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BACKGROUND TO THE CURRENT BANS OF HUNTING WITH DOGS IN THE U.K.

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THE CAUSES OF THE BANS

Fox-hunting is under attack in many countries, but bans have succeeded in only a few. Single interest pressure groups lobbying for animals rights (such as IFAW--the International Fund for Animal Welfare) have spread and still are spreading false information about alleged cruelty etc. Individual members of such organisations often have good motives but the overwhelming majority have formed their opinions on purely emotional grounds. They have never questioned whether their emotions are well founded or whether they are being misinformed by their leaders. They have not sought to learn the truth about fox-hunting. The worst case was probably in England and Wales. A majority of members of the House of Commons (part of the UK Parliament) have voted for a VIRTUALLY TOTAL BAN. These politicians (mostly Socialist) are seeking political gain in the shorter term.

We know this because their attitude is illogical: "If fox-hunting (which they include within Hunting with Dogs) is believed to be cruel and to degrade the welfare of the fox population, so must Fishing, Shooting, Falconry, Ferreting etc. Why then has Hunting with Dogs been singled out? In the UK most people believe that fox-hunting is the sport of the "upper" (moneyed, landed and/or priveleged) classes. Thus most of the Anti-fox-hunting politicians seek a Banning the belief that it would be another victory in the long "socialist struggle" against the upper class and, therefore, in their own political interests and those of their Party.

In fact people from all classes, occupations and incomes participate in fox-hunting in the UK. It is enjoyed by as many low income pensioners from the rural cultural minority as landowners and high income executives. Most members of the public, who are opposed to fox-hunting, are from the majority urban cultural group ("urbans"). So are the majority of Members of Parliament. It follows that the spread of the UK's version of urban culture throughout the island has disenfranchised fox-hunting's supporters relative to its opponents.

The bans on fox-hunting are wholly illogical except as purely political gestures pandering to the class and cultural prejudices, which are such a disgusting feature of British Society. When freed from these prejudices, the British people are solidly against restriction of the liberty of anybody to pursue activities (like fox-hunting) which do no harm to the interests of others. If governments pander to prejudices of any type, in time the innate commonsense of the British will expose the panderers for the weaklings they are. Such governments will, in due course, lose the respect of the British people.

The whole sorry saga is a battle between logic and prejudice. Logic lost.

History of attempts to ban hunting

The Foster Bill

The animals rights lobby in the UK has played on public emotion for about a century and has succeeded in getting large numbers to believe that fox-hunting is cruel and unnecessary. All previous Bills which would have banned fox-hunting in the UK have failed. They have been voted down in the House of Commons, have been amended to avoid contention or, as in the case of (Mr Foster's Bill), have been allowed by the Government to be "talked out in the House of Commons". Foster was allowed by the Labour Government to fall in order to avoid the delay to government business which would have occurred had fox-hunting been debated by the pro-hunting majority in the House of Lords. In attempting to regain power after many years in the "wilderness", the UK Labour Party jumped on any "bandwagon". One was to oppose fox-hunting on the grounds that a majority of "the people" wish to ban hunting of wild mammals with dogs. Thus the Labour MPs who oppose fox-hunting (the majority) were frustrated by the failure of Mr Foster's Private Member's Bill. 

1999

The sequence of attempts, that lead eventually to the Bans, started in 1999 when several MPs, supported by propaganda and funds from the Political Animal Lobby (IFAW and friends), the "Anti-Hunting Labour MPs" attacked the then UK Prime Minister (Tony Blair) and the Government repeatedly. They sought to reverse the defeat (talking out of time in The Commons) of "The Foster Private Members Bill to ban Hunting with Dogs".

In 8 July 1999, the PM made a confused statement about Government intentions.

