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Hunting faces threat of backdoor ban

The Times newspaper reports that anti-hunt MPs would amend a compromise Bill, turning it into an outright ban on hunting with hounds – but DEFRA rejects the story

Saturday’s Times newspaper carried a report stating that although Rural Affairs Minister, Alun Michael will hold a public consultation on the subject from Monday 9 September, ministers may have already drafted a compromise bill, which would ban most forms of hare coursing, stag huntingand foxhunting, allowing only limited hunting to continue in upland regions, such as Cumbria.

Hardline Labour MPs would then introduce major amendments to the compromise bill, turning it into an outright ban. Were the House of Lords to reject the amended bill, the government would reintroduce it in the Commons and push it through by invoking the Parliament Act.

However, DEFRA rejected The Times‘s article, saying: “It is a speculative story ahead of the hunting hearings which start on Monday.” “The hearings are an opportunity for the issue to be debated in an open format. We’ll see what Parliament decides in due course.”

Chairman of the Countryside Alliance, John Jackson said: “We believe that Minister Alun Michael is still dealing with this issue scrupulously fairly. If so, it would be inconceivable that he would have pre-judged the outcome of the consultation process in any way.

However, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that the minister and all his colleagues are left in no doubt of the outrage that would ensue in the countryside and beyond if the government were to bring forward legislation, which was not justified by the facts established at the three-day hunting hearings which start on Monday.”

Chaired by Rural Affairs Minister, Alun Michael, the public hearings on hunting will focus on “the key principles of preventing cruelty and recognising utility in the management and control of wild mammals”.

The hearings will be webcast live on UK Online.

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