(1.30 pm).

THE CHAIRMAN: Good afternoon, and thank you for returning. Douglas Batchelor has also joined the Group and welcome Sir John Mortimer, who is here for this afternoon's session. Before lunch I set out a number of issues that we might look at this afternoon. Maybe we could start with the question of the different characteristics of the people in the survey and their attitudes towards hunting. My memory of it is that people who are older; people who work in rural activities; people who have lived in the community for longest; if anything of slightly lower social-economic class were the people who were more inclined to be supportive of hunting. The people who have come in from the outside; the people who were younger; the people who worked in non-rural activities were less inclined. The issue was raised this morning as to what the dynamics of that might be over time. I suppose one issue is as they age and as they have lived there longer, to what extent they will take on the characteristics of other people who are older and have lived there longer. And to what extent they will keep their present characteristics. This has some quite important implications for the dynamics of this. I thought if we took this as the first topic and just see to what extent there are any observations that people wish to make. Or if there are any other insight you can throw on that both in terms of present views and in terms of projecting how things might develop over time. The first question is: is that a fair summary of the position, and if you could say just a little bit more about how these views might evolve over time? Maybe you could start us off.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I think you summarised the findings very well. The one variation you did not mention was the gender variation, the higher proportion of men to women participated in and supported hunting. I think that social breakdown is useful in that I think, as far as I am aware, the first time we are actually looking or beginning to look at differences within communities or hunt participants, whereas previously we had lots of general statements about who hunted -- I remember a few weeks ago I had my attention brought to an article in the Daily Mail which was trying to make this point that hunting was not just about the higher social classes and status and I thought, "Well, that is all wrong", but then I started thinking where is my viewpoint on hunting coming from? It is coming from, I think, a set of literature which is not based on any research, and I do not think there is any research there which has tried to look at these different compositions so I think your summary is correct. The point we need to stress is that we have not looked to conduct a breakdown of hunt participants. Rather we have looked at proportions of people within our areas who are participating, and I think we need to go back to that point. I think Keith made the point this morning, and others made the point, that a proportion of hunt participants come from outside of the areas, but in terms of the social trend aspects and the trajectories and the dynamics that we have been talking about this morning, from other work I have been involved in, it would seem to indicate that a lot of people want to move to the countryside, a lot of people wish to move from city or town-based environments to rural based ones, so I think there are sets of issues there, that people who maybe are, use this term, less supportive of hunts, because I think another issue that came out of this research was that higher proportions of more recently arrived people in the areas supported hunting in general terms than opposed it. So we are probably getting, I think, degrees of support rather than any sort of absolute sort of thing, but I think the point needs to be made that as more and more people move in to rural areas from outside of these areas, then I think we are going to get maybe less participation in hunting and maybe a different set of attitudes towards hunting. It is very difficult to say in any categorical terms for clear reasons. Another issue that emerges from other work I have been involved in has been the issue that young people, they find it difficult to remain in certain types of rural areas which do not have a wide range of employment opportunities, housing opportunities, opportunities in terms of securing everyday services, so we could see, if we do see a sort of continuation of selective processes of in and out migration, I think over time attitudes towards hunting in these sort of areas may change, but I think you did make the point before very strongly that what we are actually seeing here is sort of a culturisation type process, that people are moving into these areas from outside and maybe involving themselves in particular local or traditional activities or, at the very least, largely supportive of things that are going on in the okay areas. Maybe if you just think through that is commonsense. If you move to a new area, you do not immediately start to oppose things that are going on and have gone on in the area over a long period of time.

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: I think I might have written the article in the Daily Mail. I do not know whether the Committee have seen a film that was made by my wife in which unemployed Welsh miners have their hunt, a lorry driver as a Master of Foxhounds, and you are not talking, of course, about people actually go on horses but an enormous number of followers of hunts, it would be right to say, they are all classes of people.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: In terms of the research that we are discussing here today, just to reiterate a point I made this morning that we have not looked at those people who participate in hunting, we have just picked up on those people within our general sample of these areas, but I think I would concur with what you have said there, that we have picked up a range of different groups engaged in hunting practices within these areas, yes.

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: When you talk about generations, it is right those who participate in hunting largely consist of middle-aged, and young people from pony clubs.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I think we probably picked up the point a lot of people middle-aged -- support to hunting tended to be skewed towards middle-aged, middle-age thing. In terms of participation we picked up more men than women.

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: A long of young people also.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: We picked up young people within that group.

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: Just finally, I do not know whether your statistics show, the number of, there must be a large proportion, large percentage of people not interested in hunting at all who never do it, as I have never done it, and I would certainly fall off if I did, who whether or not they like hunting would object to it being turned into a criminal offence.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: That point was made this morning, yes.

MR SWANN: Thank you, Lord Burns. Could I pick up, please, on one point which you made in your introduction to this afternoon about age and the support for hunts in different age categories? Young Farmers AGM reported in the Farmers Weekly this last week or two voted very much against support for the Countryside Alliance and part of this was in respect of its support for fox hunting and so there appears to be a definite trend among younger people already within the rural communities. One thing that was evident from your statistics is that there was a high percentage of older people, particularly who had been more related to the traditional farming types of employment. Do you see this trend at all from your investigations that you see a change in younger people's attitudes and do you think these are just a product of age or do you think these opinions may well carry through as these people grow up within the rural communities? It is a very difficult question but it is an interesting one.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I would like to see the report that you actually sort of base your comments on actually; that sounds interesting. If it is picking up on those things, I think there are probably other things involved in that sort of decision rather than just being based around hunting issues to do with the whole, maybe the construction of hunting issues and constructions of debate about town and country. One of the reasons why I think we have a high proportion of older people than younger people supporting hunting is because those are the people who have lived in those areas for longer periods of time and have grown up with those sorts of activities. I think sort of the younger generation, these days, rural areas are probably growing up with a wider range of social activities; some based on those traditional types of pursuits; others based on other types of activities. It is a very difficult question to answer, I am glad you said that. We do not know. The only way we would find out is to repeat this piece of work in a few years's time.

DR REBEKAH WIDDOWFIELD: That was what I was going to say, those figures you quoted from the Young Farmers, that we cannot actually say it is a trend unless we know the earlier figures, and the point you raised this morning that would be the advantage of having an earlier study all parts included in this research in a few years's time.

MR HART: Lord Burns, it may just be background information really, but the original Alliance submission referred to the Produce Studies Report of 2000 which actually addressed 39,000 individual hunt supporters by way of the hunt supporters survey and that actually sets out quite clearly their sort of age/sex ratio, who does what, where they come from and gives a generally reasonably representative summary of the occupations and activities of the people across, I think, 89 tie per cent of hunt supporters in the UK. There is also evidence submitted from individual hunts which give profiles of membership, age, occupations, which I think, again, are not in the target areas that you referred to, so that may also be background information. By way of just referring to the suggestion that popularity for hunting is in some form of decline, I think if you actually look at the number of hunts which appear in Bailey's Hunting Directory at the turn of the last century and related to the number of which are in Bailey's Hunting Directory at the turn of this one, I think you will find there is a substantial increase in those numbers.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: Is that in terms of numbers of hunts or numbers of people hunting?

