Section 1A — Exception: stalking and flushing from cover

Part of Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 13th February 2002.

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Photo of Linda Fabiani Linda Fabiani Scottish National Party 2:00 pm, 13th February 2002

I support the Executive's amendment 48. Section 1A(2) defines when it is acceptable to use dogs underground and in

"an enclosed space within rocks or other secure cover above ground".

That is one of the aspects of pest control with which many people have problems. The National Working Terrier Federation has accepted that the practice has suffered from many problems, hence its code of conduct. Its representative, Thomas Parker, told the Rural Development Committee:

"We have been trying to clean up what some people perceive as the not very nice end of the fox control business."—[Official Report, Rural Development Committee, 6 November 2001; c 2331.]

I understand that the Rural Development Committee did not feel able to support a code of conduct under the bill. However, I applaud the committee's efforts to define the boundary between legitimate terrier work, as conducted by the National Working Terrier Federation and gamekeepers, and illegitimate terrier work, as conducted by fox baiters.

The National Working Terrier Federation's code of conduct says:

"The prime objectives of properly conducted terrier work is to provide a pest control service."

Section 1A should make that clear. I stress that amendment 48 would not prevent the work of legitimate pest control. The tests of need in section 1A(1) are extremely broad. It will still be possible to send terriers down a hole or into a rock cairn to flush a fox from cover for pest control purposes. No one should send a dog underground, where it might fight a fox, unless they have a reason to do so.

Amendment 48 would protect gamekeepers and hill packs that have valid reasons for their activities and it would ensure that others could not abuse the provision as a loophole for entertainment purposes. I hope that members will support the amendment.