On November 11 1999 the then UK Home Secretary (Jack Straw) announced the establishment of THE BURNS INQUIRY.His announcement contained the following statements:

"------ the Government will offer reasonable time, if necessary, and drafting assistance for this issue to be considered by the House of Commons through a Private Member's Bill on a free vote. We shall consult the House authorities, as appropriate, on how this can best be taken forward. The Government have decided that there should first be an inquiry. This will be a committee of inquiry not into whether hunting is right or wrong, which is a matter for Parliament to decide. Instead, the inquiry will be put in place better to inform the debate. ----------- The report will be put before Parliament. Once the inquiry has reported, the Government's offer of time and drafting assistance will take effect immediately. "

2000

THE BURNS INQUIRY reported on 12 June 2000. The Inquiry was fair minded and properly conducted, it found no evidence that hunting causes unnecessary suffering of foxes (i.e. no proof it is cruel). It also found that insufficient study and research had been done to clarify the issues of cruelty and welfare, but it did not have enough time to initiate and then await the results of the necessary research.

Nevertheless under pressure from anti-hunting MPs, the U.K. government dropped its preference for a Private Members Bill. Gordon Prentice MP put forward an amendment to the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Bill (during debate in the Commons in June 2000) which would have added a ban on fox-hunting. This would have delayed the whole Bill's passage through the Lords and made it unlikely to become law within the current Parliament. Sensing the importance attached to CROW, Gordon Prentice ( an ardent opponent of fox-hunting ) seized the opportunity and "bribed" the Government by offering to withdraw his amendment if it were to introduce a Government Bill "to ban hunting". The Government accepted this "bribe" and the Home Secretary went back on his undertaking to support a Private Member's Bill. His fresh statement included the following:

"I now, however, believe that it would be for the convenience of the House if there was a Government Bill in Government time which contained a series of legislative options on the merits on which there would be free votes.---------I anticipate a Bill will be introduced early in the next session." (that is the session beginning in Oct/Nov 2000)"

This Government Bill ("Mk1") "The 2000 Bill" contained three options:

  • "Total Ban"
  • "Middle Way"---i.e. Statutory Regulation
  • "Countryside Alliance"---i.e. Supervision by the existing Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting.

Before The Burns Inquiry had finished, the government stated that this Bill would be put before the 2000/2001 parliament and that it would propose options, including a total ban. This announcement, far from awaiting the "light" that Burns was to throw on the matter, jumped to the conclusion that Burns would expose reasons for a total ban. This was amazingly premature and disrespectful of Lord Burns and his team, which actually revealed that there was insufficient research and no evidence to support a total ban. Thus the government, despite claiming to be neutral, but trapped by their own arrogance and the prejudice of some ministers, had to announce their Bill in The Queen's Speech on 6 Dec' 2000 containing a bill for a total ban.

2001

Progress in The Commons

The bill was rushed before the House of Commons. A majority of M.Ps were and still are prejudiced against hunting and The Commons voted (with a significantly lower majority than the last such vote) to send the Bill to the next (Committee) stage containing only the option for a total ban. However, the loss of this "battle" only began the "war" in Parliament. 

The next stage "Committee" concluded on Feb 13 2001. Only 2 of 4 parts of the draft, "Total Ban" parts, were considered due to time running out. Many policy and legal issues could not be wholly resolved and these caused the Home Secretary to have to make various concessions. For instance a defence against prosecution for hunting with a dog would be legitimate if the defendant could show that the dog was actually hunting a rodent, mink or rabbit. The Bill was ostensibly about protecting animals against a hunting dog. But this concession makes a nonsense of this. Why is hunting these pests with a dog O.K. but not the fox pest. It is now clear that the Bill is not about animals, but about preventing humans enjoying a chase, which might lead to the death of a fox/deer/hare/mink What next?-----Laws to prevent humans enjoying anything which involves the chasing (also flushing? playing a fish on a line?) and possible death of a living creature (e.g. falconry, ferreting, shooting? fishing?). Clearly, we are still at the top of a slope leading to ever more farcical legislation. The farce of the 2000 Government Bill was well illustrated by it being O.K. to hunt mink by accident but not deliberately. 

The next stage "Report" was held on the floor of the House on Feb 29. Further amendments and New Clauses were considered which did nothing to address the illiberal nature of this deeply flawed Bill. There was then a Third Reading debate and a vote ( with another significant drop in the support for an outright ban) which sent it to the House of Lords as one option ( "Total Ban") together with the Government's add back of the two options rejected by The Commons ("Middle Way"---i.e. Statutory Regulation and "Countryside Alliance"---i.e. Supervision by the existing Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting).

