Orders of the Day — Hunting Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 18th November 2004.

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

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."