LETTER: Hunting for a consensus

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The Independent Online
From Lord Mancroft

Sir: In his letter of 3 November, Elliot Morley's contributions to the hunting debate are so facile and transparent that they only invite questions as to his suitability to be Labour's spokesperson on animal welfare, an area of policy where a serious approach and the search for consensus brings immediate benefits, but where controversy and conceit have no place.

However, his comments relating to the Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill need answering. Having languished in the House of Commons for almost four months, while neither John McFall, the Bill's sponsor, nor Elliot Morley himself made any attempt to reach agreement with the Bill's opponents, changes were finally agreed in the last 48 hours before the Bill went into committee, without the benefit of legal advice, in a haphazard and unsatisfactory way.

Thus when the Bill arrived in the House of Lords, although it received unanimous support in principle, all those who spoke, including the Bill's sponsor, Lady Nicol, and Labour's front-bench spokesperson, Lady Mallalieu, agreed that it would need substantial amendment in order to render it remotely workable.

Amendments were consequently agreed by all parties concerned, which were passed unanimously at committee stage. The Bill then had an unopposed report and third reading, and today returns, vastly improved, to the House of Commons, exactly 15 days after it reached the Lords.

Again the Lords has demonstrated that common sense and a desire to reach consensus serve animal welfare infinitely better than Mr Morley's high- handed and aggressive tactics.

Yours sincerely,

Mancroft

House of Lords

London, SW1

3 November

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