17 January 2001
‘Tories plot for sloppy hunt bill’

By FWi staff

GUERRILLA tactics will be employed by Tory MPs to ensure the Governments hunting bill is unenforceable, reports The Guardian.

On Wednesday (17 January) MPs will debate the Hunting Bill and vote on whether to ban hunting outright, introduce statutory licensing or allow self-regulation.

The shadow cabinet expects MPs to vote for a ban, but will give the nod to a strategy to hide the faults of the legislation, claims the newspaper.

It says details of the strategy have been revealed in a confidential email sent to the Countryside Alliance by Conservative MP David Maclean.

It quotes Mr Maclean as saying it is absolutely vital that the legislation is as flawed and sloppy as possible.

If the law is clear then we are finished because most of us will not break the law.

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph says attempts to push the Hunting Bill into law could lead to a confrontation between the Government and the courts.

Even if MPs back a ban, it is likely their decision will be reversed by the House of Lords.

But if they win the next general election, Labour could ultimately use The Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949 to pass the legislation without the Lords consent.

However, former Master of the Rolls, Lord Donaldson of Lymington warned this would be open to legal challenges.

The Telegraph says legal authorities agree the 1949 Act was never properly enacted being only passed by the House of Commons.

It also notes that Tony Blair, who favours an outright ban, may be unable to attend the vote because of a renewed push to break the Northern Ireland deadlock.

Meanwhile, the pro-hunt lobby gets a boost from an unexpected source when The Guardian says foxes suffer less stress during slaughter than some animals.

While the slaughter of non-free range broiler chickens rates 28 on an calculation of suffering, hunted foxes merit 14, according to the newspaper.