THE CHAIRMAN: Good afternoon. Thank you all very much for being back so promptly. I have a series of questions that I would like to drop in, which is to do with the practicalities of drag and bloodhound hunting. I think, first is the question: Just what are the differences between the two? I think the report suggested maybe bloodhound hunting is closer to foxhound hunting. Is that the case? What are the things which take some people in the direction of bloodhounds and others in the direction of drag hunting? Someone suggested on one occasion that the bloodhounds are not really pack hounds in the same way and they are more individual. I do not know if there is anything in that point that anyone would like to raise. The issue of whether or not it is too fast seems to be something which crops up on a number of occasions, and, therefore, it does not appeal to all ages. Indeed, when we were in Germany it was said one of the challenges they had was to slow it down. I suppose finally and maybe the most difficult - I do not want to be offensive - but in drag hunting are the hounds really needed at all? What are they adding to the experience? This, again, is something which has been raised with us. I am merely repeating the things that have cropped up. I want to spend a little time on these issues simply to improve our understanding. We have had the benefit of some learned explanations by some of your colleagues, but I would just like to press on some of them. I think I have Mr Broughton and Dr Hamilton-Wallis in my sights here for many of these issues.
MR BROUGHTON: I feared that you may have. The differences between the two sports. Primarily, the differences are only important to those who actually hunt the hounds, and not as much importance to those who actually ride behind. The bloodhound hunts the natural scent. The natural scent of a human being, the clean boot. Therefore, we have many different days --
THE CHAIRMAN: Sorry, why is it called the clean boot?
MR BROUGHTON: I suppose it means no artificial scent, just natural scent. I suppose the clean boot could also be referred to foxes and deer, et cetera, as well, if there is no artificial scent.
MR COX: Not a dirty one anyway.
MR BROUGHTON: But we hunt the clean boot, and so our hounds are of most important to us. The actual art of hunting a bloodhound is of importance to those who actually hunt them. As regards to the way the day is contrived, there is not much difference between drag hunting and hunting the clean boot. Hunting the clean boot can sometimes be a little slower, if the scent is not as good as what it could be. Some days we can hunt at 16 miles an hour. Sometimes we can hunt at 5 miles an hour. There will be the odd day that they cannot hunt at all, and that is very difficult. A lot of the followers enjoy it when it is at 5 miles an hour because they can actually settle down and watch the hounds working. I enjoy it when it is a little faster because I can be upfront. I am proud of my hounds. I am proud of the way that they work. I am sure many draghound huntsman feel the same as well. That is primarily the difference between the two. So we are probably more hound-led, but I know there are some people in this room who love their draghounds and have put their life into them; and one cannot take that away. But hunting the bloodhound is hunting a natural scent. That is the only difference.
THE CHAIRMAN: Is there anything in the point that bloodhounds are more a collection of individuals rather than a pack?
MR BROUGHTON: Bloodhounds are more difficult to handle, most definitely, but when the pack has been bred on the premises, and has been worked for that particular job, they become much easier. A singular bloodhound is very independent, but when the pack come together they are not so independent.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: There were a couple of points. The first is with regard to the "too fast" bit of the point that you had raised. It probably crosses over as well into some of the points that Phil has just raised. I think I cannot stress heavily enough the very, very basic differences between packs around the country. I think that there is always inevitably going to be a price to be paid for the time that was taken, that was available to do all the research, and the problems that come out of the slightly small sample sizes, and the methodology. One of the problems is that there is a tendency then to compare specific very, very unique packs. You literally are comparing individuals. So I think there is/there are differences. There are differences between the sports, but I would tend to agree with Phil in saying that those differences are very much down to the individuals. We have packs like the Berks and Bucks, for example, the Isle of Wedmore, where the hound work is crucial to them, and the way they approach their sport. There would be other packs who --
THE CHAIRMAN: Could you say a little bit more about that and why it is different?
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: With respect to the draghound and bloodhound?
THE CHAIRMAN: The two you just mentioned.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: The Berks and Bucks? I think to be honest the differences would probably come down to the individuals who head the organisations. If they are hunting people, and they have a preference, and they have a desire to see hounds work, then they will lay on days that do that. If there is a problem in the sport, it is often that the requests of the individuals hunting the hounds, or the way they do it, sometimes does not always go hand in hand with what the field want, which is not a problem with fox hunting because they cannot moan at the fox. But it is a problem with drag hunting, and it is certainly an area -- you will find some draghound packs, for example, where the hounds will not feature so importantly. It may be that the Master came out of some other equestrian orientated sport, had a look and he took it up, and he put his emphasis on the pack and the activities of that pack. On the subject of the "too fast" bit, I think that the too fast bit certainly came about historically as a result of the way drag hunting originally came about, and was originally borne out of the university and the military packs. At the time they came about, it was certainly true that they were crazy. It was a point in time where people did not have quite the regard for their own personal safety that they have today. To say that it still exists would be. There are some packs that choose to go faster, and a number of the bloodhound packs that are south of the London band the Cokeham and the Kent and Surrey Bloodhounds, of whom will undoubtedly have a much faster pace than certain other packs in other parts of the country. My own pack, for example, in Wales, we tend not to jump very much at all. That would possibly be not unique to us, but we would be in a minority within the Association with regard to that. So I think that the "too fast" bit, it is certainly faster than quarry hunting, but that in itself is not a problem, because the pace with which the hounds hunt, it has been mentioned by Graham, is down often to factors that are outside the control of the hunt. But certainly lines can be laid in short segments and lifted; and the field Master can then take a role in slowing a line down, for example, and that no longer -- it ceases to be an issue.
THE CHAIRMAN: Are the hounds necessary to this, or are they a decorative addition?
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: I think, arguably, again, that comes down to the individual pack. I think if you have a pack where they are taking out, 50 or 60 hounds -- I know that there is a Berks and Bucks representative in the audience -- if there was a suggestion that his hounds went, well, of course they are crucial; they do set the pace for the day and they add to the ambience of the day, and they are certainly important, yes. There is a mock hunt, where they can chase an individual on a horse. You do not have to change the rules of the game very much to come up with something that is quite unique and distinctive, as you can see with rugby/football, or squash and tennis, or lots of other sports that appear similar but are very fundamentally different.
THE CHAIRMAN: Sir Richard, do you have anything to add on that?
