16 November 2001
Speaker’s rebuke over hunt revelations

By FWi staff

THE government has been rebuked by the Speaker of the House of Commons for announcing new guidelines on hunting to the media before MPs knew.

Speaker Michael Martin issued his rebuke as ministers allowed hunts to apply for permits in areas free of foot-and-mouth, reports The Daily Telegraph.

In a statement, the Speaker said he “deplored” the fact that no mention was made of permits in reply to written questions on the subject on Wednesday (14 November).

Peter Luff (Con, Mid Worcestershire) told the Commons that the governments strategy came “perilously close to misleading the House”.

The Guardian reports that hunting groups are taking legal advice over the plans to reintroduce hunting by a permit scheme.

They argue that saboteurs will be able to derail the restart, as permits will be refused to anyone who is unable to control people who follow hunts.

Ministers have acknowledged that this could be interpreted to include saboteurs who try to stop hunters from killing foxes.

Speaking in the Commons, Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs secretary Margaret Beckett called on all parties to show restraint.

She warned them that they would not be forgiven if their actions led to a fresh outbreak of foot-and-mouth.

In The Times Edmund Porter, joint master of the Eskdale and Ennerdale hunt welcomed the resumption of hunting.

The pack, which needs around 25,000 a year to survive, is 10,000 down on its normal cashflow.