HC Deb 13 March 1998 vol 308 cc869-93

'A person does not commit an offence under section 1(1) if he hunts a wild mammal with a dog on land in Northern Ireland in circumstances where his hunting of that mammal begins in the Republic of Ireland and continues over the border into Northern Ireland.'.—[Mr. Maginnis.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 32—Incidental hunting in Northern Ireland'.—(1) An offence shall not be committed pursuant to section 1(1) if a wild mammal is hunted in Northern Ireland only incidentally to a hunt which begins and ends in the Republic of Ireland. (2) A hunt begins in the Republic of Ireland if the pursuit of the wild mammal begins there. (3) A hunt ends either by the wild mammal being killed or by the decision to stop hunting provided always that no offence is committed pursuant to section 1(1) if the wild mammal is killed in Northern Ireland and the hunt began in the Republic of Ireland. (4) A wild mammal may not be dug out or bolted in Northern Ireland in the course of a hunt which incidentally crosses into Northern Ireland as described in subsection (1). (5) In circumstances where section 1(1) is excepted by subsection (1), no offence can be committed by any person under section 1(2), (3) or (4). (6) If a dog or dogs should become lost in the course of a hunt excepted by subsection (1) then a person who finds, keeps and returns that dog or those dogs within a reasonable period to its owner or keeper shall not be guilty of an offence under section 1(4).'. Amendment No. 101, in clause 14, page 5, line 37, leave out 'extends' and insert 'does not extend'.

Mr. Maginnis

New clause 18 stands in my name and those of my hon. Friend the Member for East Londonderry (Mr. Ross) and others. The new clause reads: A person does not commit an offence under section 1(1)"—

Mr. Michael J. Foster

Having considered new clause 18, on this occasion I am perfectly willing to accept it.

Mr. Maginnis

I am heartened that common sense is to prevail, but for the benefit—

Mr. Gray

The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) may be prepared to accept new clause 18 but I am not, and I shall happily try to speak to that effect shortly.

Mr. Maginnis

I shall try to proceed at least to the stage where I have read the new clause. A person does not commit an offence under section 1(1) if he hunts a wild mammal with a dog on land in Northern Ireland in circumstances where his hunting of that mammal begins in the Irish Republic and continues over the border into Northern Ireland. 11.15 am

As supporters of any legislation to abolish hunting appear to have limited knowledge of hunting and of rural communities where hunting is practised, it is necessary for me to enhance their understanding of the situation in Northern Ireland, especially when such hunting occurs adjacent to the land border with the Irish Republic.

When Bills do not apply to Northern Ireland, politicians from Great Britain usually have the luxury of legislating for clearly defined sea borders and, fortunately, most can still recognise water, even if it is seldom imbibed by some. Even Bills that do apply to Northern Ireland will generally regulate activities that do not, by their nature, involve our land frontier with the Irish Republic.

However, hunting does involve cross-border activity. I am disappointed to see that the hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), who was in his place earlier, has not returned—[Interruption.] Oh, there he is, and I am delighted to see him arrive: I know that, with his cross-border interests, he will give considerable support to the new clause.

The Bill fails absolutely to distinguish properly between what is lawful and what is a criminal offence when the activity of hunting crosses from one landowner's property to another. It allows the hot pursuit of quarry species from land where a request to hunt is in force on to "neighbouring land". "Neighbouring land" is poorly defined. It could mean the adjacent parcel of land that is all under one possessory title.

Mr. Richard Spring (West Suffolk)

I believe that the hon. Gentleman will confirm that part of the considerable difficulty about this matter is that the border is not fenced or marked clearly, and huntsmen might inadvertently cross it, with all the difficulties that would then arise.

Mr. Maginnis

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, and I shall deal with that point as I progress.

"Neighbouring land" could also mean the adjacent parcel of land that is under the same agreement for sporting rights. It could mean the adjacent county or national park. However, it was never clear what effect, for example, roads or rivers would have on the definition of "neighbouring". What is neighbouring, and how far does it extend? What impediments in the path of a hunt mean that land is no longer neighbouring? I am dwelling on the complexities of the issue.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)

The hon. Gentleman mentions the complexities of the issue. In fact, they go further than may seem apparent at first sight. As he knows, because of the common travel area, it is perfectly legal to cross the border on lawful business, but my legal advice is that, if the Bill became law, it would be perfectly legal for a hunt to meet in Northern Ireland and to move to the Republic of Ireland to start hunting, but it would be illegal for a hunt to meet in the Republic and to hunt in Northern Ireland. So there would be confusion and anomalies and we need to discuss the new clause to resolve the matter.

Mr. Maginnis

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. I am dwelling on the complexities of the issue—and the failure of the Bill to get to grips with the dilemma—so as to caution hon. Members that those complexities are 10, 20 or 50 times worse when two neighbouring jurisdictions, not merely two neighbouring pieces of land, are involved.

I am concerned about the lack of knowledge about Ireland and Irish hunting displayed by some hon. Members. In Committee, the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Mr. Cawsey), in a most impassioned speech, referred to the Irish sport of "crated stag hunting". He drew attention to the terrible plight of stags being brought in crates to be hunted, albeit that they were later released and not shot. The sport to which he referred is carted stag hunting, where stags are brought to the hunt in horse boxes. There is no reference to the imaginary sport of crated stag hunting anywhere in literature or mythology. It appears only in the hon. Gentleman's speech. The fact that some hon. Members are still handicapped by their lack of knowledge of Irish hunting is derived exclusively from briefings from the League Against Cruel Sports, including typographical errors. I am determined to bring some enlightenment, and I would be happy to help the hon. Gentleman further.

Mr. Cawsey

I am enjoying the hon. Gentleman's arguments for a united Ireland. He appears to have undergone a pleasing conversion. However, in respect of hunting carted or crated stags, I remind him that both terms can be used.

Mr. Maginnis

Of course the House has the power to legislate over certain matters, but I am not sure that individuals have the authority to change the English language and traditional terms quite as glibly as the hon. Gentleman seeks to do.

Sir Michael Spicer (West Worcestershire)

The hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Mr. Cawsey) raises a serious point about the Bill representing all sorts of precedents to unity between the two countries. Does he agree that the measure involves not just two jurisdictions, but two different countries? Will the huntsmen need to wave their passports as they charge by? That, at least, would make some sense.

Mr. Maginnis

The hon. Gentleman touches on a pertinent point. I suspect that huntsmen will be required not only to carry their passports, but to sign a declaration as they enter Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic saying, "I am now entering Northern Ireland with the express purpose of breaking the law," so that their purpose is absolutely clear.

Mr. Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire)

My understanding is that people do not have to carry a passport to travel between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Cattle do, of course, but to the best of my knowledge no cattle in Northern Ireland enjoy the pursuit of fox hunting.

Mr. Maginnis

Indeed. Although cattle are required to have passports, it is exceedingly difficult to arrange passports for foxes. I am afraid that we are getting into deeper water.

