SESSION FOUR ANIMAL WELFARE; DRAG AND BLOODHOUND HUNTING; IMPLENTING A BAN

COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE

Representation Panel Chairman

John Jackson Chairman, Countryside Alliance

Panel:

Simon Hart Countryside Alliance Campaign for Hunting
Richard Burge Chief Executive, Countryside Alliance
Richard Lissack QC Barrister
Dr Douglas Wise Veterinary academic and lecturer, Cambridge University
Michael Poland Wight Conservation
Patrick Martin Huntsman, Bicester with Waddon Chase Foxhounds
Charles Blanning National Coursing Club
Deborah Blount Association of Lurcher Clubs
Barrie Wade National Working Terrier Federation
Desmond Hobson Conservation Expert / Masters of Minkhounds Association
Tom Yandle Masters of Deerhounds Association

THE CHAIRMAN: Good afternoon. We will seek to cover the ground of these three areas relatively briefly, I am afraid, inevitably. I think maybe the best thing is to take them topic by topic. I will ask you to begin by giving us your opening statement on the subject of welfare.

MR JACKSON: Lord Burns, I will do that. Can I just link into the question of implementation at the end. I am sure you and the members of your committee are not alone in wondering how on earth it can be that two very large groups of people, both professing an intense interest in the welfare of animals, find themselves in an unusually sharp disagreement with one another. Last Thursday, the other side -- if I may call them that -- said that they accepted that people who hunt are not sadists -- that was good to hear -- and, for its part, the Countryside Alliance accepts that the organisations which came together to form Deadline 2000 are genuine in the concerns they express about hunting in the context of animal welfare. If one of the outcomes of this Inquiry was the start of a constructive dialogue and the sharing of knowledge, that would be a very good thing -- good for the community as a whole and good for our wild animals. There is clearly disagreement in the difficult area of relative cruelty, the causing of unnecessary suffering. As I said last Thursday, the Inquiry's findings on this will be most important. But there is probably disagreement also on what constitutes good practice in the management of wildlife. This is also a difficult area, and particularly because that management has to be undertaken in a man-made environment, which is subject to growing pressure from housing, transport and leisure needs. We started to touch this morning on the difficult problem of how do you control the mink population in the same river system that you are trying to reestablish the otter population. These are not simple matters. If one were to put two people in a room together, one of whom had spent their life dealing with the welfare of individual animals of all kinds, and the other the welfare or populations of particular kinds of mild animal, and ask them to exchange views on animal management, it is likely that they would collide the closer they came to discussing selective killing/culling. It is easier to relate to the individual animal, and it is not possible to reconcile the interests of an individual animal to be killed with those of its species taken as a whole. The Countryside Alliance is strongly in favour of necessary culling, designed to maintain and conserve healthy populations of wild animals at levels which create the balance of wildlife which is right for a particular area. This culling should be part of a process of active management; and should always be carried out in a manner which avoids unnecessary suffering in comparison with other techniques which are appropriate to the particular local circumstances and which are available. Because we, as humans, have interfered with environment in an irreversible way -- and still in relation to animals exercise a dominant role -- we cannot leave wild animals to sort out their population levels for themselves; to do so would result in serious imbalances and probable elimination of certain species from parts of the countryside. People who hunt, and those who associate with them, know their local wildlife. They know what is happening to that wildlife, and they try to do something about it. They act as conservators and, in relation to unlawful activities, as community policemen. These activities are at least as valuable to wild animals as a whole as are the wildlife hospitals for individuals. Indeed, some people, particularly those who have reservations about the keeping of wild animals in zoos, also have reservations about some aspects of those hospitals, particularly in respect of the return of animals to the wild, or keeping them after an extensive period of hospitalisation. This is one of the areas of criticism which could also be covered by the dialogue I have referred to. If the conservation benefits flowing directly and indirectly from hunting were to be lost, the Alliance believes that it would be essential to protect foxes, deer and hares by the introduction of both appropriate legislation and of substantial additional and knowledgeable policing to enforce that legislation. The Alliance urges the Inquiry to find as a fact that a hunting ban would create the need for such measures. We would all like our children and grandchildren -- in my case great grandchildren, I think, are not that far off -- to live in a society which respects personal freedom, and has access to a countryside which is rich in many ways, particularly in the wildlife that it harbours.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. In terms of much of the discussion and much of the evidence, there has been a focus upon two issues as far as hunting is concerned. One is the welfare of the animal during the chase. The second is the issue of the kill. In some of the evidence, the chase has been divided into two parts: One is in terms of the early part of the chase; the second is the final stages when the pursuing dogs are close by. Do you have any comments to make on the welfare of the animal in the three situations that I have described, bearing in mind some of the other evidence you will have seen?

MR JACKSON: Yes. I will ask Simon Hart to start on that, and then perhaps move on to Douglas Wise.

MR HART: Lord Burns, a couple of points here. The evidence we heard earlier on this afternoon addressed solely hunting with dogs. It really failed to address other methods of control in any detail at all. I would like to refer perhaps a little historically to something contained within the Alliance overview on page 115, which goes back to the last Inquiry of this nature, namely Scott Henderson and the RSPCA's position to hunting and particularly shooting as an alternative method. I will just quote a short paragraph: "It is significant that the RSPCA consider that the cruelty involved in shooting foxes is such as to make it an unsatisfactory substitute for hunting, and that they would prefer hunting to which they are naturally opposed on ethical grounds to continue if its abolition were likely to lead to an increase in the amount of shooting." It concluded: "Unless great care is taken, shooting may be an extremely cruel method of control. This view is shared by many of the leading animal welfare organisations." My point is that, in the 50-odd years that have elapsed since then, there have been no major changes that made shooting less cruel or hunting more cruel. In fact, hunting, if anything, has become better regulated during that time.

