Section 1G — Exception: injured or diseased mammals

Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:45 pm on 13th February 2002.

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Amendment 65 moved—[Ross Finnie]—and agreed to.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

We now come to amendment 66, which is in a group of its own.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion Labour

Amendment 66 is supported by many and would leave out section 1G, which is the section that allows a dog to be used

"to despatch a wild mammal for the purpose of preventing suffering to the mammal, where the person reasonably believes that the mammal is injured or diseased."

We have two objections to section 1G. The first concerns the treatment of hares. Supporters of the section would be hard put to explain how it would stop hare coursing if poachers honestly believed that the hare was limping, otherwise injured or diseased. The poachers could also claim that the hare was diseased. The section does not require humane treatment, the landowner's permission or a firearms or shotgun certificate.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion Labour

No.

As far as hare coursing is concerned, section 1G would defeat one of the principles that the Parliament supported at stage 1. I have often been described as a wrecker. I detect the work of other wreckers—wreckers of a different kind—behind section 1G.

Our second objection to section 1G relates to the activities of hunts. Mike Watson and others have explained that the bill already enables those with a legitimate reason, hill packs, gamekeepers and landowners to fire at—and sometimes wound—a fox and to kill it humanely if it has been wounded. I refer to section 3(1)(c), which provides that dogs can be used to locate wounded foxes, provided only that

"the mammal, once located, is captured, treated or killed as humanely as possible in order to relieve its suffering".

Scott Barrie dealt with that.

Our objection is that section 1G is not only unnecessary but positively harmful. Consider a future scenario, which could become reality if section 1G is allowed to remain. Try to imagine an old, established hunt that is resentful and bitter about the end of fox hunting but, determined to carry on indulging the love of horses and of the countryside, votes to continue with drag hunting. The huntsmen are out chasing the drag around the hunt master's estate, when they spy a fox. The hounds, which are well trained, would no more change course than any huntsman would allow them to do so if a fresh fox happened to cross the path of a tired fox. In this future scenario, a drag is being chased instead of a tired fox.

In this case, however, the hunt master decides to change course. The hounds go tearing after the fox and eventually wear it down and kill it. It so happens that the whole event is filmed by animal welfare monitors, who hand the film over to the police. The police arrest and charge the hunt master and the professional huntsmen. In the court, the hunt master's plea is that, having been a hunt master for 30 years of his life, he knows foxes as well as anyone can and has a respect for them both as friend and foe. With his hand on his heart, he tells the court, "The fox we hunted I believed to be injured or diseased." Even if there were a post mortem that showed that the fox was not injured or diseased—which would depend on the estate's giving up the fox for such a post mortem—how could it be proved that the hunt master of 30 years was not telling the truth? It would not be possible to tell whether he was telling the truth. Those who argue that laws have to be clear, unambiguous and workable cannot support the continued inclusion of section 1G, because it is none of those things. The section deserves to be deleted.

I move amendment 66.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell Conservative 4:00 pm, 13th February 2002

Mr McAllion has clearly not read section 1(1). If hunters intending to go out on a drag hunt come across a fox and their dogs chase the fox, no crime has been committed.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion Labour

We are dealing with section 1G.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell Conservative

Section 1(1), which is about intention, has not been amended. If, when people who are out drag hunting on horseback, wearing red coats and shouting "Tally-ho"—the whole works—come across a fox and their dogs chase the fox, that is not a crime. Members have been conned into voting for a bill that they think bans hunting and into taking out the provisions that relate to legitimate gamekeeping activities.

Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat

I support David Mundell's comments. Amendment 66 is badly mistaken and typical of the attempts that have been made to close so-called loopholes in the bill. In doing that, members have had a go at gamekeepers, farmers in upland Scotland and hill packs. What David Mundell just said is absolutely correct. The amendment shows the completely wrong direction of the bill. The member who introduced the bill said that it was about cruelty in sport. The bill should have been about that, but it no longer is.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

I understand that Mr Muldoon has waived his right to respond and that Tricia Marwick will speak in his place.

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party

I refer members to the text of section 1G. It states:

"A person does not contravene section 1(1) by using a dog to despatch a wild mammal for the purpose of preventing suffering to the mammal, where the person reasonably believes that the mammal is injured or diseased."

That means that people can go out on horseback, take dogs with them and, if a fox limps by—or someone thinks that they saw a fox limp by—a mounted fox hunt can take place. It is critical that section 1G be removed from the bill, as it would allow mounted fox hunts to continue. The section was introduced through one of the wrecking amendments that were lodged at stage 2. The section must be removed—let us go for it.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion Labour

In my opening remarks, I stated that a hunt master could take a decision to change course and send his dogs after a fox that is perceived to be wounded, injured or diseased in some way. David Mundell failed to pick up on that key point. People who want to drive a coach and horses through the bill would have lodged exactly the kind of amendment that inserted section 1G at stage 2. The people who support the retention of section 1G are either intentional wreckers of the bill or fools. It is up to them to make up their mind which they are.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The question is, that amendment 66 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 26

For: Adam, Brian, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Ferguson, Patricia, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Henry, Hugh, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McGugan, Irene, McLeish, Henry, McLeod, Fiona, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Paterson, Mr Gil, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Robison, Shona, Sheridan, Tommy, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Sturgeon, Nicola, Thomson, Elaine, Ullrich, Kay, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Mr Andrew, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan, Wilson, Andrew, Young, John
Against: Aitken, Bill, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Ewing, Fergus, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Grahame, Christine, Harding, Mr Keith, Home Robertson, Mr John, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Lyon, George, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McLetchie, David, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Russell, Michael, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Swinney, Mr John, Wallace, Ben, Wallace, Mr Jim
Abstentions: Crawford, Bruce, Scott, Tavish

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The result of the division is: For 83, Against 37, Abstentions 2.

Amendment 66 agreed to.