Sir Brian Mawhinney

The hon. Gentleman has got to the heart of the new clause, which is about making people into criminals. With the typical gay abandon that we have come to associate with the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) and his supporters, they are seeking to criminalise citizens of the Irish Republic. However, the hon. Gentleman and I both know that under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, matters that are of importance to both to the Republic and to Northern Ireland—matters much less significant than turning citizens of the Irish Republic into criminals—are required to be debated under the terms of that agreement at Maryfield and perhaps at intergovernmental conferences. What intergovernmental discussions have taken place over the Bill's proposal to criminalise Irish citizens?

Mr. Maginnis

The right hon. Gentleman does not go far enough. The Bill would criminalise not only those in the Irish Republic who inadvertently crossed the frontier into Northern Ireland but people from Northern Ireland who took the advice that they had been given and interacted with people in the Irish Republic. If a person from Northern Ireland joined a hunt in the Irish Republic which then inadvertently crossed into Northern Ireland, he would be committing an offence in pursuit of developing a good relationship with people in the Irish Republic.

Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey)

Although not a legislative body that can legislate jointly in respect of laws that apply to Northern Ireland and to the Republic of Ireland, the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body debates such matters. I must apologise to the hon. Gentleman for the fact that I cannot stay in the Chamber to hear the rest of his speech because I am currently chairing a committee of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body on another subject. Does he agree that this matter could usefully be on that body's agenda? Does he agree that, if the Unionist parties joined that body, it would carry very much more weight? Does he also agree—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman may have made a sacrifice by leaving one meeting to come to this one, but he must not make a speech on an intervention.

Mr. Maginnis

The hon. Gentleman has raised a matter that involves various aspects. The length of his intervention enabled him to make several points—

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Hull, North)

Yes or no?

Mr. Maginnis

I am delighted to respond to the sedentary intervention by the hon. Member for Hull, North. He might well apply that requirement to his friends in the Irish Republic in respect of the need for a referendum on whether articles 2 and 3 of the constitution of the Irish Republic should be abolished. However, I digress.

Mr. Colvin

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way again. Is he aware that members of the Dail and members of the Senate in Dublin have debated fox hunting? They thought that the House would be very unwise to proceed with the Bill. Will he speculate on what might happen if the former Taoiseach, the very sporting Mr. Charles Haughey, were to cross the border into the Province in pursuit of a fox?

Mr. Maginnis

The hon. Gentleman's latter point is intriguing. I acknowledge that the former Taoiseach, Mr. Haughey, is much engaged in field sports activities. Only recently he fell off his horse, breaking his leg. If, in the circumstances outlined by the hon. Gentleman, Mr. Haughey strayed across the frontier—which he has always had a predisposition to do—I wonder whether, being confronted by a 6ft member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary who, as Mr. Haughey would obviously be breaking the law, would call on him to desist, and the same former Taoiseach of the Irish Republic, possibly having his mind on other matters, such as why the local grocer has not added to the £1.3 million contribution that has enabled him to pursue many sports, including—

11.30 am
Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman would be advised to come back to the substance of the matter, and not to indulge in the discussion of personalities.

Mr. Maginnis

I thought you might advise me that that would be a wise course of action, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was about to say that the former Taoiseach might be preoccupied with other things, and might fall off his horse again, perhaps breaking the other leg. Other legislation would have to be enacted because of the possibly litigious reaction of the former Taoiseach. During the past weeks I have been sitting on the Committee that is considering the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill. There we have dealt with the very situation in which, if a policeman causes death or injury to a person, he can face a charge and the Police Authority can face a claim for damages. That would create the most embarrassing situation.

I must not digress; I want to make progress. I assure the House that hunting is legal in Ireland and is not subject to anything like the same organised slander and vituperation from career lobbyists as it is in Great Britain. This is a good point at which to remind the House that no other European country gives house room to the excesses of animal rights zealotry that we seem to tolerate in the United Kingdom.

Opening the Royal Dublin horse show in August last year, the Irish Agriculture Minister, Mr. Walsh, spoke strongly against a ban on hunting in the United Kingdom, warning that it would seriously harm Ireland's horse industry. He said: A ban on foxhunting in Britain would severely affect Ireland's £100 million sports horse industry and place in jeopardy the livelihoods of the 10,000 people involved in it. Banning the sport in Britain would directly affect the Irish horse industry as many of the horses used in hunts in Britain were purchased over here"— that is, over in Ireland. Mr. Walsh continued: As far as I am concerned, foxhunting is not a cruel sport and I support all rural pursuits.

Mr. Hawkins

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, particularly in relation to national hunt racing, the sports in Ireland and in the rest of the UK are intimately connected? Given the importance to national hunt racing of the Cheltenham festival and the huge Irish involvement in that, does he agree that it would have a huge impact on legitimate sport in this country if national hunt racing were damaged, as it would be by the Bill's application in Ireland?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That may be the case, but it is nothing to do with the new clause.

Mr. Maginnis

There is an inter-relationship between hunting and horse breeding. The industry, which means a great deal both to the Irish Republic and to Northern Ireland, and in which there is a natural interface between Irish nationalists from the Irish Republic and members of the United Kingdom, would be harmed.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The new clause is about hunting and going across the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. That is the matter to which the hon. Gentleman should direct his remarks.

Mr. Maginnis

I have made my point about the inter-relationship.

Mr. Leigh

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has thought through his own new clause. He has dedicated his life to the cause of Unionism. We are discussing an activity that would be banned throughout the United Kingdom. If his new clause were accepted, that activity would not be banned simply because it emanated from the Irish Republic. Is he happy with that state of affairs?

Mr. Maginnis

I hope that most hon. Members recognise that Ulster Unionists are not against normal social relationships between us and our neighbours south of the frontier. It is political interference to which we object. Despite our annoyance at political interference, we are generous enough not to allow that to inhibit normal social relationships. I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but I hope that he will not confuse political interference with normal good neighbourliness, which Ulster Unionists have always endeavoured to show to those in the Irish Republic.

Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry)

What troubles me about the situation that the hon. Gentleman describes is the possibility that the Bill might be seen to constitute British political interference in the affairs of the Irish Republic, on the ground that activities that were banned in Northern Ireland were bound to have an impact across the land border into the Irish Republic. Would that not send entirely the wrong signals with respect to Irish political and general relations?

Mr. Maginnis

We must, of course, legislate for our own jurisdiction. We must be conscious of how that might impact on the good neighbourliness that we wish to show to those who live in the Irish Republic, but that cannot dominate our approach to a problem.

In Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic combined, there are 40 packs of fox hounds registered with the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association, 33 harrier packs, 23 beagle packs and two mink packs. There are, perhaps, 140 additional unregistered quarry packs. Interestingly, there are no drag hunts, despite all the attractions that we are told that that equestrian sport may have—an argument advanced persistently and, I suspect, insincerely, by the anti-hunting lobby.

