Representation Panel Chairman
William Swann Veterinary Consultant
Mike Baker IFAW UK Director
John Rolls RSPCA Director of Communications
Douglas Batchelor LACS Chairman
David Coulthread LACS Head of Public Affairs
Carol McKenna IFAW Consultant
Colin Booty RSPCA Senior Wildlife Officer
THE CHAIRMAN: Welcome back. I am sorry we are a few minutes late. Welcome to this session. Do you have an opening statement that you would like to make on this, on the general subject of economic and social matters?
MR SWANN: Yes, Lord Burns. It is very brief, just to introduce the subject. The economic argument began with some 60,000 jobs at risk, and has dropped, somewhat in freefall, to now a figure lying perhaps just less than 4,000. I appreciate the Committee has commissioned its own research on this issue, but we are convinced from our own professional advisers that the impact on the rural economy in the medium term will be quite small. Sean Rickard, whom we asked to do a critique similar to the methods for us, was convinced that a lot of the businesses involved were small, self-employed, agricultural businesses. Consequently, he employed what was, essentially, an agriculture treaties to the figures. The central issue, we believe, is not how many people hunt or do not hunt, but it is how many people own horses. We believe that the vast majority of the expenditure associated with this issue is, in fact, expenditure which is on horses or on equestrian activities. A very small note on this is that, in my practice days, I used to look after quite a number of equestrian facilities, and some of the people did hunt. I have a nonpartisan approach to that because horses do not choose to hunt; people do. When many of those horse owners left the area, a number of them moved to places such as offshore islands, where there was no hunting, and they took the horses with them. I think this is what you would expect. The welfare of hunted horses is very good; it is absolutely excellent. People who keep these horses take an enormous pride in them, and use the facility of the equestrian activities. I just find it incomprehensible that they will not continue to do this. The final point on this is that we have heard the issue about the fallen stock and the European Directive which we put in our submission. We were aware that the alliance would be dropped. We accept, with the Countryside Alliance, that this is a problem for the fallen stock industry as a whole, which is in great disarray. The Government obviously has a need to address this. I think that is all I have to say. Thank you, Lord Burns. I will pass you over now to our panel.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. The issue of detail, of course, in terms of numbers, et cetera, we will be wanting to follow up once we have received the research that we have commissioned and at the seminar. I do not know if we want to get into the detail of this today, or simply some of the broader issues that are at stake. We can follow the detail at a later stage. Would you, however, agree that there are really two issues here? One is trying to account for the amount of economic activity and social activity that is currently involved in hunting, and supported by hunting. A second question is the extent to which that activity will be replaced by other things, if there was to be a ban on hunting. Hopefully we will be able to come to a reasonable amount of agreement about the first of those things, and maybe more of the debate will be around the second question, about the question of the replacement. Would that sort of view accord with your evidence?
MR SWANN: Yes, thank you, Lord Burns. I am going to pass this over to Mike Baker.
MR BAKER: Thank you very much for the question. I would like to emphasise, I suppose, firstly, the areas of agreement -- which I briefly mention because I think we have gone over that ground -- is that there are fewer than a thousand people directly employed by hunts. I think that there is also agreement that anything much more than this is in the realms of speculation. I think we are all agreed that we are unlikely to be able to come to a concrete figure. So we are looking at broad figures. Hopefully, we will be able to come to some agreement on those. I would agree that the key question is likely to prove to be what happens to the spending that is displaced in the event of a hunting ban. The submission from the Countryside Alliance, and the statements that we have had that built up the economy as a big issue, initially raised by our opponents rather than ourselves, were based really on a view of the economy as a static thing; that most of the accounting seemed to be a rather crude totalling of all the jobs that may be affected by the ban, and then assuming that all would go without recourse to considerations and things like the fact that horse membership, certainly continuing in very large numbers, and without factoring anything in about replacing spending. I think that is where the key argument, the extent of that, is going to be crucial in defining the impact on the rural economy as a whole. I think that there has been some significant ground given towards coming to that view by the Alliance in their submission and in their statements prior to the break. I think, I believe anyway, that we are left with a situation now where we can perhaps clarify what exactly it is we have at the moment, prior, obviously, to the research that the Committee has initiated. Firstly, there are very few sources for the spend figures, for the amount of spending associated with hunting. By and large, we are reduced to relying on sources that are dependent upon surveys of the hunters themselves and the members of the trades associated with hunting. Secondly, there is a lot of controversy. If it is not out of order to answer a question that was asked prior to the break, rather than the one that is directly put now, to try and explain some of how we would see some of the rather large differences arising between the figures of up to 16 or 23,000 being quoted, and the figures from Professor Rickard of 3,330, I think the paper submitted by Professor Rickard actually shows how some of those problems may have arisen, and criticises on a number of points, inflation, multipliers, the inclusion of tax, the overcounting of horse-related expenditure, the assumption that all horses/any horses which have been hunting, basically, any expenditure relating to that would immediately cease. I think there is also a problem in that most of the figures that have come up do not have any explicit explanation of how they were derived. There is a total figure for spending, which is justified -- although we would argue that that is on the high side -- but there is no clear definition of exactly how the jobs total was derived from the figure. The only research we have seen so far that does that is Professor Rickard's, which, as I said, was a figure which, as you know, was a figure at the lower end of the scale. In terms of the likely job losses in the real world, as opposed to the total jobs associated with hunting -- which we would concur is likely to be around the 3,000 figure -- again, Professor Rickard makes a mean of 1,670 -- speculation but perhaps not an unreasonable assumption. Noting that this depends on a large number of factors. Some of those factors I think will -- as we will show throughout this session, would -- lead one to believe that the impact will be perhaps even smaller than that, because many of the factors involved in hunting in particular, and in particular the fact that most of the expenditure is horse-related, would incline us to believe that in fact the abolition of hunting would have very little impact on the rural economy as a whole, and that I believe is why the Countryside Alliance have switched mainly to talking about the impact on individuals rather than the impact on hunting.