MR HART: Numbers of hunts, because Bailey's does not actually account for individuals and it does actually just account for the general hunt detail. Just to pick up on one thing about the Young Farmers AGM, mainly because I think a considerable proportion of Young Farmers actually have no connection with agriculture, but I am not saying that is a good or bad thing. I think that the very fact that the issue was raised at the AGM this year and of course it would be no surprise that we knew about it. In previous years there has never been sufficient even interest or enthusiasm for the work of the Countryside Alliance which has even been discussed, and the very fact it was raised this time actually in terms of the Young Farmers we spoke to was a considerable move towards sympathy and understanding of rural issues than had previously been adopted.

DR RYDER: Sir John said he might fall off if he tried to hunt. I am sure the same would apply to myself. I suspect this is a function, among other things, of age. In your study you asked the question: Have you participated in the last 12 months? Which actually means are you a current supporter. I wonder how many of the other people whom you spoke to actually had hunted at some time in their lives. They were not actually asked have you ever hunted or have you ever participated? I just suspect therefore that, you know, after maybe 50 or 60 quite a lot of people retire from hunting because it becomes physically uncomfortable and, nevertheless, remain very keen supporters.

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: Actually I do not think so. I think it is an admirable way to die. You know Reggie Paget, the great Labour MP, all his family died breaking their necks. If you want a nice clean death on a fine morning with the wind blowing it is admirable.

MR TODHUNTER: Thank you, Lord Burns. Just touching on the Young Farmers, the Cumbrian Federation of Young Farmers are holding a field day at the end of this month and as well as crafts of tractor driving in hedged lanes and all kinds of things like that, one of the categories is horn blowing, and there have been all kinds of complaints over the area for parping and blowing and horns, parping and blowing all over the place. There has been more than one club touching me and asking me did I have any spare horns? I am afraid not, but that is the category that this year is for one of the categories to do with the Young Farmers is horn blowing, and last year it was hound judging, they had to not only judge a section of cattle and sheep but they had to judge five foxhounds and put them in their place in order, so it is very, very strong in the Young Farmers clubs in the north of England, I can assure you. The question of old and young people, we have a tremendous spectrum of young and old, retired people, obviously, and infirm that can see hunting from their car on the fell sides without having to walk or participate any more than watching with binoculars, but we have a lot of young people walking hound pups for us and after our opening meet at the Blencathra I always call at the village school, I blow the horn as I come round the corner and they come into the yard and I call and the children see the hounds and pat them and give them a biscuit. Association is very, very strong in young and old. I would not say at all that it is purely an old pastime at all. Thank you.

MR BATCHELOR: Just really a comment on the confines of this particular study in that it is looking at the social and cultural life in the countryside and I think I would like your comments on the fact that there were 1. 3 billion day visits to the countryside, which is about 26 per cent of all visits in England and Wales, and 144 million domestic tourism lines and we are conducting this discussion on the rather narrow basis that the only people in the countryside are the people who live in the countryside and yet we have a massive amount of visitation to the countryside that far exceeds the countryside population and yet nowhere, I think, in this report are they mentioned or the social or cultural impact of hunting, is that taken into account? I believe that is an important issue which should be reflected in the study. Thank you.

THE CHAIRMAN: Have you anything to add on that?

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: No.

THE CHAIRMAN: Could we move on to the question of the different definitions of "rural" that we spent some time on this morning, just to see if we can push it any further. It may be that we cannot. But one of the conclusions that to me seems to be coming out of this, is that the involvement and the support for hunting increases as you become more rural rather than less rural and the more you have people who are living in remote areas. Is that a reason for the conclusion that can be drawn from this survey and what we know from other surveys of the rural economy and what we know about the national economy as well? There seems to me to be a pattern. The closer you live to other people the less likely it is that you are going to participate, or certainly that you will be supportive of hunting. And that the more remote the area that you live in, the more likely it is that you will be supportive of hunting. Is that a reasonable conclusion?

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: Again, that is very interesting.

THE CHAIRMAN: I have to say that was not meant to have any great meaning. It was an analytical question, trying to put together different surveys.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I think in talking to people at lunchtime it would have been nice if we could have had more study areas so that I could probably answer your question a bit more comfortably. I think what the issues that we were picking up are that in what you might call more accessible rural areas there has probably been a higher proportion of movement over recent years and not so many recent years in terms of the south-east and some of the rural environment surrounding London. What we are seeing in the more accessible places is this sort of greater infiltration of ex-urban residents, probably farming not too strong for various reasons, one of which being that one can generate quite a lot of income through placing farm buildings in the upmarket sort of areas, so I think it is correct in saying that in the more accessible areas we are getting -- we have a greater mix of populations, and we probably have a smaller proportion of people who have lived in those areas all their lives and also in those areas, because there is competition to live in those areas and because we are talking predominantly about private property markets that competition is passed on to the property market and it becomes a little bit more difficult, people who do want to remain in those areas, particularly young people, to remain in those areas, so we do see in various ways these sort of processes for selective in and outmovement and maybe a greater turnover. So I think that would be the critical issue for me. It is about different mixes of people being in these areas and different mixes of people making different uses of rural and u ban spaces because in the Leicestershire area, for example, even though a lot of people have moved in from Leicester, from Nottingham, they were still making use of those urban centres, in terms of commuting and having those areas as places to work, others in terms of using supermarkets and using other urban services and facilities. So I think I have answered your question in a roundabout sort of way, just making the point that it is probably a little bit more complex than the categorisation of these things that you are making.

THE CHAIRMAN: I can see that. Presumably you take the various categories that we were talking About; which is that if you lived in an area for a long time and you were a farmer, or you were engaged in rural work, if you are male, if you are older. If those are the things which define views then I suppose it follows that people who tend to live in the more remote areas tend to have those characteristics.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: Yes, I think, but I think we need to make the point that we are not talking about, I suppose, a sort of spatial distinctiveness here; we are talking about sort of different mixes of social groups within these areas, and that is the point I was trying to make.

DR REBEKAH WIDDOWFIELD: The point I wanted to make is that though it is difficult to make any definitive statement about whether rural equates with more support, certainly at least a couple of the Parish Chairs that we talked to did make some sort of statement along the lines of in these remote rural areas you cannot just go to the cinema, you cannot just access those sort of entertainment facilities so easily as you can do in an urban area or in a city, and that they use that to say that the hunt was a more important as a social activity.

DR RYDER: Lord Burns, I think that MORI a year or two ago went to great trouble to try to define "rural" and in fact some of the big national surveys that took place in recent years, looking at attitudes to hunting in rural areas and finding a very large majority of people in rural areas against hunting, actually were very, very carefully defined and I wonder whether John Leaman could talk to that.

