Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Tony Wright: I speak as someone who dislikes blood sports intensely. I cannot understand why people engage in them and think that it demeans the human condition, so instinctively I am in favour of stopping them. It would also be politically convenient for me to sign up to the proposition that we should stop them.

When the argument started some years ago I set myself one test: to answer the question of whether there is something uniquely cruel about hunting with dogs that would justify banning it. If there was, I would have no hesitation in doing that and I would not be detained
16 Nov 2004 : Column 1308
by the arguments that it would cause a loss of livelihood or encroach on liberties. I would have known the answer to those questions. However, as someone who instinctively wanted to be on that side, and who has sought to follow the arguments and to read the evidence, I have to say that that test has not been passed.

It is the deliberate lack of attention to the evidence that troubles me most. In addition, there is the suggestion that there is a superior moral sensibility on the part of those who want a complete ban. That cannot be right because people who have taken different views over the years have different moral sensibilities. Just down the road from Ogmore, Aneurin Bevan—a man who was neither deficient in class warriorship nor in moral sensibility—thought that a ban could not be justified.

The question is: if the test has not been passed—in a sense, the Minister acknowledged that—why should we persist in insisting on a ban rather than regulation? I can only think that it is either because we have got ourselves imprisoned in a position in which we think we have to do that or because we are implicitly saying that we have a greater sensibility on the cruelty issue than people who take a different view, and I simply reject that.

There is no question but that this House of Commons would be justified in applying the Parliament Act, in asserting its supremacy by doing what it wants to do and in eschewing any common ground by rejecting compromise. All that is possible. The question is whether it would be sensible. It would feel terribly exciting this week and people would march through the Lobby with a lighter step. However, one of the first laws of this place is that we should not do things that we know are undoable; we should not do things that we know are unenforceable; we should not do things that will not carry a substantial number of our population with us. If we do something knowing all that, with the evidential test not having been passed, I am afraid that in the long term there will be consequences that we shall all come to regret.

We can do that. I am sure that we shall do that. I have turned up here often to vote for the Bill. I am going to try to vote for it again tonight because it is sensible, but it will not be embraced. We will continue on the course that the House set some time ago. It can do it. It will do it. The question is whether it is sensible to do it.

Lembit Öpik: The Bill is not about animal welfare. The hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) said on 24 November 2003:

A ban on hunting with dogs is not about public opinion. The majority of people are opposed to criminalising those who go hunting with dogs. Frankly, if we are going to ban things and the majority of people do not support us in that, the Labour party, which 58 per cent. of the electorate voted against at the last election, should be banned as well, but I support to the death its right to exist.

The debate is not about the evidence in favour of a ban. Five hundred and sixty members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons have made clear their belief that a ban on hunting with dogs is contrary to the interests of animal welfare. The debate is not primarily based on evidence from those who support a ban.
16 Nov 2004 : Column 1309

I am not sure whether hon. Members recognise that the Bill advocated by the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) will not prevent all hunting with dogs, as people think. It will not be illegal to use a terrier underground, as long as the purpose is to protect game birds, but it will be a criminal offence if the purpose is to protect farm livestock or rare birds. Under the Bill, it will be illegal for one's dog to catch a hare, but not for it to catch a rabbit; it will be illegal for one's dog to kill a mouse, but not for it to kill a rat. How on earth can any supporter of the Bill think that that is reasonable legislation?

Many of us have supported the middle way group and fought with small resources a great battle to introduce evidence into the discussion, but, to our great frustration, people are not willing to listen to that evidence even now. Is the hon. Member for West Ham even aware of the Kreeger report, which was done in the 1990s and which showed that a fox is under greater stress when it is hunting than when it is hunted? [Hon. Members: "Oh!"] The hon. Members who jeer probably did not know until this minute that the Kreeger report even existed.

Are the hon. Members who want to ban hunting with dogs aware of the research that we sponsored that indicates surprisingly high wounding rates when foxes are shot compared with when they are hunted with dogs? Whether we like it or not, with dogs, it is all or nothing; with guns—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. The House must be fair and give the hon. Gentleman a hearing.

Lembit Öpik: With dogs, it is all or nothing—there is no wounding rate. With guns, foxes often die an agonisingly painful death. That fact has not even been considered by many of the right hon. and hon. Members who have just now come into the Chamber to vote, without having seen the evidence.

The middle way group has worked hard, not to achieve a victory, but to achieve a solution that is in the wider interests of the country and in the specific interest of animal welfare. Nothing has been more irritating than the almost visceral unwillingness of those who favour a ban to entertain even the slight possibility that there is evidence-based research to show that a ban on hunting with dogs will increase suffering in the countryside, not reduce it.

I have worked hard to convince the public and hon. Members that ours is the right way to go, as have my colleagues in other parties, whose efforts I salute. I stand here feeling extremely disappointed: once again, we stand on the brink of a vote based on prejudice and not on fact, on victory and not animal welfare—a vote that more than anything is based on the desire to win and pay back the Conservatives for their decisions on the miners and other things that their Government did in the 1980s. Tonight's vote is a test of whether we—

Miss Widdecombe: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Hon. Members: Give way!

Lembit Öpik: No, I will not give way, especially not to the right hon. Lady.
16 Nov 2004 : Column 1310

Tonight's vote will be a test of whether we are guided primarily by our emotions or by facts—whether we care more about winning battles from the past than about improving animal welfare in the countryside in future. I, for one, will with a heavy heart support the proposal made by the hon. Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies), because it is the best that we are likely to get, but I assure the House that millions watching tonight will judge the House on its ability to make the right decisions rather than prejudiced decisions.

At the end of the day, we will see whether those who support the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the League Against Cruel Sports will be happy with the increase in animal suffering that results from the simple fact that Members of Parliament were not willing to listen to the arguments advanced by the middle way group and others. It is a matter of great regret that, after 700 hours of debate in two Houses, most of those who support a ban still do not have even the slightest idea of what the research has told us.

It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings, Mr Speaker proceeded to put the Question already proposed from the Chair, purusant to Order (this day).

The House divided: Ayes 343, Noes 175.

Division No. 327
[9:45 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Amess, David
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Adrian
Baker, Norman
Banks, Tony
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blair, rh Tony
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, rh Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brennan, Kevin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burstow, Paul
Byrne, Liam (B'ham Hodge H)
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Caborn, rh Richard
Cairns, David
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Challen, Colin
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Colman, Tony
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Holmes, Paul
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, rh Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kelly, Ruth (Bolton W)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, rh John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, rh John
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Rendel, David
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, rh Clare
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Teather, Sarah
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Iain (Hartlepool)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Michael Foster and
Mr. Ian Cawsey


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Ancram, rh Michael
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Curry, rh David
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Fisher, Mark
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Fox, Dr. Liam
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Gummer, rh John
Hague, rh William
Hammond, Philip
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howard, rh Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Redwood, rh John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Sheerman, Barry
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Dominic Grieve and
Mr. Mark Francois

Question accordingly agreed to.

16 Nov 2004 : Column 1314

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Next Section IndexHome Page