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Hunting Bill

– in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 27th October 2004.

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Votes in this debate

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment No. 10:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"PART 1A

REGISTRATION

Introductory

TESTS FOR REGISTRATION: UTILITY AND LEAST SUFFERING

(1) The first test for registration in respect of proposed hunting of wild mammals is that it is likely to make a significant contribution to one or both of, firstly, the management of wildlife and, secondly, the prevention or reduction of serious damage which the wild mammals to be hunted would otherwise cause to—

(a) livestock,

(b) game birds or wild birds (within the meaning of section 27 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (c. 69)),

(c) food for livestock,

(d) crops (including vegetables and fruit),

(e) growing timber,

(f) fisheries,

(g) other property, or

(h) the biological diversity of an area (within the meaning of the United Nations Environmental Programme Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992).

(2) The second test for registration in respect of proposed hunting of wild mammals is that a contribution equivalent to that mentioned in subsection (1) could not reasonably be expected to be made (whether by the person proposing to hunt or by another person) in a manner likely to cause significantly less pain, suffering or distress to the wild mammals to be hunted."

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

On behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, I should like to move Amendment No. 10. I had the somewhat dubious pleasure of moving this amendment approximately one year ago when the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, quite rightly rebuked me for boring your Lordships for far too long. At that stage I was boring mostly empty Benches because it was at the end of the dinner hour; I am delighted to see that the House is now slightly fuller. I shall do my level best not to bore the Committee today.

Amendment No. 10 seeks to put back into the Bill the two tests of registration that were in the Government's original proposal when it came forward the first time. The tests are divided into two areas: utility and least suffering.

Yesterday, we discussed the principle of registration—which Members of the Committee, I am delighted to say, agreed to. Those of us in what has been called the "gang of four", which has now been enlarged to the gang of five—it may be six by this evening—tried to explain to the Committee that our intention was to return the Bill to the House of Commons in as precise detail as the original Bill that came to this Chamber. We said that where we had changed the Bill in any way, we would explain the change to the Committee.

At the same time, I told the Committee that the Bill that we were aiming at—the original government Bill—was a somewhat moving target, as it had changed somewhat in its passage through the other place and that there were, therefore, a number of small changes which were inadvertent but which we put there to make the Bill flow logistically. I do not believe that they are of substance; if any Members of the Committee spot them and disagree with them, please bring them to the Committee's attention.

There are a couple of changes, one of which we debated at length yesterday evening, which was to place coursing back into the registration process. The second, and only other, substantial change that we have made to the Bill is in the test of registration. We have included the change in the first paragraph of the proposed new clause, which reads:

"The first test for registration in respect of proposed hunting of wild mammals is that it is likely to make a significant contribution to one or both of, firstly, the management of wildlife".

That is the change that we have included in the Bill—the reference to "the management of wildlife". We included it because, if one is considering a Bill which is about managing or culling four species of wildlife, it is not unreasonable to include the management of wildlife as one of the criteria for doing that. That is what it is about.

The welfare and cruelty issues that come in the second test are, of course, very important, but the first test is to do with utility—the reason why what is being done is being done. Of course, pest control is important if the relevant creatures are causing the damage listed in paragraphs (a) to (h) in the test, but managing wildlife is very important in its own right.

Under the amendment, the applicant for registration will have to show that the proposed hunting with dogs is,

"likely to make a significant contribution to . . . the prevention or reduction of serious damage which the wild mammals to be hunted would otherwise cause to . . . livestock . . . game birds or wild birds . . . food for livestock . . . crops . . . growing timber . . . fisheries . . . other property, or . . . the biological diversity of an area".

The applicant must show that it will make a significant contribution to the above and/or the management of wildlife.

Why have we included that provision? When consulting on the grounds for his original Bill, Mr Alun Michael, the Minister, raised and consulted on the issue of wildlife management. He recognised and accepted its importance as a concept in determining the utility of hunting. The inclusion of wildlife management in this amendment is thus wholly consistent with the Minister's approach, and his claim that legislation should be based on principle and evidence, not on personal taste.

The Defra press release of 11 September 2002 said:

"Taking account of the evidence given at these hearings, and of the response to my two consultation papers, I plan to set out proposals for Parliament which can form good and robust law and can take us forward into the 21st Century, able to reflect evolving views on animal welfare and wildlife management".

Earlier in the press release, the Minister said:

"The future of hunting with dogs should not be decided on personal taste, but on evidence on the principles of whether or not it is serving an effective purpose in managing wildlife and whether it is more or less cruel than the alternative methods currently available".

For the purposes of the utility test, "game birds" are defined by reference to Section 27 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which provides that "game bird" means any pheasant, partridge, grouse, black game or ptarmigan. Equally, in subsection (1)(h) of the amendment, the biological diversity of an area is defined by reference to Article 2 of the United Nations Environmental Programme Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992. The convention provides that "biological diversity" means the variability among living organisms from all sources—inter alia terrestrial, marine and so on. So those phrases are very carefully defined.

It is also worth bearing in mind that the United Kingdom Government, both alone and as part of the European Union, are signatory to a number of international agreements, such as the Berne Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and habitats; the Convention on Biological Diversity, enshrined in law by the EU habitats directive; and, more recently, the Hague Ministerial Declaration to which we are signatory and which encourages and enables,

"all stakeholders to contribute to the implementation of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity and recognise in particular the specific role of indigenous and local communities and incorporate with their prior approval their unique knowledge innovations and practices in conserving biodiversity and securing sustainable development and promote their participation in the Convention process".

Under the "Countdown 2010" initiative, as,

"a European Union member state, the UK responsibility to halt the alarming rate of biodiversity loss was given urgent imperative by the EU Council's Gothenburg Target to stop and reverse biodiversity loss by 2010 . . . The headline indicators, still at a draft stage, include the indicator 'Public awareness and participation'".

All that underlines our commitment as a nation to managing wildlife within the terms of those international agreements. Indeed, we are as a country keenly following that path. The United Kingdom Government, in partnership with our friends in the European Union, are currently funding an Operation Campfire in Zimbabwe, which is a wildlife management project in which sport hunting is the dominant source of income. That works on the principle that conservation can be endorsed only by local communities if they benefit. Wildlife populations, including the hunted species, have benefited and increased in number. That is what we are doing in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, and it is being done in Norway, Latvia and Canada—but apparently, at the moment, the Government do not want to do it here in the UK. That is why wildlife management is included in the amendment. It is extremely important, which is why we have made this one small change of significant effect to the test of utility.

The test of least suffering forms the second part of the amendment and the second of the registration tests. The language that we have used in it is the language of the original Bill as introduced to the House of Commons by the Minister. It is entirely correct that during its passage through the Standing Committee, the wording was changed, but it was changed in such a way as to create an imbalance. Members of the Committee have the wording before them, which is the Government's original wording, decided on following consultation.

I do not intend to go into the question of wording in minute detail, but it is quite difficult to understand precisely what it means. Having read it through many times over the past few months, it is clear that until recently I had read it wrong myself. How anyone is meant to work out precisely what it means and work with it is another matter—but it is the Government's original wording. It is our intention to give the Government back as much as we can of their original Bill, and we should do it.

I make one last point on the test of least suffering. If your Lordships turn your minds back to the Burns inquiry and the report and, indeed, to the words of the noble Lord, Lord Burns, and of my noble friend Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior in this House, one of the things that apparently is agreed, which I can understand, is that it is virtually impossible to measure physical suffering—I suppose that the "compromising of welfare" is the relevant term—as between one method and another, one animal and another and one circumstance and another. Yet that is exactly what the Government are asking the registrar to do in this Bill. When the Minister replies, if, indeed, he does—perhaps he will not feel the need to do so—will he kindly tell us how exactly the registrar is to make this judgment, bearing in mind that the inquiry of the noble Lord, Lord Burns, and the welfare experts at the Portcullis House hearings said, after considerable debate, that you cannot measure suffering and that therefore it is very difficult to make a comparison in that regard? Although I am very keen that we should return to the terms of the original government Bill—and that is why I am moving this amendment—it would be interesting to know precisely how the registrar is to make that judgment every time an application is made.

I hope that I have described what the amendment seeks to do. It would put back the terms of the Government's original Bill with one change, which I hope that I have adequately explained to your Lordships, and would put back on the original basis the test of least suffering. I accept that that test changed later but it appeared to do so in an imbalanced way. We hope that we have produced the best solution. I look forward to hearing what your Lordships say. I beg to move.

Photo of Earl Peel Earl Peel Conservative

I intervene briefly to support my noble friend's amendment. I do so for one very simple reason. It seems to me essential that nowadays when one is discussing any aspect of countryside management it would be impractical—indeed, foolish —to ignore the management of wildlife.

As the Minister himself knows only too well, tremendous changes are occurring within the common agricultural policy with money being decoupled from production and put into the environment. I hope that we shall see tremendous benefits from that, but if we do not include wildlife management as part of that activity, I suggest that, quite frankly, we are wasting our time. One very good example of that is a Biodiversity Action Plan species, the black grouse, which is doing extraordinarily badly in areas where there are no keepers because the foxes are not being controlled. We raised this whole question yesterday when we debated the position in Wales.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that in the absence of hunting, the control of foxes, particularly in hill areas, will be extremely difficult and will have a direct effect on our ability to look after and enhance our Biodiversity Action Plan species. I should have thought that this amendment makes total sense on the simple ground that if we are to have proper constructive environmental gain, we cannot do without the management of wildlife.

Photo of Lord Eden of Winton Lord Eden of Winton Conservative

I, too, support the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Mancroft. In his references to wildlife management he stressed the experiences of other countries. The importance of wildlife management is recognised internationally. The linkage between hunting and the management of wildlife is also recognised internationally. This is being pursued effectively in areas where the threat to some species of wild animals has become acute. There has been a need to return some form of economic incentive to the local population. This has been done through controlled hunting authorisation.

In this country that issue is equally important. My noble friend mentioned the Convention on Biological Diversity. One of the key principles of that states:

"Local communities have a vital role in environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices. States should recognise and duly support their identity, culture and interest and enable their effective participation in the achievement of sustainable development".

That principle has been applied in other countries but it applies equally in this country in relation to hunting. We must involve local communities in the management of wildlife and in ensuring biodiversity. Local communities are the people who know best. It is mistaken to establish a number of national or international bodies through which to seek to impose solutions upon local communities. By motivating and inspiring local populations, local communities and local individuals, you will get much more effective management of wildlife, much more effective biodiversity and, I may say, at much less cost. That is one of the great services which hunting does for this country. The beauty of our landscape and the sustainability of many wild mammals is ensured through the activities of the hunting community and through their linkage with other people in their population area. Therefore, I strongly support my noble friend's proposal that wildlife management should be one of the prime tests of utility before the registrar.

Photo of Lord Renton Lord Renton Conservative

There is only one other point which I think needs to be mentioned which has not been stressed and that is that in England and in Wales districts vary so much. I happen to have been born in Kent, the son of a Scotsman, and I have visited many counties of England and Scotland, but, by Jove, the wildlife in every county seems to vary a great deal. The proposals in the new clause will necessarily take note of that.

Photo of Viscount Brookeborough Viscount Brookeborough Crossbench

The question of management needs to be taken a little further. When we talk about hunting, coursing and so on, we are talking about management of the system that we wish to manage, and how we wish to manage it. There is another side to this matter that I come across frequently outside the Houses of Parliament—although I believe it is an opinion held by many in another place—namely, that there should be no management. There is a body of opinion that queries the need for management in the first place. I accept all the biodiversity schemes. The majority of educated people support those schemes and the management that has to be applied. However, we must recognise that a significant number of people believe that management is not an issue and subscribe to the principle of live and let live. We must recognise that if we are to obtain backing for management in the first place. I believe that such people are misled and that they hold the wrong opinion through ignorance.

The reason is very straightforward, is it not? Even those of us with lesser brains now have greater brain power than animals per se, except that in my case my dog definitely has greater brain power than myself. We have learnt to extend our lives, our healthcare, our social services and our welfare at the expense, inevitably, of the environment and wildlife throughout the world. Obviously, if that continues unchecked, what we are most trying to save will be threatened. I say to those who subscribe to the principle of live and let live that they must also accept that in those circumstances we would go back a thousand years to the days when there were no hospitals or welfare and when people did not expect to live beyond the age of 30 or 40. We must address these issues because what we are talking about here is managing what educated people understand should be managed although some people hold a different opinion.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative

Special attention must be paid to:

"Exmoor's red deer. The fortunate visitor may catch a glimpse, and a fine sight they make. They live on Exmoor in good numbers and are believed by many to be genuinely wild, descendants of the indigenous population of the Royal Forest. Stag hunting and fox hunting are both notable features of the Exmoor way of life. Whilst it may come as a surprise to some and prompt the wrath of others"—

I suspect that they include the noble Lords, Lord Faulkner, Lord Graham, and Lord Hoyle, and the noble Baroness, Lady Miller—

"it is undeniable that stag hunting on Exmoor operates as a force for conservation. The stag hunt is supported by almost every member of the farming community and this guarantees the deer's continuing existence. In the normal run of things, they can do considerable damage to crops and, without the active participation of the farmers in the hunts, their days would be numbered. Moreover, such is the local interest in stag hunting that substantial areas of land within the Critical Amenity Area are corporately owned with a view to securing the deer's habitat. So long as stag hunting continues it is unlikely that such land will be substantially altered by conversion or enclosure".

I did not write that. It was written in the Porchester report of 1977, which reported to Messrs Silkin and Shore, Labour Cabinet Ministers at, respectively, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of the Environment. They recognised the contribution that stag hunting and other forms of hunting made to the environment and its guardianship. Therefore, I sincerely hope that the Minister will understand exactly what was said in that quotation.

Photo of Lord Moran Lord Moran Crossbench

In an earlier discussion, I expressed reservations about the concept of utility, which at that stage was defined by Mr Alun Michael simply as pest control. My reservations were primarily because, if that definition were included in the Bill, it would be a damaging precedent for shooting and fishing, both of which are threatened by the organisations that have powerfully supported the case for a ban on fox hunting.

The wording proposed in the amendment is a good deal better. It is not entirely satisfactory, because it preserves the concept of pest control in the provision on,

"the prevention . . . of serious damage which the wild mammals to be hunted would otherwise cause", to various things. I do not think that fish are a threat to "livestock", "crops" or "growing timber". It would be rather difficult to argue that someone fishing for trout or roach was contributing to "utility". I still do not like the word.

When we get to a tidying-up stage, I suggest that we delete the last four words of the title of the new clause in the amendment, and simply refer to a "Test for registration". That is what we want. We do not need to put in "utility and least suffering"; they are dealt with in the wording that follows, which is fully satisfactory. I support the amendment, but I hope that we will consider tidying up the title at a later stage.

Photo of Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior Conservative

I welcome the addition of the test for registration, because it opens up a new dimension of wildlife management. Last week, we had a meeting in No. 2 Millbank with Vets for Hunting—there are 400 of them—at which veterinary surgeons gave a very good statement on how they would change the group's name to "Vets for Wildlife Management". They perceived something far beyond the name "Vets for Hunting"; they felt that it was far too circumscribed.

The phrase introduces something that I have spoken about before, which is the additional component of ISAH—the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting. It thinks that wildlife needs to be managed. We all must accept that; it is accepted worldwide. Part of the management of wildlife is to make sure that populations are properly controlled and, if necessary, culled so that they do not die of starvation, suffer from endemic disease and the rest. The phrase is an important test for registration, and will produce excellent management of our prey species that are hunted.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Mancroft for moving the amendment. I hope that it will be agreed.

Photo of Lord Hoyle Lord Hoyle Labour

I want to say—I have said it previously—that I am opposed to hunting with dogs anyway because I believe that it is cruel, as does the majority of the population of the country, whether in urban or rural areas. On utility, we are once more ignoring amendments that have been made to tighten up the Bill in the House of Commons. Wildlife management is a very wide term. It could mean anything or nothing; it is very vague. As the noble Lord, Lord Burns, said in his report:

"Nowadays, however, hunting with dogs is likely to form only a relatively minor factor in determining farmers' and landowners' land management practices".

That is being ignored. I hope that the Committee will take it into account. The amendment is another sign of the weakening of the Bill.

Photo of Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Shadow Minister, Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Before I decide on the amendment, I would like some clarification from those who tabled it, if they would be kind enough to give it. First, what is the position of otters in relation to it? They obviously pose a threat to fish, but I would be horrified if there were any thought that they should come within the meaning of the amendment.

Secondly, with regard to wildlife management, Members of the Committee probably agree that badgers cause a lot of serious damage to various items in the list in proposed new paragraphs (a) to (g), but they are currently protected. What is the intention of the amendment with regard to badgers? Thirdly, I am not clear what would happen when serious damage prevention conflicted with wildlife management. By that, I mean when a species generally in decline—one that we did not want to hunt—was causing significant damage to crops in small areas.

Photo of The Bishop of Portsmouth The Bishop of Portsmouth Bishop

I want to reassure the patient and loyal Minister of what I am afraid is the abiding agnosticism of those on our Benches about the whole Bill. I do so along the lines that my colleagues the right reverend Prelates the Bishop of Chelmsford and the Bishop of Peterborough have already indicated. I hope that this realistic amendment will find agreement in the Committee.

Photo of Lord Selsdon Lord Selsdon Conservative

I suppose that I could say that the cat had my tongue and the fox my throat, and that all I had was a still small voice. I am a disciple of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth. As the Committee knows, he has the only church in this country named after the patron saint of hunting, St Hubert. I would like to share with the Committee some of my experience from foreign countries, not least those where hunting is regulated, but where "hunting" is translated as "chasse" and means chasse-ing everything.

I have spoken often of wildlife and I have great affection for it. But because I have respect for Defra and the Minister, this morning I looked at his wildlife websites for a couple of hours. They are very good—they are absolutely superb in the description of all aspects of wildlife, except the web page relating to the brown hare was down today, perhaps following yesterday's problems.

I am not seeking compromise, but the solution. The Bill has always related to wildlife. The problem is that we do not have in this country the type of rural population that we used to—we have prejudices and other matters. In that part of the world where I have a house the fox is feared and loved. But as well as the shooting of everything in the shooting season, we are controlled by the Féderation de Chasse. That government body requires you before you can chasse to pass an exam. You must know about wildlife. You must be able to survive in the forests. You must know north, south, east and west at dark. You must know the names and breeding habits of all of God's creatures and you must protect them.

The fox and wildlife in general suffer severely if there is no management by the greatest predator of all: man. Disease, such as sarcoptic mange and others, becomes rife and spreads. We saw what happened with myxomatosis, which was an imported disease. It almost self-regulates rabbits. But in areas where the fox cannot be culled adequately, farmers very quickly break the rules and put out poisons in old meat cans. People who are walking their dogs are required in some of those areas to carry with them a syringe with which they inject their dogs within three or four hours of taking poison. The shooting brigade, the hunters, is required every year to go on a fox hunt. There are fox hunts with scenting hounds throughout the year to control the fox, but at the end of the season, to cull the numbers, advertisements are taken in local newspapers requiring all good peasants, great and true, to assemble—to stand apart at 75 metres' distance to cull the foxes. Into the thickets and forests go an amazing collection of dogs, all of which are regulated and have tattoos on their ears—often microchips—have different voices and hunt in packs and pairs.

That is a strange event, but, in a way, the weak are culled to some extent, given that animals cull each other. Then, from time to time, nature itself takes its turn. Metres of rain fall in short periods which cause floods and destroy wildlife. Only two years ago we had—almost—the fires of the centuries, when everyone was trying to protect wildlife. Believe it or not, wild boars charged fire engines in fear; and firemen tried to direct them with their hoses away to safety. The foxes attacked the firemen. When it was realised what was happening, the hunting dogs were let loose to get away from the fires themselves. There were stories of those retrieving baby wild boar, marcassin, and returning them to their mothers. Nature is wonderful, but it needs managing. The amendment is the most important of all.

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative

I rise because I was prompted only by the question put by the Liberal Democrat Front Bench regarding otters. I am delighted that otters have returned in considerable numbers to the stream that flows past my garden in Wales. I believe that it is correct to say that they have returned, not due to any change in the rules of hunting, but because they are a protected species. Surely the proper way to deal with animals that we do not wish to be hunted is to protect them in that way. There are other forms of legislation which could provide the protection that the noble Baroness seeks. I think that I am correct that otters are a protected species, and I would be anxious if we suddenly discovered that the populations that had returned were being wiped out. However, there is a way to deal with that problem.

Photo of Lord Willoughby de Broke Lord Willoughby de Broke Conservative

The noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, said that the amendment weakened the Bill. That is not right. The Minister Alun Michael's own definition of "utility" was clearly expressed in a letter to the campaign for hunting. He said:

"'Utility' addresses the need for particular activities, particularly in the work of land and wildlife managers. It might be described as the need or usefulness of an activity for vermin control, wildlife management, habitat protection, land management and conservation".

Rather than weakening the Bill, the amendment strengthens it and returns it to the Minister's original intention. It would seem sensible to return that to the face of the Bill.

The only other matter upon which I seek clarification regarding the second part of the amendment, relates to a second test for registration and, as my noble friend Lord Mancroft said, is almost impenetrable. There are other ways of controlling the fox population. Could the Minister state the Government's preferred method of controlling foxes? It may vary according to territory, but, surely, fox hunting is part of the mix. That is what farmers believe—and I declare an interest as a farmer. We should have a mix of methods to control the fox population—unless the Government's line, which I have not heard them, or anyone in this House, suggest, is that foxes should be a protected species. I do not know whether that is the Government's view, but if foxes are not protected, they must be controlled—let us not mince our words, killed—in one way or another.

Lamping finds favour in some quarters, but the report of the noble Lord, Lord Burns, points out the difficulties of lamping. We have recently seen that a person has been killed and two seriously wounded when high powered rifles have been used in the wrong way, at the wrong time in the wrong areas. The Government's thrust is to discourage people from using high powered weapons. It is much more difficult to obtain a firearms licence.