MR LEAMAN: Certainly. I think the survey Richard is referring to is the one we conducted in 1997. It was not our definition of "rural"; it is not the only one by any means, but it is a generally used using so-called Mosaic classifications, which breaks down the country into probably about 40 or 50 different types of housing; it is primarily a housing based classification. Within those 40 or so six specifically are deemed to be rural or country dwellers, as they are called, and they are a mixture of people retiring to the country, farms, and so on. So it is a fairly tight definition. It represents about 7 per cent of the population. That is the definition that we took for one of our surveys and it serves as one possible definition. The results we found were about 57 per cent of people opposed to hunting and about 25 or 30 per cent in support. So there is a majority in favour of a ban in that case. I mean, I think the assertion that you have made or the suggestion, Lord Burns, that there is to some extent a correlation is broadly true, but it is a question of degrees and it is a question of how steeply, if you like, the scale declines. I mean, the fact is as far as we have found anyway, there is majority support for a ban in rural areas generally in Britain as well as in Britain itself, a national survey of town and country. This survey, as Paul has been at pains to state, is a very different exercise and of course the results reflect that, but if you are talking about a national picture, whether it is rural or truly national there does consistently seem to be opposition to hunting.

THE CHAIRMAN: We are talking about rural in hunting areas and we are talking about rural which is what I was describing as "rural rural." It is more remote rural areas. Are those the two things that you would use to characterise these results, as opposed to --

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I would not use the term "remote", because, or example, our Exmoor area is very accessible to Minehead. So --

THE CHAIRMAN: I was thinking about remotely from other people; I was thinking about the distance from their neighbours.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: What would be interesting, and I have not talked to John about this, would be if that MORI sample was able to be -- was constructed from these different categories of rural would be to breakdown and I do not know if this has been done, to breakdown responses to that survey and to see if there are different types of rural areas that different levels of support or opposition to hunting. If we could get at some of that information, it would maybe allow us to dip into that wider context, if it was, if that word was pointing to people, the more remote rural areas being more supportive of hunting, then I think we were making a start. But the problem for us as a research team was that this detailed, this quality type information, breaking down different types of rural areas, in terms of attitudes towards hunting was just not available and I think it needs to be made available.

DR GARRY MARVIN: Wearing my anthropologist hat, I would agree with this, but the rural is also a cultural construct; so it is not just a geographical entity; you cannot go out and discover it; it is people's views of it, and I think that ties in with something Paul was saying earlier, to get the added richness in this, when people move into what we call the countryside are they just moving into a certain space which happened to have a landscape or whatever, but are there other people who are coming into it because they want to make a contact with what they perceive to be a rural culture, even though I would not say there is a single entity which is rural culture, but certainly would seem to be people getting involved in that and what we as anthropologists would call revitalisations of traditions going in and in terms of people coming into the countryside just as a side point, the number of people coming in for tourist purposes, of course fox hunting also, peculiarly, forms part of this heritage which crops up across rural space that people seem to want to also look at and so in a sense it becomes a tourist attraction in that sense. So I think what you have not been able to do much in the project is look at the cultural rather than social. I mean, I would argue that the fox hunt is itself a cultural event and that is a very important point for its status in the countryside. MR HART: I do not think this definition of the rural person easy, as I said before lunch. When I tried to explain, we had considerable difficulty in establishing whether somebody was simply in the country or of the country actually had quite a bearing on the result you were expecting. But I think a word of caution, and I have not tried to be deliberately rude about MORI --

THE CHAIRMAN: Not deliberately!

MR HART: The rural Mosaic, because there are flaws, and the particular study referring to would reveal a postcode was actually in Chingford which would not in anybody's estimation be described as a rural area.

MR LEAMAN: We did check that over the weekend and it is not actually the case there are not any E4 postcodes in there.

MR HART: The point I am trying to make is that the Mosaic postcode is not necessarily an exact reflection of what is technically rural or technically urban. It does not seem to be a definition which could make the clear comparison between the two, that is the point. The example may be argued about, but the actual point I am trying to make is the fact that it does not actually reflect -- if you actually go out and visit those individual properties, would they then hit you in the face as being rural or urban, that is the definition which I do not think that system makes entirely clear.

MR LEAMAN: The definition we have used covers six different very distinct types of areas which are collectively grouped under rural or country dwellers, as Mosaic calls it, and, as I say, it can cover anything from an upland farm with tied accommodation to an affluent area of elderly retired people retiring to the country, so we get back to the point again and you say it is difficult to define and it certainly is and there is no definition that will suit all.

MR HART: That was the only point I was trying to make.

THE CHAIRMAN: We do not want to spend too much time on a study that we do not have in front of us, as opposed to the study that we do have in front of us.

MR SWANN: Could I quickly make a point, Lord Burns? People who live in the country do not necessarily come from a country culture and I think that is probably what they are trying to say.

THE CHAIRMAN: I am in grave danger myself in being led into musing about things that we should not. John, is there anything you wanted to say?

MR ROLLS: I was just going to take up the issue of the definition of what was rural and I think in these terms it has been defined in terms of these four specific areas which clearly have close connections to hunt being there and the hunt kennels in one of them, and that is all you can say about the four areas and that no general conclusion can be drawn.

THE CHAIRMAN: Could we move on to the question of the differences between the areas which was the next of my topics to see if we have exhausted that. My understanding is that of the four areas we had, we have one area, which is Exmoor, which has got a set of characteristics which are to the extreme in terms of the examples we are looking at; support of hunting, the part it plays in the community, the integration, et cetera. We then have the Leicester part of the country, which is much more on the borderline than between town and rural, where there is greater movement between them where people are working and living between them, and where we are seeing survey figures which are more like the figures that have been produced throughout large areas. Then we have the two intermediate areas of the study with Wales and Cumbria which is producing numbers that are in between, in terms of the impact on the social life of individuals and in terms of their support for hunting as a whole, or their view of the impact it has on the community as a whole. One is also seeing some quite sharp differences there. I just wondered whether anyone wanted to say anything more about this issue and the differences between the areas. I would like to then lead on to ask, do these types of area cover most of the hunting areas of the country, or is there another type that has been excluded from this study? Would they have produced some quite different types of results? Or, if you wanted to study hunting as a whole, are we talking about some weighted average of these types of areas? Or are there any parts that are missing? I think that would be the question that I am trying to press you on here.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I think --

THE CHAIRMAN: You might say I do not know because I have not asked them. But I think we have to get into speculative questions. The issue is whether we have captured the world, we have been asked to look at. It is obviously quite an important issue.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I think the way I would respond to that is it is very difficult to capture the world you are attempting to capture from just four study areas. The reason why we restricted it to four study areas is sort of common knowledge and, as I say, in an ideal world we would have wanted to look at further study areas to try and pick up further levels of difference. I think we are happy as a research team that we have focused on different areas in relation to their ruralities and also the types and the scales of hunting going on. Clearly, in terms of your remit, you had four animals I think which you were looking at. Clearly, we have only focused on two of them, but that was as a result of discussions with members of your Committee. So I think we are comfortable with the findings, with the caveats, the very sort of bald caveats that I have stressed throughout the day, that we cannot claim that these are representative of wider situations.

THE CHAIRMAN: Can any other members of the seminar say whether they could identify other types of areas which are clearly missing from these and which would not be represented in one way or another by the four areas that we are looking at?

DR GARRY MARVIN: I would suggest perhaps, Lord Burns, you were mentioning different types of hunting, other people might better comment on this than me. It seems to be related to different types of hunting, hunting is this type of activity it might well be where it occurs, what the catchment area is, the nature of the rural population rather than the types of hunting per se, looking at all the hunting with dogs. But sort of the essential difference between a hunt that goes out on foot where you can expect larger participation; one that goes out on horses where you have to look at the economic investment in it. I would have thought some of the comments from this morning, yes, we could find other areas which would have different characteristics and it would be the characteristics of the region rather than the hunting I would think that was important.