SIR RICHARD BODY: Lord Burns, I think I made the point it is very unwise to generalise about hunting with drag or bloodhounds. I think we tend to do something a little bit different from the others. You asked about whether bloodhounds were pack hounds. That was certainly the case. There will be literature about that; that the bloodhound is not naturally a pack hound. When I started about 30 years ago now I was told I would never be able to get a pack of bloodhounds together because they are not natural pack hounds, but that could indeed be said historically of the foxhound, long ago in the middle of the last century; that when you had hounds trencher-fed they tended to hunt individually. If you keep hounds, two or three generations, in kennels together, and you are feeding them together and exercising them together, then they will develop a pack instinct but it does take a number of years to do that. That said, those of us who have had bloodhounds have, I regret to say, had to cheat a little bit. I do not think any of us can quite claim -- and Phil would agree with me about this -- that we all have pure-bred bloodhounds. We have had to go to the foxhounds, to Dumfriesshire in particular, to bring in a bit of speed, to bring back the voice, and the scenting qualities to some extent, because after the war, when some of us got going on this, there were very few bloodhounds about, because in the war nearly all of them, most of them, were put down. They were so expensive to keep. The result was that those bloodhounds that did exist were all show bloodhounds. Therefore, in the show world, of course, you lose your voice, you lose their quality and also the nose. It is not tested. So it took quite a long time for us to get packs of bloodhounds together. I think I must emphasise, it can be very difficult to expand hunting with bloodhounds because the number of hounds one can use now are very limited. I am sure Phil would agree with me about this. It is very difficult to get good hounds. So to increase the number of bloodhound packs from this point would be extremely difficult to get good blood lines, unless one resorted to out-crosses. You asked about the clean boot, Lord Burns. There is such a thing as dirty boot hunting. I must not make accusation from where I am, but I think there are some who have packs of bloodhounds, if I may say so, who do add a little something to their boot to enable it to be a little easier in order to speed it up. I did have a joint Master at one point who was very keen on doing that. I eventually detected what was going on. So there is such a thing as dirty boot hunting, and the reason is that so many of the people who come out with us want excitement. They are not necessarily hound people. I agree with Phil, if you start a pack of bloodhounds you are a hound man; you are interested in what I regret is called dog work here. That is a rather sexist phrase, as far as I am concerned, because we have dogs and bitches. That is your prime interest. But what is undoubtedly the case is, if you want to subscribe to what a lot of people do, you have to give them excitement, a good deal of jumping and speed as well. If you cannot give them that, then you will not get their subscriptions. As to hunting without hounds, well I think one of the great attractions of hunting with bloodhounds is the hound work, and the voice. I can get lyrical -- I will not at this point -- about the sound and the valley. You only need five or six couples of bloodhounds to have a tremendous cry, that deep voice, much better than yappy beagles or foxhounds. There is a wonderful cry, but also it is a tremendous challenge when scenting conditions -- the research paper I think has been good on the scenting issue. Scenting conditions can be atrocious at certain times, but to see a good pack of hounds unravelling and overcoming the difficulties I think can be very rewarding; and that I think is one of the main reasons why those of us who are so mad as to have a pack of bloodhounds go into it, because it can get almost obsessional. So we are, as Phil said, more concerned, particularly those who are into this type of hounds, with the art of venery rather than the galloping over other people's land. But our subscribers on the other hand -- and this is the difficulty we are in -- do not see the hound work in the main, or we try to enable them to do so but it is much more difficult. If you have a field of 30 behind you, they cannot -- it is physically impossible to jump over all the jumps simultaneously to see what is going on. So you are bound to have two-thirds at least who are not seeing the hound work. But we do try, actually, to have lines where there are also routes where you do not need to jump, particularly for children. We have a special field Master, who is giving a commentary to those who are introduced to it to explain to them why the hounds are casting, what they are doing and all the difficulties and so forth. In that way we have enthused quite a number of young people to support us. We have a number now who are getting almost obsessional about it, as I am.
THE CHAIRMAN: How long would it take to double the number of bloodhounds?
SIR RICHARD BODY: To train them?
THE CHAIRMAN: No, to double the number. You said that --
SIR RICHARD BODY: I have had litters. You can get quite a good litter of 6, 7 or 8 puppies, but half of them revert back to those awful showhounds we have been trying to get rid of, with great wrinkles and long ears and cannot see properly. You have to give them a home; you cannot keep them. So it is a lot of luck, an awful lot of luck. I have had wonderful bitches, and they do not breed -- and then you have dog hounds and they get difficult too sometimes. It is awfully difficult. I am really sweating at it with others over 30 years. It took a long time to get a really good pack of hounds, it really did.
MR BROUGHTON: Lord Burns, they say the owners emulate the hounds, no disrespect! You asked a question of how long it would take. At this moment in time, if packs wished to form today there would be a possibility of forming one pack this year by drawing hounds from all the others. It is not just breeding the hounds; it is training the hounds. It is getting them into the pack environment; teaching them to go on the roads; teaching them to go left, to go right, to come over when there is a car coming. It is teaching them that takes the time, not the breeding of them. They are difficult animals to breed also. Very, very large litters and high mortality rates. But it is not the actual getting hold of the hounds; it is actually forming the pack that takes the time.
THE CHAIRMAN: If you have five years, where would you get to in that time?
MR BROUGHTON: You might end up with another 12, 10 packs possibly, if you really put yourself out, but you would have to really put yourself out. Our Association does not really go at it hard. At the end of the day, I do not think any of us have enough time to do that.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I ask whether anybody else has any issues, either comments to make or questions they want to raise on this subject?
MR HART: Thank you, Lord Burns. Just really to follow on something which I wanted to really support Phil Broughton on, with regard to the venery aspect of hunting which has been touched on in the report, and to add that as is clearly the case and acceptably is the case for principally bloodhound hunting. But to take it on one stage of the quarry hunt as well, there are certain aspects which I think are borne out in principle in the report as to people's definition of hound work; what actually appeals to them; how it fits in with their priorities; why they go hunting. It is quite subliminal in some ways. It is the case of the huntsman, or the hunt staff, or the hunt organisers. It is the reconnoitre before the day. It is the planning of the day. It is knowing where the wild animal is likely to be found. It is knowing how it is likely to behave. All of these things which need to be taken into the calculation in preparation of the day, and which requires a knowledge of the natural world, and the knowledge of that particular animal which is perhaps in some cases second to none. It is the way that hounds behave when you are going to the meet; whether they are turning into the wind and looking interested and detect how the scenting conditions are that day. Is it a ground scent? Is it an air scent? Is that scent going to evaporate in 1 minute or 5 minutes? How quickly the huntsman has to adapt to the individual circumstances, which are almost totally unpredictable and yet you try to predict them. It is the way the hounds actually draw, the way they work up to the foxes, picking up the drag from where the fox has been the night before; working up to it in a thick patch of brambles or a gorse break, and which hounds actually do it; which are better at finding it, which are better at hunting it. These sort of techniques which one has with experience and a particular skill. It is what you do when you are hunting a fox when two or three other foxes interfere. I am using foxes as an example; I am referring to all quarry species. It is what happens when the distractions from other foxes are interfering with the process of that hunt; what happens when the hounds actually change foxes from the fox they started with on to a fresh one; whether the old hounds come back and reunite with the original fox; they tune into an individual scent, the balance between experienced old hounds and experienced young ones. It is all of these unique features which make sure that there are no two days hunting which are ever the same. I recall the days -- and I have not had as many as some people around this table. One thing I can guarantee you, no two were ever the same. What is more, no two hunts were ever the same. The behaviour of no two foxes was ever quite identical. The behaviour of the hounds was never quite identical. These are aspects of venery which in some cases are impossible to describe eloquently enough. Certainly, and with the greatest respect to all of those who attempt to do it, it is those fineries which cannot actually be mimicked.
THE CHAIRMAN: I was just going to offer the challenge to our friend by all means.
MR DAVIES: I thought that was a very nice exposition with which we would have no favour if you remove the word "fox". Everything that was described there we would support. It is wonderful for the hounds. It is wonderful for the horses. It is wonderful for the hunters. It is bloody awful for the thing being hunted. We would love to see hounds being exercised in the traditional way, with all the pleasures of the countryside which I have talked about before. But take out the cruelty aspect and the RSPCA is very happy with what you have just said.
THE CHAIRMAN: If I interpret Simon correctly, he was saying this was only possible with the fox. But I am now throwing this challenge to colleagues --
MR DAVIES: I would disagree with that, as you would imagine.
THE CHAIRMAN: --as to whether they would wish to say they can do as well.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: No, to be perfectly honest, I wish we could, and we simply cannot. I think one of the points that is often missed with regard to the sport is that it does follow a predetermined route. Just about all of the points that Simon raised are things we cannot do. Some things we cannot do. There are circumstances in which we can do them quite well, but the sports are fundamentally different. The thing that drives people to go fox hunting and drives people to go drag hunting is quite different; and that is not to say that some people who go fox hunting might not fancy a bit of drag hunting. It is certainly true to say -- and I think it was brought out in the report -- some people, many drag hunters do go fox hunting as well. The preference, I do not know, it would be like asking a tennis player why they play tennis over squash.
THE CHAIRMAN: Why do the lines have to be fixed?
