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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 22:02 GMT
Lords compromise on hunting
Hunt members with hounds
A ban on hunting won overwhelming backing from MPs
Peers have voted for a compromise deal on hunting with dogs the day after MPs overwhelmingly backed a ban.

In three votes on the issue, the Upper House opposed a ban before going on to back the idea of licenced hunts by 366 to 59 - the so-called 'middle way'.


This shows that well over 55% of Parliament has wholly rejected the concept of a ban

Simon Hart
Countryside Alliance
In the final vote on keeping the law on hunting as it is many peers abstained with 119 voting against the status quo and 97 in favour.

But if Monday night's debate in the Commons was anything to go by there was little appetite for compromise on the fiercely contentious issue of hunting.

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael said he planned to make a statement on the government's next move before the Easter recess.

"We are committed to enabling Parliament to reach a conclusion on this contentious issue, and that is my task," he said.

Peer shift?

The past two days of debate in both chambers had seen some "thoughful and intelligent contributions" from all viewpoints.

He added: "We have seen something of a shift in consensus in the Lords, although votes cast in the Commons demonstrate the continuing strength of feeling there."

But the apparent move towards compromise came under fire from the RSPCA which is opposed to hunting.

Director of communications John Rolls said: "This is not a vote in favour of compromise, this was a vote in favour of hunting with added bureaucracy."

He accused the House of Lords of ignoring the views of their elected counterparts in the Commons.


How MPs voted on hunt ban
  • 386 vs 175 in favour of a ban
  • Status quo rejected by 401 vs 154
  • Middle way rejected by 371 vs 169

    To see how your MP voted:


  • "There are only two choices in this debate: to end this cruelty in the name of sport or to allow it to continue," he said.

    While a spokesman for the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance, Simon Hart, welcomed the Lords' vote.

    "This shows that well over 55% of Parliament has wholly rejected the concept of a ban," said Mr Hart.

    "It has shown that a sensible and fair resolution is now essential and that must not involve sacrificial lambs."

    Opening the debate on the issue, rural affairs minister Lord Whitty said the government wanted to find a solution to the hunting problem, insisting that the debate was not "an invitation to opt for deadlock or delay".

    Peers have traditionally been in favour of allowing hunts to continue, but Monday night's widespread support by MPs for outlawing the traditional country sport means they were under pressure to give ground.

    The government has dismissed reports of behind-the-scenes deals and it is expected to announce how it intends to proceed with the issue over the next few days.

    'Out of touch'

    Conservative frontbench spokesman Baroness Byford, a farmer who has hunted with The Quorn hunt, said that as the minister had expressed his support for a ban "it suggests perhaps that there is not much compromise there".

    She said: "It is incredible that we are again debating the issue of hunting with dogs when the countryside is in crisis."

    Possible timetable
    18 March: MPs given "indicative" votes
    Before Easter: ministers' proposals
    November: Bill proposed in Queen's Speech
    Autumn 2003: Ban could be in place

    Liberal Democrat frontbench spokesman Lord McNally said he favoured a total ban: "I believe hunting with dogs is cruel and I don't think there is a middle way between having hunting and banning hunting."

    Labour's former agriculture minister Lord Donoughue, who voted for the "middle way" last time, strongly urged peers to abandon their opposition to statutory regulation.

    On Monday night MPs voted by 386 to 175 in favour of a ban - a majority of 211.

    Prime Minister Tony Blair was among those who supported an outright ban.

    Unless a compromise is reached there is likely to be a time-consuming battle between the two houses of parliament.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Shaun Ley
    "There's a lot of lobbying going on at Westminster"
    Ann Mallalieu, President of the Countryside Alliance
    "The signs are that there will be a massive majority for the 'middle way'"
    Lord Cranborne, former Tory leader in the Lords
    "The antis will continue until they get a ban"

    Talking PointFORUM
    Hunting with dogs
    Ask the experts at 1600 GMT
    Background and analysis of one of the most contentious issues in British politics

    Latest stories

    The Scottish ban

    Analysis

    Background

    TALKING POINT
     VOTE RESULTS
    Hunting with dogs?

    Ban
     45.47% 

    Compromise
     11.75% 

    Status quo
     42.77% 

    519 Votes Cast

    Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

    See also:

    19 Mar 02 | UK Politics
    19 Mar 02 | UK Politics
    18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
    19 Mar 02 | UK Politics
    18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
    18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
    Internet links:


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