Memorandum by the Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs
The Hunting Bill was brought from the House of Commons
on 9 July 2003. This memorandum-
the main provisions of the Bill,
the delegated powers in the Bill, and describes the purpose and
proposed use of those powers,
why the matters have been dealt with by creating delegated powers,
the degree of Parliamentary control on the exercise of those powers.
The Hunting Bill (which extends only to England and
Wales) contains 17 clauses in 3 Parts, with 3 Schedules. Its main
provisions are as follows.
Part 1 prohibits the hunting with dogs of wild mammals
except when that hunting is exempt. It makes separate provision
to prohibit hare coursing. Part 2 provides for enforcement, and
Part 3 makes general provisions (including in respect of subordinate
Schedule 1 sets out the classes of exempt hunting,
Schedule 2 contains consequential amendments to other animal welfare
legislation, and Schedule 3 provides for repeals.
The Bill contains two delegated powers, in clause
2(2) and in paragraph 2(5)(e) of Schedule 1.
Variation of exemptions
Clause 2(2) provides that the Secretary of State
may by order amend Schedule 1 so as to vary a class of exempt
hunting. This should be read with clause 14, which provides that
such an order shall be made by affirmative procedure.
The purpose of the power conferred by clause 2(2)
is to permit the Secretary of State to vary the detailed conditions
of the exemptions from the offence under clause 1 of hunting a
wild mammal with a dog that are contained in Schedule 1 to the
Bill, if it is thought necessary to do so in the light of experience
of the application of the Bill or as a result of future animal
welfare or pest control concerns. The power does not permit the
addition or removal of a class of exempt hunting, but would allow
the existing classes to be modified.
It is considered appropriate that such limited changes
to the exemptions should be made by delegated legislation rather
than by further primary legislation. The use of the affirmative
procedure ensures that before any order can be made by the Secretary
of State it must be approved in draft by both Houses of Parliament.
Code of practice
Paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 to the Bill provides for
an exemption from the offence in clause 1 where a dog is used
below ground for the purpose of preventing or reducing serious
damage to birds being kept or preserved for shooting. The exemption
is subject to conditions, including a requirement under paragraph
2(5)(e) that the manner in which the dog is used must comply with
any code of practice issued or approved for the purpose of this
exemption by the Secretary of State. Use of a dog below ground
in a manner contrary to the code of practice would result in that
person committing an offence under clause 1.
The use of a dog below ground has frequently given
rise to serious animal welfare concerns which is why it will only
be permitted when carried out in accordance with very specific
conditions. This provision fulfils an undertaking given during
the Commons Committee stage of the Bill. The purpose of the power
in paragraph 2(5)(e) is to enable the Secretary of State to require
any person using a dog below ground to adhere to the best practice
followed by professional practitioners such as gamekeepers.
The code of practice will set out detailed matters
concerning the handling of the dog during stalking or flushing
out below ground which it is considered are too technical for
inclusion in the Bill. The code will also give the necessary flexibility
to reflect quickly any developments in best practice. It is thought
that it is reasonable to require anyone wishing to rely on the
exemption in paragraph 2 to familiarise themselves with the relevant
code of practice. Given the limited scope of this provision, it
is not considered that any special Parliamentary procedure is
22 July 2003