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: That is primarily because of the amount of country that we cover. We, in South Wales, have some very substantial commons that we hunt. We do not always fix the lines and we call them floating lines. We will, in those circumstances, allow a line layer to leave at a particular time in the morning, and then instruct him to be back at a point, usually at a particular time in the day. He can then go off and get into soft wood forest. Everybody can chase him. It is a very, very different thing. The problem there is you are talking of 4,000 or 5,000 acres. There are parts of our country where we can do that in, but I would hasten to add only one point, in our country, and I know that my neighbouring pack -- and in fact I do not know of any other packs in the Association that have that amount of free country.
THE CHAIRMAN: Why does it take so much more country for drag hunting than it does for quarry hunting? Is it just down to the speed? Because in one sense you would have thought, given you can to some degree control it, you can actually get more in a particular area. That would be my naive interpretation, whereas everything I read says that you actually need rather more space to do drag hunting. I have not quite got to the bottom of this.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: I think to answer that question we really have to look a little bit more closely at what fox hunters do in their day. They will meet at 11 o'clock. They will be finishing at 5 o'clock. Anybody who has a horse will be telling you they are probably not going to be doing much canter pace, for more than 40 minutes, if they have a good day. Their day is very much based and focused around what they do in the 5 hours. We can take a group of followers up onto a mountain and say, "You must stand here now in the rain because this is what the fox hunt did last week", but that is not why they are there. You take away the purpose and you take away the reason for being there. Then you take away vast areas of what they do and what drives them to be there. The issue over the country, yes, I mean, what it does essentially is, it strips out from fox hunting, so much of their activity, that we get left with that 40 minutes, and try to do our best with that, and try to put that into a day. But it still means that we have to be covering the country. 12 and 15 miles of country is quite normal then for a drag hunt to be covering in a day. It stands to reason that that places massive demands then on your ability to run the pack. The other thing also I would like to say, locally, with our foxhound packs, for example, they can often put their hounds to a cover. Again, for want of a better expression, they can rattle a fox between two covers a mile apart all day and have a wonderful day. We cannot do that; that will give us two and a half minutes of sport. We cannot take a field out of 30 or 40 people and say, "We are doing this mile and then we are going to take you back here". You can put a circle round and let the hounds go round in a circle, but nobody is going to be following it.
SIR RICHARD BODY: Lord Burns, may I follow that up, because there are several points to be made. All hunting depends upon the consent of the farming community. I think drag hunting and hunting with bloodhounds requires a full-hearted consent because we are not offering the farmer anything in return; and I think it is much more difficult to persuade farmers. One of the problems we have is that we cannot obviously go over arable crops. We cannot go over fields of vegetables and such like. We cannot work where we do not wish to go, into woodlands with foxhounds, and we tend to have grassland. If we are to have three lines, which we always aim for, and the optimum is three miles of -- free line for three miles. That is 9 miles. We nearly always fall short of that optimum which we strive for in order to satisfy our subscribers. If we get to get 6 miles, it can be extremely difficult, of grassland in the southern half of England where we are, where the pack of which I am now Chairman is, it is extremely difficult to find perhaps 15 to 20 farmers who are willing to allow you to go over their land, particularly when there has been heavy rainfall, as there has been in recent weeks, where you have 30 horses galloping over or cantering over perhaps, galloping over their grassland, and you are not very popular. We have often had to cancel meets when there has been a heavy rainfall when the foxhounds do not cancel their meets, simply because the farmers say, "You are going to do something useful, and you always have done it". They do not say that about us. I think we also have to recognise, Lord Burns, in the last 30 years something like 7 million acres of agricultural land, pasture land, including downland has been ploughed up. Generally speaking, it is not suitable for hunting with bloodhounds. I know people do it, quite successfully, and we do, but it does mean going around headland, and that is very difficult to do, particularly if you are on a tread horse which can stick to an area of headlands. But you cannot just have obstacles sticking to the hedge when you have only got a few feet on either side. So you do have to go into the arable crops and jump over obstacles; and that is not popular with farmers. So as a general rule, so far as we are concerned, farmers do not want us on arable land. They say, "All right, come over on the grass or the pastures so long as the sheep are not there, or they are lambing", or whatever. But to find 9 miles of that sort of country is extremely difficult. We often end up with only 6 or 7, and we regret this. This is one of the reasons, Lord Burns, why I must emphasise that support for drag hunting is rather slipping away. I do not think I shall be contradicted, but I think most packs find that rather fewer people are now going out than they were two years ago, partly because we cannot give them long enough hunts over the kind of obstacles they wish to go over, et cetera.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Can I come back to Daryl's points. You agreed quite strongly with Simon that the two types of venery are different; that it is hard to produce in drag hunting the venery associated with live quarry hunting. But you also just made a point very strongly that drag hunting is different; they do not want to stand in the rain on top of a mountain; and they do not want to do a short hunt between two covers. My question is which is the most important; the difficulty of the reproducing because it is two different veneries, or the fact that people do not actually want to reproduce? Following that up, if you have a situation in the event of a ban, when people do want to reproduce the fox hunting type of venery because that is the only alternative to that, to what extent do you think you could overcome some of the differences? Because you are then providing for a very different demand.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: I think to answer that question you have to look at the activities of the pack as they are now, like my own pack, desperately trying to survive. I have done everything in my power. I have done everything in the last 5 years I can think of, and things I have disagreed with which other people have suggested, to try and do that. As far as I am concerned, if William could show me how to do it, I will do it. It is down to the basic question of providing what the followers want, or just being able to do it, because obviously there are more people fox hunting than there are drag hunting. If we could do that we would open up a market, but we cannot open up the market with existing fox hunters any more than we can with people that do not go hunting at all.
PROFESSOR WINTER: You do not need to, because at the moment people who want a fox hunting experience can do that, and those who want a drag hunting experience can come with you. It is obvious where the balance in the numbers lies. What I am saying is, if the fox hunting was not open to them, to what extent could you adapt and alter your kind of hunting to provide the kind of hunting experience that currently people get from fox hunting, because they do not need to go with you at the moment if that is what they want.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: I take the point. I think the point I was trying to make earlier with regard to what activities are pursued by the fox hunters, I think I am trying to point out that of the 6 hours they are out they spend 5 hours doing something that we just cannot do, in terms of standing around looking for quarry, and if anybody could get our followers to stand around in the rain for no real reason, we would be all right because the problems often arise from getting them to do something strenuous. Then, after you get them to do that, getting them to hang around for a little bit, and that is where the problems lie. If there was, if you could put, Phil -- and I have had many conversations over many late evenings trying to see if there was a spin that could be put on it that would get people to do that. But I think, at the end of the day, fox hunters go out to try and find a fox. Whether the riders go out to do that, I am not sure. But what I am saying is that is what their sport involves, because that incorporates about 5/6ths of the day; there is a reason for them doing it. They are going out to do something. There is a reason for them doing it. They do it. They go equipped with little hip flasks to do it. That is the problem. So I think there is all sorts of things that you may be able to do with the laying of the drag to slow the drag up. We do it, but it still does not address the central problem. The central problem is the time we spend literally pursuing from a standstill point this sport. MR SWANN: Thank you, Lord Burns. Could I pick up on one point, please, from Phil Broughton; that one of the key issues in this seems to be this issue of predictability or unpredictability. I was going to back to some of the comments that you made this morning as to just for whom the drag hunt is predictable or unpredictable because, if I am understanding you correctly, what you said this morning is that the majority of people who are actually out with the drag hunt or the bloodhound hunt it will indeed be an unpredictable experience. I wonder if I could ask whether that could be expanded a little bit.
MR BROUGHTON: Absolutely. 95 per cent of those people that follow behind, they do not have a clue where they are going. Most of them have never hunted over that country before. So it is unpredictable to them. But I think "unpredictable" is being used in two senses of the word. The unpredictableness of what the fox would do is completely different.
MR SWANN: Could I come back on that, Lord Burns. One point that one might say is that human ingenuity should be able to outperform that of the fox; I am not sure that everyone would agree with me. But is there a possibility that this could be looking to future developments. I know there is speculation -- and I appreciate that it has to be speculation -- but could this level of unpredictability be developed?
