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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?