HC Deb 07 November 1979 vol 973 cc433-4 4.42 pm
Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make hare coursing matches illegal; and for connected purposes. This is not the first time that colleagues and I have proposed the introduction of the Bill. I am conscious of the pressures upon those of my colleagues who wish to take part in the important debate on steel. Therefore, I shall cut short my remarks and refer my colleagues and newly elected hon. Members to the many excellent speeches that have been made by Labour Members on this issue in the past decade.

Previous Bills have been defeated on Friday afternoons anonymously, and the Labour Government's Bill fell because of the Dissolution in 1970. On the second occasion, their Lordships so mangled the Bill that it became unrecognisable. Apart from the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act 1976, that was enough surely to seek the Dissolution of the other place. The Bill reflects a Labour Party manifesto commitment to abolish cruel sports, including stag and fox hunting, but the Bill deals only with hare coursing.

The House will recall the interesting correspondence in The Guardian and Labour Weekly on the policies of the British Field Sports Society in seeking to bring influence to bear upon the Prime Minister to pay little heed to the demand for the abolition of hare coursing and other blood sports. Those of us who saw the right hon. Lady in the excitement of entering No. 10 Downing Street will recall that she quoted at length from the patron saint of animals, St. Francis of Assisi. We look to her to support Bro. Hare and eventually Bros. Fox and Stag. We hope that she will ensure that they are not pursued for the entertainment of mankind. I look to the right hon. Lady's party for support.

The proposed Bill contains one major clause, which states: If any person causes or procures, assists or knowingly permits or suffers any place to be used for the coursing of the hare by two or more dogs for competition as to their ability, they shall be subject to summary conviction. That corresponds with previous legislation introduced by Labour Members and by the Labour Government.

The Bill is an attempt to prevent the continuing spectacle of a hare being used in a tug-of-war between two hounds to the horror of animals and to the horror of all decent people throughout the world. Animals are on this earth for the use and the service of mankind. They are not here for abuse by man. They, too, have a dignity.

In view of the pressures on the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I bring my remarks on the Bill to a close.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Kevin McNamara, Mr. J. D. Concannon, Mr. Eric S. Heffer, Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody, Mr. Austin Mitchell, Mr. Frank Haynes, Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours and Mr. Nigel Spearing.