THE CHAIRMAN: One supplementary. Is it not the case that the technology of shooting has improved considerably over that period?

MR HART: In certain instances, the cartridge load gun quality, if you like, rifle quality, but in fact the actual behaviour of foxes has not altered in any shape or form. The countryside has become considerably more populated since that time, rendering in many cases shooting practices rather more difficult to implement than would have been the case earlier.

MR JACKSON: Could Douglas Wise pursue some of the welfare questions.

MR WISE: Thank you, Lord Burns. We heard earlier on this afternoon that those who hunt -- it says something unpleasant about the people who do it. This was the view of the RSPCA, as pronounced by Mr Swan. So, as one who does not hunt, perhaps I can make a few comments, and say that all the people I associate with socially are mainly involved with shooting. I do not think I know a single one who is not of the view that hunting in relative welfare terms causes what their view is; that is, that it is an extremely welfare-friendly way of culling. They sometimes do not agree with the hunters because they do not believe they kill enough of what they perceive to be pests but, certainly on the welfare front, I would say that the shooters would not see themselves in the way that they have been described, as crackshots and marksmen. Anybody who has shot hares with shotguns, as I have, will know that the time from the impact of the cartridge to insensibility is, or can be, prolonged but is not certainly instantaneous. Without the use of dogs to retrieve those hares, and that sort of thing, it would be a lot longer. We know that stalking, the advice of the British Deer Society is to shoot in the chest because of the high risk of wounding in the neck and certainly in the head. We know that shooting in the chest does not render an animal instantly insensible, and may take several minutes, as laid out in the Bateson Report. Therefore, I am not at all convinced that the argument about whether it takes foxes 10 seconds or 3 seconds to die when approached by a pack of hounds is something I find slightly out of perspective. Professor Harris, the other day, suggested that whether foxes were disemboweled or had dislocated necks was to some extent a total irrelevance because it was so instantly quick and this was borne out by the evidence you heard yesterday by Mr Huskisson, who has seen one case. So I think things must be put in perspective in terms of that. In terms of the chase itself, I think one has to put forward an extremely counter-intuitive argument. There is no question that animals can experience fear, but what is understood by fear in animals is probably very different from the fear that we as humans would experience under similar circumstances because we have the cognitive ability to understand that we may well get killed if we get caught. It is unlikely, I think, that the hunted animal has any reason to suppose this will be the case. If you shoot an animal, as indeed Bateson did in his experiment, farm deer, in a field, the other deer in the same field will carry on feeding beside the body. They do not understand death in the way we do, or seem to appreciate it. There will be a welfare cost during hunting, but I would remind you of the words of Professor Webster, who said: "The practical application of compassion for animal life, and especially wildlife, must be based on a robust acceptance of the inevitability of suffering and death which is the end of suffering". Now, as an aside, we have heard a certain amount this morning about loss of hounds. In a sense, if hunting were banned, a lot of hounds would be put down. This legitimately is not a welfare issue at all. Nobody is suggesting that the hounds would be anything other than euthanased, and death is not a welfare issue. It may be a conservation issue. It would be a pity. More than a pity, it would be a tragedy to lose years of hunting genes in the fox hound population, deer hunt population. The other thing I think I would like to allude to is Mr Jackson's opening statement, where he pointed out the difference between welfarists and conservationists. Professor Bateson himself has conceded that he would be prepared to put up with slightly worse welfare in the interests of good conservation if it came to a choice. As I understand it, the RSPCA's position, as put by Dr Linley to the Savage Report, was that they would prefer to see every last red deer on Exmoor exterminated than for stag hunting to continue. They were not postulating, they clearly did not want that to happen but they said, if it came to a choice, Dr Linley's view was that hunting is so desperate that it totally overcomes good conservation.

MR JACKSON: Simon Hart would just like to add something, Lord Burns, I am sorry.

MR HART: Just one additional point, Lord Burns, if I may. It was mentioned in this afternoon's evidence by Deadline 2000 and I quote: "Britain has the most humane farmers in Europe". If that is the case, their own unions, the NFU, the NFU Wales, the Farmers Union in Wales and the Country Landowners Association have all provided strong endorsements to hunting in their evidence to you. Indeed, the Produce Studies research carried out in January actually referred to something upwards of 95 per cent of farmers agreeing to hunting on their land across the UK. Game Conservancy's evidence suggested, for example, in Powys that 73 per cent of those farmers questioned preferred hunting with hounds as part of their pest control purpose. That is the view of the most humane farmers in Europe.

LORD SOULSBY: Can I come back to the question of the final death point of hounds killing a fox. There has been debate on it, as you well know today. It does seem to me that, because no one has had an opportunity to study that right at the very moment, is there any other situation where we can at least get evidence of death being either very painful, animal welfare or not -- and I am talking about other predator situations, when it is known endorphins reach a very high level just at the end of a hunt when gazelle are attacked by a large cat? Is that a realistic argument to use that, in fact, in the prey predator situations that might also occur?

