Schedule 3 - Hunting with dogs: prohibition

Part of Hunting Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 25th January 2001.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Colin Pickthall Mr Colin Pickthall Labour, West Lancashire 11:15 am, 25th January 2001

Paragraph 1 covers the entire Bill and creates an offence. Paragraph 8 says that proving that one is dealing with rodents is a defence, as are other activities under the exceptions in paragraph 7. The amendment would create an offence, then make a blanket exception to it. That is different from starting with the creation of the offence and subsequently allowing defences, as paragraph 8 reasonably does.

On mink, the hon. Member for Aylesbury quoted the comment in the Burns report that hunting mink is a temporary control in specific localities. That creates a mechanism for the renewal of the mink population to provide constant prey for hunting—a situation that might develop anyway, given the descriptions of fisheries by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme and by Opposition Members. That is different from a hunt being used, in effect, to create a constant supply of mammals to destroy, as the amendments would allow.

I shall briefly comment on the point adduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme. She resurrected the argument that when this is all over, the League Against Cruel Sports, or another of the organisations that she mentioned, will start to campaign for the abolition of guns, fishing and so on. Of course, some people in those organisations will say that they want to do that. However, they would require a public and political consensus, which does not exist on this side of the Committee or in anything other than a tiny minority of Members of Parliament.

The speciousness of the argument rests on the fact that we would never legislate for anything on that basis. Whatever law is proposed, its opponents step forward and say, ``If you do that, you'll want to do this next week. You want to ban tobacco advertising—next year it'll be advertising booze, then make-up or chocolate, which is worse for you than cigarettes.'' I know that Oppositions use that argument, because I often did so when we were in opposition. It is irrational to attack a piece of legislation by saying that further, tougher legislation on other matters will be introduced subsequently. Such a piece of legislation exists in its own right to deal with a specific problem.