SESSION THREE - ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL ASPECTS OF HUNTING

COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE

Representation Panel Chairman

John Jackson Chairman, Countryside Alliance

Panel:

Richard Burge Chief Executive, Countryside Alliance
Bill Andrewes Deputy Chairman, Countryside Alliance
Nigel Burke Head of Policy, Countryside Alliance
Simon Hart Countryside Alliance Campaign for Hunting
Sam Butler Masters of Foxhounds Association
Adrian Simpson Federation of Welsh Packs
Tom Yandle Master of Deerhounds Association
Deborah Blount Association of Lurcher Clubs

THE CHAIRMAN: Good afternoon, and welcome back. In relation to this morning's sessions, and indeed the other sessions we have, once we have read the transcripts, and reflected on things that have been said, we may want to put some questions to you for written answer. A number of things have come up, and it may be that we want to probe further. I think, equally, if either side wish to put to us points about evidence from the other side, then we are very happy of course to receive further written evidence in that form. As I said this morning, if we have some time at the end of the session on economic and social aspects, we may return to them, the issues that we talked about this morning, although I think the reality is that we will probably fill our time this afternoon in dealing with the issues that we are programmed to follow. I would like to ask, again, Mr Jackson, whether you have an introductory statement that you would like to make to this whole question of the economic issues?

MR JACKSON: Yes, we have, my Lord, and it is Richard Burge who will make it.

MR BURGE: Lord Burns, Members of the Committee. I want to note at the beginning that I am a non-participant in hunting, although I am an observer of rural life, and I live in a rural community. It is in that context that I make these comments on the economy and social life and cultural issues of hunting. In terms of the economy. The freedom to participate in an economic activity, to be employed in the way you wish to be employed, is as much part of your civil liberty as the right to participate in activities as a pastime, or in any other form of way of life. There have been a number of surveys on the economic effects and contribution that hunting makes to the countryside, using a number of different methodologies. Produce Studies were commissioned by us; Cobham was commissioned on behalf by the Standing Conference on Country Sports. I understand Mr Rickard has submitted yet another approach in the past few days, of which we need time, as we do all the other submissions, to analyse it and discuss it. Our contention remains the same at the moment -- because we see no other evidence for changing it -- that 16,000 ordinary human beings' jobs are at risk if hunting with dogs is banned. In the midst of all of these surveys, we believe strongly that it is the Inquiry team who are best placed to analyse the methodologies employed by these professionals, and to try and bring some conclusion or view to the debate about the economic impact, particularly that of jobs. However, in saying that, there are three points we would like to make with specific reference to unemployment in rural areas. Firstly, sparsity makes the effect of one job loss much more dramatic than the equivalent job loss in a high density, urban area. Secondly, the vast majority of rural businesses are either sole traders, or small businesses, people with below ten employees. Take away a chunk of their economic existence in terms of income, and you take those business very rapidly to the threshold below which they cannot survive economically. Thirdly, substitute employment is a different area in rural communities. Do the skills of the substitute employment opportunities match the skills of the unemployed? Is the location of the job accessible to somebody inside a rural area with poor transport services? And when does that job become available? Rural unemployment is often visited upon cities because people migrate to them to search for work, in exactly the same way as we discovered the rural homelessness is often visited on cities as well. However, we believe it is the impact of social and cultural issues upon the life of the countryside, where hunting actually makes a formidable and significant impact. Hunting is about freedom of association of individuals, and it is about the freedom to participate. A very useful stereotype has been promulgated as a myth; the myth and the stereotype of the rich toff in a red jacket on a horse. Hunting is not like that. Hunting is socially inclusive of age, of social position, whatever that means, and wealth and richness. There are no directors' boxes on the hunting field. There is no first class compartment. It enables a range of people of various social and economic backgrounds to participate at a price they can afford and in the way they want to. Secondly, there have been submissions saying that hunting brutalises human beings. In fact, one submission says it causes a loss of moral and behavioural judgment. We would like to see the evidence for this. Many hunting communities have actually become more reticent, particularly in home counties, about their own activities as a result of intimidation. However, travelling further afield, further away from London, you come across communities where hunting is an open and public part of their lives, where a large proportion of the population engage in it, and an even larger proportion of the population support it, enjoy it and find it a valuable contribution to their lives. It is a public activity. It is organised as a community. It is based in the community, and it is about participation. I have observed that for many of these people who hunt, if not all of them, it is at the soul of their existence and their lives. It matters to them, and it matters to their friends and their community. Thank you, sir.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Sir John Marsh is going to lead the questions. If I could just have one myself to start things off. You say that 16,000 jobs are at risk, and you use the phrase "at risk". I take it from that that you mean that there are the equivalent of 16,000 jobs which are currently engaged in hunting, and that, therefore, is the maximum that you expect to be involved over the longer term, because there will be some degree of substitution if hunting were to be banned. I would just like to confirm that is what you mean by the phrase "at risk".

MR BURKE: Good afternoon, Lord Burns. That is, indeed, what we mean by the phrase "at risk". You say that substitute employment will take place after a hunting ban, and it is certainly true that at some level, however small, there would be substitute employment. However, there are instances when recreations, namely target pistol shooting, have been banned, and where we can see clearly that the substitute activity that was alleged/expected to take place did not take place. It did not result in a change of target shooting sports to laser shooting, crossbow shooting, rifle or black (powder) pistol shooting. It halved the gun trade, and caused massive business losses and job losses, proportional to the size of business, which are very serious.

THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. Thank you very much.

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I really want to pursue three lines of discussion with you this afternoon. The first of these is really to establish a little bit more about the participants in hunting. I then want to go on to talk about the employment parts of this, and then, in rather more detail, some of the specific economic components of it, because we have been touching on that as we have looked at it. If I can go back to the sort of participant area of it, we have a figure from your evidence that there is an annual attendance at meetings of 1.2, or nearly 1.3 million people per year. Could you give me some idea how many different individuals this represents?

