Hunting Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:00 am on 11th November 2004.

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Photo of Lord Eden of Winton Lord Eden of Winton Conservative 11:00 am, 11th November 2004

My Lords, it has been very strongly trailed that unless we return the Bill in the original Alun Michael form, unaltered and unamended by this House, the other place is likely to vote for a total ban and the Parliament Act will be invoked. But there is absolutely no guarantee that if the Alun Michael Bill, as such, were to be returned to the other place, it would be accepted by the other place. There is the possibility that there would still be a ban.

In those circumstances, it must be right for this House to do what it believes to be right and to amend the Bill as it believes it is necessary to be amended. One of the amendments to the Bill which strikes me as being of the greatest possible significance—the inclusion of wildlife management as a test for registration—would be removed by the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe.

I am sure that all noble Lords in this House understand the importance of wildlife management. We live in an overcrowded island; the population is increasing; the spread of our towns across the rural land continues apace. In those circumstances, for wildlife to survive at all it must be managed. That is well understood; it is well understood even by those who live in towns and cities. It is well understood that if you have too many grey squirrels in the park, they cause mischief and damage, and they need to be controlled for their own good. Even the Mayor of London, with his well publicised interest in newts, knows a lot about the need to control the pigeon population in Trafalgar Square. They can become excessive unless there is some form of wildlife management. That happens in our towns and it happens in the country. It is for the good of the survival of the species. For those reasons, it is necessary to retain those words in the Bill that we send back to the Commons, so that Members there may have a chance to give full and proper consideration to these matters.

I find it curious that those noble Lords—some of them sitting on the Benches opposite—who make powerful and emotional speeches about protecting wild animals against any form of cruelty and who want to see the animals survive are none the less afraid of including wildlife management as a test for registration before the tribunal. Why? Because they fear that that test would be upheld and approved by the tribunal, and that hunting in those circumstances would be allowed. What sort of animal lovers are they? What sort of animal lovers can they be if they fail to understand the need for proper management of our wildlife?