The road to the ban — 10 years on

  • Ten years ago today (18 November) the Hunting Act 2004 was forced through Parliament and three months later, on 18 February 2005 it became law. H&H reminds you of the important dates along the road to the ban coming into force…


    Two private members’ bills to ban or restrict hunting fail to make it onto the statute books.


    A private member’s bill to make hunting with dogs illegal is rejected by the Commons.
    Labour MP Kevin McNamara proposed The Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill, which was defeated on its second reading.


    Tony Banks, a Labour MP and animal rights campaigner, failed to get his Fox Hunting (Abolition) Bill passed by Parliament.


    Another Labour MP, John McFall, fails with his private member’s bill to ban hunting. The Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill passes a second reading in the Commons before being heavily amended and falling in the Lords.

    May 1997

    The Labour Party wins the general election and in its manifesto promises a free vote in Parliament on hunting.

    5 November 1997

    Michael Foster MP publishes a private member’s bill to ban hunting with dogs.

    1 March 1998

    Countryside Rally in Hyde Park — 250,000 protest against the bill.

    13 March 1998

    The Foster bill runs out of time during the report stage in the Commons.

    30 May 2000

    Labour MP Gordon Prentice proposes an amendment to the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill to ban the sport.

    28 February 2001

    During a vote in the Commons, MPs vote by a majority of 179 for an outright ban.

    26 March 2001

    The House of Lords votes 317 to 68 against the ban. The hunting bill runs out of time when the general election is called.

    June 2001

    The Queen’s Speech promises another free vote on hunting in parliament.

    February 2002

    Scottish Parliament bans hunting in Scotland.

    September 2002

    400,000 join the Liberty and Livelihood March to support rural life.

    3 December 2002

    Alun Michael, the rural affairs minister, announces the Hunting Bill, allowing foxhunting under a strict licensing system, but which would outlaw hare coursing and stag hunting.

    1 July 2003

    After five hours of debate, MPs vote to change the Hunting Bill into an outright ban by 362 votes to 154.

    10 July 2003

    A third reading of the Hunting Bill clears the House of Commons, 317 votes to 145.

    21 October 2003

    A cross-party group of peers in the House of Lords throws out MPs’ plans for a complete ban and replaces them with a licensing regime for fox and stag hunting as well as hare coursing, during the committee stage. Anti-hunting MPs vote for a total ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales, but the House of Lords rejects it in a vote before the legislation runs out of parliamentary time.

    8 September 2004

    Government announces plans for a free vote on the Hunting Bill — leading to an outright ban — before the session ends in November.

    16 September 2004

    MPs vote for a ban on hunting. A group of pro-hunt demonstrators break in to the House of Commons chamber while protestors are involved in confrontations outside Parliament.

    18 November 2004

    Commons speaker Michael Martin invokes the Parliament Act to push the bill into law despite the Lords rejecting the bill.

    28 January 2005

    A High Court challenge to the law is lost by pro-hunt campaigners.

    16 February 2005

    The Countryside Alliance loses its appeal that the Hunting Act is unlawful.

    18 February 2005

    The hunting ban comes into force.

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (13 November 2014).

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