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Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)
These notes refer to the Hunting Bill
1. These explanatory notes relate to the Hunting Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 7 December 2000. They have been prepared by the Home Office in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform the debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.
3. The issue of hunting with dogs has been the subject of much discussion and debate over recent years. It is an issue on which the Government is neutral and which has never before now been the subject of a Government Bill. Although a number of Private Member's Bills relating to this issue have been introduced in Parliament, none of them has been enacted.
4. In December 1999 a Committee chaired by Lord Burns of Pitshanger was appointed to carry out an Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs in England and Wales. The Report of the Committee was published in June 2000. 1 The Committee was not asked to recommend whether hunting with dogs should be banned, or regulated, or whether the status quo should be preserved, but to provide an objective statement of the facts surrounding hunting. The Government now seeks, by means of this Bill, to resolve this issue.
5. The Government remains neutral on the question of whether hunting with dogs should be banned, or regulated, or whether the status quo should be preserved. On publication of the Burns Report the Home Secretary announced that the Government would provide time for a Government Hunting Bill, containing a series of legislative options on the merits of which there should be free votes. The Government invited each of the three main interest groups to put forward an option reflecting their policy aims for incorporation within the Bill. The main interest groups are:
6. The three options are self-contained and mutually exclusive. If enacted, the Bill will contain only one of these options (and only one of the Schedules).
The existing legislative framework
7. Although there is no body of legislation in England and Wales which is specifically concerned with hunting with dogs, hunting (with or without dogs) does appear in various pieces of legislation as an exception to certain prohibited acts. Therefore such legislation as there is permits hunting, albeit in some cases subject to some very limited restrictions on certain hunting practices.
8. The Game Act 1831 makes provision (sections 30 to 32) for the penalties and police powers to be applied to any persons trespassing on any land in pursuit of game. Section 35 of that Act provides that these provisions "shall not extend to any person hunting or coursing upon any lands with hounds or greyhounds, and being in fresh pursuit of any deer, hare, or fox already started upon any other land.."
9. Under the Game Licences Act 1860, a person must take out a licence to kill game before he uses any dog (or gun or net etc) for the purpose of taking, killing or pursuing any game (sections 2 and 4). However section 5 provides for exceptions in respect of the "pursuing and killing of hares respectively by coursing with greyhounds or by hunting with beagles or other hounds" and the "pursuing and killing of deer by hunting with hounds" (exceptions 3 and 4).
10. The Protection of Animals Act 1911 sets out in section 1(1) certain acts (beating, torturing, terrifying, causing or permitting any unnecessary suffering) which if carried out on any domestic or captive animal constitute an offence of cruelty. A domestic animal is a tame animal, while a captive animal is an animal held in a permanent state of captivity or confinement (section 15(c)). However by section 1(3)(b) of the 1911 Act the protection provided by section 1(1) does not apply "to the coursing or hunting of any captive animal" provided that the animal is not mistreated while in captivity, nor released for hunting in an injured, mutilated or exhausted state, and once released for hunting has a reasonable chance of escape.
11. By section 3 of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 it is an offence to interfere with a badger sett by intentionally or recklessly damaging it, obstructing access to it, obstructing any entrance to it, or disturbing a badger occupying it. However there is a specific exception (set out at section 8(4) to 8(9)) which allows recognised hunts to obstruct any entrance of a badger sett "for the purpose of hunting foxes with hounds" provided certain conditions (relating to, for example, the materials to be used and the permissible duration of the obstruction) are met.
12. The Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 makes it an offence to do certain things (such as mutilate, kick, or beat) to any wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary suffering (section 1). A wild mammal is defined (in section 3) as any mammal which is not a domestic or captive animal within the Protection of Animals Act 1911. There is an exception (section 2(b)) in respect of "the killing in a reasonably swift and humane manner of any such wild mammal . injured or taken in the course of. hunting [or] coursing ." and a further exception (section 2(d)) in respect of "any act. done by means of any. dog. lawfully used for the purpose of killing or taking any wild mammal".
