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Lord King of Bridgwater: From what the Minister is saying, I get the impression that he is taking the speech he is making now as an answer not merely to this amendment but, as he implied, to all the other amendments on the Marshalled List. I have tabled amendments which in background and difficulty are not that far away from those tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. They address an issue on which I have written to the Minister and which everyone who has studied this matter—the noble Lord, Lord Burns, and the Portcullis House inquiry—accepts, and as is set out in letters from Ministers—has to be addressed. I demand the opportunity to be able to debate those amendments from a wildlife point of view.

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The Minister is not a supine Minister whose job is that of post-box for the House of Commons. He does not pretend that. I respect his ability to stand his own ground. That is what his job is. He is a Minister in this House of Lords. We have a duty to do this.

The noble Earl, Lord Peel, made this point, which is a very serious point indeed. Jack Straw set up the Burns inquiry because he realised the difficulty of the issues that were being tackled and tried to tackle them in a constructive way. The Government decided that they would pursue that constructive course. It was overthrown by a majority. Because of "leakiness" we know that a letter went from Alun Michael to John Prescott—I have the exact phrase—stating that it would be wrong to,

    "be perceived as pursuing prejudice rather than targeting cruelty".

We know what the Government thought was the right way. Real problems will exist if we let the Commons decision on that one vote throw out the whole issue. That would leave major problems for wildlife in this country. It is simply not sufficient for the Minister to waft it away and say, "I have answered all the amendments and that is all I shall say". There are serious issues and I insist that we have the opportunity to debate them.

Lord Whitty: Of all people, the noble Lord will know that the Government cannot comment on leaked memos. Nevertheless, perhaps I may reply to the procedural point he raised. When I said that there are subsequent groups of amendments which hang on this one and to which I do not intend to reply twice or in detail, I did not include going as far as the noble Lord's amendment, which, if I remember rightly, is Amendment No. 94A. I was referring to the immediately subsequent next 10 or so groups of amendments, which all relate to the system which the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, and his colleagues are attempting to set up.

All I was indicating, for the benefit of the Committee, was that if noble Lords in their wisdom accepted it, I should not seek to prolong debate on the other amendments. I cannot speak for colleagues but I would not oppose the other amendments because there is a certain logic to them and we would get a coherent Bill out of them even if it was one that I could not accept and I do not believe that the House of Commons would in any way accept. However, that stops after Amendment No. 57, when we get back to amendments which deal with more specific subjects, which include the amendment tabled by the noble Lord.

Lord Palmer: I did not realise how very contentious these amendments were going to be. I have to say that it is depressing how painfully slow progress in Committee has been. I take slight objection to my dear friend, the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, reminding us not to make Second Reading speeches. On such a complex Bill it is very difficult not to verge on making a Second Reading speech.

My noble friend Lord Moran hit the tip of the iceberg. The dreadful word "utility" is a very serious danger to all field sports. The noble Baroness,

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Lady Byford, also hit the nail on the head. Killing is not the issue here. None the less, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 28A.

Amendment No. 28A, as an amendment to Amendment No. 28, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 28B and 28C, as amendments to Amendment No. 28, not moved.]

The Chairman of Committees: Then we revert to Amendment No. 28 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft.

Lord Mancroft: We have had a very long debate. There is not a great deal of point in going a whole stage further. I certainly do not wish to answer everyone who took part in the debate. That would be ludicrous at this hour of the night.

Perhaps I may make two points to the Minister. The amendment may not be perfect—amendments never are. One will always listen to hear whether a word is in the right place. Constructive criticism of any amendment is always welcomed. However, the intention was to return this, not necessarily to the Alun Michael Bill, as we have come to call it, but to the principles. The principles were public, open, consulted upon and, to a certain extent, agreed. That was and is the purpose.

