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Division No. 1


Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Biffen, L.
Boyce, L.
Bragg, L.
Bramall, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Bridges, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Buscombe, B.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carter, L.
Chorley, L.
Coe, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donaldson of Lymington, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Feldman, L.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fowler, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Henley, L.
Hoffmann, L.
Hogg, B.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hussey of North Bradley, L.
Hylton, L.
Jacobs, L.
Kilclooney, L.
Kimball, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Kingsdown, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lang of Monkton, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Liverpool, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L. [Teller]
Lloyd-Webber, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Moore of Lower Marsh, L.
Moynihan, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbourne, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
Palmer, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L. [Teller]
Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Reay, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Rogan, L.
Rooker, L.
Roper, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Sandwich, E.
Scott of Foscote, L.
Selsdon, L.
Sharman, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Sutherland of Houndwood, L.
Swinfen, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tugendhat, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Wakeham, L.
Walpole, L.
Warnock, B.
Weatherill, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.


Ahmed, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Blatch, B.
Brett, L.
Byford, B. [Teller]
Chan, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Colville of Culross, V.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fearn, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grocott, L.
Guildford, Bp.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hoyle, L.
Jones, L.
Judd, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Laird, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B. [Teller]
Mishcon, L.
Moran, L.
Morgan, L.
Nickson, L.
Nicol, B.
Parekh, L.
Paul, L.
Pendry, L.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Slim, V.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strange, B.
Tenby, V.
Tomlinson, L.
Ullswater, V.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Worcester, Bp.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

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6.6 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): We come to Amendment No. 27A. It follows that that is not moved, I take it.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry: In the circumstances, and with regret, it is not moved.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: It is pre-empted in any event. Thank you very much.

[Amendment No. 27A not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 5 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: In moving that Clause 5 shall not stand part of the Bill, I speak also to Amendment No. 101 to which I have put my name and which is consequential. I should also declare an interest as a vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Conservation and Wildlife, which has some relevance to this debate.

In the run-up to Mr Michael Foster's Bill, in 1997, I asked Lord Cranbrook, the then chairman of English Nature, for a bibliography on the fox which I then pursued comprehensively. I cannot claim a similar prolonged background on the hare, although I have had a love affair with the species since I was a schoolboy. One of the principal reasons that Durer was my favourite painter in my early teens was his enchanting painting of a hare.

The only hunting I have ever done in my life was a brief spell of beagling in County Down when I was a Minister there. I never recall our killing a hare, but

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I had to desist when the Irish Times revealed that I was doing it, as hunt sabotage in the Province could have carried extreme personal overtones.

My wife and I live on the edge of a woodlanded sheep farm in Wiltshire which has hares in profusion for almost daily observation. I once picked up a newly dead leveret in a field yards from our cottage. Your Lordships' House will know that hares, in giving birth, drop their young in open fields. I have rarely held in my hands anything more beautiful.

One of the ironies of hare coursing, which this clause is about, is that it is the mirror image of Aesop's fable of the tortoise and the hare. In the hare coursing version, the greyhounds play the hare and it is the cunning and skill of the tortoise that enables the vast majority of the real hares to survive unscathed.

The fundamental argument in favour of dropping Clause 5—which was of course also in the original Bill—from this Bill was the consistent advice at the Portcullis House hearings that all species should be given parity of treatment. Those views were underpinned by the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Burns, at the same hearings, which the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, quoted last Tuesday (col. 1507 of the Official Report). He said that,

    "the bulk of the concerns the Burns Report raised about hunting might be addressed through licensing, a regulatory approach or by changing the rules of the hunts".

The consequence of dropping Clause 5 from the Bill would be to allow applications in respect of coursing to be made to the registrar in common with the other currently lawful forms of hunting. The registrar would then decide, assuming other amendments to the Bill are subsequently carried, if the application passed the twin tests of utility and least suffering. If it did so, a licence could be granted. If it failed in either respect, it would not.

The opposition to Clause 5 standing part of the Bill does not of itself permit coursing, or even support it, except vicariously. It returns the Bill to the state of affairs pertaining at the Portcullis House hearings.