MR WISE: Lord Soulsby, thank you for that question. I was going to bring it up myself, but I thought I had gone on rather too long. I have in front of me an article from a Sunday Telegraph a couple of years ago. It is entitled, "I was eaten by a hyena." It relates to a woman who suffered extremely serious injuries when she went into a cage in a wildlife centre. What she said was: "The mind, I found, is strange. It shut off during the attack while my body continued to act without thought or even sight. I do not remember him sinking his teeth into my arm, although I heard, the little grating noise as his teeth chewed into the bone. Everything was black and slow and exploding in my stomach. Vision returned gradually, like an ancient black and white television", et cetera, et cetera. It goes on. Throughout this account, that is two pages, she constantly reiterates that she never experienced any pain whatsoever. Interestingly, she experienced anxiety, but not to the extent of her wound. But her sandals were pulled off during the attack, and she was worrying about mundane everyday things like the fact she would burn her feet on the sand. At the same time she was being destroyed by this hyena, which was an extraordinary thing. She also heard herself screaming, but was quite unaware of having screamed. Now, it sounds all pretty ghastly to be eaten alive but, thank God, it probably is not as bad as one believes. There are plenty of cases, I think Deborah Blount has probably something to say about Israeli casualties and that sort of thing.

LORD SOULSBY: If I can just interrupt for the moment, I think, I know what you are talking about in terms of endorphins and men in battle losing a leg and not knowing. We are talking about lower animals, like prey, the fox, rabbit and hare. I think it is accepted that endorphins are much more developed in humans and in primates, than in the lower animals. So if we can avoid reference to the human being, it might be--

MR JACKSON: If I can just make a remark, Lord Soulsby, I think this is an extremely difficult area, where there is a great shortage of knowledge, and I believe it is extremely difficult to devise reliable experiments where you can find out what actually happens. The letter I wrote to the Committee remarks on the fact that zoologists, of which I am not one but which I know many, have all assured me that it is highly probable that animals lower down the evolutionary scale from us do not have cognitive precedence. What we just do not know is what sensations they actually experience in the course of an attack, or in the course of physiological change which takes place during a pursuit. You might just like to hear something from Deborah.

MS BLOUNT: Perhaps I would like to just comment, briefly, that if preyed species had not evolved a physiological mechanism to cope with a predator/prey relationship, and that is specifically the flight or fight response, they would most likely be extinct by now.

LORD SOULSBY: I am not sure where we are, Chairman. Are we on animal welfare?

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, we are.

LORD SOULSBY: You have heard me say before that nature is red in tooth and claw, and that hunting in fact mimics natural predation, and what it might be, that it modifies that natural predation in terms of culling. How would you respond to that?

MR JACKSON: I will ask Douglas Wise to help us again.

MR WISE: It seems extremely likely that in the past, Lord Soulsby, fox numbers were controlled by higher predators. That does certainly seem to be the case elsewhere in the world, where higher predators have not been eliminated. As far as deer are concerned, the equivalent animal would be the wolf. Certainly Professor Bateson has suggested that wolves only catch deer in short chases and ambushes, like one would expect from a big cat. One does not quite know why wolves never evolved into big cats, as is the case, but it is likely, from evidence you will have seen from Professor Geist, that the supposition that wolves invariably hunt without extended chases is not a valid suggestion. In fact hunting is a bit like stag hunting, a bit like the hare and the tortoise; a series of chases until the animal reaches volitional exhaustion, which is reached quickly, exponentially and is subsequently followed by a fairly quick death, which is, in my view, something which is more welfare-friendly than stalking overall, if you take into account the albeit small numbers of animals that escape wounded. There are a lot of other animals of course who suffer during shooting but do not get away.

PROFESSOR MICHAEL WINTER: Do you consider that, because there may have been predation of that nature in the past, it is necessarily our duty to somehow replicate that when there are other methods available?

MR WISE: The general animal welfare point of view would be that one culls in order to minimise suffering. It is my contention that, by hunting, one is doing precisely that.

THE CHAIRMAN: I think we probably should move on. Let us move on to drag hunting, because we are going to have a seminar on the question of welfare. We are about to receive another report on this subject. We will have plenty of time to get ourselves fully engrossed in that topic. I think it may be sensible to move on unless --

MR JACKSON: Could I just make one comment in relation to the last question. I think that, when one is dealing with the problem of the right way of managing an environment which has been entirely man-made and seriously interfered with by man, one gets into difficulties if one starts to discuss what duties man has then in relation to the wild animals in that environment.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Do you have any opening comments which you want to make on the subject of drag hunting?

MR JACKSON: One or two, Lord Burns, very few. The Countryside Alliance recognises drag hunting as a perfectly legitimate, respectable countryside pastime. It does not regard it as a substitute for quarry hunting. To be frank, it is slightly uneasy about this argument because it smacks a little bit of people saying, "Well, it may not be quite right to stop quarry hunting, but it does not matter too much because we forecast with great confidence that there are other things you will find to do." Coming from the side of the argument which is very strongly in favour of personal freedom, you can understand why we are uneasy. There are one or two of us in this room -- there are references to what happened in Germany in the 1930s -- who suffered because of the view that was taken in Germany in that period on these personal freedom questions. Personal freedom, we think, is very, very important in this whole issue.

