House of Commons - Explanatory Note
Hunting Bill - continued          House of Commons

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Part III: Codes of Practice

78. Under paragraph 38 the Hunting Authority are required to prepare, publish and, if necessary, revise separate codes of practice for each of the various kinds of regulated hunting, and one or more codes of practice for hare coursing.

79. The purpose of the codes of practice, as provided for under paragraphs 39 and 40, is to improve or protect animal welfare, protect the safety of the public and discourage trespass. The codes of practice must set out what the licence holder can and can not do, must make clear that permission for hunting or coursing must be obtained from land-owners and make provision about the manner in which hunted animals are killed.

80. The Authority are required to make provision in any relevant codes of practice in relation to the following practices: autumn or cub hunting, digging out and bolting, stopping-up, the use of artificial earths, interference with the quarry's flight and hunting a hind which is with its calf. Provision must be made in each code of practice either declaring that the practices should not be engaged in, or specifying the conditions or circumstances in which the practice may be engaged in. Provisions about digging out must include a requirement that the permission of the owner of the land where the activity is taking place must be obtained, and those relating to digging out and bolting must require that the time that dogs are below ground be kept to a minimum.

81. Failure to comply with a code of practice is not a criminal or civil offence under paragraph 41. However, in exercising its functions the Hunting Authority or a magistrates' court may take account of a code of practice and a failure to comply with a code of practice, and a code of practice is admissible in evidence in criminal or civil proceedings or in any other court or tribunal where it may be relevant.

Part IV: Offences

82. A list of offences is contained at paragraphs 42, 43, 44, and 45. The offences are as follows:

  • Prohibited hunting: hunting a wild mammal with a dog if it is not regulated hunting, as set out in paragraph 21, or unrestricted hunting, as set out in paragraphs 56 to 61. Participation in a hare coursing event is not prohibited hunting;

  • Unlicensed regulated hunting: this is where regulated hunting takes place without a licence or where the person in charge of a dog used in that hunting holds a licence but the hunting falls outside the terms of the licence or there is a breach of a licence condition. Such a breach of the licence condition need not be committed by the person who holds the licence for an offence to be committed.

  • Hare coursing: participation in a hare coursing event which is not licensed. This includes acting as an official or knowingly permitting land to be used for a hare coursing event which is not licensed, entering a dog or permitting a dog to be entered in a hare coursing event which is not licensed, controlling or handling a dog as part of an event. A hare coursing event is licensed if a person who organises it holds a coursing licence, unless the event falls outside the terms of the licence or there is a breach of a licence condition. Such a breach of the licence condition need not be committed by the person who holds the licence for an offence to be committed.

  • False information: this is where a person who applies for a licence knowingly makes a false or misleading statement, a statement which he does not believe to be true or he knowingly fails to disclose a material fact.

Part V: Enforcement

83. Under paragraph 46 a person found guilty of an offence under Schedule 2 is liable on conviction in a magistrates' court to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000).

84. Paragraph 47 gives a police constable the power to arrest without warrant a person whom he reasonably suspects of having committed, is committing or is about to commit specified offences. These offences are where a person engages or participates in prohibited hunting or unlicensed regulated hunting, acts as an official in an unlicensed hare coursing event, or where a person enters, controls or handles a dog in the course of, or for the purpose of, an unlicensed hare coursing event and the dog participates in the event.

85. Paragraphs 48 and 49 give a police constable powers of search and seizure where he reasonably believes that a person is committing one of the offences listed under paragraph 42, 43, 44 or 45, and that evidence of the offence is likely to be found on the suspect or in a vehicle, or animal, or other item in the suspect's possession. In these circumstances the constable may stop and search a suspect or, as the case may be, his vehicle, animal or other thing. A constable has power of seizure of a vehicle, animal or other thing where he believes that it is likely to be used as evidence or that the court may order its forfeiture. A constable can enter all premises (other than a private dwelling) for the purpose of exercising these search and seizure powers. All of these powers may be exercised without a warrant.

86. Where a person has been convicted of an offence under paragraph 42, 43, 44 or 45, paragraph 51 gives the court power to make an order for the forfeiture of any dog or any hunting article which was either used to commit the offence or was in the convicted person's possession when he was arrested. A hunting article must have been designed or adapted for use in hunting. The forfeiture order may include provisions relating to the treatment of the dog or article in question, and may require the person who has possession of a dog or article to surrender it to the police, who must ensure that arrangements are made either for its destruction or disposal, as specified in the order, or, if no arrangements are specified, must make whatever arrangements for its destruction or disposal as they consider appropriate. A person claiming to be the owner of a forfeited dog or article, who is not the convicted person, can apply to the court for the return of the dog or article.