MR HART: Professor Marsh, the most up-to-date audit is the January 2000 Produce Studies Report, and that actually lists 28,300 subscribers to packs and 39,000 supporters and club members. That is the paid up registered names and addresses, and does not account for additional people who may occasionally, or perhaps regularly, visit hunts during the course of the season. The figure to which you refer then takes into account the amount of times that they may visit a hunt during the specific year. It is not absolutely precise, but it is the most up-to-date audit that we have. The figures in it are accurate -- clearly, some people will visit more often than others. We, therefore, take that into account

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: And then on people outside this group of subscribers and supporters who are involved as well.

MR HART: Yes. If you take any social event that a hunt might organise, that is outside the actual hunting activity itself, you may find that a number of the members of the local community who may not be paid up members of the hunt will attend. In the same way as if you take a Boxing Day meeting, you will get a larger part of the community than you would midweek during the season

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: These are people involved in the hunt itself, with these ancillary activities -- I am thinking about puppy walkers. How do you see these as related to that; are they part of this same community, do they overlap?

MR HART: They overlap in some instances. You get some examples of where -- to take your example -- puppy walking is an example of a specific supporter of that hunt. They may not attend the actual hunting event themselves; they support it in that way. Similarly, with other events, they may have a specific theme, maybe equestrian, which is run by the hunt, which may attract a certain person who is not attracted to perhaps the hunt ball, for whatever reason that might be. So there is a fluid movement of people who will support one, if not all, of the events of their local hunt

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: In a sense, these comprise different people, different aspects of their lives as we look at it. Some of the same people who are subscribers and supporters will also be puppy walkers. Some of them will attend several hunts. Some of them will attend relatively more.

MR HART: In some cases, the actual Produce Studies Survey obviously separates those figures, but clearly you can be a puppy walker and subscriber and supporter. The differential between supporters and subscribers is a clear one, but, out of that community, yes, the others fit into it

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: One of the interesting issues is the interaction in the local community. How about the distribution of the actual supporters?

MR HART: It will vary very, very greatly between in some cases parish to parish, certainly hunt to hunt, and definitely county to county. The interaction, for example, in the Lake District and in Wales may be very different from in the South-East of England overall. I hope you will have seen a copy of the Bailey's Hunting Directory map, which not only covers fox/hound country, but covers the stag hounds and beagles. You will see that there is a relatively even spread of hunting activity in the UK as a whole. You will have seen, I hope, from the Produce Studies Survey, social descriptions of the individual social events that hunts run, that they vary in their style and intensity. In some of the more isolated parts of Britain, social events are more regular than in perhaps another part where they are competing.

MR JACKSON: I think Bill Andrewes can help you on this as well.

MR ANDREWES: Sir John, the other thing I would say, there are of course the subscribers and the supporters you talked about, but, of course, hunting is something you can do by the day as well. Virtually all hunts allow people to come and have the odd day. I refer you to the British Equestrian Trade Association submission, where they have looked at all the people who ride. I think it is some 2.4 million, of whom 14 per cent, about 300,000 people, say they have had some association with hunting in the course of the last year. So, again, that would be people who might have just been to one cub hunting meeting or one hunt. It could be low level. It could equally be on the sort of intense level that Simon Hart has been talking about. So I think you can participate in hunting at a whole lot of different levels. I think what Simon's figures are, are the core, the key ones.

MS BLOUNT: The lurcher surveys which are included in the lurcher submission, one of them showed that 50 per cent of lurcher owners also follow hunting with hounds. As the estimated number of lurcher owners stood at 112,000, this shows that another 56,000 people who follow hunting with hounds -- and the figures do not show that these are regular subscribers because only 2 per cent of them read Horse and Hound.

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: The picture I am getting -- to make sure I have this right -- is that there are a group of people who are core, to whom a change in hunting would be critical, who make it a regular important part of their lives, and then there is a wider periphery of people who take part on an occasional basis, to whom a change in hunting would be relatively less important.

MR JACKSON: I suspect you have to be a bit cautious in making assumptions about what is important to people, and I think this was the nub of what Richard Burge was getting at.

MR BURGE: I do not believe frequency of participation necessarily mirrors enthusiasm, or commitment, or the appointed place it has in your live. I, for instance, fish. I adore fishing on rivers, but I do not get the opportunity to fish on rivers that often. It does not mean to say that the decline of fishing on rivers would not have a serious impact on the quality of my life

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I do not think it is necessary to imply it is critical in terms of the numbers, but simply that we do observe for those people in the core, clearly, that it matters a great deal.

MR JACKSON: That, plainly, is right

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Can I go on to the employment aspects of it now. We have got a really quite wide variety of very different numbers, ranging from an estimate of, what, 23,000 roughly, and 16,500, 8,000 I have seen somewhere else, and I think 3,300 more recently. These numbers vary very greatly. Could you just take us through the difference of your approach; why we get such very different numbers from this.

