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Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 12:19 GMT
MPs call for hunting code

MPs want to see hunting reformed

A cross-party group of MPs are calling for an independent body to enforce a code of practice for bloodsports.
Fox hunting
The MPs are calling for the establishment of an independent hunting authority but anti-hunt campaigners say the MPs' attempts to strike a compromise would simply see fox hunting and hare coursing continue.

The calls come as Labour MP Ken Livingstone is publicising his private members bill to ban hunting at the Waterloo Cup - a three day hare coursing event in Lancashire.

The hare coursing season has started
Mr Livingstone, who is yet to declare whether he will run as an independent candidate for London mayor said: "The point I want to make is that people in this country don't realise that 100,000 foxes, hares and deer are torn apart by hunting with dogs every year in the UK.

"The scale of slaughter, people don't know, and just would not believe. It's absolutely horrifying."

But supporters of the hare coursing event claim it "contributes greatly" to the conservation of the common brown hare.

Mr Livingstone's bill will receive its second reading in the Commons on 7 April.

Middle way

The Middle Way Group led by Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik, Tory MP Peter Luff and Labour MP Llin Golding are publishing their submission to the Committee of Inquiry into hunting with dogs, headed by Lord Burns.

Mr Opik said: "The codes of conduct we are proposing would cover such matters as terrier work, the length of the hunting season, trespass and risks to public safety, conditions in hunt kennels, and the use of authorised inspectors to make visits without prior notice.

"An independent hunting authority would issue licences to hunt and would have the power to revoke licences if a code of conduct was broken.

"With an appropriate cost structure for licences, the authority could be self-financing and present no drain on public expenditure."

But the Middle Way Group's proposals have already been criticised by anti-blood sports campaigners.

Chairman of the League Against Cruel Sports, John Cooper, said: "The Middle Way Group is proposing that foxhunting will continue.

"How can that be a compromise?

"We do however, suggest a genuine solution. With drag hunting, people can wear red coats, get on horses and ride across the countryside with hounds - except they chase an artificial scent rather than a live quarry."

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See also:
26 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Stars press for hunt ban
15 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Livingstone hunt ban bill rides out
24 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Hunting ban MSP faces legal challenge

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