87. Where a person has been convicted of an offence under paragraph 42, 43, 44 or 45, paragraph 52 gives the court power to cancel the person's hunting or coursing licence or suspend it for a specified period.

88. Where a person has been convicted of an offence under paragraph 42, 43, 44 or 45, paragraph 53 gives the court power to disqualify the person from holding a hunting or a coursing licence, for a maximum period of five years.

89. Paragraph 54 concerns the power of the courts to make an order prohibiting a person convicted of an offence under paragraph 42, 43 or 44(2) from owning or being in control of a dog of a specified kind for a specified period, which could be for the rest of the person's life. The offences in question are engaging or participating in prohibited hunting, or in regulated hunting which is not licensed, or where a person enters, knowingly permits a dog to be entered, or controls or handles a dog in the course of, or for the purpose of, a hare coursing event which is not licensed and the dog participates in the event.

90. A person who contravenes a prohibition order is liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000). A person can apply to the magistrates' court one year after a prohibition order was made for the order to be terminated, and may be required by the court to meet the costs of hearing the application.

91. Paragraph 55 provides that where the offence of knowingly permitting land to be used for an unlicensed hare coursing event has been committed by a corporate body, with the consent or connivance of an officer of the body corporate who was in a position to give the company's permission for the use of the land, that person as well as the body corporate is guilty of an offence.

Part VI: Interpretation

92. Paragraphs 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, and 61 describe the activities which fall within the term "unrestricted hunting", and which do not require a licence. The following activities can in certain circumstances be unrestricted hunting: stalking an animal; flushing an animal out of cover; hunting rodents; retrieving a rabbit or hare which has been shot; searching for an animal which has escaped or been released from captivity; and searching for a seriously injured animal.

93. Under paragraph 56 stalking an animal is unrestricted hunting if three conditions are met.

94. The first condition is that the stalking is for the purpose of protecting livestock, fowl, game birds or crops, or for the purpose of providing meat directly for animal or human consumption, or is to enable a bird of prey to hunt the animal after it is found.

95. The second condition is that reasonable steps are taken to ensure that once the animal is found it escapes or is shot dead, for which purpose the dogs must be kept under sufficiently close control to ensure that their actions can not prevent this objective being met. However this condition does not apply to stalking carried out for the purposes of falconry.

96. The third condition is that the person stalking is the owner of the land where the activity is taking place or is acting with his permission.

97. Under paragraph 57 flushing an animal out of cover is unrestricted hunting if three conditions are met.

98. The first condition is that the flushing out is for the purpose of protecting livestock, fowl, game birds or crops, or for the purpose of providing meat directly for animal or human consumption, or is to enable a bird of prey to hunt the animal after it is flushed out.

99. The second condition is that reasonable steps are taken to ensure that once the animal is flushed out it escapes or is shot dead, for which purpose the dogs must be kept under sufficiently close control to ensure that their actions can not prevent this objective being met. However this condition does not apply to flushing out for the purposes of falconry.

100. The third condition is that the person flushing out is the owner of the land where the activity is taking place or is acting with his permission.

101. Under paragraph 58 hunting rodents is unrestricted hunting on the condition that the person hunting is the owner of the land on which the activity is taking place or is acting with his permission.

102. Under paragraph 59 retrieving a rabbit or hare which has been shot is unrestricted hunting.

103. Under paragraph 60 searching for an animal which has escaped, or been released, from captivity is unrestricted hunting if two conditions are met.

104. The first condition is that reasonable steps are taken to ensure that once the animal is found it is recaptured or shot dead, for which purpose the dogs must be kept under sufficiently close control to ensure that their actions can not prevent this objective being met.

105. The second condition is that the animal has not been released or allowed to escape for the purpose of being hunted.

106. Under paragraph 61 searching for an animal which the person doing the searching believes is or might be seriously injured is unrestricted hunting if two conditions are met.

107. The first condition is that the purpose of the search is to relieve the animal's suffering.

108. The second condition is that appropriate action is taken to ensure that once the animal is found any suffering is relieved, for which purpose the dogs must be kept under sufficiently close control to ensure that their actions can not prevent this objective being met.