MR BURKE: First of all, Professor John Marsh, I hope you have not been too influenced by submissions from the other side, which compare unlike things with unlike things. For example, our President has been accused of using the figure 60,000 jobs inconsistently with a figure of 16,000 jobs. When we referred to 60,000 jobs that refers to jobs in country sports generally, which we regard as at a peripheral or secondary threat due to any purported hunting, ban on hunting with hounds. The reason for that is justified in the following way. For example, some of the leaders among the campaign to ban hunting with dogs are associated with pressure groups who have as their aim the ending of all equestrian sports. Therefore, even a figure of 60,000, if quoted in context, is a figure about employment in hunting. However, we have two chief figures in hand. We have 16,000 from Produce Studies, which relates to fox hunting. 23,000 from Cobham, relating to all hunting. I think you would know better than me but, when employment is calculated, this is not a precise art. I think the figures involved are sufficiently robust in their nearness without their being too near. I am sure our opposition would say that, if the figures were closer together, there would have been collusion. So that is the way I see the evidence. I am particularly concerned about low estimates of jobs attributable to hunting. The League Against Cruel Sports evidence, for example, says that Neil Ward of the University of Newcastle believes that tens of thousands of jobs would be lost, based on poor economic assumptions, and that fewer than 1000 jobs will be lost. That is a misrepresentation of two papers by Dr Neil Ward. Dr Ward does not in fact put a figure on how many jobs will be lost at all. His reference to 1000 jobs relates only to the agreed rough size of the jobs relating to direct employment by hunts themselves. So we are looking at several methodologies. We are looking at assessing jobs. We are looking at measured employment questions from surveys which are used. So there are robust figures based on surveys. That is how everyone does it, and that is how Cobham get their business from major players and major political institutions. That is how it is done. We note that a recent survey by Sean Rickard was delivered six weeks late to the Inquiry. It was placed in the public domain by means of publication in The Observer, rather than immediately by transmission to the participants in this Inquiry. So, with that reservation in mind, I discussed the Rickard Report with Sean Rickard. He agreed with me that he had used an interesting methodology for putting a low figure of about 3,500 for hunting jobs. What he has done is taken the gross expenditure on hunting from Cobham, and perhaps Produce, and calculated the employment generating potential of the money spent at a rate as if it were all input to the businesses, i.e. 50/60,000 pounds, to generate one figure. That is not how the economy works. A lot of the total expenditure from hunt participants and supporters is not just input to businesses it is wages. Wages can generate about 10 or 12,000 pounds. So what we are looking at with the Rickard Report is a major accounting error, which I am sure more able people on the Inquiry will be looking at

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: We shall, of course, be looking at these research methods later on.

PROFESSOR WINTER: I wanted to pursue, basically going beyond how many people hunting employs to what would happen -- I think the issue of whether 16,000 or 20,000 is not in some ways of huge significance. If we take a figure of 16,000, and we take it that out of that 16,000, 1,000 are directly employed by hunts -- and, therefore, there must be a question mark over their futures; I think we can accept that as a working hypothesis -- that leaves 15,000 people. Those 15,000 people are largely self-employed people in the various business sectors surrounding hunting. What I want to put to you is they are self-employed; they are capable; dare I say it, they are even entrepreneurial. They are in a vibrant, rural economy, with the single exception of agriculture. Most of the data that has been presented in recent years shows the vibrancy of rural economies, agriculture is a notable exception. What I am saying is what would your judgment be on the extent to which adjustments will occur in that economy which will not result in those people being out of work? And over what sort of time period do you think those adjustments would take place?

MR JACKSON: I am going to ask Bill Andrewes to speak first on this.

MR ANDREWES: For a start, although it is true, apart from agriculture, a lot of the rural economy is in a good state. I do not think there is any evidence that shortage of labour is holding back economic development. That is to say, they would have to find other things to do. Many of the people who are in the various trades that would be affected have very specific skills, like farriers, and who would I think not easily be redeployed. I think the essence of this question goes back to what the people who provide this income will do with their money. That is really the nub of it. The problem with all market research about hypothetical questions, as we all know, is that it can be pretty unreliable. People do not always do later what they say they will do in the survey. Undoubtedly, some people will move to drag hunting, and to some measure people will turn to other equestrian activities. But I think they are just as likely to decide to spend their money on, for instance, taking up skiing. That is a winter sport. It has a lot in common with hunting: It is quite dangerous; it is outdoor, and that sort of thing. I think it is just as good a hypothesis to say they will do that. A lot of people who spend money on hunting do not take significant foreign holidays because they cannot afford to do it. That would be another substitute which would take the money out of the economy altogether. So I really do think it is absolutely the key question. I think it is very difficult to give an accurate answer, but I think a very significant proportion of the money which currently goes into the rural economy would actually go out of it. What the individuals whose businesses would then be deprived of that income might do, who can tell? The better ones will find other jobs over time, but the initial impact will be a very severe disruption to those businesses and to those jobs. That is the one thing we can tell; that redeployment will take time.

MR BURGE: Professor Winter, if I may. First of all, I think the picture for the rural economy is fairly mixed, you are right. In some areas, it is extremely vibrant. In other areas, because of the dominance of agriculture, it is on the decline. There are other things which are on the decline as well. So, for instance, if you take hill owners, where alternative income might come, for instance, through game fishing, that is on a serious decline because of the strength of the pound making it cheaper to go fishing elsewhere than in the UK, and also the fact that the number of fish in British waters is declining markedly as well. So it is a very mixed picture. It is very difficult to make a national assumption which has any meaning at the local level. Of course, it is the local level of people who are going to lose their jobs, not at the national level

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I am just pursuing the same line of thought for the moment. The impact of this particular flow of expenditure within the rural economy has a number of characteristics which I would like you to say a little more about to me. First of all, it appears, as far as tourism is concerned, to be broadly counter cyclical to the tourist business because it is a purely winter activity, as I understand. Secondly, it seems to be made up, if you like, of relatively small contributions to a vast range of businesses within the rural economy, where it is a component of them. What I am interested in, in a sense, is the viability of those businesses as a whole in the event of a change in the fortunes affecting this particular part of their activities.

MR JACKSON: I will pass that to Bill Andrewes again.

MR ANDREWES: Yes, absolutely, Professor Marsh. I think probably farriers are a good example, typical of a lot of things, saddlers and tack shops and things. One can well see, within reasonable reach of a person there might be two or three farriers. They will lose a very significant proportion of their winter business and some of their summer business as a result, I think, if people no longer keep horses for hunting. What I can see happening is that, as a result of this, say, all three would lose a third of their turnover. The weakest would go out of business. Some of the rest of it, and that turnover would in essence accrue, or -- sorry, the two-thirds of that farrier's turnover not associated with hunting would accrue to the other two, who would end up with viable businesses, which is why we think the approach of actually trying to base the job losses on the turnover impact of this movement is probably relevant that is to say the whole of one business would go, but, yes, the other two would survive. We have not taken all three as disappearing, but we have tried to present the jobs, do the calculations, in a way which shows what the net impact would be on employment. That will be for a horse box maker; it might be the same sort of thing true of a saddler, tack shop, or feed merchants. I think that those are good, reasonable examples I think.

MR JACKSON: I will ask Tom Yandle to add something about Exmoor.