THE CHAIRMAN: Again, I do not want to get into detail because I do not think that is for today, but would you accept that as far as, in a sense, the direct expenditure is concerned of the hunt, we probably have a reasonably good feel for what that is; a combination of surveys, et cetera, suggest the number of just under 1,000, and what that total expenditure is. We have had accounts for quite a lot of the hunts. We have had the survey that has been produced. Presumably, we do not have any great difference of opinion about the broad magnitudes associated with that. I am just looking at the hunt. I am not talking about hunt supporters now; I am just talking about the hunt.
MR BAKER: Yes, I think there is relatively little difference in terms of the direct, for example, expenditure directly by participants. There is a relatively small difference. I think, as you expand beyond that a little, a bigger difference emerges.
THE CHAIRMAN: So the next stage, in a sense, is the direct expenditure by the hunt supporters, and that is more difficult to get at because that involves a certain amount of survey work. One cannot sample everybody, whereas we are able to sample all of the hunts. So there will be some differences there, but, again, one might hope to be able to get a reasonably good steer on what the expenditure is of the people who actually go hunting, and the proportion of that which is attributable to hunting, although there is inevitably a problem of fixed costs. Some of the costs may be associated with other activities also. I hope that it will be possible to get a reasonably good estimate of that. I presume that, again, that is not the source of the bulk of your differences.
MR BAKER: No, it is not a source of the bulk of the differences. There is some significant difference in the figures. I think the figure is based on the same research survey that were arrived at by Professor Rickard were of the order of 80 million pounds lower than the overall figure, perhaps slightly more, and the overall figure arrived at by Cobham, because of the challenge on many assumptions. That is quite a significant difference, but it is not the core of the argument.
THE CHAIRMAN: It is the next stage where things begin to get much more troublesome, where one traces that spending through the other links. We will try to come to a close view about that when we have had our own research. I think the only thing that slightly puzzles me about Dr Rickard's research is the way in which it translates the total expenditure -- and we will need to get closer to this -- on the basis of 16 jobs per million pounds. I have yet to get a clear view of where that comes from, in a sense. It certainly does not reflect the sort of ratio jobs to expenditure which you get with the hunt's own expenditure. These will be some of the things I think we will want to follow up when it comes to the seminar. Unless you, in a sense, have a ready answer to that, it is not one I would want to get into today.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, I can very quickly say that Sean Rickard's figure was derived from using the standard tables as they apply to Scotland, primarily, because the rural parameters for Scotland more nearly approximate for the values for England and Wales.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Thank you. I am going to leave all these questions. We should be able to look at them in more detail when we have the research in front of us. I want really to focus very much on the point which you, yourselves, raise as being the critical one, which in a sense is the process of adjustment within the rural economy. Now, one of the problems about all this sort of discussion is that we have large aggregate numbers. Within those large aggregates, we are looking at relatively small fractions; and that makes it very difficult to actually detect, so far as particular concerns are raised, what will be the responses. For example, we may well get -- indeed do get -- figures showing the growth of rural economy and rural employment. What I really want to ask you, first, is how do you see those people who are currently employed in hunting finding jobs in this growing rural economy?
MR SWANN: Sir John, I will pass that over to Mike Baker.
MR BAKER: I think there are a number of factors involved; one of the key ones is that, unlike many of the potential job losses that have been referred to, or actual job losses in this case, for instance, closure of mining communities and so on, these jobs are widely dispersed and, therefore, far more easily absorbed by the local community. I think in terms of transferable skills, clearly the increasing areas of the rural economy, things like business services and tourism, may involve some change of skills training and so on. If someone is directly involved in a hunt, they may need some retraining in order to move across to a different sector but that would assume that the job replacement came from those growing sectors. Our contention is that the vast majority of people who ride in the countryside and ride to hounds would continue to do so, either through drag hunting or would find some other riding pastime; and that most of the jobs related -- as I think is agreed by all sides -- relates to expenditure associated with horseriding. Most people should, therefore, be able to continue in pretty much the same vein, with similar jobs and using some of the skills.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I was actually excluding that category. Specifically I was talking about people appointed by hunts themselves. One of the problems, if I may, while I am thinking about that one, is that it is true, of course, that these jobs are dispersed through the community in national aggregates. That means that in national statistics they are easily lost. It does not mean necessarily for the local community in which they are placed that there will be readily available jobs for those individuals where they are. Are we looking at some form of further movement, as was suggested earlier?
MR BAKER: In terms of statistics being easily lost, that was exactly the point I was making earlier on; that the impact as a rural economy overall is likely to be negligible, almost immeasurable. The impact on individuals is obviously something of greater concern, and that has been brought out before. I think that a lot of that will depend on the likelihood of transferring to more direct -- for example, if the hunt converts to a drag hunt, then the employment would presumably be able to continue pretty much as before. Where that did not take place, there probably would be individual disruption; and that is something that there is not much to get away from. But I know that Bill has some further comments on drag hunting.