Progress in The Lords

The Lords had a second reading debate on all three options on March 12 2001. As expected, a majority of "Their Lordships" voted on March 26 2001 (317-- including 52 Labour Peers and 8 members of the Government---to 68 )against a total ban as a gross infringement of Human Rights. Only 51 of 197 Labour Peers voted for a ban. A majority of Lords then voted (249 to 108) to prefer the CA option over the "Middle Way" (202 against to 122 for), which was seen as excessively bureaucratic. Significantly two members of "Burns" and eight members of the Government voted for the Middle Way. 

THE "2000 BILL" FAILED BECAUSE PARLIAMENT WAS "CLOSED" FOR THE 2001 GENERAL ELECTION

Run up to 2001 General Election

With the General Election scheduled for June 7 2001 there was not enough time for the Bill to complete its passage through "The Lords". Thus the whole process of handling a Bill in both houses of Parliament had to start anew. The Labour Party Manifesto stated "The House of Commons elected in 1997 made clear its wish to ban fox-hunting. The House of Lords took a different view (and reform has been blocked). Such issues are rightly a matter for a free vote and we will give the new House of Commons an early opportunity to express its view. We will then enable Parliament to reach a conclusion on this issue. If the issue continues to be blocked we will look at how the disagreement can be resolved. We have no intention whatsoever of placing restrictions on the sports of angling and shooting."

 

2002

Alun Michael (The Minister responsible for resolving the Hunting Issue) placed a new Government Bill ("Mark 2") before Parliament intended to "enable Parliament to reach a conclusion on hunting with dogs."

There were debates in both Houses of Parliament on 18/19 March 2002 and a sharp disagreement between the two houses. There was the expected large majority in the Commons for an Outright Ban. In the Lords, a large majority voted for continuing hunting but with strict Regulation. This was a swing towards compromise, because in the previous vote the Lords had voted for non-statutory supervision. If the totality of MPs and Lords that voted is added together:

* 52% voted against a ban

* 55% supported the Middle Way.

On 21 March 2002 the Minister for Rural Affairs made a report to Parliament seeking "common ground" and containing:

"I propose a process of consultation on the practical issues of detail with a wide variety of interested parties. This period will last no more than six months, including work on drafting a new Bill. But we promised in the manifesto that it will be resolved. Should there be no way through and should the new Bill be frustrated in its passage rather than scrutinized and improved, the Government could not properly stand in the way of the application of the Parliament Act, which again of course would be a matter for this House.The report by Lord Burns on hunting with dogs examined in great detail the principles of cruelty Foxman's insertion; please note that the Burns Inquiry found no evidence of cruelty in hunting and utility. We propose to frame legislation that prohibits activity based on these two principles rather than simply setting out a list of activities to be banned. But the Burns report did not provide a route map. That is why further thought needs to be given in applying these principles and that is what I shall be looking at over the next few weeks."

Until late May 2002, some 2 months after "The process of consultation" was supposed to have started, there was little evidence of serious talks. Merely a number of ad-hoc "discussions" with informal pro-hunting groups assembled in conjunction with visits by various politicians to the countryside. Since Meacher's announcement there were continuous demonstrations all over the country to remind politicians of the need for proper consultation, rather than lectures by politicians in a highly charge atmosphere and masquerading as consultation. The pressure may well have crystallized the thoughts of the Ministry and helped bring about talks on 13 June 2002 between The Countryside Alliance (CA), The Campaign for Hunting, The Middle Way Group, The Campaign for the Protection of the Hunted Animal and The Minister. On Sept 9,10 & 11 2002, evidence was taken in public from these organisations.