Shotguns are also widely used for this purpose, but, since the Burns report, the "middle way" supporters have produced an authoritative report, that is undergoing peer review, showing that control of foxes with shotguns brings its own problems of serious wounding, unless it is carried out in the correct manner with the right weight of shot, at the right distance and in the right conditions. That, too, has its problems.

My noble friend Lord Peel mentioned snaring in his speech yesterday. If it is properly controlled it could be a suitable way of proceeding, but Mr Michael said that he deplored snaring, which is extremely cruel. Even my noble friend Lord Peel admitted that if snaring was not appropriately done, it could be cruel. It is also non-selective. It does not choose only foxes. Anything can walk into a snare, whether a dog, cat, badger or anything else.

I should like to hear the preferred alternative of people who wish to ban hunting. What method should be undertaken and why do they support that above controlling foxes by hunting?

Photo of Lord King of Bridgwater Lord King of Bridgwater Conservative

My noble friend has raised precisely the point that I wished to make. One of the features of the Bill that was brought from another place is that, in taking the decision for a ban, the other place has decided to take no interest whatever in what the alternatives should be. The Bill merely determines that one method of dealing with foxes, stags or whatever should be banned. I speak as having formerly represented part of Exmoor. My noble friend Lord Onslow read out the interesting Porchester report, written about Exmoor. It was a study set up by the Labour government of that time to consider particularly moorland conservation and the introduction of moorland conservation orders that related to biodiversity and nature conservation issues.

Since then, the question of the alternatives has arisen. Evidence has come forward on Exmoor of what the alternatives might be. In what I thought was an unfortunate, unilateral act, if one can call it that, the National Trust decided to ban hunting from its estate which came within the area of the Devon and Somerset stag hounds, which had previously been hunted. That suddenly created an area where the deer used to roam where the hunt no longer went. Some disturbing figures have emerged on the incidence of wounded deer. That is the challenge that must be faced.

The merit of the amendment before your Lordships is that it charges the registrar with undertaking a full and decent investigation of relative cruelty and of what will involve less suffering. As my noble friend Lord Willoughby has rightly said, it issues the challenge to those who seek simply to ban deer hunting and who say, "We're against cruelty". They cannot just shut their eyes and say, "Well, as long as we've banned hunting, we've abolished cruelty".

Animals are going to be culled in one way or another. Those who seek a ban have a responsibility. If this ban goes through, the responsibility for what happens thereafter will be on their heads. They will have to listen and I know they will. Many Members on all sides of this Committee have rather more practical experience of some of these issues than I do. But I shoot and I have hunted. To my absolute terror, I once went out with the Devon and Somerset stag hunt, at the invitation of the chairman of the hunt, so that I should know what it was like in my constituency. It was an exciting experience. We did not account for a stag on that particular day, but it gave one a much better understanding of the issues.

The hunt carries out an important role even now. If a stag is shot and wounded, it is of course axiomatic, if one cares about cruelty, that that animal is found and, if it is seriously wounded, put out of its misery. I hope that any noble Lords who talk about stalking in Scotland will accept that there is little similarity between the coombs of Exmoor and the great deer forests of Scotland. They are quite different. Somebody has to find that deer or stag and it can be done only with dogs. That is their regular role. At any hour of the day or night, the stag hounds will turn out and try to track down a wounded deer that will have been shot by somebody else—possibly by a poacher, because they can be valuable animals—and account for it.

It is interesting that 233 deer have been shot on the Holnicote estate in the four years since the National Trust introduced its ban, whereas 149 were shot in the 10 years before it. That is on that one estate and reflects the need to cull the deer. My next statistic does not relate necessarily to the National Trust stalker. Since the ban, 20 wounded deer have had to be shot by the stalker on the part of the Holnicote estate that was traditionally hunted; only two had had to be shot in the 10 years previously. Those figures provide an immediate measure of suffering. The total number of casualty deer which were accounted for following call-out of the Devon and Somerset staghounds increased from 35 per year before the ban to 57 per year since the ban. Sadly, it was reckoned that probably less than half the injured deer on Holnicote are found, brought to the attention of the stalker and dispatched before suffering lingering death from their injuries.

That is the challenge that those who seek a ban face. If the hounds are not allowed to be used, wounded deer will not be found. If the hounds and the hunt are disbanded as a result of the ban, that facility will no longer exist. The suffering on Exmoor in that respect—I accept that other noble Lords will raise other issues—will clearly be much worse. That is a consequence that those noble Lords who vote for a ban must knowingly—because I have given them that information—be prepared to accept. They must accept the totality of the problem.

In my constituency, the League Against Cruel Sports decided to address the problem of protecting deer from what it saw as the cruelty of hunting by establishing a sanctuary. The problem with that was that it tended to congregate deer. It resulted in a concentration of deer which the British Deer Society said was extremely unwise on health grounds. I hope that the Minister has been informed by his officials of the serious concern about TB in deer in the concentration that now exists around Baronstown. I know that some of his officials have been involved in some of those considerations.

I raise this matter because it illustrates another attempt to impose some form of banning system, which the sanctuary effectively was, because the league owned the property and it banned hunting on it. It prevented what previously was the normal distribution and perambulation of deer, which was one of the effects of hunting. Hunting, by dispersing deer across the area and avoiding deer concentrations, led to the outstanding health and quality of that red deer herd. Why are not the red deer all across England like they used to be? The reason is, as is the case on Exmoor, the extraordinary relationship between the hunting fraternity and its deer. Some noble Lords may have seen a very good video by Ludovic Kennedy called "Guardians of the Deer". It illustrated that relationship between the farmers, who either hunt or are sympathetic to many of their friends who hunt, and the deer they allow to feed on their land at considerable cost to themselves and the value of their crops. The noble Lord, Lord Burns, and Lord Porchester identified that in their reports on Exmoor.

Artificial attempts to ban will have very damaging effects. I echo my noble friend Lord Willoughby in saying that one cannot vote for a ban without considering the alternatives. There is a great fallacy in the Bill that has come from another place. The amendment requires that under legislation somebody looks seriously not just at banning an activity but also at the alternative. It accepts that if the activity causes the most suffering, it should not be allowed, but if it involves less suffering than an alternative, it should be permitted. I strongly support the amendment. Buttressed by these important, seminal reports about the deer on Exmoor, I hope those noble Lords who are contemplating voting for a ban and opposing registration will carefully consider their position on this matter.

Photo of Lord Pearson of Rannoch Lord Pearson of Rannoch Conservative

I underline with personal experience what has been said by my noble friends Lord King, Lord Willoughby de Broke and Lord Mancroft in introducing the amendment. I have not troubled your Lordships with my views on the Hunting Bill since it was first introduced to this Chamber, when I am afraid I irritated all sides of the field sports debate—my noble friend Lord Onslow asks, "What's new?"—by revealing that I had perhaps shot more foxes and deer personally than all of your Lordships, all those who advise the Government and all Members of the other place put together. This experience led me to tell your Lordships how difficult it is to kill a fox cleanly with a shotgun using number six or seven shot, which is the usual shot with which the gun is loaded when people are shooting pheasants and a fox appears, although it is perfectly possible and normal to kill a pheasant or a rabbit stone dead with such shot.

That irritated those on all sides of the field sports debate because hunting folk do not approve of shooting foxes; those who want to ban hunting do not want to be told that shooting is not a less cruel alternative to hunting; and shooting folk feared that I was saying that shooting is more cruel than hunting—which of course I was not saying.

Against that background, I take further issue with the feelings of the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, and others. I accept that they are genuinely held but they are feelings. I doubt whether any of them has ever personally shot a fox or a deer or, for that matter, a rabbit or a pheasant. I take particular issue with the idea that shooting deer is necessarily kinder than hunting them.

At home in Scotland, we shoot some 200 deer per annum. No deer hunting takes place in the highlands of Scotland, not because it has been banned but because the ground is altogether too boggy. Throughout most of the highlands of Scotland, one can hardly lead a horse over the land, let alone ride it. My noble friend Lord King is right: it is more difficult to shoot a deer dead on Exmoor because of the cover, the trees and the crops and the difficulty of seeing the animal clearly. And if an animal is wounded, it is certainly more difficult to find it on Exmoor than it is in the open expanses of the Scottish highlands.

We have very few wounded deer at home in Scotland—perhaps one in 300 or 400 that we shoot. But I must ask my noble friend Lord Hoyle and those who oppose the amendment to try to grasp some idea of the suffering caused when a deer is wounded: when it is shot in the jaw when someone is aiming at the brain; when it is shot in the windpipe when someone is aiming at the neck; and when it is shot in the stomach when someone is aiming at the heart. In the open expanses in Scotland, we can catch up with those deer. We usually dispatch them on the same day, but not always.

I am sure that that situation will exist on Exmoor and elsewhere if hunting is banned because, human nature being what it is, farmers and others will take to shooting deer on Exmoor. The fox will no longer be a revered animal in the English countryside; it will be shot at in anger and disdain whenever it is seen. Those who oppose the amendment must think very carefully of the considerable suffering that will be caused to all these animals if this amendment and the amendments that were accepted yesterday are eventually rejected by this House and the other place.

Photo of Baroness Golding Baroness Golding Labour

I, too, strongly support this amendment on the grounds that I hope that it will concentrate Defra's mind on doing something about mink. My noble friend recognises that mink cause a great problem in the countryside, but Defra seems very reluctant to do anything about it. In the previous debate, my noble friend Lord Hoyle said that he thought that only 7 per cent of mink were caught through hunting. I have to tell him that at a meeting that I attended last week, the vets present calculated that there may be up to 110,000 mink in this country following their release from farms. Seven per cent of 110,000 amounts to a lot of mink.

Photo of Lord Hoyle Lord Hoyle Labour

I do not want to interrupt my noble friend other than to correct one point. I said 1.7 to 2 per cent, which is less than my noble friend is saying.

Photo of Baroness Golding Baroness Golding Labour

The figure of 7 per cent is quoted in Hansard and that is the figure that I am quoting. In any case, there are far too many mink in our countryside. Wildlife in the countryside needs to be managed, and one way of doing so is to do something about mink. I hope that Defra will take note of this amendment.

Photo of Lord Livsey of Talgarth Lord Livsey of Talgarth Shadow Minister (Agriculture), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Amendment No. 10 is extremely important. It concentrates on utility tests of least suffering and, in particular, it stresses the importance of wildlife management—correctly so, I think. All this is in the context of registration.

It is extremely difficult to debate this subject when, as has already been said, the countryside and the environmental circumstances are very different in different parts of the United Kingdom. I heard the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, say that wildlife management was very important in relation to this amendment, and quite right too, but in other parts of the country pest control is also extremely important. I believe that the amendment covers both wildlife management and pest control.

In many parts of the country—particularly in the west and the north—farmers sometimes have to call in hunts and hounds in order to control foxes because they are a pest and kill their livestock. That is a fact of life in many upland areas. But the serious damage to mammals and crops, which is mentioned in the amendment, impinges very much on the countryside, and the circumstances will be very different depending on whether the habitats are dense or sparse.

The issue of wildlife management in the countryside makes the Bill workable. It is through habitat conservation and development that hunted species and, indeed, many other mammals obtain the cover to exist and thus produce biological diversity. The Bill would enable that to happen and it is extremely important because it is in line with the EU biodiversity directives. Indeed, the Government have signed up to such directives. Therefore, the Government have a duty to ensure that wildlife is managed properly in the countryside.

I have personally experienced the damage that foxes can cause. In my worst season with a 250-ewe flock, I lost 37 lambs. Most of them had had their heads chopped off. They were not eaten but were simply left where the fox had attacked them. We discovered that the attacks were due to one fox in particular.

Having been away from my home area for about 20 years, I regretted, in particular, coming back to find that there were no curlews and no curlew calls in spring. They are ground-nesting birds. The fox population had increased and the foxes were predating on the young birds and the birds' eggs. In the part of the world that I come from, the call of the curlew in the spring was an essential part of the spring arising, but we hear them no longer. That is the situation. We used to see lapwings in profusion, but they do not exist either. One sees them only occasionally on the M4 when coming to this place. All that is a consequence of inadequate wildlife management. Indeed, those of us who farm have seen a great deal of damage to crops and those of us with forestry have seen a great deal of damage to timber.

So far as concerns fisheries, I respect very much what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Moran, because of his acute and detailed knowledge of that area. But I also commend what the noble Baroness, Lady Golding, said about mink. Mink cause a massive problem in the countryside. They are terribly destructive. They have wiped out the moorhen population in my part of the world, and they have caused mayhem in the countryside, including at some fisheries. They are extremely destructive and the Government must do something about having them eliminated—I use that word advisedly.

The test of least suffering is a harm test. Subsection (2) of the amendment refers to "significantly less pain". Those three words are very important indeed. I believe that the comparisons that have been made between hunting and shooting are fairly crucial. Shotguns certainly wound foxes and not infrequently in the countryside foxes are found in a very poor state with gangrene. That is substantiated by the findings of the Middle Way. There is a correct way to shoot foxes and that is with a rifle, which can be fairly certain if one shoots accurately.

On suffering, the noble Lord, Lord Burns, in particular called in his Second Reading speech for more research; he also called in March 2001 for more research. He said:

"Our difficulty was that there was insufficient evidence about wounding rates".—[Hansard, 12/3/01; col. 534.]

He wanted more research into that. It is very important that the words of the noble Lord, Lord Burns, are taken into account in this respect, otherwise we are talking about subjective, not objective, matters.

Photo of Earl Ferrers Earl Ferrers Conservative

Perhaps I may support what the noble Baroness, Lady Golding, said about mink. At Second Reading I had occasion to describe to your Lordships what had happened near where I live. All the antis turned up and people were knocked down and those who came to their rescue were typically arrested.

As I understand it, if the Bill goes through, there will be no mink hunting and if there is no mink hunting, as the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, said, what will happen? I ask the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, what he thought would happen if there were no mink hunting and he said, "Well, it is a very difficult problem; mink breed like mad and get killed in various ways and hunting is just one way of killing them".

If there is to be no mink hunting, mink will multiply. They are very difficult animals to shoot because they disappear under the water most of the time and are almost impossible to deal with. Hunting is one way; it does not include horses or toffs and it should not include nastiness. The characters who came to our place were good enough to put on a website the fact that they thought I should be strung up and I think they suggested I should be executed and that maybe that was too good a way of dying. As I have never hunted or had anything to do with mink, I thought that was a rather extreme view to take.

The fact is that if the Bill is to do away with mink hunting, not only will it do away with a part of people's life in rural communities—which they enjoy while having a good day out in the countryside—but we shall also prevent the control of mink. I think that is a bad thing. The noble Lord, Lord Livsey, asked what Defra will do about it. That is a very good question. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, will answer what Defra will do and what he suggests people who own land and who have the responsibility for other animals on the land should do, bearing in mind that mink eat almost every young bird that they can.

Photo of Baroness Byford Baroness Byford Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

I shall speak briefly as 20 noble Lords have spoken in great detail. Their contributions have been most valuable to the debate. I would like to sum up the situation from my point of view. We are trying to ensure that when the Bill leaves this House it is a good, robust law. I hope that it encompasses the enormously important aspect of the management of wildlife, as wildlife does not always control itself, as many noble Lords have mentioned. My noble friend Lord Soulsby mentioned the view, which I well respect, of vets who have carried out much work in this area.

A total ban would bring difficulties in keeping and maintaining a healthy wildlife, which is what we want. Two points came out of yesterday's debate on Wales. The first was particularly noticeable: how does one cope when terrain is very difficult compared with normal lowland terrain? Secondly, if hunting is not allowed to continue there, how will the situation be controlled?

I have not given up on the Minister, who is to respond. I believe that he is a realist. In his response I hope that he does not let down noble Lords by just saying that the Government will not consider the matter. If the Government do not accept the amendment, they are beholden to the Committee to say very clearly this afternoon how will they control matters and ensure that we have a healthy wildlife to enjoy in the future.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

First, I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, that I have never accused him of being, nor do I find him, boring; he can be a little lengthy at times, but he is always interesting. On this occasion he is being quite deliberately disingenuous. He referred to this as a small, although important amendment, whereas some of the subsequent contributions have clearly shown that this is designed—whether it will do so or not—to drive a coach and horses through what was the utility test as set out in the original Alun Michael Bill.

Noble Lords who opposed the original ban, and who have proposed this amendment, are trying to convince the outside world, and presumably the House of Commons, that all they are doing is bringing back the original government Bill. This debate shows quite clearly that that is not their intention. Their intention is to go much wider than that. The amendment purports to reinstate the tests of utility and least suffering, which were the key tests of the original Bill, but it extends it substantially.

The test of utility in the original Bill, as introduced, would have permitted hunting only for pest control; that is to say,

"the prevention or reduction of serious damage . . . to livestock . . . birds . . . crops . . . other property, or the biological diversity of an area".

That was the original Bill, which was further clarified by an amendment made in Committee which expressly referred to pest control. But that did not change the effect of the test; it merely clarified it.

This amendment goes much wider than the original Bill by including a whole new category of purpose for which hunting can be undertaken—the management of wildlife, which in itself is a fairly wide term. There was good reason for not including that in the original Bill and that good reason remains. In the case of the main quarry species, it is hard to see what population control measures are necessary other than those needed to prevent the damage that they caused to livestock, to crops, to other property, or to biodiversity, all of which is covered by the reference to pest control.

Even if there were a wider need for population control, the Burns report, which I have not hitherto quoted in this debate—it has been referred to again today—makes it clear that with very limited exceptions, hunting with dogs makes little or no contribution to the management of foxes, hare or mink.

Photo of Baroness Golding Baroness Golding Labour

Can the Minister tell me why in Iceland 6,500 mink are caught every year using dogs?

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

My noble friend has a greater experience of Iceland than I do. I am sure that the conditions in Iceland are somewhat different from the conditions here because, as my noble friend Lord Hoyle has pointed out, a very small proportion of mink which are culled are culled by hunting with dogs. That is also the position with all these other species. I do not understand the argument of the alternative methods of control of wildlife; we are talking about a Bill dealing with hunting with dogs.

In the case of foxes, about 7 per cent of all foxes are killed by hunting with dogs. The vast majority of the rest are killed by other methods of culling. Of course, we need management of wildlife for reasons of biodiversity and the rest but, of course, we will have some culling. The culling operation will be similar to that which operates already in the vast majority of cases, and which the Bill does not touch. Therefore, I think that those are pretty spurious arguments.

It is true, and I come to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord King, that a slightly better case was made to the noble Lord, Lord Burns, on the management of the deer population, specifically on Exmoor. But it is also true that similar deer populations are now flourishing in other parts of the country without the intervention of hunting with dogs.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative

To which red deer populations does that apply? I accept the point in relation to muntjac, roebuck and sika deer, but I do not think that the Minister is talking about red deer.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

I think that one would find red deer flourishing in Scotland and in places in the northern counties of England. If the noble Earl wishes, I can identify those places more accurately. But, of course, we are talking about all species of deer and not solely one species.

Let me spell out what we are doing with these amendments. The original Bill prohibited all hunting with dogs of any species of deer. We have already—by what amounts to a sleight of hand—deleted that prohibition. The Committee is now, by widely extending the quality definition, decrying a justification of the deletion of that exception so that deer hunting with dogs can pass a much broader utility test than the original Bill intended.

Under that new broader definition, deer hunting may well pass the utility test, but it is doubtful whether it will pass the least suffering test. The Committee is therefore diluting the final position that the House of Commons took on the least suffering test. It is providing belt and braces for a coach and horses—if I may mix my metaphors. It is effectively creating a huge hole in the Bill by adding to the cumulative changes made to the Government's original Bill.

So let us not go on pretending that, in very important respects, what the Committee now seems intent on sending back to the Commons at all resembles the Alun Michael Bill. Much of the detail will be the same, but in important key respects, including the one covered by this amendment, it is not the equivalent of the Bill that the House of Commons received.

Photo of Lord King of Bridgwater Lord King of Bridgwater Conservative

Did I hear the Minister say that deer hunting would not pass the test of least suffering? That is a serious repudiation of the Burns report. I should be very interested to hear on what basis he makes that statement.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

I think that what I actually said was that if deer hunting passed the utility test, there must be doubt about whether it could pass the least suffering test. We have claimed—I think that I have consistently claimed—that we proposed the original prohibition on deer hunting because there was no way that hunting deer with dogs could pass the least suffering test. Stalking and shooting or the straightforward shooting of deer would cause less suffering to the animal than hunting with dogs. Experienced hunters are considerably less likely to miss a deer than a rabbit or a fox. That has been the argument throughout.

I am not saying that it is an absolute certainty that they would not pass the least suffering test, but I am saying that one of the motivations for not only hugely widening the utility test, but diluting the least suffering test, is to justify the deletion of the prohibition on deer hunting. I do not think that that will be understood in either the House of Commons or the country generally. There is substantial support for banning deer hunting.

Photo of Lord Monson Lord Monson Crossbench

Is not the Minister's case based on a misconception? At Second Reading, he said:

"To most people . . . the unique feature of fox hunting in particular—the same applies to deer hunting, I guess—is the final act of tearing apart the quarry".—[Hansard, 12/10/04; col. 256.]

Is he not aware that this does not happen in deer hunting? It might have happened in the past, but it does not happen any longer.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

I agree that the issue of fox hunting is not entirely analogous with deer hunting, although there are still occasions when that does happen. The point is that we are creating serious distress for the animal, and we are ultimately destroying—and, in some cases, tearing apart—the animal. It is unnecessary cruelty, both in the chase and the ultimate destruction. In this Bill, we are trying to ban—by registration or by a direct ban—unnecessary cruelty. We recognise that the countryside sometimes requires some cruelty, but that is unnecessary cruelty. That is why the test of least suffering is important and why any dilution of that test over and above what the Commons intended is a very serious dilution of the Bill and its intent.

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

The Minister may have made a slip of the tongue, as I am sure that he has been properly briefed, about the way in which a deer meets its end at the end of deer hunting. The end is by a direct shot to the brain—something that is almost never possible with stalking—which results in instant death. The deer is not torn to pieces or touched by the hounds, and death is instantaneous.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

That is after several miles of chase, and that is not absolutely always the case, as we know.

