Orders of the Day — Hunting Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:00 pm on 18th November 2004.

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Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 2:00 pm, 18th November 2004

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.