Foul play by their noble lordships

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The Independent Online
ANYBODY who doubts that this country is still governed in the most absurd fashion should consider what happened in the House of Lords last Monday. It debated a Private Member's Bill, introduced by a Tory backbencher, which had passed the Commons unopposed. The Bill would have allowed local councils to take stronger measures to force owners to clear up dog mess - a nuisance which is not only unpleasant but also threatens children with a disease that can permanently damage their sight. The Bill was supported by the RSPCA and the Department of the Environment. It also, judging from the reader reaction to an Independent on Sunday campaign last year, enjoyed wide public support.

Yet the Bill was deliberately wrecked by a handful of peers who tabled so many amendments that it ran out of time. Who were these noble legislators? Four amendments were tabled in the name of Lord Kimbal (Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge), former master, Fitzwilliam Hounds, former master, Cottesmore Hounds, former chairman of the British Field Sports Society. Four more were tabled in the name of the 4th Baron Palmer (Eton and Edinburgh University), secretary, the Royal Caledonian Hunt since 1989, with support from the 3rd Viscount Allenby (Eton and Sandhurst). What had they against the Bill? One peer explained that the measure would be used by local authorities "unfriendly to foxhunting". In other words - heaven forfend - hunt masters might have to carry poop-scoops to clear up after their hounds. To prevent any chance of such an indignity being visited upon the likes of my Lords Kimbal and Palmer, the rest of us have to continue squelching through our parks, playgrounds and streets, eyes glued to the ground.