THE CHAIRMAN: We are looking at this from the point of view of trying to see what the consequences of a ban might be, and what the alternatives are. I can see this is a difficult issue for you because you do not quite want to concede the possibility that this might occur. Therefore, it takes us into a hypothetical world. I was always taught when working with ministers never to answer hypothetical questions; they only ever got you into trouble. But it has been put to us that it is difficult in a sense to imagine what would happen in the case where there is a ban, because if there was a ban all sorts of things would change. You, therefore, could not compare the kind of drag hunting that you see now with the drag hunting that would follow if there were to be a ban. At the moment, they are inevitably complementary activities. There is no real case for them being substitutes. It is not surprising that, if people, for one reason or enough, do not do quarry hunting, they want to do a type of drag hunting which is different. But it is said to us that in situations where there is no quarry hunting, then it is possible to imagine, to conceive and to implement a type of drag hunting which gets nearer to the typical kind of quarry hunting. Now, without putting you in the position of pressing you on something which you do not want to imagine. We would like to hear some more of your response about the experiences in other countries and other situations, where they have not been complements but they have been substitutes, either because of rabies or whatever.

MR JACKSON: Of course, we will try and help you. We have somebody who actually has some direct knowledge of this area, and that is Michael Poland. I will ask him to say a bit about it.

MR POLAND: Lord Burns, we have been told about competitive drag hunting. We have been told about televised drag hunting. In this session, we are now told about a modified form of drag hunting. It is impossible for us to comment in any detail on those aspects because nobody has elaborated on them. I make those points. How can we mimic, as closely as possible, live quarry hunting? I do not think you can ever mimic what is in the mind of a fox; and this is part of the charms of hunting. A number of drag hunts, in fact, have tried various alternatives. If you remember the Master of Drag Hounds Association's submission, and I quote from them, they are concerned about "the inability to convert and to attract new riders from different disciplines has been a matter of concern." They have tried different methods. You have the fast-jumping packs, and I believe you have experience of that, you have the hunt over difficult and demanding terrain -- and I wish I could pronounce the Welsh -- Llanfi Vale where they do just that. Then with the Cranwell blood hounds, they attempt to give especially long distances over which one goes. So with the existing packs, you already have a wide variety, and yet they are still struggling for support. Now, the Trent Valley drag hounds, which are now disbanded, attempted to mimic fox hunting by drawing the drag up a rocky incline, et cetera, and the people standing and watching just were not interested. In the English mind, they were not interested. The Cheshire Farmers, which is one of the major packs, started off trying to mimic fox hunting, and they found that was not working. So they are now hunting the traditional drag hunting in the traditional way. No matter how this sport is practised, there are going to be heavy demands on the horse. The horses particularly need to be fit. They have to be regularly exercised and very capable, and that is from the Master of Drag Hounds Association Over the weekend, I rang up a gentleman from Belgium/Holland -- he hunts in Holland but he is from Belgium. I asked him about his pack of blood hounds, and he advised me that they hunt -- he tries to imitate the line of a Roe deer. They would have a hunt of about 25 kilometres, which would take 3 hours. Now that, even that, places a lot of demands on the quality of the horse. There is no jumping. But in response to my question, what sort of fields you get out of it, he said 10. So, there, you have a continental example where they are trying to do this, and it is actually not proving very popular.

MR JACKSON: Would you like to hear something on drag coursing, because Deborah Blount would like to say something about that.

MS BLOUNT: Thank you, Lord Burns. Could I refer you to a letter written by the National Lurcher and Racing Club about what is actually called simulated coursing as opposed to drag coursing. I would like to read the letter out, if I may. "Dear Lord Burns, why simulated coursing is not a substitute for lurcher coursing. "Having read paragraphs 3.13 to 3.15 of IFAW's submissions to the Inquiry, I wish to explain why, in the opinion of the National Lurcher and Racing Club, simulated coursing (or lure racing), which is incorrectly referred to as 'drag coursing' by IFAW is not a substitute for lurcher coursing or any other lurcher work. "The National Lurcher and Racing Club was the first major lurcher club to introduce what we call 'simulated coursing' and what IFAW refer to as 'drag coursing'. "It was done for three main reasons: "as a way of raising funds for the club by the way of additional entertainment; "to help educate and socialise young dogs and keep dogs fit during the summer; "and as a way to try and show the public what is involved in coursing and how it is scored. "IFAW state that switching to drag coursing would not be difficult. This is not correct. Although lurcher simulated coursing can be fun, it will never be able to replace the real thing. "Many lurchers are totally unsuited to simulated coursing, refusing to chase a false quarry, others become 'lure crazy' being worked into a frenzy as courses are often short, and the adrenaline rush experienced by the dog reaches no natural conclusion. "Some simulated coursing lure machines have problems coping in wet conditions. Another problem occurs when some dogs try to retrieve the false hare back to their owners. They can be badly hurt by becoming entangled in the line as a consequence. "IFAW state that 'apart from the absence of live quarry, this humane sport is virtually identical to hare coursing.' This is not correct. "Simulated coursing is a pre-destined course and many dogs will head straight for where they can hear the machine. Coursing is to test the ability of two dogs by the way they turn the hare. In simulated coursing, the dogs do not turn the 'false hare', the 'false hare' turns the dogs on its pre-destined course. A good lure driver can drive the lure to favour his/her selected dog should he/she wish to do so. In coursing it is all natural and the outcome depends purely on the ability of the dogs involved. "The National Lurcher and Racing Club view simulated coursing as a fun and entertaining way to enjoy their dogs during the summer. Demonstrations of such at Country Fairs enable us to show the public some of what owning a lurcher is about, but we are foremost field sports enthusiasts who enjoy hunting with dogs and simulated coursing is just what it says it is, simulated, and it will never be a substitute for hare coursing." That is from the National Lurcher and Racing Club. I would perhaps, also, like to add that it was mentioned this morning that the welfare benefits in respect of simulated coursing are greater for the dogs because the chase is shorter. It is quite apparent from simulated coursing that there are welfare benefits against dogs due to frustration and, because of this, the dogs actually are always run using muzzles and fights break out. It is quite common. I think my colleague Charles Blanning would like to say a few words.