13. The Bill contains three mutually exclusive options:
14. Schedules 1, 2 and 3 broadly reflect the policies of the Countryside Alliance, the Middle Way Group and Deadline 2000, respectively.
15. It is the Government's intention to table an amendment to enable the provisions of the Bill to take effect one year after Royal Assent. In the case of the option in Schedule 2 some transitional provisions will be necessary to enable people to apply for licences before the requirement to have a licence comes into force.
COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES
Clause 1: Hunting with dogs: supervision
16. Clause 1 introduces Schedule 1, which restricts certain statutory exceptions to offences only to hunting undertaken under the auspices of ISAH.
Clause 2: Hunting with dogs: regulation
17. Clause 2 introduces Schedule 2, which requires a licence to be held for hunting with dogs in most circumstances and in order to organise a hare coursing event.
Clause 3: Hunting with dogs: prohibition
18. Clause 3 introduces Schedule 3, which prohibits hunting with dogs except in limited circumstances.
Clause 4: Commencement
19. Clause 4 enables the Secretary of State, subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, to make an order for the commencement of either clause 1 and Schedule 1, or clause 2 and Schedule 2, or clause 3 and Schedule 3; and for the repeal of the two other clauses and Schedules. This provision is required to ensure that the Bill, on introduction, is not internally contradictory but, as noted in paragraph 15 above, the Government's intention is to replace this clause.
COMMENTARY ON SCHEDULES
Schedule 1: Hunting with dogs: Supervision
20. Schedule 1 is intended to encourage (but not require) more of those who hunt to do so under the auspices of the existing self regulatory framework provided by the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting.
21. Under paragraph 1 hunting a wild mammal with a dog is "supervised" either if it is conducted by a hunt which is a member of a supervised body or is registered with a supervised body - paragraph 3 explains what is meant by a supervised body - or if it is conducted by an individual who is a member of a supervised body or is registered with a supervised body.
22. Paragraph 2 provides that hare coursing is "supervised" if it forms part of an event arranged by a supervised body or by a body which is a member of a supervised body or is registered with a supervised body. Paragraph 2 applies without prejudice to the generality of paragraph 1. The effect of this is that hare coursing which takes place outside of an organised hare coursing event may still be supervised (since it falls within the definition of hunting in paragraph 7(c)).
23. Paragraph 3 provides that an organisation is a "supervised body" if it a member of The Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting, known as ISAH Limited (see paragraphs 35 to 42 below). If ISAH Limited should either cease to exist or the statements of objects in its memorandum is changed, the Secretary of State has the power to make an order designating a successor body and making consequential amendments to this Schedule to reflect the constitution of the new body.
24. The option contained within Schedule 1 is self-regulatory and voluntary, so that it will be permissible to participate in hunting with dogs or hare coursing without being a member of, or registering with, a supervised body. However the option is designed to provide an incentive to those who wish to hunt to engage in supervised hunting.
25. Paragraph 4(1) provides that two statutory exceptions will apply only to hunting with dogs or hare coursing which is supervised, and to certain other activities. These activities are:
26. The first statutory exception is section 1(3)(b) of the Protection of Animals Act 1911. Section 1 of that Act creates an offence of treating an animal cruelly or causing an animal unnecessary suffering. Section 1(3)(b) provides an exemption in respect of the coursing and hunting of captive animals.
27. The second statutory exception is section 2(b) of the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996. Section 1 of the 1996 Act makes it an offence to do certain things (such as mutilate, kick or beat) to a wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary suffering. Section 2(b) provides an exception in respect of the killing in a reasonably swift and humane manner of any such wild mammal injured or taken in the course of lawful hunting or coursing.
28. Under paragraph 5 the Secretary of State may make grants or loan to ISAH out of money provided by Parliament.
29. Any report which the Secretary of State receives from ISAH about its activities is to be laid before Parliament under paragraph 6.
30. Paragraph 7 defines a number of expressions which appear in Schedule 1.
31. A "hare coursing event" means a competition in which dogs are assessed as to speed or skill in hunting hares.
32. A "hunt" is a body of people who combine wholly or partly in order to hunt wild mammals with dogs.
33. "Hunting a wild mammal with a dog" is in particular where a person engages or participates in the pursuit of a wild mammal and one or more dogs are used in the pursuit. It is not necessary for the person to have employed the dog or dogs or for them to be under his control.