109. Paragraph 62 allows the Secretary of State to add an activity to, or remove an activity from, the list of unrestricted hunting activities by means of statutory instrument, which must be laid in draft before, and approved by, both Houses of Parliament.

110. Paragraph 63 defines a number of expressions which appear in Schedule 2.

111. A dog "belongs" to a person if he owns it; or is in charge of it; or has control of it.

112. A person is "in charge of a dog" if he has a sole or shared responsibility for controlling or directing it, or if he is responsible for giving directions concerning the dog's deployment.

113. A "hunt" is a body of people who combine wholly or partly in order to hunt wild mammals with dogs.

114. "Hunting" a wild mammal with a dog includes in particular where a person engages or participates in the pursuit of a wild mammal and one or more dogs are used in the pursuit. It is not necessary for the person to have employed the dog or dogs or for them to be under his control.

115. Land "belongs" to a person if he owns an interest in it, or manages or controls it, or occupies it.

116. A "licence-holder" is the holder of a personal hunting licence or a group hunting licence.

117. "Wild mammal" includes a wild mammal which has been bred or tamed for the purpose of being hunted or for any other purpose; a wild mammal which is in captivity or confinement; a wild mammal which has escaped or been released from captivity or confinement; and any mammal which is living wild.

Schedule 3: Hunting with dogs: Prohibition

Part I: Prohibition

118. Schedule 3 makes it an offence to hunt wild mammals with dogs except in certain limited circumstances which are specified in the Schedule.

119. Paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Schedule 3 set out the different hunting offences. An offence may be committed :-

  • under paragraph 1 by a person who hunts a wild mammal with a dog. The hunting concerned must have been deliberate on the part of the person concerned (rather than the dog). Since hunting of its nature requires intent on the part of the hunter there is no need to include an explicit reference to intent.

  • under paragraph 2 by an owner or occupier of land or a person who manages or controls it who knowingly permits another person to enter the land to hunt a wild mammal with a dog.

  • under paragraph 3 by the owner, or person in charge or control, of a dog who permits another person to use it to hunt a wild mammal.

  • under paragraph 4 by a person who participates in a hare coursing event or allows his land to be used for such an event. This includes entering a dog or permitting a dog to be entered in a hare coursing event, controlling or handling a dog as part of an event, acting as an official or knowingly permitting land to be used for a hare coursing event.

120. Under paragraph 5 a person found guilty of an offence under paragraph 1, 2, 3 or 4, is liable on conviction in a magistrates' court to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000).

121. Paragraph 6 provides that where an offence has been committed by a corporate body under paragraphs 2, 3 or 4, with the consent or connivance of an officer of the body corporate who was in a position to give the company's permission for the use of land or dogs, that person as well as the body corporate is guilty of an offence.

Part II: Exceptions

122. The primary offence of hunting with dogs created by paragraph 1 is subject to a number of limited exceptions. These are set out in paragraphs 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. These exceptions relate to the stalking and flushing out of a fox, hare or rabbit; the control of rodents; the retrieval of shot rabbit or hare; locating a wild mammal which has escaped or been released from captivity; and searching for a wild mammal which is or might be seriously injured.

123. Under paragraph 7 it is a defence for a person charged with hunting with dogs to prove that his conduct related to the stalking, or flushing from cover, of a fox, hare or rabbit and that four conditions were also met.

124. The first condition is that the stalking or flushing out was for the purpose of protecting livestock, fowl, game birds or crops, for the purpose of providing meat directly for animal or human consumption, or for the purpose of enabling a bird of prey to hunt the animal after it was found or flushed out.

125. The second condition is that the stalking or flushing out did not take place below ground.

126. The third condition is that reasonable steps were taken to ensure that once the animal was found or flushed out it was shot dead, for which purpose the dogs must have been kept under sufficiently close control to ensure that their actions could not prevent this objective being met (though this condition does not apply to stalking or flushing out carried out for the purposes of falconry).

127. The fourth condition is that the person stalking or flushing out was the owner of the land where the activity was taking place or was acting with his permission.

128. Under paragraph 8 it is a defence for a person charged with hunting with dogs to prove that his conduct related to rodent control and that two conditions were also met.

129. The first condition is that the dogs were not used below ground

130. The second condition is that the person hunting was the owner of the land where the activity was taking place or was acting with his permission.

