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Thursday, 11 January, 2001, 14:07 GMT
Bragg battles for hunting reprieve
MPs will vote on a hunting ban next week
Labour peer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg has launched a campaign to stop MPs from banning foxhunting.

Lord Bragg has sent a video and letter to every MP in the hope that they will not back a ban when they vote on the issue next week.

The outcome of the vote could affect fundamentally the livelihood of thousands of families

Lord Bragg
The video is about Lakeland farmer Eric Taylforth, who describes how criminalising hunting would affect his family's future, as well as the community and countryside in which they live.

Members of the House of Lords have been targeted through a similar campaign launched by another Labour peer, Baroness Mallalieu.

The government's hunting bill gives MPs three options - allowing hunting with dogs to continue with voluntary regulations, hunting with dogs under licence from a new hunting authority, or a complete ban.

In his letter, Lord Bragg, who won a 10,000 literary prize for a novel inspired by his father last year, warns that voting for a ban could destroy many families.

"The outcome of the vote could affect fundamentally the livelihood of thousands of families across the country.

"In Cumbria where I live, the right to use dogs to control pest foxes efficiently and humanely can make the different between survival and financial failure for hill farmers," added the broadcaster, who is best-known for presenting ITV's flagship arts programme The South Bank Show.

Debate options

MPs will begin debating the options on Monday and are scheduled to vote on Tuesday morning.

They have already passed the Bill in a free vote in its second reading before Christmas with a majority of 215.

That vote was greeted with protests outside Westminster and the same is expected to happen next week.

Melvyn Bragg
Lord Bragg says a ban would destroy families
A ban is again expected to receive overwhelming support from MPs and is supported by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

His official spokesman said Mr Blair would vote to ban hunting if he is available when the vote is called.

'Middle-way myth'

The Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals has written to MPs saying that the only legislative option that will prevent cruelty to animals is a ban.

The campaign, which comprises the RSPCA, the League Against Cruel Sports and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, has also written to MPs to explain what each option means.

They say the "middle-way" option of allowing hunting to continue under licence is a "myth".

Douglas Batchelor, chairman of the CPHA, said: "It is vital that this so-called 'middle way' option is seen for what it really is.

"If this option goes forward, fox hunting, deer hunting, hare coursing and mink hunting will continue just as they do today, except that hunts will have licences permitting them to cruelly chase, savage and kill animals in the name of sport.

"The home secretary made it clear that only one of the three options will go forward so we are urging MPs to vote to stop the fundamentally cruel and unnecessary practice of chasing and killing wild mammals with dogs.

"The only way this can be achieved is by supporting option three - a ban."

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See also:

21 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hunting Bill clears Commons hurdle
21 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hunting: How they voted
20 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Protests hit hunting debate
09 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Labour MPs welcome hunting pledge
08 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hunting bill unveiled
20 Jun 98 | UK Politics
Labour's new Lords
28 Oct 98 | UK Politics
'Just call me Melvyn'
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