MR YANDLE: Thank you. You have been to Exmoor, Lord Burns. It is very much dependent upon hunting because of the longer season that we have heard about so far. Hunting starts on Exmoor on 1st August, and goes on until the end of April. The hotels, particularly, are very dependent on the extra trade that you would get in the autumn and in the spring. Sure, Exmoor will get plenty of visitors in the summer -- it is a marvellous place to be -- but the general view, particularly of the hotels, is that it would decimate their numbers in September, October, March and April. The passion of Exmoor is for hunting -- and I am talking about fox hunting, beagling and stag hunting -- there are an awful lot of people involved who come there to visit, retire there, and in some part partake, but not necessarily very much, who would gradually withdraw the money. As Bill Andrewes said, it is the money that comes into the area that is important.

MR JACKSON: Richard Burge would just like to say something about trade in this context.

MR BURGE: One of the things that does fall prey to the decline in job opportunities, less money coming into a business, is training opportunities, and particularly those opportunities to train people who go and establish their own work. I give two examples of this. First of all, farrier work. The farrier who looks after the Beaufort Hunt is also the farrier who looks after the British 3-day Olympic Team. He currently has three trainee farriers with him. He produces a fully-fledged farrier once a year. They move out to new farrier businesses. Without hunting, he would not have to have three trainee farriers because he would not have the throughput to warrant giving them the training opportunity. If you take saddlery -- Walsall in the Midlands, for curious reasons, is where saddle work is based -- a large number of saddlers who go through one particular firm there, which is a very high value saddler, they produce very expensive saddles, most of the youngsters who go through that end up going to run rural saddleries, they are repairing rural saddles and things like that. Without the throughput of the business, they would retreat to the training field of people, giving people fewer opportunities.

MR JACKSON: We do not want to overwhelm you. Whether you or Sam Butler would like to say something.

MR BUTLER: Sir John, may I commend you to look at the National Trade Survey of the Alliance, which we referred to on page 21 of our submission. That was a survey that was conducted of 1000 businesses. 96 per cent of all those businesses claim that a hunting ban would have some effect on their business, and there are statistics on that

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Thank you very much. Can I just follow up with one further question, because it has been suggested to us that a lot of this expenditure relates to horses, in one form or another, and that the horse population, apart from hunting altogether, is itself growing. So to what extent would the sort of losses which you were describing to me, in a sense, be alleviated because of this underlying process of growth?

MR POLAND: A lot of the activities that have been referred to are already well-supported by hunting people. I think that a hunting person who has two horses is probably going to be reduced to one. He will certainly engage less in these rural activities and social activities, and certainly spend less on horse boxes and clothes, et cetera. I do not think any of the other equine-linked events will actually compensate for that.

LORD SOULSBY: Thank you very much. Can I go back to the question of tourism and the local areas. You have discussed the local aspects of how the local economy is important, but I wonder if you have any figures on the role that hunting plays in national tourism and international tourism. The reason why I ask that is that in a fell pack, which we visited a short while ago, there, the winter hunting was replaced in the summer by tourism, but it was quite remarkable to know how many people from different parts of the country, even from Somerset, were coming into the Lake District for winter hunting, stayed one week or two weeks in bed and breakfast. But there were also people there from Sweden, and one from Finland. It occurred to me that this may be a more important role of hunting, to provide some focus for tourism in this country, than we realised. I wonder if you have any information on that on a national basis.

MR JACKSON: I do not think we have any reliable information which we could go to at this stage, but Nigel Burke will be able to say something.

MR BURKE: All I would like to say is that we know that in rural areas substantial number of jobs are provided by tourism. It attracts 11.5 billion pounds into the economy. It has been suggested that hunting is somehow a cap, or an obstacle to that, but there is no evidence of that whatsoever. On the contrary, we can see that, wherever there are hunting jobs, tourism has enabled, made more possible, a provider of employment because of the seasonality. Tourism, as indeed employment of any equestrian sport, happens in the summer. People like to ride in the summer. What does someone who needs a year long income do? They need some winter occupation to maintain a portfolio of jobs and streams of income in order to put together a livelihood. So, although we do not have quantified figures for the direct contribution of hunting bringing in tourists and the money they spend, we can say in principle that hunting is capable of supporting some tourist jobs.

PROFESSOR WINTER: I wanted to go back -- at the risk of being boring -- to this issue of job losses which we have been talking about, and particularly the assumption I think that a significant number of horses would disappear off the scene, and yet we are told earlier that most people hunt not because of a particular hunt in the pursuit of the quarry but because of their enjoyment of horseriding. Therefore, my question is: Would not such enthusiastic horse people continue to keep very significant numbers of horses and, if I can use the phrase, go hell for leather to find other ways of enjoying their passion?

MR JACKSON: I will ask Bill Andrewes, then Sam Butler.

MR ANDREWES: I think that the enjoyment of hunting lies in riding a horse in order to watch the hounds. Whereas it is not the pursuit of the quarry, in longing to see the fox killed, but it is pursuit of the quarry watching the hounds work out the line of the fox, and following it that way. So, I think, for a lot of hunting people, they would not have the same enthusiasm for riding if hunting was taken away. The other statistic that you will have observed in the Cobham Report is that the percentage of horses which are kept mainly for hunting, and which we have included, are those kept only for hunting. I think what is worth remembering is that, if people keep a horse mainly for hunting, they will undoubtedly do other things with it, like hunt trialling, or maybe some team chasing, or something like that, but they will do that because it is there, because they are keeping it. If you take away the main reason, then whether or not it would be there at all for those ancillary activities I think becomes a hypothetical question. It is a difficult one to answer. I think probably, if you asked people, they could not give you a genuine answer if they did their best, because they will not be able to know what they will do until they are actually faced with the issue. My judgment will be a very substantial proportion will decide to go and do something else.

MR BUTLER: Sir John, I do not have a great deal to add to that. I do not think, hypothetically, it is extraordinarily difficult. Knowing those who ride or hunt, ride to hunt, I think that, personally, from personal experience, many of those people would not keep horses in the same way. I think I would refer you to some of the submissions from the horse welfare groups, which are very concerned about the effect on horses if it were, indeed, to be banned. Also, please consider -- although it is not directly on horses -- the number of people who gain enjoyment from hunting on their feet, in the cars and on bicycles.