DR RYDER: There are of course areas of the countryside where there is no hunting at all. Those areas theoretically covered by hunting countries but do not see much hunting. As I see it, these four particular sites, two are genuinely remote and unusually remote: One, the Quorn, is the site of the perhaps most famous hunt in the country, so it is odd in that sense, and Exmoor, well Exmoor has been the crucible really for the hunting controversy over the last 10/20 years. I have known people move in and out of that area because of it. It is really a highly politicised issue, a well-established politicised issue, with a lot of strong feeling in it in that particular case. So in a sense all four are unusual.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: Could I ask what you consider to be a particular hunt? It is a serious question, because in order to operationalise this project we have to come up with four study areas based around four particular hunts, and it is an issue that we have gone through to something we have discussed at length amongst the research team, but if you could provide me with four "typical hunts", then I would be very appreciative.

DR RYDER: I will think about it.

MR SWANN: It strikes me, Lord Burns, the difficulty with this is we have looked at something which now we do not seem to have a definition for. I keep referring back to it, but we had the same situation I mentioned this morning with drag hunting, when the research team have looked at drag hunting and found that the studies that they had taken and study areas that they have taken were almost unique and that each one had its own characteristics which were specific to the organisation of that particular drag hunt. I have a suspicion that what we are seeing here is that there is a degree of specificity within one particular hunt where it is a live quarry hunt, but people do things in a certain way for a certain reason that reflects the needs of that population that do hunt, that hunting population, and the difficulty, as I see it, with using your data in a wider context, I do not believe it can be used in a wider context because you could not possibly, I do not think, say how many of each one of these four types of hunt there are nationally in order to weight them with the correct degree of significance, nor indeed state that those four particular types of hunt represent the total number of situations that might occur, the total. The picture covers all eventualities so you have the problem with weighting them to give them a national significance, in other words how many of the Exmoor type are there, how many of the Quorn type are there, how many of the Powys type are there. Unless you know the number nationally that fit into that particular pattern and type, you cannot give it that sort of weighting and if there are six types and not four types, or if there are 10 types or 12 types, then you have not covered all eventualities anyway. This is not a criticism of the way you have done the research; it is just the limitations of the way in which you have been required to do it.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: Can I respond very quickly. I think we are all in agreement, let us try and get some consensus here, we are all in agreement we have rural areas -- I do not think anybody is disputing that -- but I think --

THE CHAIRMAN: I think some rural areas have street lights and some do not.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: Some areas more rural than others I think is the discussion. But there have been lots of research, there has been lots of research undertaken that has focused on study areas, and the comments, the comments that I am picking up here would seem to be at odds with comments that have been made about other research that I have focused on about other pieces of work that have been commissioned by Central Government departments. My own work on the MAFF project, for example, focused on five study areas. So although, as I keep stressing, we are not trying to claim that this is a representative sample; we are not trying to extend the findings to the national situation. I think what this methodology has allowed us has been to select different types of hunt areas, hunt areas and rural areas, to try and provide an overall context of attitudes and levels of participation in these areas but also -- and I think we are missing the point here -- importantly, to look in a more in depth way at the connections between or whether there are connections between hunting and rural life. If we were to do things differently, and I admit we could do things differently, we could have adopted a national survey, not focused on particular areas but just on particular individuals selected randomly across the English and Welsh countryside, if we would have done that, then, yes, we could have made claims about representativeness, but what we would not have been able to do would have been to look in any great depth at these issues to look at why people say things. We would never pick up really, I do not think, on the issue we are picking up on this morning in terms of the intimidation and non-expression and those sort of things, if we had not focused on areas in which hunting takes place. So I think we need to be aware of that wider context and I think there are lots of interesting things, and probably more interesting to Gary than most people, through focusing on small areas and talking in a more detailed way with individuals within those areas.

THE CHAIRMAN: Let us be clear: Our remit is to look at the impact of hunting on the social and cultural life of the countryside and it is difficult to imagine one could do that other than looking at areas where there is hunting. That is the reason for of having the focus on areas where there is hunting. It is clear and it is therefore not surprising that we are looking at that.

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I think we do pick up Bill's point, in a sense, the opposite way round. What we are discovering is how specific situations are and that of itself is a very important outcome of this sort of study.

MR SWANN: Exactly, yes, it is.

MR HART: Lord Burns, I just really emphasise what I said this morning, which is from our point of view we welcome any opportunity there was to expand it. If I was to make a comment at all about the four selected areas, they all in their own way are actually quite modest examples of what we are looking at. For example, the Black Coom Beagles in Cumbria are by far the smallest operation in that part of the world, as I think you implied when you talked about yesterday the responses you had during that. For example, the Quorn in Leicestershire is not a particularly big hunt these days. It has got a big name, but there never has been a huge support. It has always been famous for people coming in because of there peculiarities of hunting in Leicestershire, whereas if you went to the Heathrop or the Beaufort in Oxfordshire you would actually find a very different category there. Similarly, in Exmoor you would actually have a much bigger participation in the Devon and Somerset Staghounds than you necessarily would from the Exmoor Foxhounds. There is another aspect of this as well and that is that we have not at any stage, again, really addressed the foot hunters, the terrier, the lurcher people, 100,000 lurcher owners, all of them have their own sporting and sort of community-based activities which have not appeared anywhere in this research, and many of whom actually reside in urban or suburban places, or indeed touched on the sort of community within the community, which happens to be point-to-point racing which is connected to and often dependent on hunting.

MR ROLLS: I do not think we believe that those sorts of studies would tell us anything more than Professor Marsh has said about specificity, i.e. that each one will have its own characteristics and when general surveys have been carried out they have shown that there is opposition to hunting.

THE CHAIRMAN: What we are in danger of doing of course, and I am as guilty myself of this as anyone, is emphasising the issue as to whether or not people are supportive of hunting. Whereas what we are trying to get at is something well beyond that. Obviously support for hunting is an umbrella issue, which of course affects other things. But what we have been particularly wanting to look at is the impact that it has more generally in terms of social and cultural life. And this takes us into the whole issue of the impact of it upon the individual, the perceptions of the individual to the importance that it has in the community, the extent of the social interaction that takes place through hunt supported activities, as opposed to other activities. My understanding of this is that basically in the areas chosen hunting rates quite highly. It is not the only thing by any means. We have other things, particularly the church and the pub that also play a big role. But in relation to the fact that there are a lot of other activities in the world, although they may not be available to people in rural areas, it still does rate, I would have said, at quite a high level relative to what one might have expected. And what we are looking at here is a general view as to the part that it plays because that is what we have been asked to do. I think the conclusion I reached from the research is that it does not dominate; it is not the only thing; the community is not dependent upon it in terms of social life. Nevertheless by the standards of other things it does rate quite highly, and I am not sure that one can say much more about it than that. I am really looking in a sense for you to either agree or to improve upon that summary.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I think I would generally share that assessment. The issue for me, and I think the issue for us as a research team is how we equate a particular proportion with a level of importance or significance. When does a particular proportion of people become a significant proportion of people? So in many cases 31 per cent is considered a small minority of people. What you are putting to me here is that in the context of these areas, in the context of other activities, it is relatively important and plays a role alongside other activities. So I could generally share your assessment but just stress how difficult it is and that was the reason why we do not make those sort of values within the report to say that a particular proportion is a significant amount or otherwise.

