19 January 2001
Farm ministers back hunt ban

By FWi staff

ALL three agriculture ministers backed a complete ban on hunting with dogs in Wednesdays (17 January) vote in the House of Commons.

Countryside groups are likely to see this as evidence that farming ministers have little sympathy for the rural way of life.

Nick Brown and his junior ministers Elliot Morley and Joyce Quin rejected alternative options of licensing hunts or allowing self-regulation.

MPs have voted by a majority of 387 to 174 in support of an outright ban on hunting with hounds in England and Wales following a five-hour debate.

Meanwhile, The Times reports that backers of the “middle way” licensing option are prepared to argue that their option should be considered after the general election.

In another development, Lord Strathclyde, Tory leader in the House of Lords, has said the Government would be to blame if hunting was not outlawed.

While predicting that the Lords would vote down the Bill, he insisted ministers knew it would run out of time if they called a May election.

Chief constables have warned that a ban on hunting will stretch police resources and damage relations with rural communities, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The Association of Chief Police Officers told the Government that its members supported independent licensing which did not involve the police.

It added that there would be significant practical problems enforcing a ban.