MR JACKSON: Maybe one more contribution on this, Richard Burge has something.

MR BURGE: Two things I briefly want to say. I think the point about international participation is important, and we will look into that. For instance, there was a terrier show in Devon not so long ago. I understand it had visitors from Ireland, the Channel Islands, France, the USA, Canada and Australia there. One of the things I am concerned about, in terms of social exclusion on this is if hunting with horses is banned in the UK rich people who hunt will simply go and hunt in Ireland and France. That is a cause of social exclusion, and it will also mean that that money, certainly at the expense of horses in the UK will be spent on horses in those countries.

DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: Sorry to jump around. I wonder if I might return to indirect expenditure, and, in particular, the hospitality industry outside of hunting, and the extent to which that is changing over time. Tourism is a very dynamic industry. I wonder if you have any data on the changing nature of tourism, in particular the propensity towards more winter breaks and short-term breaks, and, therefore, hunting's proportional relevance to supplying income in the winter.

MR BURKE: I see from your CV that you have a particular interest in tourism. I wish that I could have provided you with more entertainment and data on this. In fact, no, we/I have not studied winter breaks in tourism, but I would like to put in one really general point on substitute employment, and it is this: That it is not good news for people to lose their jobs with the explanation given to them that you can diversify, you might find another job. If that were true, then the jobs threat at Longbridge, which is about 8,500, would simply not be bad news, it would not be in the papers, because they might get other jobs. There are Government schemes and regeneration budgets available to help them, but I think it is bad news. I do not want people to lose their jobs and have to find something else to do. So although, I am afraid, that is an extremely oblique answer to your question, Dr Edwards, I think it is very well worth saying.

THE CHAIRMAN: Could I press you further on this issue about what would happen to the horse economy if there was to be a ban. It has been suggested in some of the evidence that if there was to be a ban and a declining use of horses, then the market value of horses would suffer, and, as a result, it would have consequences for the use of horses and the use to which they are put. How serious an issue is this? How sensitive is the plight of horses, the value of horses, to the sort of changes that would be involved in a hunting ban?

MR JACKSON: We will have a shot at that, and I will ask Sam Butler to start.

MR BUTLER: Again, from personal experience -- and I do not believe that we have any in the statistics. Although of course, as you rightly offered, Lord Burns, there are statistics and information you can be provided with afterwards. We would be delighted to look those out and try and work out the answer to your question. On the question of the value of horses, people go hunting to enjoy themselves, to partake in an activity, and those horses, therefore, have a value -- of that I think there is no doubt. People will pay money for good horses. If they are not going hunting, then the demand must fall. In answer to your question, Lord Burns, if the demand falls, then I believe the price of horses will fall, and that will in itself have an effect on the trade. One issue perhaps, just to go back to that, which I think is relevant, one livery yard that I have spoken to gives 22 horses specifically for hunting. They believe that those horses will no longer be kept in their livery yard for hunting, and, therefore, will not exist in that part of the country.

MR JACKSON: I will ask Michael Poland to add something.

MR POLAND: We are talking about horses of a particular quality. Mr Butler has just said the market value is determined by supply and demand. I normally breed horses for another horse activity. There is no doubt about it; that when there is a glut of horses, the prices will drop. There will be an immense number of horses sold because, as we have just been given an example of the livery yard, those people who have horses, who have more than one horse, will cut down, and people will not be buying horses. So all that will be going on the pressure and the supply to the market. I think there already has been a certain amount of pressure in that direction. I can see that you get very little profit from selling a horse, breeding a horse and selling it now, if any. I think it will have extremely serious consequences for those people who do breed horses, and those dealers who rely on selling second-hand horses, because there will be a removal of a large number of purchasers from the market

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Somewhere in the evidence it is said this might have an adverse effect on the welfare of horses. Have you anything to say on that?

MR POLAND: If you are going to sell a horse, you cannot always be responsible for where it is going to. A lot of people will take the opportunity probably to buy cheaper horses. In the first place, they cannot, in some instances, afford to keep them to the level they should. We keep our hunt horses. We have to keep them to a very high degree of welfare or they will not do the job for us. If you go around the country, as I am sure you do -- you look at horses -- there is a tremendous variance in the welfare of those horses according to their use.

LORD SOULSBY: One aspect of horse value and excess horses that has not yet been mentioned is that of the export horses for meat purposes. As you may know, there are several thousand horses exported, either on the hook from this country to the continent of Europe for meat. It would seem to me that if there were to be a glut of horses, as a result of cessation of hunting, and the lowering of their value, that this trade might well increase. I wonder if you have given any thought to the percentage of increase that might take place in the export of horses, either directly from the United Kingdom on the hook, as carcasses, or via other countries, where we know they go for the same purposes. Now, do you have any feeling as to the proportion of increase -- which would be temporary of course -- of this market?

MR POLAND: All I know, Mr Chairman, is that the people who sell, the hunters do not like them to go to the meat trade. They will do everything they can to prevent them going to the meat trade. If you sell your horse at market, and it goes into that particular chain, yes, they might go to the meat trade, but I do not think it is anything that anybody in this room would like to see.

LORD SOULSBY: If I might come back on that, there are two horse slaughterhouses that I know of. There is no doubt that when you visit them you see horses that were hunters at one time in the slaughter line.

MR POLAND: That is true, but I can only speak for the majority of people I know, and that is over many, many years hunting. They will not like their horses to go into that market. If I sell a horse for slaughter, I will make sure that the knackerman who takes it for me can no longer put them down himself, because their own trade is in crisis, but he will make sure that that horse is properly slaughtered, and there will be no horses, certainly from the majority of hunting people, going to the continent for the meat trade.