In responding, the Minister slightly derided us. There is no intention that anyone should apply to hunt on the basis that a deer has eaten one leaf. It is silly to say that. The noble Lord knows full well that that was never our intention. Reversing the burden of proof on the least suffering test is a significant fact, for reasons we have already discussed. I do not want to go over them again, but, as there is no ability to measure suffering, it seems a little harsh to expect thousands of private citizens to do that if the registrar cannot. The noble Lord will have read, as I have, the hours the Standing Committee in another place spent going through that. It is almost impossible at times to see with both sides switching their arguments constantly. The reality is that in reading that and in looking at it, it is almost impossible to do. It seems very harsh that an individual should have to do it.

I have two other short points. The noble Lord talked about where the word "from" comes in. There is no intention for anyone to get a licence in place A to hunt one species and then to go off and hunt another species in a completely different part of the country. If that is the effect of the amendment, we shall have to look at it and improve upon it. That is not the intention at all, nor is it the intention to dilute or weaken it; it is merely practical because in the course of a hunt one can move from one area to another. It seems sensible to have both areas covered. We are not talking about moving about all over the countryside.

The Minister talked about transparency regarding the register. There is a very simple reason for that. If he sat on this side of the debate and had been involved in hunting, he would realise that you do not want to have your name and address on a public register in case people come and visit you. I had to have special branch

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outside my house in London for six weeks because of the threats made against my wife and children. That is not very amusing. I do not want my name on a list. I am sure the noble Lord understands that. That was the purpose in taking off that list. If he looks at the amendment he will know that the kind of people who should be able to see that register are quite welcome to see it. These are reasonable things; these are not massive changes. This is the kind of fine-tuning that this Chamber does all the time.

The Minister slightly let the cat out of the bag when he went on to the areas of ancient privileges and rights to trespass. No one out hunting has a privilege or a right. It is a privilege to hunt and to be out in the countryside. It is quite right that everyone should behave properly. There is no intention in any of these amendments to go down some awful route that his words implied.

I make a last comment. There is no intention in this amendment or any that follow on to conflict with the House of Commons. We conflict with the House of Commons when we reach the end if we disagree with them and they disagree with us. We are an awfully long way from that and I hope that we will not reach it. Perhaps we will. But let us climb that mountain when we get to that stage. I was certainly under the impression that the Minister speaks for the Government in this House and not for the other place.

In saying that, it must be borne in mind that the Secretary of State and the Minister who promoted the Bill have themselves described the Bill that came into this Chamber—the Bill that we are apparently meant to be welcoming with open arms—as "wrecked, unenforceable and unworkable". So these circumstances are strange; they are unique even. I cannot remember a wrecked and unenforceable Bill arriving in this Chamber and noble Lords being expected to deal with it. How else could we do it? This is what we have chosen to do. We believe it is reasonable and justified. I hope the Committee will agree with us on that. I seek to test the opinion of the Committee.

10.44 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 28) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 106; Not-Contents, 22.

Division No. 3


Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Ampthill, L.
Arran, E.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Best, L.
Blatch, B.
Boyce, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chalfont, L.
Chorley, L.
Cobbold, L.
Coe, L.
Colville of Culross, V.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donoughue, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Falkland, V.
Ferrers, E.
Flather, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Goschen, V.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Kimball, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Liverpool, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Mallalieu, B. [Teller]
Mancroft, L. [Teller]
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Montrose, D.
Moore of Lower Marsh, L.
Moynihan, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Richardson of Duntisbourne, L.
Roper, L.
Sandwich, E.
Scott of Foscote, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Sharman, L.
Sharples, B.
Shrewsbury, E.
Skelmersdale, L.
Slim, V.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strange, B.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Ullswater, V.
Waddington, L.
Warnock, B.
Wilcox, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Willoughby de Broke, L.


Bach, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Dixon, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Faulkner of Worcester, L. [Teller]
Fookes, B.
Gale, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B. [Teller]
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grocott, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hoyle, L.
Jones, L.
Judd, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Laird, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Tomlinson, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

28 Oct 2003 : Column 249

10.55 p.m.

Lord Roper: I beg to move that the House do now resume. We are well past 10 o'clock, which is the normal time for rising. Having looked at the number of groups of amendments still to be considered, I do not believe that further consideration of the Bill is appropriate for us today.

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