There is no question but that hunting generates employment in Ireland in the same way as it does in Great Britain, but the contribution of hunting to the development of human and equine talent is significantly and proportionally more important to the respective Irish economies than it is to the mainland's. There is no prospect that, if the United Kingdom implements anti-hunting legislation, the Irish Republic will reciprocate with anti-hunting legislation. That will have long-term consequences for hunts that cross the border. Last Saturday, the South Tyrone hunt met at Glaslough in County Monaghan—which, for those who may be unaware of it, is in the Irish Republic—and it pursued a fox that crossed the border into my constituency in County Tyrone, with hounds and the field following behind.

In pointing out the issues that arise from cross-border hunting, I want hon. Members to realise that it is not a theoretical situation put up to expose abstract, logical flaws in the draft legislation. Cross-border hunting happens continually, and the legislation will have practical consequences for farmers, hunts and individuals, and the unique social status quo that exists along the border.

Mr. Hawkins

I can reinforce the hon. Gentleman's claim that he is not talking about a theoretical situation. During my career at the Bar, I came across a gentleman from County Monaghan who was acquitted in the United Kingdom courts. He was asked by a police officer to produce his driver's licence at a police station and he told the officer that he would produce it at the police station in Monaghan, County Monaghan. The police officer did not realise that Monaghan was in the Irish Republic, and thus the gentleman was acquitted of a criminal offence.

Mr. Maginnis

Many do not appreciate the realities of the land frontier between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. That frontier is not all marked or fenced and it is easy to cross inadvertently. Hounds and foxes are unaware that such a border exists.

One could make the case that, if the United Kingdom adopts anti-hunting legislation, the situation would be tough but fair—or would it? It would be all right to hunt in the Irish Republic, but, if one were to hunt in the United Kingdom—including Northern Ireland—one would be a wicked criminal and liable to arrest. It is hard luck if people do not know where the frontier is between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. I know that there are absolute offences on the statute book where inadvertent activities have been punished with the full force of law. That would certainly be the case if one were found in possession of an article that required a licence in the United Kingdom but not in the Irish Republic.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

Is the hon. Gentleman not in danger of making the case for a united Ireland?

Mr. Maginnis

I never cease to be amazed by the naivety of those who would promote the concept of a politically united Ireland. I emphasise to the hon. Gentleman that the Ulster Unionists have never intended to do anything to inhibit the natural social relationships that have existed traditionally over the centuries between those who live in what is now the Irish Republic and those who live in Northern Ireland. I would be disappointed if the hon. Gentleman sought to inhibit that social relationship on the pretext that to have social interaction is to concede a political principle. However, judging from the hon. Gentleman's record in the House, I am not sure how much he knows about political principles.

11.45 am

I am sorry, I must regain my train of thought. The difficulty is that hunting is a much more complicated activity than carrying a shotgun, which requires a licence and which people know requires a licence. A ban on hunting would infringe a traditional and social activity that has been commonly carried out for centuries without regard to jurisdiction or frontier—in fact, there was hunting before the frontier was established.

Hunting involves multiple participants—one could argue that some participate actively in the hunting and others are merely spectators. There is fast movement, and the hunt may cross and recross the border so that the activity may end in the jurisdiction where it began. However, in the interim, it may infringe the other jurisdiction. There is also the still unresolved question of what "to hunt" means, and whether that includes picking up a scent, how and where a huntsman instigates the activities of dogs, and the tendentious problem of whether dogs are instruments or agents—that is to say, whether the huntsman uses the dogs to hunt or whether the dogs would have an instinctive capacity to make their own decisions even if they were set a different task, such as drag hunting or flushing out.

What will happen if someone sends a dog after a rabbit in the Irish Republic and that dog crosses the border—or vice versa—and begins to chase a hare? The question is baffling enough in one jurisdiction without the added complexity of considering its implications in another. What will happen if the legislation is made to apply to Northern Ireland and someone initiates a hunt in the Republic and remains there while the hounds cross the border and hunt? Will the offence of hunting be treated in the same way as drugs offences in some jurisdictions, whereby activities in one jurisdiction that have an effect in a second jurisdiction may be tried under the laws of that second jurisdiction?

Do not imagine that I am describing a contrived situation, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If United Kingdom-wide hunting legislation is adopted, the anti-hunting pressure groups will not waste the opportunity to assert their moral triumphalism and extract publicity for themselves by urging the prosecution of Irish hunt followers under United Kingdom law. In December last year, the Irish Independent reported the plans of British hunt saboteurs to cross to the Irish Republic and harass British hunt followers who hunted in Ireland if hunting were banned in the United Kingdom. Those saboteurs would still enjoy an anarchy awayday.

The many foot packs that hunt along the border inform me that they frequently cross over. The master of the West Down beagles is insistent that his beagles cross the border all the time, as do the hounds of the Oriel Harriers, which are kennelled at Walterstown in County Dondalk—for the uninitiated, County Dondalk is in the Irish Republic. Real people stand to be prosecuted for pursuing a traditional rural pursuit that is not an offence in their own country. They could be prosecuted for chasing the same fox or hare on the same field owned by the same farmer because that farmer's field may be situated partly in the Irish Republic and partly in Northern Ireland. We could hardly engineer a situation that would offend natural justice and common sense more.

Mr. Hogg

Is there not another problem to which the hon. Gentleman has not yet drawn attention? If fox hunting is prohibited on the Northern Ireland side of the frontier but allowed on the Republic side, that may displace foxes from one side to the other, which would certainly irritate enormously farmers on the side of the frontier to which the foxes go.

Mr. Maginnis

Indeed. Anyone with a knowledge of rural pursuits, who has grown up as I have in the country, will realise that animals migrate towards the most secure area. The hooded crow, which does such damage to game birds by robbing their nests and destroying their young, was seldom seen in Northern Ireland in my youth because it sought uninhabited areas such as mountainsides. That is where we went to shoot those carrion. Now, because of the security situation, fewer people carry weapons for sporting purposes and people go less often to remote areas, and it is not uncommon to see the hooded crow in the centre of urban areas.

Mr. Colvin

My hon. Friend raises the question of firearms. Is there not a case to be made, when shooting is an alternative method of controlling foxes, for reducing the number of firearms in Northern Ireland—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I see no connection between that point and the question whether hunting with hounds crosses the border.

Mr. Maginnis

In the case of a hunt where the huntsman remains in the Irish Republic but the followers cross the border, how will the existing extradition arrangements between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic be applied to the suspects? If the huntsman, who, after all, controls the hounds, remains south of the border, but the field of followers crosses into the United Kingdom, who will be prosecuted and with what principle of fairness?

