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Lord Eden of Winton: I am most grateful to my noble friend for giving way. Both my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, have represented constituencies as Members of the other
 
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place. I would have thought it sensible if the noble Lords, having made the points that they have made, withdrew their amendments at this stage in this House. If the registration Bill, if I might so put it, went forward to the other House, and if the other House is minded to reject the major amendments which this House has made, surely it would be possible for a Member of the other House to move an amendment and instate the two clauses that the noble Lords are promoting. That would be a much tidier way of proceeding.

Lord Jopling: If my noble friend is suggesting that, if that happened, he could support these two amendments, or something like them, then why do we not agree them now? I would have thought it far more sensible to agree to the amendments at this stage. We have two straws in the wind. The first is that there is a strong possibility—to put it mildly, some would say—that the Parliament Act will be used. I hope to heaven that it is not used. I explained at Second Reading why I thought it would be a total disgrace if it were used, particularly in view of the fact that the time that your Lordships' House was promised last year to deal with this Bill amounted to rather less than half the time that the other place took in dealing with it. On that basis, it would be wrong to use the Parliament Act at this stage.

The other straw in the wind goes back to what the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said from the Dispatch Box yesterday when he was asked what a possible compromise might be. He pointed out that he thought that something along the lines of the Bill proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, might be a compromise. So here is the possibility. We must resist the temptation to throw out the baby with the bathwater. If we can make a suggestion at this stage to try to protect fell hunting, which is essential to farming in upland areas, within the context of a total ban on other sorts of hunting, we ought not to take a dog in the manger's attitude and say that, if we cannot have everything that we want in terms of licensing, we will not have anything. That would be the wrong approach.

I hope that Members of the Committee will vote both for the amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, has tabled and for that tabled by my noble friend Lord Inglewood, to which my name is attached. I accept that, if we can get those two amendments into the Bill, some refining will be needed, probably to both amendments, and it might be possible to amalgamate them in the future. I see the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, nodding as I say that. We could then refine them on Report and save the baby with the bathwater, if unfortunately the bathwater were poured out.

Lord Richard: I shall be very brief. One of the things that I have learnt about negotiations over the years is that each side must leave equally dissatisfied, otherwise somebody will claim a victory and somebody else will claim a defeat. If there are to be negotiations on the Bill, it may be that at some stage the proposals made in principle by my noble friend
 
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Lord Campbell-Savours and the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, may form the basis of those negotiations. I accept that entirely.

However, I am not convinced at this stage about why they have to be written into the Bill. I agree with what my noble friend Lady Mallalieu said on the issue. The amendments do not fit with the pattern of what we are trying to do in the Bill: to restore a licensing system. For the life of me, I do not think that putting the clauses into the Bill adds much to the fact that the tentative suggestion of these two clauses as the basis for future negotiations has been made. At this stage I would have thought it enough that the amendments had been tabled and that everybody here has supported them, at least as an eventual fallback position upon which negotiations can take place. No doubt, those at the other end who are interested in this Bill—there seem to be a fair number—will read what noble Lords have said on the issue today.

One of the problems is that there is no interlocutor reliable, representing the majority of Labour MPs at the other end, with whom people can sit down and say, "Let us see what we can negotiate, how we can negotiate and on what basis we can do so". At this stage, the only sensible approach is to carry on with the pattern of the amended Bill, follow the course that we have set ourselves and hold in reserve the possibility that when, and if, negotiations can take place, a possible fallback position would be on the basis of the principles in the clauses proposed by my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours and the noble Lord, Lord Jopling. At the moment, I do not see the necessity to put the clauses in the Bill. The political effect of what has been said is probably sufficient to put the marker down.

Lord Hooson: I agree entirely with what the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, has said and respectfully disagree with what I have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Richard, for the following reason. It is much more politically realistic to appreciate that, if there can be a change of heart by the majority in another place, they must have before them the possibilities. Whereas I disagreed with some of the wording of the clause proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, his political nous was correct. There are Members in the other place, some of whom I know, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, knows, who represent Labour areas where traditionally there are foot packs. There must be pressure on some of the Members in such areas to look for a way out—in any event, for their local hunt.

I am totally in favour of registration. If that is passed by another place, I shall be delighted. The other amendment will not then be necessary. However, political realism tells me that the alternative should be clearly available to Members of the other place, when the Bill goes back in that direction.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden: I shall begin my remarks with a declaration of interest. Since about 50 years
 
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ago—I regret to say—I have been a periodic follower of the fell packs in Cumbria. I have the greatest affection and admiration for them.

I see the clinical argument advanced by some noble Lords today that affection does not come into the matter and we must maintain the pure milk of principle in our argument. I also see the danger that exists when we seek, from a position of total opposition to the Bill, to create a fall-back position and put it into the Bill. I see the points that have been made. I have listened to the unhappy conflict—albeit one expressed in such friendly terms—between several of my personal and parliamentary friends, and I must say that I am firmly of the view that the better part of the argument lies with my noble friends Lord Inglewood and Lord Jopling and the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, who has just spoken.

Somebody once said that consistency was a lean virtue. It is important that we do our best to bring an alternative to the notice of those at the other end, with whom the ultimate decision will lie. The best alternative is universal registration. That point has been made and does need to be recited. However, if it is a question of drawing attention to the possibility of saving something in the most meritorious of instances, it will be more persuasive if it is seen in the Bill than if we leave it to people to read about it in a few columns of Hansard for this House. We rather deceive ourselves if we suppose that that will be too sedulously followed a discipline.

I wish that those who support the banning of hunting in the fells and, no doubt, in the other upland regions—I speak of the fells from personal experience—could have been on the slopes of Mount Grisedale, as I was, 18 months or two years ago. They would have heard people say, "Down there, don't they realise what this means to us here in these remote dales? What is there that can bring so many of us together with all that good cheer, fellowship, comradeship and mutual support in hard times?". These are people struggling to make a living from sheep farming in remote areas, areas where—I speak with deference to those who represented such areas—depression and even suicide are disproportionately present in the community. I wish that opponents of hunting could have heard what was said to me and seen what was taking place. As my noble friend Lord Jopling said, the hunt is the centre of the exiguous social life that their remote circumstances permit them. I shall support my noble friends in whatever course they choose to take on the amendments.

Lord Sewel: I wonder whether in the amendments, despite their inadequacies, there are the beginnings of a possible route to a compromise. I believe that any form of hunting ought to be registered—on that, I have common cause with my noble friends who spoke earlier—but I wonder whether registered hunting could be linked with some geographical constraint.

The national parks and sheep grazing are, most likely, the wrong geographical constraint, but we have a clear definition available to us: the less favoured area. My noble friend Lord Donoughue will, as a former agriculture Minister, be aware of it. If we could
 
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relate registered hunting and less favoured areas and bring the two together, we may have the beginnings of a compromise that we can take to the other place. For those reasons, I ask my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours not to press his amendment at this stage but to reflect further on the issues.


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