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Thursday 18th November 2004
Ban on hunting is set for February 2005
Hunstman and hounds
Hunting will be outlawed in early 2005
Hunting is to be outlawed in early 2005, after amazing scenes in the House of Commons.
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House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin has invoked the Parliament Act - meaning a ban on fox hunting will be in place by February 2005.

He told MPs the Act was being used for only the fourth time since 1949 - a move sparked by peers who earlier rejected a ban on hunting with dogs.

The bill was then given Royal Assent, bringing to an end years of wrangling.

Legal action and demonstrations are now predicted in the run up to the general election, widely expected next May.

Mr Martin told MPs: "I am satisfied all the provisions of the Parliament Act have been met."

As well as fox hunting, deer-hunting and hare-coursing with dogs will now be outlawed in England and Wales.

Hunt supporters condemn ban

Hunt supporters in Devon immediately condemned the move.

Pro hunting sign
A pro hunting sign

On the morning of the ban (Thursday, 18th November) hunts met at the East Dart Hotel at Postbridge, where all four Dartmoor hunts meet.

Members of the South Devon hunt labelled the ban "ridiculous" and accused the Government of prejudice.

And one member vowed: "We'll still carry on - if I get locked up, I get locked up."

Guy Morlock, of the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance, said they will be challenging the ban: "Parliament hasn't listened. The House of Commons hasn't listened. It's going to be tested to its legal limit."

Alex Warne, of the East Dart Hotel, said the ban will hit his business: "I'm not surprised about what's happened. I'm disgusted. It shows a total disregard for the countryside."

But the League Against Cruel Sports in the South West said the ban was long overdue. Peter Anderson, from LACS, said: "We are obviously delighted. It's taken far too long, but at long last we've achieved a ban on hunting."

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has called on hunt followers to accept the law and to behave "reasonably and sensibly."

He said: "There are people who feel passionately that hunting is integral to their way of life. There are people who feel equally passionately that it is barbaric and cruel."

Earlier Conservative shadow environment minister James Gray condemned the proposals as a "rank bad bill", which would be impossible to police.

Ban is "a watershed"

But RSPCA director of animal welfare, John Rolls, said the bill was a "watershed in the development of a more civilised society for people and animals".

Phyllis Campbell-McRae, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: "Banning hunting will put Britain back at the forefront of animal welfare worldwide.

"It has been a long, hard campaign, won by the determination of tens of thousands of people in urban and rural communities who are dedicated to protecting animals from senseless and appalling cruelty."

Legal Challenge

The Countryside Alliance has already written to Attorney General Lord Goldsmith saying it will challenge the legality of the 1949 Parliament Act in the High Court as soon as a ban gains royal assent.

The alliance is also planning to take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights. Alliance chief executive, Simon Hart, said its lawyers believed it had a good case.

Landowners could also stop cooperating with the government, he told BBC News.

And he warned anti-hunt MPs with majorities of less than 5,000 they would face a determined campaign at the next election.

Article written: 18th November.


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