Hunting Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:30 pm on 11th November 2004.

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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) 12:30 pm, 11th November 2004

My Lords, as during Committee stage I have to point out to the House in these slightly unusual circumstances that the role of government Minister on this Bill has been to guide the House on the effects of the amendments proposed, on the situation reached in the House of Commons and to comment on the prospect of any changes being acceptable to the majority in the House of Commons. I will continue in that role. Noble Lords are familiar with my personal opinion but I put that to one side.

I congratulate my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe on a number of matters. Fist, I congratulate him on listening to the arguments. While there has always been good attendance on this Bill I am not entirely sure that he is not part of a relatively small subset of noble Lords who have actually listened to the arguments. Secondly, I congratulate my noble friend on a very good opening speech. It has been described as disarming, persuasive, courteous and even clever. These appear to be terms of criticism in this House. I thought that it was a very good and persuasive speech.

I congratulate my noble friend on producing a set of amendments that gives this House a coherent alternative to present, if it should so wish, to the House of Commons. It also has the very great benefit of smoking out the difference between the Alun Michael Bill, as amended in Committee, and the Bill which this House adopted in Committee two weeks ago, which was claimed by no less an authority than my noble friend Lord Donoughue to be a reversion to the Alun Michael Bill when in fact it was nothing of the kind. That claim has subsequently been made externally and in the media.