MPs voted for an outright ban on hunting with hounds yesterday (Monday 30 June) after more than five hours of debate.
Minutes before the free vote, the government withdrew its proposed changes to the Bill in the wake of strenuous opposition from Labour backbenchers, who successfully pushed through an amendment that bans all forms of hunting.
The amended Bill was approved by 362 to 154, despite a plea by Rural Affairs Minister, Alun Michael not to back a complete ban.
“We have always made it clear that the result of tonight’s vote is in many ways irrelevant,” the Countryside Alliance told its supporters. “Alun Michael was never, as he pretended, trying to reach a principled compromise but seeking to push through dishonest legislation that was a ban in all but name.”
Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael said last night that the Bill will now have to be sent to a Commons committee for procedural work to incorporate the ban.
If the House of Lords were to approve theBill as it stands now, hunting a wild mammal with dogs would become an offence. Allowing other people to hunt with dogs on one’s land or allowing one’s dogs to participate in a hunt would also constitute an offence under the new law.
However, the Upper House is expected to reject the Bill, which would then go back to the Commons. Rumours that the government is prepared to use Parliament Act to push a ban on hunting through the Lords are as yet unsubstantiated.
The Alliance believes that “instead of making a ban more likely, the vote for a banning amendment in fact pushes it further away.
“In the government’s own words this Bill is now wrecked and deficient. It is based solely on prejudice and discrimination and the Alliance is confident that the House of Lords will take the opportunity to reject unprincipled and unscientific legislation as it has in the past.”