MR BROUGHTON: There is a possibility that it could, but who wants to emulate a fox when you are hunting a human? The idea of having a pack of bloodhounds is that they have human sense, like a foxhound has fox sense. My hounds have human sense. They actually think for themselves where that human may have gone. When the scent is no longer there, and they cannot find it. You will see them take a beeline for a stile two fields away, because they have realised that the human does not want to jump 6 strands of barbed wire. Why should our sport emulate someone else? We would not wish it to.
THE CHAIRMAN: I would like to move the conversation on to how things might develop in the event that there was no quarry hunting. I realise quite a lot of people sitting around this table do not want to imagine that situation. But we are forced to ask ourselves that question. I would really like to probe how you would see your sport, your activity, developing, and some of the different ways that it might develop. Whether there are any more varieties that you would be offering in the event that there was a ban. I think this is one of the issues that Michael was getting at. I have a lot of time for the argument. Because what it says is that at the moment there is both fox hunting and there is drag/bloodhound hunting. It is not surprising, therefore, that the two emerge as complementary activities. They are not trying to replace each other. They are doing something that is different. In the event that there was a ban, then there are a greater series of options then available, it is argued, for both drag and bloodhound hunting. I would just like to press you to speculate on some of the ways in which you might see your activities developing if there were a ban. We have to try and think ourselves into a state of mind now that there is one, rather than all the time saying I do not want one. But it is trying to get some view as to how you see the possibilities that might develop.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: I think to answer that question we could possibly look at the packs that exist in areas where there is no live quarry hunting. I think the foreign experience, the situation in Germany, and certainly the situation in the Isle of Man, Anglesey and Jersey which are examples, and history has not produced any change to the procedure. If I were to try and sit down and think how it would change, I simply do not know. There is nothing that -- we have tried just about everything. I mean, you can emulate a fox only to a certain degree. I mean, it would be a poor pretence, but whether that would be what people wanted would be a completely different issue. The point I am trying to make is that what makes people go fox hunting I think you cannot underestimate how tied that is into the fox. One wonders how many people would go fishing in a fish farm, for example, where there is no competition to pull the fish out of water but there are 10,000 for you to pull out at will. People will not do that. For the life of me, I cannot imagine how the sport could change. But I would certainly say I would take any suggestions from anybody. If somebody comes along and tells me do this differently, I will do it.
THE CHAIRMAN: You are saying that you are asking the questions rather than giving the answers?
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: I am saying, unfortunately, that I do not have the answers, but we are open to suggestions from anybody.
MR BROUGHTON: Lord Burns, I think within our Associations we have explored every different angle that it is possible to explore. We have tried every twist and turn to say we have packs that do not jump now; packs that jump with an alternative at the side; we have packs that go very slow; packs that sort of work in completely different ways to the ones that you have seen. At the end of the day, their numbers are coming down. Their support is coming down. How much of this is because of the political problems that we have with hunting at the moment, I do not know. But certainly, at the moment, we are looking for any advice and any suggestions because we feel that our sport does need a new twist.
THE CHAIRMAN: So the suggestion in a sense that has been made, is that you have not been sufficiently imaginative, and there are all sorts of opportunities out there that you have failed to spot. Is that a line that you have accepted?
MR BROUGHTON: Absolutely not.
MR COX: Lord Burns, before we move on too fast, can I make a couple of points. One is a sort of coda to the question you asked sometime ago about the breeding of bloodhounds, and how quickly it might be possible to increase their numbers. In response to what was an extraordinarily difficult question, you got a straight answer, namely, that there were a lot of uncertainties. The one thing that was not mentioned which is going to matter to people who do this sort of thing is quality. I will give you an outrageous example of what we are talking about from Daphne Moore's Book of the Foxhound, talking of what the Heythrop hunt did in 1875 - I may have the year wrong. During one summer they bred about 140 foxhound puppies and kept 12. We are talking about destroying the others, not putting them out to homes and all the rest of it, and that kind of commitment to excellence is what has produced what we now have in working dogs. I am not for one minute suggesting that current bloodhound breeders would do that sort of thing, but that concern with quality would be a further -- whether they could be taken into the sort of training that Phil Broughton said they would have to undergo and so forth would be a further constraint on the speed with which you could expect to increase their numbers. The other point I wanted to make, a predictable gale of laughter greeted the point about surely we ought to be able to do better than the fox. Actually there are quite technical reasons in the report which explain why it is not possible to do certain things artificially that you may be able to do with the foxhounds and the fox, and I will leave it to people better qualified than me to explain if you wish to hear. One is training the dogs not to work a heel line, i.e. animals when they hit a scent line need to know, or learn or come to acquire the skill to know, whether the quarry has gone in that direction or that direction. Young dogs spent a lot of time, whether they be gundogs, hound or whatever, travelling in the wrong direction until they learn and they acquire those skills. Because of the sort of scent that is laid for draghounds, and the use of aniseed, various other ways of accentuating the strength of the smell, it is very, very hard to either lay contiguous lines or to train dogs to not to work a heel line. I say there are various other things that one could say, but there are actually very good points that need to be made in response to the obvious assertion, "Surely we can do better than the fox." That is to miss the point entirely.
MR HART: Talking about the possible implications of a ban, and how they would possibly take up blood or drag hunting, even if they are not prepared to admit it now. Again can we just bear in mind for the purposes of this seminar all of those people who do not own horses, cannot own horses and live in areas of the country where horses and the ground do not go side-by-side, i.e. the Lake District, some of the West Country, some of the fells, some of the upland areas, the foot hunters, all the people I mentioned this morning to whom drag hunting is not an alternative, and who actually make up a substantial proportion of the hunting community who would be affected by a ban on hunting. We seem to be limiting ourselves purely to those people who are rich enough or bold enough to own a horse. One other point briefly on the use of country, the hunts can of course, and do, avoid pastures of land by going round whatever it might be. You can visit the same piece of country with quarry hounds 5, 10 times a season, but the chances are that the quarry, and certainly the followers, will never actually take the same route across country exactly twice; and that is why it is possible sometimes to use country more frequently for quarry hunting than it would be for drag hunting.
MR MANLEY: Can I add something to this general debate that we just touched on here. Indeed, it actually does form a basis for some comment within the literature review. This idea about being able to develop the sport further, make it interesting, make it more particularly attractive to other participants, I am sure that has been dealt with by some other researchers. Indeed we looked at that. We looked very deeply at what that was based upon. We came to a very strong conclusion that it was really based on very, very little. It is interesting here, the obvious thing is in a sense the suggestions. It is interesting here to hear Daryl and Phil asking, they appeared to be desperately asking, everybody else for suggestions. Just a comment I would like to make.