MR SWANN: Yes, Sir John. The type of people who you are aiming the question at specifically, those who are employed on the ground in the hunt kennels, I take the point as to what you are asking: Where they would find reemployment? We would like to see a number of them re-employed in drag hunting because this is an area that we will wish to cover both in these oral submissions and in the research seminar, because 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 shall go into more detail when we consider it appropriate. So I think there is potential there, because I also believe that many people who enjoy working with hounds will not cease to do so. I thoroughly believe some hound packs will continue to exist; so that some employment will remain. For those who are outside that employment, then there are a number of relatively unskilled jobs which do become available in local labour markets. This is not presupposing people will have to move. This is one possible thing that will happen. I also feel there is likely to be increasing employment in the service sector to agriculture because the area of agricultural waste is one which you will want to ask more about later as well. But those areas of agricultural waste disposal which we can talk about do indicate that there may well be the potential for, not substantial but significant, employment opportunity within that area of agricultural service.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I, in this context, raise a question from the League's evidence, where you say that moves towards eco-tourism, and could bring considerable benefits to areas like Exford. But are you saying that if there was no hunting in the course of the winter months, there would be an awful lot of people going to Exford in the winter months but who are not going there because they do not like the association with hunting. I mean, in terms of the strength of the remarks, the evidence, I was a little surprised.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, I am going to pass that over to David Coulthread.
MR COULTHREAD: I think it is an irony. One of the businesses actually going quite well in the village of Exford, which is being held up as an example of the strength of hunting in the rural community -- whereas we would argue it is being held up as an example because it is an exception to the rule -- is a hotel actually run by a League member, and has in its window League stickers. So I think everybody passing that village knows exactly where that particular entrepreneur stands on hunting. He has reported to us -- and I think he may be reporting to you at Taunton tomorrow evening -- that a number of the people who actually come and visit Exford, when they found out the association of that town with hunting, are actually put off and say, that if it was not for the fact he was there -- and his position on hunting is well-known -- they would not come again. From his point of view -- and I think a number of other people who run businesses on Exmoor who have reported to us -- there certainly is quite a strong association with that area with hunting, and they are certainly reporting to us that they would be enjoying greater profitability if that association was gone.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think I had a discussion with him last Saturday night -- no doubt I will be having another discussion with him tomorrow evening. I can accept that, in a sense, in the terms that you put it -- which I think is not quite the strength that it is maybe put in the evidence. But that is a smaller issue.
PROFESSOR WINTER: This is a linked question, really. It is to do with tourism, but it is also to do with the business of economic adjustment which we have been talking about. I am sure we all accept the rural economy is not static. No economy ever is static. I am referring here to some evidence of the RSPCA. They talk about the right to roam legislation, and the suggestion that that will increase the number of leisure day visits to the countryside. I think this is an important argument but, apart from the fact that the legislation is going through Parliament, no substantiation is given to their suggestion. I wonder if they are able to substantiate the claim that those in the countryside would increase, and hence provide economic opportunity through that.
MR SWANN: Professor Winter, I would like to ask John Rolls to answer that.
MR ROLLS: Yes, you are quite right that the legislation is still going through Parliament, but we expect it to be enacted. We would expect, as a result, further penetration into the countryside, and as a result of that more jobs. We have not speculated in any technical way that that would produce X-number of jobs, but we think this is an important issue in raising and opening the countryside to many more people than has been the case to date. So we do not have specific evidence to support that, but, again, it is speculation.
LORD SOULSBY: If I may just come back to Mr David Coulthread talking about Exmoor -- and no doubt you have heard my intervention to the Countryside Alliance about fell packs in the Lake District, where it seems at least it was represented that hunting in the winter replaced the tourist trade in the summer -- by people coming from all over the Lake District obviously, but the rest of the country, and sometimes overseas, representing on national and international aspect to tourism for people wishing to see the fell pack working, and people staying in bed and breakfast. Obviously, it is different in different parts of the country but, certainly in the Lake District, there would not be that antagonism that you describe in Exmoor. I wonder if you might comment on the different parts of the country, and the role of hunting in the local economy as part of the national tourist trade.
MR SWANN: Lord Soulsby, I have two people who have indicated on this; one of whom you've addressed the question to, David Coulthread, who would like to make a response. David, would you like to go first?
MR COULTHREAD: I think there are two points to be made on that. The first one is that the role of hunting attracting people to fell packs in Cumberland in the Lake District. We see, I think, very little evidence that they attract large scale followers, simply because to follow that kind of hunting you need to be pretty fit yourself. It is actually an extremely strenuous walk, on some quite difficult terrain. An area where there might be a greater claim for attraction of tourists probably is going back to Exmoor and to the village of Exford. What we see there is that there is a tremendous growth for alternative forms of eco-tourism, as we describe it. One example I would give is that I remember actually watching one of the holiday programmes. They were talking about tourist safari trips in the West Country. People are actually coming in and going out and observing the deer, and finding greater profitability, and quite a great deal of profitability, from people observing the dinner action. We see great potential for that. Again, one point we would stress is that we do know that the majority of people in this country, for whatever reason, are disturbed by hunting, and have no wish to see it. We feel that, although it is true at the moment it cannot be absolutely substantiated, we do know, certainly from the anecdotal evidence we have had, and from local businesses, that, if there was no association with hunting, there is tremendous potential for more people to come along. So there are alternatives if hunting were to end.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, Douglas Batchelor and I also have indicated most of my team would like to speak on this issue, if that is in order.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think it is an important issue, and I am very happy to hear from whoever wishes to.
MR BATCHELOR: Lord Burns, the League, as you know, employ people in the West Country, effectively managing and working on sanctuaries in the West Country so there is a form of alternative employment already created. We actually are currently in discussions with the local tourist authority, who are very keen to develop eco-tourism, based round the fact that we do know landlords, who can be seen in our sanctuaries, and encourage business and encourage business for the local hotel trade based round that. Clearly, that is something that we are seeking to develop with them. I think the fact that the local tourist authority are very keen on the idea suggests that they themselves believe it is viable. I think also it fits into the wider agricultural climate of a need for diversification. It does show that managing your land in a different way, with conservation of wildlife, can create employment opportunities in its own right. I think that could be quite important. We also, to a limited extent, operate things like wildlife watch weekends, where we have members and others who like to visit the sanctuaries and see the wildlife, and have educational visits, and that brings visitors to the local hotels. What we do find in that sort of customer is that they are very keen that the people they do business with, be it the bed and breakfast, or wherever else, are not in any way associated with hunting. So there is a clear negative in terms of where they are prepared to stay, and what they are prepared to do, if there is an association with hunting. We find that that is largely no problem to the hotels which we ourselves do business with. They are quite happy to go along with that, and say that it is typical of a lot of their customers, as has already been said.