I now wish to deal with possible solutions. First, I acknowledge the ethical problem that Northern Ireland presents to the Bill's supporters. They conceive of hunting as a moral wrong and of their Bill as a matter of principle, even if it is a principle that they apply selectively to certain attractive mammal species such as foxes and not to unattractive ones such as rats. They know that they cannot make a law that would apply in the Irish Republic, but that it is within the powers of this House to apply laws—indeed, to apply moral precepts—to Northern Ireland.

The Bill's supporters must want the legislation to apply to Northern Ireland—it is impossible to believe otherwise. If they think that fox hunting is cruel, wicked and wrong in every county in England, why would they not think it wrong in the six counties of Northern Ireland? If they fail even to try to apply their imagined moral principle wherever they can, they will betray that principle. That is what puzzled me about the willing acceptance of this clause by the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) at the beginning of my speech.

Do the Bill's supporters maintain that the experience of hunted animals in Northern Ireland is subjectively different from the experience of those on the mainland? That is the only justifiable reason for not applying the Bill throughout the United Kingdom. Perhaps they maintain that the motivations of those who hunt differ on each side of the Irish sea. Some supporters of anti-hunting legislation are obviously motivated by the class or cultural associations of hunters who wear red coats and have posh voices. Whether or not they admit it, such people form a tiny minority of the hunting scene. Perhaps the critics of hunting imagine that they are excused from disliking hunters in my part of the world because they are cut from a different cloth and are not quite as posh as hunters from the home counties.

Mr. Gray

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of recent remarks by the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster), who said that one of his main objections to the act of fox hunting was that those who take part in it are from class A1—the nobs? Does he agree that, by those remarks, the hon. Gentleman exposed his true class hatred?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That is well outside the scope of the amendment. I hope that the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) will bring his speech back within the confines of the amendment quickly and concisely.

Mr. Maginnis

I shall certainly endeavour to do so. However, first I must say that those self-same people to whom the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) refers are far more likely than poor hunting enthusiasts to go hunting in Northern Ireland after a selective ban on the mainland. The richer people are, the less a limited territorial ban will inconvenience them. Conversely, the poorer people are and the more they rely on hunting for free pest control, the more affected they will be.

Dr. Desmond Turner (Brighton, Kemptown)

Would the hon. Gentleman support the reintroduction of boar hunting in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Maginnis

Of course. However, you would not permit me to go into that, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The issue of domesticated animals must include the question whether the original crime was to domesticate dogs. Had we not done so, dogs would have hunted freely throughout the length and breadth of Northern Ireland and we would have had to find a way of hunting them to limit the destruction that they would carry out. I fear that you will rule me out of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I continue down that route.

The Bill's proponents will grind their teeth with frustration if those whom they dislike most are allowed to continue hunting, so I should be extremely surprised if the opportunity were not taken to extend the ban to Northern Ireland. That is how the Bill has been drafted. Do the proponents of the Bill no longer want to extend it to Northern Ireland? The hon. Member for Worcester will no doubt tell me.

Tentatively, I am suggesting a compromise in the way in which criminal law should be drafted to ban hunting in Northern Ireland. If it is to be drafted at all, it must be done to protect cross-border hunting from the tangle of legal jeopardy which would arise. I shall welcome any amendment that excludes the offence of hunting in Northern Ireland—first, where the person or persons accused of hunting believed they were in the Irish Republic at the time they initiated hunting and, secondly, where hunting is initiated in the Republic but crosses into Northern Ireland.

In a case where the defendant is accused of hunting in Northern Ireland, the burden of proof must properly rest with the prosecution, and it should be up to the prosecution to establish that the defendant must have reasonably known that he was in Northern Ireland. All the circumstances would be properly taken into account, along with the defendant's experience of hunting in the area and the presence of landmarks known to the people in the locality. If that initially appears to favour the home counties set who may go to the Irish Republic if a ban on hunting is enacted in the UK, so be it—in so far as they would be a minute element of those so engaged in the pursuit.

12 noon

Mr. Leigh

This is a ridiculous argument. Hunts go across the unmarked border in the midst of a chase. How can the police prove beyond reasonable doubt that a hunter knew or did not know that he was in Northern Ireland at any time?

Mr. Maginnis

The hon. Gentleman makes my point well. The complexities of this nonsensical legislation would be such that we would find ourselves in that ridiculous situation. Can you imagine, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the traffic jams in our court system when these cases are brought, one after another? I have suggested the number of packs of hunting dogs registered in Ireland as a whole. Can you imagine the logjam when this sort of prosecution occurs?

Any warning that the hunt was given that it was crossing the border—such as verbal warnings and signs—would need to be taken into account, so it is not even as simple as the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) suggests. We must decide also whether it could be reasonably assumed that the warning signs or verbal warnings were coming from hunt saboteurs, rather than a genuine source. It should be possible, knowing the ingenuity of those who draft legislation, to draft the law such that any hunt that continues hunting after a genuine warning that it has crossed into Northern Ireland will be committing an aggravated offence.

In the circumstances, care must be taken that only the hunt followers who have heard or seen and disregarded such a warning are prosecuted, and that those who dissociate themselves from the cross-border hunting are spared from prosecution. Someone harvesting in a field in an area where a hunt is taking place who stops to view the spectacle of the hunt must not be deemed to be participating in or aiding and abetting the process of illegal hunting.

I recognise that prosecutions and defences under such terms will have difficulty in establishing where the suspects believed they were at the material time, but it will always be possible to detect a flagrant breach of the exemption I am suggesting. As my argument has illustrated, that is a simple matter for those who will draft the legislation.

I am coming towards the end of what I have to say, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Perhaps in a few years, it will be possible to exclude the tricky problem of establishing the defendant's knowledge, state of mind and understanding by obliging the field master of every cross-border hunt to carry a global positioning system satellite navigation aid, pre-programmed with the map co-ordinates of the border. As you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the border weaves its way north, south, east and west and turns back in on itself frequently. However, I expect that scientists will be able to provide such a warning device to be used by hunts approaching the frontier.

In the meantime, hunts must be given the benefit of the doubt. In so far as this Parliament has banned the passive sport of pistol shooting and paid a huge amount of public money so to do, it may ultimately be possible for those who can prove that they are genuinely involved in hunting to obtain a grant from public expenditure to purchase GPS satellite navigation aids, but that is for the future.

When hunting is initiated in the Republic but continues or concludes in Northern Ireland, it should be exempted from the offence. I am aware that opponents of hunting have vivid imaginations and will immediately speculate on what might happen. They will imagine protracted hunts, arranged to start in the south within yards of the border and penetrating up to 90 miles into Northern Ireland. That would be plausible to the supporters of the Bill, judging by the touching belief of the hon. Member for Worcester in the 90-mile fox hunt that he read about in dusty chronicles from hundreds of years ago. In the realms of reality, cross-border hunting would not impose more than a mile or two into the north and could not in practice lead to such heavy exploitation of the exemption that hunting would continue throughout Northern Ireland. The range of hunts is naturally limited by territorial obstacles and the sheer practicalities of hunting.

