Q: Does this bill ban hunting?

Staghunting and hare coursing would not be permitted under the terms of the bill, as Alun Michael claims there is “incontrovertible” evidence that they would not pass the tests of utility and cruelty.

Foxhunting, hare hunting and mink hunting might be permitted, but anyone whowishes to hunt these species must apply to a registrar appointed by the Secretary of State for a permit to do so. Rabbiting, ratting and falconry are exempt from the terms of the bill.

Q: Who can apply for a permit?

A: Any individual over the age of 18 can apply for a permit for himself, and an individual or group of people can apply on behalf of a larger group (ie the members of a hunt). Anyone who has a conviction under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 or the Protection of Wild Mammals Act 1996, or subsequently, under this bill, may not apply. This should not mean that under-18s cannot hunt.

Q: Are there any special conditions?

A: Successful applicants are required to comply with a number of conditions, including only hunting on land where he/she/they have been given express permission to enter and allowing an inspector access to the activity to check that conditions are being complied with.

Anyone applying on behalf of a group must also agree to make a record of the names and addresses of those participating on each hunting day, which must be kept for three years. The registrar may also make extra conditions.

Q: What happens if the application is turned down?

A: Applicants may appeal to a tribunal, which may call expert witnesses. The tribunal may grant the application and may add or vary the conditions or may turn down the appeal. If the application is refused in this way, the individual orgroup may not reapply for six months.

Q: What will happen if we decide to hunt without a permit?

A: Police can stop and search anyone suspected being in breach of the legislation and can seize vehicles, hunting equipment or animals. Penalties are up to £5,000 plus disqualification from future applications for a permit.

Q: Will the landowner also be liable?

A: Anyone who allows hunting on their land without a permit commits an offence, as do the owners of a dog which takes part in the activity.

Q: What chance does a lowland pack have of gaining a permit?

A: In theory, an equal chance to any other pack. The application will need to explain exactly why hunting is at least as good asother available methods of control, or that there are no better means available.

Read more about the impact of the proposed hunting bill in today’s Horse & Hound (12 December), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.