MS McKENNA: Thank you. To help the panel, I would just like to refer to some statistics that are in the IFAW's submission. The 1998 statistics from UK tourism show that 1 per cent of tourists to Wales undertook either shooting, stalking or hunting. There were no recorded figures for England. This compares to 26 per cent of visitors to Wales who visited heritage sites, and 23 per cent who went hiking, and 19 per cent of visitors to England visited heritage sites. According to the Sports Council, this is also referred to in the IFAW submission. The most popular sports activities in the countryside are walking, golf and fishing. Thank you.
MR SWANN: Thank you, Carol. If you could just indulge with one comment from John Rolls on this same issue.
MR ROLLS: Just to go back to Professor Winter's point. On page 12 of our submission, we referred to Neil Ward, who says: "The processes of social and democratic change, and associated policy developments, suggest considerable potential for the further expansion of country leisure pursuits. In connection with the right to roam legislation, we would also point to the fact that in 1996 there were 1.5 billion leisure days. Therefore, if there is only a very marginal increase through the right to roam legislation, then you could see an enormous increase in employment opportunities.
MR SWANN: Thank you.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I am interested in the argument you are putting forward. It has been put to us that, in a sense, the process of hunting is a means of managing a common good; that if, in fact, you did not add value through the hunting process, then the people whose land in fact feeds these animals would see, in a sense, an interest in cropping the animals for themselves, and the process would ultimately lead to a reduction in the number of deer -- I am thinking particularly of deer at the moment -- and to, if you like, a disappearance of the deer into areas where they could not readily be shot. I would really like to hear your comments on that because I could see that there is a certain logic in this; that where you have common goods where nobody in a sense will believe that if he does not take the goods somebody else will, there is a loss, in a sense, of a motive to conserve.
MR SWANN: David Coulthread will answer that.
MR COULTHREAD: We often hear the arguments that no hunting means no deer. The one thing we would point to is virtually every other part of the UK, including Scotland, where there is an extremely healthy deer population, they are virtually exclusively culled by shooting. The local populations, that includes landowners and farmers, have absolutely no problem about deer being nearby. To use hunting as a justification for the existence of deer in one small part of the country is an argument that does not hold water. The amount of deer actually culled by shooting runs to probably about 10 per cent of those that are actually culled on the normal basis of deer management. What is actually needed in the West Country is a proper deer management process. The League will be at the forefront in proposing and trying to get together proper deer management in the West Country. We are being resisted, and we are being resisted in the main by the hunting organisations themselves. But I would repeat, I do not believe that the people in the West Country are unique, and that they only tolerate the deer because they hunt them. They exist in all other parts of the UK, and nobody has any particular problems with them because they are properly controlled.
THE CHAIRMAN: Can I, on that point, put to you, however, an argument that has been put to us, and to get a response, which is that in Scotland, basically, the stakes are larger, in that the deer tend to spend a larger proportion of their time on a single estate. The members have an interest in the management and the conservation themselves. Whereas what is different about the West Country is that you have a lot of small farms. Therefore, there is not the same degree of ownership of the deer because they pass more readily between establishments. Therefore, this creates this lack of ownership, the lack of identity, and, therefore, the greater chance that there will be, in a way, competitive culling, because individuals see themselves getting certain damage, but they do not get the benefit. It is an argument that is based upon, in a sense, a different pattern of ownership, a different topography, and more woodland probably too. My question is simply: Do you have any observations to make on that argument?
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, I have just been passed a note from Colin Booty, who I will bring up to speak if you want to pursue this issue. He has indicated that on the Exmoor National Park there are between -- this is an area where there is no hunting by dogs. If you want to go into this in more detail, I will bring him up on to the panel to ask.
PROFESSOR WINTER: On the economic side, the deer management.
THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, let us hear from your colleague.
MR SWANN: Colin is our wildlife chap. He will probably be able to give you a better answer than I can.
MR BOOTY: This relates to the point which I think basically boils down, in a sense, if there was not the self-interest, more deer would be killed. If you took that to an extreme conclusion, if that self-interest was not there, there would be no deer. But, in a sense, the example that I gave was in that same area that you are talking about. This supposed commonality of interest, part of the Exmoor park area, there are upwards to 1000 fallow deer which are not subject to hunting with dogs. They are tolerated, in that sense. They are managed by shooting. So, in a sense, if that situation, that that size of the herd of the social deer can exist, be supported, sustained and tolerated, why should that not be the situation for the red?
THE CHAIRMAN: So you do not see any merits in the argument that the pattern of ownership, the size of the estates, and the extent to which there is a degree of ownership of the herd makes any difference to the likelihood that, in the event of a ban, there would be a greater degree of, in a sense, self-interest in culling? Whereas it is argued at the moment there is, in a sense, a commonality of interest through the hunt. I mean, the question is -- I am not saying it is an overwhelming argument -- but is there anything in it? Or do you really see that as not an issue at all.
MR BOOTY: We would not see that as a major issue. It was a point that was considered by the report by Jochen Langbin and Rory Putman in their report to the National Trust in 1992. They also pointed out in that report that the distribution of the red deer in the South-west of England was far beyond the National Exmoor Park and the Quantocks. So whatever happens or does not happen in the park would not necessarily affect the red deer in the South-West, and, in a sense, the patchwork nature of ownership in that situation, if you accept as a hypothesis that some owners might kill more deer, other owners might kill less deer. So the picture is not a straightforward one.