34. "Wild mammal" includes a wild mammal which has been bred or tamed for the purpose of being hunted or for any other purpose; a wild mammal which is in captivity or confinement; a wild mammal which has escaped or been released from captivity or confinement; and any mammal which is living wild.
The Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting
35. ISAH Limited was established on 30 December 1999. The current members of ISAH Limited are the chairman of the Authority, the chairman of the Countryside Alliance's Hunting Committee and the chairmen of the Hunting Associations. These are the Masters of Foxhounds Association, Central Committee of Fell Packs, Federation of Welsh Packs, Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles, Masters of Basset Hounds Association, National Coursing Club, Association of Lurcher Clubs, Masters of Deer Hounds Association, Masters of Mink Hounds Association and National Working Terrier Federation.
36. ISAH Ltd is not a licensing body. It oversees the Member organisations' rules, codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures. It has powers to visit and inspect hunts and to impose disciplinary sanctions on hunts and clubs. The costs of ISAH Ltd are borne by the member organisations.
37. The principal objectives of ISAH Ltd are to:
38. The work of the Authority is carried out by seven Commissioners. These are the Chairman of the Authority, the Chairman of the Hunting Committee of the Countryside Alliance or his nominee and five further Commissioners who are appointed by an Appointments Panel.
39. The Commissioners will normally refer a proper complaint made to it to the appropriate Hunting Association for its investigation and action. The Commissioners have a duty to examine the outcome of all disciplinary investigations made by the Hunting Associations, and have the power to require the Association to impose additional sanctions if it considers that insufficient attention has been paid to the public interest, or is otherwise dissatisfied with the Association's decision.
40. The Commissioners can issue a public warning or censure to a member organisation, or suspend, or ban an individual of a member organisation from holding office.
41. Every member organisation requires, at the beginning of each season from everyone of its participant members, that is the hunts, a written statement undertaking to comply with all relevant rules, practices and codes of conduct which are in force, and agreeing to accept the final authority of the Commissioners.
42. At the end of each season each member organisation is required to provide a written report of the season's activities.
Schedule 2: Hunting with dogs: Regulation
Part I: The Hunting Authority
43. Schedule 2 makes it a requirement to obtain a licence to hunt wild mammals with dogs except in certain limited circumstances, and in order to organise a hare coursing event. Licences will be issued by a newly created Hunting Authority which will regulate hunting and will be able to attach terms and conditions to licences.
44. Paragraph 1 creates a body corporate known as the Hunting Authority.
45. Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 set out details of the membership of the Hunting Authority. The Authority must consist of at least 7, and no more than 11, members at any one time. Members are appointed by the Secretary of State, who must also appoint a chairman from among the members. Members of the Authority are disqualified from serving as Members of the House of Commons.
46. Paragraph 5 provides that the Secretary of State must ensure that members of the Authority include at least one representative of each of animal welfare, hunting, farming, land-owning, conservation and veterinary interests.
47. The Secretary of State must ensure that at any particular time at least half of the members must be people who do not, in the Secretary of State's opinion, participate in, or provide support for, hunting; are not members of an organisation which has a main objective of improving or protecting the welfare of animals and which disapproves of hunting; do not participate in activities which protest against or interfere with hunting; or do not provide support for an organisation which has a main objective of improving or protecting the welfare of animals and which does not approve of hunting, and do not provide support for activities which protest against or interfere with hunting. Sub paragraph (4) makes clear that hunting includes hare coursing. The chairman must be such a person.
48. Paragraphs 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 concern the arrangements for appointments to the Authority. Appointments are for a maximum term of five years. The chairman and members may resign their office by written notice to the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State has power to dismiss the chairman or an individual member in specified circumstances.
49. Paragraph 11 provides that the Authority are to regulate their own proceedings.
50. Paragraph 12 provides for the Authority to appoint a chief executive and other staff, to whom they may delegate functions. The Authority can appoint people to carry out inspections under paragraph 36 on such terms as they consider appropriate.
