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Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Graham, for his recognition of the need for compensation. I understand that, given the stance he has taken, it is difficult for him to make a speech of that kind. It is very fair-minded of him to do so in the circumstances.

Amendment No. 47, which the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, has put to the Committee this evening, covers most of the issues that arise in relation to compensation for those hunts that are refused registration. As she pointed out, that is quite different from the situation regarding a ban. It is necessary to put an amendment of this kind into the Bill as undoubtedly the registrar will refuse to register some hunts for various reasons which we cannot foresee at the present time.

The main issue, of course, concerns those who are employed in hunting and the discontinuance of services which have been provided hitherto such as houses and services that are provided for employees. It is interesting to note that the Burns report referred to compensation. Paragraph 10.57 states:

That defines a situation that could, and obviously would, arise when a ban came in. Where the registrar had refused registration, the same issues would apply. It would be interesting to know whether the Minister would accept those arguments.

Lord Graham of Edmonton: I think that the noble Lord said that he was pleased that I supported the paying of compensation, in which case I hope that Hansard tomorrow will prove him wrong. I made the case that compensation need not be paid if the paraphernalia of the hunt continued with drag hunting, not normal hunting. If the amendment is pressed, I intend to vote against it.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I understand the noble Lord's interpretation, but it does not mean that hunts will follow drag hunting by any means. That is an untested thesis.

Baroness Mallalieu: What would the answer of the noble Lord, Lord Graham, be to a young woman who came to me the other day? She had two young children, and said that she was the wife of a kennel huntsman in a
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small pack in Devon. They lived in a tied house and had 70 couple of hounds in kennels, which she said were their children. If hunting ends, she has no prospect of that pack surviving; it runs on a shoestring. It is not jumping country, so drag hunting is a non-starter. When she rang her local council to say that she would be out of her house, possibly as early as May next year, she was told that she would be put into bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Plymouth. Would the noble Lord, Lord Graham, still give the answer to her that he gave to the noble Lord, Lord Livsey?

Lord Graham of Edmonton: My advice to her would be to go to see her local MP.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Graham of Edmonton: The local MP is the best person to fight on behalf of his or her constituents. I am not saying that there will not be casualties when the issues are resolved one way or the other. Of course there will be, and they will be sought to be minimised somehow. Frankly, the best way to minimise them is to try to be collegiate in looking at such matters and resolve them in that way.

When I served in the other place and represented Edmonton, I had people placed in such a situation as a result of some decision—very often a decision of the Conservative Party. The fallout was such was that people like the lady mentioned were put in a terrible situation. The social fabric of the country—local councils and other methods—is there to help them. I am sorry for the lady—there will be many others; she will not be alone—but her plight will not determine the issue so far as I am concerned.

Lord Eden of Winton: I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Byford for tabling the amendment, as it has given us the opportunity to talk briefly about compensation. The amendment deals with one aspect of compensation but, following the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Graham, the debate has widened a little to deal with compensation in the event of a ban. That was the point on which he focused.

It is not a realistic alternative to contemplate that drag hunting would replace live fox hunting or other animal hunting. Drag hunting is of only very limited scope. At the best of times, one would have only a small number of hounds, not a whole pack as one would of foxhounds. The more one considers that possibility as the direction in which one will go, it is clear that a large number of hounds would have to be destroyed.

Some put forward the proposition that rehoming is a possibility. It is beyond sense to talk about re-homing foxhounds and other hounds. They are pack animals, trained to chase in the wild. One cannot have them sitting in one's front room; they would destroy everything that they saw if they were kept there. They would perform and leave little visiting cards all over the place in the house. If they got outside, they would pursue whatever other animal happened to
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be around, given the opportunity. If it were the neighbour's cat, woe betide the neighbour's cat. There are large problems associated with that approach.

It is very woolly minded to talk about drag hunting, rehoming and the like as though they provided cosy and convenient solutions. They would not. Those who favour a ban, such as the noble Lord, Lord Graham, have to face up to the fact that at least 20,000 hounds will probably have to be destroyed. That is a large number. Who will do it? The noble Lord says that the huntsman will destroy a hound when its useful life is finished. That is correct; he is preserving his pack. However, to destroy an entire pack is a totally different proposition. Many hounds are thoroughbred creatures with generations of genealogy behind them. It is known how they have been bred and brought up. They are class creatures; they are special animals, devoted to the one objective for which they have been bred.

I hope that we hear no more woolly minded nonsense on the issue, whether from the noble Lord or anyone else. I also hope that this debate on compensation will give the opportunity—probably the only one that we have—for the Minister to talk about what would happen if the other House reversed all that we are trying to achieve.

Viscount Astor: When my noble friend Lady Byford moved the amendment, she referred to the exchange that the Minister and I had at Second Reading on compensation and the human rights convention. Following that exchange, I wrote to him questioning what he said; I still await the reply to the questions I asked, which is no doubt working its way through the system. He accused me of misstating matters when I put forward my argument, but I was very careful. I quoted verbatim the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the words of its chairman, Jean Corston. The words were theirs, not mine, and they raised serious issues about compensation.

I am afraid that the Minister set his own trap when he said that an 18-month delay would solve the problems, if there were any. That implied that there was a problem. The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, took that up in a Starred Question, and we still did not get a satisfactory answer. However, we have moved on. The question is not one of compensation for a ban, as the amendment is about compensation for those refused registration. However, the principle behind it is important, and it is on that principle that I want to ask a very simple question.

The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, said that policies instituted by past Conservative governments resulted in people losing their jobs in the north-east. I accept that; people lose their jobs because of economic circumstances and such reasons. However, I want to ask the Minister specifically whether the Government still believe that if Parliament passes an Act that results in someone losing their job, for which they have a contract, they should be entitled to compensation. In effect, it is what the human rights convention says.

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld: Perhaps I may make a few remarks in support of the proposal of the noble
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Baroness, Lady Byford. It is absolutely right to do that and to provide for compensation. I was surprised to hear my noble friend Lord Graham make his speech. He is a much respected figure in this House and his credentials as a Labour man are certainly not in doubt. But he made a speech that I do not believe that a trade unionist would recognise and he did not make a speech that a trade unionist with a Labour Party background would recognise, because subsection (7) of the amendment states that,


When I was a trade union officer I argued that kind of case time and again. I would be willing to do so again on behalf of those who may lose their jobs as a consequence of the Bill.

From these Benches, I am certain that the principal view would be that the contents of the amendment are correct and consistent with what I understand to be Labour Party principles.

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