The Countryside

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:10 pm on 1st December 1999.

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Photo of Baroness Hayman Baroness Hayman Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) 7:10 pm, 1st December 1999

My Lords, that makes me extremely nervous. The promise that has been given of government time and assistance for the legislation does not in any way pre-judge the outcome of the inquiry. The inquiry will look into the practical aspects of different types of hunting with dogs and the impact on the rural economy, agriculture and pest control; on the social and cultural life of the countryside; on the management and conservation of wildlife and on animal welfare in particular areas of England and Wales. The inquiry will also consider the consequences of any ban on hunting with dogs and how any ban might be implemented. It will take evidence from all interested parties. The noble Earl, like me, will have to await the inquiry's findings before deciding what any response will be. The inquiry is independent of government, and the promise of a Bill bears no relation to the work of the inquiry. It is for Parliament to decide whether hunting is right or wrong, but I am sure that the work done by the noble Lord's committee will help every Member of Parliament to make up their minds on this important issue.