Whitty slams peers over hunting

JUNIOR DEFRA minister Lord Whitty has warned peers that MPs are unlikely to agree with their proposed changes to the Hunting Bill.

Lord Whitty said that the House of Lords had not moved on the Hunting Bill realistically to meet the House of Commons.

They had not even, as some claimed, voted to reintroduce the ‘Alun Michael‘ Bill involving registration and tribunals to regulate hunting, he said.

This was as peers had voted to weaken the utility and cruelty tests that would be used to judge whether hunting with dogs would be permitted, he claimed.

The House of Lords had also amended the Bill to remove the ban on deer and hare hunting and to remove the ban on hare coursing events.

“What is now proposed by the House of Lords is unlikely to form the basis of any agreement with the House of Commons,” said Lord Whitty.

“The government will continue to do what it can to reduce confrontation on this long-running issue as we seek to resolve it.

“The House of Lords should now take an active part in bridging the divide, not widening it.”

But the Countyside Alliance accused Lord Whitty of being confused about the House of Lords‘ actions.

“The minister seems to be confused about the Hunting Bill,” said Simon Hart, chief executive of the CA.

“The Lords have recreated the Bill originally brought forward by his colleague, Alun Michael, before it was amended by backbench MPs.

“The prime minister has been quite clear that he still supports Alun Michael‘s proposals – only MPs can now block a sensible resolution to this issue.”

Report stage in the House of Lords is on Nov 11 and the third reading of the Bill is on Nov 16. 

Agreement needs to be reached before the end of the parliamentary session if use of the Parliament Act is to be avoided.

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