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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 15:14 GMT
MSPs consider anti-hunt bill
Hunt
Pro-hunting groups say they will fight the bill
The bill to ban fox hunting in Scotland is beginning its passage through parliament.

The Scottish Parliament's rural affairs committee have been deciding on a timetable for consideration of the bill.

Its sponsor, Labour MSP Mike Watson, says he expects it will be law by the autumn.


Mike Watson
Mike Watson: Bill sponsor
The Wild Mammals Scotland Bill has already survived a legal challenge, when three members of the Scottish Countryside Alliance said the introduction would harm their livelihoods.

But Lord Johnston ruled that the courts could not interfere in parliamentary business.

That allowed Mr Watson to continue his campaign to have the bill turned into legislation.

Previous to that, opponents had protested that anti-hunting groups had helped the politician draft his bill.

Economic impact

That argument was dismissed by the Scottish Parliament's standards committee, which deemed he had done nothing wrong.


Fox
Fox-hunting: Fair game?
Opponents of the bill say they will continue to fight it all the way.

Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson said he would press for a new study into the effect of such legislation on the rural economy.

The Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen is already conducting a study with its findings due out at the end of the month.

Mr Fergusson said the bill goes much wider than fox hunting and a new study is needed.

However, Mr Watson says it all boils down to a simple non-economic issue - hunting animals for pleasure does not belong in the 21st century and should be banned.

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See also:

27 Nov 99 | Scotland
Hunt campaigners vow to fight on
24 Nov 99 | Scotland
Hunt ban faces legal challenge
10 Nov 99 | Scotland
Watchdog clears hunting ban MSP
01 Sep 99 | Scotland
MSPs launch anti-hunting Bill
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