THE CHAIRMAN: What about the point that is being made that historically in the past, when hunting has not been taking place, there has been a decline in the size of the herd -- and there is some correlation between the size of the herd and whether or not there is hunting.
MR SWANN: I beg your pardon, I thought Colin was indicating he wanted to answer on that one. He ducked out of that one. He is quite happy to carry on.
MR BOOTY: Yes, I just was not expecting to do this session. The reference you make I think alludes to what happens in the late 1700s/early 1800s, that period of time. If you look historically, what is happening with deer throughout the country is that deer numbers were at a very low ebb, whether or not the arguments about hunting with dogs. You have to look at the circumstances that were pertaining there; a severe rural, economic deprivation, severe and way beyond anything that can conceivably be the situation nowadays. There have been civil wars, Napoleonic wars. So there was a very severe disruption, and deer numbers throughout the country of all species declined. Subsequently, in other areas of the country where hunting with dogs is not undertaken, deer numbers have increased, and also increased on Exmoor. So we would not necessarily accept the correlation that they have only survived and increased on areas Exmoor because of that association with hunting.
PROFESSOR WINTER: I wanted to go back to deer management, and the aftermath of the ban, and your suggestion that deer management would have to take place, and that would obviously be the shooting. I want to remember this is an economic session, and ask you how you think the economics of that would work, because it seems to me that there are two models; and maybe something in-between the one model is that it should be, in a sense, a charge to a kind of public purse in some way, but it should be deer management organised by the public sector in some manner or means. Therefore, people have to pay as you and I would pay for that. The other model is that it should be seen as an economic resource, and that there will be deer stalking, that people would pay for deer stalking, and that is obviously on that process. I am wondering, firstly, which of those models or some kind of measure you think would happen and is desirable. My second question, linked to that really, is that you mentioned the opposition to hunting, concern about hunting, as an economic negative in terms of inhibiting tourism and tourists coming. Do you think deer stalking might also be such an economic inhibitor in the same kind of way? Is deer stalking necessarily any more acceptable to your average tourist?
MR SWANN: Professor Winter, I am going to just make a brief statement on that while David Coulthread gets his thoughts in order. I actually live on one of the Scottish estates where stalking is now redundant, primarily because the deer are such an important resource as a tourist attraction. About 25,000 acres of the estate were taken out of deer forests in order to be planted as natural woodland, and so deer had to be excluded. One of the aspects to this is that red deer, in being moved in that way, will not resettle outside the home range. There is this idea that this comparison with the Scottish Highlands and these estates being vast areas. The situation is not like that, because deer groups do specifically adhere to certain home ranges. So stalking stopped on one the north of Scotland's largest estates as a result of the fact that the net revenue from stalking is not terribly great. The deer are an enormous resource. Part of the whole process of this conservation planting which has received European funding is also in line with putting in animal watching shelters, putting up footpaths and information boards, because this is seen as being what visitors to Scotland want. It is receiving, primarily, European funding in order to promote this. So I think there is very much a conservation argument, in areas which people tend to think of as areas where deer have been managed as a resource. I think things are changing in this respect, and this is one example. I am now going to pass you over to David Coulthread for some comments as well.
MR COULTHREAD: Thank you. One of the facts about the deer population in the West Country is that they are basically culled by shooting in the first place. Of the deer population, about 1000 have to be culled every year in order to maintain the current population levels, and about 100, possibly less, taken over by hunting. So if there was an increase in culling by shooting in the order of about 10 per cent, which overall would not be a significant increase in the number of deer culled, for which reason we do not believe that stalking would be economically viable in any case. As regards it being a cost to the public purse, it would be if an increase of 10 per cent culling takes place. That will be undertaken by a number of groups, such as local farmers, the National Trust and organisations such as that; so that it should not incur any additional expenditure on the public purse. The League, as has already been reported, is actually looking into ways of attracting people to our wildlife sanctuaries. We have quite a lot down in the West Country. We believe that, if we can see local wildlife as an economic resource, and certainly an increasing number of farmers are making money from activities such as badger watchers, it may be a way forward for a number of farmers who have previously seen deer in one particular way, and perhaps should be seen as an economic resource. We would certainly ask them to encourage them to see it in that way, in much the way people around the globe have actually come to see other animals. The obvious example being Jack and his fishermen, who now see dolphins, for instance, as a tourist attraction. They take people out whale-watching, but that is an example. As regards proper involvement, the model we would certainly advance is the deer initiative, which is an organisation the League is involved with. We have given a supply of the Deer Initiative's Policy Programme as part of our appendixes. They certainly believe that the humane management of the deer stocks is viable. They do propose shooting as the humane alternative, but I would like to stress will only involve an increase of about 10 per cent, which counts for about 100 deer. Economically, there really would be very little to be gained from introducing stalking in any case.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: If we could pick up one or two other topics, certainly without exhausting any of this. You will have heard discussion, and contributed to it, about the role of the hunt in relation to fallen stock. There are problems about that in any case. It would be very helpful if you could give us your view about how that aspect of the rural economy would be operating, and also, perhaps, while you are talking about that, pick up the question of what do we do about fallen animals.
