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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 18:01 GMT
Fur flying over 'unnecessary' ban
The last mink farm closed in 1993
Fur farming could be banned in Scotland - despite the practice ending almost a decade ago.

The last fur farm in Scotland closed in 1993, but the Scottish Executive said the ban was essential north of the border because the industry will be outlawed in England and Wales from next year.

Rural development minister Ross Finnie said that unless MSPs backed the legislation the fur farming industry could be "resurrected" in Scotland.

Opposition parties claimed the ban was unnecessary and a waste of parliamentary time.

Fur industry
Wearing fur is no longer the fashion
Mr Finnie said the Fur Farming (Prohibition) (Scotland) Bill was "very necessary".

He said: "It would be somewhat perverse to have one part of the UK paying compensation to ban fur farming only to allow it to relocate and start up a fresh business in another part of the UK."

Mr Finnie said the Scottish Executive had decided to bring forward the bill primarily on moral grounds because he did not believe animals should be reared unless there was a justifiable public benefit.

He said that the issue of animal welfare and the environmental implications of fur farming had also been taken into account by ministers when drawing up the bill.

The minister said that fur farming began in Scotland in the late 1920s, but by the time controls were introduced in 1962 there had been numerous cases of animals, especially mink, escaping and causing havoc to wildlife native to Scotland.

Unnecessary measure

He added: "Mink brought environmental damage, damage to indigenous wildlife as well as damage to stock and feeding birds."

Mr Finnie said that during the consultation period only two organisations representing the fur trade had objected to the proposals and he stressed that the legislation did contain provisions for compensating anyone who may lose out financially if and when it is passed.

The Scottish National Party welcomed the general principles of the bill but criticised the amount of parliamentary time allotted to it - a 90-minute debating slot, plus parliamentary committee time.

And the Tories poured scorn on what they argued was a completely unnecessary measure.

I personally can't think of a better example of over-elaborate government machinery being swung into action to achieve an end result of absolutely nothing.

Tory MSP Alex Fergusson
SNP deputy rural affairs spokesman Richard Lochhead told MSPs: "I don't think the people of Scotland waited 300 years for the establishment of this parliament to pass legislation banning things that don't exist."

He said the response to a consultation exercise on the bill - approaches to 86 organisations, which brought just 22 replies - showed a low level of interest.

And Mr Lochhead said it was "a bizarre state of affairs" that the executive did not know for sure whether there were any fur farms in Scotland at present.

Tory rural affairs spokesman Alex Fergusson derided the bill as an unnecessary overreaction.

"I personally can't think of a better example of over-elaborate government machinery being swung into action to achieve an end result of absolutely nothing" he said.

And he contrasted compensation provisions in the bill with the lack of compensation for those who would be hit by a proposed ban on hunting in Scotland.

See also:

23 Nov 99 | UK Politics
Ministers outline fur ban bill
18 Nov 99 | UK
Inside the fur farms
18 Sep 98 | UK
Mink on the run
17 Nov 99 | UK Politics
Queen's Speech in full
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