My point is that people will take different judgments. No doubt, now that we have a registration system that the Committee would want in the Bill, the registrar may take different judgments on what constitutes least suffering. However, the motivation behind this amendment is to justify a deletion from the original Bill. That deletion requires justification. The Committee is broadening one of the tests and diluting another. That is not the way in which to reach a compromise with the House of Commons. Nor is it a way to convince the country. I therefore oppose the amendment.

Photo of Earl Peel Earl Peel Conservative

Can the Minister tell the Committee how we can get a compromise?

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

As I said yesterday, I am not the person with whom you have to negotiate. As I indicated to the Committee, you definitely will not find compromise on some matters.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative

Perhaps I may help the Minister. Yesterday, the Prime Minister let it be known via a Downing Street spokesman that he would like a compromise. May I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, that he trot up the street to Downing Street, knock on the door and say, "Oh, Prime Minister, what sort of compromise would you like"? Then, he could come back to the Committee and say, "I have seen the Prime Minister and found the compromise that he would like". After all, that is what the Lord Chancellor voted for yesterday. So I see that the Government are lovely and split over this.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

I have one vote in this House, the Lord Chancellor has one vote in this House and the Prime Minister has one vote in another place. This is a free vote.

What I am pointing out to the noble Earl and the Committee is that, in order to change the mind of the House of Commons, one does not send back to it a Bill that, from its point of view, is worse than the one that it has already rejected. If the message has not got across to the Committee yet, then I despair. I shall not intervene all that frequently later today. I would just underline that this amendment, if passed, would add to that message which you are sending to the Commons and the country.

Photo of Baroness Byford Baroness Byford Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

I should like to lower the heat of the debate. I think that it is rising slightly, and that does not help anyone. The problem for the Committee is that, whatever happens to the Bill after it returns to the Commons—and I am sure that all noble Lords want to return it to the Commons—we have no confidence that the Commons will debate one word of what has been said. That is why it is so important that we get it right now.

Photo of Viscount Bledisloe Viscount Bledisloe Crossbench

I fail to understand what the Minister is suggesting the Committee should do. He said, "The amendment, if passed". Yesterday, by a somewhat large majority—indeed, by a majority of Labour Peers—this Committee voted in favour of registration. It is inherent in a system of registration that there is a test to decide how one should register. However, only one test is being proposed to the Committee today. If the Minister is suggesting that anyone, including himself or any of his Back-Benchers, could vote against this test, he is proposing to wreck the vote passed yesterday and to end the Committee stage with a Bill that is meaningless if it provides for registration but no test.

If the noble Lord does not like this test of registration, he should either have suggested an alternative test or proposed an amendment to this test. Is the noble Lord really suggesting that this Committee stage should end with a Bill that says that there shall be registration but has no provisions for a test for registration? If so, the noble Lord is making a mockery of the parliamentary system.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

I am deeply puzzled by that intervention. I have not sought to reopen the decision made yesterday on registration; I have accepted that we are working in a context of registration and that we have to have tests for registration. I am objecting to the fact that the tests proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, are nothing like those in the original government Bill, which several noble Lords have asserted they are trying to return to the Commons.

Yes, there is only one amendment before us today, but we have subsequent stages. If the amendment is passed, noble Lords will be sending a signal to the Commons that they do not want to go back to the original government Bill, but want to go way, way beyond it and dilute all its implications. If the amendment is defeated today, there will be a chance at subsequent stages of putting back something like what was in the original Bill. It is absolutely absurd to assert that I am somehow subverting parliamentary procedure by making this rather obvious rational point to the Committee and giving kindly advice.

Photo of Viscount Bledisloe Viscount Bledisloe Crossbench

I am not suggesting that by saying this is not a very good amendment and that it will be improved later, the noble Lord may not be well in order in his argument. But surely it is the duty of the Committee to end up with a Bill at each stage which is coherent. The noble Lord appears to be suggesting that we should finish the Committee stage with no test for registration whatever. Is that really what he is proposing?

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

I think that I have made my position clear. It is frequently the case in this House that the Committee cannot agree on a particular part of a Bill and returns to the subject at a later stage. Quite why the noble Viscount is getting so exercised, I do not know.

Photo of Earl Ferrers Earl Ferrers Conservative

There is one point which the noble Lord has not made quite clear, and I should be grateful if he would consider it. Deer hunting and fox hunting are important, but we come back to mink hunting. As the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, asked, what does Defra intend to do? If you cannot hunt mink with hounds, how do you control them? You cannot shoot them, can you? How else do you control them? It is all very fine the noble Lord bringing in a Bill just to stop one kind of control, but you have to put something in its place. Perhaps the noble Lord would be good enough to address his mind to this question, which I have asked before: how does he propose that mink should be controlled?

Photo of Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Government Whip

I have to tell the House, on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, who has patiently been trying to draw the debate to a conclusion, that I believe this is the appropriate moment.

Photo of Earl Ferrers Earl Ferrers Conservative

With the greatest of respect, the noble Baroness cannot get away with that. I asked the noble Lord a perfectly good question and he is perfectly capable of replying without the noble Baroness's intervention.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

I rather think it is the view of the Committee that we should try to draw these happy proceedings to a close. At one point, I thought we were having rather an interesting debate.

As the noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, said, it is widely recognised that you have to manage your wildlife. The noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, questioned that concept, and I understand why. The reality is that everybody around the world and in this country accepts that you have to do this. The culling of wildlife is only a part of that.

The noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, drew our attention to otters and badgers, which are very important in this context. Otters are on the protected list, and remain so to encourage their population to increase to a sustainable level. I am delighted to say that it is slowly reaching that level, and let us hope that it does so soon. On the other hand, the badger is massively over-populated, a result of which, as is widely known, is the increase in tuberculosis. If populations of animals increase too much because they are not managed, they become diseased. That is what has happened to the badger population since protection. So protection is not the only answer; it is one answer and it sometimes causes a bigger problem than going down other routes.

My noble friend Lord King drew our attention to what is happening in the west country at Baronsdown where an artificial population of deer is being encouraged. As the Minister's vets will tell him, the deer have chronic infestation of worm, both lungworm and intestinal worm, and there is a significant reservoir of tuberculosis—the first major reservoir of tuberculosis infection in the deer population. Why? Because the League Against Cruel Sports is artificially concentrating wild deer, which is incredibly irresponsible. That is not management, it is exactly what we should not be doing. That is why we should be managing populations and managing wildlife. As I said, management is not just about culling.

My noble friend Lord Eden drew our attention to the fact that the management of habitat is extremely important. The noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, asked whether most farmers now managed their habitat in such a way as to encourage biodiversity. The answer is, increasingly, yes, but as the Durrell Institute report last year said, the best examples of management of habitat for all species are on those farms and estates that are managed for shooting and hunting. If we take those voluntary motivations away, the subsidies that are given for that sort of habitat management are not of a sufficient level to encourage a high enough standard of protection and management of biodiversity, and added motivation is required. Added motivation means hunting and shooting. That is why Her Majesty's Government are subsidising projects that do exactly that in Africa and in other countries. That is what they are attempting to achieve.

The noble Baroness, Lady Golding, drew our attention to a similar problem in a more difficult area. Mink are not an indigenous species. I do not particularly wish harm on anything, but I rather wish that mink would go the same way as coypu and that we could eliminate them. I believe that a responsible government would be finding out how to get rid of this alien species which has done so much damage to our wildlife, because we are not adequately managing that.

This shows that management is extremely difficult but, more than that, it is incredibly important. If we do not manage our wildlife—that means protecting populations, protecting habitats to allow breeding and having closed seasons at one end of the scale and culling at the other—we shall not have any wildlife. That is why it is an international obligation for our government to adopt policies. Part of that is the responsibility of individual landowners and land managers to manage and cull the wildlife on the property they manage. That is a legal obligation in this country. The Government, by pushing the Bill through in the form in which it came to your Lordships' House last week, will be limiting farmers' and land managers' ability to do that. That is why we have suggested the change to the utility test.

The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, accused me of being disingenuous. I am not really certain how I can have been. When he opened the debate yesterday, the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, explained exactly what we were doing with the Bill; I explained it at length yesterday, and the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, did as well. I explained the change and the reason for it as openly as possible and at as much length as I thought your Lordships could stand when I introduced the amendment. I am not really sure that that can be described as disingenuous.

I am also not certain that asking Her Majesty's Government, through a major piece of primary legislation, to accept their international and national obligations to manage wildlife can exactly be described as driving a coach and horses through a Bill. It is the responsible and correct thing to do, plain and simple.

The problem, at which I hinted yesterday, is that after years and years of considering the question of hunting, it is entirely apparent that those who are opposed to it do not understand what it is about. Hunting is not pest control. It never has been; it never will be; it never was. Hunting is part of a complex system of community wildlife management, as described in all the international agreements that we have signed, are party to and have funded in other parts of the world.

We need to control populations not just because they cause damage, which is what pest control is about. The noble Lord, Lord Livsey, drew attention to it; it is very important. That is why it is one of the criteria. If you are a farmer, a gamekeeper or someone who is getting damage from deer, foxes, hares or mink, of course you must manage them and you regard them as a pest.

I am not a farmer or a gamekeeper. I do not suffer from damage from deer or foxes but, like most noble Lords on all sides of this debate, I adore the wildlife that we have in this country and I know that if we do not manage it, which includes culling it as well as providing habitat, we will not have any. We manage it for its good and for our good because it is a national asset. That is why people visit Exmoor to see those amazing deer. They are a community asset and they are managed by the community.

So when the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, says, "I do not understand", I believe him. He clearly does not understand. He mentioned other deer. He is quite right: there are red deer herds in Thetford Forest in Norfolk and in the Lake District and, of course, all over Scotland. But let us look at deer management in Scotland. As my noble friend Lord Pearson said, it is extremely difficult. It is so difficult that the Scottish Executive has to use helicopters to drive the deer across the hill to a cull, to a line of waiting rifles where half of them are shot on the move and wounded, where the keepers are so appalled that they refuse to do it again, where the deer are then dragged through the faeces of other stock, breaking every national and international rule. That is management by the state. In anyone's book, that is unacceptable. That is how the Scottish Executive managed it. I hope to God that we never have to see that here in England.

So we must have wildlife management. It is absolutely essential. It is not gold plating or a coach and horses. It is none of those things; it is exactly what we should be doing. It is not just about welfare; it is about our responsibilities for this amazing island that we live in. The Bill before us today affects four of the most important—three of the most important and one of the most undesirable—species of mammals in this country. We must face the matter head-on and address it in the best way that we possibly can. That is the motivation behind the amendment: not a coach and horses; not irritating another place; not winding up the Government; but doing what we should be doing in a wildlife management Bill—managing wildlife.

When we started our debates, the Minister described himself as an honest broker between this House and another place. I hope that he will fulfil that role: I think that your Lordships would appreciate it and I think that the other place would appreciate it. But in his winding-up speech, he did not come over as an honest broker in a way that would help us to find a way through. I do not know how we will end up, but I know that when you negotiate anything there are two prerequisites to negotiation. One is that all parties conduct themselves in good faith; and the other is that all parties demonstrate their ability to deliver. We are operating in good faith and I am pretty certain that we can deliver. I hope that the Government can. I wish to test the opinion of the Committee.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 10) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 194; Not-Contents, 57.

Division number 1 Private Parking: Ports and Trading Estates — Hunting Bill

Aye: 192 Members of the House of Lords

No: 55 Members of the House of Lords

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment No. 11:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"THE REGISTRAR

(1) The Secretary of State shall appoint a person ("the registrar") to maintain a register for the purposes of this Act.

(2) The registrar shall hold and vacate office in accordance with the terms and conditions of his appointment.

(3) The registrar shall comply with—

(a) regulations made by the Secretary of State under this Part, and

(b) any direction given to the registrar by the Hunting Tribunal (established under section (The Hunting Tribunal)) in the course of or on the determination of proceedings under this Part.

(4) In exercising his functions the registrar shall have regard to any relevant decision of the Hunting Tribunal.

(5) The Secretary of State may—

(a) pay remuneration and allowances to the registrar;

(b) defray expenses of the registrar;

(c) provide staff, equipment or other facilities for the registrar.

(6) Service as the registrar is employment in the civil service of the State."

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

Amendment No. 11 is part of a group of amendments to the registration process, mainly concerned with the registrar. I shall take Members of the Committee through them as rapidly as I can.

Amendment No. 11 gives the Secretary of State power to appoint a registrar for the purposes of maintaining a register for individual and group registrations. The registrar will also determine applications for individual and group registrations. I believe I am right in saying that this amendment is identical to what appeared in the Government's original Bill. For detailed purposes, the registrar will hold a salaried position, with provision of staff and relevant equipment.

The creation of this position limits the Secretary of State's involvement in the registration process and means that no further burden is added to the Secretary of State or the department. The registrar will have the power to make provisions on the handling of applications. Once the registrar has been appointed, individuals wishing to become registered under this Bill will send their applications to the registrar for consideration. Should an application be refused, the applicant may appeal to a tribunal, which noble Lords will discuss later. Should an application be permitted, a prescribed animal welfare body may appeal to a tribunal. The determination of the application is based on the requirements laid out in the proposed clause, on the tests of registration: utility and suffering. Unless Members of the Committee have any questions, that is the sum of the amendment. I beg to move.

[Amendment No. 12, as an amendment to Amendment No. 11, not moved.]

Photo of Lord Palmer Lord Palmer Crossbench

moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 11, Amendment No. 13:

Line 3, after "registrar")" insert "who is appropriately qualified in terms of subsection (1A) below.

(1A) "Appropriately qualified" means that the individual—

(a) has good knowledge of hunting with dogs in the United Kingdom or Ireland, and

(b) is entirely impartial as to hunting, and impartial means that he has no association with hunting or any organisation which directly or indirectly supports, opposes, or has supported or opposed, hunting."

Photo of Lord Palmer Lord Palmer Crossbench

Never before yesterday's extraordinary vote have I seen the Chamber so packed during the whole Committee stage. It was quite remarkable. At Second Reading I described the Bill as a "fiasco" and a "farce". Yesterday the Minister referred to the "gang of four" who were "in deep water". At Second Reading, the Minister talked about the "last-chance saloon". That emphasises the fact that we are in the most extraordinarily farcical situation: a gang of four, in deep water, in the last-chance saloon!

Following on from yesterday's vote, and now that registration is safely back on the face of the Bill, the effect of this amendment is that the registrar, under this legislation, will have to have sufficient knowledge and expertise if he is to be able to make any attempt at an objective judgment on whether to allow hunting to be registered. The amendment would ensure that the individual appointed had sufficient knowledge, as well as independence, to fulfil the role created by the legislation.

The role of the registrar and his team will be all-important to the registration process. On television on Sunday, Alun Michael mentioned his concerns for animal welfare. A profound understanding of the whole issue of hunting will be required, and a thorough understanding of local conditions will be paramount. The impartiality of the registrar will be essential, if the process is to command the confidence of all parties. Obviously, that is where the Burns report is so important.

The job of the registrar is made extraordinarily difficult by the sheer absence of any agreed opinion among experts on either the utility, which would be limited to a particular area, or on which method of culling is, in fact, preferable. The Government have provided no guidance, and each decision by the registrar could become, in its own right, a mini-Burns inquiry in the area where permission to hunt is being sought. That is why the amendment will, I hope, pave the way for an impartial registrar. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Renton of Mount Harry Lord Renton of Mount Harry Conservative

I support the amendment just moved by the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, and have added my name to it. As the noble Lord said, it is extremely important that the registrar, who will decide whether to give a licence, be seen as an independent, impartial character. It is important that the judgments made by the registrar should be made on the twin bases of cruelty and utility, as has already been discussed this afternoon.

I think that this is a probing amendment. It is possible to argue that it would be difficult to be appropriately qualified and have a good knowledge of hunting and, at the same time, have no association with hunting or any organisation that directly or indirectly supports or opposes hunting. However, I see the principle that the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, is getting at. The emphasis of the amendment is that we should amend the Bill in a way that stresses the impartiality, moderation and care that the registrar will bring to the issue of licensing.

I shall divert the Committee for a moment by suggesting that any noble Lords who have not yet been to see the play "Stuff Happens" at the National Theatre might go. As those of us who have seen it will know, the play is a documentary about the events surrounding how the decision was taken to go to war with Iraq without a second UN resolution. The characters in it are, obviously, George W Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Prime Minister, Jack Straw, Chirac, the French ambassador and others. In many ways, it is a serious play, but there comes a moment, early in 2003, when the Prime Minister flies over to see George W Bush. He says, "Look, I have helped you up until now. I am now in great trouble, and I need your help". That is repeated several times. Finally, the President says to the Prime Minister, "What's your trouble? Why do you need my help?". There is a long pause, and then the Prime Minister replies, "It's fox hunting". At no moment in the play was there more laughter than at that.

The Government should consider carefully the thought that, if they push the Bill through the Commons and send it back to us with the Parliament Act attached, that would be one of the crassest, most stupid actions that any government in my 30 years in Westminster have taken. They will deserve all the laughter and scorn that they will get. If that is the decision of 200 or so extreme Labour Back-Benchers, led by the likes of Tony Banks and Gerald Kaufman, who have precisely no knowledge of the countryside, history will never forgive the Government and will take a long time to forget. The Government should remember the laughter from "Stuff Happens".

The small amendment that the noble Lord has moved is another example of how we are trying to make the Bill as reasonable and sensible as possible.

Photo of Lord Graham of Edmonton Lord Graham of Edmonton Labour

The noble Lord has just referred to 200 extreme Back-Benchers in the other place. That is a slur on the integrity of Members of the other place. Those 200 people whom he alleges to be extreme were elected by people who listened to their views on a range of things. A majority of rural seats have Labour MPs. They were elected in 1997, and they were re-elected in 2001.

By all means, we should have an argument on the merits of the case, but we should not descend to the depths of using such language. It is a slur, and it is unworthy of the noble Lord.

Photo of Lord Renton of Mount Harry Lord Renton of Mount Harry Conservative

The noble Lord amuses me: we were both in the House of Commons for a long time, and we both know that there are extreme Members on both sides of the House of Commons—there always have been, and there always will be. That is, perhaps, one of the features of the House of Commons.

If the Bill is pushed through by the use of the Parliament Act by a bunch of extreme Labour Back-Benchers who know nothing about the countryside, it will hang round the neck of the Labour Government for a very long time.

Photo of Viscount Bledisloe Viscount Bledisloe Crossbench

May I ask the Minister where we are on the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft? I think that the noble Lord will agree that, as the Committee has voted for registration, there must be a registrar and so on.

The proposals made by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, are, I understand, straight from the Alun Michael Bill. Can the Minister tell us that, as I assume, he does not oppose that amendment and that the only thing that we are discussing at the moment is the amendment to the amendment, which was moved by the noble Lord, Lord Palmer? Is the Minister content at this stage to see all the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, passed, even if he does not love them?

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

As the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, said, most of the amendments in the group are a straight lift from the Alun Michael Bill. There are two exceptions. One is Clause 17, which reflects a minor amendment made in Committee. It goes with the strain of the rest of the amendments, although it indicates that there is a bit of a pick-and-choose approach to the amendments that were made in Committee in another place. However, it does not clash with the other amendments. Given that we have, as the noble Viscount just said, adopted a registration structure, it is sensible that the bulk of the amendments be accepted.

I understand the motivation behind the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, and supported by the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, who went somewhat wider in his remarks. If we had a registration system, it would be the Government's view that we would have to seek someone impartial to be the registrar. However, the definition of impartial here seems to restrict substantially the choice of registrar.

The amendment refers to somebody who is knowledgeable about hunting but has no association with any organisation which directly or indirectly supports or opposes hunting. I suspect that the shortlist for the post would be very short. Most people who are knowledgeable about hunting have, at various times, taken a view—maybe a different one—or at least had an association with somebody who takes a view. It would rule out any member of the Conservative Party or the Labour Party. That may, of course, be a good thing; it certainly is in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Palmer.

It is too restrictive an approach. The registrar would be appointed through the normal public appointments system, so he or she would have to meet the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life and of the Civil Service Commissioners, who would have to take into account the need to find somebody impartial. Restricting the list in the way suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, would be over the top.

Apart from that, there is now a logic in this group of amendments, following from the general principle of registration. Therefore, I do not have the same warnings that I had for the previous group of amendments. It is in line with that decision and with what the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, has said that he is trying to do.

Photo of Baroness Byford Baroness Byford Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

I accept the Minister's comment. I am grateful to him for accepting the bulk of the amendments, which I think is what he has indicated to the Committee. As regards the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, does the noble Lord see any merit in giving a steer or does he just feel that it should be left to the appointments committee? That would be helpful to my noble friend.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

I do not think that the appointments committee would need a steer; certainly not one as tightly defined as that proposed by the noble Lord.

I am neither accepting nor rejecting these amendments. I am saying that, given where the Committee is on the principle of registration, the bulk of the amendments are a logical extension of that and therefore help us get to a Bill that is a sensible overall package. I have indicated that I am not voting or even recommending people to vote on that. It is a free vote. I am just pointing out where we are.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

If I heard the noble Lord correctly, he seemed to indicate an issue about Amendment No. 17, which I did not think was in this group. Perhaps I misheard him or he meant something else.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

I apologise. I am ahead of myself: it is in the next group. Therefore, I withdraw that view.

Perhaps I may clarify that. I have misread my brief. Amendment No. 25, which refers to Clause 17, was marginally amended in Committee in another place. So my remarks stand, but with that correction.

Photo of Lord Palmer Lord Palmer Crossbench

It is rather difficult to understand exactly what the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said. Part of him seemed to accept this amendment and part of him seemed to not accept it. Perhaps I may be able to reserve the right to look again very carefully in Hansard at what he said and bring it back at a later stage. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 13, as an amendment to Amendment No. 11, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 14 and 15, as amendments to Amendment No. 11, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 11 agreed to.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment No. 16:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"THE HUNTING TRIBUNAL

(1) There shall be a Hunting Tribunal.