The government stated that it regards this exercise as definitive. It concentrated on "cruelty and utility".The Countryside Alliance has summed up these hearings as follows:

  • On the first day, it was clearly established that there is a need for effective management of wildlife by local communities in the countryside. Within this, it was demonstrated that hunting brings valuable practical, social and economic benefits.
  • On the second day, the hearings considered cruelty and the principle of least suffering. We are pleased that the experts concluded there is no reason to apply different tests to different wild mammals - it is the same for the field mouse as it is for the deer.
  • Hunting has never been afraid of being tested against these principles of cruelty and that remains its position. At the end of these sessions the clear consensus was that there should be a common approach to all animal welfare.
  • On the third day, the debate focused on applying the principles of utility and least suffering. It was interesting and constructive and reflected the complexity of the issues. It also reinforced Lord Burns' comments on the first day that any solution acceptable to the majority must be developed over time.

2003/2004

ALUN MICHAEL'S STATEMENT INTRODUCING THE "GOVERNMENT BILL (Mk2) "

Introducing the Bill to the House of Commons The Minister said: "Utility and least suffering provide the golden thread that runs from the start to the finish of the process and through the drafting of the Bill. That golden thread is strengthened by the integrity of the process, the basis of principle and the strong focus on evidence that has led me to conclusions that I hope will command the support of this House.
I will publish a Bill this afternoon but, in advance of that, let me take this opportunity to outline my reasoning behind those conclusions. There has been support from all the organisations involved for the idea of drafting legislation on the basis of evidence and the two principles of cruelty and utility. That in itself is very significant and should be noted by Opposition Members.

On a number of occasions, John Jackson, chairman of the Countryside Alliance, said, "If something is cruel, we shouldn't be doing it", and animal welfare organisations have acknowledged "utility"—the things that need to be done for such purposes as eradicating vermin or to protect livestock. Indeed, they included a list of exemptions in the deadline 2000 option that we debated in the last Parliament. The Middle Way Group has also acknowledged the validity of these two principles.

The Bill is designed to recognise utility and prevent cruelty. Let me briefly spell out what that means. The utility test involves asking what is necessary to prevent serious damage to livestock, crops and other property or biological diversity. The cruelty test involves asking which effective methods of achieving that purpose cause the least suffering. All activities will be judged on the evidence available about whether they meet both the tests. Where an activity has no utility and involves cruelty, it will not be allowed to continue. Incontrovertible evidence shows that the activities of hare coursing and deer hunting cannot meet the two tests, so these activities will be banned. Where an activity with dogs has general utility and there is no generally less cruel method, it will be allowed. Again, incontrovertible evidence has shown that such activities as ratting and rabbiting should be allowed to continue, and they will be dealt with in the Bill.

For some activities, the evidence is less clear-cut, so I propose to set up an independent process to consider on a case-by-case basis whether particular activities involving dogs meet the two tests. That is consistent with the Burns findings. The procedure will require an application to an independent registrar showing why there is a need to undertake the proposed activity and to show that the cruelty test is satisfied. The procedure will then allow a prescribed animal welfare organisation to provide evidence as well. If the registrar is satisfied that both tests are met, he will grant registration; if not, he will refuse. In considering applications, the registrar will also have to consider whether the applicant will be able to comply with standard conditions, such as requiring hunted animals to be killed quickly and humanely when caught. Applicants may also specify conditions to which their hunting will be subject.

If either side wishes to appeal against the decision, it can do so to an independent tribunal. The tribunal will be a national body with a president at its head appointed by the Lord Chancellor. A panel will have a legally qualified chair, normally sitting with two other members—one with land management experience and the other with animal welfare experience."

 

