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Teachers: Citizenship: Legal rights

Last Updated: Monday February 13 2006 13:52 GMT

Fox hunting debate

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Crime and justice

Fox hunting
On February 18 2006, the ban on certain types of hunting will be a year old.

Under the 2005 Hunting Act, packs of dogs cannot be used to kill wild foxes. There is no ban on hunt meetings taking place, and foxes can be killed by a bird of prey. They can also be flushed out by dogs and then shot - but only if no more than two dogs are involved.

Some people who enjoy hunting are now using techniques such as drag hunting, where dogs follow a trail laid in advance by a runner or rider dragging a lure.

But others say that hunting is still taking place without any changes.

Students debate the pros and cons of fox hunting.

Learning aims
  • Cruelty arguments
  • Civil liberties arguments
  • Utility and economic arguments

Read out this story about the hunting ban.

Ask students:

  • As well as fox hunting, what other forms of hunting are banned?
    It's illegal to hunt any wild mammal with a dog; the only exceptions being rabbits and rats. The ban will also apply to hare hunting, hare coursing, mink hunting and stag hunting.

  • Do you think fox hunting should be a banned?
  • What do you think about letting dogs flush out foxes to be shot?
  • Why is hunting with dogs a controversial issue?
Main activity

Fox hunting

Class debate

Explain how to hold a formal debate by reading out this guide.

Tell students that the motion is: This house supports fox hunting.

Divide the class into proposers and opposers. Ask them to research and write down arguments which either support or oppose fox hunting.

They can use these worksheets and our guide to help them.

Students are then selected to be:

  • chair
  • proposer
  • opposer
  • seconder for the motion
  • seconder against the motion
    The rest of the class become "the floor."
Hold the debate.

Students vote twice:

1. They vote to support or oppose the motion, depending on which they thought were the most convincing and well constructed arguments. This may not necessarily be what they believe personally. The proposer, opposer and seconders must vote in role.

2. They vote according to their beliefs.

Extension activity

After the debate, each student writes a personal statement of their opinions.

They pick five arguments that match their viewpoint and include them in a report that starts "I support/I oppose banning fox hunts because..."


Now that hunting with dogs, including fox hunting, is banned what might be next?

Allow students to vote with a show of hands on the following:

  • Fishing
  • Meat eating
  • Poisoning rats
  • Wearing fur
  • Wearing leather shoes
Ask students: Are our attitudes to animals consistent?

Teachers' background

The parliamentary vote: Key dates

  • On September 15, 2004 MPs voted to ban fox hunting with dogs by a majority of 356 to 166.
  • On October 26, 2004, the House of Lords voted to amend the Hunting Bill. They overturned the hunting ban, and introduced instead a provision for licensed hunting.
  • On November 16, 2004, the House of Commons voted 321 to 204 not to allow some hunting to carry on with the new rules.
  • On November 17, 2004, the Lords voted by more than two-to-one against a ban but the next day MPs used the Parliament Act to push it through.
  • The Act has only been used against the Lords three times since 1949.
  • This means the Lords' opinion was overlooked and hunting was banned from 18 February 2005.
  • Last minute legal attempts by the Countryside Alliance to challenge the ban failed, after the High Court (28 Jan), and then the Appeal Court (16 Feb) rejected their claim that the Parliament Act (under which the Hunting Bill was forced through) was constitutionally invalid.

  • Previously, on March 18, 2003 the Commons voted to ban hunting by 386 to 175 and a day later the Lords voted to regulate hunting by 366 to 59. These votes gave both houses the opportunity to express their view on the three options which were put before them. These were: no change, government licensing and a total ban.
  • During the last hunting bill the option to ban hunting was chosen by the Commons by 373 to 158 votes. The House of Lords rejected this option in Spring 2001.
Do you agree with the hunting ban?
What do people think?

72% of people think fox-hunting should be illegal.
MORI, January 2002.

In areas where hunting takes place nearly 60% of the community are opposed to a ban on hunting.
Burns Report 2000.

Fox facts

Before the breeding season, there are 250,000 foxes in Britain. The number doubles when the cubs are born, and over the following year it falls back to 250,000. This means 250,000 foxes die each year.

The 250,000 fox deaths each year include death from natural causes, road-kills and about 100,000 killed by shooting and snaring. The hunts say they account for 16,000 foxes.

The Houses of Parliament

Jobs in hunt kennels

835 people are employed in hunt kennels. Many of these jobs come with a house attached. This is a relatively small number but pro-hunt organisations emphasise the number of jobs lost in related trades.

The existence of dependent jobs is not disputed but the Countryside Alliance's claim of 16,000 job losses is hard to verify.

Is fox hunting illegal in Scotland?

Yes. It was banned in February 2002.

For hundreds more lessons, click on Teachers, on the left hand side.

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