MR SWANN: Thank you, Sir John. Basically, you have read the RSPCA submission, which is an overview of the industry. One thing that is very difficult to do is to apportion significance. I will give you a brief example on that, in that most of the larger knacker's yards will deal primarily in cattle carcasses, which are larger, require much more effort to dispose of, and also have a higher ongoing process requirement to remove the ultimate waste and specify material to the BSE legislation. So it has always been customary in the industry to tot up not in heritage but in livestock units. So a cow is considered to be three livestock units, a sheep is one livestock unit. This relates to the effort in processing. That is the way the industry normally computes its figures. On that basis, the industry, as represented by the Licenced Slaughters Association, its latest estimate is that it deals with somewhere in the region of high 80s to low 90s of the total United Kingdom disposal of livestock waste, but that is their figures. I cannot vouch for those, and I cannot give them any sort of credence. They are just the figures they are prepared to give to me. I certainly would not think they are too far off the mark, but neither would I believe they are entirely accurate. The difficulty is that you have local significance, and some hunt kennels do. Indeed, the figures that they quote, the operative word in that quotation was "may" because the Ministry of Agriculture did indicate that kennels may dispose of figures as high as those which they quoted. Indeed, I would agree that they can play a very important part in some areas. I think in areas like the West Country, Leicestershire, and one or two other spots where there is not good coverage, they have a role that nobody would deny. But the problem that I have is in terms of capacity. Their capacity to process livestock waste is severely limited. In this respect, what tends to happen is they are used, much to their annoyance, sometimes as dumping grounds. Indeed, in the West Country, I was talking to one of the veterinary staff down there, who now tells me that they have had to put CCTV cameras on the hunt kennels to actually see which farmers are dumping dead livestock on them. They are having dumped on them more than they can actually manage to cope with. What actually happens to the dumped livestock is that it goes on a skip and is taken off to a rendering plant. Now, in terms of significance, there are one or two, a few, which do have local significance. Indeed, I think there is the possibility that, in these areas, there is almost the potential there for a standalone, small knacker's yard, given that the industry was more economic. But the difficulty with that is that the industry is not currently economic. It is facing even worse crisis at the moment because it is having hoisted on it a European Directive of change, which is going to require a major upgrade on the facilities. So even the large licensed knackers are not looking good, with any degree of confidence. For the smaller hunt kennels, it will be annihilation. If the Directive comes through, I am afraid it will. It is going to come through as a regulation. Although I sympathise with the industry's concerns about this, I think it will happen. Now, on that basis, I do not think the hunt kennels have a role to play as primary processing plants. They may have a role to play in a wider context of acting as transfer sites, but not as part of a hunt kennels, perhaps as a separate business, as a standalone business. I think, in this respect, there is the potential in the long-term for some employment there.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: If I could just follow up on that, you mentioned in your introduction -- and indeed on page 39 of the IFAW submission -- about the possibility of actually increasing agricultural employment through those sorts of changes. But you do recognise now that, economically, it does not stack up in terms of most farmers' gross margins not being able to actually pay for disposal, and in the respect that the hunt kennels are wanting a free service, are you therefore saying that it will have to be a public subsidy for that extra industry to get going?
MR SWANN: Dr Edwards, I will make the point, first of all, that most of the kennels now do have to show their ongoing costs. We have to compare like with like. Although they may not charge the same degree for the actual collection of fallen livestock, they will still have to pass on out-of-pocket expenses which are involved in paying the renderer's charges, which are where the waste goes to after the kennels have done what it does with it. So there is an expense involved there. At the moment, there are consultations going on between the industry as it is represented by the Licenced Slaughters Association and Mr Rooker, The Minister. These consultations have come to the point of producing a consultative document, which does spell out what I have been talking about; a wider role in farm waste disposal. This will include things like plastics and twine, and all the empty cans and drums and these sort of things. So we are looking at if it is possible for the industry to be directed down this road, then this is an area that it is up to Government to decide whether it chooses to subsidise it. But if it chooses to subsidise it, or if the agricultural industry is required to pay for it -- which under European law it may be required to do -- either way, there is the potential there for creation of new jobs. So the new jobs are not airy-fairy jobs. If this goes through, then, yes, jobs will be created. But you are enquiring at an unfortunate point in that in terms of how this matter is being resolved, then we would have much more information on it in another 12 months time.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: One other possible scenario is that, because of the extra cost, the agricultural community contracts rather than has to leave the legislation, if there is not a public subsidy. Would you agree with that?
MR SWANN: Sorry, I did not catch the first part of your question.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: With regard to dealing with fallen stock under the new regulations which imposed the conditions you describe, you said that the agricultural industry would have to meet them, and then it is up to the Government whether they subsidise or not. If there was no Government subsidy, presumably the alternative scenario is the agricultural industry contracts because it cannot pay.
MR SWANN: There are other alternatives, Dr Edwards, in disposal of livestock, and these are ones the Ministry of Agriculture is not that keen on promoting; and this is burial. Throughout the greater part of Scotland, there is no livestock or collection service. We are dealing with sheep lying areas. Normally, sheep are buried on farms. There are hilly areas of England and Wales where the same would apply. This is not a healthy trend in many people's view. I certainly think it is not a course that should be pursued. So I think if the agricultural industry does not have an economic base, where it can afford to pay for proper waste disposal, and if that proper waste disposal is a requirement of European legislation, then I fail to see what the alternatives are; either a subsidy or farmers will have to pay by whatever means they have available to them. This is the nub of the problem, and this is why discussions are taking place, because the industry does not feel that the agricultural sector can stand this additional cost. We are back down to the same arguments. This is primarily aimed at the spin-off of the BSE problems; that all this type of thing has come in. The whole meat industry has faced this entire problem of having imposed upon it costs which its economic structure does not permit it to pay. This will be a knock on down into the Licenced Knackers Association as well, but as to how the eventual outcome will be at this point in time, we are not able to precisely say.
LORD SOULSBY: On page 14 of the League Against Cruel Sports Submission discussing fallen stock, there is a strong recommendation that all carcasses need to be subject to veterinary inspection, similar to licensed abattoirs. Does Deadline 2000 support that recommendation?