"The Mk2 Government Bill", introduced to The Commons in March 2002, was supposed to reflect the Consultation but had many logical inconsistencies and paid little attention to the facts. It was debated in December 2002 and passed to the Committee Stage. Far from correcting the severe flaws, the anti-hunting majority of the Commons Committee abused their powers by choosing prejudice over logic. They passed amendments to the Bill, which if adopted by The Commons, would have banned most, but not all Hunts ( "The Draft Commons Bill" or "The Final Gov' (Mk3) Bill" ).The illogical and vindictive behaviour of the Anti- Hunting MPs in the Committee is best illustrated by Alun Michael ( the member of the Government responsible for Hunting), who in the Committee Stage voted for amendments obviously intended to wreck the "Government's Mk2 Bill" thus failing to live up to his own statement introducing this, his own department's, Bill and failing to stand up for the bill that he had presented to Parliament. Such behaviour has no precedent and made a mockery of his claim that Hunting would be judged on the basis of logic rather than prejudice and hatred of "hunting people".The Committee Stage completed and the "Draft Commons Bill" went to 3rd Reading and Report Stage on 30 June 2003. The Commons, did not pass even "The Draft Commons (Mk3) Bill". The bigotted anti-hunting members of The Commons persuaded the house to further amend the "Draft Commons (Mk3)Bill" to become an Outright Total Ban uncloaked in any way--- "The Autumn 2003 Commons Bill" "Mk4" or "Banks Bill". The Bill, in this form, was rejected by The Lords and they started to redraft it in the Committee Stage. Unfortunately the 2 days (21 & 28 Oct 2003) allowed for this by the Government was not enough and the bill fell. However, it was reintroduced (in the draconian form it left the Commons, "The BANKS BILL" ---The Ban) on Wed 15 Sept 2004. The Lords continued to try to restore the Bill to something much closer to the original "Mark 1" Government Bill.

The Conservative peers were singled out and accused of wrecking The Banks Bill. This was a typical example of labour Spin and as usual thoroughly dishonest. Firstly, the Government failed to allow enough time for the Lords Debate. In the Commons, there were 27 sitting days and 81 hours of debate in committee. In the Lords, it was allowed two days in committee and 12 hours of debate. Secondly, the Government was defeated in the Lords on two major amendments. On one, 271 voted for the amendment and 58 against. On the other, 261 voted for, and 49 against. If no hereditary peer and no Conservative peer had voted, the Government would still have been defeated. If the Labour peers and the cross-bench life peers only had voted, the Government would still have lost. It was not the Conservative peers who caused the Bill's downfall. The Government could not get support even from its own back bench peers. It was the whole House of Lords who, like so many people in the country, despised the Bill. The Government deliberately starved the Bill of the time needed, in order to clear the logjam of legislation left in the Lords and The Banks Bill fell.

The "BANKS BILL" failed to pass the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights because of two key areas that would put it at risk of claims under the Human Rights Act, they are:

  • The failure to provide compensation to those who will be affected - including all those who will lose their jobs, farriers, kennel owners and stable owners.
  • The right to stop hunting on private land, and whether ministers have that right. The Times reported “Members want to know whether it is justifiable to restrict what people do on private property in the public interest. It is a question of proportionality".
    DEFRA were asked to respond to the issues and their response has failed to satisfy the committee. This issue will need resolving now that the government has reintroduced the bill.

Special Report on the Human Rights Act incompatibility. Thanks to the Support Fox-hunting Site http://www.supportfoxhunting.co.uk The BANKS BILL is being subjected to numerous legal challenges.  

USE OF THE PARLIAMENT ACTS

The Parliament Acts were used to force the Ban through against the votes of The Lords. There are severe doubts that it was Constitutionally appropriate to use the acts on this issue.

FOXMAN'S COMMENTS ON THE SEVERAL BILLS

THE GOVERNMENT BILL "MARK 2" (post the Consultation and introducing onerous licensing)

This "Government Bill" may be summarised as follows:

· A ban on hare coursing events and deer hunting:
· Other forms of hunting could be carried out under a national licensing system;
· Licences would be valid for three years and can be applied for on an individual or group basis;
· A registrar, appointed by the Secretary of State, can grant or refuse a licence following tests on the grounds of utility and least suffering;
· Animal welfare organizations will be able to submit evidence to the registrar;
· Should a licence be refused, the applicant can then proceed to a National Appeals Tribunal;
· Should a licence be granted, the animal welfare bodies can also appeal to the Tribunal;
· The Tribunal works under a President, appointed by the Lord Chancellor.

Hunting not requiring a licence under this legislation are:
· stalking and flushing out wild mammals above ground (not involving more than two dogs);
· the hunting of rabbits;
· falconry;
· recapture or rescue of diseased wild mammals;
· recapture or rescue of escaped wild mammals;

Offenders of the Bill, will receive a £5000 fine.