THE CHAIRMAN: If I asked a similar question to people who live in the same road that I live in in London you would not get remotely 31 per cent who shared any activity. Activities would be much more widely spread across a whole vast range of issues. What comes out of this, whether it is hunting or it is the pub or the church is that actually quite a small range of activities are providing quite an important part in the social life of people. This is different to the answers that you would get from a street in London suburbs.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I think it goes back to Rebekah's point earlier today that we are talking about a restricted range of opportunities within any of these rural areas, whether in terms of jobs; whether in terms of housing opportunities; whether in terms of social provision of sort of social support and services.

MR BATCHELOR: I would like to refer you again to the report of the Countryside Agency looking at the organisations active in the rural communities, and 60 per cent of communities have a WI or Mother's Union. You will be delighted to know about 45 per cent have a football club and its recreation covers older people, cricket clubs, Rainbows, Brownies, keep fit, bowls, beavers. Go down the list in terms of social organisations or activities in rural communities and on this list hunting does not even feature, so I think that while one can accept that it is important to a small group of people within the community, and nobody denies that, when you actually look at the social fabric of those communities, the organisations around which the social activities occur in most communities, I think the report has been produced by the Countryside Agency is very important with regard to that and I do not know exactly what their sources are, but I suggest that the Committee should take a good look at the report and try and put this work into, or your work into the context of their report to see if the two differences can be reconciled.

THE CHAIRMAN: If I can answer that, one of the issues here of course is the extent to which we are looking at areas where hunting takes place. I think probably one of the things that comes out of this is that we are going to be getting different results in areas where hunting is an important part of the local community compared to areas where it is not. But I just wanted to try a supplementary -- would any of the activities that Douglas has mentioned have figured in your survey? Did people have the opportunity to raise all of these?

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: That is what I was going to say. Those activities you are talking about, most of them are present within I think it was table 12 of the report, page 52, and we have WI present as an organiser of social events in each of the study areas, and if you want a game of bingo you can go to these study areas and participate in that said pastime. So I think I agree with what you are trying to say, but I think you are also trying to compare two things that cannot be compared. You are comparing something which is nationally based with something which is focused on four study areas. What we do within these study areas is in that fairly full table on page 82, set out, albeit from what our interviewees have said to us, that the range of activities. You will see that hunting is there in all four study areas, but so are a number of different types of social activity. I should say that hunting is probably there on more than one occasion, just picking up on Simon's point, the point-to-point there, and things like that, puppy shows, which maybe linked too, so what we are saying is that there are a number of social activities going on there that hunting plays a role, but it plays a role within that wider context and I am not disputing those findings at all, because that is what I would expect that across rural areas more generally those sorts of activities I think are going to dominate that type of survey.

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: Can I just say this cannot emerge from the statistics. The statistics may not show the intensity of loyalty to any particular activity. I live in a very privileged Thames Valley area, but still hunting is a very important part of it to many people, they have a lot of social events connected to it and figures do not really particularly help. You may say a very small proportion of a community may be interested in the Glee club or doing Japanese theatre, but the intensity of loyalty and the intensity of emotion of people who take part in hunting in rural areas is perhaps not possible to be reflected in those statistics.

MR SWANN: Thank you, Lord Burns. I think it would be very surprising if in areas where people hunt and hunting is important they did not have social activities which are important to those people. I think that is self-evident. I think what is important is that what has come out of this report as well is that rural communities, particularly small rural communities, do have a higher degree of cohesion in organising social events and whether it is through the church or through the pub or, where hunt exists, through the hunt and if the hunt organises a social event, I think it would be again silly to say people would not take advantage of it because it has been organised; one would expect that it would. What I would like to ask is that in areas where there is not current hunting or in these areas, should hunting cease, to what extent do you feel these communities are robust enough to replace activities which are currently organised by the hunt?

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I cannot answer that on the basis of the research and I do not think we are sitting around the table offering sort of personal opinions based on sources other than this research.. I think the point you are making is a good one and needs to be researched. At the moment we do not have any research evidence to answer that one way or another.

THE CHAIRMAN: I am worried that you are not speaking into the microphone.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I am.

THE CHAIRMAN: It is not switched on and working.

MR HART: Just by way of an example, the Wigtownshire Hunt in Scotland which closed down a few years ago attempted to sustain their social activity. They managed I think one event for two years and then local support petered out to such an extent that they disbanded and even those activities did not last two years.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: Can I just make one further point, and that is that a lot of social activities that we were picking up -- and this was particularly the case when we did the more in depth work, the interviews -- social activities were not -- this is a more general point, it relates to football clubs and it relates to other types of clubs and associations. On the whole social activities were being organised to make money, to sustain these activities. The community, the wider community function was a by-product. They were organised to meet the needs of specific communities. They were not exclusive to those specific communities and we make that point within the research that report that people were not barred from going to them, but if you were not interested in rugby, would you go to the rugby club to socialise? The answer is probably, unless you have a warped sense of humour, probably no. So I think we again need to think about why quite a few of these activities are going on. Now some of them are probably going on regularly and do not involve any sort of financial interest, but the larger types of activities, people were saying to us the same way that other activities, other organisers were arranging activities, that the prime purpose was to make money for understandable reasons, to sustain particular activities, particular organisations.

MR HART: Can I come back on that? I accept that entirely, but from a position of experience where I tried to persuade people to come to hunt events for a decade, unless they were fun people did not come and you did not make money so they had to go home satisfied that their evening or their day had been well spent.

MR TODHUNTER: Lord Burns, might I add to that that in our area we have social events, sing songs and get-togethers and dos. If hunting were not there and the local pubs or the church tried to organise similar sorts of dos, they would not work at all. I mean, I would not go to them because I would not want to go and sing about my hunt just disappeared and you would not get people to go at all; it just would not work at all. But it is still a very important part of the rural community and people go there, as I said before, disabled people, they can enjoy joining in and because, as Simon says, it is a good night out and it is fun and everybody is welcome. But without the hunt, just not at all. Thank you.

MR SWANN: Thank you. I just wanted to come back, and this is another question you may not be able to answer and I am sorry if you cannot. In terms of fundraising events, a lot of events which are organised in areas which I have lived in, in rural areas, which is the greater part of my life, have not been just for one organisation, but they have often been jointly organised things like sheep dog trials and the hunt and in this case a drag hunt and in cases of other rural events taking place within that community and I wondered if any of the activities, the fundraising activities that were in your report, are they all specifically just raising money for the hunt or is there a possibility these had a broader base?

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I am not quite sure I understand the question. Are we talking about hunt?

