Schedule 3 - Hunting with dogs: prohibition

Part of Hunting Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 25th January 2001.

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Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Liberal Democrat, Berwick-upon-Tweed 11:00 am, 25th January 2001

Yes, and those who want to ensure that the Bill is enforced. I do not complain about them doing so. Indeed, over the years, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has done valuable work in rightly bringing matters to court and drawing attention to cruelty when it occurs. However, if we create a law that criminalises the genuine activity of people working in the countryside to control pests and vermin or simply to keep animal numbers at a sustainable level, we will allow prosecutions to be prompted by organisations seeking to enforce such general legislation, which adds further to the risk.

No assurance can be given in Committee on which anyone in any of the jobs to which I have referred can safely or confidently rely. Even a ministerial assurance, which would be helpful, is not good enough if the genuine fear of prosecution exists.