(2) Schedule (The Hunting Tribunal) (which makes provision about the Tribunal) shall have effect.

(3) The Lord Chancellor may make rules—

(a) regulating the exercise of a right to appeal or apply to the Tribunal;

(b) about practice and procedure in relation to proceedings before the Tribunal."

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

Bearing in mind what the Minister has just said, this amendment is grouped for the convenience of Members of the Committee with Amendment Nos. 26, 27, 28, 39 and 43. I beg to move.

[Amendment No. 17, as an amendment to Amendment No. 16, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 16 agreed to.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment No. 18:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"PRESCRIBED ANIMAL WELFARE BODIES

(1) The Secretary of State shall by regulations prescribe one or more bodies as prescribed animal welfare bodies for the purposes of this Part.

(2) The Secretary of State may prescribe a body only if he thinks that it is wholly or partly concerned with the protection or welfare of animals.

(3) The Secretary of State may make a payment by way of grant (which may be subject to conditions) to a prescribed animal welfare body."

Photo of Earl Peel Earl Peel Conservative

moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 18, Amendment No. 19:

Line 8, at end insert—

"( ) The Secretary of State may prescribe only an animal welfare body which does not have or has not had as one of its objectives the abolition of hunting with dogs."

Photo of Earl Peel Earl Peel Conservative

The purpose of the inclusion of the provision for the prescribed animal welfare body is to try to get an expert body to advise the registrar. I find that a rather unnecessary step but it was, as I understand it, part of Alun Michael's original proposals. Clearly, the purpose is to look after the animal welfare dimension.

If that expert body considers that the registrar has made a wrong decision in respect of animal welfare, it can intervene. I believe that if it is to do so, it should do so without prejudice and not be allowed to be overruled by fact and evidence.

I should point out that, as I am sure a number of noble Lords will already have noticed, the amendment is somewhat defective: it states that no body which has expressed a view against hunting should be included. It should also clearly demonstrate that a body that has been actively involved in favour of hunting should not be appropriate to sit on such a body. I am simply suggesting that it would be virtually impossible for such a group to work constructively if one such body had demonstrated a bias against hunting and, equally, the same would apply if such a body had taken a pro-hunting stance.

I am interested to know what the Minister feels about this: it seems to me that, for the Bill to work fairly, it would be appropriate for animal welfare bodies to be named in the Bill, as I have already said, to ensure that we have a neutral stance on hunting. This is simply a probing amendment to try to establish whether it would be appropriate for this body to be as neutral as possible. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Dearing Lord Dearing Crossbench

The noble Earl has indicated that the amendment as written is not right. I hope that he will not pursue it today. My main point is the asymmetry of this amendment. My second point is that I probably do not understand this part of the Bill. I thought that Amendments Nos. 18 and 19 were concerned with the definition of those bodies that the Secretary of State may designate as bodies which, under Amendment No. 25, the registrar had to consult. If that were the purpose, it would be a good thing if he consulted all animal welfare bodies—both for or against—because they have something to contribute. But we shall return to this matter at a later stage. I shall not pursue it any further.

Photo of Viscount Astor Viscount Astor Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

I support the probing amendment of my noble friend. In many ways, this comes back to the definition of what will be an animal welfare body. Some of the bodies interested in animal welfare are somewhat more concerned with animal rights than animal welfare. It is important that we distinguish between the two.

The RSPCA has been criticised by many for often being more concerned with animal rights than animal welfare. In many cases those criticisms are valid. The League Against Cruel Sports is clearly more committed to animal rights than to animal welfare.

So the question to ask is this: should such bodies be part of the consultation process? It is important that animal welfare bodies are given a role to play, but should organisations that are either pro-hunting or anti-hunting also have a role? That is a question which the Committee has to decide. But we ought to be clear that we should say either that those bodies, whether pro-hunting or anti-hunting, should be involved in the process, or they should not. If they should not, the Secretary of State must have the power to appoint only the bodies that are not involved in animal rights and have no political agenda. That must be made absolutely clear.

We cannot have bodies being appointed that could exercise what might be called a "power of veto" over anything that might happen because of their own political views on the process. My noble friend therefore makes an important point and it is something on which I hope the Minister will have a view. The tribunal will be a legal entity. Given that the tribunal was the Government's idea to start with, how do they think it will work and what advice should it take?

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

In taking forward Amendment No. 18, I accept what the Government intended in prescribing animal welfare groups. In an ideal world I would have preferred not to have the provision in the Bill. Indeed, Amendment No. 18 represents a concession on our part which we would have fought against, for the reasons outlined by my noble friend Lord Peel.

There are two other practical reasons underlying our thinking. I shall use an analogy here which I hope does not cause offence. It would be rather odd, for example, to have a leading member of the Temperance Society on an alcohol licensing board. So to appoint someone who has been publicly campaigning against a particular activity as part of the registration process in order to license that activity seems to be a recipe for dissent and certainly not a clever way of moving forward.

I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some guidance that, in prescribing these animal welfare groups, the Secretary of State will do so in such a way that the entire system is not bogged down for years in endless argument, but actually facilitates his ability to make the decision and is useful and constructive. To be frank, a number of prescribed animal welfare groups would not help the registrar or anyone else. They would lead us into endless debate of the kind with which noble Lords are becoming increasingly familiar, and which would be repeated every time a registration was sought.

I make a further practical point. The reason for the registrar to consult a prescribed animal welfare group would be because of its expertise in animal welfare. There is a certain logic in that. However, one of the tests concerns utility. I am not clear how an animal welfare group, unless it happened to have that added expertise—most do not—would have the necessary expertise to advise the registrar on the question of utility. Therefore the wording of the original Bill is rather sloppy in that it would oblige the Secretary of State to consult bodies on a subject in which they have no expertise. The Bill should have said that the registrar would be obliged to consult the prescribed animal welfare groups on issues to do with the test of least suffering, which is nothing to do with the test of utility. I suppose that that is a technical point, but I raise it to demonstrate to Members of the Committee how helpful we would like to be and how simple we are leaving it. It is not a contentious point.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

The amendment is contentious, although the noble Earl, Lord Peel, has attempted to make it more even-handed in his remarks. However, as it stands the amendment is hugely contentious.

If we opt for a registration system, Amendment No. 18 would reflect the original Alun Michael Bill, but Amendment No. 19 would utterly unbalance the position. Having passed amendments which dilute the effect of the criteria, in accepting Amendment No. 19 we would be skewing advice given to the registrar through the tribunal so that animal welfare concerns would be excluded. The fact is—this point was made clear by the noble Viscount, Lord Astor—that this is a move to exclude the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations which oppose hunting or certain forms of hunting from this structure.

This is an attempt to present the system as a balanced approach—by excluding the RSPCA and like organisations. Those organisations are not expected themselves to be balanced, but the registrar is supposed to take account of opinions, both pro-hunting and pro-animal. That would require animal welfare organisations to be engaged in the consideration. To exclude them in the form of the amendment before us would hugely unbalance that approach.

Indeed, to follow the verbal amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Peel, if we also excluded not only those opposed to hunting, but also organisations in favour of hunting from the process, it would mean a huge loss of expertise on both sides of the argument. While that would be less unbalanced, it too would not be helpful to the registration process. I hope that we do not pass the amendment proposed by the noble Earl and that the original amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, is accepted as being the one more closely aligned with the approach adopted in the original government Bill.

Photo of Earl Peel Earl Peel Conservative

I explained at the outset that I recognised that the amendment was defective. None the less, we have had a useful debate.

I am bound to say that if the body appointed by the Secretary of State is to give sensible advice to the registrar, I cannot see how the process of advice will be enhanced if we have extreme bodies from either side arguing throughout his deliberations. I suspect that it would make the situation very difficult. The thrust of my amendment is probably about right, and I think that other noble Lords who have spoken have accepted that.

My noble friend Lord Mancroft raised what I thought was a very interesting point. The tribunal is designed to give advice to the registrar on aspects of cruelty. Who will give the registrar advice on the question of utility? Would that come from the same bodies or from separate ones? Can the Minister explain how he thinks that would work because it would be useful for us to know?

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

In the balanced operation of the tribunal and the advice coming through the system, no doubt the bodies which are broadly speaking hunting-based would have a view on utility and why they hunt. It may be that animal welfare organisations have views on hunting, as would hunting organisations on animal welfare. We do not say that one aspect would come from one side and another aspect from the other side, but that both sorts of organisations should be engaged in the process.

Photo of Earl Peel Earl Peel Conservative

I am grateful to the Minister, but I still take the view that we do not want extremes from either side of the argument on this advisory body, otherwise the system will not work effectively. However, as I have said, this is a defective amendment and as such I shall not press it.

Amendment No. 19, as an amendment to Amendment No. 18, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Amendment No. 18 agreed to.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment No. 20:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"ADVISORY BODIES

(1) English Nature may provide advice on request to the registrar or the Tribunal about the exercise of a function under this Act in relation to England.

(2) The Countryside Council for Wales may provide advice on request to the registrar or the Tribunal about the exercise of a function under this Act in relation to Wales."

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

In moving this amendment I suspect that I may have answered the question posed by the Minister a few moments ago. It refers to the other advisory bodies which the registrar must consult, one of which is the Countryside Council for Wales while the other is English Nature. I imagine that those bodies would be in an ideal position to advise the registrar on issues of utility, which is perhaps why they were originally included. However, beyond that advisory role, it is not clear why they have been included. I suppose that that is the answer to the rhetorical question put to me by the Minister. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

Clearly, English Nature and the Countryside Council of Wales would be there to provide advice on a number of issues—principally on biodiversity—in the areas of their expertise.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

moved Amendment No. 21:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"Application for registration

APPLICATION BY INDIVIDUAL

(1) An individual may apply to the registrar to be entered in the register in respect of hunting which he proposes to carry out.

(2) An applicant must be at least 16 years of age.

(3) Where an applicant is younger than 18 years of age, his application must be countersigned by a parent or guardian.

(4) An application must—

(a) be in the prescribed form,

(b) contain the prescribed information,

(c) be accompanied by the prescribed documents (if any), and

(d) be accompanied by the prescribed fee.

(5) An application must specify—

(a) the species of wild mammal which it is proposed to hunt, and

(b) the area in which it is proposed to hunt.

(6) An application may specify a condition to be included in the register as a condition of the proposed hunting.

(7) In this section "prescribed" means prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State."

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

In moving Amendment No. 21, I shall speak also to the amendments grouped with it. The amendments all seek to reinstate the parts of the Bill that deal with applications for registration. In view of the exchanges that have taken place, I hope the Committee will not think me discourteous if I take them very shortly; all the amendments are set out clearly on the Marshalled List and are largely self-explanatory.

Amendment No. 21, which deals with applications by individuals, is in the form of the original government Bill as amended in Committee. The amendment there was to lower the age at which an applicant could make an application from 18 to 16; but where an applicant is younger than 18 his application has to be countersigned by a parent or guardian.

Amendment No. 24 is identical to the original government Bill, as introduced by Mr Alun Michael, as is Amendment No. 34, which deals with the handling of applications. I believe that Amendment No. 35 follows the Government's original wording; I shall be corrected if I am wrong. It is just possible from my briefing that it may include a change made at the Committee stage, but I believe it to be the original wording introduced by Mr Michael with the government Bill in 2002. Amendment No. 37 is identical to the original government Bill, as is Amendment No. 38, which deals with the variation of non-automatic conditions.

If noble Lords have questions about the operation of any of those parts of the Bill, I shall do my best to deal with them, but I will be largely reliant on the Government's Explanatory Notes, which are, in effect, my briefing. I hope that I have not taken the matter too shortly. With those comments and a desire to help anyone who has queries, I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

For the guidance of the Committee, my noble friend is correct that, in general, all the amendments in this group follow the terms of the original Bill with the one exception to which she referred—Amendment No. 21—which was changed in Committee to the form in which it appears in the amendment.

However, there was also an amendment to the ground covered by Amendment No. 24. This relatively simple amendment, which was made in Committee, extended the period in which an unsuccessful application for registration could be made again from the original six months to 12 months. That is not a huge issue of principle, but it shows that we are in a pick-and-mix situation so far as concerns the amendments introduced in Committee in the Commons. Apart from that, my noble friend is correct that the amendments reflect the terms of the so-called Alun Michael Bill.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment No. 22:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"APPLICATION ON BEHALF OF GROUP

(1) One or more individuals may apply to the registrar to be entered in the register in respect of hunting to be carried out jointly by—

(a) the individual registered or one or more of the individuals registered, and

(b) one or more individuals under the supervision of the individual registered or of one or more of the individuals registered.

(2) Each of the applicants must be at least 16 years of age.

(3) An application must—

(a) be in the prescribed form,

(b) contain the prescribed information,

(c) be accompanied by the prescribed documents (if any), and

(d) be accompanied by the prescribed fee.

(4) An application must specify—

(a) the species of wild mammal which it is proposed to hunt, and

(b) the area in which it is proposed to hunt.

(5) An application may specify a condition to be included in the register as a condition of the proposed hunting.

(6) An application must, in particular, include conditions specifying—

(a) a maximum number of individuals who may hunt at any time,

(b) arrangements to ensure compliance with the condition about records imposed by section (Automatic conditions of group registration)(5), and

(c) arrangements for supervision by the individual or individuals to be registered of non-registered individuals participating in the proposed hunting.

(7) An application may request that one or more of the registered individuals should be registered in respect of hunting to be carried out without the participation of a non-registered individual (as well as in respect of the joint hunting mentioned in subsection (1)).

(8) Section (Registered hunting)(1) shall have effect as if the reference to individual registration included a reference to registration by virtue of subsection (7) above (but section (Registered hunting)(3) shall not apply).

(9) In this section "prescribed" means prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State."

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

Amendment No. 22 concerns an application on behalf of a group. It sets out the conditions under which group applications may be made to the registrar. Under this provision, one or more individuals may apply to be registered in respect of hunting to be carried out jointly by one or more of them and other non-registered persons under their supervision. An application for group registration must include conditions specifying, among other things, the arrangements for the supervision of non-registered persons to ensure compliance with the conditions of registration.

Subsection (7) allows applicants for a group registration to apply to be registered to hunt in the absence of non-registered persons, and subsection (8) provides that such registration will be regarded as individual registration for the purposes of the clause on registered hunting. While applications for group registration may be made by persons who are members of any type of formal or informal association in respect of organised hunts, it is expected that the applicants for registration would normally be officials of the hunt. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

Again for the guidance of the Committee, this group of amendments also reflects the original provisions of the Alun Michael Bill. They also include the changes which were made in Committee to these parts of the original Bill.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment No. 23:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"HANDLING

(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations about the treatment of an application under section (Application by individual) or (Application on behalf of group).

(2) The regulations may, in particular—

(a) enable the registrar to request, before determining an application, the provision of information or additional information by the applicant or applicants or by a prescribed animal welfare body;

(b) make provision about timing;

(c) enable or require the registrar to permit the amendment of an application, by the applicant or applicants, before its determination."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

moved Amendment No. 24:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"RENEWAL OF APPLICATION

(1) Where an individual application is refused, the applicant may not make a new individual application during the period of six months beginning with the date on which the first application is finally determined.

(2) Where an individual registration is cancelled the individual may not make a new individual application during the period of six months beginning with the date of cancellation.

(3) Where a group application is refused, none of the applicants may be party to a new group application during the period of six months beginning with the date on which the first application is finally determined.

(4) Where a group registration is cancelled none of the group may be party to a new group application during the period of six months beginning with the date of cancellation.

(5) Where an individual is removed from a group registration or an application to add him to a group registration is refused he may not be party to a new group application during the period of six months beginning with the date on which the removal is effected or the first application is finally determined.

(6) But—

(a) a refusal, cancellation or removal, other than one under section (Determination by registrar)(3)(b), (Determination by Tribunal)(3)(b), (Group registration: addition or replacement)(6) or (De-registration: conviction of an offence)(1), does not prevent a new application which—

(i) relates only to species to which the old application or registration did not relate, or

(ii) relates only to an area to which the old application or registration did not relate, and

(b) the registrar may permit an application despite any of subsections (1) to (5) by reason of a material change of circumstances.

(7) In this section—

"group application" means an application under section (Application on behalf of group), and

"individual application" means an application under section (Application by individual)."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment No. 25:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"Determination

DETERMINATION BY REGISTRAR

(1) This section applies to an application for registration under section (Application by individual) or (Application on behalf of group).

(2) On receipt of an application the registrar shall—

(a) invite the prescribed animal welfare bodies to make written representations about the application within a specified period, and

(b) consider any written representations made by any of those bodies within that period.

(3) If the registrar is satisfied that the hunting proposed in an application would satisfy the tests specified in section (Tests for registration: utility and least suffering) he shall—

(a) grant the application, or

(b) refuse the application if he thinks that the applicant, or any of the applicants, is not a fit and proper person to be registered by reason of a matter specified in subsection (4).

(4) Those matters are—

(a) conviction for an offence under this Act,

(b) conviction for an offence under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (c. 27),

(c) conviction for an offence under the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912 (c. 14),

(d) conviction for an offence under section 2 of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (c. 51),

(e) conviction for an offence under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 (c. 3),

(f) conviction for an offence under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 6),

(g) matters relating to the cancellation of the registration of the applicant or any of the applicants or his or their removal from a group registration, and

(h) matters relating to the cancellation of the registration of an individual who would be likely to hunt in reliance on the registration or his removal from a group registration.

(5) If the registrar is satisfied that the hunting proposed in an application would satisfy the tests specified in section (Tests for registration: utility and least suffering) if carried out in accordance with conditions other than those specified in the application, he may, with the consent of the applicant or applicants—

(a) grant the application, and

(b) add to or vary the conditions specified in the application.

(6) Where the registrar determines not to grant an application under subsection (3) or (5) he shall refuse it.

(7) In considering an application the registrar shall assume, unless he has reason not to, that the hunting proposed would be carried out in accordance with—

(a) the conditions specified in section (Automatic conditions of individual registration) or (Automatic conditions of group registration), and

(b) any condition specified in the application."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment No. 26:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"APPEAL TO TRIBUNAL

(1) Where the registrar refuses an application under section (Application by individual) or (Application on behalf of group) the applicant or applicants may appeal to the Tribunal.

(2) Where the registrar grants an application under section (Application by individual) or (Application on behalf of group) a prescribed animal welfare body may appeal to the Tribunal."

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

Amendment No. 26 concerns appeals to tribunals. It establishes the rights of appeal to the tribunal for unsuccessful applicants and the prescribed animal welfare bodies from decisions of the registrar on applications for individual or group registration. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Government Whip

For the sake of clarity later, it would be helpful if the Committee could be made aware whether the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, is speaking also to the other amendments in the original group that were not spoken to at the time. Amendment No. 26 was grouped with Amendments Nos. 27, 28, 39, 43, 82, 83, 84 and 85. It would be better if they could be taken en bloc, otherwise I fear the Committee could get into difficulties.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

That is most helpful. Amendments Nos. 16, 26, 27, 28, 39 and 43 are grouped with Amendments Nos. 82, 83, 84 and 85, but probably should not be. I shall be happy to deal with Amendments Nos. 16, 26, 27, 28, 39 and 43 together.

Photo of Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Government Whip

There was a slight difficulty earlier, so let me make the situation absolutely plain. Does the noble Lord mean that there will be a new group, beginning with Amendment No. 82, when we get to that part of the Marshalled List?

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

That would be best.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment Nos. 27 to 40:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"DETERMINATION BY TRIBUNAL

(1) This section applies where an appeal is brought to the Tribunal under section (Appeal to Tribunal) against the registrar's decision on an application.

(2) The Tribunal shall give the applicant or applicants and the prescribed animal welfare bodies an opportunity to make representations.

(3) If satisfied that the hunting proposed in the application would satisfy the tests specified in section (Tests for registration: utility and least suffering) the Tribunal shall—

(a) grant the application, or

(b) refuse the application if the Tribunal thinks that the applicant, or any of the applicants, is not a fit and proper person to be registered by reason of a matter specified in section (Determination by registrar)(4).

(4) If satisfied that the hunting proposed in the application would satisfy the tests specified in section (Tests for registration: utility and least suffering) if carried out in accordance with conditions other than those specified in the application, the Tribunal may, with the consent of the applicant or applicants—

(a) grant the application, and

(b) add to or vary the conditions specified in the application.

(5) Where the Tribunal determines not to grant the application under subsection (3) or (4) it shall refuse the application.

(6) In considering an appeal under section (Appeal to Tribunal) the Tribunal shall assume, unless it has reason not to, that the hunting proposed in an application would be carried out in accordance with—

(a) the conditions specified in section (Automatic conditions of individual registration) or (Automatic conditions of group registration), and

(b) any condition specified in the application.

(7) On determining an appeal the Tribunal may—

(a) give a direction to the registrar;

(b) make any order that it thinks appropriate."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"APPEAL FROM TRIBUNAL

(1) A person who is party to proceedings before the Tribunal under section (Appeal to Tribunal) may appeal on a point of law to the High Court.

(2) An appeal under subsection (1) may be brought only with the permission of—

(a) the Tribunal, or

(b) if the Tribunal refuses permission, the High Court."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"The register

FORM OF THE REGISTER

The Secretary of State may make regulations about—

(a) the form of the register;

(b) the manner in which it is maintained."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"CONTENT OF THE REGISTER

In the case of each registration the register shall record—

(a) the species of wild mammal in respect of the hunting of which the registration has effect,

(b) the area in respect of hunting in which the registration has effect,

(c) any other information provided in or with the application for registration,

(d) any conditions of the registration (apart from those specified in section (Automatic conditions of individual registration) or (Automatic conditions of group registration), and

(e) such other matters as may be prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"INSPECTION OF THE REGISTER

(1) The registrar—

(a) shall make the register available for inspection by the public at all reasonable times, and

(b) shall provide a copy of an entry in the register to any person who requests it.

(2) But the Secretary of State may by regulations—

(a) provide that information of a specified kind shall not be made available for inspection under subsection (1)(a) and shall be omitted from copies provided under subsection (1)(b);

(b) require the payment of a specified fee as a precondition of the provision of a copy under subsection (1)(b).

