that an immediate or early ban on hunting will have significant consequences for horses. Mr. Cory says:

"Horses bred mainly or solely for hunting are not pets . . . By temperament and conformation, these are strong and vigorous animals . . . To expect these hunting horses to thrive in roles for which they are not suited by breeding would be as unrealistic as to expect trained sheepdogs to thrive as family pets . . . a sudden influx into the market of thousands of redundant hunters would be beyond the capacity of equine welfare organisations to manage. Some will undoubtedly be slaughtered, others will be forced into roles for which they are wholly unsuited."

The British Horse Society goes to great lengths to make it absolutely plain that there would be significant animal welfare consequences for horses, as well as for hounds, were there to be an immediate ban.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

Mr. Banks has already contributed, so I give way to Mr. Prentice, who has not.

Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice Labour, Pendle

There is no reason for any hound to be put down. The hunts can continue as drag hunts.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point. We could all quote Lord Burns back and forth at each other, but the interesting thing is that he came to only one absolutely clear, absolutely plain and totally agreed conclusion, which is that by no stretch of anybody's imagination could drag hunting replicate hunting at the moment. That is a unanimous opinion in respect of the notion that those horses and hounds could be used for drag hunting.

There is a more interesting point here, none the less. Let us imagine that those hounds were used for drag hunting and that in the course of their drag hunting day they killed a fox accidentally—without that being the intention. Would they be guilty of an offence or not? The Bill does not make that plain. That is one aspect where the legislation is badly drafted. However—

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

If hon. Members will forgive me, we are not re-entering a substantive discussion on the Bill. We are discussing when the Bill should be implemented.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

That is what I want to focus on, which is why I do not intend to take an excessive number of interventions from those whose opinions I am well aware of, having been involved in such discussions a number of times.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. The hon. Gentleman is not giving way. He has made that very clear indeed.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I have given way reasonably generously. With only 10 minutes left, I cannot accept too many other interventions, although I may do so from time to time.

If today, despite everything, the House decides to use the Parliament Act to force through this bad and illegitimate law, it will do so against the wish of the Prime Minister and the wish of the Home Secretary, who will have to police it. They both voted against it only 48 hours ago. The House will also do so against the wish of the Lord Chancellor, who voted for the Lords amendments that we are considering today.

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Labour, Vauxhall

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

In a moment, of course I will.

There can be no possible parliamentary precedent for the use of that ultimate nuclear procedural device, the Parliament Act, to force through a Bill that the leaders of the Government and holders of the great offices of state, who will be required to implement it, specifically and repeatedly voted against. The Parliament Act 1949 will itself be subject to judicial review in the months ahead, as will this most bizarre and unprecedented use of it.

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Labour, Vauxhall

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that given the unprecedented nature of the use of the Parliament Act—the majority of Parliament as a whole has voted not to ban hunting in this way—there should be a vote of this House to make Members formally agree to Mr. Speaker using that Act?

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I agree, which is why I put my name to the motion that the hon. Lady tabled to that effect. We in this House should be asked to vote on whether to use the Parliament Act, although I fear our procedures do not permit that. No doubt when the use of the Parliament Act is considered in the courts, the very point that she makes will be part of that consideration.

The Parliament Act challenge and the Human Rights Act challenge face us in the courts, which is where the battle will move to, assuming that the Parliament Act is used to push the Bill through this afternoon. The battle will be joined in the streets and in the countryside too. Mass protests, civil disobedience within the law and political campaigning of every kind will be unleashed. I appeal to the supporters of hunting and of freedom to remain within the law at all times, to abhor violence or intimidation of any kind, and to seek to avoid inconveniencing the general public, most of whom support our cry for freedom. They should focus their efforts on those people who are responsible for this illiberal law—namely, Labour Ministers and MPs, especially in the run-up to the general election. A Conservative Government will introduce an early Bill to repeal this ban, which makes our task at the general election clearer than ever, both nationally and in Labour and Liberal marginal seats, whose Members should watch out.