I admit that providing for cross-border hunting raises difficult questions of jurisdiction and jurisprudence, but so does not providing for it, so I make no apology for having taken some time to outline the alternatives available to hon. Members when they are considering the ramifications of anti-hunting legislation.

I appeal to the hon. Member for Worcester to reconsider the entire project. Look across the border—the Republic of Ireland and France have failed to find any compelling reason to ban hunting and a ban is not even on their agenda. I hope that he will accept that those are civilised countries and that we have something to learn from our nearest neighbours. The hon. Gentleman has dropped his definition of hunting and dropped clause after clause in favour of Home Office drafting. Now, he has dropped his redrafted Bill. He should take one last little step—he should just drop it.

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

I am genuinely pleased to be following the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) in his detailed and accurate outline of the difficulties that would be imposed in Northern Ireland and the Republic if the Bill were enacted unamended.

I welcome the comment by the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) that he is prepared to accept the new clause, and I hope that he means that he intends to accept amendment No. 101, which would mean a complete exemption for Northern Ireland. He did not make it clear whether he would accept the whole exemption or simply redefining the exceptions from the Bill. I expect that he will contribute and make that clear.

Mr. Hogg

Does the hon. Lady agree that the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) should bear in mind the fact that the Act to which he wants to annex the provisions in new clause 35 does not apply to Northern Ireland? Therefore, he can have no objection in principle to amendment No. 101, which disapplies the Bill to Northern Ireland.

Kate Hoey

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is right. His point shows that the details and technicalities of the Bill were not carefully thought out. It is all very well to propose legislation, but legislation that is unenforceable will bring Parliament into total disrepute, especially in the context of Northern Ireland. We are facing a difficulty.

As the Bill has been considered in Committee and on the Floor of the House, many hon. Members—including many who are not here today—have become more and more concerned about the way in which the Bill would be implemented; they do not believe that a ban would be the way forward.

I say, in response to what the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone said, that I know the Fermanagh area well—indeed, I have driven around it with the hon. Gentleman. When driving a car, one can suddenly find that one is not in Northern Ireland but in the Republic of Ireland—even people who live in the area can become confused. The fox or the huntspeople from the Republic cannot possibly work out exactly where they are at any time, so I do not believe that the proposals to place reasonable restrictions on the exemptions go far enough—I want the exemption to be general.

Hon. Members who are in favour of the Bill often talk about public support, but they and the public have not begun to understand what the Bill would mean in practice—even in the House, that has been difficult to put across. There has been no consultation with the political parties or the people of Northern Ireland. If legislation is to be acceptable—even if some people do not agree with it—there must be a general feeling that it is reasonable and can work, but the Bill, particularly as it relates to Northern Ireland, would be nonsense.

It may seem reasonable to exempt a hunter who, when he realises that he is hunting in Northern Ireland, takes steps to stop the hunting, but in practice that would create considerable difficulties. The prosecution would have to prove—which is difficult in law—that the hunter knew that he was hunting in Northern Ireland. Given that there is not a clearly marked border, it would be difficult to establish that the hunter had such knowledge. The police would have to explore his state of mind, in the same way that they would have to interview a person suspected of handling stolen goods to establish whether he knew or believed the goods to be stolen.

Given all the problems that Northern Ireland faces, it would be wrong to put such an additional huge demand on police resources, which are already stretched, especially in the border areas. Even if extra resources were to be granted, most investigations would not produce conclusive results. It would be extremely difficult for anyone to police the proposed measures. Even those who do not want any exemptions must know that the Bill could not work in practice.

The House should not enact legislation prompted by the emotion of those who believe that they can advance the cause of animal welfare. We in the Middle Way Group do not believe that the Bill will help animal welfare. When the Bill falls, we can work with those who genuinely want to improve animal welfare and care about the rights of minorities and about the countryside.

The new clause will take us a step forward. The hon. Member for Worcester has listened today, because he now accepts this very sensible new clause and amendment, and I am pleased about that. I hope that he will give a little more thought to everything else that has been said, and especially some of the comments from people who have thought seriously about the issue and who, although they approached it from different positions, all came to the view that the Bill is nonsense and cannot work.

Mr. Bennett

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put, but MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

12.15 pm
Sir Nicholas Lyell (North-East Bedfordshire)

New clause 32 is an attempt to deal with the problem elucidated by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey). She and the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) know the location much more intimately than I do, but I know it to some extent, because my duties as a Law Officer led me to travel regularly in Northern Ireland. I frequently visited the hon. Gentleman's constituency, and I know how the border zig-zags across the country.

I do not know exactly how long the border is, but I know that, although it is only about 70 to 90 miles as a crow might fly, the actual length, along the boundaries of the old counties, is about 300 miles. The border, wending its way along the edges of the counties of Armagh, Monaghan, Tyrone and Fermanagh, creates a real problem.

Many hunts operate in the area. The larger clubs—as hunts over there call themselves—are Navan and Armach, Maddena, Middletown, Derry Noose, Trillick, Keady Carrick, Longfield, Lisbellan, Drumcramp, Newtown Butler, Derryline, Roslea, Corraney and Lackey. That is just the larger clubs north of the border. In the Republic of Ireland, the large clubs include Castleblaney, Clontdiret, Tullycorbe, Castleshame, Ardachey, Tappach, Tyholland, Ballinode, Scotstown, Knockatallon, Emyvale, Glaslough, Carrickroe, Scotchhouse, Redhills, Connons and Butlersbridge.

There are a great many smaller clubs. The Irish hunts tend to use smaller packs of dogs than those used in Britain. They hunt partly using ordinary packs of dogs to chase a fox, and partly with followers acting as gun packs, operating pest control in the area. Therefore, with so many hunts operating in that area, it is essential, if the Bill—which, I hasten to add, I am radically opposed to in principle—were ever to be enacted, that the problem should be tackled.

I welcome the indication from the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) that he is minded to accept one of the amendments. I do not know whether he has yet decided which amendment he will accept, or whether he is simply minded to accept some amendments in principle.

New clause 18, tabled by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, deals with a hunt that begins in the Republic of Ireland. New clause 32 deals with a hunt that begins and ends in the Republic, and the key words are: if a wild mammal is hunted in Northern Ireland only incidentally". In that case, there would be no deliberate attempt to hunt in Northern Ireland, but the new clause recognises that a mammal being hunted, probably a fox, would pass to and fro across the border with no knowledge of what it was doing. The hon. Member for Worcester recognises that hunt followers will pass across the border without necessarily knowing where they are. I mention those points because they highlight the real legislative and legal difficulties that are bound to arise in such situations.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) pertinently asked whether the hon. Member for Worcester intends to accept amendment No. 101, which would provide that the Bill would not extend to Northern Ireland. If the hon. Gentleman accepts that amendment, he will be consistent only with the inconsistency that he has shown in the remarkably inept way in which he drafted the Bill. He subsequently redrafted it and attempted, at dead of night only 36 hours ago, wholly to reframe it through new clause 35, which was rightly not selected.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), in an earlier intervention, rightly pointed out that if new clause 35 were to be considered, it would propose to abolish hunting by adding an offence to the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, which the House passed by common consent two years ago. That would have been totally out of order, but the relevant point is that the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 does not extend to Northern Ireland. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Worcester now intends that the Bill should extend to Northern Ireland.

