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Lord Renton: Before my noble friend sits down, perhaps he would bear in mind that snaring is illegal also.

Earl Peel: No, snaring is not illegal.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: I am not altogether sorry to have annoyed both Front Benches. I seldom succeed in annoying both Benches on the same day in the same context, but I shall recover.

I agree entirely with the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, that these words on the face of the Bill would be just what I would object to most; namely, unenforceable and hopeless. But I thought—and I absolutely make no apology whatever for this—that when the authors of the Bill used words to show, as they did, that passions and subjectivity are the rule of the day, one was entitled to table amendments like this which perhaps have an element of unreason in them to remind them and others that there are strong beliefs on the other side of this argument and that they have no right whatever to continue their bullying tactics.

I am happy to have made that protest. I make no apology for that. I shall nevertheless respond to the obvious will of the Committee and beg leave to

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withdraw the amendment. But I hope that the Minister will take an opportunity sometime to answer the point that I have repeatedly made about enforceability.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Mancroft moved Amendment No. 24:

    Page 1, line 18, after "was" insert—

"(a) registered, or
(b) "

The noble Lord said: The amendment is consequential on an earlier one. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Campbell-Savours moved Amendment No. 25:

    After Clause 4, insert the following new clause—

(1) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under section 1 to prove that the conduct to which the charge relates consisted of using dogs for the control of foxes for the purpose of protecting sheep on a fell or moorland within a sheep grazing area in a designated National Park.
(2) In this section "designated" means designated in an order made by the Secretary of State.
(3) An order under this section shall be made by statutory instrument and shall not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by each House of Parliament."

The noble Lord said: In moving my Amendment No. 25, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 26. I shall speak narrowly to my amendment. The case for Amendment No. 25 was very usefully put by the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, at Second Reading. The noble Lord, who is a former Minister for Agriculture, said:

    "It is essential that we build into the Bill an exemption for foot packs, which play such an important role . . . I [the noble Lord, Lord Jopling,] hope that the Government will look sympathetically at an amendment to exempt mountain foot packs from the Bill".—[Official Report, 16/9/03; col. 806.]

I come to the debate from a very different position. I presume that the noble Lord will be supporting the principle of registration that I have been opposing and will further oppose, as I am in favour of a ban on hunting. That was the position I took throughout my 21 years as a Member of the other place. I represented a constituency that contained a number of fell packs, but where there was a constant and heated argument about hunting in the community. I can tell the Committee that of all the issues I had to face as a Member of Parliament, hunting raised the most correspondence. During general election campaigns, the number of letters I received on the issue of hunting was often 10 times or more the total volume of correspondence on any other issue, because it was a live debate.

While recognising that, I had to take into account the considerable concern about the Lake District National Park and what would happen if hunting were to be banned. I must say that the majority of correspondence that I received during all those years was always against the hunt, but an argument was being advanced that had to be addressed. Essentially, it was that there were problems in the Lake District in lambing season and if

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hunting were banned, that would lead to an invasion of guns in an area subject to intensive tourist penetration throughout the year.

I shall cite two letters from the many that I received—these are not the photocopied letters that many of us will have received—from people who live in Cumbria. A chap called John Hayton of Thackthwaite, near Cockermouth, writes:

    "I am an upland sheep farmer in the Lake District National Park, who every year suffers losses to foxes. The local hunt does a great job in fox control by keeping numbers in check and are on hand in the spring to help farmers if they have a particular problem with worrying by bringing hounds to the lambing area, even if hounds are unable to catch the culprit, the very fact that hounds have been about can sometimes have the desired effect. Without hounds to carry out this very necessary task we would have to rely on shooting"—

that word is in capitals.

    "surely no one really expects us to do that in an area where we already have up to 14 million visitors a year".

