Q: If hunting is to be judged on cruelty and utility, then why is the same criteria not applied to the halal slaughter of animals?

Tim Fowler (by e-mail)

AM: We are working to eradicate cruelty in the treatment of farm animals. In halal slaughter in particular, approaching 90% of animals are now dispatched with preliminary stunning. We would prefer all animals to be stunned before slaughter, but recognise and accept the importance that certain religious communities attach to slaughtering animals for food in accordance with their beliefs.

Q: What measures are you proposing for deer management to protect the interests of farmers if the ban goes through, and how will any deer management programme be funded?

Simon Smith (Cirencester)

AM: Sustainable deer management is warmly encouraged by DEFRA. Culling by stalking is the most practical option, and has the clear advantage of involving minimal cruelty by avoiding a prolonged chase.

Q: The Hunting Bill claims to be compliant with EU human rights legislation, yet the EU habitat directive gives the government a statutory obligation to preserve the way of life of rural people as part of sustainable development. How does the Bill comply with this?

John Bond (Carmarthenshire)

AM:No EU directive protects cruelty. Rural communities will in no way be undermined by eradicating cruelty. Indeed, views on hunting are sharply divided in rural areas as well as urban areas. There are other ways to maintain the social elements centredon those aspects of hunting with dogs that will no longer be possible.

Q: Did you volunteer to take the Hunting Bill through Parliament or were you asked to do it?

Mal Treharne (Somerset)

AM: The Prime Minister asked me to help the government fulfil the manifesto commitment to enable Parliament reach a resolution on this contentious issue. It was a challenge I faced up to with enthusiasm.

Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (20 March), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.