(3) Regulations under subsection (2)(a) may make provision by reference to a request of a registered individual."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"STANDARD DURATION OF REGISTRATION

Registration under this Part shall have effect for—

(a) the period of three years starting with the date on which it is effected, or

(b) such shorter period starting with that date as may be specified in the application for registration."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"RENEWAL OF REGISTRATION

(1) Registration under this Part may be renewed so as to continue to have effect for—

(a) the period of three years starting with the date on which renewal is effected, or

(b) such shorter period starting with that date as may be specified in the application for renewal.

(2) A provision of this Act which has effect in relation to an application for registration shall have effect (with any necessary modifications) in relation to an application for the renewal of a registration.

(3) If an application for renewal of registration is made more than six months before the registration would otherwise expire, the registration shall continue to have effect until the application is finally determined.

(4) Subsection (3) has effect—

(a) despite section (Standard duration of registration), but

(b) subject to any power under this Part to cancel or vary a registration.

(5) Regulations under this Part may make special provision in relation to applications for renewal."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"HANDLING OF APPLICATIONS

(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations about the treatment of an application under this Part (other than under section (Application by individual) or (Application on behalf of group).

(2) The regulations may, in particular—

(a) enable the registrar to request, before determining an application, the provision of information or additional information by the applicant or applicants or by a prescribed animal welfare body;

(b) make provision about timing."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"Conditions of registration

AUTOMATIC CONDITIONS OF INDIVIDUAL REGISTRATION

(1) Individual registration is subject to the conditions specified in this section.

(2) The first condition is that in the course of hunting carried out in reliance on the registration reasonable steps are taken to ensure—

(a) that any wild mammal injured or captured is killed quickly and humanely,

(b) that any wild mammal shot in accordance with paragraph (a) is shot by a competent person, and

(c) that hunting is carried out on land only with the prior permission of the occupier of the land or, in the case of unoccupied land, a person to whom it belongs.

(3) The second condition is that any inspector appointed by a prescribed animal welfare body is permitted on request to accompany the registered individual for the purpose of inspecting hunting carried on in reliance on the registration.

(4) The third condition is that there is insurance in place in respect of loss or damage caused to persons other than the registered individual in the course of hunting carried on in reliance on the registration.

(5) The fourth condition is that where the registered individual hunts in reliance on the registration not more than two other individuals (whether registered or not) participate in the hunting."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"AUTOMATIC CONDITIONS OF GROUP REGISTRATION

(1) Group registration is subject to the conditions specified in this section.

(2) The first condition is that in the course of hunting carried out in reliance on the registration reasonable steps are taken to ensure—

(a) that any wild mammal injured or captured is killed quickly and humanely,

(b) that any wild mammal shot in accordance with paragraph (a) is shot by a competent person, and

(c) that hunting is carried out on land only with the prior permission of the occupier of the land or, in the case of unoccupied land, a person to whom it belongs.

(3) The second condition is that any inspector appointed by a prescribed animal welfare body is permitted on request to accompany individuals hunting in reliance on the registration for the purpose of inspecting their hunting.

(4) The third condition is that there is insurance in place in respect of loss or damage caused to persons other than those registered in the course of hunting in reliance on the registration.

(5) The fourth condition is that—

(a) on each occasion on which hunting is carried out in reliance on the registration a record is made of the identity of each individual (whether registered or not) who participates in the hunt, and

(b) a record made under paragraph (a) is retained throughout the duration of the registration.

(6) The fifth condition is that reasonable steps are taken to exclude from participation in hunting carried out in reliance on the registration any individual whom any of the registered individuals knows or suspects—

(a) to have had his registration under this Part cancelled, or to have been removed from a group registration, within the previous period of three years,

(b) to be subject to a disqualification order under section (Disqualification for registration), or

(c) to have been convicted of an offence under this Act, the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (c. 27), the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912 (c. 14), the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 (c. 3), the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 6), or under section 2 of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (c. 51).

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"AMENDMENT OF AUTOMATIC CONDITIONS

The Secretary of State may by order amend section (Automatic conditions of individual registration) or (Automatic conditions of group registration) so as to—

(a) add a condition;

(b) remove a condition;

(c) vary a condition."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"VARIATION OF NON-AUTOMATIC CONDITION

(1) An individual who is the subject of an individual registration may apply to the registrar for variation of the conditions of the registration (other than a condition imposed by section (Automatic conditions of individual registration)).

(2) A group of individuals who are the subject of a group registration may apply to the registrar for variation of the conditions of the registration (other than a condition imposed by section (Automatic conditions of group registration)).

(3) An application must—

(a) be in the prescribed form,

(b) contain the prescribed information,

(c) be accompanied by the prescribed documents (if any), and

(d) be accompanied by the prescribed fee.

(4) Section (Determination by registrar) shall apply to an application under this section as if—

(a) a reference to the hunting proposed to be carried out were a reference to hunting carried out in reliance on the registration under the conditions as proposed to be varied, and

(b) the assumption in subsection (7) were an assumption about compliance with the conditions of registration as proposed to be varied.

(5) In this section "prescribed" means prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"APPEAL TO TRIBUNAL (NO. 2)

(1) Where the registrar grants or refuses an application under section (Variation of non-automatic condition) a party to the application may appeal to the Tribunal.

(2) The Tribunal shall give the appellant or appellants and the prescribed animal welfare bodies an opportunity to make representations.

(3) On determining the appeal the Tribunal may—

(a) give a direction to the registrar;

(b) make any order that it thinks appropriate.

(4) A person who is party to proceedings under this section may appeal on a point of law to the High Court.

(5) An appeal under subsection (4) may be brought only with the permission of—

(a) the Tribunal, or

(b) if the Tribunal refuses permission, the High Court."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"Variation and cancellation of registration

GROUP REGISTRATION: ADDITION OR REPLACEMENT

(1) An individual may apply to the registrar to be added to a group registration—

(a) as an additional registered individual, or

(b) in substitution for an individual registered.

(2) The applicant must be at least 16 years of age.

(3) An application under this section must—

(a) be in the prescribed form,

(b) contain the prescribed information,

(c) be accompanied by the prescribed documents (if any), and

(d) be accompanied by the prescribed fee.

(4) An application under this section must be accompanied by the written consent of more than half of the individuals registered under the group registration.

(5) In the case of an application to replace an individual the consents under subsection (4) must include his consent.

(6) The registrar shall grant an application under this section unless he thinks that the applicant is not a fit and proper person to be registered by reason of—

(a) a conviction for an offence under this Act,

(b) a conviction for an offence under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (c. 27),

(c) a conviction for an offence under the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912 (c. 14),

(d) a conviction for an offence under section 2 of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (c. 51),

(e) a conviction for an offence under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 (c. 3),

(f) a conviction for an offence under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 6), or

(g) matters relating to the cancellation of the applicant's registration or his removal from a group registration.

(7) An addition to or substitution in a group registration shall not affect the duration of the registration.

(8) Where an application under this section to add an individual to a group registration is refused no new application may be made to add the individual to a group registration during the period of six months beginning with the date of the refusal.

(9) But the registrar may permit an application despite subsection (8) by reason of a material change of circumstances.

(10) In this section "prescribed" means prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendment No. 41:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"DE-REGISTRATION: CONVICTION OF OFFENCE

(1) The registrar may cancel an individual registration, or remove an individual from a group registration, if the individual is convicted of an offence under—

(a) this Act,

(b) the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (c. 27)

(c) the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912 (c. 14),

(d) section 2 of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (c. 51),

(e) the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 (c. 3),

(f) the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 6).

(2) The registrar shall notify an individual in respect of whom the registrar has taken action under subsection (1)."

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

The amendment lists the Acts under which a conviction of an offence may lead to the registrar deregistering an individual, either from an individual registration or a group registration. The amendment consists of text from the original "Alun Michael" Bill introduced in December 2002, and changes made in Standing Committee in the House of Commons.

Photo of Lord Elton Lord Elton Conservative

Before the noble Lord moves the amendment, would he tell us whether he is also speaking to the other amendments in the group?

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

Yes, I am. Amendment No. 42 sets out the general deregistration process and is identical to the original government Bill as introduced in December 2002. Amendment No. 44 is also made up of the original text of the government Bill. It ensures that when a person is deregistered, either under an individual or group registration, he cannot be retrospectively prosecuted, nor can others on a group registration, for hunting previously carried out under their respective registrations.

Under Amendment No. 48, a person found guilty of an offence under the Bill is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale. When a person is convicted of an offence, it must be noted by the registrar, as must any qualifications made under the clause relevant to disqualification of registration, contained in Amendment No. 49. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

The wording of Amendment No. 49 is identical to that of the original government Bill introduced in December 2002. It deals with disqualification from registration. As before, if any Member of the Committee has questions about disqualification for registration, I shall try to answer them.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, has made it clear that the amendments are in line with the original Bill, with the exception of Amendment No. 41, which changes the list of animal welfare organisations and which was agreed on by consensus in Committee in another place.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

moved Amendments Nos. 42 to 46:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"DE-REGISTRATION: GENERAL

(1) Any of the prescribed animal welfare bodies may apply to the registrar for a registration to be cancelled, or for an individual to be removed from a group registration, on the grounds that—

(a) a condition of the registration has been breached, or

(b) the tests specified in section (Tests for registration: utility and least suffering) are no longer satisfied in respect of the hunting to which the registration relates.

(2) The occupier of land, or in the case of unoccupied land a person to whom it belongs, may apply to the registrar for a registration to be cancelled, or for an individual to be removed from a group registration, on the grounds that trespass to the land has been committed in the course of hunting carried out in reliance on the registration.

(3) An application under this section must—

(a) be in the prescribed form,

(b) contain the prescribed information,

(c) be accompanied by the prescribed documents (if any), and

(d) be accompanied by the prescribed fee.

(4) On an application under this section the following are entitled to make written representations to the registrar—

(a) the applicant,

(b) the relevant registered individual or individuals, and

(c) in the case of an application under subsection (2), any person to whom the land belongs.

(5) For the purposes of an application under this section the registrar may require the production of a record made pursuant to section (Automatic conditions of group registration)(5).

(6) On an application under this section the registrar may—

(a) cancel a registration or remove an individual from a group registration (whether on the grounds alleged in the application, on grounds that could have been alleged or on the grounds that a record required under subsection (5) was not produced);

(b) with the consent of the individual or individuals registered, vary the conditions of registration.

(7) An application under subsection (2) is without prejudice to a person's right to seek another remedy in respect of trespass.

(8) In this section "prescribed" means prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"APPEAL TO TRIBUNAL (NO. 3)

(1) Where the registrar refuses an application under section (Group registration: addition or replacement) the applicant may appeal to the Tribunal.

(2) Where the registrar takes action in respect of an individual under section (De-registration: conviction of offence) the individual may appeal to the Tribunal.

(3) Where the registrar grants or refuses an application under section (De-registration: general) a party to the application may appeal to the Tribunal.

(4) The Tribunal shall give the following an opportunity to make representations—

(a) the appellant or appellants,

(b) the relevant registered individual or individuals (if not the appellant or appellants),

(c) the prescribed animal welfare bodies, and

(d) in the case of an appeal in respect of an application under section (De-registration: general)(2), a person to whom the relevant land belongs.

(5) For the purposes of an appeal under this section the Tribunal may require the production of a record made pursuant to section (Automatic conditions of group registration)(5).

(6) On determining the appeal the Tribunal may—

(a) give a direction to the registrar;

(b) make any order that it thinks appropriate.

(7) A person who is party to proceedings under this section may appeal on a point of law to the High Court.

(8) An appeal under subsection (7) may be brought only with the permission of—

(a) the Tribunal, or

(b) if the Tribunal refuses permission, the High Court."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"DE-REGISTRATION: SAVING

(1) Cancellation of a registration under this Part shall be without prejudice to the lawfulness of anything done in reliance on it while it had effect.

(2) The removal of an individual from a group registration shall be without prejudice to the lawfulness of anything done in reliance on his inclusion while he was included."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"Offences

FALSE INFORMATION

A person commits an offence if—

(a) he makes a false statement or gives false information in an application under this Part, and

(b) he does not believe the statement or information to be true."

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"GROUP REGISTRATION: FAILURE TO KEEPRECORDS

(1) In the case of a group registration each registered individual commits an offence if he fails—

(a) to make a record of each occasion on which he hunts in purported reliance on the registration,

(b) when hunting in purported reliance on the registration, to make a record of the identity of each individual participating in the hunting, or

(c) to retain throughout the duration of the registration each record made by him under paragraph (a) or (b).

(2) It is a defence for an individual charged with an offence under this section to show that he reasonably believed that a record was made or retained by another registered individual."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Photo of Baroness Byford Baroness Byford Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

moved Amendment No. 47:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"COMPENSATION FOR THOSE REFUSEDREGISTRATION

(1) The Secretary of State shall by order make a scheme for the making of payments to persons refused registration or adversely affected by a refusal to grant registration—

(a) whose employment is materially affected (whether by a reduction in profits or the incurring of losses), or

(b) who are deprived of any services previously provided by hunts and as a result incur and are materially affected by costs, expenses or losses.

(2) The scheme shall, in particular, specify—

(a) the manner in which losses, costs, expenses or reductions in profits may be calculated, and

(b) the evidence which may be reasonably required to show the losses, costs, expenses or reductions in profits calculated in accordance with this paragraph.

(3) The scheme shall also, in particular—

(a) specify the basis of valuation for determining losses,

(b) specify the amounts of the payments to be made or the basis on which such amounts are to be calculated,

(c) provide for the procedure to be followed (including the time within which claims must be made and the provision of information) in respect of claims under the scheme and for the determination of such claims.

(4) Subsection (5) applies to any dispute as to a person's entitlement to payments under a scheme or the amounts of any such payments which—

(a) has not been resolved within nine months of the day on which the original decision as to entitlement or amounts was notified in writing to the person concerned by the Secretary of State, and

(b) has not been referred by agreement to arbitration.

(5) The dispute shall be referred by the Secretary of State to such appellate body as he deems appropriate by order.

(6) An order under this section shall be made by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament."

(7) In this section—

"losses" includes losses of income, housing and losses of capital;

"materially affected" means a reduction in profit or the incurrence of losses, costs or expenses which may be measured by ordinary principles of commercial accountancy.

Photo of Baroness Byford Baroness Byford Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

In moving this amendment, I seek advice from the Minister. As he will well remember, when we debated this Bill previously, I tabled several amendments on compensation. At that stage, we were considering a total ban. Given subsequent events this week, we are not facing a total ban but dealing with an amended and regulated Bill. Therefore, I have tabled this amendment to get from the Minister some clarification of the Government's thinking.

When the matter was debated in another place, the issue of compensation in the event of a total ban was raised. The honourable Member Tony Banks (at col. 1282 of the Official Report) said that he was not unsympathetic towards the idea of compensation. It was recognised clearly, and indeed the Burns report said, that if there were a total ban 700-plus jobs might be lost. There would not be a loss of hounds and kennels alone—people would lose their homes as well.

I have returned to this situation today, dividing the matter into two—with the Minister's indulgence, I hope. I begin with regard to those who will not qualify, even within a registration scheme, which is something that clearly may happen. Last night we spoke in great detail on hare coursing. It may be that some people in other hunts would not qualify even under a registration system. If they do not qualify because of the new conditions laid down by the Bill as amended in this House, if it is accepted by the Commons, are they entitled to any form of compensation?

The Minister will remember that the Select Committee on Human Rights came to some conclusions on the matter. I turn to a comment that he made in response to comments by my noble friend Lord Astor. He said:

"The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, and many others, referred to the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. What the noble Viscount said was a bit of a travesty"— to quote the Minister exactly—

"of what the committee said—it did not say that the Bill was contrary to the Human Rights Act. The chair, Jean Corston, confirmed that in her speech last month. However, the committee did draw attention to the absence of any compensation scheme in relation to deprivation of benefit of vested rights under contracts. Nothing in the Bill deprives people of their possessions; it merely imposes control on the uses to which dogs and man may be put. In those circumstances, in the light of general European and British law, there is in our view no obligation to compensate. On the particular point, the Government consider that there cannot be a right to compensation for an unperformed or unenforceable contract. None the less, it is also true, as my right honourable friend the Member for Bristol East, the chair of the committee, made clear in the debate last month, that the issue of whether compensation is appropriate or not would be met by the amendment before us, in terms of the delay in the application of the main parts of the Bill. On that basis, I had no hesitation in signing the statement.—[Hansard, 12/10/04; col. 258.]

It is a slightly complex issue in that I am asking noble Lords to consider whether it is right that some form of compensation should be due to anyone who in a registered system—if it is approved by the other House—would lose out because of this new legislation.

I ask the Committee to consider the position with regard to fur farmers and pig swill operators. The Committee may wonder why on earth I am referring to them. I do so because both have been put out of business due to government action. The Government decided that some form of compensation was due to fur farmers, and that has been forthcoming. However, pig swill operators, who through no fault of their own had their livelihoods removed from under their feet with no notice at all, were not compensated in any way. Therefore, my question to the Minister at this stage is twofold: first, how do the Government decide whether compensation is due in the first place; and, secondly, having decided that, do they have to consider any form of human rights within their decision, or is it purely a government decision which has no bearing on human rights?

I apologise to the Committee for the slight complexity of the issue. If, for any reason when this Bill goes to another place it does not accept what the Committee has recommended and a total ban is introduced, what will be the position of all those animals, hounds and hunts who will have their livelihoods removed? As I said earlier today, one of the things that worries me enormously is that when this Bill finally leaves this House it will go to another place and Members of another place are not required to consider a word of what has been said in this House. It is very important that we get a steer from the Minister. It is in that spirit that I move the amendment. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Graham of Edmonton Lord Graham of Edmonton Labour

My good colleague in the other place, Tony Banks, has been referred to by many noble Lords in a derogatory sense. However, the noble Baroness prayed him in aid of the case that she made regarding compensation and said that he could see some merit in it. That is one of the complexities that she introduced into the issue.

Members of the Committee are aware of my stance on the issue. We have lost the argument in this place. I accept that this House has the right to do what it has done. All of the amendments flow from the fact that a vast majority of noble Lords wish to see hunting continue in some form. I am in a minority in that regard. I say to the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, that I have checked the figures. According to my calculations in the vote last night 51 Labour Peers voted for hunting and 53 voted against. We shall check the figures again and consult on that. I do not resile from the fact that noble Lords on the Labour Benches are more polarised on the issue than noble Lords opposite.

Given that we have lost the argument in this House, it is ludicrous to expect those of us who share my view on these matters to deal with all the amendments, which were tabled to strengthen the vote taken yesterday. It is not on to expect us to engage meaningfully with the amendments that are before us. I read them, I listen to the discussion on most of them, as most of my noble friends are aware, and I appreciate the sincerity with which they are discussed.

Colleagues in another place will listen seriously to the arguments and will reach their own views on compensation. I accept that if a hunt is banned, that is not the end of it. Drag hunting has been referred to more than once. I am not as familiar as Members of the Committee opposite with the manner in which hunting or drag hunting are conducted. I have listened carefully to accounts of the terrible carnage that will be visited upon packs of hounds. However, Members of the Committee opposite know that the lives of those dogs are limited and that in due course, sooner rather than later when they outlive their usefulness to the pack and to the hunt, they will be destroyed, humanely, of course. I do not belittle the fact that if a hunt is faced with a ban, it will have to consider what to do with all its accoutrements and paraphernalia. I take with a pinch of salt accounts of the devastating unemployment that would result from a ban on hunting. I am not familiar with the precise figure that is involved. However, if there is a serious intention to continue hunting, but not of foxes, for the pleasure and sport that that involves, a hunt can convert to drag hunting. Therefore, I cannot see why public money—which is as precious to Members of the Committee on this side of the Chamber as it is to Members opposite—should be set aside for compensation.

The noble Baroness has done the Committee a service in exploring the issues in a perfectly fair manner. It just so happens that I disagree with her largely because her arguments are predicated on the basis of hunting being banned. That may well be the ultimate decision of the other place and, I hope, of the electorate at the next election. I try not to speak on every issue. In a normal debate there is something you can get your teeth into but all of these amendments flow from an original premise with which I violently disagree. I rest my case.

Photo of Lord Livsey of Talgarth Lord Livsey of Talgarth Shadow Minister (Agriculture), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Graham, for his recognition of the need for compensation. I understand that, given the stance he has taken, it is difficult for him to make a speech of that kind. It is very fair-minded of him to do so in the circumstances.

Amendment No. 47, which the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, has put to the Committee this evening, covers most of the issues that arise in relation to compensation for those hunts that are refused registration. As she pointed out, that is quite different from the situation regarding a ban. It is necessary to put an amendment of this kind into the Bill as undoubtedly the registrar will refuse to register some hunts for various reasons which we cannot foresee at the present time.

The main issue, of course, concerns those who are employed in hunting and the discontinuance of services which have been provided hitherto such as houses and services that are provided for employees. It is interesting to note that the Burns report referred to compensation. Paragraph 10.57 states:

"In the case of the hunts, the main issue which would arise would be whether some form of compensation should be paid in the event of their having to put down hounds and because the hounds would no longer be required. We noted in Chapter 6 that there is disagreement about whether it would in fact be necessary for all, or even most, of the hounds to be destroyed and that this would depend on the speed in implementing a ban. Leaving that question to one side, we understand that the principle which is generally applied, when considering issues of compensation, is whether the individual concerned is actually deprived of a particular benefit".

That defines a situation that could, and obviously would, arise when a ban came in. Where the registrar had refused registration, the same issues would apply. It would be interesting to know whether the Minister would accept those arguments.

Photo of Lord Graham of Edmonton Lord Graham of Edmonton Labour

I think that the noble Lord said that he was pleased that I supported the paying of compensation, in which case I hope that Hansard tomorrow will prove him wrong. I made the case that compensation need not be paid if the paraphernalia of the hunt continued with drag hunting, not normal hunting. If the amendment is pressed, I intend to vote against it.

