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Mr. Adrian Flook (Taunton): Some moments ago, my right hon. Friend referred to the fact that Parliament would speak on the issue and make its voice heard, but, bearing in mind her great history of having a different view on the issue from me, does she not believe that Parliament also includes the other place? What does she think it might say if the Bill bans hunting outright?
My third reason for preferring new clause 11 to new clause 13 is that this is the best chance that we have ever had to get an absolute ban. It will be a mark of shame for all of us who have fought for it if we give in now, when we are at the door of achieving it, to some shoddy compromise that a blackmailing Government have tried to impose on their own Back Benchers. It is utterly crucial that Labour Members have huge courage tonight and do not let themselves be packed like weeds beneath the compost of the Prime Minister's timidity. We must go for it in the way that we have never had an opportunity to do in the past. Let our voice be heard tonight. Let us send up to the other end of the corridor what we actually believe in, not what we believe it smiles on.
What we have to do tonight is to bring to fruition all past efforts, efforts even before the hon. Member for Worcester introduced his Bill. We can all remember free vote after free vote, which said ban this barbarism. Tonight we have that chance. Let us really go for it. Let us do what we want to do. Let us not be blackmailed either by fear of their lordships or fear of the Government. It is not worth being blackmailed. This is our best chance for years. If we give it up, ours is the shame, not hunting's.
Mr. Kaufman: I pay tribute to the four hon. Members who have spoken from the Back Benches so far. All four have dedicated themselves to this issue for many years, and there is no doubt that they have become intensely knowledgeable on the subject. Each one of them deserves the thanks of the House of Commons.
My right hon. Friend the Minister both on Second Readingheaven knows, as long ago as 16 December last yearand again today put his view that he is presenting a perfect Bill. By his criteria, it is perfect. He has invented the criteria and then said, "By my criteria, which I have invented, I have brought you the best Bill it is possible to bring." He has two criteria: one is cruelty, one is utility. What he has not mentionedhe is a South Walian, so I am surprised that he did notis morality. There is an issue of morality relating to what we want to do about the issue.
My right hon. Friend has created criteria for a Bill that suits him but is not in conformity with the Labour party manifesto. I was not only elected on that manifesto but campaigned very prominently on the issue in my constituency because it is one that I and many of my constituents care about. I believe that many of the people who voted for me at the last election did so because of the pledge in the Labour party manifesto.
Those of us who have studied the history of other legislation to deal with cruelty to animals will know that it took the House of Commons 35 years to ban bull baiting. Its record on issues of decency has not been very good over the years, whether issues relating to cruelty against animals or to sexual behaviour. It is always belated, but today we have the opportunity.
I came into the House just over 33 years ago. One of the first things that I did was to work with my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) to get a ban on hare coursing. It has taken 33 years to get to that point. I am not going to give up the opportunity of doing what I have tried to do in the House of Commons for a third of a century through being talked out of it by amendments that do not deliver what we are asking for.
I wish that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) were here so that I could put the point to her, but my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester was right to say that new clause 13 maybut nobody can be surealleviate part of the evil with which we are trying to deal. I repeat that it is impossible to be sure. What is for sure is that if we pass
When the Labour manifesto talked about a wish to ban fox hunting, it did not sayit was carefully drawn up and could have said this if it had been wishedthat we wanted to hand over fox hunting, in whole or in part, to a registrar, unanswerable to the House of Commons, and to a tribunal, unanswerable to the House of Commons. It said that we wanted to deal with it as a Parliament. Nor am I alone in saying that; the Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality said it on Second Reading:
Mr. Soames: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that those of us who support hunting entered into detailed consultation, held by the Minister of State at Portcullis House, on the basis that a fair and sensible system would be produced that would do precisely what he argues against? It was on that basis that a great deal of work was done in Portcullis House, which, allegedly, played a part in framing the Bill that many of us spent many hours dealing with in Committee. What the right hon. Gentleman proposesI hope that he understands the deep and abiding resentment that will exist if it goes aheadis diametrically contrary to the assurances that the countryside was given by the Minister of State on how this matter would be handled.
Mr. Kaufman: That is between the Minister and the countryside. This is the House of Commons, and it is the House of Commons that must make the decision. The manifesto on which I went before the electorate in Gorton, as did my right hon. and hon. Friends all over the country, did not say that we would enter into consultation in Portcullis House. It said that we would give the House of Commons an opportunity to ban fox hunting. That is what we have tonight. With all respect to my constituents, whom I love and who, by definition, are the most intelligent people in the country, I do not believe that all of them are totally acquainted with what Portcullis House is and what goes on there. I accept that the hon. Gentleman takes an entirely different view from
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs put out a statement over the weekend. She is a good personal friend of mine, and she invites me to speak on her behalf in her constituency at every general election, although whether she will do so next time, I do not know. She said:
What does the Bill do? When my right hon. Friend the Minister introduced the Bill on 16 December, he and others quoted from Burns. They said that the Bill would ban 2 per cent. of hunting with dogs[Interruption.]