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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 06:57 GMT
Timeline: Scotland's fox hunting bill
Fox hunt departs
The bill has been under consideration for over two years
The bill to outlaw hunting with dogs has turned into a long-running and difficult legislative process for the fledgling Scottish Parliament.

It was introduced by Labour MSP Mike Watson - he was on the backbenches then, but was elevated to the cabinet by the third First Minister to hold office during the bill's progress.

Here BBC News Online Scotland takes you through some of the key dates during the bill's controversial progress;

  • July 1999: Labour backbencher Mike Watson, who sits as Lord Watson in the House of Lords, announces his intention of sponsoring a bill in the Scottish Parliament to ban hunting with dogs.

  • 21 September, 1999: Mr Watson formally tables proposal for a bill, co-signed by the Scottish National Party's Tricia Marwick.

  • November 1999: Scottish Executive tasks the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute with carrying out a study of the impact on the rural economy of a ban on hunting with dogs.

  • 26 November, 1999: A legal bid to stop the bill fails in the Court of Session, when three individuals backed by the Scottish Countryside Alliance are refused an interim interdict. They had argued that Mike Watson had broken parliamentary rules by accepting the help of lobbyists when drawing up his bill.

  • 4 April, 2000: Mike Watson outlines the general principles of his bill to the rural development committee.

  • 26 June, 2000: The Macaulay Institute publishes its report, suggesting that up to 300 full-time jobs could be lost as a result of a ban.

  • 11 July, 2001: MSPs on Holyrood's rural development committee decide not to endorse the general principles of the bill. The vote is six to three, with one abstention and one absentee.

  • 19 September, 2001: In a crucial Holyrood vote the bill passed the stage one hurdle by 84 votes to 34 with one abstention. Les Ward, of the Scottish Campaign Against Hunting with Dogs, said: "This is a great day for Scotland's wildlife."

  • 13 November, 2001: Rural development committee passes a string of amendments. One, by Mike Watson, would allow dogs to be used to flush out foxes for shooting. He said: "This amendment would allow gamekeepers and Scottish hillpacks to do what I accept is valuable work."

  • 16 December, 2001: Thousands take to the streets of Edinburgh in what is claimed to be Britain's biggest pro-countryside demonstration since one in London three years previously. The event, which was attended by thousands of people, is peaceful but another pro-hunting group which has become increasingly visible, the Rural Rebels, vows to step up its campaign through "direct action".

  • 11 February, 2002: Two days before the crucial debate and vote on the bill, Scottish Countryside Alliance announces plans for 200 protest beacons to be lit across Scotland the night before the vote. On the same day, parliamentary officials announce a total of 107 amendments will be considered in the six-hour debate.
Background and analysis of one of the most contentious issues in British politics

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The Scottish ban



See also:

12 Feb 02 | Scotland
08 Feb 02 | Scotland
07 Feb 02 | Scotland
12 Dec 01 | Scotland
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