MR ANDREWES: I was any going to say the British Trade Association have covered this in their submission in some detail, I think, about the number of horses which they feel would come off the market as a result of a ban on hunting. They, certainly in their submission, believe it will have a very major effect. Even a 10 per cent increase in the number of horses coming onto the market, coupled with a 10 per cent decrease in the number of buyers, will have an enormous effect on the price. As you rightly say, the bottom support price is kept up by the slaughter for meat. I think the economics being what it is, while I entirely agree with what Michael Poland has said as what people would want, the reality is probably quite a lot will not be able to ensure that their horses do not end up in that market.

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Can I go on to another issue because time is running on with us. Quite a considerable amount of evidence which we see concerns the value to the agriculture sector of a fall in stock service, and I think, in a sense, also the value to the community of picking up casualty animals on a certain basis. This depends upon the facility which the hunts have to cope with these animals basically. Elsewhere, in other evidence, it has been suggested to us that this may become more difficult because of changing regulations at a community level. I would really like you to say a little more about how you see that changing as a result of legislation, and how you think it might change if hunting were to be banned.

MR JACKSON: I will ask Simon Hart to start on the answer to that.

MR HART: The most recent statistics referring to the Produce January 2000 Survey reveals something in the region of 366,000 animal carcasses annually collected by hunts. That is a subsidised service. It is free in some areas. It is not free in others. In view of the proximity in some cases of local businesses which are able to take fallen stock in, I think the majority of Britain, the closest, cleanest and most humane source of disposal of fallen farm stock, and the humane destruction of them, is via the local hunt. It is, and still is, a MAFF recommendation. It is a Freedom Food recommendation. One of the outlets for these problem animals is by local hunts.

MR JACKSON: Nigel Burke can help on this as well.

MR BURKE: To address particularly the waste incinerations directive, my department is actually dealing directly with people in the European Parliament and the ETR on this. The situation is that the Waste Incineration Directive was not a direct threat to small incinerators in agriculture until two weeks ago. There was a range of exceptions available for farm businesses, which included animal carcasses. However, two weeks ago this list was dropped for some justifiable reason. However, the situation now is that as the Directive goes towards report stage in the European Parliament. We are looking at it going through in such a way that small incinerators capable of clearing animal carcasses will be unviable; there will be an implementation cost of 200,000 to 300,000 pounds, plus 12,000 pounds per annum. The Countryside Alliance will do everything it can to persuade people to amend this Directive. There is already a ground swell of organisations attempting to do this, and that is not, by any means, all because they are concerned with the incinerators operated by hunt kennels; it is because there are 3,000 such small incinerators. Many, many rural businesses will simply become unviable as a result of this Directive unless something is done. As part of its portfolio, the countryside is working as hard as it can to stop it.

THE CHAIRMAN: Can I ask a question? What share of the market does this represent? Because we keep seeing reports. There are some very large numbers that are involved in terms of the hunt activities that come from fallen stock. We have also received other evidence that says there are lots of other outlets for this, and large numbers that are collected by other means. I cannot remember -- and maybe I just missed it -- but, roughly speaking, what share of this activity do you think is represented by hunts?

MR JACKSON: Simon Hart can help you, Lord Burns.

MR HART: Can I, Lord Burns, just refer on page 49 of our evidence, which refers to Jeff Rooker's response to a Parliamentary question in which he states: "A small survey undertaken by the State Veterinary Service earlier this year [that is 1998] Indicates that 55 per cent of calves, 35 per cent of adult bovines 25 per cent of sheep and goats and 10 per cent of pigs and lambs which have fallen may be disposed of through hunt kennels."

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I noticed that the cost to the hunts of providing fallen stock service is given as something over 3 million pounds per annum, or something like 9.20 per animal. That is the cost of it. What revenues, if any, do the hunts receive from the fallen animals? What benefits, other than revenues, can they generate from them?

MR HART: The only usable revenue now is the hide price, which is pretty well at an all time low, and, generally, in fact, hunts take a proportion of that for the running costs of the incinerators, and the knacker facilities, which have perhaps been upgraded considerably and continue to be upgraded. The balance referred to hunt funds, and is passed on to the staff who work for that particular hunt. There used to be a time when a lot of the waste could be sold, obviously those days have in fact gone

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: The fallen stock provided a certain amount of food for the hounds.

MR HART: Yes, that is a very good point. It is the principal source -- it is not the only source -- of food. I think the hunt's attitude to the fallen stock service is one actually of a goodwill arrangement, and it is not necessarily a commercial one. The hunt I used to be personally responsible for normally charged at the minimum rate we felt we could get away with to keep the system going, i.e. The arrangement was that the gratitude that we expressed to farmers they showed us was reciprocated in this service we ran for them, ran alongside the pest control service that the hunt actually performed itself.

MR SIMPSON: Mr Chairman, can I add further to that regarding the situation in Wales. I would refer you to the Federation of Welsh Packs' submission, and a letter which, with your permission, I shall quote from. The letter was addressed to Miss Christine Gwyther, who, as you know, is the Agriculture Secretary from Mr Hugh Richards, President of the NFU Wales. It was sent on 6th January 2000, and reads: "Dear Miss Wither, disposal of calves. I am writing to seek the assistance of the National Assembly for Wales to deal with a particular problem that has arisen in the disposal of calves. "You may remember that, when the Calf Processing Aid Scheme came to an end, part of the advice from Government was that farmers should look to hunt kennels as a means of disposal. This has resulted in the position where licensed hunt kennels are under huge financial pressure because of the huge pressure in the throughput on calves. "There is no doubt in my mind that the service currently being provided by hunt kennels is crucial in avoiding animal welfare problems that could arise if farmers were forced to dispose of their calves by other means. "My purpose in writing is to ask the National Assembly for Wales to consider some form of limited financial compensation to assist these hunt kennels in meeting their costs, until such time as another outlet for these calves may be established. "Clearly, the advice given by Government to farmers to use hunt kennels as a means of disposal has resulted in the current problem, and it would only seem fair that the Assembly should consider some form of aid to help the hunt kennels deal with the problem which has developed as a result of EU Government policy. "In view of the responsibilities, I am copying this letter to Ieyan Wynn Jones and Hugh Brodie, both Assembly members." He has subsequently written another letter on 3rd February. It is basically on -- I quote one paragraph from it: "It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the pressure of unlicensed kennels is reaching breaking point. Many, many farmers continue to heed the Government's advice and use hunt kennels as a means of disposal of their calves. I am deeply concerned that unless some limited financial compensation can be found to assist these kennels, then we will be facing animal welfare problems as farmers are forced to seek alternative outlets."