MR BLANNING: I would simply like to add that specific to greyhounds, in fact, Mr Kevin Hill this morning graphically described to us how, with a so-called drag coursing meeting, it comes nowhere near, in fact limiting actual coursing itself. Greyhounds are too big and too fast to even take part in the simulated coursing which Mrs Blount has just described. Thus, at the so-called drag coursing meeting which Mr Hill attended, the actual course in fact was dead straight. At no time do they attempt even to imitate the path of the hare, which is the essential part of real natural coursing. Added to that, however, because of course such a meeting is simply no more than a form of greyhound racing, a significant number of greyhounds refuse to chase an artificial lure. All greyhounds will chase a live hare; only a certain proportion of them will chase the artificial hare, either at all or with any enthusiasm. So if such a so-called drag coursing, or lure racing, as probably it should be described, was substituted, a significant proportion of the dogs could not be involved in that sport because they would simply have nothing to do with it.

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I really wanted to pick up the question of the provision of facilities for drag hunting. It has been suggested to us that farmers would be less willing in general to provide facilities. I asked you this morning why should they give facilities at all. Could you just take that argument further and explain what would be the response to the invitation to allow the drag through and whether you think that some form of payment would represent a means by which they might be induced to do so?

MR JACKSON: I will ask Michael Poland, if I could just re-emphasise, the Alliance is not opposed to drag hunting or drag coursing in any way. It is the substitution problem which bothers it. There are associations formed to advance the cause of drag hunts and I think we are running a seminar on the point and they will be able to deal much more directly and, in a way, perhaps even more objectively than we can. But I will ask Michael, Michael can you try and help on this.

MR POLAND: I will try, Mr Chairman. In a study carried out by the Centre of Rural Studies in the West Country for West Somerset and Exmoor, farmers were asked about their attitude to drag hunting and the first question 74 per cent said no they would not allow drag hunting on their land. They were then asked a supplementary what if hunting was banned and that negative response dropped to 64 per cent. Now you do have a problem, even if a farmer is willing to have drag hounds on the land; for a day you have got to have 3 lines of 3 miles each, so 9 miles in all. So that presupposes 2 things: one is that for a line you can get 3 miles together and secondly for a day you can get 3 lines together within easy hacking distance from each other. That causes major problems and if my mathematics is right -- and it is quite possibly wrong -- I estimated that every drag hunt would need to have 121 miles of line in order to operate. Now you raised a question of payment and it is interesting that the New Forest drag hounds have advertised in their local papers in the last fortnight offering to pay farmers for the drag hunting rights over their land. The question is how much would a farmer want? I have given this a lot of thought and looked at point-to-point rentals, I have looked at rentals charged for organising events on a farm on a day and I have looked at shooting rentals and I have discussed it with other people. The nearest conclusion I came to is if you are going to have drag hunting rights over, shall we say 1500 acres, which is probably for a good day's drag hunting, you are going to have to pay -- if it is one land owner or two land owners -- possibly in the region of 1,000 and if you are going to have a number of land owners then that amount is going to go up.

THE CHAIRMAN: One of the difficulties we have on this of course is that many of the people who are currently engaged in drag hunting are also engaged in quarry hunting and nobody at this stage wishes to contemplate the possibility of a ban. I think from one perspective that makes it actually quite difficult to interpret from what it is that happens at the moment what would happen in the event of a ban. But is your view that basically the bulk of people who are currently engaged in quarry hunting would give up their activity rather than to go in for this other form of activity? They would give up their horses or give up their greyhounds rather than participate in the simulated versions?

MR JACKSON: Lord Burns, it is extremely difficult and dangerous to forecast how human beings are going to behave in circumstances which they really do not want to contemplate. I have asked many people who hunt this question, and they have said, "No, we certainly would not." Whether that is true, I honestly do not know. I also talked to hunt farmers, who at the moment do not allow live quarry hunting on their land. I said, "Would you allow drag hunting and they have said, "Perhaps". I talked to farmers who do allow live quarry hunting and said, "Would you allow drag hunting?" And they said, "Not on your life." It is very, very difficult and dangerous to forecast. I, personally, am a bit surprised by the confidence with which other people are forecasting how these human beings, who under these circumstances would have had taken away from them something which they probably think should not have been taken away from them, will behave. So I say we are absolutely not afraid of the truth. We really do urge you to pursue these questions with those organisations which are set up to try and promote drag hunting. They will give you a point of view.

LORD SOULSBY: If I could just go on a little about drag hunting, obviously mainly as an alternative to fox hunting. We have heard, you have heard earlier today, that in several countries drag hunting takes place for a whole variety of reasons. We have also heard that it applies to hares, not terribly successfully, but is it not applicable to deer in the first place. There are a number of places where drag hunting for stags is very small, and which would tell me that it is not an appropriate thing to do, but, having said that, could there be improvements in the drag hunting that would become acceptable to fox hunters and to deer hunters that may be more exciting, may be more pleasurable and attract people that it does not attract at present?