Mr. Garnier

He does not know, either.

Sir Nicholas Lyell

The hon. Member for Worcester could intervene to clarify the position. It may be helpful to the hon. Gentleman if I outline, briefly but in a little detail, the problems that he has to tackle and the reasons why he has tackle them.

The reason why we must make an exception for the border is founded on comity of nations and on the ability of two nations—both, in this case, members of the European Union—to live peaceably together and ensure that their laws amalgamate satisfactorily. This is not the point at which to discuss the effects of the European convention on human rights, although I am sure that we shall discuss it further. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is open, there is a common travel area, people are free to pass and repass lawfully, there are no fences and customs points, and most of it is not marked up. Passing the Bill would be discriminatory and disproportionate.

Another problem of this badly drafted Bill, which is equally relevant to new clause 35, is that hunting is not defined. One does not know whether subscribers to the pack, followers on foot, on horseback or in cars, or only the huntsmen, would be hunting. How would people who were riding, driving or walking across the border and anxious not to transgress the law, show their intent to return to the Republic of Ireland after the hunt? Is it the duty of someone on horseback to whip the hounds off when the border is crossed, notwithstanding that he is not the whipper-in? Should people disengage entirely from the hunt when the border is crossed and go back across the border, therefore depriving themselves of their right to pass and repass?

Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North)

indicated dissent.

Sir Nicholas Lyell

The hon. Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) shakes his head, sniggers and giggles. It is plain that he has not begun to think through these important issues. He does not recognise the seriousness of the fact that we are dealing with criminal law, and willingness to criminalise people. Let us keep away from the point of principle; we are dealing with a point of detail.

Mr. Gardiner

The right hon. and learned Gentleman must appreciate that, if hunting with dogs became illegal, people would not engage in it, so innocent bystanders would not face the problem of being brought into it.

Sir Nicholas Lyell

The hon. Gentleman has clearly only just entered the debate, and does not even know what it is about, which epitomises the difficulty the country faces with the Bill: it criminalises hunting, and is supported by people who do not know what they are doing, who wander into a debate without taking the trouble to listen—

Mr. Cawsey

Three quarters of the people of this country support it.

Sir Nicholas Lyell

I understand that the hon. Gentleman has been the cheeky chappie throughout. He says that three quarters of Britain supports the Bill, but it is as little understood by those people, whom he bogusly claims support his position, as it is by the hon. Member for Brent, North, who is known in the House as a man of considerable expertise in the areas that he understands. We usually listen to his contributions with respect, but today he has seen fit to arrive late and to giggle with his hon. Friends, and he made an intervention that showed that he does not know or care what he is talking about.

The hon. Gentleman is talking about criminalising fellow United Kingdom subjects, and citizens of the Republic of Ireland, who would have lawfully started a hunt in their own country, and crossed the border after a fox and the chasing hounds.

To give him credit, the hon. Member for Worcester has at least begun to realise that there is a problem, and, for the very first time in the long and turgid course of the Bill, has given the first signs that he is prepared to discuss seriously with those who disagree with him some of the problems related to his Bill. I genuinely welcome that.

The hon. Member for Vauxhall, who is not in her place, describes herself as a member of the Middle Way Group. I am not, but I am willing to look sensibly at this problem. I want—here I attract the attention of the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Mr. Cawsey) again—the country better to understand the problem. I do not believe that fox hunting is any more cruel than other methods of pest control. That is well illustrated by the fact that ordinary people living just north or just south of the border in Northern Ireland have many small packs in a closely confined area operating as a form of pest control.

12.30 pm

What we are concerned with now is how to deal with the problem in the most effective way. I am grateful for the indication that it will be looked at more fully. I recommend that the provisions of the Bill be kept away from Northern Ireland altogether, but that is a matter for further discussion. I do not wish to speak for too long in this comparatively short debate. I know that others want the opportunity to speak, so I shall sit down now.

Mr. Hogg

I shall speak briefly. I want to concentrate on amendment No. 101, tabled in my name, the purpose of which is to provide that the Bill should not apply to Northern Ireland. I rather hope that the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) might in due time try to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to state that that is his view. It certainly was his view 36 hours ago.

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) said, in the dead of night right up against the last moment, the hon. Gentleman slunk into the House and tried to incorporate his Bill into the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, which does not apply to Northern Ireland. It would be extremely odd if he said that his Bill should apply to Northern Ireland when, but a day and a half ago, he was prepared to concede that it should not.

Mr. Gray

That would not be out of character. My right hon. and learned Friend may recall that, in Committee, the hon. Gentleman proposed an amendment, spoke in favour of it, and then voted against it.

Mr. Hogg

My hon. Friend makes a sound point. I hope that the hon. Member for Worcester will in due time rise in his place and say that he accepts amendment No. 101, but I should like to say why he should do so.

Some of the arguments that I shall briefly make are in fact the same as those made by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is a porous one. People cross to and fro, and it is not marked. It would be an absurdity if people who were lawfully doing an activity in the Republic and inadvertently crossed into Northern Ireland should be considered to have committed a criminal offence. It is much worse when one reflects that the Bill enables a court to make forfeiture orders that would deprive persons from the Republic who had acted lawfully of their possessions.

The problem goes further. I think that it was my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire who raised the question of what constituted hunting. I should have thought that, if the fox hounds crossed the border even though the hunter did not, the offence would be deemed to have been committed. One is also obliged to ask what would be the position of the landowner on the Northern Ireland side on to whose land a hunt from the Republic had inadvertently crossed. Under clause 1(2), a landowner who permits the hunt—albeit an Irish hunt—to take place on his land in Northern Ireland will be committing an offence.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)

May I remind my right hon. and learned Friend that, throughout the Bill's consideration in Committee, we on the Opposition Benches pressed the Bill's promoter, the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster), and his helper, the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Mr.Cawsey)—to define "hunt"? They continually came back to the concept that this must be left to the common sense of magistrates. Will my right hon. and learned Friend, as an eminent lawyer, consider that point?

Mr. Hogg

Indeed. I should have thought that anybody associated actively when the hunt goes out is hunting. It is not just the person on the horse, but the foot supporter, the person on the bicycle or in the car, the person who attends the meet just to see the fox hounds. I think that many people would be deemed to be hunting within the scope of the Bill, albeit they may not be riding to hounds. The narrow arguments advanced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire and the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone are wholly correct.