 

FAULTS OF THE MK2 GOVERNMENT BILL

The short time available for the Public Debate in Westminster, together with the entrenched prejudices on all sides precluded wholly rational exposure of the many flaws in the evidence against the utility of hunting and in alleging that it is cruel. Hunting is a very complex subject, where practices have been evolving for centuries and are still being adapted in the light of experience.

The Minister claimed that The Government Bill was based on the Burns Enquiry and evidence for and against fox-hunting which was debated in public ( The Westminster Hearings) on 9,10 & 11 Sept 2002 by representatives of the Countryside Alliance (CA) and the Campaign for Hunting, the Middleway Group and various Anti organisations. In the case of Fox Hunting (but not Stag Hunting and Hare Coursing), he appears to have accepted the limitations of these processes. Burns admitted that there was little hard evidence available (please see my discussion of missing research). IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE WITH THE VARIOUS HUNTING AUTHORITIES ARRANGES THAT THIS RESEARCH IS CARRIED OUT.

  • UTILITY. During summer 2002 The Government attempted to clarify "utility" as follows, "Utility addresses the need for particular activities, particularly in the work of land and wildlife managers. It might be described as the need or usefulness of an activity for vermin control, wildlife management, habitat protection or land management and conservation. Absurdly, this definition omits all of the cultural utility of Hunting. (For several years this website has contained comments on each of these aspects of "utility". Please click on an aspect above to read these comments). NOTWITHSTANDING THIS SUMMER 2002 CLARIFICATION BY THE GOVERNMENT OF WHAT THEY MEANT BY "UTILITY", the definition in its own Bill was even more absurdly restricted to "what is necessary to prevent serious damage to livestock, crops and other property or biological diversity". Furthermore, BECAUSE THIS BILL CONCENTRATED ON "UTILITY" IN THE NARROWEST SENSE, THE GOVERNMENT CONTRAVENED ITS OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE RIO DECLARATION OF 1992, UN AGENDA 21 & THE EU HABITATS DIRECTIVE amongst others. In particular, because it ignores the facts that Hunting is also useful in:

    • Helping to maintain a healthy, genetically sound fox population by culling the genetically unsound, weak, old and wounded. Any ban would harm the UK fox population as a whole.
    • Dispersing the fox population leading to the many advantages of reducing areas of over concentration. Most other methods of control are not effective in dispersing.
    • Helping to maintain much of the traditional appearance of the UK Countryside.
    • Benefitting many UK farmers who earn money by assisting in the maintenance of the infrastructure of fox-hunting (e.g. by maintaining hunting horses for customers).
    • Sustaining the livelihood of many people in the countryside and in the towns who derive a significant proportion of their income because of fox-hunting.
    • Maintaining the social and cultural cohesion of many country communities where fox-hunting is pivotal to the social and other aspects of the "Country Way of Life".
  • The Bill appeared to be proposing that licences be granted or not to whole Packs of Hounds on the basis of the nature of the countryside over which they hunt. In fact most hunts have a mixture of different types of countryside; hillsides, river valleys, alluvial plains, near marshland, thickly wooded areas, open moor, open areas of ploughed fields etc. The logical method is that used during the Foot & Mouth Ban; that is to grant licences for specific areas of a Hunt Country, say, meeting place by meeting place.
  • The Bill places the burden of proof on those seeking registration. In common with the procedures for new roads etc. and our British traditions of enterprise and fairness, the burden of proof should rest with those objecting to a licence being issued.

IN TRUTH THE UTILITY OF HUNTING IS UNIQUE in the broad scope of itsselective control of vermin. No other method of controlling the fox population combines so many aspects of "utility". For instance it is unique in dispersing concentrations of foxes which aggravate predation. It is also particularly cost/effective from a government viewpoint, because most of the costs are paid by those that enjoy exercising or observing the many skills required, which have been in use for several millenia.