MR JACKSON: Let us ask a deer hunter, let us ask a foxhunter, and I am sure they will give you the most honest answer that they think they can. Tom.

MR YANDLE: Thank you. There are only three packs of stag hounds. I have not asked a member of each pack, but I can assure you they would not want to go because the essence of stag hunting is watching deer.

MR JACKSON: Simon, a foxhunter.

MR HART: A couple of points which I want to use this opportunity to make. Even if there was an intent by people who found themselves deprived of fox hunting, the drag hunting alternative is practically impossible in parts of Wales that we visited, parts of the fells, largely for beagles and certainly for mink hunters. It also does not deal with the facts in various hunting countries we visited. Beagles are sharing the same territory as the fox hounds, may be sharing the same territory as the stag hounds. With the best will in the world, there would be perhaps only a facility for one drag hunt, but I want to pick up on one thing that Michael Poland did not mention in his few comments about the amount of ground that is necessary. We talked about 121/130 miles per hunt. The going is of extreme importance. You actually need to find 2 to 3 miles of going, which is of a safe and sensible nature, i.e. largely grass, and to find lines which are of that terrain is a difficult thing. You can find tracts of country, but you are going to find crops. You are going to find plough and other obstacles. The difficulty we experienced on the field in Surrey, which was explained to us, is actually trying to find 3 miles of grass. In Surrey this is impossible more than 3 times a month, and certainly takes in the areas covered by the three packs of fox hounds operated in that area.

MR JACKSON: I know it is purely anecdotal, Lord Burns, but I did put this question to a 9-year old granddaughter of mine at the weekend and sometimes children can tell you a lot of truth. She said two things: "Well, Grandad, it would depend who did it with me, and it would depend who was watching." In this whole argument, people have forgotten the great deal of pleasure that footfollowers get out of hunting as it is practised in the country at the moment. I understood exactly what that little girl was saying.

THE CHAIRMAN: I think we probably should leave this topic for now, and I agree with the huge difficulty of trying to think oneself into a situation that one does not want to see. If someone asked me whether I wished to play golf on winter greens all the year round, I would be pretty upset about it. If it was the only thing that was on offer, you know, the situation must be different. But maybe I would give up the game -- these are the imponderables -- and save myself an awful lot of frustration in the process Could we move on to the question of implementing a ban. Can I ask you if there are introductory statements you wish to make?

MR JACKSON: I will just briefly introduce Richard Lissack QC who has come to help us more particularly on this. He has asked me to emphasise that he is doing this in an entirely independent capacity, which does not mean that he does not support hunting -- he does -- but he has been considering this problem as a lawyer for some time, and also that he wishes to introduce into the discussion the European dimension which he thinks is very important.

MR LISSACK: Lord Burns, thank you very much indeed for letting me take a few minutes of your time. May I say three things at the outset which I hope will be of some help, and underline, as has just been said, that these are views that are objective and professional and are not clouded by the support that I have for hunting. I have been considering these issues, for some time having been first asked to do so some years ago and having done so on and off since. First of all, I firmly believe that it is not possible to frame a viable piece of legislation, which is compatible with the European convention on human rights and/or practically enforceable. Secondly, what it is that is sought to be prohibited is difficult to define. The difficulty in definition often leads to a difficulty in enforcement; that is the experience of the law. The resources which are needed to police the proposed and any other subordinate or consequential legislation aimed at mammal management, or other such issues that you have already heard evidence upon, will be considerable. The third introductory matter I would make plain is this. Contrary to what was said this morning by David Thomas, many of the previous bills that have been drafted to ban hunting have not been limited, have not been self-contained when properly analysed. That is a problem with trying to draft a bill to perform that which others urge you to enable. That said, I will answer your questions insofar as I can.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. I would like you to spell out in more detail why you think that it is not possible to frame this legislation that is ECHR compatible.

MR LISSACK: First of all, I should say this; it is impossible to overstate the change that will be wrought in civil liberties in this country by the introduction into English Domestic Law of the European Convention on Human Rights when it comes into force in October of this year, pursuant to the Human Rights Act 1998. It is impossible to overstate the changes that will be bought about. That is the first point. The second point is this: Under the Convention humans have rights but animals do not. Control of cruelty to animals, or the causing of unnecessary suffering, is only a legitimate state objective if, and insofar as, it damages human society. So if it is proved that it brutalises human society, then it may be triggered as a basis for the introduction of legislation, but otherwise it is not. It follows from that, thirdly, that the proposal to ban hunting with hounds is incompatible with at least four and possibly six articles. It is my view -- and not my view alone by any means -- that there is a very strong case for arguing that any of the previously promulgated bills to ban hunting with hounds, and any of the proposals presented to you in submissions by either the RSPCA, IFAW or anybody else, infringe Article 1, as to the peaceful enjoyment of property; Article 8, respect for private life; Article 11, freedom of peaceful assembly; Article 11, again, freedom of association with others; and potentially Article 5, rights to trial by jury if there is some general presumption of cruelty; and Article 14 if there is thought to be some discriminatory aspect to any legislation which cannot be reasoned or justified. Now that may be enough, you will tell me. I can go on, inevitably, but perhaps it will be more helpful if I was simply to pass over the minutiae which you may wish to have further help on in another way, and instead to say what happens where the infringement has taken place, and how a Government justifies doing so. Would that be helpful, equally, in the short-term?

