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

Absolutely; that saves me having to make that point. The general character of the exemptions and the tabling of other amendments to shift the burden of proof are all reasonable attempts to enable people to go about their work without fear of prosecution. I underline the fact that the work of such people is already covered by a great deal of law and there are many restrictions by which they have to abide—some thoroughly justified—in order to protect the public or animal welfare.

Within the last month, a gamekeeper who used poison, which is rightly illegal, was prosecuted and convicted in my constituency. That process must take place. Gamekeepers must ensure that they abide by the law all the time, but we are imposing on them what they will regard unreasonable burdens that are not consistent with doing the job properly.

We shall attempt later to deal with the anomalies that we have so far discovered. More are referred to in the letter to hon. Members from the National Gamekeepers Organisation, and more will come to light on the basis of experience when the Bill has completed its stages in the Commons. That is why it is valuable to try to achieve a more general change in the character of the Bill—so that those engaged in legitimate pursuits are fully protected.