131. Under paragraph 9 it is a defence for a person charged with hunting with dogs to prove that his conduct was for the purpose of retrieving a rabbit or hare which had been shot.

132. Under paragraph 10 it is a defence for a person charged with hunting with dogs to prove that he was searching for an animal which had escaped, or been released, from captivity and that three conditions were also met.

133. The first condition is that the dogs were not used below ground.

134. The second condition is that reasonable steps were taken to ensure that once the animal was found it was recaptured or shot dead for which purpose the dogs must have been kept under sufficiently close control to ensure that their actions could not prevent this objective being met.

135. The third condition is that the animal had not been released or allowed to escape for the purpose of being hunted.

136. Under paragraph 11 it is a defence for a person charged with hunting with dogs to prove that he was searching for an animal which he believed was or might have been seriously injured and that three conditions were also met.

137. The first condition is that dogs were not used below ground.

138. The second condition is that the purpose of the search was to relieve the animal's suffering.

139. The third condition is that reasonable steps were taken to ensure that once the animal was found any suffering was relieved, for which purpose the dogs must have been kept under sufficiently close control to ensure that their actions could not prevent this objective being met.

140. In relation to each of the exceptions, it is the intention of the person who seeks to rely on the exception, and not the intention of the dog, which are relevant. A person who uses his dog in the context of one of the exceptions will not be guilty of an offence if his dog has other ideas and acts outside the scope of the exception.

141. Under paragraph 12 it is a defence for a person charged with hunting with dogs to prove that his behaviour comprised solely of activities to which a defence is available under paragraphs 7 to 11.

142. Paragraph 13 allows the Secretary of State to amend, add or remove exceptions in relation to an offence under paragraph 1 by way of statutory instrument, which must be laid in draft before, and approved by, both Houses of Parliament.

PART III: Enforcement

143. Paragraph 14 gives a police constable the power to arrest without warrant a person whom he reasonably suspects of having committed, is committing or is about to commit specified offences. These offences are where a person hunts a wild mammal with a dog, acts as an official in a hare coursing event, or where a person enters, controls or handles a dog in the course of, or for the purpose of, a hare coursing event and the dog participates in the event.

144. Paragraphs 15, 16 and 17 give a police constable powers of search and seizure where he reasonably believes that a person is committing one of the offences listed under paragraph 1, 2, 3 or 4, and that evidence of the offence is likely to be found on the suspect or in a vehicle, or animal, or other item in the suspect's possession. In these circumstances the constable may stop and search a suspect or, as the case may be, his vehicle, animal or other thing. A constable has power of seizure of a vehicle, animal or other thing where he believes that it is likely to be used as evidence or that the court may order its forfeiture. A constable can enter all premises (other than a private dwelling) for the purpose of exercising these search and seizure powers. All of these powers may be exercised without a warrant.

145. Where a person has been convicted of an offence under paragraph 1, 2, 3 or 4, paragraph 18 gives the court power to make an order for the forfeiture of any dog or any hunting article which was either used to commit the offence or was in the convicted person's possession when he was arrested. A hunting article must have been designed or adapted for use in hunting. The forfeiture order may include provisions relating to the treatment of the dog or article in question, and may require the person who has possession of a dog or article to surrender it to the police, who must ensure that arrangements are made either for its destruction or disposal, as specified in the order, or if no arrangements are specified such other treatment as the police consider to be appropriate. A person claiming to be the owner of a forfeited dog or article, who is not the convicted person, can apply to the court for the return of the dog or article.

146. Paragraph 19 concerns the power of the courts to make an order prohibiting a person convicted of an offence under paragraph 1, 3 or 4(2) from owning or being in control of a dog of a specified kind for a specified period, which could be for the rest of the person's life. The offences in question are where a person hunts a wild mammal with a dog, or where the owner, or person in charge or control, of a dog knowingly permits another person to use it to hunt a wild mammal, or where a person enters, knowingly permits a dog to be entered, or controls or handles a dog in the course of, or for the purpose of, a hare coursing event and the dog participates in the event.

147. A person who contravenes a prohibition order is liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000). A person can apply to the magistrates' court one year after a prohibition order was made for the order to be terminated, and may be required by the court to meet the costs of hearing the application.

