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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 17:45 GMT
Anti-hunt MPs push for total ban
hunt
A mixed reception over compromise plans
More than 100 MPs have called for a total ban on hunting with dogs in the wake of government proposals to allow some hunts to continue.

The move is a setback to Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael who on Tuesday put forward his plans to settle the hunting debate which has raged since Labour came to power in 1997.


Only a total ban will be acceptable to this House and the country at large

New parliamentary petition
Mr Michael's proposals would ban stag hunting and hare coursing but allow some hunts to continue under licence.

That has failed on satisfy the 109 anti-hunt MPs, many of them on Labour's benches, who have signed the new parliamentary petition.

The new motion, tabled by former Labour minister Tony Banks, says "only a total ban will be acceptable to this House and the country at large".

Twin tests

Mr Michael's plans would mean hunts would be judged on a case-by-case basis by an independent registrar, with a separate tribunal hearing appeals.

To continue, hunts would have to meet the twin tests of preventing cruelty but recognising some hunting was needed for pest control, said Mr Michael.

"Where an activity has no utility and involves cruelty, it will not be allowed to continue," Mr Michael continued.

Alun Michael
Alun Michael says he will try to persuade MPs to back his plans
MPs have previously voted for an outright hunting ban but House of Lords opposition meant that move ran out of parliamentary time.

Now the government wants to deliver on its manifesto pledge to "come to a conclusion" on the hunting issue.

Mr Michael has previously said the will of MPs would prevail but hoped his proposals would stave off a confrontation with House of Lords.

Now the anti-hunt MPs have served notice that they intend to change the bill proposed by Mr Michael.

They will want the government to use the Parliament Act to force the amended bill through the House of Lords, where a total ban has previously met strong opposition.

The petition will be welcomed by anti-hunt groups, which have said they plan to intensify their campaign for a complete ban.

Mr Michael's plans have already met with some scepticism on both sides.

Licensing worries

Douglas Batchelor, chairman of Campaigning to Protect Hunted Animals (CPHA) said "We will not accept any attempt at compromise that amounts to licensed cruelty.

"Licensing by a tribunal will open up a bureaucratic nightmare that will continue the controversy over fox hunting indefinitely."

In contrast, hunt supporters have already voiced their anger at the planned ban on stag hunting and hare coursing.

The Countryside Alliance has, however, said it will look "constructively" at the details of the proposed licensing system.

The Scottish Parliament has moved to ban hunting with dogs completely.

But the Middle Way group, which is campaigning for a compromise solution, says that ban is already proving ineffective.

Background and analysis of one of the most contentious issues in British politics

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The Scottish ban

Analysis

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