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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 17:26 GMT
Hunt groups say 'no middle way'
Hunters and hounds
The first day of the hunting season on Exmoor
Pro- and anti-hunt groups in the South West have been considering what has been announced in the Queen's Speech.

In the speech, the Queen said the UK Government would introduce a bill "to enable Parliament to reach a conclusion on hunting with dogs".

MPs had been considering three options: no change, an outright ban, and a so-called middle way where it would continue under strict conditions and regulation.

However, both pro- and anti- groups have rejected a compromise to allow a partial continuation of the sport.

Hunting hounds - PA
Parliament is to "reach a conclusion" on hunting

The new hunting bill will be brought forward once conclusions are reached after a consultation process from all sides of the debate.

The Queen said: "Parliament will be invited to scrutinise legislation in draft on a number of measures, reflecting the importance that my government places on pre-legislative scrutiny by Parliament."

The Middle Way Group, which comprises of MPs from all parties, welcomed the announcement of a new hunting bill.

It called for a "serious measured commitment by the government to resolve the issue of hunting with dogs once and for all".

A spokesperson for the group said: "The words of the Queen's Speech are important because they recognise that no simple solution exists."

Legislation principles

The pro-hunting Countryside Alliance said a partial ban on legitimate hunting had no evidence to support it and would be opposed "with implacable resolve".

Meanwhile, Ivor Annetts, mid-Devon co-ordinator for the League Against Cruel Sports, told BBC News Online: "We are opposed to anything other than an outright ban."

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael is expected to put the government's plans to Parliament before Christmas.

Mr Michael said the legislation he would propose should be based on "principles and not a shopping list of cans and can'ts."


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12 Nov 02 | England
01 Nov 02 | England
12 Mar 02 | England
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