Hunting ban is challenged

THE COUNTRYSIDE Alliance is expected to learn today (Jan 28), the verdict of its legal challenge to the hunting ban.

The challenge centred on the government’s use of the Parliament Act 1949 which it implemented to force the hunting ban through Parliament on Nov 18.

Opening the case in the High Court on Tue (Jan 25), Sir Sydney Kentridge QC, acting for the Countryside Alliance, said “the Act is not truly an Act of Parliament” and had been used incorrectly. As a result, he said, thousands of people would lose “a major source of recreation and enjoyment”.

The Alliance’s challenge is based on the contention that the 1949 Act is invalid since the original Act of 1911 does not grant powers to the Commons to amend its own provisions.

Speaking outside the High Court on Tues (Jan 26) John Jackson, chairman of the Countryside Alliance, told supporters that “this case has little to do with hunting and much to do with constitutional arrangements in our country and respect for the law.

“Our request is based on the belief that the House of Commons exceeded its powers unlawfully by amending the Parliament Act 1922 to create the 1949 Act,” said Mr Jackson.

For the government, the attorney-general, Lord Goldsmith, defended the 1949 Act saying in a written submission: “There is no explicit prohibition in the 1911 Act against it being used to amend its own procedures, and no room for any implicit prohibition.”

On that basis the 1949 Act was passed validly and “it follows that the Hunting Act 2004 is part of the law of the land.”

Should the Alliance fail it is expected to apply for leave to appeal. Should the courts decide to grant leave to appeal the Alliance has indicated that it will apply for an injunction to delay the start of the hunting ban if the appeal can not be heard before Feb 18.