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Peers seek to reverse proposed hunting ban

PEERS ARE attempting to reverse plans by MPs to outlaw the hunting with hounds at the beginning of the controversial Hunting Bill's committee stage in the Lords.

The Government Bill which originally banned hare coursing and stag hunting and allowed fox hunting under licence, was radically altered in the Commons and now outlaws all forms of hunting and had effectively been ‘disowned’ by Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael.

But peers, many of them angry over tactics during the Commons debate by anti blood sports MPs, which led to a huge free vote banning foxhunting, plan to amend the Bill to allow regulated hunts, hare coursing and stag hunting under licence.

If supporters of hunting backed by Labour's Baroness Mallalieu have their way, the registrar
would have to be satisfied that hare coursing and deer hunting pass two tests for cruelty and pest control.

No fewer than forty-one amendments have been tabled to the hunting Bill, seeking to return it from an outright ban to the form originally envisaged by the Government.

More than 100 amendments were expected to be put forward before the Bill reached the committee stage at the House of Lords on Tuesday of this week.

"In the House of Commons the Bill was wrecked and we are trying to 'unwreck' it," said Lord Mancroft, a Tory peer involved in a number of the amendments.

A Countryside Alliance spokesman said "This isn't just about pest control, it's about wildlife management which is what we've always argued.

"The amendments turn the Bill back into what the Government originally proposed as a sensible way forward."

Mark Shotton, master of the hunt in Tony Blair's Sedgefield constituency in the North-East, said "I just wish people would realise that if fox hunting is banned, everything will be killed by the guns, which is what has happened in Scotland.

"Old, sick, young and fit foxes will all be shot and some wounded, whereas with dogs, foxes are either caught and killed or go on their way. I want to save foxes not slaughter them all.

"But Tony Banks and the other MPs who want to ban it because they say it's cruel, should listen to the arguments. All they care about is urban votes."