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Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills): My hon. and learned Friend makes a very valid point for rural areas. It is, of course, also true for an urban area such as Walsall, which is the centre of the leather industry. It is an important contributor to saddlery, making the finest saddles, I would argue, in the world. That means that saddlery and leather companies are dependent on this business, which supports the wider economic interest of an urban centre such as Walsall.
Mr. Garnier: My hon. Friend makes a particularly telling point which demonstrates the inter-relationship between the rural and urban economy. We cannot simply say that this is an urban or a rural issue. The matter affects all our constituents. My hon. Friend's constituents in the leather trade in his part of the west midlands no doubt sell their products across the country and, I dare say, abroad to Ireland, America and France where, if the Bill becomes law, many of the more well-heeled members of our society will take their horses--or at least themselves--to hunt. My less well-off constituents will lose their jobs. The less well-off leather workers in my hon. Friend's
Mr. Hogg: Will my hon. and learned Friend remind the House that there is a precedent? The House considered compensation in our deliberations on the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000, when the Government were driven to offer a compensation scheme. As they conceded the point in the context of fur farming, there can be no possible opposition to a concession in this area.
Mr. Garnier: That is a rational argument. Unfortunately, it may not touch the intellects of those who vehemently oppose hunting. That is something with which my right hon. and learned Friend and I will have to deal. We must do our best to persuade the House and the country as a whole of the cogency and good sense of the points that we make.
Many right hon. and hon. Members will wish to speak from their own experience and that of their constituents about fallen stock and the compensation that will become necessary as a consequence of the Bill's draconian effects.
I have taken up quite enough of the House's time; the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) is itching to get to his feet. I urge the House to consider carefully the points that I made--albeit briefly. Before hon. Members come to a decision on the measure, I urge them to do their best to mitigate its worst effects. Without our new clause and amendment and without the amendment that will be proposed by the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire, the Bill will be far worse than it need be. Its supporters will have to answer for that in due course.
Mr. Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire): Like many of the amendments tabled on Report, amendment No. 36 is intended to mitigate the worst of the injustices that the Bill would inflict on those individuals who lose their right to hunt. In introducing the amendment, I hope to illustrate that--as the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) rightly pointed out--our proposals have nothing to do with whether one agrees with a ban on hunting with dogs. They are entirely about fairness and about compensating individuals, as we should do if we ask people in any walk of life profoundly to change their life style on account of legislation.
The proposals on fallen stock reflect that view. Anyone who has ever had to deal with that issue would agree that the logic of the arguments that have been made simply serves to underline the importance of our holding an objective view on the consequences of a ban on hunting with dogs.
The purpose of the amendment is to provide the Secretary of State with the latitude to introduce a sensible compensation scheme, following consultation, for the losses in employment and the effects on damage and pest control in some parts of Britain that will arise from the restrictions introduced by the Bill. The amendment gives the Secretary of State plenty of scope to work out the
The amendment specifically requires the Secretary of State to consider schemes to compensate individuals who lose business as a result of the Bill and who suffer greater depredations by foxes and other predatory animals because the traditional means of control is no longer available. Such schemes should
Our challenge is to establish a compensation system that genuinely brings fairness into the ban on hunting with dogs. It cannot be just to take away a person's livelihood without making good the loss through compensation. Similarly, it cannot be morally just to take away a person's ability to control a pest without making good the loss that results from the damage caused by that pest.
I understand that Deadline 2000 does not believe that there is a case for such compensation. I could go through its arguments, but there would not be much point in my doing so because, clearly, I disagree with them, and there other hon. Members who will no doubt seek to explain why they do not believe that the farming community deserves compensation as a result of a ban on hunting with dogs. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the individuals who hunt with dogs in the uplands of mid-Wales--which, as hon. Members know, is the area that I know best in this regard--would definitely expect an increase in predation on their stock if they could not pursue and dispatch foxes with dogs. Without rehearsing the details of the argument yet again, the reason for that is simple.
As Burns acknowledged, people in the uplands of mid-Wales genuinely believe that hunting with dogs is the most effective means to control foxes, and Burns had some sympathy with that view. So the ban will remove a pest-control procedure which has been long established in
My concern is that because we sometimes stray into areas not directly related to the objective consequences of our actions, those who simply do not like hunting and want to ban it think that there is no case to compensate those who hunt for the loss that they will incur as a result of the prohibition. Obviously, hon. Members are entitled to make up their own minds, but I simply disagree with that view. We have to subjugate our feelings to our values--one of which must surely be that of fairness.
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed): I ask my hon. Friend to bear in mind two points, the first of which is the Bill's significance to those whose paid employment depends on the continuation of hunting. If hunting ends, they will simply lose their jobs, because it will not be legal to employ them to do what they are trained to do.
Secondly, given that this proposal extends beyond the principle of hunting and could therefore be supported by hon. Members who would like to abolish hunting but who nevertheless understand the fairness case, I hope that my hon. Friend will press amendment No. 36 to a separate Division.
Mr. Öpik: Indeed. I would have made that request later, but I shall do so now. I hope that we shall have a separate vote on amendment No. 36--if you see fit, Mr. Deputy Speaker--because compensation involves a free-standing, specific and crystal-clear binary decision. In other words, although we can discuss fallen stock--also a fairly clear issue--it must be a matter for the House to state publicly in its vote whether we believe that, as I claim, a moral wrong will be committed if we take away such rights without compensating those who will lose their jobs and their ability to control pests in the way that they have done previously. That is a powerful reason to have a separate vote on amendment No. 36.