MR SWANN: I will give you an example in an area in which I have lived in when I was much younger. We used to have fundraising events, the proceeds from which, part of which would go towards the organisation of a small country show, with sheep dogs trials, part of it would go to the hunt, and part of it would go to young people encouraging -- it was a scout hut in this case and these sort of things. These functions were joint fundraising functions. What I wanted to check was that the ones you had used were specifically fundraising for hunts and were not these type of community organised events for multiple purpose fundraising of which the hunt was one.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: We did not look specifically at fundraising for these activities. We are slipping into an area because we have gone into that area. We asked people more generally about what types of social activities were organised by the hunt more generally, what social activities were going on in the areas and we have just looked at participation in those activities. The issues, the issue of funding was coming out and was mentioned by several people, that, not just about hunting but more generally, the community function, the wider community functions are vital. There was a financial issue there and there was the issue of meeting the needs of specific communities. So we did not really explore that issue of -- it is like being in a quiz show here -- we did not explore whether things were being organised by more than one group and monies.

THE CHAIRMAN: There is not a million pounds at stake!

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: Whether money from those fundraising activities were going to more than one group.

MR SWANN: Could I come back on that, because I think it is quite an important point? I hate to give an anecdote -- I seem to do an awful lot of it through this inquiry -- one particular event which I had in mind, the Committee was principally raising money for sheep dog trials and so we would talk about it if the sheep -- if people asked what impact does the sheep dog trials have on if you were to stop sheep dog trials, what impact does it have on your local community, we would say devastating because we organise this fundraising event for the sheep dog trials. Because it was multipurpose and money goes to organisations they would think of it as their fundraising event. The point I am making a lot of these events organised by communities, the kitty is split at the end of it. If you ask people about hunt related events where there is also fundraising, you have a suspicion some of these are not specific to the hunt.

MR HART: If I can go back to the Produce Studies Survey, which 124 supporters clubs organised 1,678 social or fundraising functions per year. More importantly 260 charities, 50 different ones, are supported by 123 out of 124 of those clubs. The important thing, just to pick up on what Bill said, of course is one of the attractions of using the hunt for a joint effort such as this many of the events we are talking about are horse-based, land-based or involve facilities only the hunt can provide without them whilst there might be a willingness to have a go, there simply is not the facility to do it.

MR TODHUNTER: Lord Burns, in our area we have the Hound Trailing Association which is the equivalent really to drag hunting you might say, albeit individual people with hounds. They run social events for the hunt. We run social events for the Hound Trailing Association. They struggle, as it is, to get venues and to be able to run the hounds on the drag lines because a lot of farmers are not that keen really. But because of the joint ventures between the hunt and the Hound Trailing Association, they are tolerated over the land. But if hunting were banned the Hound Trailing Association or the Lake District drag hunting you might say, would also go to the wall; they would not be able to survive. The farmers would not have them and the social side would be destroyed also. Thank you.

THE CHAIRMAN: Could I put a hypothesis to you and just see to what extent you would agree with it. That is that in rural communities people are particularly tolerant of other people's activities. And they are particularly tolerant of other people's activities if they think they are providing support for the community which makes it more likely they will stay there, and that the community will prosper. And that this goes some way to explain why there is more general support for this in your survey than comes out to the extent to which it affects individuals. Maybe this statement applies to all communities, maybe it does not. Maybe people are quite happy to tolerate people doing things which they feel are important more generally, which will provide the prosperity which will provide interest, and which will encourage people to stay.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: That is an interesting hypothesis. I think there is some truth in that, but I also think it is more general than that. We could use the example of the local shop. Again, I will put my hand up, I tend not to use my local shop as much as I should, but I would be upset if it disappeared. Therefore, the local shop would not play a significant role within my life if somebody was doing a survey, but if you were banning the shop or taking it away from me I think I would be a little bit upset. Whether in the face of that ban I would use it more often is probably doubtful. So I think there is a general truth there. I think from other work I have been involved in, particularly with Rebekah, looking at issues of poverty in the housing problems, looking at homelessness, I think things are a little more complicated than that. Yes, there is probably sort of a stronger community spirit, probably more people willing to help others, but only if people behave in particular ways. The moment you start transgressing particular norms, rural communities get very heavy. Homelessness is not an issue.

THE CHAIRMAN: Which is why you smiled when I said "tolerance".

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: If you are a New Age traveller, if you are a hunt sabo, if you are homeless, if you have particular problems, if you are practising particular types of lifestyles, it can be more difficult; it is often more difficult to be living in close-knit communities that we are talking about than it probably is in a city environment.

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: Can I ask Lord Burns, I am very pleased to hear the word "tolerant" at all times, in rural or city areas, but have you come across a feeling in rural areas that everything is being removed from them; the shop is being removed from them; the churches are being removed from them; the pubs are being removed from them and having hunting removed from them will be a kind of final straw? I just remember a phrase the miners use, "You have taken away our jobs and now you want to take away our hunting". It is a part of the livelihood of a rural community which particularly at times of countryside diminution and deprivation seems particularly valuable to us.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I think if you are taking away particular services, particular social activities from rural areas, you are not going to enhance those areas, but at the same time a lots of things are changing in rural areas and things have been changing in rural areas for a long time and very few people have mentioned or discussed those issues. I think at the moment with a general sort of decline in the services in rural areas people are starting to talk more generally about the future of the countryside and about how difficult it is for particular people to live in those rural areas, but I think we need to make the point that for most people living in rural areas who are experiencing problems, those problems are probably more to do with employment, more to do with housing, general service provision, low pay, isolation, poor transport, poor services and so on, so I would agree in one sense with what you are saying that we need to think long and hard about what services --

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: Removing anything else.

MR TODHUNTER: Lord Burns, I would definitely say that rural people in the country village areas have always been very supportive of each other's interests and organisations, particularly so in this day and age with the unfortunate demise of the Post Office and various amenities and I know myself, my wife and son who support the various other little things from football club, the cricket club, bring and buys and various things, not because they are particularly involved at all in those organisations, but you always will support your neighbour, so to speak, or the village, because when you go there you have face-to-face verbal contact with people, you get to know more of what is going on in the area through the various organisations and it keeps everybody involved and everybody ticking over in their own little organisations. At the end of the day we are all supporting each other. Thank you.

THE CHAIRMAN: The final topic that I wanted to spend maybe just a brief time on just to see if anyone wants to add to it. This is the point that came up this morning of Government intervention and opposition to that. We learnt that even those people opposed to hunting bridled somewhat at the prospect of it being imposed upon them by Government. Presumably this comes back to the point that has just been mentioned. That there is a degree of alienation around at the moment in rural areas about the rest of the economy and about Government and the feeling that they have been on the wrong end of either economic pressures or of Government decisions. And that, therefore, this would be another step in that. Or are people in rural areas particularly prone to be anti interventions coming from Central Government.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: They are not Socialist hotbeds, are they! I think, again, it is a collection of factors. I think some people through their own particular situations, the economic situations do feel that there are very real problems within the countryside and rightly or wrongly, point the finger at a lack of Central Government investment in particular areas. I think related to this also is a wider political campaign to pitch town against country, which I do not think is helpful, because what is happening there is that a lot of differences within rural areas, a lot of similarities between urban and rural areas are being missed in terms of some of the causal processes at work. I think, thirdly, in terms of that last point you made, I think there is some truth in that, that rural areas on the whole have not been characterised by too much state intervention. The obvious example is housing. Rural areas are characterised much more by private modes of provision and consumption. Some might call it sort of cultures of voluntarism and self-help, but I think generally from different pieces of work that I have seen there is probably more suspicion about intervention from outside. Now for some of the areas I am talking about, some of the work I have seen outside is the Local Authority administering that district, it is as small-scale as that for many people. So I think in terms of those three things I have mentioned there is a mistrust of outside intervention and particularly, I mean it struck me when I read one quotation again, the idea that somebody can come from outside or an institution can come from the outside and tell me what I can or cannot do within my own field in terms of the case of the farmer where we have got this sort of coming together of this proposed threatened external legislation impacting on very local areas and of land that that farmer rightly or wrongly sees as an area in which he or she normally has control over. I mean, the reality is that in terms of these rural areas that if you look at one of the biggest parts of state intervention, the Common Agricultural Policy and the taxpayers are paying to intervene within rural areas, the situation is a bit different but, again, we are talking about perceptions within this project, not about assessments made on the whole around factual evidence.

