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Friday, 9 June, 2000, 08:40 GMT 09:40 UK
Banning fox-hunting: A timeline

There have been several previous attempts to outlaw the hunting of foxes with packs of hounds. In addition to the measures listed below, numerous pieces of legislation have been proposed or passed to try to regulate or ban hare coursing and the hunting of otters and deer.

1949 - Two private member's bills to ban, or restrict, hunting fail to make it onto the statute books. One is withdrawn the other is defeated on its second reading in the Commons. The Labour government appoints a committee of inquiry to investigate all forms of hunting. The committee concludes: "Foxhunting makes a very important contribution to the control of foxes, and involves less cruelty than most other methods of controlling them. It should therefore be allowed to continue."

MP Kevin McNamara's attempt to ban fox-hunting was defeated in the Commons
1992 - A private member's bill to make hunting with dogs illegal is rejected by the Commons. The Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill, proposed by Labour MP Kevin McNamara, is defeated on its second reading.

1993 - Labour MP and animal rights campaigner Tony Banks fails in his attempt to get Parliament to pass his Fox Hunting (Abolition) Bill.

1995 - Labour MP John McFall is unsuccessful with his private member's bill to ban hunting with hounds. The Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill passes its second reading in the Commons. But it is heavily amended before it falls in the Lords.

May 1997 - The Labour Party wins the general election. In its manifesto it promises: "We will ensure greater protection for wildlife. We have advocated new measures to promote animal welfare, including a free vote in Parliament on whether hunting with hounds should be banned."

5 November 1997 - Labour MP Michael Foster publishes a private member's bill to ban hunting with dogs. The government delivers a blow to the chances of the bill becoming law by refusing to grant the legislation any of its Parliamentary time.

An estimated 250,000 people took part in the countryside march to oppose a hunt ban
1 March 1998 - After the Foster bill passes its second reading in the Commons the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance organises a massive protest rally in London. An estimated 250,000 people join the countryside march to protest against the bill and threats to other aspects of rural life.

13 March 1998 - Hunt supporters celebrate as the Foster bill runs out of time during its report stage in the Commons. The bill is talked out by hunt-supporting MPs who table hundreds of amendments to block the legislation's progress. Mr Foster pledges to fight on.

3 July 1998 - Mr Foster withdraws his bill citing the "cynical tactics" of his opponents. He insists that to carry on would deprive other valuable legislation, such as a law on puppy farms, of valuable Parliamentary time. He predicts that fox hunting will still be banned during this Parliament. But he says it is now up to the government to see the job through.

8 July 1999 - Prime Minister Tony Blair makes a surprise announcement that he plans to make fox-hunting illegal and before the next general election if possible.

12 July 1999 - Labour denies that Mr Blair's pledge is connected to an extra 100,000 donation it had received from an anti-hunt pressure group. The Political Animal Lobby (PAL), had previously given 1m to the party before the 1997 election.

Fox hunting
PAL had also made donations to the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair has pledged to ban the sport

21 July 1999 - Labour MSP Mike Watson announces plans to put forward a private member's bill in the Scottish Parliament to ban hunting with dogs in Scotland. He predicts the bill could come into force by Spring 2000.

15 September 1999 - Hunt supporters set up a national body, the Independent Supervisory for Hunting, to ensure hunting is carried out in a "proper and humane manner".

1 October 1999 - Tony Blair insists he can deliver his promise to ban fox hunting before the next election, despite claims that it will have to wait until the House of Lords is reformed.

11 November 1999 - The government announces it will support a backbenchers' bill on fox hunting.

14 November 1999 - Home Secretary Jack Straw announces an inquiry into the effect of a fox hunting ban on the rural economy, to be led by Lord Burns.

March 2000 - MSP Mike Watson's bill starts its passage through the Scottish Parliament.

30 May 2000 - Labour backbenchers urge the government to put its weight behind a hunting ban or risk losing voters, and Labour MP Gordon Prentice proposes an amendment to the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill to ban the sport.

9 June 2000 - The Burns inquiry report is due a week ahead of proposed government legislation that will offer a number of options, from preserving the status quo to introducing a total ban.

To return to Fox Hunting: Fighting for the Fox, click here

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See also:

13 Mar 98 | Politics
Hunting Bill looks doomed
03 Jul 98 | UK Politics
Hunting Bill goes to the dogs
17 Dec 97 | Talking Point
Should hunting with hounds be banned?
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