Time runs out for hunting ban compromise

The battle over the future of hunting with hounds is heading for a dramatic conclusion in Westminster this week with Labour MPs preparing to force a ban into law within three months.

The battle over the future of hunting with hounds is heading for a dramatic conclusion in Westminster this week with Labour MPs preparing to force a ban into law within three months.

With the Commons and Lords still on a collision course on the issue, Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, is expected to invoke the rarely used Parliament Act to resolve the acrimonious stand-off between the two Houses.

Attempts to find a compromise will be continuing behind the scenes at Westminster today, but with pro- and anti-hunters apparently as entrenched as ever there is little hope of finding common ground. The efforts are being backed by the Prime Minister, who is keen for a ban not to take effect until 2006, well after the next election.

The Commons has voted for an outright ban which could come into effect by February. But some MPs have suggested that the start date could be delayed until July 2006, a formula backed by Downing Street and many cabinet ministers. There are doubts whether ministers could persuade Labour MPs, the clear majority of whom favour an immediate ban, to accept any compromise.

That schedule, however, has already been rejected by the Lords, who want unrestricted hunting to continue until the end of 2007 and then only to be banned by ministers, rather than the will of Parliament. Peers want the final decision to be left to the Secretary of State for the Environment and not MPs. They have also intensified their argument with the Commons by rejecting a proposal to ban stag-hunting and deer-coursing and only to allow some fox hunting under strictly monitored licences.

The stand-off sets the scene for four days of "parliamentary ping-pong" with the Hunting Bill shuttling between the two Houses until Thursday, when the current session of Parliament ends. If no agreement has been found, that would be the moment when Mr Martin is likely to move the Parliament Act for only the fourth time in its 55-year history.

The former minister Kate Hoey, the Labour MP for Vauxhall and an opponent of a ban, said it would be unenforceable and place huge burden on the police. She told GMTV: "A lot of work is going on behind the scenes to perhaps get some kind of compromise even at this stage."

Ms Hoey also said it would be unprecedented to use the Parliament Act over a measure not included in a government's election manifesto. The Countryside Alliance is preparing a legal challenge to the use of the Act, arguing both that it is intrinsically flawed and that the move threatens the human rights of hunters.

'PARLIAMENTARY PING-PONG'

The Hunting Bill returns to the Lords today for its third and final reading when peers are expected to defy MPs by overturning the proposed ban on hunting.

The Bill would then "bounce" between the two Houses, with MPs certain to restore the ban tomorrow and, unless some latecompromise can be arranged, with the Lords digging their heels in again on Wednesday.

The battle would then reach its final act on Thursday when attention turns to Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, to see whether, if seems certain, he invokes the 1949 Parliament Act.

Designed for occasions when the two Houses are deadlocked, it has only been invoked three times: on the War Crimes Act (1991); on proportional representation in European Parliament elections (1999), and on lowering the age of consent for homosexuals to 16 (2000).

Ministers say that the Act permits passage of the Hunting Bill, but the Countryside Alliance is ready to mount a legal challenge to that view.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher with SEN responsibilities

£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: KS2 teacher with SEN responsibi...

Administrative Assistant

£60 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Administrative Assitant Hertford...

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

** Secondary History Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments