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Thursday, November 11, 1999 Published at 15:08 GMT

UK: Scotland

Executive order hunt ban impact report

Report will look at the impact of a ban

The Scottish Executive has commissioned a study into the economic impact of banning fox hunting in Scotland.

The study will be carried out by the Macaulay Land Use Institute in Aberdeen and is expected to last six weeks.

Ministers want to establish how many jobs might be lost through banning hunting.

Independent study

A members bill proposing a ban is to be placed before the Scottish Parliament by Labour MSP Mike Watson.

The move comes after an independent study by Aberdeen University researchers concluded that a ban on hunting would have minimal economic impact.

Douglas Macmillan disputes the figures from the pro-hunting lobby
The study, by Douglas Macmillan of the university's environment and rural resource economics group, showed that, in a worst case scenario, 87 full-time jobs would be lost.

The report also suggested that no jobs would be affected if mounted fox hunts switched to drag hunting instead.

[ image: Mike Watson is attempting to ban fox hunting]
Mike Watson is attempting to ban fox hunting
Pro-hunt campaigners have argued that thousands of jobs could be lost if a proposed ban on hunting with hounds goes ahead.

Mr Macmillan said: "The claim by pro-hunt supporters that a ban on fox hunting would affect up to 14,000 jobs in Scotland is difficult to support.

"Even the more modest claim by the Scottish Countryside Alliance that 300 jobs would be lost is unreliable."

Mr Macmillan predicted that a "ban would have very little impact on either employment or expenditure in rural areas".

Considerable opposition

Doug Ross of the Scottish Countryside Alliance said: "We are disappointed that our opponents would appear to regard the loss of 87 jobs as trivial.

Malcolm Bell MacDonald: "If you are employed by a hunt you will be out of a job"
"Each job lost in rural Scotland is a tragedy for the country and the family of the person involved."

The members bill by Labour MSP Mike Watson which aims to outlaw hunting with dogs has met with considerable opposition since it was announced.

Pro-hunt campaigners have pledged to mount a legal challenge in the Court of Session in Edinburgh in a bid to thwart the bill's progress.

There are nine registered mounted hunts in Scotland, five of which are in the Borders.

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