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Thank you very much. Time we moved on and asked some questions relating to the social aspects, not of course that the economic and social aspects are readily distinguishable in certain aspects.

PROFESSOR WINTER: Some very bold claims are made in your evidence about the social importance of hunting. For example, you say that the rural community in hunts are often the same entity, social activities around which many people's lives are entirely structured are hunting activities. I am just really wanting to push you gently on that, and see how much you want to stand by that claim. It seems to me a very strong claim.

MR JACKSON: I think we can best help you by taking you on a tour of the country. If we can start in the West Country first.

MR YANDLE: Exmoor is fairly limited in its social life; apart from anything because, as you saw the day before yesterday, it is quite high and quite difficult to get around. The farming families are all small farms, or relatively small farms, and they will all agree that the major part of their social life is involved with hunt functions. It would not necessarily be the farmers that are hunting who go to the hunt functions, but it is a very cohesive part of Exmoor, and a very important part to the farmers, farm workers, people who do other work in agriculture and everybody involved with normal life on Exmoor. It is really very, very important.

MR JACKSON: We can go to the Midlands and ask Sam Butler to talk about it.

MR BUTLER: Your question was: Would we stand by the evidence we put forward in our report? The answer is: With experience, yes, we would. Again, we cannot -- it is not provable by statistics, but seeing the effect that hunting with dogs has on the community within the Midlands, I am astonished how many hunt activities and social activities are attended by a huge cross-section, and are very often the only activities that many in rural communities now, particularly farmers, can attend. One letter I received read along the lines that he and his family enjoyed coming to the puppy show and to the evening we put on, because that really was one of the only occasions he was able to get out with his family and have some relaxation and social interaction with others.

MR JACKSON: I will take you on to Wales.

MR SIMPSON: I think, Mr Chairman, that you experienced yourself only two visits to Wales. The involvement of the farming community -- it is a little bit different with the shooting clubs -- in the main they are low costing affairs, but the role of the local community is very, very important within those low costing affairs. In some instances, the hounds, or the followers have this feeling that they belong to the hunt and the hunt belongs to the community. You have the system in being where hounds are actually kennelled throughout the winter in the hunt kennels and, during the summer months, they go out to the local farms. I think it is quite interesting. At the risk of being boring, if I refer you to the Federation's submission, and take a typical hunt such as the hunt in midWales, it is very, very typical, and I shall quote from the submission. This is very typical of a shooting pack in midWales. "The hunt was established in 1904, and is located in the village of Rhayader in midWales, and they hunt in the surrounding area. The kennels are on a leasehold basis, and the hunt has one part-time employee. They have 350 subscribers and 50 puppy walkers and hound walkers. "The huntsman is only employed during the winter months, and he finds regular work during the summer on the local farms in the area. The current huntsman has hunted hounds for three seasons, and he continues the family tradition. His father previously hunted with them for 12 seasons prior to him taking up the post. "We only hunt three days a week throughout the season. They account for 259 foxes, and 117 of those were dug with terriers. The total expenditure for the hunt was 12,410." It is a very, very low-costing affair. But if I could just refer you to another North Wales hunt, which is mounted, and it just goes to show the diversity of hunting in wales. The Winstay, for instance, they spend 29,000 on their flesh collection. The Afonwy run their whole hunt on a budget of 12,500

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I wonder if we can follow that up. Are the social activities undertaken in order to fund the hunt, or do the hunt undertake activities because they know one another and influence society?

MR SIMPSON: I am sorry?

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Are the social activities undertaken in order to fund the hunt, or are the social activities undertaken by the hunting people because they enjoy those activities amongst themselves?

MR SIMPSON: I think, in Wales, it is true to say the social activities, whether organised by the hunt or by other organisations within the community, such as the WI or any other organisations, are attended by the same people. The hunt themselves do organise numerous social affairs as fund-raising affairs and as social occasions.

THE CHAIRMAN: Could I ask if there is any idea of, in a sense, what is the highest sort of penetration that you might find? If you take a community of 1000 or 2000, when we say you talk about social exclusion, as some of the evidence does about hunting, are we talking about 10 per cent of people being involved; are we talking about 25 per cent; or are we talking about 5 per cent? Even if I go -- as we did last weekend -- to Dulverton, where there is a village or a town, however it is described, how many people is one actually seriously talking about who have some kind of involvement in hunting? Do you have any feel for the percentage? Because I can see that it is important to those people who are engaged in it, but I think it is more critical for us to judge what proportion of the population that is.

MR JACKSON: The answer is bound to depend on the area of the country, so I will let Tom Yandle report back first.

MR YANDLE: In Dulverton itself, there is a population of about 5,000 people. I am sure half of them would never have been hunting. I bet you the other half have been some time. I am pretty sure that they would support it, because it is the heart of the Moor. Everybody would be part of it, and the social life and everything, because that is probably the only social life they have found. If you get down to Minehead and Lynton, it would interest very few. But I think if I knew the population of inner Exmoor, I would guess that a huge percentage proportion of them have an interest, even if they do not go themselves. I think you would have seen that from the number of people out hunting last Saturday.

MR JACKSON: We have some hard figures, Lord Burns, which we will give you in a minute, but we will ask Michael Poland to say something.

MR POLAND: If I can speak parochially about the Isle of Wight, a population of about 120,000. The events we organise are some of the largest attended events on the island. We have the Isle of Wight Grand National, probably where probably 2 or 3,000 people are at. We also have the raft race, where again the figures is in the thousands. So you are probably talking of 4,000 or 5,000 people on the Isle of Wight who are touched by the hunt's activities; so that is a measurable percentage of the island's population.

MR JACKSON: Nigel Burke can give you some figures and Simon Hart, which might help you.