There is also the question of displacement. If one prohibits fox hunting in Northern Ireland but it remains lawful in the Republic, as will be the case, the foxes will migrate to Northern Ireland. I should have thought that the farmers of Northern Ireland would be extremely cross to see a greatly increased fox population on their land.

There is a further point, which the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone raised: we all support inter-community relations across the border. Fox hunting is an extremely popular activity. The idea that one should prevent people from the Republic from coming into the north to do something that both communities want to do—something that promotes community relations—is absurd.

I shall raise one or two broader issues before I sit down. I am not in favour of accentuating the differences between the Republic and the north. Relations are sometimes fraught enough without making serious differences between them in the criminal law. In any event, it should be a matter for discussion with the Government and the institutions of the south before we pass laws that could criminalise the activities of their citizens.

My final point is about authority. The House is talking about devolution in the United Kingdom, and the creation of assemblies. It is likely—I hope that it will be the case—that we shall see an assembly in Northern Ireland. This is precisely the issue that should be left to that assembly, and, in particular, to the people of Northern Ireland.

I echo the point made by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey), who made it plain that, in her view, there is no support in Northern Ireland for the Bill. That observation was supported by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone. It is intolerable, in terms of democracy and liberality, that the House should seek to prohibit an activity in Northern Ireland when we all know that there has been no consultation in Northern Ireland, and the House has no authority from the people of Northern Ireland to support the proposal.

I would venture a bet—I am looking at the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone—that almost all the elected Members from Northern Ireland are opposed to the Bill. It does not have their authority. It is not for us to seek to impose its provisions on the people of the Province.

Sir Brian Mawhinney

I do not plan to make a long speech; I want to focus on just two points. Before I do so, may I say that I was impressed by the way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) introduced the new clause. I suspect that he knows that I have never owned a red coat and I never will. I have never had a posh voice and I never will, but I am proud of my accent. That accent gives me a legitimacy over and above my membership of the House to say a few words about the new clause.

Let us cut to the bottom line. The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) wants to see a number of his fellow citizens put in prison for up to six months for doing what has legitimately, constructively and helpfully been done and enjoyed in the countryside for generations. That is what the Bill is about. We now understand that he wants to do the same thing for citizens of the Irish Republic.

The hon. Member for Worcester intervened at the beginning of the debate to say that he was willing to accept something, but it was not clear what it was. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) welcomed that gesture, in a typically generous way. But the incident told the House something about the hon. Member for Worcester. I do not think that he maliciously wants to put Irish citizens in prison; I think that that possibility never occurred to him. That trivialisation of the criminalising of people is perhaps the single greatest charge that can be laid against the hon. Gentleman and his Bill.

We have been told repeatedly in the debate that the hon. Gentleman clearly knows nothing about Northern Ireland. There is a 300-mile border, which—as the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) so vividly described—has no regular indication to show someone whether he is north or south of it or whether his journey criss-crosses it. Local people have difficulty, so it is no wonder that the hon. Member for Worcester does not begin to understand the consequences of his own legislation. As the fox moves backwards and forwards across the border, unaware that it is doing so, and the hunt follows it, the huntspeople will be exposed to the threat of multiple arrest. The hon. Gentleman neither knows nor cares about that.

As the hon. Member for Vauxhall said, people own land that straddles both sides of the border. Sitting in his kitchen, a resident of Northern Ireland may be innocent of an offence, but people on his property may be variously innocent of an offence and guilty of an offence, as people move across the field, without ever moving off his property. The hon. Gentleman does not care about that.

Mr. Gray

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Sir Brian Mawhinney

No, if my hon. Friend will forgive me, I shall not give way, as I said that I would not keep the House long, and I do not intend to.

Numerous problems and legal difficulties will be created by the indistinct nature of the border. My hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone And I will both be able to recall many occasions when cows crossed the border. In some cases, the cows got dizzy moving backwards and forwards across the border—every time they did so, Brussels paid another £70 per head to some farmer. But the hon. Member for Worcester does not know, does not understand and does not care.

Clause 8 gives a constable the right to arrest without warrant, so we face the prospect of Irish citizens being summarily arrested—not that the hon. Member for Worcester cares. He is not even listening to the debate, and nor is the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), who might have an interest; but the House is, and, more importantly, the country is. Members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary will be empowered by the Bill summarily to arrest Irish citizens who may not even realise that they are in Northern Ireland.

Clause 8 also gives the constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary a right to detain the animals—the horses and the dogs—as evidence in subsequent trials. What thought has the hon. Member for Worcester given to that? Absolutely none, because he does not care.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Jeff Rooker)

The right hon. Gentleman is not as nice as he looks.

Sir Brian Mawhinney

I agree. I should not have had the nerve to say that about the hon. Member for Worcester, but, as the Minister describes him in those terms, I will agree with the Minister that his hon. Friend is not nearly as nice as he looks. The reason we know that is the Bill, and the contempt for the House that he shows in promoting it.

I said that I would be brief, and I want to address my second point. Earlier in the Bill's passage, the Minister said that he had assumed, on behalf of the Government, some responsibility for it. We understand why, because the hon. Member for Worcester is not safe to be let out alone.

However, the consequences of the Bill will affect Anglo-Irish relations. My question to the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone was not a time-wasting question. The relationship between the north and south of Ireland is one of the most contentious issues that the Government are facing, and they are facing that issue with Opposition support, because we all recognise the deep significance to the lives of people who are British citizens as well as Irish citizens, of—historically—getting things right for the first time in generations.

12.45 pm

The Government sit there, without a Northern Ireland Minister on the Treasury Bench, willing to contemplate, on the back of supporting the Bill, all the consequences that will flow for the relations between the two countries—

Mr. McNamara

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put, but MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

Mr. Gray

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Having heard that there is likely to be a closure motion, may I point out that those of us who are passionately opposed to new clauses 18 and 32 and amendment No. 101 have not so far had an opportunity to explain why?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael J. Martin)

The hon. Gentleman should know that a closure is within my gift, and he does not know what is likely to happen.

Sir Brian Mawhinney

I said that I would not be long, and I tell the hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) that I am almost finished, but I am making a serious point. The Bill addresses issues concerning the liberty of the individual, and we have examined them in detail. We are now examining questions of the liberty of Irish citizens who come into Northern Ireland, who may not even know that they are in Northern Ireland.

There are four Ministers on the Treasury Bench. It is worrying that they can sit there and not say that the Bill may have negative consequences for Anglo-Irish relations, and for relations between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland, stemming from the implications and the application of the Bill in this context. I say to the Minister that, in whatever time is available before the Chair exercises its authority, it would be helpful to hear the Government's view at least on this aspect of new clause 18, even if the Minister does not want to get into the broader issues that so exercise the House.

Mr. Bennett

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 150, Noes 40.