51. Paragraphs 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 concern the Authority's financial arrangements. The Authority's income is generated by their power to charge fees for the issuing of licences to hunt. They may pay their members and staff remuneration, allowances and expenses. Membership of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme is open to staff of the Authority. The Authority are responsible for ensuring that, so far as possible, income matches expenditure during each financial year. The Authority must prepare an annual statement of accounts, which is to be laid before Parliament after examination and certification by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The Secretary of State can make a grant or a loan to the Authority.
52. Under paragraph 18, after the end of each financial year the Authority are required to send the Secretary of State a report on how they carried out their functions in that year. The Secretary of State is required to lay a copy of the report before Parliament.
53. Paragraph 19 provides that the Authority shall not be regarded as a servant or agent of the Crown.
54. Paragraph 20 provides that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration has jurisdiction over the Authority.
Part II: Licences
55. Paragraph 21 explains the nature of the hunting licences which the Hunting Authority have the power to issue. A hunting licence allows one or more people to take part in regulated hunting, which means the use of a dog to hunt fox, deer, hare and mink. The Secretary of State may by order add to, or delete from, the list which determines what is covered by the term "regulated hunting". Such an order is made by statutory instrument after a draft has been laid before and approved by resolution of both Houses of Parliament.
56. Paragraph 22 explains the nature of a coursing licence which the Hunting Authority have the power to issue. A coursing licence allows one or more people to organise a hare coursing event, which means a competition in which dogs are assessed as to speed or skill in hunting hares. A reference to a hare coursing official means any person who acts as an official at a hare coursing event, and a reference to organising a hare coursing event includes a person who is in charge of, or takes responsibility for, the event.
57. Paragraphs 23, 24 and 25 set out the procedure for applying for a hunting or coursing licence. An individual may either apply in his own right for a "personal hunting licence", or as a servant or officer of a hunt on behalf of the hunt for a "group hunting licence". A person who makes an application for a coursing licence must state that he proposes to organise a hare coursing event. The application must be in the form prescribed by the Authority, and accompanied by the information required by the Authority and the appropriate fee, as prescribed by the Authority. It must also give details of hunting or coursing in respect of which the licence is sought. Where an application is for a group hunting licence the information might include the past or proposed hunt activities; people who were, are or are expected to become members, servants or officers of the hunt; and people who have either participated in the hunt activities or are expected to do so. Where an application is for a coursing licence, the information might include past hare coursing events organised by the applicant, and people who were or are expected to be officials at events which the applicant has organised or intends to organise.
58. Under paragraph 26 when the Authority receive an application they must consider it as soon as reasonably practicable, grant or refuse it, and inform the applicant of the decision as soon as is reasonably practicable.
59. Under paragraph 27 the Authority can only grant a licence to a person who is 16 years of age or over, has not been disqualified by the courts from holding a hunting licence, is a suitable person to hold a licence, is capable of complying with any licence conditions that the Authority might want to impose, and is capable of ensuring that hunting or coursing undertaken by virtue of the licence is carried out in accordance with the relevant code of practice under Part III of Schedule 2.
60. A right of appeal to the magistrates' court against a refusal by the Authority to issue a licence is provided under paragraph 28. The court may direct the Authority to issue a licence on specified terms or conditions, or to issue a licence on terms or conditions to be determined by the Authority.
61. Paragraphs 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35 concern the terms and conditions which the Authority must, or may, attach to hunting or coursing licences. A licence, which must last for no more than one year (and could be seasonal), must stipulate the kind of regulated hunting or coursing for which it is issued. A licence can be issued on conditions, to be included in the licence, which may be standard or specific to the circumstances of the licence.
62. A condition in a hunting licence may relate to anything which is done for the purpose of, or in connection with, regulated hunting. It does not have to be done during hunting, and, in particular, may relate to the way in which dogs and horses are kept and anything which is done to prepare the terrain prior to the hunt.