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: Lord Burns, may I just say I did make a submission to this Committee along these lines, and can I say this very quickly, because this I think is a general principle which applies equally to town dwellers, country dwellers, everyone in the country. There is a terrible feeling of being told by other people how we ought to lead our lives. That is the first thing. The second thing is that the test of democracy is not that the majority should always have their own way but that there is a due respect paid to minorities. It is perfectly legitimate, in my view, for everybody to detest fox hunting, to say fox hunting is awful, to try and persuade people from doing it. To say that it looks silly and is a nasty piece of work. What is not permissible is for one section of the community buttressed by some sort of statistical majority to make, to criminalise a substantial honest, honourable and decent section of the community who regard hunting as a perfectly legitimate way of life and which has long been their way of life. The idea that the things that we dislike must be made criminal offences is, in my submission, repulsive to people whether they live in the countryside or whether they live in the town. And the idea that we are going to handcuff Masters of foxhounds and girls from pony clubs and haul them in to overcrowded prisons, the police in the countryside cannot even stop murders, to try and stop hunting when very many mounted policemen eagerly participate in it, is, in my mind, totally ludicrous. And the ludicrousness of it is demonstrated by the Bill which is before Parliament which is to send someone to prison if their dog started off chasing a rabbit and changed its mind and chased a hare and one of the proposers of that Bill confessed he could not tell a hare from a rabbit so it is not improbable that the dog might make the same mistake. We have, in my submission, to be tolerant of minorities and there is perhaps a lesson to be learnt from religious butchering, infinitely crueller than anything that might happen in hunting. We tolerate that because it is supported by important religious and decent minorities. We must, in my view, whatever the end of these proceedings is, come to the conclusion that the debate on fox hunting, and we will never persuade each other ever, however many statistics we read, the debate on fox hunting is not something which could possibly end in a criminal solution. And I say that as someone who has never hunted, never has the slightest intention of hunting and never will hunt. It is a matter which rouses enormously strong feelings, talking about terrorisation or whatever you were discussing this morning, what was the word, "intimidation". Just for writing an article in the Daily Mail I have had death threats, excrement through the post, my wife has death threats, razor blades in an envelope, it is not a subject which is going to ever reach some amicable agreement. But it must be a subject which continues to be debated and continues to be debated strenuously, but is not in my view and, I hope, in all our views a subject which can be solved by a criminal offence.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. I think what you have just done probably has been to make the opening closing speech!

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: Sorry to have done it, but I have come here and I just felt I had to say it.

THE CHAIRMAN: That is fine. Given the timetable, I think that probably neatly takes us on actually to where I was going to go. This is to invite people to make their closing statements and maybe they could pick up this whole question of Government intervention in the context of that. I will come back to this end of the table and go round and end up with the presenters to see whether there is anything more that needs to be said about this subject. This will give people the opportunity to make any more general remarks that they might want to make about it. So that that was not in any sense a reprimand.

SIR JOHN MORTIMER: I am grateful.

THE CHAIRMAN: But I think having taken us into that tone, it is probable we should continue with that and bring our proceedings to a conclusion. I am looking to this end of the table.

MR BATCHELOR: I think the issue of Government intervention has been raised and we accept it in terms of food production, we accept it in many areas. I think it is a consequence of a developed society, and I think what you have here is a society that pays through its taxes in large measure to support the countryside, that has an interest in the countryside and visits the countryside and therefore it has a strong cultural and social interest in that countryside. I think it has every right to exercise its view as well and I am concerned in this inquiry that we seem to be falling into the trap of separating the country from the town and town people stayed in the towns and country people stayed in the country. That cannot be the truth. Truth of it is the wider British public, and a fair number of foreign tourists as well, come to enjoy the countryside and all the things which go on in it which, I admit, may include hunting. I think we should be seeing this as a wider social debate in which many people in this country participate and, as you know, from the opinion survey evidence, many would like to see their countryside without meeting hunting when they do so. Thank you.

MR ROLLS: We obviously agree that this should be a democratic country. There is no wish to criminalise communities, but I think this committee has realised that there is a deep repugnance to cruelty to animals where they are caused unnecessary suffering. This is not a frivolous or petty issue, but concerns cruelty which for us is non-negotiable, and I believe it is of great importance to distinguish between reasons why individuals should be -- individual freedom should be maintained and it is the view of the RSPCA, the League Against Cruel Sports and IFAW that maintaining such individual freedoms at the expense of cruelty to animals is totally unacceptable.

MR SWANN: Thank you, Lord Burns. I think these two have probably stolen most of my thunder on what I was going to say as a closing address. I think I would emphasise.

THE CHAIRMAN: That is what happens when you have a big team!

MR SWANN: Yes, thank you. I will remember that for the next session! I would like to re-emphasise the point that John has made, that our opposition to hunting is based entirely on the cruelty and unnecessary suffering involved. It is not in any way an attempt to stop people enjoying activities in the countryside. Obviously, hunting is important to people who hunt and it is a self-evident thing to say and social activities surrounding the hunt are also important to people who hunt. The research has done no more than state that in a way and it would have been surprising if you had found otherwise. I will reiterate the point that I have concerns about taking these four specific hunts and drawing greater conclusions from them and I think those are misgivings that you have expressed yourselves. In terms of the social activity in rural villages and in the countryside more generally, there is a whole raft of activities which take place, based around fund raising for specific events, based around general community activities and these take place now in areas where there is no hunting and I believe that areas where there is now hunting, should hunting stop, which we believe it will, that these other activities will come to replace them and I think there is ample opportunity for communities to express themselves in this way. I will go back to that first point, that this is not an attempt to persecute a minority. It is not an attempt to stop people exercising the legitimate right to enjoy the countryside; it is purely an opposition to animal cruelty. Thank you.

