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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 19:56 GMT
MPs vote to ban fur farms
Mink farms will be outlawed under the Bill
MPs have backed a Bill banning fur farming in England and Wales.

The Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill, which awaits Royal assent, will effectively close down the remaining 13 mink farms in England and Wales.

Fur farmers will be compensated for their losses but as yet no precise figures have been set by the government.

The Bill is likely to come into effect on 1 January 2003 and follows a 15-year-long campaign by anti-fur pressure groups.

Location of fur farms
Isle of Wight
Lancashire (five)
South Yorkshire
West Yorkshire

Junior Agriculture Minister Elliot Morley told MPs during Wednesday's final reading of the Bill that details of the compensation package would be worked out once it became law.

He said independent assessors would visit the affected farms and would advise ministers on how much should be paid out.

'Weary resignation'

Conservative MP Malcolm Moss said there was an air of "weary resignation" among fur farmers.

But he criticised the government for failing to draw up the basic parameters of a compensation package.

"The farmers are no further forward to knowing what their businesses will be worth and how to plan for the future," he said.

Former Tory agriculture minister Douglas Hogg condemned the Bill as "offensive and illiberal".

He said: "If we are going to make a prohibition, then we must compensate properly and fully."

Maria Eagle
Maria Eagle introduced the private members Bill
Conservative MP for Basingstoke Andrew Hunter branded the Bill a "miserable and vindictive" measure.

Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, who tried to introduce a Bill outlawing fur farming in 1998, said the current Bill had widespread support both inside the Commons and outside.

He said the majority of the population thought fur farming was unethical and the farmers had received "a very, very good innings" in the House.

'A huge victory'

The proposed legislation has been hailed as a huge victory by the anti-fur lobby.

But the British Fur Trade Association said the Bill was "bad law-making and morally questionable".

The Bill honours Labour's pre-election pledge to end fur factory farming.

Labour MP Maria Eagle was responsible for introducing the private members' Bill in the Commons.

Her first attempt in 1999 was unsuccessful.

Fur farms produce up to 100,000 mink skins in England and Wales each year.

No fur farms exist in Scotland or Northern Ireland although both countries have outline plans for a similar Bill.

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