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Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 32--Incidental hunting in Northern Ireland--


'.--(1) An offence shall not be committed pursuant to section 1(1) if a wild mammal is hunted in Northern Ireland only incidentally to a hunt which begins and ends in the Republic of Ireland.
(2) A hunt begins in the Republic of Ireland if the pursuit of the wild mammal begins there.
(3) A hunt ends either by the wild mammal being killed or by the decision to stop hunting provided always that no offence is committed pursuant to section 1(1) if the wild mammal is killed in Northern Ireland and the hunt began in the Republic of Ireland.
(4) A wild mammal may not be dug out or bolted in Northern Ireland in the course of a hunt which incidentally crosses into Northern Ireland as described in subsection (1).
(5) In circumstances where section 1(1) is excepted by subsection (1), no offence can be committed by any person under section 1(2), (3) or (4).
(6) If a dog or dogs should become lost in the course of a hunt excepted by subsection (1) then a person who finds, keeps and returns that dog or those dogs within a reasonable period to its owner or keeper shall not be guilty of an offence under section 1(4).'. Amendment No. 101, in clause 14, page 5, line 37, leave out 'extends' and insert 'does not extend'.

Mr. Maginnis: New clause 18 stands in my name and those of my hon. Friend the Member for East Londonderry (Mr. Ross) and others. The new clause reads:


Mr. Michael J. Foster: Having considered new clause 18, on this occasion I am perfectly willing to accept it.

Mr. Maginnis: I am heartened that common sense is to prevail, but for the benefit--

Mr. Gray: The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) may be prepared to accept new clause 18 but I am not, and I shall happily try to speak to that effect shortly.

Mr. Maginnis: I shall try to proceed at least to the stage where I have read the new clause.


11.15 am

As supporters of any legislation to abolish hunting appear to have limited knowledge of hunting and of rural communities where hunting is practised, it is necessary for me to enhance their understanding of the situation in Northern Ireland, especially when such hunting occurs adjacent to the land border with the Irish Republic.

When Bills do not apply to Northern Ireland, politicians from Great Britain usually have the luxury of legislating for clearly defined sea borders and, fortunately, most can still recognise water, even if it is seldom imbibed by

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some. Even Bills that do apply to Northern Ireland will generally regulate activities that do not, by their nature, involve our land frontier with the Irish Republic.

However, hunting does involve cross-border activity. I am disappointed to see that the hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), who was in his place earlier, has not returned--[Interruption.] Oh, there he is, and I am delighted to see him arrive: I know that, with his cross-border interests, he will give considerable support to the new clause.

The Bill fails absolutely to distinguish properly between what is lawful and what is a criminal offence when the activity of hunting crosses from one landowner's property to another. It allows the hot pursuit of quarry species from land where a request to hunt is in force on to "neighbouring land". "Neighbouring land" is poorly defined. It could mean the adjacent parcel of land that is all under one possessory title.

Mr. Richard Spring (West Suffolk): I believe that the hon. Gentleman will confirm that part of the considerable difficulty about this matter is that the border is not fenced or marked clearly, and huntsmen might inadvertently cross it, with all the difficulties that would then arise.

Mr. Maginnis: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, and I shall deal with that point as I progress.

"Neighbouring land" could also mean the adjacent parcel of land that is under the same agreement for sporting rights. It could mean the adjacent county or national park. However, it was never clear what effect, for example, roads or rivers would have on the definition of "neighbouring". What is neighbouring, and how far does it extend? What impediments in the path of a hunt mean that land is no longer neighbouring? I am dwelling on the complexities of the issue.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough): The hon. Gentleman mentions the complexities of the issue. In fact, they go further than may seem apparent at first sight. As he knows, because of the common travel area, it is perfectly legal to cross the border on lawful business, but my legal advice is that, if the Bill became law, it would be perfectly legal for a hunt to meet in Northern Ireland and to move to the Republic of Ireland to start hunting, but it would be illegal for a hunt to meet in the Republic and to hunt in Northern Ireland. So there would be confusion and anomalies and we need to discuss the new clause to resolve the matter.

Mr. Maginnis: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. I am dwelling on the complexities of the issue--and the failure of the Bill to get to grips with the dilemma--so as to caution hon. Members that those complexities are 10, 20 or 50 times worse when two neighbouring jurisdictions, not merely two neighbouring pieces of land, are involved.

I am concerned about the lack of knowledge about Ireland and Irish hunting displayed by some hon. Members. In Committee, the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Mr. Cawsey), in a most impassioned speech, referred to the Irish sport of "crated stag hunting". He drew attention to the terrible plight of stags being

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brought in crates to be hunted, albeit that they were later released and not shot. The sport to which he referred is carted stag hunting, where stags are brought to the hunt in horse boxes. There is no reference to the imaginary sport of crated stag hunting anywhere in literature or mythology. It appears only in the hon. Gentleman's speech. The fact that some hon. Members are still handicapped by their lack of knowledge of Irish hunting is derived exclusively from briefings from the League Against Cruel Sports, including typographical errors. I am determined to bring some enlightenment, and I would be happy to help the hon. Gentleman further.

Mr. Cawsey: I am enjoying the hon. Gentleman's arguments for a united Ireland. He appears to have undergone a pleasing conversion. However, in respect of hunting carted or crated stags, I remind him that both terms can be used.

Mr. Maginnis: Of course the House has the power to legislate over certain matters, but I am not sure that individuals have the authority to change the English language and traditional terms quite as glibly as the hon. Gentleman seeks to do.

Sir Michael Spicer (West Worcestershire): The hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Mr. Cawsey) raises a serious point about the Bill representing all sorts of precedents to unity between the two countries. Does he agree that the measure involves not just two jurisdictions, but two different countries? Will the huntsmen need to wave their passports as they charge by? That, at least, would make some sense.

Mr. Maginnis: The hon. Gentleman touches on a pertinent point. I suspect that huntsmen will be required not only to carry their passports, but to sign a declaration as they enter Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic saying, "I am now entering Northern Ireland with the express purpose of breaking the law," so that their purpose is absolutely clear.

Mr. Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire): My understanding is that people do not have to carry a passport to travel between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Cattle do, of course, but to the best of my knowledge no cattle in Northern Ireland enjoy the pursuit of fox hunting.

Mr. Maginnis: Indeed. Although cattle are required to have passports, it is exceedingly difficult to arrange passports for foxes. I am afraid that we are getting into deeper water.

Sir Brian Mawhinney: The hon. Gentleman has got to the heart of the new clause, which is about making people into criminals. With the typical gay abandon that we have come to associate with the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) and his supporters, they are seeking to criminalise citizens of the Irish Republic. However, the hon. Gentleman and I both know that under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, matters that are of importance to both to the Republic and to Northern Ireland--matters much less significant than turning citizens of the Irish Republic into criminals--are required to be debated under the terms of that agreement at Maryfield and perhaps at

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intergovernmental conferences. What intergovernmental discussions have taken place over the Bill's proposal to criminalise Irish citizens?


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