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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Lords set to vote on hunting ban
Peers are expected to back a licensing scheme
Members of the House of Lords are set to have their first vote on the government's controversial Hunting Bill.

Peers will vote on each of the three options for the future of fox hunting on Monday afternoon.

The options are an outright ban, a system of self-regulation and a strict licensing scheme.

Peers are unlikely to back a ban and the Bill has no chance of becoming law if Tony Blair calls a May general election.

In reality there are only two options - ban hunting with dogs or allow it to continue

Douglas Batchelor,
Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals
Labour peer Baroness Mallalieu, who is also President of the Countryside Alliance, said parliament was wasting time on debating a possible ban.

She told BBC News: "In the context of what is going on in the country at the moment this is a total waste of parliamentary time.

"At the moment, today, it's almost obscene that while there is a national emergency going on involving primarily the farming community, but also all those who live in the country, that we in the Lords are going to be spending many hours again tonight debating this matter, it's just crazy."

And she predicted that the upper house would reject a ban, and vote for one of the other two options.

Monday's vote follows a marathon debate in the Lords earlier this month.

Peers are expected to back the "middle way" option of licensing foxhunts.

Pressure on peers

More than 100 MPs have already signed a cross party motion calling on peers to accept the decision of the Commons.

Douglas Batchelor, chairman of the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals, said: "In reality there are only two options - ban hunting with dogs or allow it to continue.

"You cannot regulate hunting to take away the cruelty of the chase or the kill.

"Statutory regulation is effectively licensed cruelty in the name of sport.

"The public is not fooled by that, MPs have not been fooled and we believe that peers should not be taken in either."

The Bill has been criticised by peers as "nothing more than a Labour Party stunt".

Conservative Lord Cope told peers that the Bill was being introduced even though it had no hope of becoming law before the forthcoming general election.

Lord Cope was one of 69 speakers to speak during the Bill's second reading debate.

Many members of the Lords believe that an outright ban cannot be justified and would restrict personal freedom.

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See also:

13 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Hunting Bill clears first hurdle
28 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Anger as hunt bill clears Commons
07 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Second hunting bill seeks compromise
11 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Bragg battles for hunting reprieve
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