If the House decides to use the Parliament Act to force through this disgraceful and illiberal Bill, especially if we decide that it should commence in three months' time, we will send a clear message to lovers of hunting, lovers of shooting and fishing—which, without doubt, will be next—lovers of the countryside, and perhaps above all, lovers of our ancient freedoms that we care more about prejudiced and ignorant political correctness than about animal welfare. There will also be a hidden message to the countryside, which reads: "Cry havoc, and let loose the dogs of war."

Photo of Mr Peter Bradley Mr Peter Bradley PPS (Rt Hon Alun Michael, Minister of State), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I beg to move the amendment in my name. I must be brief. I no more wish to prolong the debate than I wish unduly to prolong hunting—

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Chair, Constitutional Affairs Committee

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it possible for the House to have two amendments before it, both moved at the same time?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

This is an amendment to a motion, and it is perfectly in order. The right hon. Gentleman can take my word for it.

Photo of Mr Peter Bradley Mr Peter Bradley PPS (Rt Hon Alun Michael, Minister of State), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

With respect to you, Mr. Speaker, I should point out that it is a Wrekin amendment and not a wrecking amendment. It is characteristic of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality that he should want to go the extra mile, or, in this case, an extra year. He knows that I, as his Parliamentary Private Secretary, am always right behind him, even if I will not go the extra mile myself this afternoon.

My right hon. Friend has sought to identify common ground with the hunting fraternity and the House of Lords. It is doubtful, however, whether there is a piece of common ground big enough on which to pitch a tent that accommodates all of us. That is why he says that while one amendment before the House is reasonable, the other is more reasonable. It is up to the House, I suggest, to decide which is the more reasonable.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Chair, Constitutional Affairs Committee

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The amendment to which the hon. Gentleman has referred can only be voted on if it is moved by a Minister of the Crown. He has now moved it, so it cannot be moved by a Minister of the Crown.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. For the sake of clarity, Peter Bradley is actually speaking to his amendment. [Interruption.] Order. Many are the times that I have heard hon. Members say that they are moving an amendment when they are not doing so. What a Member says and what he gets are two different things. I am trying to tell Mr. Beith that although the hon. Member for The Wrekin may have said that he was moving his amendment, he is speaking to it. The right hon. Gentleman's latter point is correct; at the end, when the shutter comes down, only a Minister can move such an amendment.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Chair, Constitutional Affairs Committee

I distinctly heard the hon. Gentleman move the amendment, and I am sure that the record will show that—

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. I have distinctly heard other hon. Gentlemen say that they are moving an amendment when they are not really doing so; they are merely debating it. I will clarify the matter if it keeps the right hon. Gentleman happy; the hon. Gentleman is not moving his amendment, but speaking to it.

Photo of Mr Peter Bradley Mr Peter Bradley PPS (Rt Hon Alun Michael, Minister of State), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

As the House can tell, I am not moving, but I am speaking. [Laughter.] I am doing so because I want the House to have the opportunity to choose which of the motions on the Order Paper is the most reasonable. I believe that delay until 2006 is reasonable and sensible because it gives hunts the opportunity to adopt drag hunting to save the jobs, the dogs—and the fox for that matter—the fallen stock collection service to farmers and the way of life in which they believe, and will provide opportunities for riders who currently would like to ride across the country but who will not chase a fox.

Photo of Mr Peter Bradley Mr Peter Bradley PPS (Rt Hon Alun Michael, Minister of State), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In a moment. The delay gives hunters the opportunity to make this an election issue—none of us should be frightened of that—and deprives them of any vestige of an excuse to shoot their dogs or hounds or to support unlawful protest in the countryside.

Photo of Michael Foster Michael Foster PPS (Team PPS), Department for Education and Skills

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for speaking so clearly to the amendment. I intend to vote against amendment a, which is in the Minister's name, and for his amendment b. Does he believe that the vast majority of people in this country will understand the reasonableness of our actions when following his lead on this matter?