DR RYDER: I think this is a very interesting study of attitudes within four rural areas that are highly pro-hunting. Indeed, it is a record of attitudes at the extreme end, I think, of the pro-hunting dimension. It is rather like asking people who live in the vicinity of the Lords cricket ground whether they have heard of cricket, et cetera. The team itself points out that their findings are not representative of the countryside, nor even of all hunting areas. Unfortunate therefore perhaps that the title should be countryside because that has been picked up in the media. In view of the highly selective and pro-hunting nature of the area studies, it is really quite remarkable that even in this small enclaves or heartlands only half of the respondents said they were in favour of hunting and only a quarter -- excluding Exmoor, considerably less than one fifth -- considered that hunting was an important part of their lives and 41 per cent said that as hunted related activities only played a relatively insignificant role locally they considered that a ban on hunting would have a positive or broadly neutral effect socially. In no way, therefore, does this study contradict the more general surveys carried out in recent years. For example, the one for the Daily Telegraph for Gallup which showed that 77 per cent of country people disapproved of fox hunting. I feel some more notice could be taken of the damage and devisiveness caused by hunting and the hunting controversy in rural areas. As regards Sir John Mortimer's last point, I think some activities of minorities are beyond the pale and do require legislation. This was much debated in the 19th Century with other forms of cruel country sports and in fact JS Mill, and I shall end with this quote from him, actually wrote on the subject: "It is by the grossest misunderstanding of the principle of liberty that the infliction of exemplary punishment on ruffianism practised towards those defenceless creatures has been treated as a meddling by Government in things beyond its province and interference with domestic life. The domestic life of domestic tyrants is one of the things which it is the most imperative on the law to interfere with." John Stuart Mill was making an analogy between child abuse and animal abuse. Thank you.

MR TODHUNTER: Lord Burns, ladies and gentlemen, it is said that we should not generalise from the figures in the report that show the 59 per cent of respondents are opposed to a ban, but I would like to talk really about my area, Cumbria, which has been part of the study. A ban on hunting in my native Cumbria would have a severe impact on the rural fabric of the Lake District. For centuries and generations of people the local hunt has been, and still is, the focal point of the community. The Lake District has a very large and very busy national park with hundreds of thousands of visitors and tourists. Local and traditional way of life must be maintained at all costs. The Lake District now that all the people come to see and enjoy is a direct result of farmers and hunting and country people having cared for the landscape and wildlife for generations. Even in the summer months prior to the hunting season the hunt plays a large part in supporting the local agricultural shows and fetes with foxhound and terrier show classes and hound parades. Nearly every show in Cumbria has classes for foxhounds and terriers which shows the importance that hunting holds in the agricultural and village communities. Throughout the season at the Blencathra we have 18 coffee mornings before a day's hunting and 10 social events, a dance and two shepherds meets where all walks of life and professions, young and old, can join in and be part of the hunt. People also go to socials organised by churches and pubs, but they will never replace the type of socials organised by hunts that will be lost for ever. I meet thousands of people in my day-to-day course of hunting the Blencathra hounds on the fells and the vast majority of those people will be supportive, speak, want to take a photograph, or perhaps might think Billy Smart's Circus has come to town, I do not know, but they show a very positive response to myself and the hounds. The famous huntsman John Peel, who was immortalised in the song, "Do you ken John Peel?", has been sung in every circumstance and place from Cumbria to Tasmania and was adopted by the Border Regiment to march into battle in two world wars and it is still the regimental marching tune of the King's own Border Regiment. This is part of our culture and part of our way of life in the area. Without it, it would be totally gone. As Barney White-Spunner said this morning, this Inquiry is investigating the cultural impact of hunting as well as the social impact. That seems to be forgotten sometimes. The RSPCA and other members of Deadline 2000 do not raise the cultural issues of hunting; presumably they do not dispute that they exist. Just to close, Lord Burns, I would like to say that a ban on fox hunting would be the final nail in the coffin for the rural people of Cumbria because without the hounds the heart of our area would be gone. Thank you.

MR HART: Lord Burns, you will be pleased to hear my closing statement has been reduced to one page this time. The Alliance welcomes this report in as much it is the first detailed study of its kind into hunting attitudes across England and Wales in the specific areas where that actually happens. The findings of the report confirm evidence put forward by the Alliance and by many others opposed to a ban on hunting, namely that only 22 per cent of rural people in these areas think hunting should be criminalised but 59 per cent oppose a ban, that 16 per cent neither oppose nor support a ban, possibly, and most interestingly of all, 64 per cent of those questioned considered it important in their local communities. The report confirmed that support for hunting from farmers and rural workers was an overwhelming 76 per cent. The report dispels once and for all the myth that hunting is an exclusive preserve of the upper classes, whatever they are. Hunting welcomes anybody who wishes to try it. That support for hunting seems to be directly linked to knowledge and experience. It is short, but the more you know, the less you object to it. The report also touches on some negative aspects. The Alliance has never claimed that there is 100 per cent support for hunting in any part of the world, even these. Nor have we ever claimed that it should be made compulsory. What is clear is that there is no overwhelming desire for a ban in the places where it actually happens. Indeed, the opposite seems to be the case and on that subject of so-called intimidation, I am just going to read one brief extract from Douglas Batchelor in one of the first oral sessions: "I have chaired the Simonsbath and lived right in the middle of one of these communities. I was known to be against hunting. My employer was very pro-hunting. As long as we understood each other's position that was okay." The report shows, as has been borne out in other evidence, that people have strong beliefs and feelings about their way of life and how they want to lead it. The reasons may differ, but the common factor is hunting and all that goes with it is important to them and their community. In short it is something indefinable, incalculable, not something that can easily be analysed. It is something people wish to protect and cherish. The Alliance has always known that the majority of rural people do support hunting, and that making it a criminal offence is the goal of a small but vocal minority. It is this determined support that put 300,000 people on the streets of London in 1998 and another 100,000 on regional city streets in 1999 and noticeably without a single arrest. The report, if nothing else, shows that to a significant number of people simply hunting is worth fighting for. Thank you.

DR GARRY MARVIN: I do not have -- I am more reliant with this side of the table and the research team. As an anthropologist my job has been to try and understand the meaning of this event in the British countryside and I would like to congratulate the team, as wearing my sociologist hat tomorrow when I teach -- I am a sociologist -- being able to put together a project like this so quickly and getting interesting things. I can see there is all sorts of problems with it, but I think it is a very interesting study. From the position of academics it has advanced our knowledge; whether it is useful to the Committee is for them to decide. All I would like to add at the end, I do not think there was enough emphasis on this, the social and cultural impact. We have heard a lot about the social impact and I would stress that Paul and his team were not able to get at this so easily, I think, because it is not something you can mesh, but there is an interesting cultural engagement here and if hunting goes, a cultural tradition will go, whether that is good or bad, for the people to decide, but I think there through qualitative study you get a more interesting area there.

DR PAUL MILBOURNE: I think we have said enough.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Your paper has provoked a vigorous discussion and we have all been interested in the results of it. We have been trying to make sense of them. We have been trying to fit them into some of our preconceived notions. We have been trying to decide how much is new, how much is different, how much can be explained by different circumstances. So it has been a stimulating paper itself and I hope that, in turn, you have picked up some ideas as to how you might look at your data between now and finalising the report. I think it remains for me to thank everybody for coming and for discussing this issue. I would say that as far as the general title is concerned that we have been sticking as closely as we can to the remit we have been given. Issues about the countryside and the impact of hunting of course are central to that. We have another seminar later this week on the economic aspects and for those of you who are going to be present at that, I look forward to seeing you again. For those that will not be coming to it, can I say thank you very much for coming and participating in such a constructive way. It has been a very good discussion. Thank you. There is some tea outside.

(3.10 pm)

(The hearing adjourned)

Back to top


Date uploaded to site 15 May 2000