  • EFFICIENCY. ANOTHER ILLOGICAL ASPECT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE WAS THAT SEVERAL M.Ps INTERPRETED UTILITY AS RELATIVE UTILITY IN THE NARROW SENSE OF "EFFICIENCY" ( e.g. Cost per fox killed. Ignoring the UNIQUE value of hunting in dispersing and SELECTIVELY culling the fox population). THEREFORE, THEY BELIEVED, ERRONEOUSLY, THAT HUNTING SHOULD BE ALLOWED ONLY WHERE CULLING OF FOXES HAS THE HIGHEST PRIORITY AND OTHER METHODS ARE IMPRACTICABLE OR MORE COSTLY THAN HUNTING.

  • IF SUCH A BILL WERE TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN THIS WAY IT WOULD BAN MANY HUNTS, BE MUCH MORE EXTREME THAN ANY "MIDDLE WAY" AND WOULD BE UNACCEPTABLE TO THE HOUSE OF LORDS.
  • FLAWED EVIDENCE. The government viewed the evidence given and cross-examined on 9,10 & 11 Sept 2002 as crucial, but much of the evidence put forward against Hunting was flawed. An example is a study in autumn 2002 of the effect on fox populations of the cessation of hunting during the foot and mouth epidemic by Professor Harris of Bristol University ( a well known anti-hunting activist ). He claimed that populations had not increased between Feb/March 2001 and Feb/ March 2002. He drew the inference that hunting does not control the fox population. This was clearly a gross over simplification because:
  • Foxes became more concentrated in some areas and less prevalent in others. This supports Foxman's argument that one of the most important role of hunting is to control the DISTRIBUTION of foxes.
  • Farmers in several parts of the UK found more foxes about their livestock and shot more. These farms were a natural place for foxes to concentrate. This supports Foxman's argument that another important role is to reduce the risk of wounding foxes by shooting.
  • Any biologist would confirm that a single year is far too short a time to draw conclusions about the impact of a change in circumstances on an animal population. What other factors were relevant?

 

DO NOT BE MISLED. THE GOVERNMENT CAPITULATED AND HELPED THROUGH THE BAN FOR PARTY POLITICAL REASONS

Logic was irrelevant in deciding the future of Hunting. In reality the Labour Government was controlled in taking decisions about hunting by any need to appease on any matter a powerful group of back-benchers who are "bigottedly" against hunting.

This fact is evidenced by the fact that The Mk2 Government Bill would have totally banned Deer Hunting and Hare Coursing Events. The Minister said that there is incontrovertible evidence these activities cannot meet the tests. That is to say either Deer/ Hare Control is unnecessary and/or Deer Hunting/Hare Coursing with dogs is not the least cruel method of Deer/Hare Control. Burns came to no such firm conclusion and no irrefutable evidence was submitted to the Consultation (Westminster Hearings). Even if the Minister's assertions were to be correct, there was no logical reason to omit these activities from the tests of utility and prevention of cruelty inherent in the proposed process of registration. Why was the authority of The Registrar to be presumed by Government? It is obvious, therefore, that these were introduced for purely political reasons.

THE "LIBERTY AND LIVELIHOOD" MARCH

Although claimed to be based on the Burns Findings and the public debate, outlined above, The Government Bill was vague and inconsistent. Many people saw it as little more than a disguised attempt to ban Hunting etc. In protest at this attack on "Liberty and Livelihood", 400,000 people from all walks of life, all parts of the UK and many other countries, and all political persuasions marched several miles through London on September 22 2002. The trigger for The March was Hunting, a part of Rural Culture that unites all "rurals" and "non-rurals" who abhor cultural discrimination. Thus it was inevitable that The March united "rurals" (including non-rural believers in liberty) in demonstrating towards ensuring that governments follow the following Countryside Agenda, cogently set out by the Countryside Alliance.

THE MEANING OF THE MARCH

Alun Michael, (the Minister responsible for dealing with Hunting) appeared on TV after The March and wondered what it was about except as a protest against a Hunting Ban. In Foxman's view IT WAS ABOUT THE WILLINGNESS OF "RURALS" TO TAKE WHATEVER ACTIONS BECOME NECESSARY TO SAVE THEIR LIBERTY AND LIVELIHOOD.