Ministers can scarcely say that they have explained why they resisted the Portcullis House advice, nor was any evidence adduced or produced at Defra's hunting consultations to show that these activities should be banned. Mr Alun Michael, in charge of the Bill in another place, said on Second Reading of the original Bill that hare coursing was indefensible. I have no grounds for supposing that he raised his voice, and therefore did not follow the advice of a Latin American delegate at the United Nations whose text was marked in the margin "weak point, shout", but the use of a categorical word such as "indefensible" in the light of centuries of coursing is probably hazardous from the lips of a Minister who said Professor Bateson's evidence on stag hunting was "incontrovertible" when even Professor Bateson himself would not dream of making such a claim.

In the debate on coursing in Committee in the other place on 13th February, the Minister, Mr Michael, got himself into a massive semantic tangle about the difference between dogs hunting and humans hunting

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with dogs in language worthy of Alice Through the Looking Glass. More precisely, all coursing is hunting but not all hunting is coursing. If, however, the Minister really believes that coursing is indefensible and that his case, to borrow a word at random, is incontrovertible, why does he not leave it to the registrar to determine the matter and leave the intellectual honesty of the Portcullis House hearings intact? Competitive coursing, which the Burns inquiry said was essentially carried out for recreational purposes, also falls into the same category as shooting or fishing, which are not to be banned, with all the attendant environmental and species management benefits which apply.

I am not going to enter the detailed argument about coursing and its practices because in doing so I should be going beyond my own articulation of why Clause 5 should be dropped from the Bill, but possibly others in your Lordships' House may be less prone to self-restraint, including even possibly the Minister. I appreciate that there may be future points to which I should respond when I wind up the debate.

In the mean time, I should like to pay tribute to the way in which the National Coursing Club, which was founded in 1858, has responded to each one of the reports that were produced in the past 50 years of the 20th century. Whether it was the Scott Henderson report of 1951—I remark parenthetically that the eponymous author appointed by a Labour Home Secretary who gave his name to that report was coincidentally a resident of the village of Sutton Mandeville from which I take my title—or the admirable Stable and Stuttard review of coursing of 1971 (now a rare volume but still immensely worth reading), or the Select Committee of your Lordships' House on the hare Bill of 1976, or the Burns inquiry of 2000, the National Coursing Club has always responded positively and constructively to the recommendations of each report, including five specific changes to practice since the Burns report was published; and the number of hares killed during hare coursing has fallen precipitously over the past quarter of a century.

From the narrative I can see no reason why that responsiveness will not be maintained, not least because of the praise lavished on the National Coursing Club for the exceptional tightness of its regulations. I shall also quote a single sentence from the Lords Select Committee report of 1976 which states that,

    "the welfare of the hare would not be appreciably affected by it [the hare Bill] since the amount of physical suffering caused by competitive coursing is probably less than 1 per cent of the amount caused by hare shooting and non-competitive coursing".

As to stewardship of the countryside, which I regard as contributing to biodiversity, and thus indirectly to the Government's Rio target of doubling the brown hare population by 2010, there is similar praise for the conservationist practices of the estates where competitive coursing occurs. The Minister will be aware of the significant article in the much respected magazine, Nature, on 29th May this year by four researchers of the Durrell Institute of Conservation

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and Ecology at the University of Kent on the notable beneficial effects of field sports on conservation in the UK.

I shall close with three further quotations. The first illustrates the hazards of governments interfering with our ecosystem. In 1896 the Reverend H A Macpherson in a book entitled The Hare, lamented the passage of what he called the mischievous and uncalled for legislation of Sir William Harcourt's Ground Game Act of 1880—ground game being hares and rabbits. Mr Macpherson wrote:

    "A great change has taken place in the numbers of hares that are annually bred in England. Go where you may, one meets almost universally with the same lament, that where you would formerly have seen 20 or 30 hares feeding in the fields on a summer evening, you will now hardly see a single animal".

That was written 16 years after the passage of the Act. This dirge was despite the reactive and recuperative alternative legislation, the Hare Preservation Act, which was introduced in the summer of 1892 in order to rectify matters.

My second quotation is from the Lords Select Committee of 1976 which stated:

    "It has been argued that public opinion is increasingly opposed to coursing matches. The Committee point out however that if those canvassed by the societies—"

those were the animal welfare societies—

    "are as ignorant of the facts as members of the Committee were before the inquiry, the value of the statement must be considered debatable".

Finally, and most briefly, but with all the directness of Yorkshire, I quote the verdict of a farmer in that county who takes considerable care with the preservation of hares on his land who said, "If they ban coursing, the hares will have to look out for themselves".

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