MR SWANN: I think, Lord Soulsby, we need to clarify between fallen stock and casualty stock. I think one thing that the panel will be aware of, in dealing with the knackering industry, is that we are dealing with animals which have no future in the food industry. With a casualty animal, we are dealing with an animal which may have a future in the food chain. So this will be diverted to a specialist casualty slaughterhouse, or a slaughterhouse with special casualty facilities. The only time that that will not happen is if that animal cannot qualify for a veterinary certificate. So I think in this respect -- and I apologise for the lack of clarity -- the situation is that, with regard to fallen livestock, we are not advocating veterinary inspection of all carcasses but, in terms of casualty livestock, then, as is currently the law, we state that, as is now the case, veterinary inspection is mandatory.
LORD SOULSBY: Yes, I am fully aware of the casualty animal situation. As you stated, I not only understand it but agree with it. It does say here quite clearly, but I take it from what you are saying that you do not really, that the League Against Cruel Sports did not really mean to say in the case where animals disposed of may be used as hound food the process should be subject to all the regulations that currently apply to licensed abattoirs.
MR SWANN: Lord Soulsby, the intent of that statement, I am sure, was to imply that these facilities have the same degree of regulation as any other operating in the same way, and was not intended to imply that they should be subject to any additional veterinary supervision, which as you and I know is not the case.
LORD SOULSBY: Difficult enough with food animals, let alone these animals. Anyway, I take it that you do not mean what you say?
MR SWANN: No.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Can I kick off on the social questions. Really, we have a mirroring of what the Countryside Alliance was saying. The line of questioning from this side of the room is very much to do with the extent of social cohesion and that sort of thing. Your line, of course, is that hunting can damage community spirit, distressing and isolating any rural dwellers. Hunt social events are devisive, and they have a deleterious effect on the quality and quantity of rural social life. What I would really like you to explain to us is what is the evidence of this, and try to go beyond anecdotal cases to firm evidence about the nature of rural, social life, and where hunting has ceased deleterious and social impacts on socialising in this country.
MR SWANN: John Rolls will answer that question.
MR ROLLS: I think, in our submission, we presented thirty cases which indicated hunt havoc, trespass and killing of domestic animals. The point has been made that this is the tip of the iceberg. In consumer service studies, it is often the case that, if you receive a written complaint, there may well be 15 or fewer, 10 to 15 others who have not made the actual formal complaint. So I think, on that basis, we are indicating the tip of the iceberg in those thirty cases, which are very distressing. We believe that those are indicative of the impact that hunting has on the rural communities. I would like to just further say that much has been made in this debate of civil liberties. My point is that, surely, the civil liberties of those people who have been trespassed against, and who had their animals killed, should be respected as much as those of anyone else.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Can I just pursue that a bit further. With regards to the tip of the iceberg, we have no way of knowing. I think we have to accept that we do not know. It would be nice if we had some social survey evidence that gave some more weight to that. Let me just push you a little further. Your average rural community, whether it be in Devon or the Midlands, you are saying that that rural community, pick a rural community at random, is socially divided by this issue. You go into that community, and you can find people who find this issue taxing; that it causes genuine friction; that it is seriously damaging to the community cohesion; is that what you are telling us?
MR ROLLS: I think there are instances in the examples given where that is the case. We have heard a lot of evidence here about the cohesiveness of the hunting community, but that is not the whole community. It leaves out a significant number of people who feel unable to object because of pressure being put on to them for the reasons that we have heard about economics and employment. We believe that that is very significant. The letters we have received across the board indicate that that is the case.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Can I pursue, if you like, another mechanical aspect of this discussion, which is that it is quite clear from the evidence we have received that, in association with hunting, a substantial number of other activities of a broadly social nature take place, and that those activities do contribute to the life of these communities, even if they do not necessarily contribute to the life of every person in those communities. Now, if hunting were to be banned, would there be any replacement for this; and who would be the people who would make it happen?
MR ROLLS: The reason that many people use the hunt as a vehicle for social activity is because the hunt club framework was already in existence. There is no evidence the clubs of this type would cease to exist if the hunt were disbanded. Comparisons can be drawn to Young Farmers Clubs, in areas where there are now few young farmers. These clubs remain as social introduction clubs for young people. I believe that was included in the NFU submission. In areas of the country where hunting has not traditionally been carried out, there exists similar social frameworks, revolving around activities such as sheep dog trials, for example, in South Yorkshire, or pony clubs. So we believe that the structures would survive, but without the cruelty that is associated with hunting.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Could I press you a little bit further on that. It seems to me quite clear that a major reason for making the effort to organise activities was to raise funds for the hunt. If the hunt no longer exists, then, in a sense, that part of the motive for going to the trouble of doing all these things seems to disappear. So is it perhaps a little overoptimistic to assume that the same people would continue to do the same things in the absence of the hunt?
MR SWANN: John Rolls will speak for us on that, and then Mike Baker would like to say a word.
MR ROLLS: I believe we live in a changing world. The speed of change is getting greater and greater. I think we will have to accept that the old values, the old structures, will not support in the future the societies that we live in. Therefore, the structures that exist will adapt and change. If you look into the Countryside Alliance's submission, there was almost an agenda for new activities that were those activities associated with the hunt. Why not go and be innovative and entrepreneurial, and develop those things which are not associated with cruel sports? Would that not be a better way of demonstrating the civilisation in this country?
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I raise the issue about one or two of the points you made, that were made in the League's evidence? It says in most cases these events, such as point-to-point, are developed to the extent they are, essentially, independent of hunting. It has been put to us that in fact the basic organisation of all of this is rather heavily dependent upon hunting; much of this is done by voluntary people; people who are engaged in hunting; the farmers who are engaged in hunting, who provide the land on which the point to point takes place; and that the essential voluntary nature of this would be difficult to reproduce in the absence of hunting. I find it difficult to square that argument with the way that it is put in the League's evidence, and I would be interested to know your evidence on that.