MR DAVIES: I would not expect you to come all the way with me on this, and I would not even suggest it, but if you really wanted to find some suggestions you could go in for virtual reality, and do the whole thing from your office, which is what most people seem to be doing with their lives nowadays -- but I would not put that as a sensible suggestion. I think there is a little bit of overemphasis, if I can say this, on the bloodhound issue. I do not see a major impact of a ban on hunting affecting the bloodhounds packs. I think it is a specialist sport. It has a particular appeal to a particular sector of people. I do not think that we would expect to see a massive increase in bloodhound sport. But we do expect that if you cannot ride to hounds to hunt the fox, then the drag hunt in its present form is an acceptable alternative. If there is a ban on hunting the fox then we have additional land available; we have hounds available; we have skilled people available; all of whom have to be converted but it can be done. I think that that is what we expect. I would not expect the Draghunt Association to change their rules particularly. They might look at perhaps improving it in a general sense, but not because of this issue. I am concerned that there seems to be maybe a political (with a small P) reluctance for the Draghunt Association to even consider the numbers who may wish to transfer to their sport if there is a ban. I can understand why. I do not want to spell them out, I do not want to be offensive, but I can understand it. If there is going to be a ban, for God's sake let us start talking about how to manage that ban. I cannot even get round the table to discuss the effects of a ban with anybody because, of course, quite understandably, they cannot publicly say we are planning such a thing because it would be to admit the possibility of defeat. I understand all of that, but to say that if there is a ban there will not be large numbers of people coming into the drag hunt world looking for a sport I think is to put one's head in the sand. We should be planning for that. That is what I am saying. I am not suggesting it needs to be improved.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: Can I respond to that, please. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever in confronting what would happen in the event of a ban. I do not hunt live quarry. What I have a problem with is that I have, on the ground, put a drag hunt pack together - the first drag hunt pack in South Wales. I have brought about 3-400 people to the sport, that I looked at over a 2 to 3 year period. I have brought them in from a variety of different horse disciplines. Quite simply, they do not come back. It is a very specialised sport. I have tried raising this point before. If what you said was true, then we should be able. I think it has to be borne in mind that if the figures supplied by the Countryside Alliance are correct, in that there are about 40 to 60,000 horse riders who go fox hunting and about 500,000 who do not, we have an audience there. There is a group. We have 500,000 horse riders and we cannot bring them to the sport. It is not just a case of being unable to get them out. I think the point you are doing is you are trying desperately to hold the sport up as a solution to the problem, the economic argument that you face politically in warring with your opponents. What we are trying to say is that that is not fair, because it is quite simply untrue. If you can provide any evidence to suggest that it is true -- and I have about an 88,000 bill as a result of my last 5 years antics -- show me how to improve that and reduce that and I will do it. But surely it has to come from making the sport appealing to the 9 out of 10 people who own horses to start off with. If you can help us do that, I would be more than willing to take suggestions.
THE CHAIRMAN: There is a challenge!
MR DAVIES: Very quickly, we do not see drag hunting as the only alternative to live quarry hunting. We see a very significant part of that, and I thought, Daryl, if I had this right, your own figures gave me the answer. You said 60-odd people came to join your hunt and after a year half of them have gone fox hunting. Well, if there was no fox hunting I do not think you would have lost them.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: I do not know if you misinterpreted the figure. Of 300 who came, there were 60 converts, 30 of which came to us and 30 of which went to the fox hunt pack. So it is looking at a 1 in 10 figure. These are of people who will turn up and repeat the exercise. There will be people who would turn up and flake out halfway through, and they do not fare in the figures at all.
MR SWANN: Thank you, Chairman. I would really like to support what Peter has said, because what we are looking at is people who specifically want to ride to hounds. Of that great number of people who own horses in this country, they have no interest in riding to hounds; they want to pursue their other interests, be it eventing or just hobby riding or whatever. But for those people who want to ride to hounds, collectively they may go once and try it, be it a fox hunt or a drag hunt. They may say they do not like it. I would suspect there is a drop-out rate from fox hunts who do it once and decide they do not like it. This is not exclusive to drag hunts; people will drop out of fox hunting as well. For people who want to ride to hounds, they want all the experience, all the paraphernalia that goes with it. If there is no live quarry hunting and they want to ride to hounds, the likelihood is they would look to drag hunting. They might go once and decide they do not like it. They might choose to pursue other equestrian interests. We believe this is one of a suite of interests which is available for people who like to ride, but for those who specifically want to ride to hounds then this is an alternative where they can work with dogs.
MR HART: Peter Davies has missed the point which we made earlier on, which is actually reinforced in evidence, which is three things. Where drag hunt exists where quarry hunts do not, these problems he has suggested can be managed out cannot be managed out. If the German experience was anything to go by, where they have had 63 years to do that, they have failed to do it with no distractions from quarry hunting at all. What it also ignored is the community, to which I referred just now, could not do it even if they wanted to. We seem to be restricting ourselves to this part of middle England, where undoubtedly the prospect would be some transition.
THE CHAIRMAN: You raised this point. I need to ask, has anybody tried drag beagling, or things which would be possible for people to do on foot.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: Has anybody tried using beagle hounds to go drag hunting?
THE CHAIRMAN: What I am looking at is a sport which involves hunting an artificial scent, but where the people can follow on foot.
MR DAVIES: I think I beagled at Sandhurst!
THE CHAIRMAN: I am simply asking for clarification in terms of Simon's point that he he mentioned two or three times now. What about that part of the country that is not suitable for horses?
MR POLAND: The answer, Mr Chairman, is yes, drag hunting caters not only for the mounted follower but also for the foot follower if he wants to, as does fox hunting. With fox hunting you have hoards of people following across country on foot, one way or another, for yards or miles. Drag hunting you do not have the same experience; you have people who follow in cars. In Germany, they are bussed around in trailers. So you actually have the option at the moment for people to follow draghounds on foot right across country, but very, very few people opt to do so. Now I might be a bit confused because I thought last week we were told by the RSPCA that they agreed and admitted that if drag hunting was to take on it would have to be in a modified form. A few minutes ago we heard the Director General Davies tell us that no, drag hunting, as it stands, would be sufficient an alternative. Either he was right today or they were right last week; it cannot be both. If you are going to find a new formula everybody looks at it for hours and hours and hours; years and years and years. If such a formula was to be found, you have to appreciate, I think, that it would deter a lot of the existing drag hunters, because they go drag hunting for the sport that they now enjoy. They would not want it slowed down. They would not want it done differently. So it would deter them. Whatever conclusion you come to, I am afraid that there must be a limit according to the number of packs of draghounds or bloodhounds that can be formed. The MDBA submission -- which I think was absolutely brilliant, and I think was largely done by Dr Wallis -- calculated that there could be a maximum of 51 new packs of drag and bloodhounds. That gives you an extra 1,434 days hunting, i.e. a total of 2,151 days hunting in the season, compared to 18,000 days of quarry hunting at the moment. If the field stood at their present levels and many people could not take larger fields, You would have an increase in weekly people following, or total weekly following of 2,106. If you doubled that, you would only have 4,212. Those figures are based on the findings of the MDBA themselves. Come what may, you cannot marry those figures up with the vast amounts of people that now go quarry hunting, some of whom agree, quite possibly, that quite high percentage might want to transfer, they could not simply accommodate them.
MR SWANN: Chairman, if I could respond to the first point that was made there. I will make a fundamental point that I speak for three organisations, which are IFAW, LACS and the RSPCA. Peter Davies obviously speaks for the RSPCA, but that is not to say that I have been quoted correctly because what we actually said in our evidence is that drag hunting, as it currently exists, is a specialised form of activity which has evolved in the way it has because there is concurrently quarry hunting in this country. Had there not been quarry hunting in this country, nobody can say how drag hunting would have evolved because none of us have a crystal ball. What I did say in the event of a ban on fox hunting, similarly, without a crystal ball, nobody can say how drag hunting might develop in the future. We made the point that there might be the possibility for it to develop in ways which are different than that which currently exists. I think we would all benefit from the wisdom of hindsight in years to come and look back; we do not have that benefit of hindsight, and we can only speculate as to how things may change. The point we would like to make in this respect, the people that particularly like quarry hunting, there might be the possibility of altering drag hunting in a way that more nearly mimics quarry hunting, but this is not to say we have taken anything from drag hunting as it exists today -- which we think is an excellent activity and one which we fully support.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: I actually dispute the point you have just raised. I dispute it primarily because we have examples where fox hunting does not exist and where drags hunts have developed. In the case of the Anglesey, for example, I was speaking to the Masters in the last week or 10 days. They cross the water to go elsewhere in mainland Wales. So the truth is -- and yet they have the facility there to do what they like on that piece of ground, but they have been unable to do what you are telling us will happen. So what I am saying to you is that you have no evidence to support what you have just said.
MR SWANN: Chairman, if I can respond to that. You are taking my comments out of context. I have not said that things will happen; I have said that things could happen. You refer to the Isle of Man. I lived on the Isle of Man for 4 and a half years. The Isle of Man was mentioned this morning. But during --
THE CHAIRMAN: I have the feeling that you have contacts everywhere!