Photo of Lord Livsey of Talgarth Lord Livsey of Talgarth Shadow Minister (Agriculture), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

I understand the noble Lord's interpretation, but it does not mean that hunts will follow drag hunting by any means. That is an untested thesis.

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

What would the answer of the noble Lord, Lord Graham, be to a young woman who came to me the other day? She had two young children, and said that she was the wife of a kennel huntsman in a small pack in Devon. They lived in a tied house and had 70 couple of hounds in kennels, which she said were their children. If hunting ends, she has no prospect of that pack surviving; it runs on a shoestring. It is not jumping country, so drag hunting is a non-starter. When she rang her local council to say that she would be out of her house, possibly as early as May next year, she was told that she would be put into bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Plymouth. Would the noble Lord, Lord Graham, still give the answer to her that he gave to the noble Lord, Lord Livsey?

Photo of Lord Graham of Edmonton Lord Graham of Edmonton Labour

My advice to her would be to go to see her local MP.

Noble Lords:

Oh!

Photo of Lord Graham of Edmonton Lord Graham of Edmonton Labour

The local MP is the best person to fight on behalf of his or her constituents. I am not saying that there will not be casualties when the issues are resolved one way or the other. Of course there will be, and they will be sought to be minimised somehow. Frankly, the best way to minimise them is to try to be collegiate in looking at such matters and resolve them in that way.

When I served in the other place and represented Edmonton, I had people placed in such a situation as a result of some decision—very often a decision of the Conservative Party. The fallout was such was that people like the lady mentioned were put in a terrible situation. The social fabric of the country—local councils and other methods—is there to help them. I am sorry for the lady—there will be many others; she will not be alone—but her plight will not determine the issue so far as I am concerned.

Photo of Lord Eden of Winton Lord Eden of Winton Conservative

I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Byford for tabling the amendment, as it has given us the opportunity to talk briefly about compensation. The amendment deals with one aspect of compensation but, following the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Graham, the debate has widened a little to deal with compensation in the event of a ban. That was the point on which he focused.

It is not a realistic alternative to contemplate that drag hunting would replace live fox hunting or other animal hunting. Drag hunting is of only very limited scope. At the best of times, one would have only a small number of hounds, not a whole pack as one would of foxhounds. The more one considers that possibility as the direction in which one will go, it is clear that a large number of hounds would have to be destroyed.

Some put forward the proposition that rehoming is a possibility. It is beyond sense to talk about re-homing foxhounds and other hounds. They are pack animals, trained to chase in the wild. One cannot have them sitting in one's front room; they would destroy everything that they saw if they were kept there. They would perform and leave little visiting cards all over the place in the house. If they got outside, they would pursue whatever other animal happened to be around, given the opportunity. If it were the neighbour's cat, woe betide the neighbour's cat. There are large problems associated with that approach.

It is very woolly minded to talk about drag hunting, rehoming and the like as though they provided cosy and convenient solutions. They would not. Those who favour a ban, such as the noble Lord, Lord Graham, have to face up to the fact that at least 20,000 hounds will probably have to be destroyed. That is a large number. Who will do it? The noble Lord says that the huntsman will destroy a hound when its useful life is finished. That is correct; he is preserving his pack. However, to destroy an entire pack is a totally different proposition. Many hounds are thoroughbred creatures with generations of genealogy behind them. It is known how they have been bred and brought up. They are class creatures; they are special animals, devoted to the one objective for which they have been bred.

I hope that we hear no more woolly minded nonsense on the issue, whether from the noble Lord or anyone else. I also hope that this debate on compensation will give the opportunity—probably the only one that we have—for the Minister to talk about what would happen if the other House reversed all that we are trying to achieve.

Photo of Viscount Astor Viscount Astor Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

When my noble friend Lady Byford moved the amendment, she referred to the exchange that the Minister and I had at Second Reading on compensation and the human rights convention. Following that exchange, I wrote to him questioning what he said; I still await the reply to the questions I asked, which is no doubt working its way through the system. He accused me of misstating matters when I put forward my argument, but I was very careful. I quoted verbatim the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the words of its chairman, Jean Corston. The words were theirs, not mine, and they raised serious issues about compensation.

I am afraid that the Minister set his own trap when he said that an 18-month delay would solve the problems, if there were any. That implied that there was a problem. The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, took that up in a Starred Question, and we still did not get a satisfactory answer. However, we have moved on. The question is not one of compensation for a ban, as the amendment is about compensation for those refused registration. However, the principle behind it is important, and it is on that principle that I want to ask a very simple question.

The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, said that policies instituted by past Conservative governments resulted in people losing their jobs in the north-east. I accept that; people lose their jobs because of economic circumstances and such reasons. However, I want to ask the Minister specifically whether the Government still believe that if Parliament passes an Act that results in someone losing their job, for which they have a contract, they should be entitled to compensation. In effect, it is what the human rights convention says.

Photo of Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld Labour

Perhaps I may make a few remarks in support of the proposal of the noble Baroness, Lady Byford. It is absolutely right to do that and to provide for compensation. I was surprised to hear my noble friend Lord Graham make his speech. He is a much respected figure in this House and his credentials as a Labour man are certainly not in doubt. But he made a speech that I do not believe that a trade unionist would recognise and he did not make a speech that a trade unionist with a Labour Party background would recognise, because subsection (7) of the amendment states that,

"'losses' includes losses of income, housing and losses of capital", and,

"'materially affected' means a reduction in profit or the incurrence of losses, costs or expenses which may be measured by ordinary principles of commercial accountancy".

When I was a trade union officer I argued that kind of case time and again. I would be willing to do so again on behalf of those who may lose their jobs as a consequence of the Bill.

From these Benches, I am certain that the principal view would be that the contents of the amendment are correct and consistent with what I understand to be Labour Party principles.

Photo of Lord Sanderson of Bowden Lord Sanderson of Bowden Conservative

I cannot stay quiet any longer on this matter and I wish to support the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld. Those of us who live north of the Border know only too well what has happened regarding hunting. In my part of the border country there has been much trouble as a result of there being no compensation. What I have heard from the Labour Benches tonight is something that I never thought that I would hear—noble Lords voluntarily ensuring that people lose their jobs. To my mind that is not the tenet of the Labour Party as I used to know it. I am surprised to have heard it from there.

Photo of Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Shadow Minister, Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

The noble Baroness, Lady Byford, has raised an extremely important issue, for which I am grateful. I cannot support this amendment because it is too widely drawn. That is because when we looked, for example, at the results of foot and mouth in the West Country, we found businesses that had been affected that we never believed would have been.

I shall give noble Lords the example of an underwear shop whose takings fell. One would not have thought that foot and mouth could have possibly affected that business. Why did that happen? Because they sold white brassieres to waitresses who had to wear them under their white shirts, and, of course, the tea shops' incomes had fallen so much that the waitresses were not being employed that season. That is one example of a knock-on, unexpected effect.

As I read it, the amendment is not drawn tightly enough for those who lose their incomes and whose prime incomes are from employment with the hunt. If that were the case then it would be most surprising if the Government were not to support it. When we debated the fur farming Bill, I understood from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, who took that Bill through the House for the Government, that because a moral decision was taken by a government to end a particular activity—in that case, fur farming, but in this case, hunting—then those whose prime incomes came from that activity should be entitled to compensation. I cannot believe that this case would be any different. So I urge the noble Baroness very much to tighten up those to whom this important amendment applies. I could then support it at Report stage.

Photo of Viscount Ullswater Viscount Ullswater Conservative

The amendment deals with those people who are refused registration, but the Minister has given us an indication that that will ensure that it is not accepted by the other place. Therefore, the wider concept of compensation should perhaps be addressed as well. I hope that the Minister will address that.

The discrete area that I wish to bring to the Minister's attention is that of point-to-pointing, because if there is a hunting ban, the British Horseracing Board, in its evidence to the Burns inquiry, estimated that a minimum of a quarter of point-to-point venues would close as a consequence. About 25 per cent of the horses participating in that sport would be affected. From memory, approximately 4,000 horses take part in point-to-points; thus 1,000 horses would be affected. In small areas that would be the knock-on effect and there would be no alternative for those horses. They have been used for hunting, which would be banned, but generally they are not kept for riding around the countryside. They are kept for racing or hunting. Many of them are held in livery stables, which will suffer a considerable drop in income if great areas of the country are deprived of point-to-pointing. Could the Minister turn his mind to that?

Photo of Lord Jopling Lord Jopling Conservative

I wish to cast my mind back some years, when I was in another place. Legislation was passing through that House following the tragic shootings in Dunblane. As a consequence, the previous government in the 1990s—my government—decided that they would introduce stringent new laws concerning gun clubs. On that occasion I remember that the government said that they were not prepared to give compensation. A number of us felt that that was quite outrageous. People were being put out of business; I know that in my old constituency there were people in that position. A number of us voted against our government on that occasion. It would be totally inconsistent of me if, on this occasion, I did not follow exactly the same line and follow my noble friend into the Lobby, as I hope she will divide the House on this matter. It would be outrageous if compensation was not given in this case.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

This has been an interesting debate on an important issue and some clarification is required. There are two basic streams of argument regarding compensation. The first is whether we are obliged to pay compensation under the legislation relating to the European Convention on Human Rights and the other is whether there is a precedent for the Government to pay compensation in any case.

I shall deal with the human rights issue first. The position of the Joint Committee on Human Rights—and the comment of the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, and my exchange with the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe—was on the basis of its view of the Bill imposing an outright ban. The committee's view was that the Bill did not raise the issue of human rights, except in one limited area relating to compensation where contracts were broken. I responded to the noble Viscounts in the context of a Bill which, at that point was proposing a ban. The JCHR also considered the Bill as it was originally put to the House of Commons—what we are all calling the "Alun Michael Bill". At that point the JCHR did not raise any concerns of any sort in relation to human rights—primarily, I guess, because a due process of assessment was being made and the committee concluded that there was no issue of human rights arising from a Bill that required a due process of registration. Therefore, the Bill that is now before us, as a result of earlier amendments, falls into the same category as that on which the JCHR commented at first.

To complicate the issue—that may have been my fault earlier—even with a ban, the chair of the human rights committee said that its concerns would be alleviated if the delay suggested by the Commons was built in.

The Government had already concluded that issues of human rights do not arise in this respect, but if a delay were adopted by both Houses, that would clearly reduce even further any concerns about human rights. However, as I indicated in my exchange with the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, the other day, the Government reach that conclusion in any case.

I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, who said that we are talking about deprivation. We are not talking about deprivation. The European Convention on Human Rights treats deprivation of goods differently from restrictions on use of goods. In this respect, we are talking about a restriction on the use of goods—premises, land, dogs and so forth. Therefore, that is not automatically a European Convention on Human Rights issue.

If the registration scheme is reinstated, the Joint Committee on Human Rights states that there is no issue of human rights at all. Indeed, even if one were to accept that there might be some precedent for payment of compensation on human rights grounds—I shall come to that in a moment—the proposed new clause is written extremely widely, as the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, has indicated. It covers anybody who is refused registration, which could include somebody who had never hunted or organised a hunt before; it covers somebody who flagrantly broke both the criteria for being registered; it would affect too those who are indirectly affected, such as the underwear shop to which the noble Baroness referred. As the proposed new clause stands, compensation could be payable even to somebody who, because of previous convictions for cruelty, had been refused registration.

The breadth of the proposed new clause is therefore an issue, but there is a more fundamental issue which goes back to the way in which the European Convention on Human Rights operates. A number of noble Lords referred to fur farming. Compensation was paid to fur farmers, although issues relating to that are still not entirely clear. It was paid on the basis of deprivation of the animals which were confiscated at the insistence of the Government to prevent fur farming taking place. That is a different issue from the restriction of the use of assets. It is the equivalent of paying compensation to those farmers whose stock was destroyed as a disease control measure during the foot and mouth outbreak. It is they who were compensated because of that deprivation, not people who were indirectly affected in terms of their livelihood, their businesses or their ability to use their assets as a result of such measures.

The issue is a little more complicated in relation to guns legislation. The previous government stated that they were not—in line with my argument—prepared to pay compensation, except in the limited cases where they were depriving people of the guns, which was a limited part of that Bill. They did not therefore pay compensation to gun clubs which could no longer operate or to anybody except those from whom they took the weapons and equipment. Although the amount of compensation was significant, it was because of the first part of the European Convention on Human Rights and not the second, which deals with restrictions on use.

There is therefore neither a requirement under the convention or the Human Rights Act to pay compensation nor a precedent for paying compensation. My noble friend Lord Graham said that there will undoubtedly be hard cases. They will not be as many in number as is often claimed by those who advance pro-hunting arguments, but there will be some hard cases. However, governments regulate year in and year out and introduce other forms of legislation in ways which directly and indirectly affect businesses and livelihoods, some of which suffer detriment as a result of that government intervention. It is not normal for the Government to pay compensation in those circumstances.

The example to which my noble friend Lord Hogg referred presents an entirely different circumstance. As a trade union official, he would be approaching the employer for compensation for deprivation or reduction of terms and conditions or loss of employment or pension. That is a different issue because it is a contractual arrangement under the terms and conditions of employment between the worker and the employer. Whatever the form of regulations and government intervention, it is not a circumstance where the Government, in previous situations, have seen it as a requirement that they would pay compensation.

As a result of the interpretation of the convention and the Human Rights Act or on the basis of precedent that has been presented here, I cannot accept the principle of the amendment of the noble Baroness and I certainly could not accept its wording, because it is extremely wide. I am not advising the Committee, but that would be likely to be the position of the Government in this respect. The proposed new clause affects a more direct party than the two Houses because it would be a cost to the Government, but I do not believe that the Government would wish to advise the Committee to accept any such compensation scheme. That is also likely to be the position of the majority in the House of Commons. Although Tony Banks and others are saying something different, neither the law nor precedent would support that position.

Photo of Baroness Byford Baroness Byford Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

I am grateful to all Members of the Committee who have taken part in this debate. It is an important issue and I want to pick up on one or two points. The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, knows that I do not agree with him on this issue—and indeed on some others. He holds clear views on the matter and one cannot argue with someone who holds clear views. The matter is important to him. However, as he has heard me say previously, I believe that he is misguided in the belief that in some way people who hunt can be converted to drag hunting. It does not work in the way he thinks it can. We will agree to disagree.

The Burns report is most important and I want to refer to it again. The regulatory impact assessment refers to Burns as stating that hunting, as an economic activity, is so small as to be almost invisible in terms of national aggregates. That is a blatantly selective use of Burns, because it went on to say:

"However, it often takes place in the remoter regions where farming is vulnerable and where there are few alternative jobs close at hand".

In those areas, the impact of a ban or someone failing to qualify would be much, much more severe than in terms of employment and, from the point of view of the upland farmers, in relation to the viability of their businesses.

There are therefore other parts of the Burns report that I have not debated in depth, although I could have done so. However, as this was a probing amendment, I wanted to gain the Minister's reaction, but I want to return to the matter at a later stage.

My noble friend Lord Eden spoke about drag hunting and the important issue of the rehoming of hounds. The All-Party Group on Animal Welfare, of which I am a member, produced a report about six weeks ago in which it stated that it would be possible to rehome a lot of hounds. I must say that I totally disagree with that and I support my noble friend. Hounds are brought up to be pack animals; they are not individual, cosy little animals which can—

Photo of Lord Hoyle Lord Hoyle Labour

Can the noble Baroness explain what happens to the hounds when they reach the end of their useful life with the hunt, which is at about four to five years?

Photo of Baroness Byford Baroness Byford Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

I thank the noble Lord for that question. Like all of us, they ultimately come to an end. Usually a hound would expect to have a seven or eight-year working life—fortunately, not for us—after which they are humanely put down. That is quite right. On the question whether they could be re-homed, my noble friend was right to point out that there would be in excess of 20,000 hounds were a ban to be imposed.

I am grateful for the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld. Although the Minister argued that it is a different issue, I do not believe that it is. We are talking about people whose employment is based on the continuation of hunting or, in this case, on obtaining the qualification to be registered. Indeed, as the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, rightly pointed out, those people are under contract with the hunts and live in accommodation connected with the hunts. I believe they are in the exact position that the Minister said they were not in and therefore, on that issue, I have to agree with the noble Lord and disagree with the Minister.

The noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, rightly said that my amendment is drawn very widely. Indeed, it is. I thought it important that it should be drawn fairly widely at this stage so that we could discover the feelings of the Committee and, far more importantly, the feelings of the Minister. That is why, at this stage, I do not wish to press the amendment to a vote. I want to consider what has been said and return to it at a later stage.

My noble friend Lord Ullswater raised the very important question of what will happen to point-to-points and the knock-on effect on race hunts. I could add many other examples to that.

My noble friend Lord Jopling gave the example of gun clubs. Probably one reason that compensation was paid on that occasion was that it was possible for gun clubs to operate in a different way, although they were not using handguns. That situation occurred a little before my time, but I think that it is an important issue which has a bearing on our current debates.

When replying to the amendment, the Minister suggested that no human rights issue was attached to this matter. I beg leave to differ with him. I hope that between now and Report he will ask the government lawyers to check that situation because it has been suggested to me that there is still a human rights implication in respect of this amendment.

The noble Lord said that the position in relation to fur farming was based on deprivation. However, if the Bill is passed with a ban on hunting, as opposed to regulated hunting, I believe that those who fail to qualify will be deprived. They will lose the use of their homes. Some are in rented accommodation and they will have nowhere to go. Some Members of the Committee have said that that is tough and that there are hard cases out there. But I do not think that, just because things are tough, we should not address the issue, and that is what I have tried to do tonight.

It is not only a question of the hounds, or the hunt servants for whom the human issue is particularly important. A total ban, which may well be the situation when the Bill is returned to another place, will result in spin-off effects on farriers and those who supply equipment for horses, as well as hoteliers and bed and breakfast establishments. Often people who partake in a hunt do not live in the area. In the winter months, hunting brings people to Exmoor and other areas of the country which they would not normally visit. Therefore, my amendment is not based only on a narrow issue.

I am grateful to each and every noble Lord who has spoken in the debate. I have been tempted to move the matter to a vote, but I hope that noble Lords will bear with me. It is an important issue but, at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Lord Campbell-Savours Lord Campbell-Savours Labour

moved Amendment No. 47A:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

"DEFENCE: PROTECTION OF SHEEP IN SHEEP GRAZING AREA IN DESIGNATED NATIONAL PARK

(1) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under section 1 to prove that the conduct to which the charge relates consisted of using dogs for the control of foxes for the purpose of protecting sheep on a fell or moorland within a sheep grazing area in a designated National Park.

(2) In this section "designated" means designated in an order made by the Secretary of State.

(3) An order under this section shall be made by statutory instrument and shall not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by each House of Parliament."

Photo of Lord Campbell-Savours Lord Campbell-Savours Labour

In moving Amendment No. 47A, I shall speak also to the associated amendment, Amendment No. 81. I apologise to the Committee for appearing a little fragile and wobbly on my feet. I am going through a period of some difficulty at present, but I was determined to attend this debate today.

My amendment would include in the Bill a new clause providing a defence for a person charged under Section 1. Some Members may recall that exactly this amendment—unamended—was tabled for the debate that took place in Committee in October last year. For ease of reference—particularly with regard to the Commons in the event that this amendment is successful this evening—it was moved at col. 159; it was approved at col. 181 after almost a two-hour debate with a majority of 36; and it was supported during the debate by the noble Lords, Lord Carlile of Berriew, Lord Kimball, Lord King of Bridgwater, Lord Livsey of Talgarth, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden, and the noble Lords, Lord Palmer and Lord Renton of Mount Harry. I think that I have that correct. I mention that because the people to whom I refer specifically are those who, I am sure, today would prefer a system of registration and licensing, but at that stage they saw it as a compromise.

My amendment sets three tests for permissible hunting: first, that it be for the purposes of protecting sheep; secondly, that hunting be on a fell or moorland within a sheep-grazing area; and, thirdly, that the hunting take place in a designated national park approved under our statutory instrument procedures by both Houses of Parliament.

I do not know the detailed tactics of the pro-hunting lobby on the question of a compromise, which was dealt with yesterday in some detail. I can say only that, of all the amendments before us, it is my view that it is only a very narrow amendment and that it would gather a sympathetic hearing in the House of Commons on the question of a compromise. That is why Amendment No. 47A was tabled and it is why, I believe, Amendment No. 81 was tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Jopling.

We need to have clearly in our minds the process that will take place if the House of Commons is driven into using the Parliament Act. Under the provisions of that Act as they have been explained to me, the Bill to be approved must be the original Bill as sent by the Commons to the Lords for consideration. Therefore, if we want to try to avoid the use of the Parliament Act and yet maximise the concessions that we seek, we should insist on only those amendments which we realistically believe the Commons will accept. However, I am afraid that an amendment covering licensing and registration is not one of those amendments.

It is not as though, in my view, the Government could intervene to influence this debate. As my noble friend said from the Dispatch Box yesterday, this is now a Bill driven by the Back-Benchers in the House of Commons. In my view, they have total control of the Bill, and there is very little that the Government can do apart from listen to what Back-Benchers in the other place have to say and keep their fingers crossed. As I said, in my view, Back-Benchers have total control. While it is true that, as I understand it, the Government could block the use of the Parliament Act in the other place, I suspect that that would lead to a major row in the House of Commons and I do not believe that that will happen.

My amendment has been drawn up specifically to appeal to the Labour Back-Benchers in the House of Commons in the belief that they will determine events on this Bill. Why have I tabled it? I shall be absolutely frank. I have always voted against hunting. That is why I believe that this amendment, coming from the stable that it does, has some credibility in the other place.

The amendment stems from my experience as a constituency Member of Parliament for 22 years in the Lake District, where I still live, surrounded by a number of fell packs and with a huge mail bag—not only during general election periods but also outside general elections in the general cut and thrust of the argument that takes place about hunting in the Lake District National Park. I was for ever being approached by people demanding that some concession be made in this particular area. They were not arguments that I could simply ignore; they had to be addressed. They were primarily about the problems in the lambing season in the Lake District and the major problem of an invasion of guns into the Lake District National Park—an area of intense tourist interest and where many people are wary about the possible intrusion of guns on the scale that some have suggested.