MR SWANN: I will have first shot at that, Lord Burns. I think, with point-to-point, the important point is the qualification which has to be through the hunt, but can equally be through a drag hunt. A Master of drag hunts can issue a certificate of competency in just the same way as can a Master of fox hounds. So the survival of point-to-point is not dependent on live quarry hunting. If there was sufficient interest -- and I believe there would be in point-to-point because point-to-point is just one example in the hunter hierarchy -- if you are going to look at a hunter's horse as being potentially suitable for further development, even up to national racing level, point-to-point is a pretty fundamental step in measuring that horse's performance. People who wish to pursue this aspect of the sport are not going to be put off because the live quarry hunt route has gone. I am quite sure they will go down the drag hunt route, and not least because it is less expensive as well.
THE CHAIRMAN: But it does depend upon the people who get involved in drag hunts taking up the whole of the organisation of the activity, as well as providing the certificates of competence and, in a sense, the passport, having participated in seven hunts, or whatever it is, they also have to take up the whole infrastructure of organising the point-to-point and making it happen, providing the land, et cetera, and that is obviously heavily dependent upon the statement of how far drag hunting would substitute for quarry hunting.
MR SWANN: I think, Lord Burns, this is basically fundamental to some of the arguments that were put forward. There is so much structure there that it seems most unlikely that it would be abandoned. Because there is this amount of structure, that people would find ways of keeping it going because it is point-to-point, is quite well-supported. I think in terms of land availability -- and this point is also relevant at drag hunting as well -- if you were to look at the take, and the actual amount of money coming into a drag hunt, if part of that were made available to land owners, not only have you actual movement of money through the different layers in the countryside, but you are also ensuring that the sport will continue in a way that is likely to be supported by land owners. We feel with drag hunting, and with point-to-point, that these structures will survive. People will continue to do them just because there is such a complex structure there, and because they are so well-supported.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Can I just change the tack a little bit. In IFAW's evidence you talk about rural housing, and you talk about a significant number of subscribers owning second homes in prestigious hunt areas, and obviously suggesting that those make an impact on communities, particularly with regard to housing as a consequence. Again, my question is: What is your evidence for this, please?
MR SWANN: David Coulthread.
MR COULTHREAD: I do not wish to speak on behalf of IFAW, as I work for the League Against Cruel Sports, but you do have as one piece of evidence reports instituted by the Conservative Anti-hunt Council, an organisation based in rural Somerset. In there, there was a quote from a hunter, or a hunter who actually works with one of the hunts based in Exmouth. He, himself, is quoted as saying that one of the possible positive effects of a ban on hunting will be that house prices would fall, and that locals would actually be in a better position to look forward to live there. So they, themselves, were on record as saying there may actually be economic benefits in terms of, in that particular area, a fall on house prices, and perhaps locals being able to afford to live nearby.
THE CHAIRMAN: Can I just say there is a stock and flow issue here, and to try to persuade people that there are great economic benefits in falling house prices is not something I found easy in my previous life.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: Could I return to the social cohesion arguments, the changing rural economy and the changing world. There could be a counter argument that, because of the changing rural economy, and particularly the migrants to the rural areas of new types of workers, teleworkers, the tourism industry, there is an even greater need to retain things like the hunt for the social cohesion of those left in those areas. Do you want to respond to that?
MR SWANN: Dr Edwards, I would like to pass your question to Douglas Batchelor.
MR BATCHELOR: The data on the attitudes to hunting in the countryside is that the majority of people are actually against hunting. I would like to bring in a slightly more practical level to this, in that I have actually lived in the middle of Exmoor. I have chaired in Simonsbath, and lived right in the middle of one of these communities. I was known to be against hunting. My employer was very pro-hunting. As long as we understood each other's position, that was okay, but when you came to the social activities, we are taking a very narrow view of what is a social activity. Major towns, Barnstaple, Taunton and Minehead -- and that is where people would go for their entertainment, public transport permitting. This idea that somehow the hunting fraternity is the whole of the social activity is very much in rural areas. I would go further than that. If you look at some of the funding issues, in effect, the Exmoor Sheep Dog Trials was run as a nonprofit thing. I remember having a long discussion in the Committee once as to whether we should give our marginal service, which I think was 19 pounds in 1970-something, to the hunt or the Guide Dogs for the Blind. We compromised and they had half each. I do not think it was a significant contribution to what was going on; it was simply that, like some other events, is was simply run for a small surplus, and that was donated for something that meets local interests, or a variety of local interests as happened in that case. The same thing happened in midWales. I have lived in midWales in the middle of a farming area, managed farms there. The social activity was around the NFU, the farm management association, the various discussion groups who were involved and the local towns, which in that case was the new town of Shrewsbury for a lot of the activities. So this view, somehow, that the hunt ball, or the hunt whist drive, is the totality of the social cohesion in the rural area is a myth. It is part of it, but it is a minority part of it. I think it is very important that this Inquiry gets to that view of what is actually socially happening in those areas, and seeks a balance between that which is important to a minority of people, for people in those areas, as opposed to the interests of the pursuits of the majority of people who live and work in the countryside.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think we have finished on that. I am very grateful again for your evidence. We will meet again on Monday when we reverse the battling order. A number of topics that we have touched on today, of course, are going to come up on Monday. I very much look forward to seeing you again. If there are any comments -- I say this, in a sense, to both sets of contributors -- any points about the process and how we conduct these sessions which could improve them, then of course we are very interested to hear them. Again, I make the point that if you wish to write to us, either to clarify your own evidence or to comment on anybody else's evidence, then we will be very interested to hear from you. Thank you very much.
(The hearing adjourned)
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