MR SWANN: In that 4 and a half years on the Isle of Man, I worked as a practising veterinary surgeon and met quite a few people who were involved in the drag hunt. A lot of them were people who preferred to live quarry hunt. Nobody disputes this; that when you have live quarry hunting side by side, people who have been brought up on live quarry hunting, and who go live quarry hunting, there may well be a preference to go live quarry hunting because that is the sport that they prefer to take part in, because what you are doing in drag hunting at the moment is drag hunting as it has developed over a large number of years and which exists in the format that you currently practice. I am making the point that neither you, nor I, can say with any degree of confidence how a sport may develop over a number of years. We cannot say that, because sports can be seen to have developed in ways that nobody could have predicted. Given that -- and we fully believe there will be an uptake of drag hunting by people who now quarry hunt if there is a ban -- with that collective wisdom, none of us I believe round this table can say exactly what will happen.
MR OLIVER-BELLASIS: Lord Burns, can I pick up the point relating to access, because it strikes me that one of the controlling factors in all of this is the access to the land and, therefore, the farmer's willingness to give that access. I cannot say -- and I have not seen any data which accurately predicts -- what numbers of farmers would allow access to drag hunts, but I think it would be perhaps wrong to assume that the same level of access would be given to drag hunts as is currently given to quarry hunts. In addition, it strikes me -- and the point was made earlier by Daryl -- that you have this difficulty over a farmer who decides for whatever reason that the hunt cannot come across that piece of land. You have the difficulty that that could put out a very substantial acreage, if it was in a key area. When hunting with hounds you can actually work around that for the very reason that has been explained earlier, in that foxes do not run in straight lines, they tend to go from cover to cover. So I really think we need to think about what access would be given to draghounds if there was to be a demand for more drag hunting and bloodhound hunting in the event of a ban, because I am not persuaded that the two would equate in terms of that level of access.
MR HART: On the subject of access, one thing which I think was referred to in the report which came out quite strongly, which has not actually been touched on here. I can speak from personal experience from Wales, needless to say, is that hunting in its existing form was in the worst case tolerated and in the best cases welcomed because of the contribution it made in pest control terms referred to last week, and also with some of the other services that hunts provide, which, with the best will in the world, might not be replicable with drag hunting.
THE CHAIRMAN: I still have one or two minor or technical issues I would like to raise before we come to an end. I think we are probably getting towards the end because we are getting to the point where we are getting political statements, which usually signifies we are getting towards the end. So we are reaching that point. Could you deal with some of the issues which have been raised about how close you can have lines together, and the issue about doubling-back, et cetera? What the limits are on that? Again, we read sometimes conflicting things about this. I am looking for clarification.
MR BROUGHTON: Certainly, Lord Burns. You asked about this earlier, and you were not answered. I might need to bring Graham in in a few minutes, but one has to remember that we are hunting a scent. Foxhounds hunt the hot scent. A scent that is probably only a few seconds old, at the most, a couple of minutes old. They are very close behind their quarry. We hunt cold scent. My scent might be an hour old. My hounds have an incredible nose. When I am about half a mile from where the runner actually got out of his motor car to start, my hounds will tell me. They will start looking at me and saying, "We have it." You know it is coming. I can remember a day not long ago where we hunted 3 miles, three sides of a square. We went half a mile at the first side with the hounds. They went straight across and killed the runner at the finish. That is why you cannot loop around; the fox could. It could go around like that all day long with a pack of hounds behind him, but we cannot. I think, Graham, if you could take over from that. One has to just remember that we are hunting two different types of scent, and that is where the constraint lies.
THE CHAIRMAN: So, basically, your runner is not fast enough!
MR BROUGHTON: I doubt any runner would be fast enough.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: Can I just add to that. With respect to draghounds, and because the scent tends to be a little bit stronger, the problems experienced which Phil just outlined become very, very major problems with regard to drag hunting. I think Graham mentioned earlier that I am not aware of, for example, a draghound pack that has successfully taught a heel line. For example, where they are hunting live quarry, they can detect if they have hunted over that line before, which is something that I am not aware of anybody being able to do successfully with draghounds. So that constrains the situation a bit more as well.
MR COX: I will say something -- and stop me as soon as you find it boring. The danger, when you are talking about scent, is that one assumes that different quarry species, or artificial scent, or whatever, the scent is scent is scent. The key point to get over is the unpredictability element of it. We are talking about situations which can vary from -- and I am talking about gun dogs now which is what I have some experience of -- a dog which will from a distance of this wall to that wall instantly acknowledge the presence of a bird, and the same dog on a different day which may get that close to it without being aware that it is there. This is not apocryphal. I am talking about things that I have witnessed time and time again. So it is that kind of uncertainty which is crucial to this whole thing. As far as the scent business goes, atmospheric conditions are crucial. The best analogy to think of probably is of scent as a sort of plume of smoke, which may be concentrated at one point but it quickly dissipates. How fast it dissipates relates to the wind and so forth, and the ways in which dogs work and when we heard this morning about there being air scent, when dogs seem to get some awareness of things at this sort of level but are unable to make anything of it at ground level. Conversely, you get other things and so on and so forth. It is that extraordinary variety. The crucial thing I would like to emphasise is that you are not just leaving the dog to it; you are talking all the time about a relationship between dogs and humans, the huntsman or the person who is handling the dog. That is fundamental; whether you are watching dogs finding explosives, drugs, people in avalanches, earthquakes, grouse on grouse moors, or whatever it happens to be. That kind of interest is why people stay and become obsessed with it; very often it is that sort of thing they are obsessed by.
MR BROUGHTON: I have answered the question as to why we cannot successfully mimic fox hunting, because of the scent; that is why we cannot successfully mimic the sport of fox hunting.
THE CHAIRMAN: That is why you need so much more land, is it?
MR BROUGHTON: Correct.
THE CHAIRMAN: So these two things are related?
MR BROUGHTON: Yes.
THE CHAIRMAN: The extent to which you cannot double-back, or have lines which are close together, means that you have to have a greater amount of land. Although it may not be straight, it has to be more of a linear type. Is that correct?
MR BROUGHTON: Absolutely correct.
SIR RICHARD BODY: You can also have a situation where you may have perhaps 10 or 12 farmers who are willing to have you. You only need 2 or 3 in a key position who say, "No, we do not want anyone here. We have lambing, whatever it is. I do not want you", that may wipe out that meet altogether.
THE CHAIRMAN: I understand that. I was trying to get at why it is that the amount of land that is needed seems to be so much bigger than it is for fox hunting. And I think we have been getting there, in terms of the line and the nature of it.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: Can I add to that. One of the other problems is the way the draghounds and the followers actually cross an individual farmer's country; they also tend to do it in a linear way. The damage compared to fox hunting, for example, there they tend to spread out and take their own lines, where individuals will go up a road to get from one place to another. They will not have a single line tending to go through their farm, which adds to the problem, and means that we can visit a farm, for example, once or twice whereas foxhounds, as has been said by someone, can go back repeatedly.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think that I am inclined to stop the general discussion now, and do as we have done on other occasions; which is to go round the table in the opposite direction to the way that we went this morning. By now you will be familiar with this. I would have thought that would probably just about bring us to tea, which means that we can get away slightly earlier than planned. Given that we have a Bank Holiday weekend, I think that may be preferable.
