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Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 17:40 GMT
Second hunting bill seeks compromise
Hunts would have to comply with anti-cruelty laws
A former Labour farm minister is to introduce a new parliamentary attempt to save fox hunting.

Lord Donoghue will introduce a bill on Friday to remove hunting's exemption from laws preventing cruelty to wild animals.

Anti-hunt protestors outside the House of Commons
Anti-hunt protestors still want total ban
He believes that the step could promote the so-called 'Middle Way' solution to the hunting debate under which the sport would continue, but with heavier regulation.

MPs have already voted for a total ban on hunting with dogs in the the Hunting Bill - they rejected the 'Middle Way' and the third option of self-regulation.

It is understood Lord Donoghue's bill has the backing of Lord Burns, who chaired last year's official inquiry into hunting with dogs.

Our concerns are that a ban on hunting with dogs won't really save the life of a single fox while being illiberal at the same time

Lembit Opik MP
Lord Donoghue told BBC News: "The concern of many people is specific acts of cruelty.

"If we can ban that, then there is no need to take the illiberal step - a step which Adolf Hitler took - of banning hunting.

"But my prime aim is to deal with cruelty to animals and it reflects the Burns Report on hunting, which said such a bill would be a good idea."

Lord Donoghue said his option offered the government a way of avoiding a clash with the hunting lobby.

Nearly 200,000 country dwellers who support the Countryside Alliance had planned to march in London next month before the foot-and-mouth outbreak forced them to cancel.

Lembit Opik, Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire, and joint chairman of the Middle Way group told BBC News he detected a compromise solution.

"Our concerns are that a ban on hunting with dogs won't really save the life of a single fox while being illiberal at the same time," he said.

Foot-and-mouth debate

Peers have also used the hunting issue to secure their own full scale debate on foot-and-mouth.

Many felt angry that they were being asked to debate the Hunting Bill next week before they had a chance to fully tackle the issue of the disease and its devastating effects on the countryside.

The government backed down after Liberal Democrat peers' leader Lord Rodgers tabled an amendment to the Hunting Bill urging the Lords to hold it up until there has been a full day's debate on the crisis.

He said: "When the countryside is facing a disastrous crisis, to discuss hunting and not the larger issues caused by foot-and-mouth disease would have been outrageous."

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28 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Anger as hunt bill clears Commons
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