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

MR LISSACK: Once an interference is established, the state must justify it. As you would expect, there are circumstances in which they can justify doing something which is a prima facie interference with an otherwise inalienable guaranteed right. But the fences that the state must clear are very tall and stiff in order to take away an otherwise guaranteed inalienable right. There are terms of art that are peculiar to the European Convention which come into play. I suspect in the time, and in this forum, no more than a listing of them will be possible or desirable: Where does the "General interest" lie? Has a "fair balance" been struck? A balance between the interests of those affected and the interests of those that it is sought to serve? What is the legitimate objective that is sought to be satisfied by the legislation? Above all, and finally, is the interference necessary? Meaning is it needed, not does somebody want it. Is it needed, and is it proportionate, which is perhaps the only one of those 8 or 10 English words that bears its ordinary meaning in this context. In other words, is the consequence proportionate with the end result? Is there a strong and pressing social need, the words that have been used to interpret that, for the interference. That, in turn, would require proof to a very high standard indeed of the causing of unnecessary suffering, which now steps outside any territory that may be mine and brings the argument back again full circle.

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I am really grateful for that because, obviously, we have a lot to take on board. Could I just go back to the question of enforcement. Now, it was said to us earlier today that enforcement problems, in effect, would be relatively small because people could rely on those who were concerned about hunting to report any cases of breach. Now, do you see this as an effective means of making an enforcement actually work?

MR LISSACK: No, I certainly do not. There are six points on enforcement, if I may. The first is this; it must be recognised that what is proposed in every draft bill has been to send people to prison for up to six months for partaking in the proposed banned activity. No bill has ever been proposed that I have seen which has ever sought to impose less than that as a maximum penalty. Therefore, one is talking about serious stuff, if I may say so. Therefore, one must be very cautious about how this is going to be enforced and policed with a small p. Secondly, bad law has a tendency to bring opprobrium on the head of the law makers, and those luckless people in the front line who have to apply it. Particularly, where the law sets law officers against an otherwise law-abiding section of a small community. The thought that one could have neighbour spying on neighbour, or hunt opponent following a drag hunt in the hope of finding another neighbour doing something else, is a very strange notion of policing as a way to make enforceable an otherwise unenforceable act. Thirdly -- as you, Sir John, pointed out in your questioning this morning -- by definition, this is a rural pursuit, carried out on private land, and nearly always out of sight, not because of secrecy or a desire for secrecy, because it is inherent in the subject matter. How on earth is the activity actually going to be practically policed? You posed that question more eloquently than that, but you posed that question to Rachel Newman. The answer was "that it is a very difficult question", and so it is. That is the best answer that you can get. There is no better answer because it is an extremely difficult and problematical area that you highlighted. Fourthly, it should be understood that, in every previous bill -- I think I have looked at all of them -- it has been proposed to create an arrestable offence, however defined. An arrestable offence -- meaning an offence that will be sufficiently made out for an arrest to take place if a constable has a reasonable grounds to suspect it has been committed -- carries with it the individual constable's extensive powers to stop and search, detain and seize anything which, in his judgment exercised at the time, might have been used in connection with the offence; horses, lorries, clothes. There was a proposal from the RSPCA that it should be permissible to take clothing away for analysis of mud splattering to see whether it is coincidental in make-up with an area where they suspect a hunt has taken place. These are very invasive and Draconian powers, which it is sought to impose for an offence which you can go to prison for six months, and whihch is so hard to enforce. Fifthly, swingeing powers of forfeiture. That word was uttered this afternoon earlier on in the evidence, and with no compensation, which casts a backlight on part of the European aspect of this, no compensation for criminalising, as it were, "overnight" a previous lawful activity, and for all the consequences for those affected. Sixth, and last -- and here again an echo of the point that you raised this morning, Sir John, and forcibly -- it is inevitable on one view that a ban on legitimate hunting will lead to a consequential increase in illegitimate hunting, with all of the problems of enforcing and policing that that contains.

MR JACKSON: Could I just add a word, Lord Burns, on this. Contrary to what is actually explicitly in the submission by IFAW, neither I nor any person connected with the Alliance would ever encourage or instruct anybody to break the law. But that does not alter the fact that we are extremely uneasy about this, because we know what is likely to happen if people feel that a law has been imposed upon them for reasons which they personally regard as unjust.

LORD SOULSBY: Thank you, Chairman. What you describe, Mr Lissack, could be described as between a rock and a hard place, I suppose, but, as someone who has carried these three pieces of legislation through the House of Lords, there is always this conflict on each side. It is by negotiation that you eventually get an adequate piece of legislation which may take more than months or even years. We heard, in fact, from the other side this morning; that they agreed to what they said was a lead period. I want to put to you the fact that legislation is better reached when it is by voluntary agreement than when it is by enforced legislation; and I am sure you would agree with that. Would it be reasonable in terms of legislation to allow a fairly extended lead period; so that each side could come together more adequately, and agree on a whole variety of things that have been discussed over the last two days; and so that legislation could be framed that not only did not require Draconian policing and so on but would be, by agreement, reached over a period of months or even one or two years?

MR JACKSON: Perhaps before Richard Lissack answers that, I could remark that sometimes it happens that society is faced with problems which are best dealt with by legislation, particularly criminal legislation, as the last resort. It may be that your question is somewhere in that range.