MR DAVIES: For us in the RSPCA, this is a moral issue; we believe the majority of people in this country have that and hold that moral issue; and that we will constantly seek to obtain legislation to ban live quarry hunting until we achieve it. We see drag hunting as one of the alternatives to which people who are then denied the sport of their choice will turn; there are others. We see some distinct advantages in that turning. Hunting will be able to take place over land of your choice, or by negotiation anyway; that that will be helpful in dealings with farmers; and it will avoid both the hounds, the horses and indeed the humans going into the sort of hazardous areas that are reported year on year. Incidentally, when we were in Germany and saw not a complete drag hunt but just a demonstration of technique, they had been hunting in that area for a long time. It is a confined area. They expand it by negotiation with the farmers on an annual basis. They could not hunt anywhere else in that area because it was bounded by an autobahn and a canal; and the risk would have been too great to have followed a live quarry over those areas. Also in Germany -- and I do not know how much this is done in England, where I have been to drag hunts -- the obstacles which are taken are graded; so that if you are inexperienced, or your horse is inexperienced, you are offered the alternative of a lower jump; if you are an average rider, a middle jump; if you have the experience and you really want to do it, you have a higher jump. That, in our experience, is a powerful argument. We believe that, although it will never be possible to replicate the unpredictability of a fox, man has replicated unpredictability in many, many areas. It should be possible, perhaps with modern techniques, who knows what is going to be coming in, to more readily replicate the movement of a fox. Again in Germany, I have seen the drag hunts held up for 20 minutes while the hounds were cast to follow a broken trail, to go down false trails, to come back to the central point and pick up the real trail and go on. You need a lot of land for that, but I have seen it done; and that allows the slower rider to catch up with the faster, and avoid some of the hell for leather riding that can happen. But the RSPCA is not going to dictate to the drag hunt world what they do about their sport. That is their business, not ours. I am sure they have been thinking about this for a long time, but things do change. Modern advances do happen. If in any way we can help the management of that change by supporting, we will do so. Certainly we want to be able to take the responsible part in managing the change, which we believe will be inevitable when legislation comes in to ban live quarry hunting. Thank you.
MR SWANN: Thank you, Lord Burns. I think Peter has probably said most of what I had in mind to say. I think one of the things that has become apparent from the research contract and from the discussions around the table is that drag hunting in this country has an enormous amount of variety. This has come out time and time again; that there are no two drag hunts which appear to operate in exactly the same way. Within that variation, there is obviously a lot of potential to exploit different practices for different people's requirements. I will agree with what Peter said exactly; that drag hunting will never be an exact substitute for live quarry hunting. This is not what we have actually tried to state. We have tried to state that drag hunting is one of an entire range of equestrian activities for people who still wish to enjoy riding in the event of a ban on live quarry hunting. I think in fairness there is very little else I wish to say. I think there is so much speculation on this issue because nobody can say exactly how people will respond in certain circumstances which they may not wish to face the prospect of. As so many people, as we saw in the report, so many people who were questioned do actually hunt, then I think it is very difficult to think other than that they would wish to protect their sport as it exists. In terms of who will take up drag hunting, which farmers will allow land, I think many of these are so fraught with speculation that I thoroughly sympathise with the research team and the job they have had to do. But I think there is a significant trend in that report, in that the number of farmers who did indicate a positive response is, from our point of view, extremely encouraging. Thank you, Chairman.
MR HART: Lord Burns, thank you. Generally speaking, the Alliance welcomes the report. I think it is a useful and effective contribution to this specific part of this debate. We, as the Alliance, have always recognised drag hunting as an exciting sport in its own right but, along with the drag hunters in this country and aboard, we have never seen it as a replacement or alternative as the sort of hunting about which this Inquiry is talking. We have taken note as well, Deadline 2000 see drag hunting as being able to continue skills, traditions, jobs and, in some cases, community-based activities associated with current hunting. I think that is interesting because it confirms that they admit that these aspects of hunting do actually exist. However, we have also noted that Deadline 2000 have never once contacted the UK drag hunting organisations in the preparation of their case, neither have they come up with the alternative model which we have been debating so much this afternoon, which will set out, we are told, how they will overcome all these substitutional problems. The report, as far as we can ascertain, confirms that amongst most, or some, quarry hunters who have tried drag hunting there is little enthusiasm to take it up as a full-time alternative. It is not just a question of their preference. The report confirms an importance to a considerable number of drag hunters of the challenging jump and the ride and that aspect of it. To many of the hunting communities, as I said before, that is actually not an option, even where there is a willingness to go down that road. We also talked at some length about venery. I am not going to repeat what I said earlier, except that it is sort of a strange relationship, and the nearest comparison I can come up with is the sort of purist nature of the carp fisherman or the pike fisherman, or the falconer with his birds. If any aspect of their day or weekend could be predicted in the manner they are talking about, even vaguely, the appeal would go. It is rather like knowing what the result of a cricket match or football match will be tomorrow. If we knew what that was, we probably would not bother to go and see it. To the extent there is a willingness to convert, land restrictions are also clearly a problem. The farmers and landholders -- and it is important to state here it is their decision, and their decision alone which dictates the fate of not only drag hunting but all hunting -- has shown that there is a general lack of enthusiasm to allow drag hunting in any way different from what it is now. In addition, the report sets out many criticisms of the 1996 NOP poll on which it seems Deadline 2000 are heavily dependent. Finally, the idea of payment to landowners for hunting may work in theory, but not in practice, since it undermines the unique way in which all hunting is conducted, and that is by this strange arrangement of goodwill. Indeed, despite a willingness to pay farmers, the New Forest draghounds have still not left their kennels due to a lack of country, and they have been actually up and running -- or up and not running, as the case may be -- for something nearly a year. Worse still, such charges are likely to exclude certain socio-economic groups from actually taking part in the activities that they currently are able to afford to do. Just one final point which I think is important. There is obviously a certain amount of anger experienced by the hunting community which generates out of actually being told by others what is good for them, or what they should be doing, especially by organisations -- and I am not attempting to be confrontational or indeed disrespectful here, but whatever you may think -- who have actually no practical experience of the activities, how they can be arranged and actually indeed no particular interest in whether they work or not, even if they were in place. I repeat the last example which I referred to earlier, the German one, I am delighted that Peter Davies invited us to go to Germany on Tuesday, because I think it highlighted, precisely reinforced the evidence which the MDBA have put forward, and that is that they have had 63 years to perfect this art since Hitler made hunting illegal, not for welfare reasons, but for other reasons we have discovered, and they have not yet, despite having twice the number of horses and riders that we have in this country, they have not in any way been able to achieve what we are told we can achieve in this country in a matter of weeks.
MR DAVIES: Point of order, it was not Hitler, but that is by the way.
MR POLAND: Lord Burns, I was challenged on something I made in my last statement. I have since looked at my papers. Mr Swann did say on the 6th April: "We firmly believe that there is ample scope for expansion of drag hunting, not necessarily in the form in which it is practised now but in a form in which we should go into in more detail when we consider it appropriate." That does contradict what General Davies said. We had hoped today would be the appropriate day, because it has been the ideal day, the seminar on drag hunting, the authoritative day for drag hunting to be looked at, for the whole question to be looked into. We had hoped we would be given details into what form this would be. We have been given no details. The best we can think is that their view is an absolute charade.
MR OLIVER-BELLASIS: Lord Burns, I think it is clear that, from a farmers point of view, we need to have the ability to control pests on our land. Therefore, I would suggest that before we contemplate the ban there should be at least some agreement or an attempt at an agreement to put something in place that will enable that change to happen in a way in which we can all contribute to the new solution. I think that access onto the land is an issue. I believe that although the percentage shown in the report may have been encouraging to some, the fact is it is substantially below the numbers who are prepared at the moment to allow quarry hunting. I think the issue of cost is likely to be an issue in terms of the state of agriculture, and people looking for other ways to make money where they perceive that there is not a cost benefit, which there would not be with other forms of hunting. I am concerned, and cannot answer the question about public liability, but I think it is an issue where you are building something quite specifically and then maybe selling the right for people to come onto the land. Perhaps you will forgive me replying to the contention that animal cunning will be overtaken by human ingenuity. My experience of foxes is that human ingenuity will never, ever, ever overcome the fox's animal cunning.