63. A condition in a coursing licence may relate to anything which is done for the purpose of, or in connection with, a hare coursing event. It does not have to be done during the coursing event, and, in particular, may relate to anything which is done to prepare the terrain for coursing and arrangements for spectators.
64. The terms and conditions attached to a personal hunting licence can restrict the licence to unaccompanied hunting or regulate the number of people who can accompany the licence-holder during hunting (whether or not those accompanying the licence holder participate).
65. The terms and conditions of a group hunting licence can relate to the activities of the hunt, the behaviour of a member, servant or officer of the hunt, and the behaviour of a person who is allowed to go hunting by the hunt in so far as they occur during, or relate to, regulated hunting.
66. The terms and conditions of a coursing licence can restrict the licence to one or more particular coursing events, and may relate to the behaviour of an official, and of a person who participates in, or is a spectator at, a hare coursing event.
67. It must be a condition of each licence that the licence holder obtains insurance cover.
68. For the holder of an individual hunting licence the insurance condition in the licence must require the licence holder's insurance to cover him against loss or damage to any third party and must specify the minimum amount of cover.
69. For the holder of a group hunting licence the insurance condition in the licence must require insurance cover to be obtained against damage caused by member, servant or officer of the hunt to a third party or another member, servant or officer of the hunt and must specify the minimum amount of the cover.
70. For the holder of a coursing licence the insurance condition must require insurance cover to be obtained against damage caused by the licence holder to an official or third party or by an official to a third party, or to another official and must specify the minimum amount of cover.
71. It must be a condition of a group hunting licence that the Authority must be given advance notification of any hunting carried out by virtue of the licence. The licence condition must stipulate what information must be supplied in order to satisfy this requirement and how it is to be supplied.
72. It must be a condition of a coursing licence that the Authority must be given advance notification of any hare coursing event organised by virtue of the licence. The licence condition must stipulate what information must be supplied in order to satisfy this requirement and how it is to be supplied.
73. The Authority have power to revoke or suspend the licence, or to add, vary, revoke or suspend a term or a licence condition. A licence-holder can on payment of a prescribed fee apply to the Authority in the prescribed form for an addition, suspension, variation or revocation of a term or condition of a licence.
74. The licence-holder has a right of appeal to the magistrates' court against any term or condition of a licence granted by the Authority, or against any decision to revoke or suspend a licence or to add, vary, revoke or suspend a term or licence condition, including those made as a result of an application from a licence holder. The court may require the Authority to reinstate a licence or a term or condition of a licence, or revoke, vary or add a term or condition to a licence.
75. Paragraph 36 concerns the inspection arrangements by the Authority of hunting, the animals and equipment used for hunting and the premises used in connection with hunting. The Authority must make arrangements as they think appropriate to inspect regulated hunting by a licence-holder, hunting by a person who applies for a hunting licence, and hunting by a member, servant or officer of a hunt where a licence is held or has been applied for. The Authority must make arrangements as they think appropriate to inspect animals or equipment kept by or on behalf of a licence-holder wholly or partly for the purpose of regulated hunting, animals or equipment kept by or on behalf of an applicant for a hunting licence wholly or partly for the purpose of hunting, and animals or equipment kept by or on behalf of a member, servant, or officer of a hunt for which a licence is held or has been applied for. The Authority must make arrangements as they think appropriate to inspect premises used by a licence-holder wholly or partly for the purpose of or in connection with regulated hunting, premises used by an applicant for a hunting licence wholly or partly for the purpose of or in connection with hunting, and premises used for or in connection with hunting by a member, servant, or officer of a hunt for which a licence is held or has been applied for. The Authority must make arrangements as they think appropriate to inspect hare coursing events and premises used for, or in connection with, hare coursing events.
76. Paragraph 37 concerns training and examinations in relation to regulated hunting and coursing. The Authority can provide instruction or training and can provide an examination in connection with regulated hunting or hare coursing, for all of which they may charge fees.
77. In carrying out their functions including deciding whether to grant a hunting licence, the Authority or a magistrates' court can take account of whether the applicant has received instruction or training and whether the applicant has passed an examination in connection with regulated hunting.
1 Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs in England and Wales CM 4763
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