I cite another letter from a chap called Paul Renison of Troutbeck, near Windermere, who writes:

    "I work on a farm called Braesteads—a traditional fell farm near Ullswater in the Lake District National Park. Through my work as a shepherd especially in lambing time I have witnessed the damage foxes can cause. We lost 15 lambs to the fox last year. If this is multiplied by a replacement cost of £50 per animal (not including time and effort) the damage lost the business £750. Would any business suffer this unnecessary expense (which will be higher) if a tried, tested natural preventative measure were to be outlawed?"

This evening, I have sought to introduce amendments to deal with that problem. Let me tell the Committee where the amendment came from. It was drawn up in 1987. Some of my noble friends may be interested to know where it was drawn up. It was drawn up for a meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, because we were considering whether it was then possible to include in the 1987 Labour Party manifesto some reference to the problem that existed in national parks. As a result of that amendment, words were included that I understand have subsequently been withdrawn.

I have hawked the amendment around for the past 15 years on the basis that one day a Bill would be presented and we would have to face the reality of what we were going to do in the parks. I now present it to the Committee. However, there is a problem. There is an inconsistency between the Bill and my amendment. The amendment does not sit well with the principle of registration. I accept that, but I ask the Committee to be realistic.

We all know what the Commons wants. If we are truthful to ourselves, we all know what will happen to the Bill when, or if, it finally makes it back to the Commons and is further considered. All the clauses on registration—well argued as they certainly will have been in this place—will inevitably be removed. If my amendment is left in the Bill, it will cause substantial discussion in the other place. Indeed, it is the bottom line and only amendment that is credible in the context of the 2:1 support for the Bill in the other place.

So I ask the Committee to take that into account. Simply be realistic. If you knock out my amendment tonight, all that will happen is that the Bill will go back;

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it will be kicked around; registration will be removed; and the whole question of exemption for national parks will not even be considered. On that basis, I move my amendment.

Finally, another issue will be raised in the other place if my amendment were to succeed in this House. A good briefing was produced by the animal welfare lobby on whether the case for Lake District exemption is valid. It was argued in its document that there was an abuse of the use of artificial earths by the hunts in the national park. If that is the case—I am not unconvinced that there may be some merit in it and artificial earths may have been used on occasion—the answer is simple. Legislate against them; make them illegal; stop the hunts using them, if they do. On that basis, I beg to move.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Crickhowell: I have one reason for objecting to the amendment in its present form, which has been well set out by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. I want registration. I am deeply sceptical of the idea that if the Bill returned to the other place, an amendment such as this would be accepted in any case.

However, I have a quite different set of reasons for being critical of the amendment—to which, in a way, I should be sympathetic. I happen to live in a national park. I used to represent another national park in Pembrokeshire. As Secretary of State, I suppose that I was responsible for a third: the Snowdonia National Park. I find it impossible to understand why we should support an amendment to allow hunting to protect sheep in a national park but not in all the other places in which sheep are just as vulnerable.

If I stick to Wales, it happens that to the west of the Brecon Beacons National Park, which embraces the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons, is a vast area of upland of almost identical character, where the sheep are just as threatened. In my former constituency of Pembrokeshire, the national park was a narrow strip around the coast. Most of the sheep under threat would have been outside the national park. If we consider North Wales, the amendment would include Snowdonia but not the Berwyns. The amendment would also exclude the whole of mid-Wales.

If it had not been for the rather ruthless cull of hereditary Peers, I have little doubt that Lord Davies of Llandinam would be sitting on the Liberal Democrat Benches today. He, and his family before him, have run one of the most formidable foot packs anywhere in the country with magnificent long-haired hounds. I find it extraordinary that we should be considering an amendment that would exclude the area in which Lord Davies's hounds operate. I take the opportunity to suggest that Lord Davies's foot pack is a splendid example of a refutation to those who believe that hunting is only for toffs. Few toffs would keep up with Lord Davies's hounds on the very hilly country in which they operate.

Equally, I could turn to the south of the Brecon Beacons National Park, to the industrial area of south Wales, where many sheep have been, and continue to

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be, hunted by miners' packs. Those who took part in the splendid march to which the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, referred—

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