I must refer to statements to which I referred on a previous occasion. I want to draw to the attention of the Committee a letter from John Hayton of Thackthwaite, near Cockermouth, in which he said:

"I am an upland sheep farmer in the Lake District National Park, who every year suffers losses to foxes. The local hunt does a great job in fox control by keeping numbers in check and are on hand in the spring to help farmers if they have a particular problem with worrying by bringing hounds to the lambing area, even if hounds are unable to catch the culprit, the very fact that hounds have been about can sometimes have the desired effect. Without hounds to carry out this very necessary task we would have to rely on shooting; surely no one really expects us to do that in an area where we already have up to 14 million visitors a year".

Another chap, Paul Renison of Troutbeck, near Windermere, wrote to me saying:

"I work on a farm called Braesteads—a traditional fell farm near Ullswater in the Lake District National Park. Through my work as a shepherd especially in lambing time I have witnessed the damage foxes can cause. We lost 15 lambs to the fox last year. If this is multiplied by a replacement cost of £50 per animal (not including time and effort) the damage lost the business £750. Would any business suffer this unnecessary expense (which will be higher) if a tried, tested, natural preventative measure were to be outlawed?"

I would now like to draw attention to the origins of the amendment. It was drawn up 17 years ago by me in preparation for a manifesto meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party when I was concerned about what was going on in the national park and, at a meeting of the NEC, I sought to secure an undertaking for inclusion of the matter in the 1987 Labour Party manifesto. I was successful.

I have now trailed this same amendment through the corridors of Westminster over the past 17 years. It has been the subject of much informal debate over all those years in all kinds of places. I accept that my amendment is tighter and narrower than Amendment No. 81, to be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, which I also support. The reason for that is that my amendment was designed to appeal to Labour Back-Benchers, as I have already said, who were anti-hunting. I was trying to find a way of drawing them into an understanding of problems in the Lake District and the need for the use of foot and fell packs. It is only with the use of a narrow amendment that we have any chance of a sympathetic hearing in the Commons. I hope that the Committee agrees with me. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Inglewood Lord Inglewood Conservative

I wish to speak to Amendment No. 81 which stands in my name and those of my noble friend Lord Jopling and the noble Lords, Lord Bragg and Lord Hooson. It is intended to exempt fell hunting from the ban proposed in the Bill as drafted and to echo the generality of the case made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, in his speech in support of his Amendment No. 47A, which I too support.

Amendment No. 81 covers both Welsh fell hunting and Cumbrian fell hunting. While I know nothing about Welsh fell hunting—although I understand there may be some slight differences between them—it seems to me that the Committee has heard about the circumstances in Wales and will no doubt do so again in a moment. The only thought that occurs to me on that is that Wales must be a very big place as we appear to have many Welshmen here to speak for it.

I shall confine my remarks to Cumbria, which is the only place that I can talk about with first-hand knowledge. Again, I must begin my remarks in Committee stage as I did at Second Reading, by explaining that I was born in Cumbria; I live in Cumbria; I have farmed an upland farm in the Lake District for just over 25 years; I have represented the area in the European Parliament for 10 years; and I was a member of the Lake District National Park Authority for, I believe, eight years.

As has been said in this long debate, sheep are the main harvest of the hills. They, of all farm animals, are probably more vulnerable to foxes, with the possible exception of poultry which, of course, is kept cooped up at night, than any other animal. While it is a great misfortune that the whole debate about hunting has in some ways been anthropomorphised by Disney and perhaps Beatrix Potter, from the perspective of a sheep or a lamb, every fox is a potential psychopath and a rogue fox is a serial killer. If I remember correctly the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, said, when speaking of his farming career, that one particular rogue fox had killed about 10 per cent of his farm's output by itself.

As the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said, in the Second Reading debate, foxes have to be managed and that involves culling. We all have to recognise that death is grisly in whatever form it comes, whether for the fox or for the sheep or lamb and whether it is part of a cull or whether it is to provide English lamb cutlets on the menu in the Peers Dining Room this evening. The crucial point before us is to try to find the most benign and appropriate way of doing it.

It has been argued that hunting in the Cumbrian uplands could be replaced by shooting. It is probably true that in certain places and under certain circumstances that may work moderately satisfactorily on the periphery of the park. But it will simply not be effective in the high fells and crags where the ground is more vertical than horizontal and where rocks and boulders are strewn all over on tens, if not hundreds of acres—some quite small, some bigger, some the size of the golden Throne at the end of the Chamber and some a great deal bigger than that. In those conditions, shooting simply is not feasible.

Of course, that is the part of the Lake District where the foxes have their lairs; they are the reservoirs from which they flood out and fan across the grazing areas. This is an area where there has been de facto and in certain parts de jure general public access for decades and it is the area where there is about to be a statutory right to roam. The very idea of ricocheting rifle bullets swirling around the rocks and the ears of the hikers and walkers only has to be proposed to be seen to be completely absurd.

It seems to me absolutely clear that as far as the mountain areas are concerned, the best interests of sheep, foxes and walkers are best served by dealing with the fox problem via the fell packs. I believe the case for fell hunting is made on its intrinsic merits. But there is one additional point that I would like to make. It is very widely known that traditional fell communities are under great pressure. It is our Government's policy, the European Union's policy, the Northwest Regional Development Agency's policy, the national park authority's policy, the county council's policy and the district council's policy to support them.

In those areas, the fell packs play a very central role in the fabric of that rural society. Those organisations are run by rural people for rural people and their social activities, intended to support the packs, are absolutely crucial to the social life of the communities in the dales. The organisations are not hierarchical and the breadth of support that they command can be seen from looking at their long subscription lists, often with hundreds of names. The vast majority of the subscriptions are less than £5 and very many of them are under £1.

To ban fell hunting will severely damage the social fabric of those communities, which are already under threat. Do we really propose to make unlawful something that is not only the most efficacious means of managing foxes in those areas, but also one that is crucial to the underpinning of the communities that it is almost universally agreed should be supported? Surely it should not be a matter of banning the fell packs; it should be a matter of encouraging them.

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative

I listened with great respect and interest to the case advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. He will recall that although some of my noble friends supported him when he put forward the amendment on a previous occasion, I was not among them. I am going to criticise his amendment today for the same reasons as I did on that previous occasion. I shall turn later to the amendment of my noble friend, with which I have a good deal more sympathy, but I should like to deal first with the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours.

Of course I understand why the noble Lord has advanced the amendment. He made it very clear that he advanced it primarily because of his personal involvement and interest in the Lake District. But I, too, know something about national parks. As a Secretary of State, I was responsible for the three parks in Wales. One of them was entirely within my own constituency. I live in another of them today. The amendment before us contains so many flaws and inconsistencies that I would find it almost impossible to support it.

My first difficulty is that I am not clear why the Committee should limit the provision solely to national parks in general or to one particular national park. In Wales, it would provide some protection—if the park was designated—to the Brecon Beacons National Park, to part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park—I think to the Preceli Hills but not to the coastal strip which comprises most of that national park—and to the Snowdonia National Park, or again to part of it. But it would provide no protection at all for the whole of mid Wales about which the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, spoke so eloquently yesterday. It will also not protect the Berwins in north east Wales.

As noble Lords heard from the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, yesterday, this area of mid Wales is an area full of sheep under threat. Therefore, I have difficulty with supporting an amendment that seems to breach one of the fundamental principles that was addressed yesterday—that we ought to have legislation that applies equally and fairly both to individuals and to particular animals. You get into considerable difficulty if you say, "But we are going to make an exception here and there", because you start raising all sorts of questions.

I also have a difficulty with the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, because it seems to me that without a great deal of elaboration it will raise more questions than it answers. It says that we are to protect sheep within a sheep grazing area. I am not entirely clear what a sheep grazing area is. It might well include most of the industrial valleys of south Wales where the sheep roam uncontrolled down into the very heart of the former mining communities. But I think I know what the noble Lord intends. The amendment then says,

"on a fell or moorland within a sheep grazing area in a designated National Park".

I am not entirely clear where the fell or moorland in the national park begins or ends. In my national park the sheep roam and graze on the open hill, but they are also housed, at least for part of the year, below the mountain wall. They are just as vulnerable in the fields below the mountain wall, particularly because they will be there probably when they are lambing and in the cold parts of the year, as when they are on the open hill. I am not at all clear from the amendment whether they can be protected under this clause.

So, it seems to me that we have a clause that is difficult to interpret, identifies only specific areas and gives no general definitions so that we can have an equitable approach to the whole issue.

I have a great deal more sympathy for the amendment of my noble friend Lord Inglewood. It goes broader and does not raise some of the questions of definition. He himself kindly said—perhaps he was looking around at the number of Welshmen that he identified in the Chamber—that it would cover the areas of mid Wales and north east Wales which would be excluded under the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Campbell-Savours. I am not quite clear whether it would apply to those upland areas of England which fall outside the Lake District and the area he was particularly identifying. But that is another problem that we need to address.

It is clear that if we go ahead with a Bill based on registration the noble Lord's amendment will not be required because we can go forward on the basis that we leave the matter for the registrar and get through the definitions we have already included in the Bill. So, we are dealing with a fallback clause; a clause that might be accepted in a situation where the other place says that it wants its Bill but perhaps would accept a minor modification of this kind. At the moment I would be prepared to say that it may be worth having such a fallback position, although I think we have a particular difficulty. This clause does not sit well in the Bill as we have amended it with the whole system of registration, but it may be that the two can be brought together. I should like to consider more carefully whether there is a particular conflict before we reach a later stage of the Bill.

My position is that while I have some sympathy for the wider clause advanced by my noble friend, I would find it not just impossible to support the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, but I would have to vote against his amendment. The provision is so hard to defend and so full of anomalies and inconsistencies that it would not go well into a piece of legislation. So I am listening still with an open mind and some sympathy to my noble friend's amendment, but I have to indicate that the opposition I had last October to the same amendment advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, has been strengthened rather than weakened in the interval.

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

I very much regret that I cannot accept either of these amendments. I live in a national park. I keep sheep and I rely on the local hunt—in my case the Exmoor—to hunt foxes on the farm. The amendment introduced by my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours would exempt that pack.

I have also enjoyed visits to the Lake District and I would endorse everything that the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, has just said about the way the fell packs operate and their importance in that community, not just to animals and livestock but also to the people of that area.

The reason I cannot support either of the amendments is that the Committee has, as I understand it, taken a course which means that it intends to return a registration scheme to the other House. Neither of those exceptions fit into that scheme. If there is to be registered hunting, it must apply across the board, however much one would want to see excluded people for whom one has a particular interest or affection.

The House undertook to try to return the Alun Michael Bill with as few amendments as possible. The Committee already has had to make some. Although I think that my noble friend Lord Whitty has not been generous in describing the two amendments that have so far been passed as coach and horses provisions, I do think that both amendments would breach the registration system that the Committee has now set up.

The provision is inconsistent essentially with registration. It is also inconsistent with the principle of evidence, which is the basis on which noble Lords are, I hope, trying to return a sensible, workable Bill. What has been said in relation to these two areas applies to many others as well. Under a fair registration system, the fell packs and national park packs would be able to gain registration because they would pass the two tests which we have this afternoon approved.

I am further influenced by the fact that I have had a communication today which I have passed to the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, from Edmund Porter, the leader of the Central Committee of Fell Packs, who hopes that the amendment will not be pressed today. I ask that neither noble Lord presses their amendment to a vote today. I understand totally what they are trying to do and I have the greatest sympathy, but at this stage, when we are trying to see the shape of the Bill that might go back to the Commons and command the support of reasonable and open-minded Members of the other place, we should not spoil the registration system in this way.

Photo of Viscount Bledisloe Viscount Bledisloe Crossbench

With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, and to the other distinguished noble Lords who appear to have supported this amendment in the past, I find it impossible to detect its logic. The noble Lord may recognise that and think that it is all right for it to be illogical if he has a chance of getting the House of Commons to accept it.

As I understand it, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, says that he has always voted against hunting. That presumably means that he considers that using dogs to chase foxes and kill them is cruel. Will he explain to me why it suddenly ceases to be cruel because those foxes are operating within the boundaries of a national park? As a corollary, and if he were to say that it is very important to defend the sheep, will he explain to the unfortunate sheep why, if their farmer moves them somewhere outside the boundaries of that national park, it suddenly becomes impossible to use the dogs to protect them from the foxes? I really do not see how geography and morality can possibly run together in the amendment.

Photo of Viscount Astor Viscount Astor Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

I support the speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, and my noble friend Lord Crickhowell. The problem with both amendments is that they would introduce unregistered hunting. If we go back to the original debates we had in this House when the Government first introduced the hunting Bill, one of the reasons that concerns were expressed about hunting was the lack of control. As we know, some packs are members of the MFH Association, and some are not. Many of the packs which might go over very rural areas are not. Under the amendment, they could do anything they wanted; they could do what we regard as unacceptable now with respect to hunting. That is the effect of the amendment.

I hope that we have established the principle that hunting should be done in a fair way, with the least suffering, which is what registration does. Both amendments drive a coach and horses through that principle.

I accept that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, has moved this amendment many times over many years. As he admitted in his Second Reading speech on this Bill and a previous Bill, he regards it as what we might call the last ditch—if there is a ban, he hopes his amendment might be accepted. However, we are not at that stage—the Bill introduces registered hunting, and we should accept that. Therefore, I do not think that the noble Lord's amendment is suitable for this stage of the Bill.

I have problems with the amendment of my noble friend Lord Inglewood. I have to tell him that all rural communities are under threat. It does not matter whether they are at the top of the hill or the bottom, there is absolutely no difference. I do not know what the definition of an upland area is. Does it include the downs, where I live? Does it include Exmoor? Does it include the valleys next to Exmoor? It does not make any sense. I understand my noble friend's concerns about his particular area, but as we have made the case for registered hunting, I believe that we should stick to it.

Photo of Lord Monson Lord Monson Crossbench

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, described his amendment as tighter and narrower than Amendment No. 81. In fact, in one respect, that is not the case. Unlike Amendment No. 81, Amendment No. 47A does not discriminate between hunting on foot and hunting on horseback. I can see no logical reason why mounted hunters should be discriminated against. It certainly makes no difference as far as the fox is concerned. So although I have some sympathy with the reasoning behind both amendments, I think it anomalous that Amendment No. 81 confines itself to foot packs. As for Amendment No. 47A, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, may be a little over-optimistic in imagining that the Labour Party in the other place, as at present constituted, would back this amendment merely because it has been proposed by somebody of such distinction as himself.

Finally, I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, has given a most conclusive argument as to why we should not support these two amendments, well intentioned though they undoubtedly are.

Photo of Lord Jopling Lord Jopling Conservative

I should like to point out to the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that the difference between packs that hunt the hounds on foot and others is that they do so in an area where hunting is essential for agriculture if sheep farming is to continue. I can give an illustration of the situation; I shall not repeat it at length. I gave the example on Second Reading a year ago and referred to it again on Second Reading a week or two ago.

A clear case of the essential need for fox hunting in upland areas where sheep breeding is the main pursuit was picked up in west Wales during the last world war. It was well documented in Picture Post at the time—if any noble Lord wishes to see it, I have it upstairs. A huntsman was called up into the Army, and within a year or two, because the hounds had been disbanded and were no longer hunting, the growth of the fox population so threatened the food effort during the war that the huntsman had to be released in the hunting season to resume hunting and to control the foxes. That seems a very clear example of what could happen in these areas. These areas are different, as my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, explained.

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative

I hate to find myself in disagreement with my noble friend—it does not happen very often. I think that in my speech I was pretty sympathetic to what the amendment attempted. But it is not really true that these areas are entirely different. Where I live, the sheep are just as important to the economy—they are absolutely fundamental and crucial to it. But the area is not hunted traditionally by foot packs. In fact, the local hunts come in to the Black Mountains and hunt the valleys and—well, I was going to say the lower slopes, but it is quite high ground. But we are to be excluded in an area where it is just as essential. Therefore, I find it very difficult to accept an amendment which again draws a distinction when, as the noble Baroness pointed out, we are going down a path of registration and trying to treat every individual and community with the same justice.

Photo of Lord Jopling Lord Jopling Conservative

I understand that, but perhaps I can explain why I think it is very important that these two amendments are put in the Bill at this stage. The noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, said that the two amendments do not fit in with licensing. Maybe they do not. If we introduce a licensing system—although it does not sometimes seem very likely—the two amendments become unnecessary.

The noble Baroness went on to say that the leader of the Central Committee of Fell Packs had said that he did not want the amendment pressed. I think that he is making a grave mistake in giving that advice. I do not know why he sent such a message about 10 minutes before I got to my feet, when the amendment has been tabled for 10 days or two weeks—I cannot remember exactly how long. I shall explain why I believe he is totally wrong in asking for the amendment to be withdrawn.

Let me explain three separate scenarios. Let us suppose that the clauses proposed in these two amendments, or something like them, are not in the Bill when it leaves your Lordships' House. If the Commons decides that it wants to use the Parliament Act, there will be no hope of the fell packs being able exceptionally to continue. That is the first scenario. The second is that, if noble Lords agree to include in the Bill the clauses proposed in the two amendments, or something like them, and if the Parliament Act is used, there is a chance of a compromise to allow the continuation of the fell packs. That is a possibility; nobody knows which way it will go. If we agree to the amendments and then the Commons uses the heavy hand, we have a chance of saving something from it. The third scenario is that, if the two amendments are in the Bill, and if licensing is approved by the other place, they will become unnecessary.

Photo of Lord Eden of Winton Lord Eden of Winton Conservative

I am most grateful to my noble friend for giving way. Both my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, have represented constituencies as Members of the other place. I would have thought it sensible if the noble Lords, having made the points that they have made, withdrew their amendments at this stage in this House. If the registration Bill, if I might so put it, went forward to the other House, and if the other House is minded to reject the major amendments which this House has made, surely it would be possible for a Member of the other House to move an amendment and instate the two clauses that the noble Lords are promoting. That would be a much tidier way of proceeding.

Photo of Lord Jopling Lord Jopling Conservative

If my noble friend is suggesting that, if that happened, he could support these two amendments, or something like them, then why do we not agree them now? I would have thought it far more sensible to agree to the amendments at this stage. We have two straws in the wind. The first is that there is a strong possibility—to put it mildly, some would say—that the Parliament Act will be used. I hope to heaven that it is not used. I explained at Second Reading why I thought it would be a total disgrace if it were used, particularly in view of the fact that the time that your Lordships' House was promised last year to deal with this Bill amounted to rather less than half the time that the other place took in dealing with it. On that basis, it would be wrong to use the Parliament Act at this stage.

The other straw in the wind goes back to what the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said from the Dispatch Box yesterday when he was asked what a possible compromise might be. He pointed out that he thought that something along the lines of the Bill proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, might be a compromise. So here is the possibility. We must resist the temptation to throw out the baby with the bathwater. If we can make a suggestion at this stage to try to protect fell hunting, which is essential to farming in upland areas, within the context of a total ban on other sorts of hunting, we ought not to take a dog in the manger's attitude and say that, if we cannot have everything that we want in terms of licensing, we will not have anything. That would be the wrong approach.

I hope that Members of the Committee will vote both for the amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, has tabled and for that tabled by my noble friend Lord Inglewood, to which my name is attached. I accept that, if we can get those two amendments into the Bill, some refining will be needed, probably to both amendments, and it might be possible to amalgamate them in the future. I see the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, nodding as I say that. We could then refine them on Report and save the baby with the bathwater, if unfortunately the bathwater were poured out.

Photo of Lord Richard Lord Richard Labour

I shall be very brief. One of the things that I have learnt about negotiations over the years is that each side must leave equally dissatisfied, otherwise somebody will claim a victory and somebody else will claim a defeat. If there are to be negotiations on the Bill, it may be that at some stage the proposals made in principle by my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours and the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, may form the basis of those negotiations. I accept that entirely.

However, I am not convinced at this stage about why they have to be written into the Bill. I agree with what my noble friend Lady Mallalieu said on the issue. The amendments do not fit with the pattern of what we are trying to do in the Bill: to restore a licensing system. For the life of me, I do not think that putting the clauses into the Bill adds much to the fact that the tentative suggestion of these two clauses as the basis for future negotiations has been made. At this stage I would have thought it enough that the amendments had been tabled and that everybody here has supported them, at least as an eventual fallback position upon which negotiations can take place. No doubt, those at the other end who are interested in this Bill—there seem to be a fair number—will read what noble Lords have said on the issue today.

One of the problems is that there is no interlocutor reliable, representing the majority of Labour MPs at the other end, with whom people can sit down and say, "Let us see what we can negotiate, how we can negotiate and on what basis we can do so". At this stage, the only sensible approach is to carry on with the pattern of the amended Bill, follow the course that we have set ourselves and hold in reserve the possibility that when, and if, negotiations can take place, a possible fallback position would be on the basis of the principles in the clauses proposed by my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours and the noble Lord, Lord Jopling. At the moment, I do not see the necessity to put the clauses in the Bill. The political effect of what has been said is probably sufficient to put the marker down.

Photo of Lord Hooson Lord Hooson Liberal Democrat

I agree entirely with what the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, has said and respectfully disagree with what I have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Richard, for the following reason. It is much more politically realistic to appreciate that, if there can be a change of heart by the majority in another place, they must have before them the possibilities. Whereas I disagreed with some of the wording of the clause proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, his political nous was correct. There are Members in the other place, some of whom I know, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, knows, who represent Labour areas where traditionally there are foot packs. There must be pressure on some of the Members in such areas to look for a way out—in any event, for their local hunt.

I am totally in favour of registration. If that is passed by another place, I shall be delighted. The other amendment will not then be necessary. However, political realism tells me that the alternative should be clearly available to Members of the other place, when the Bill goes back in that direction.

Photo of Lord Mayhew of Twysden Lord Mayhew of Twysden Conservative

I shall begin my remarks with a declaration of interest. Since about 50 years ago—I regret to say—I have been a periodic follower of the fell packs in Cumbria. I have the greatest affection and admiration for them.