SIR RICHARD BODY: Lord Burns, General Davies did say he was willing to go around the table and discuss this with others. The Association of which I am Chairman would gladly accept that invitation. I am sure that would go for the Master of Draghounds and Bloodhounds Association. In particular, we would like to show him, or others, or Mr Swan as well, some of the difficulties we are encountering now. It has been touched upon already. I have made the point -- and I do not want to repeat myself -- but I do detect, and our Masters do detect, already a certain amount of misgivings about drag hunting because our best hopes undoubtedly are those who are active fox hunters, or who are delighted in seeing hounds crossing their land, if a ban were imposed, there would be anger among them; there would be resentment. Our Masters, as I say, have detected already a little hint of that. There have been murmurings already. It is very worrying from our point of view because if we lose their goodwill then I do not see how we could develop. It would be very difficult for us to continue. The other thing I did mention about the rather practical difficulty -- and this again is something the RSPCA I do not think quite understands -- if we are going to take 30 pounds off people, or an annual subscription running into a few hundred pounds, you have to give them quite a few thrills and excitement, that does mean jumps. I appreciate Phil Broughton views it rather differently -- he has other hazards up in Lincolnshire. So far as our packs are concerned, we do depend on an appreciable number of hunt jumps, of obstacles of different kinds, not always the same, different obstacles and sometimes challenging ones. They have to be built. They have to be built; they have to be maintained. That does require a great deal of labour. We can only call upon the volunteers for that purpose. I know one pack of bloodhounds has professionals doing it, but we cannot afford that. To maintain over our country some 200 or 300 jumps is simply not something we can do by ourselves; and that is why we have been very dependent upon the foxhounds for the jumps that they put in. Most of our country is the same as foxhound country, because that is where we can more easily go. If fox hunting were to go, I cannot see how we could maintain those jumps in the way that we have been able to do at the moment; I do not think it is practical. This is something which one of our Masters feels extremely strongly about. She has been responsible for organising the teams and maintaining these jumps. She said, "On a Sunday afternoon I can get 3 or 4 people to help, but we cannot do more than three or four jumps in an afternoon before it gets dark, and then they want to break off. We are dealing with volunteers, and you cannot push them too hard." So, I regret to say this, we are pessimistic about the future if fox hunting were to be abolished, and we regret this very much. May I just say one word about forming new packs. There are three of us here who have formed new packs. I am sure they will agree with me it is no easy task. You have to get your hound. You have to get -- Phil Broughton had one of my hounds. I did not let him have the best! I have had some of his and his were even worse! But you do not give away your best hounds. Then you have to get them wheeled into a pack that hunts as one. This can take 2 or 3 years. This is one of the reasons why packs in Germany have been collapsing. They come and go. They are on our books one year, they go off the next year. They lose heart. So it is difficult. I think from the Master's point of view, he has to be very determined. He has to be rather sanguine minded. He has to give a lot of time to it; opening up new country; getting followers together, kennels together, hounds together; all the rest of it. It is a huge operation. I really do not see that in the future there is going to be many more, or perhaps any more, packs of bloodhounds being established, given not only that difficulty, that requirement of great determination, but also the other two factors which I have emphasised already; that if fox hunting goes, I think drag hunting or hunting with bloodhounds is going to be much more difficult. My members have asked me to emphasise to you that we are more pessimistic than we were a year ago about the future. Opinion among my members has changed quite considerably in the last few months on this subject. I would hope, Lord Burns, you would take this into account.
DR HAMILTON-WALLIS: Lord Burns, thank you. I think a more general summation to this is going to be done by Phil. I would like to just pick up on one point that has been mentioned by Sir Richard, and that is the pessimism about the future. I come from a part of South Wales where we have quite uniquely a substantial number of unregistered foxhound packs. Within 5 or 10 miles of my kennels, I can probably count between 15 or 20 unregistered packs. Packs which do not fall under the control of the Master of Foxhounds Association. This has come about primarily, I think, because of the way hounds were distributed into a trencher-fed system during the war, as opposed to being put down. It meant that there was an availability of hounds. We have a small piece of forestry around us where we hunt. The Forestry Commission has asked us in the last few years not to go in there. It is interesting to note of the 12 or 13 packs in the area, that there are only 2 packs which do not go in there; that is my pack and the registered foxhound pack. All the other packs go in there, and they hunt whenever they want to, every day of the week. The Forestry Commission -- and with all due respect to the RSPCA -- they have failed to curb the antics of such individuals, both with respect to hunting of foxes and with respect to hunting badgers, with respect to badger baiting, which has been reported. The RSPCA -- the effect of what I am saying -- no organisation to date has been able to control these antics. The truth of the matter is that any piece of legislation brought in to ban fox hunting will by definition have to exempt, or should exempt, drag hunting, and will probably exempt rabbits. It does not take a genius to work out that any individual who goes on foot, or who is caught with a pack of hounds, will say he is hunting rabbits and he accidentally killed a fox. Any pack who are caught out mounted will say they are drag hunting. I think that there can be no conclusion other than that a ban is going to have not just a detrimental, but a devastating effect on our sport. Thank you.
MR BROUGHTON: Lord Burns, if one item filtered through to me today, it would be the naivety of hunting in general of those who seek to use drag hunting to achieve their own aims. I feel that their naivety on the hunting issue is unbelievable. We are not an alternative, and to be called so is disrespectful to my Association. We are a fantastic sport in our own right. We are looking to change. We certainly are not an alternative. We rely totally on the sporting nature of our farmers. The longer this issue goes on, the more damage is being done to my sport. I can see it. I see attitudes changing every day. The RSPCA calls it an alternative. Another farmer gets more difficult, and I have to go and see him, talk to him and explain things to him. If this goes on much longer, we will be in great difficulties. We love our hounds. We support all those sports who use hounds; and we will continue to do so. Lord Burns, Members of the Committee, on behalf of my Association, thank you for inviting Daryl and myself here today. Secondly, I offer our sincere congratulations to you for conducting this Inquiry in such an open, fair and democratic manner, whilst keeping to your very tight limitations. My Association says well done.
MR MANLEY: Did you want a last sum-up from me? I am not going to attempt to sum-up. I think overall that we have mostly listened a lot. I think as a team we have found this whole subject area fascinating. I think it is also with some degree of comfort, particularly with these bodies represented here, that in the short period of time that we had available to do it we have not gone too far off the mark. What we have uncovered unfortunately has been a bit more of a muddle. There are a lot more questions there; that surely is the realistic situation. Given the time and opportunity, obviously, one can take this further. I appreciate that that is not going to be possible within this context, but what has been put there has been done with all the honesty and objectivity that we have been able to muster. The only thing that particularly has bounced back -- which in some respects I have to take on the nose here, criticism of the research and the research team myself, but I do want to issue some caution as applied to some of the aspects of hypothetical situations, and in particular deal with this, in particular the issue dealing with farmers. We are not happy about this. There was disinterest. There was probable confusion. I certainly would not want to rest too much weight on some of those responses. An issue about the payment, which we spent so much time dealing with. You know we said that is obviously something we could reflect on, and I think really needs a lot more -- it was deliberately done. There is no simple answer to it. I think if our role has been nothing else but to act as a catalyst to deal with all those issues, then I think we can be reasonably satisfied. There is, I am afraid, no simple answers from our point of view. Thank you.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. I am very grateful for the participation of everyone. Much of the attention has been on practitioners today rather than the paper. But I think the paper was very helpful in setting the scene, and drawing out some of the issues which enabled us to put questions to the practitioners. I think that has been very useful. I hope that you have had the opportunity to listen to some of the things that have been said, and maybe you want to take them into account in the final paper. But I am very grateful to everyone for coming. Friday at this time of year is not, I know, everyone's favourite time, but we have found it enormously useful. It is a subject which comes up a good deal. Certainly for my part, and I am sure for other Members of the Committee, we feel a good deal better informed now than we did when we started this morning. So I am very grateful. Thank you very much. (3.05).
Back to top