Part IV: General

148. Paragraphs 20-23 define a number of expressions which appear in Schedule 3. Paragraph 20 defines "wild mammal". The definition includes a wild mammal which has been bred or tamed for the purpose of being hunted or for any other purpose; a wild mammal which is in captivity or confinement; a wild mammal which has escaped or been released from captivity or confinement; and any mammal which is living wild.

149. Paragraph 21 provides that the term "hunts a wild mammal with a dog" includes in particular a person who engages or participates in the pursuit of a wild mammal and one or more dogs are used in the pursuit. It is not necessary for the person to have used the dog or dogs or for them to be under his control.

150. Under paragraph 22 land belongs to a person if he owns an interest in it; manages or controls it; or occupies it.

151. Under paragraph 23 a dog belongs to a person if he owns it; or is in charge of it; or has control of it.

152. Paragraphs 24-28 deal with consequential amendments. Paragraph 24 amends section 35 of the Game Act 1831. Section 35 currently provides that various provisions of the 1831 Act which relate to penalties on trespassers and persons found on any land, shall not apply to a person hunting or coursing on any land with hounds or greyhounds in pursuit of deer, hares or foxes. Since hunting and coursing with hounds and greyhounds would be an offence this exception would become unnecessary and is removed.

153. Paragraph 25 amends section 5 of the Game Licences Act 1860. Section 5 currently provides for a number of exceptions and exemptions from the provisions of the 1860 Act and the duties to be paid for game licences. These include the hunting of deer and hares by dogs and hare coursing. Since hunting and coursing with dogs would be an offence these exceptions would become unnecessary and are removed.

154. Paragraph 26 amends section 1(3)(b) of the Protection of Animals Act 1911. Section 1(1) of that Act creates an offence of treating an animal cruelly or causing an animal unnecessary suffering. Section 1(3) provides for a number of exceptions including for the coursing of a captive animal. Since coursing would be an offence this exception would become unnecessary and is removed.

155. Paragraph 27 amends section 8 of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Section 3 of the 1992 Act currently makes it an offence to interfere with badger setts. Section 8(4) provides an exception to the offence by allowing for the obstruction of a badger sett entrance for the purpose of hunting foxes with hounds provided certain conditions are met. Since hunting with dogs would be an offence this exception would become unnecessary and is removed.

156. Paragraph 28 amends section 2(b) of the Wild Mammals Protection Act 1996. Section 1 of the 1996 Act makes it an offence to carry out certain acts on a wild mammal. Section 2(b) provides an exception from these offences in relation to coursing. Since coursing would be an offence this exception would become unnecessary and is removed.

SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT

157. A ban on hunting with dogs as provided by Schedule 3 of the Bill would have implications for employment. There are four main categories of employment which depend on hunting. These are direct employment by the hunt; direct employment by hunt followers; indirect employment resulting from the supply of goods and services to hunts and hunt followers; and induced employment resulting from the salaries which are spent by both direct and indirect employees.

158. The number of full time equivalent jobs dependent on hunting is probably somewhere in the region of between 6,000 and 8,000.

159. In terms of national employment statistics, the short term loss would be limited and extend not much further than the 800 people (700 jobs) employed by the hunts, and some employed by hunt followers who immediately reduced their use of horses.

160. A ban on hunting would affect the farming industry; a number of different types of businesses supplying goods and services to hunts and hunt followers; point-to-point races; and National Hunt racing.

161. Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 do not impose any compliance costs on business.

162. A full RIA of the costs and benefits that this Bill would have is available to the public from the Home Office, Room 1385, Queen Anne's Gate, London, SW1H 9AT.

FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE BILL

163. The option contained at Schedule 2 of the Bill will require initial funding to meet the start up costs of the Hunting Authority. The cost is estimated to be £500,000. However, the Authority is required to ensure that, so far as possible, the annual income from licences matches the expenditure. Therefore, after the initial period, the Authority should be self-financing.

164. There is provision in Schedule 1 for the making of grants and loans to ISAH Limited, but no significant public sector financial costs are expected to arise. There are no public sector financial costs in relation to Schedule 3.

EFFECTS OF THE BILL ON PUBLIC SERVICE MANPOWER

165. Paragraph 12 of Schedule 2 provides for the Hunting Authority to appoint a chief executive and other staff. Paragraph 13 provides that the Authority may pay salaries, allowances and expenses to its members and staff. It will be for the members of the Authority to determine how many staff they wish to employ.

166. There are no public service manpower effects in relation to Schedule 1 and Schedule 3.

 
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Prepared: 8 December 2000