MR BURKE: I am at the disadvantage of quoting from memory the Produce Studies Survey of Rural Attitudes in 1997. I think around 9 per cent of people participated in hunting in areas where the population density was 100 people per square kilometre or less; that is to say remote or fairly rural areas. In semi-rural or quite rural areas, 150 people per square kilometre or less who participate in hunting was down to I think 5 or 6 per cent. I think the survey also asked people about their participation in other sports. They found that hunting ranked above participation in football, rugby and cricket. So what we are looking at is a percentage of the population. I am actually from Manchester, so if I can complete this tour with a view from Manchester. I would say that as many as 10 per cent of the people in Manchester go to watch City or United, but everyone has a view. The culture pervades beyond the participation. So, what we are looking at is something which in their minds -- you can do the percentage sums if you want to but -- is nevertheless substantial.

THE CHAIRMAN: I was not seeking to minimise it; I was seeking to get a feel of it.

MR BURKE: Sorry, Lord Burns, I have a glint in my eye.

MR JACKSON: Are you getting a feel of it? Would you like to hear from Simon Hart?

MR HART: Just a brief one, referring back to the Produce Survey 2000 of the supporters club of those respondents, 124 supporters clubs organised 1,678 social or fund-raising functions a year, at an average of 14 per club, 260 charities, 50 different ones supported by 123 out of 124 of these clubs. I would just add one additional comment to that, which is again a reference to a Study carried out for the National Trust in 1993, which states: "Almost two-thirds 63 per cent of the Devon and Somerset stag hounds subscribe, and three quarters, 75 per cent, of the Quantock stag hunt stated that the hunt was very or extremely important to their social activities." There are other quotes contained which make the same point.

THE CHAIRMAN: That, if I may say, is back to the question of absolute levels rather than share, which is what I was trying to get some feel for.

DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: Really from the quantitative proportions of people involved, I wanted to get a feel for something which is probably much more difficult to get a grasp on, and that is the qualitative importance of the social cohesion. You mentioned on a number of occasions -- and it is put forward a lot -- that the hunt, as an activity, provides an important social cohesion. What I wanted to look on to is the other benefits of the collective action that the hunt brings, other than hunting. So what are the knock on benefits of that, and how important is that in these communities?

MR JACKSON: I am going to take you on a similar tour, as it were. Tom.

MR YANDLE: On Exmoor, it is because of the mutual interest in the hunt. I am talking not necessarily people that go but people who have that interest. The social cohesion, I suppose, is that everybody knows everybody else. I have made the point in my submission that it is very surprising -- perhaps it is not surprising -- that anybody who is anybody on Exmoor is welcome at everybody else's house. If you do not have class or wealth, nobody is a bit interested. But the fact that they talk about the hunting, they do not even have to go, or know about the hunting, or, dare I say it, feel slightly embattled because of the opponents to hunting. It is very socially cohesive.

MR ANDREWES: The one point I would like to add, Dr Edwards, is that, as you will have seen, it is more important and involves a bigger proportion of the population the more isolated the area that you are in. There is the very obvious point that there are many fewer alternatives. Therefore, in terms of trying to gauge the importance, whereas in the South-East of England there would be lots of other things people could do relatively easily, in these communities it would be very much harder to replace this activity and these events simply because of their isolation. So I think that adds something to the colour of it.

MR JACKSON: Perhaps I could remark that one of the things we were hoping the Committee would get a feel of -- because we are talking very much about a question of feel -- would be how people felt about all this, and what it meant to them in terms of their lives, as members of communities, as you went round the country visiting various hunting occasions. There is not the slightest doubt amongst the Alliance's membership that there are enormously strong feelings on this point. Tom Yandle put it pretty delicately, but what has started to happen very clearly is that, as people in the countryside have felt themselves coming under pressure on these aspects, there has been a strong tendency for them to become more cohesive. We believe it is one of the reasons that the membership of the Countryside Alliance is actually growing quite strongly.

THE CHAIRMAN: I think we only have time for one more question.

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Can I just follow this up because it is quite clear that, amongst the members of the Countryside Alliance and the hunting community, there is an element of cohesion. It has also been suggested to us that there is also an element of divisiveness compared to those people who feel opposed to hunting, unhappy with hunting, who feel excluded from the community as part of this. Would you like to comment on that suggestion, because it is quite regularly made in these sort of conversations we have received with other people.

MR JACKSON: We do not believe it is true, but, Nigel, would you like to say something?

MR BURKE: Just a little. I think some of the alleged devisiveness has been exaggerated and some of it has been manufactured. It is real divisiveness but manufactured by our opposition. For example, I have seen advertisements which literally demonise hunting people, people who wear jackets with demonic eyes -- the same as poor old Tony Blair with the demon eyes advert. When we are faced with that, I think that is some of the divisiveness we feel. But when we are told of the real opposition to hunting, and, therefore, try to extrapolate from that how much, let us take real figures not polls. Let us take, for example, the submission of the Exeter branch of the League of Cruel Sports, a body of 56 souls. I wanted to check before I came the population of Exeter and the statistics; I was unable to do so. It seems to me that the local organisations dedicated to the extinction of hunting, we are not seeing that many people and from that I would suggest that opposition is not very great.

MR JACKSON: Richard Burge would like to add something to this.

MR BURGE: If I may, very briefly. First of all, we must not confuse disagreement in rural communities with divisiveness. Rural communities, like any communities, are prone to disagreement between their participants. What matters is that people continue to live and work together. I have to say, as a non-hunting person, I have never, never been a witness to divisiveness from hunting, only disagreement. Secondly, compared to what? A lot of passions which groups of people hold can often create a sense of isolation or frustration amongst other communities who do not hold that. I do not believe that the passions that I have seen shared by hunters have provoked anywhere near the divisiveness, for instance, which passions for certain urban activities can promote in urban areas.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. It has been a very helpful session. I am very grateful for everyone's stamina. I think we should break now for tea. We will resume with you again on Monday. Thank you very much.

(Short break).  

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Date uploaded to site 11 April 2000