MR LISSACK: It is very interesting. One would like to think that everything could be resolved in the end by informed debate on both sides, finding a middle ground where from the beginning of the argument perhaps no-one thought such a finding was possible. Of course, someone has to set the parameters. Here there is between the two sides -- I put it in that way -- one essential, presently unbridgeable, divide: On the one side the belief that hunting should be stopped, and on the other side the belief that hunting should continue. There must, by definition, be some middle ground, but whether that can ever be found through legislation is something that I am not even remotely qualified to speak to.

DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: If I might follow up on that, and link it to your opening statement. In your opening statement, you said that one of the good things that might come from this Inquiry is the chance to open up dialogue, if you like, to put it between both sides of the debate. It is a bit of a hypothetical question; if such dialogue were capable of being opened up, what sort of matters would you like to address? I would like to explore where there is room for improvement, particularly in terms of animal welfare but any other issues as well in the hunting world.

MR JACKSON: Perhaps I could take the lead on this. It may not have been very poetic but there was a lot of sense in what Winston Churchill said, "Jaw jaw is always better than war war." We think that underlying this problem are not only the questions which we referred to, relative suffering, but there is this question of what actually constitutes good wildlife management. Somebody said earlier today -- and I think it indeed may have been you -- that one of the problems we have in this country of ours, which is quite heavily populated, patently down at the south, is that we have nothing approaching a nationally agreed programme for wildlife management in the context of a healthy environment. We believe -- and I personally believe very strongly -- that there is a great deal to be said for trying to get that particular problem addressed. It is something on which governments could take the initiative. Although people may not agree, you get a much better and healthier exposure of the problems that come up in this context. We, for our part, would very, very much welcome the setting on foot of a discussion of that kind. We do not pretend that these are easy problems: they are not, particularly in those parts of the country where the urban areas, what we call the suburbs, are expanding. But expansion is creating enormous problems in the context of wildlife management. More or less any method you care to choose of managing your wildlife population under those circumstances is fraught with difficulty. I really meant it when I said in my opening address that I would like to see -- and I think it has not happened so far -- a genuine open discussion between the two sides who have been giving evidence to you over these two days trying to discuss these problems. I believe there is a lot more common ground than many people believe. If I can make a slightly irreverent remark, I would like the politicians to stop playing Parliamentary tag -- what a spectacle it was on Friday -- and just keep out of it whilst people try and find this common ground.

DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: I wonder if I might push you a bit on the improved practice to the operational side, and whether you think there is any, if you like to call it, slack that might be taken up in terms of improvement to the practice for animal welfare.

MR JACKSON: As you know, I have never hunted in my life; I never will. I am not opposed to hunting. It is just not something I prefer to go on. I prefer doing things with plants at the moment. If I talk to my hunting friends they say, "Yes, there are areas where practice probably could be tightened up", and we are perfectly willing to discuss it. There was something which came up on Thursday which I thought was particularly interesting, where it seemed to me that it had plainly occurred to the Committee that when a fox had been run to earth the hunt went off and terrier men were left behind to deal with the situation. I can well understand that that raises in people's minds the question: Who supervises the terrier men? It may not be a sufficient answer to say they are licensed, and they are very good at their job. That is the sort of area, personally, where I think it would be excellent if there were some discussion. Does that help?

THE CHAIRMAN: It does very much, and I am very grateful for that. In many ways we would like to think we, in this Committee, could have been the forum for much of this discussion. I hope a process so that we have devised that we will be able to take some of these issues forward and may be some progress can be made. I fear that the amount of time that we have at our disposal limits how far that can go. But you have an issue in which there are some very big differences of view, and some sensitivities. What we are trying to do is to explore some of these more practical issues, and see to what extent we can bridge the gap. I think we are going to have to bring it to a conclusion. I would just like to put one final question to you. If there were to be a ban, would you see any merit in this being phased in over a period of time, or, if it was to happen, would you rather that it were to be over quickly?

MR JACKSON: That is a jolly difficult question. Richard, do you want to say anything?

MR LISSACK: I fear nothing very enlightened. I am surprised by the attitude taken to the same question earlier on today: "There is no need proven for a timing, or phase-in". it must be self evident that there is a need, if the ban is going to follow, in order to cater for the fall-out, however great it is; for those involved it will be cataclysmic. So one would have thought that there is obviously a need. Beyond that, I do not think there is anything I can say, apart from the blindingly obvious, I am sorry.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

MR JACKSON: Lord Burns, may I say from our side that we are absolutely delighted with the way in which your Committee is going about its task. We know it is difficult. We are very appreciative of the extremely open and fair way in which you are doing it. We have just the kind of Inquiry which we pressed so very hard for.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you both to yourselves and to Deadline 2000. I think we have been able to conduct these discussions in a friendly and civilised fashion. I think we have been able to touch on a number of important issues. We have been able to get the views from both sides. I think in some cases there are some quite big differences. In some cases, I think they are not that big. But this is only one step in the process. We have spent quite a lot of time trying to design the process in order to tease out, if possible, as much agreement from you as is possible. The next phase is the seminars. But I am very grateful for your participation, and I am very grateful for the participation of Deadline 2000, and the very co-operative way in which all of these sessions have been conducted. Thank you very much.

(The hearing adjourned)

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Date uploaded to site 13 April 2000