I see the clinical argument advanced by some noble Lords today that affection does not come into the matter and we must maintain the pure milk of principle in our argument. I also see the danger that exists when we seek, from a position of total opposition to the Bill, to create a fall-back position and put it into the Bill. I see the points that have been made. I have listened to the unhappy conflict—albeit one expressed in such friendly terms—between several of my personal and parliamentary friends, and I must say that I am firmly of the view that the better part of the argument lies with my noble friends Lord Inglewood and Lord Jopling and the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, who has just spoken.

Somebody once said that consistency was a lean virtue. It is important that we do our best to bring an alternative to the notice of those at the other end, with whom the ultimate decision will lie. The best alternative is universal registration. That point has been made and does need to be recited. However, if it is a question of drawing attention to the possibility of saving something in the most meritorious of instances, it will be more persuasive if it is seen in the Bill than if we leave it to people to read about it in a few columns of Hansard for this House. We rather deceive ourselves if we suppose that that will be too sedulously followed a discipline.

I wish that those who support the banning of hunting in the fells and, no doubt, in the other upland regions—I speak of the fells from personal experience—could have been on the slopes of Mount Grisedale, as I was, 18 months or two years ago. They would have heard people say, "Down there, don't they realise what this means to us here in these remote dales? What is there that can bring so many of us together with all that good cheer, fellowship, comradeship and mutual support in hard times?". These are people struggling to make a living from sheep farming in remote areas, areas where—I speak with deference to those who represented such areas—depression and even suicide are disproportionately present in the community. I wish that opponents of hunting could have heard what was said to me and seen what was taking place. As my noble friend Lord Jopling said, the hunt is the centre of the exiguous social life that their remote circumstances permit them. I shall support my noble friends in whatever course they choose to take on the amendments.

Photo of Lord Sewel Lord Sewel Labour

I wonder whether in the amendments, despite their inadequacies, there are the beginnings of a possible route to a compromise. I believe that any form of hunting ought to be registered—on that, I have common cause with my noble friends who spoke earlier—but I wonder whether registered hunting could be linked with some geographical constraint.

The national parks and sheep grazing are, most likely, the wrong geographical constraint, but we have a clear definition available to us: the less favoured area. My noble friend Lord Donoughue will, as a former agriculture Minister, be aware of it. If we could relate registered hunting and less favoured areas and bring the two together, we may have the beginnings of a compromise that we can take to the other place. For those reasons, I ask my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours not to press his amendment at this stage but to reflect further on the issues.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Liberal Democrat

We must keep our eye on the ball, which is the introduction of a registration system that is universal, fair and consistent across the board. My fear is that, if the amendments are made, we may encourage the extremists in the other place to believe that it will be sufficient concession on their part to accept the two amendments. They will present it to the world that they have met us halfway. It would not be remotely halfway to accept the two amendments as an alternative to the universal scheme proposed in our main amendments.

Members of the Committee must pay their money and make their choice about where the major risks lie in the negotiating puzzle. For my part, I am persuaded by what the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, and the noble Lord, Lord Richard, said.

Photo of Lord Livsey of Talgarth Lord Livsey of Talgarth Shadow Minister (Agriculture), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

I realise that there is little, if any, time left. We have a registration Bill, and the two amendments are in that context. I might be challenged on that, but I believe it to be the case. We are considering the amendments in that context.

The situation is difficult for me. Wales has 80 per cent less favoured areas and has many of the problems elicited by several speakers, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, and my noble friend Lord Hooson. It is a free vote, and some believe that the amendments will irreparably spoil what they see as a registration Bill. I think that there ought to be some co-operation on the amendments, if they are to go through.

There is a way out. The amendments could be withdrawn, and we could consider the matter again at a later stage. However, that is a matter for those who put the amendments before the Committee tonight.

Photo of Lord Willoughby de Broke Lord Willoughby de Broke Conservative

I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, and I hope that he is feeling better. I congratulate him because I thought that he made a wonderful defence of fox hunting in general. He was very persuasive and had letters to back up his argument. However, I cannot support his amendment or the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Jopling.

As the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, said, we must keep our eye on the ball. The amendments would create so many different exceptions. One exception is tied tightly to a national park. As the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, asked, what will happen when the sheep move out of the national park? Presumably, with the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, it would be criminal to hunt the sheep outside the national park, even though 10 yards further along it would be legal.

I also have great difficulty with the other amendment. Why is it particularly virtuous to hunt on foot all of a sudden? My noble friend Lord Crickhowell made the point that many sheep farmers in Wales depended not just on foot packs but on mounted packs. Some packs hunt one day on foot and another day on horses. It is inconsistent to say that such hunting should be supported just by virtue of being on foot.

What does "traditional" mean, anyway? If the amendment said that all traditional fox hunting should be legal, I would agree with it. That is quite different.

The noble Lord, Lord Sewel, made an interesting point about less-favoured areas. That sort of approach widens both of the amendments making them more attractive generally and would address the issue of the needs of the uplands. But these particular amendments are far too tightly drawn to be supported. Certainly, I will not go through the Lobby in support of them.

Photo of Earl Peel Earl Peel Conservative

I find myself in a real dilemma over this, certainly as regards the amendment tabled by my noble friends Lord Inglewood and Lord Jopling. That does not apply to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, for all the reasons that my noble friend Lord Crickhowell spelt out so clearly earlier.

In my wildest dreams, I cannot imagine how such an amendment could ever be considered a practical proposition. I was quietly amused at the noble Lord's words when he said that he wanted to introduce something that the Commons could realistically support. My only conclusion from that is that it just compounds my view that Members of the House of Commons have pretty little idea of what goes on in the countryside. Quite frankly, with the greatest respect to the noble Lord, his amendment is impractical.

Foxes will never respect boundaries of national parks. I am bound to say that those who are responsible for the creation of national parks would be very surprised if they thought that those original designations were going to act as a refuge for the hunts. The only good thing that might come out of it is that it might stop further designations. Other than that, I cannot support the noble Lord at all.

I turn now to the amendment tabled by my noble friends Lord Inglewood and Lord Jopling. Of course, I agree with everything that has been said. I acknowledge wholeheartedly that hunting is the only effective way of controlling foxes that kill lambs and the wading birds, which no one has mentioned, that are so under threat, particularly in the Lake District, from predation. I understand that completely. As noble Lords have said, lamping is a possibility in certain areas. But in the more rugged parts of the Lake District National Park and other upland areas, as my noble friend has said, it is completely impractical.

I have to listen carefully to what people have said in terms of the fact that we are pursuing a Bill based on registration. The remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Richard, have persuaded me that at this stage it would be a mistake to depart from the principle that we have so steadfastly set ourselves. So it is with deep regret that I say to my noble friend Lord Jopling that on this occasion I do not think that I can support him.

Photo of Lord Chorley Lord Chorley Crossbench

I had not intended to take part in this debate at all, partly because I am losing my voice. My home is in the Lake District, where I have spent much of my life. As with a number of other noble Lords, I have great difficulty with interesting Amendment No. 47A tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. It is totally arbitrary: why not make it areas of outstanding natural beauty? Someone asked about the less-favoured areas. I have great difficulty with that amendment. Perhaps it may be agreeable to Back-Benchers in another place, but I think that the noble Earl, Lord Peel, put his finger on it.

I have much more sympathy for the amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Inglewood and for the particularly powerful intervention made by the noble Lord, Lord Jopling. My problem with that amendment is simply one of definition. I do not know what an upland area is. I live in the Lake District, but I do not think that I am in an upland. There is an awful lot of the Lake District that is probably not an upland.

I should like to suggest, as have other noble Lords, that the amendment is not pressed to a vote today, but that further thought and tightening up is given to it between now and Report.

Photo of Baroness Byford Baroness Byford Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport

I hope that noble Lords will reflect on what has been said. There is much sympathy for what they are trying to do. Many suggestions have been made tonight. It would be extremely wise if the noble Lords could be persuaded to listen to what has been said and perhaps come back with further amendments that widen and clarify their proposals. In the light of today's debate, improvements could be made to those amendments. I therefore hope that the noble Lord will not press his amendment.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

The noble Lord, Lord Jopling, was correct to say that in the discussion on the first amendment to the Bill—only yesterday—I sounded slightly more benign to the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours than perhaps to others and by extension therefore to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Jopling.

That of course was at a time when the Bill before us was still a ban. My point about the amendment then was that, if we pursued it, it was at least within the structure of the Bill. In a sense, I am saying the obverse to my noble friend Lord Richard. It was within the structure of the Bill to try to find a deal by means of extending the exemptions with something that was likely at least to require the House of Commons to consider it seriously; whereas, some of those we were proposing, as we have now agreed an entirely different Bill, are unlikely to meet the same level of examination or serious consideration.

I still hold that position. It is of course true that either of these amendments could apply to a registration Bill or to a banning Bill. In a sense, that is one of their merits. There are exemptions under the original registration Bill. This could be added to the exemptions. There were also exemptions in the banning Bill that first appeared. This could be added there to protect the particular sections referred to in these two amendments.

Of course there would be problems of definition of the areas designated by my noble friend, and I do not necessarily say that I would support in any context the proposal—even if it was included in the 1987 Labour Party manifesto, for which I had some responsibility. Regrettably, by and large much of that manifesto has not so far been translated into legislation.

The position we are in now is that we have a registration system. One could argue that special considerations should apply to these areas. The Burns report indicated that there may be a stronger case for allowing hunting in such areas than elsewhere. Moreover, it is clear that in some upland areas the proportion of pest control achieved through hunting is higher than in general. Therefore arguments can be put forward for treating those areas in a different way. However, one could also argue that a registration system would deal with those issues, and that it would be the kind of judgment that a tribunal and registrar would have to make.

However, at this point, if we want the House of Commons to consider these amendments, they have to be in the Bill. I therefore do not consider that those who support the drift of these amendments would be sensible in advising the Committee not to put them in the Bill at all. Of course they may need to be tidied up, but they certainly could not be part of any compromise or move on the part of the House of Commons if they are not put to that place. That is not my endorsement of the amendments either in general terms or in terms of the precise formulations before the Committee, but procedurally that is the point that noble Lords either tonight or at a later stage will have to decide.

Noble Lords may not like the amendments since they are aiming for a system of registration. My own view is that some of the decisions taken by the Committee so far have in any case made the possibility of compromise far more remote. I have made my views clear as we work through the Committee stage. But if the Committee considers that special considerations should apply both to fell packs and in upland areas, however defined, then at some point these amendments will have to be added to the Bill that this House sends back to the House of Commons. I make no prediction of how they will be received; I simply point out a matter of procedure and of fact. Noble Lords will have to make up their minds about whether they support the amendments.

Photo of Lord Campbell-Savours Lord Campbell-Savours Labour

I shall be brief and respond only to the major issues. I was asked by the noble Lords, Lord Crickhowell and Lord Chorley, and the noble Earl, Lord Peel, why this should be limited to the national parks. I shall be absolutely frank. The answer to the question is that that is all I could gain support for among Labour Back Benchers in the other House. That is not a good answer, but it is the truth. If that is the reality we are faced with, we should take it seriously.

I was also asked about an inconsistency in my position. The answer is that it is simply impractical to use guns in the national parks. Again, I am forced to face that reality. My noble friend Lady Mallalieu again referred to her consistent approach on the question of licensing and registration. I understand that my noble friend feels passionately about it, but there is a big problem at the other end of the corridor. I am afraid that registration and licensing is not going to surface on the Commons agenda. We have to face that reality. It may be unpalatable to many Members of the Committee, but I repeat that that is the reality of the situation at the other end.

The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, said that we are not at the end of the road. I am sorry to say that we are at the end of the road. They know exactly what they want to do at the other end. I go down the corridor every day and mix with them, so I know what they are saying and how passionately they feel about this Bill. They are just as passionate as Members of this House. Again, if it is the case that we are nearly at the end of the road, this is the time to lay down markers.

The noble Lord, Lord Monson, referred to the question of horses and where they could be ridden. I am afraid that it is very difficult to ride horses on fell land in the Lake District National Park. That is the only way I can respond to him.

My noble friend Lord Richard asked why we should add this proposal to the Bill now. The answer is that the House of Commons needs time to consider this proposition fully and to digest the implications of these amendments. If they are not put in the Bill at this point, we shall lose out overall in terms of the amendments before us.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, for his support. I thank also the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, for making a judgment based on his vast experience of the House of Commons. I am particularly indebted to my noble friend Lord Sewel, who clearly understands precisely what I am trying to do. We have to find a compromise and I am dealing with the Bill as it is. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, took his usual hard line on the issue. I know that he feels strongly that there is an issue of principle involved here, as is indeed the case for the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke. I thank once again the noble Lord, Lord Livsey of Talgarth, for his sensible and realistic advice.

All I can do is echo what was said by my noble friend Lord Whitty. We have to deal with the real world, and there is a real problem there. If noble Lords do not address it tonight by allowing these amendments through so that they can at least tag along in the background while the major argument about licensing and registration goes on, I believe that we will have failed people in the national parks and perhaps those in the less favoured areas. I wish to test the opinion of the Committee.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 47A) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 36; Not-Contents, 81.

Division number 2 Private Parking: Ports and Trading Estates — Hunting Bill

Aye: 34 Members of the House of Lords

No: 79 Members of the House of Lords

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Clause 6 [Penalty]:

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

moved Amendment No. 48:

Page 2, line 20, at end insert—

"( ) Where a magistrates' court convicts a person of an offence under this Act the clerk of the court (within the meaning of section 141 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (c. 43)) shall notify the registrar."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to.

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

moved Amendment No. 49:

After Clause 9, insert the following new clause—

"DISQUALIFICATION FOR REGISTRATION

(1) A court which convicts a person of an offence under Part 1 of this Act may make an order (a "disqualification order") that he may not—

(a) be registered under Part 1A of this Act, or

(b) hunt in reliance on section (Registered hunting)(2) or (3).

(2) A disqualification order shall specify the duration of the disqualification (which may be for the person's life).

(3) The registrar—

(a) shall not register a person who is subject to a disqualification order,

(b) shall cancel a person's registration if he is registered when a disqualification order takes effect, and

(c) shall cancel a person's registration if he was subject to a disqualification order when the registration took effect.

(4) The subject of a disqualification order may apply for an order terminating it.

(5) An application under subsection (4) for the termination of a disqualification order may be made only if—

(a) a year has elapsed since the date of the order, and

(b) a year has elapsed since the date of the determination of any previous application under subsection (4) in respect of the order.

(6) An application under subsection (4) must be made to—

(a) the magistrates' court which made the disqualification order, or

(b) a magistrates' court for the same petty sessions area.

(7) On hearing an application under subsection (4) a magistrates' court may order the applicant to pay costs.

(8) Where a magistrates' court makes or terminates a disqualification order the clerk of the court (within the meaning of section 141 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (c. 43)) shall notify the registrar.

(9) In this section a reference to a person's registration includes a reference to his inclusion in a group registration."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 [Interpretation]:

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

moved Amendments Nos. 50 and 51:

Page 4, line 20, at end insert "; or

"(c) a person engages or participates in a hare coursing event."

Page 4, line 28, at end insert—

"( ) For the purposes of this Act an application to the registrar shall be treated as finally determined when—

(a) the registrar has determined the application (or it has been withdrawn or abandoned), and

(b) an appeal to the Tribunal has been determined by the Tribunal (or withdrawn or abandoned) or can no longer be brought (ignoring the possibility of an appeal out of time with permission).

( ) In this Act a reference to a party to proceedings before the registrar or the Tribunal includes a reference to a person who makes representations to the registrar or Tribunal about the proceedings."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 12 and 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Subordinate legislation]:

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

moved Amendment No. 52:

Page 5, line 2, leave out from "order" to end of line 5 and insert ", regulations or rules made by the Secretary of State or the Lord Chancellor under this Act shall be made by statutory instrument.

( ) An order of the Secretary of State under this Act may not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.

( ) Regulations and rules under this Act shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

( ) An order, regulations or rules made by the Secretary of State or the Lord Chancellor under this Act—"

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

The amendment deals with subordinate legislation under the Bill. Subsection (2) of the amendment provides that an order made by the Secretary of State under the Bill cannot be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament. Subsection (3) provides that regulations and rules made under the Bill are subject to annulment following the resolution of either House of Parliament. The wording in the amendment is precisely that of the Government's original Bill introduced in December 2002.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 52A not moved.]

Clause 14, as amended, agreed to.

Photo of Baroness Mallalieu Baroness Mallalieu Labour

moved Amendment No. 53:

After Clause 14, insert the following new clause—

"MONEY

(1) Any expenditure incurred by a Minister of the Crown in connection with this Act shall be paid out of money provided by Parliament.

(2) Money received by the registrar by way of fees shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 15 [Commencement]:

[Amendments Nos. 54 to 57A not moved.]

Clause 15 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 58 not moved.]

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Extent]:

[Amendment No. 59 not moved.]

Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Crossbench

moved Amendment No. 59A:

Page 5, line 17, at end insert "and Northern Ireland"

Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Crossbench

I ask the Committee's indulgence for a few moments. It is not my intention to take up too much time or to pursue the matter to a Division. However, if this Bill gets through, as it probably will in some shape or form, I am not very pleased with the way it has been changed in the Lords. It will mean that the only part of the United Kingdom that retains tearing animals apart for sport will be Northern Ireland.

Of all the places in the United Kingdom which should not have bloodlust and where bloodlust should not be allowed to foster among our young people, it must be Northern Ireland. The concept of people enjoying themselves at the loss of life of animals, with an idea of sport, is not acceptable anywhere, but it is certainly not acceptable after what we have been through in the past 30 years in Northern Ireland.

What are we going to tell our children and the next generation? How are we going to train people to be different, rather than allowing the concept that blood for the sake of blood is an enjoyable sport? I want to make the point strongly here tonight that I do not accept a situation in which Northern Ireland could be the only part of the United Kingdom that retains ripping animals apart for sport. That to me, as a citizen of Northern Ireland, is not acceptable. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Glentoran Lord Glentoran Shadow Minister, Local and Devolved Government Affairs

I remind the Committee that the noble Lord who has just spoken purports to be in support of devolution for Northern Ireland and of the Northern Ireland Assembly and is a member of the Ulster Unionist Party. What he has just said runs totally against all that thinking and the Committee cannot possibly take him seriously.

Photo of Lord Maginnis of Drumglass Lord Maginnis of Drumglass Crossbench

I want to make it clear at the outset that my noble friend does not speak on behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party or claim to do so, and nor, indeed, do I. We both have a free vote on hunting.

I, too, shall speak briefly on this issue. The last occasion on which I spoke on this issue was in another place on 13 March 1998. I managed to fill 12 tightly packed A4 pages. Much good though it may do the Committee to hear the arguments that I brought forward then, I shall not impose that on it this evening. Suffice to say that in an island like Ireland, with Northern Ireland part of the United Kingdom and the Republic quite independent, where hunting takes place across the border, so many complexities are involved that we cannot realistically have a ban on hunting in Northern Ireland while it occurs in the Irish Republic. Much though I have done throughout my lifetime to emphasise the importance of the border, I have never managed to get that message across to either foxes or hounds. By that remark I indicate the difficulty there would be in applying a ban on hunting to Northern Ireland.

I have one other point to make. The alternative to hunting foxes is to shoot them, or so we are told. Strict legislation has been passed in Northern Ireland that precludes a lot of people who would need to have shotguns to kill foxes if hunting were banned from having those shotguns. That is yet another reason why on this rare occasion I disagree with my noble friend who has just spoken.

Photo of Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville Conservative

I declare the briefest of interests in that during my time in Northern Ireland as a Minister I used to go out beagling until the Irish Times put on its front page that I was doing so. Given the hazards I faced from hunt saboteurs rather more dangerous than those to whom other hunts are subject I was obliged to desist.

My noble friend Lord Glentoran and the noble Lord, Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, spoke of the overall principle regarding Northern Ireland. In the context of the debate that we have just had on the upland and the fell packs, I should say that what the noble Lord, Lord Laird, said about blood lust did not apply to the beagling in which I took part. I remember few occasions in Northern Ireland that I enjoyed more than what began as a tea party when the beagling was over and elided at about a quarter to five into Irish whiskey, and where "craic" went on throughout the evening. It was a remarkable social occasion and the epitome of rural life in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy)

I suspect that, as regards the Committee stage of this Bill, we would all have liked to get to the Irish whiskey by a quarter past five.

I have some sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Laird, as if this Bill passes, in whatever form, Northern Ireland would be the one part of the United Kingdom not covered by the legislation. However, regrettably, the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, is correct on the devolution position; namely, that it is not a matter that we would normally deal with through primary legislation which applies to England and Wales. The animal welfare legislation that applies there is different from that in Northern Ireland, and the way to extend it would not be by extending the scope of a piece of primary English and Welsh legislation. Therefore, I advise the Committee that it would be difficult to do what the noble Lord proposes, however strongly he feels and however desirable we may or may not consider it to be.

Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Crossbench

I totally accept what the Minister said; I expected that response. I simply make the point as an Ulster Unionist that it seems to me that for us in Northern Ireland to be out of step with the rest of the United Kingdom is not an admirable situation. I do not care about the difficulties of whether foxes have read the legislation, as my noble friend Lord Maginnis of Drumglass said. It is an issue of principle: one cannot commit cruelty to animals on the basis of a sport. It does not matter whether that occurs in Northern Ireland, in Wales or in England; it is wrong.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, that it is possible to have "crack" in Northern Ireland without being cruel to animals. I have "crack" in Northern Ireland—I do not refer to the drug but to excitement, fun and banter—on a regular basis, but that does not involve indulging in blood lust against small animals. That cannot be right, whether it is here or in Northern Ireland. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 17 agreed to.

Photo of Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Government Whip

I beg to move that the House do now resume. In moving the Motion, it might help Members of the Committee if I pointed out that Amendments Nos. 82 to 85 were de-grouped, so will come with the remainder of the amendments tomorrow morning.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.