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Mr. Drew: In the long and tortuous debate that we have had, that is a particularly important issue. As someone who is in favour of a ban, I believe that we must be responsible and consider the implications of a ban. On the hon. Gentleman's last point about housing, I asked a series of parliamentary questions to see whether it would be possible to get people who are employed by the hunt and in tied housing included in agricultural tenancies. At present that is not possible, and it ought to be looked at seriously. Would the hon. Gentleman care to comment on that?

Andrew George: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that important intervention. It is important that the Government and those who support a ban understand that a ban will have a direct effect, not on toffs, but on ordinary working people, who depend on hunting for their income, their livelihood and their home.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): My hon. Friend's point is incredibly important, whether one is for or against a ban. Some of my constituents are distressed at the thought of losing their livelihoods. I am not talking about people who sit on horses and engage in hunting as a sport; I am talking about people on low incomes in tied accommodation who will lose their jobs and their homes if the ban is implemented. The loss of property is not a narrow issue of human rights legislation; it is a matter of justice for those people, for whom this House should act in a proper way.

Andrew George: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. The hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) intervened on the Minister on a point of principle and drew out the comparison between this Bill and the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000. Interestingly, the Minister repeated the point, which he made in a debate last year, that those two pieces of legislation are different, because the 2000 Act affected people's property. However, the people affected by the 2000 Act had property, whereas the people about whom we are concerned largely do not have property. The issue concerns those people's livelihoods. It is strange that the Government are prepared to compensate people with property, who are well healed in comparison with people on low rural incomes who have few prospects.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Hull, North) (Lab): I have fought against tied cottages throughout my time in this House, and I share and appreciate the concern expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew). Is the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George) saying that the followers of hunting will throw their employees
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out of tied cottages if the Bill is enacted? Will the hon. Gentlemen who follow the hounds do that to their loyal employees, about whom they have spoken so much, so tearfully and so directly, and whom they pay so lousily?

Andrew George: May I correct the hon. Gentleman in one respect? I have followed the hunt on many occasions in the past, and I voted for the Minister's compromise licensing approach. I cannot speak for hunts—I am sure that the many hunts that are disappointed with my position would not want me to speak on their behalf—and it is not for me to double guess or anticipate the likely outcome of the circumstances in which many people will find themselves.

Mr. Russell Brown (Dumfries) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members assume that people will be thrown from their properties. If that is the case, what will the property owners do with their properties? Surely, it would be as well for them to sit on the properties and let people pay rent.

Andrew George: The case would have to be made, and appeals can be made if such cases are turned down. If the matter were in dispute, it would ultimately be considered at the tribunal.

Lembit Öpik: Does my hon. Friend agree that the lack of comprehension on the part of Labour Members concerning the loss of income and the natural requirement for people who own tied cottages to ensure that they maintain an income means that there is a case for compensation? Does he agree that if Members who set their faces so sternly against compensation were considering another industry, such as coalmining, they would hold a different view?

Andrew George: My hon. Friend is right. There are many imponderables and many cases could be made for compensation.

8.45 pm

Mr. Clifton-Brown: The accusation by the hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) shows that, as usual, Labour Members are ignorant of the facts of hunting. Often the dwellings that house hunt employees are not owned by wealthy landowners but by the hunt itself, which if it is not hunting will have no income and will have no option but to sell its assets.

Will the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George) support my call to the Minister during the previous debate in the House for a compensation scheme for workers who lose their jobs?

Andrew George: On the hon. Gentleman's last point, the purpose of my amendment is to achieve just that. It is wide ranging in its proposals; as the Minister suggested, it may be too wide ranging.

Rob Marris : As the hon. Gentleman knows, because I discussed it with him in Standing Committee, many Labour Members have some sympathy with the position that he is putting forward and like to think that
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we have some understanding of what may befall people should a ban pass through the Houses of Parliament this week. Does he accept, however, that were his amendment to be passed, the Parliament Acts could not be used and those of us who wish for a ban would thereby be disappointed? Does he therefore agree that a better solution would be to try to get his amendment put forward in another arena, such as in the other place or in a Finance Bill or an animal welfare Bill, not in the House of Commons tonight?

Andrew George: I assure the hon. Gentleman that I do not have it in my gift to divide the House on this issue—that is in the power of the Minister.

I do not accuse those who take a different position on hunting from that which is expressed largely by Conservative Members of being unsympathetic to those people who are likely to be directly affected. Although the Minister will not use his power to allow us to divide on the amendment, it can be considered as a probing amendment. I hope that the other place is listening and will consider the possibility of reintroducing it at a later stage.

Mr. Tony Banks (West Ham) (Lab): May I echo the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris)? I supported the principle of compensation when we discussed the Bill previously, but the moment has passed. My hon. Friend put his finger precisely on the point: we cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's amendment. If the House of Lords discussed compensation, it escaped me. The hon. Gentleman will undoubtedly have other opportunities to raise the issue again, perhaps as a result of the Bill that the Government may introduce in the new Session to move the date to July 2006.

Andrew George: I do not agree that the moment has passed. In fact, the moment has arrived if we are in a situation whereby there is to be a precipitate ban within three months and no compensation scheme is in place. I would hope that the other place will consider the issue and, having taken up a position that is implacably opposed to that of the Commons, introduce, as part of a compromise, a clause to allow for appropriate compensation. Or perhaps the hon. Gentleman is right and the Minister will be honourable and introduce new legislation to deal with that in the next Session. I am well aware that many other hon. Members want to comment on this and many other issues relating to the Bill and the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Ogmore. I hope that the Minister is listening and that he will speak to those involved in the debate in the other place, so that the issue will not be left as it is tonight.

Sir Gerald Kaufman: I respect the sincerity of the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George), but the basis of his argument gives rise to two questions. First, during the entire discussion of the ban on hunting, opponents of the ban have sought to jerk our tears by talking about the jobs that will be lost. The Countryside Alliance and similar groups all say that these jobs are at stake and will be lost if there is a ban. Are we saying that the people who are now exploiting the possibility of job losses are such ghastly employers that they would throw their
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employees out of work and home? That is the basis of the argument about tied cottages, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) said.

Several hon. Members rose—

Sir Gerald Kaufman: I want to proceed for a moment. If I may say so, with total respect to the Chair, two thirds of the time has gone by and these few words that I am about to utter are the first from someone who supports the Bill as sent from the House of Commons to the House of Lords.

Secondly, not only is it the implication of what the hon. Member for St. Ives said that hunt employers are horrible people with no sense of loyalty to the people they employ, but he is asking to make them a special case. The estimate of Burns, much quoted by the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray), is that up to 800 direct jobs will be lost—700 direct jobs employing 800 people. Well, 1,100 workers at Jaguar in Coventry will, if the employers have their way, certainly lose their jobs and not over a short period, but at a stroke. Why should hunt employees receive compensation other than redundancy payments if the Jaguar workers will receive only the redundancy payments due to them under the law?

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