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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 19:00 GMT
Hunt compensation rejected
Click here for a live stream of the debate between 1300 and 1900 GMT.

Members of the Scottish Parliament have rejected moves to compensate those who would lose their jobs as a result of a ban on hunting with dogs.

There is also confusion about whether the Scottish Parliament may have created a loophole which could allow a restricted version of mounted fox hunting to continue.

MSPs made the decision during a six hour debate on the controversial Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill.

The bill will see Scotland become the first part of the United Kingdom to ban hunting with hounds, effectively outlawing fox-hunting, fox-baiting and hare coursing.

Tricia Marwick MSP
Tricia Marwick: Bill sponsor
A Bill to ban hunting with dogs in England and Wales was lost when the general election was called last year, despite the support of a majority of MPs at Westminster.

The stage three debate in the Scottish Parliament worked its way through 107 proposed amendments to the bill.

At the start of the debate, Scottish National Party MSP Tricia Marwick, one of the sponsors of the members' bill, attacked those who she claimed were trying to wreck the proposed legislation.

Tory MSP Alex Johnstone was defeated when he sought to delay a final vote on the bill until Thursday.

He said he was "seriously concerned" that due to the complicated nature of the debate, members would not be in a position to vote on the amended bill on Wednesday.

"Quite outrageous"

In a surprise move, MSPs voted to reject all three amendments proposing compensation packages for those who will lose their jobs as a result of the bill.

The biggest shock came when the amendment tabled by Karen Gillon, which was drafted with the support of the Scottish Executive, was defeated by 67 votes to 47.

Earlier critics of Ms Gillon's amendment had claimed that it would not help those such as horse grooms and kennel maids, who may lose their jobs once the bill becomes law.

But Ms Marwick insisted that no one need lose their job as a result of the Bill and therefore a compensation package was not essential.

There was confusion in the chamber about whether the parliament may have created a loophole which could allow a restricted version of the fox-hunting to continue.

Supporters are happy that so far they have been able to remove the parts of the bill which they argued would allow mounted foxhunts to continue.

Additional uncertainty surrounds whether the addition of the word "searching" to the bill, would allow mounted horsemen to chase a fox.

Pack with dogs
A loophole could allow huunting to continue
This would be the case provided that their hounds were muzzled and that the fox was not killed by the dogs, but was shot.

MSP decided not to include a clause spelling out the fact that a person walking a dog would not be caught by the offences created under the bill.

Labour MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston Elaine Smith dismissed the amendment because the bill would only make someone a criminal if they were "deliberately" hunting with a dog.

The Scottish National Party's rural affairs spokesman Fergus Ewing failed to win support for an amendment that would have exempted from the legislation a person engaged in falconry who was using a dog.

His pleas that the 3,000-year-old sport of falconry be allowed to continue were rejected by members who voted against his amendment by 37 votes to 80 with four abstentions.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Fox Hunts
Is Scotland right to put a stop to the bloodsport?
See also:

13 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Hunt lobby's hopes may be dashed
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Passions rise over hunt Bill
13 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Labour MPs step up hunting call
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Fox hunting: The arguments
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Fox hunting: The bill
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