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Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 13:12 GMT
Hunt vote 'will assist' Scots ban
Foxhunt
MPs have voted for ban in England and Wales
An MSP attempting to ban hunting with hounds in Scotland has viewed a House of Commons vote in favour of the measure as a boost to his campaign.

Labour MSP Mike Watson said the majority vote by Westminster MPs would "assist" similar measures in Scotland and showed there was widespread support for an outright ban on fox hunting.

Mr Watson, whose member's bill is being considered at Holyrood, said: "I expect the voting breakdown in the Scottish Parliament to go much the same way as it did in the House of Commons, with the Tories and Liberal Democrats being largely opposed and Labour and the Scottish National Party in favour.,"

On Wednesday night, MPs voted overwhelmingly to ban fox hunting in England and Wales, by 387 votes to 174.

But the Hunting Bill could be blocked by the House of Lords.

With many MSPs supporting a ban and no second chamber in Edinburgh, the measures could be introduced in Scotland first.

Mike Watson MSP
Mr Watson welcomed the Commons vote
"I think that a ban on fox hunting across the UK should have been introduced before there was even a Scottish Parliament," said Mr Watson, MSP for Glasgow Cathcart.

Mr Watson's bill is at the initial stage of the parliamentary process and the rural affairs committee is expected to produce its first stage report next month.

Simon Hart, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, pledged the pro-hunting campaign would take "whatever steps necessary" to ensure they had a fair deal, including going to Europe if necessary.

Pest Control

He told BBC Radio Scotland that the Scottish Parliament's rural affairs committee had examined the bill in detail and had brought to the surface many facts that were previously unknown about hunting.

"The shooting industry in Scotland depends very heavily on dogs for things like pest control", he said.

"If you own a hunting dog you are caught up in this legislation, this is one of the iniquities of it.

"This isn't just people in red coats on horses, this is anybody who dares go out with a hunting dog or allows their hunting dog to go hunting."

Scottish ministers declined to comment on the Commons vote.

The Scottish Executive has so far not declared any view on the issue.

A spokesman for First Minister Henry McLeish said: "The executive does not have a stance."

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See also:

18 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Pro-hunt activists vow to fight on
18 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Hunting: How they voted
17 Jan 01 | Scotland
Fox vote fuels Scots MPs row
14 Jan 01 | Scotland
Scottish MPs' voting row re-ignites
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