Division No. 209] [12.48 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Cooper, Yvette
Ainger, Nick Corbyn, Jeremy
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try, NE) Corston, Ms Jean
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Cousins, Jim
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Cox, Tom
Atkins, Charlotte Cranston, Ross
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Darvill, Keith
Austin, John Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Barnes, Harry Dobbin, Jim
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Bennett, Andrew F Dowd, Jim
Bermingham, Gerald Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Boateng, Paul Efford, Clive
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Etherington, Bill
Bradshaw, Ben Fitzpatrick, Jim
Brake, Tom Flint, Caroline
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Flynn, Paul
Buck, Ms Karen Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Burden, Richard Gale, Roger
Butler, Mrs Christine Gapes, Mike
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Gardiner, Barry
Caplin, Ivor Gerrard, Neil
Casale, Roger Gibson, Dr Ian
Caton, Martin Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Cawsey, Ian Godman, Norman A
Clapham, Michael Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Hancock, Mike
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Coaker, Vernon Hill, Keith
Coffey, Ms Ann Home Robertson, John
Coleman, Iain Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John Primarolo, Dawn
Iddon, Dr Brian Prosser, Gwyn
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead) Quinn, Lawrie
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Rammell, Bill
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Rapson, Syd
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Rendel, David
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Rooker, Jeff
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Ruane, Chris
Kelly, Ms Ruth Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Savidge, Malcolm
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Sawford, Phil
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green) Shaw, Jonathan
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Skinner, Dennis
Lepper, David Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Love, Andrew Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
McCabe, Steve Southworth, Ms Helen
McCafferty, Ms Chris Spellar, John
McDonagh, Siobhain Squire, Ms Rachel
McFall, John Starkey, Dr Phyllis
McIsaac, Shona Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
McNamara, Kevin Stinchcombe, Paul
McNulty, Tony Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
MacShane, Denis Taylor, Sir Teddy
Mallaber, Judy Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Marshall—Andrews, Robert Timms, Stephen
Martlew, Eric Tipping, Paddy
Merron, Gillian Todd, Mark
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley) Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Miller, Andrew Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Moffatt, Laura Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N) Vis, Dr Rudi
Mountford, Kali Walley, Ms Joan
Murphy, Paul (Torfaen) Watts, David
Naysmith, Dr Doug White, Brian
Norris, Dan Whitehead, Dr Alan
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks) Wicks, Malcolm
Olner, Bill Winnick, David
Palmer, Dr Nick Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Perham, Ms Linda Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Pollard, Kerry Tellers for the Ayes:
Pound, Stephen Mr. John Heppell and
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Mr. Joe Benton.
Arbuthnot, James Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Baldry, Tony Lansley, Andrew
Boswell, Tim Leigh, Edward
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Luff, Peter
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Colvin, Michael McIntosh, Miss Anne
Curry, Rt Hon David Maclean, Rt Hon David
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Maginnis, Ken
Fallon, Michael Maples, John
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Mates, Michael
Garnier, Edward Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Gill, Christopher Öpik, Lembit
Gray, James St Aubyn, Nick
Greenway, John Spring, Richard
Grieve, Dominic Streeter, Gary
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Hawkins, Nick Tyrie, Andrew
Heald, Oliver Woodward, Shaun
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Yeo, Tim
Hoey, Kate Tellers for the Noes:
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot) Mr. Owen Paterson and
Johnson Smith, Mr. Peter Atkinson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 31, Noes 154.

Division No. 210] [1 pm
Baldry, Tony Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Boswell, Tim Luff, Peter
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter McIntosh, Miss Anne
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Maclean, Rt Hon David
Colvin, Michael McNamara, Kevin
Curry, Rt Hon David Maginnis, Ken
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Maples, John
Fallon, Michael Mates, Michael
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Garnier, Edward Öpik, Lembit
Greenway, John Robathan, Andrew
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Hawkins, Nick Tyrie, Andrew
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Woodward, Shaun
Hoey, Kate Yeo, Tim
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot) Tellers for the Ayes:
Johnson Smith, Mr. Peter Atkinson and
Mr. Owen Paterson.
Abbott, Ms Diane Gerrard, Neil
Ainger, Nick Gibson, Dr Ian
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Godman, Norman A
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Atkins, Charlotte Grieve, Dominic
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Austin, John Hancock, Mike
Barnes, Harry Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Heppell, John
Bennett, Andrew F Hill, Keith
Benton, Joe Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Bermingham, Gerald Hurst, Alan
Boateng, Paul Hutton, John
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Iddon, Dr Brian
Bradshaw, Ben Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Brake, Tom Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Buck, Ms Karen Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Burden, Richard Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Butler, Mrs Christine Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Kelly, Ms Ruth
Casale, Roger Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Cawsey, Ian King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Clapham, Michael King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Lansley, Andrew
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Leigh, Edward
Coaker, Vernon Lepper, David
Coffey, Ms Ann Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Coleman, Iain Love, Andrew
Cooper, Yvette Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Corbyn, Jeremy McCabe, Steve
Corston, Ms Jean McCafferty, Ms Chris
Cousins, Jim McDonagh, Siobhain
Cox, Tom McFall, John
Cranston, Ross McIsaac, Shona
Darvill, Keith McNulty, Tony
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H) MacShane, Denis
Dobbin, Jim Mallaber, Judy
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank Marshall—Andrews, Robert
Dowd, Jim Martlew, Eric
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Merron. Gillian
Efford, Clive Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Etherington, Bill Miller, Andrew
Fitzpatrick, Jim Moffatt, Laura
Flint, Caroline Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Flynn, Paul Morley, Elliot
Gale, Roger Mountford, Kali
Gapes, Mike Murphy, Paul (Torfaen)
Gardiner, Barry Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks) Squire, Ms Rachel
Olner, Bill Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Palmer, Dr Nick Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Perham, Ms Linda Stinchcombe, Paul
Pickthall, Colin Streeter, Gary
Pike, Peter L Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Pollard, Kerry Taylor, Sir Teddy
Pound, Stephen Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Timms, Stephen
Primarolo, Dawn Tipping, Paddy
Prosser, Gwyn Todd, Mark
Quinn, Lawrie Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Rammell, Bill Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Rapson, Syd Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Rendel, David Vis, Dr Rudi
Ruane, Chris Walley, Ms Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Watts, David
St Aubyn, Nick White, Brian
Savidge, Malcolm Whitehead, Dr Alan
Sawford, Phil Wicks, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian Winnick, David
Shaw, Jonathan Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Skinner, Dennis Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch) Tellers for the Noes:
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Mr. James Gray and
Southworth, Ms Helen Mr. Richard Spring.
Spellar, John

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Leigh

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. At the beginning of the debate, the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) said that he was minded to accept new clause 18, but, in the recent Division, he did not bother to vote, and encouraged his hon. Friends to vote against it. Does that not portray his casual attitude to the Bill and to the rights of 250,000 people who wish to hunt, and to the situation in Northern Ireland? Why did he not vote for the new clause, having advised the House that he wanted it passed?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

No hon. Member has a casual attitude to the business of this House.

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