The Countryside Alliance reinforced the strength of support there is for hunting by floating a barge past the Houses of Parliament as the House of Lords was preparing for the second reading of the Hunting Bill.
The barge, owned by Jill Graham, a keen supporter of both hunting and the CA, displayed a poster which read “59% of the public don’t want a hunting ban. No mandate. No democracy”.
The CA felt it was important to keep awareness of the issue in Parliamentarians’ minds today, but decided against a full demonstration, as it is confident that the Lords will recognise the views of the majority when rewriting the Bill.
“Pro-hunters are happy with consultations which have taken place with peers and we feel that we have managed to get our point across to them,” said a spokesperson for the CA.
However, once the Bill is finished in the Lords, it will pass to the Commons where it will be debated by MPs, and this is where the Bill could potentially lead to a ban, and where the issue of the Parliament Act looms large.
“We are really in uncharted [Parliamentary] territory here,” she continued. “Also, if a ban is forced through by the Government using the Parliament Act, there is much talk amongst members of non-compliance, but this is a matter for the individual.
“CA members and supporters have been moderate so far, but may feel they have no choice than to become more drastic should a ban be forced through.”
Former Conservative home secretary, Lord Hurd, speaking on this morning’s Today programme predicted a ban would provoke “civil disobedience and problems for the police”.
He told the BBC: “This bill for a complete ban goes beyond ordinary politics. It takes a sport, which is crucially important for many people and says it is wicked and wrong.”
Parliament has only a few weeks to determine which legislation will become law before the Queen’s Speech, usually in early November. Any legislation which has not completed all stages before this date is thrown out altogether, and concerns have been raised that the Hunting Bill will be among them.
However, the CA thinks not: “There has been so much Parliamentary time spent on hunting, we expect the Government will not just drop this issue,” said the spokesperson. “It was in their manifesto to reach an agreement on hunting, so we expect them to honour that commitment.
“The coming weeks are crucial ones, and we call on the Government to recognise the views of the majority in this country.”