 

THE COUNTRYSIDE AGENDA

The Countryside Alliance has put forward the following Agenda:

  • Ensure any (further) hunting legislation is based on the evidence, is just and respects the rights of local communities as set out in the Rio Declaration.
  • Put the needs and aspirations of country people at the forefront of rural change, and make their consent of paramount importance.
  • Enable British farmers to move away from subsidy dependence and support their ability to make a fair living in fair markets.
  • Instigate re-examination of competitive practices of supermarkets in the food chain.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the reduction of social exclusion by rolling out broadband IT in rural areas to the same level as other EU countries.
  • Ensure public spending planning reflects the higher cost of providing services in rural areas.
  • Equality of provision of healthcare, education and public security between rural and urban areas.
  • Ensure that all Government legislation and action is rural proofed and all rural proofing is transparent.
  • Reverse disintegration of local communities by enabling them to manage their own affairs through empowered parish councils.
  • Require ALL Government agencies involved in rural affairs to reflect social and cultural issues and needs throughout their work.

 

THE FUNDAMENTAL DEFECT IN ANY LABOUR GOVERNMENT

All "liberal" UK citizens (but particularly Country People with their love of tradition) face problems from a fundamental defect in The Labour Party.

Mr Blair's article in the Daily Telegraph and his attack on "the forces of conservatism" during the Labour Party 1999 Conference illustrated Labour's defective approach to government. They revealed the real motive behind their attack on fox-hunting and the House of Lords-----A revival of The Class War upon which Socialism and Communism were founded. Labour has merely redefined the attacked "class" as "the forces of conservatism" or "Old Britain". What a pity that the driving force behind Labour is still the same "Old" hatred that played such a strong part in its foundation. The country hoped for so much more from "New" Labour; we dared to hope for a genuinely fresh approach. For instance abandoning old prejudices for a willingness to strive for compromise between "Old" and "New". The party in 2007 under Mr Brown has reverted even more strongly to its prejudices.

The dictatorial tendency of the leadership of Labour is well illustrated by their banning of an entertainment at the 2000 Labour Party conference. This was organized by a Labour Pro-Hunting Group "Leave Country Sports Alone" and was to have to have been held in a secure area with all taking part searched on entry. The reason (poor excuse) given for the ban was that "the entertainment was a security risk". Since the Labour Leadership stooped to such obvious arrogant abuse of democracy, how can they ever be expected to treat Hunting fairly or to run the Country in anything other than a manner reminiscent of a Fascist Dictatorship? Tony Blair's frequent use of the phrase "real people" is also indicative of dictatorial attitudes. Who are the other people? Presumably his thought processes envisage an under-people ("untermenschen"as in Germany under the Third Reich). 

The prejudiced and illogical nature of The Ban is shown by the following argument:

If hunting with dogs is believed to be cruel and to degrade welfare, so must Fishing, Shooting, Falconry, Ferreting etc. Why has hunting with dogs been singled out? A large minority believes that the real reasons include:"Hunting with dogs" covers fox-hunting with its strong (but erroneous) association with the "upper (moneyed priveleged without having earned it) classes". A ban would be another victory for the struggle against the upper classes. To a majority of Country People, the ban makes a mockery of Labour's assertion that its government is "for all of the people". It seems more like a smokescreen to hide Labour's perpetuation of the class struggle and quest for a "dictatorship of the proletariat" (Old Socialism). Another factor is that there is only political harm in exploiting feelings against Fishing (in particular) and other sports not strongly associated with the "upper classes". Anti-Hunting and wavering M.Ps. and candidates in marginal seats should ask themselves the following question "do I really wish to support naked prejudice against the Upper Classes and/or by discriminating against "Rural Culture"expose that part of my politics is undemocratic and Old Socialism thinly veiled?". Politicians with these prejudices have sometimes paid a high price. Jackie Ballard, was thrown out of her Taunton Seat partly because of her opposition to hunting. Most polls have shown that, given the option of strict but logical regulation, the majority would oppose retention of the Ban.

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