Hunting Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:18 pm on 11th November 2004.

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Photo of Viscount Astor Viscount Astor Shadow Minister, Environment and Transport 1:18 pm, 11th November 2004

My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, one question. His amendment has the merit of making the hunting he envisages registered hunting. But I notice that there is nothing in the amendment about foot packs. So, can I presume that if I was able to ride my horse up the hills he proposes in these less favoured areas that would be allowed under his amendment? I am interested whether that would be the case because the amendment does not refer to foot packs but to hunting in upland areas. Therefore, how does he consider that point?

I was concerned when my noble friend Lord Inglewood previously moved his amendment—as indeed is my noble friend Lord Willoughby de Broke—that it introduced the element of unregistered hunting. As far as I can see from his amendment, it still introduces the element of unregistered hunting. In the many debates we have had on hunting in this House, I think that we have all agreed that in the past some unacceptable practices took place and that hunting needs to be controlled and managed. That is impossible without registered hunting because nobody has to belong to a foot pack association. In Wales there are many gun packs. On some days they go out mounted, some days they go out on foot and some days they go out on motorbikes with a pack of hounds. Most are not part of any organised hunting association. Under my noble friend's amendment they would be able to continue, and to continue in a way that I believe would not be acceptable.

I also note that the Central Committee of Fell Packs does not want to be singled out for special treatment. Indeed, it is concerned that if it was the only hunting left in England the pressure on it would be so great that it would have to give up hunting. However, if my noble friend were to come back at Third Reading with an amendment that solves those problems in terms of registration and control I would certainly be more sympathetic.