Hunting Bill

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Mr. O'Brien: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says; the Committee will have to take a view. I urge the hon. Member for Aylesbury to withdraw his amendment.

7.15 pm

Mr. Lidington: This debate has featured a thought-provoking dialogue between my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal and my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough, which has teased out a number of concerns that people outside the Room feel about the drafting of the schedule.

I have been at least partly reassured by the Minister's response, as have some of my hon. Friends, and I accept that the intention in the Bill is not to put people in fear or at risk of prosecution if they take sensible steps. My reservations about the Minister's reassurance boil down to the fact that he expressed too great a faith in the good sense of the courts in placing sufficient weight on the need to ensure that people outside this place understand the nature of the obligations that this new criminal law will impose on them.

During the Minister's response, he seemed to be acting as a good disciple of the late Lord Denning, whom I recall saying during his Dimbleby lecture many years ago that if someone must be trusted, let it be the judges. It is not enough to utter the fine and dandy phrase that the courts are used to interpreting legislation. We have the responsibility to ensure that people outside Parliament understand the nature of the new law that we are enacting.

I said at the start of our exchanges that the amendments were probing, and I do not intend to press them to a vote. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Further consideration adjourned.--[Mr. Mike Hall.]

Adjourned accordingly at seventeen minutes past Seven o'clock till Thursday 1 February at fifteen minutes past Ten o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
O'Hara, Mr. Edward (Chairman)
Banks, Mr.
Beith, Mr.
Foster, Mr. Michael J.
Gibson, Dr.
Golding, Mrs.
Gordon, Mrs.
Gummer, Mr.
Hall, Mr. Mike
Henderson, Mr. Ivan
Kennedy, Jane
Lawrence, Mrs.
Lepper, Mr.
Lidington, Mr.
Maples, Mr.
Michael, Mr.
O'Brien, Mike
Öpik, Mr.
Organ, Mrs.
Pickthall, Mr.
Prentice, Ms Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Rendel, Mr.
Shipley, Ms.
Simpson, Mr. Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Angela
Soames, Mr.

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