Photo of Mr Peter Bradley Mr Peter Bradley PPS (Rt Hon Alun Michael, Minister of State), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, whose support is valuable given his reputation on this issue. He is absolutely right; there can be no reason for anyone in the country to believe that the House is acting unreasonably if we provide an 18-month delay to allow hunts to make their arrangements and to change to drag hunting if that is what they choose. What would be unreasonable is for the House of Lords to reject the motion. It would be perverse indeed if those who claimed to support hunting were those who put the last nail in its coffin.

Not many Members have remarked on it but, last Tuesday, those Opposition Members who support hunting voted for a Bill that they voted against on Second Reading just a couple of years ago. I suggest that the confusion is theirs, not ours. We want a ban, but we want it introduced in an orderly fashion and in a reasonable way. I therefore hope that colleagues on both sides of the House will support the motion to bring in a ban on 31 July 2006.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. Time is now up.

It being one hour after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Speaker put the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [this day].

The House proceeded to a Division.

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg Labour, City of Durham

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. A number of hon. Members are confused about the first vote. What would happen if the amendment in the name of the Opposition spokesman, on which we are now voting, gains a majority? Would there be a further vote, or would the other amendments fall?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

We would then vote on the Minister's motion, as amended, because the amendment being voted on is an amendment to the main motion.

The House having divided: Ayes 146, Noes 286.

Division number 338 Orders of the Day — Hunting Bill

Aye: 145 MPs

No: 285 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Abstained: 1 MP

Abstaineds: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 46, Noes 345.

Division number 339 Orders of the Day — Hunting Bill

Aye: 44 MPs

No: 343 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Abstained: 2 MPs

Abstaineds: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet 3:15 pm, 18th November 2004

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you confirm my understanding that an amended Bill can have the Parliament Act applied to it only if the amendment in question is agreed by both Houses of Parliament, and that those who wish to ban hunting must therefore vote, in respect of the next amendment, for the original Bill and for an immediate ban?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

I answered a similar point of order earlier, and to summarise what I said, I will not be drawn into that one. I did invite hon. Members to clarify the matter with the Minister, and the hon. Gentleman had the opportunity to do so. It would be wrong of me to be drawn into such issues while voting is taking place.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack Conservative, South Staffordshire

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As the House has now recorded the biggest majority ever against the banning of fox hunting, may we please move to the next business?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

When I was a member of a political party, I used to get involved in tactics—[Interruption.] Order. I invite the Minister to move the amendment in the name of Mr. Bradley.

Motion made, and Question put, That this House insists on its disagreement to Lords amendments Nos. 1 to 44 and 46 to 54, disagrees with the Lords in their amendments 10C, 12C, 46C and 52C, but proposes the following amendment in lieu —

Leave out clause 15 and insert the following new clause:—

'Commencement

(1) The following provisions of this Act shall come into force on 31st July 2006—

(a) sections 1 to 4,

(b) Part 2 in so far as it relates to sections 1 to 4,

(c) sections 11 to 14 in so far as they relate to sections 1 to 4,

(d) Schedule 1, and

(e) Schedules 2 and 3, except in so far as they change the law in relation to an activity to which section 5 applies.

(2) The following provisions of this Act shall come into force at the end of the period of three months beginning with the date on which it is passed—

(a) section 5,

(b) Part 2 in so far as it relates to section 5,

(c) sections 11 to 13 in so far as they relate to section 5, and

(d) Schedules 2 and 3 in so far as they change the law in relation to an activity to which section 5 applies.'.—[Alun Michael.]

The House divided: Ayes 283, Noes 132.

Division number 340 Orders of the Day — Hunting Bill

Aye: 282 MPs

No: 131 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Abstained: 1 MP

Abstaineds: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly agreed to.