Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Twenty-Fourth Report


HUNTING BILL

Introduction

17.  This bill prohibits hunting wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales, unless the hunting is covered by one of the exemptions set out in Schedule 1. It also prohibits all hare coursing events.

The Delegated Powers

18.  The bill contains a delegated order-making power at clause 2(2). There is also provision for a code of practice at paragraph 2(5)(e) of Schedule 1. These are both explained in a memorandum from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The memorandum is printed at Annex 2 to this Report.

Clause 2(2)

19.  This is a Henry VIII power enabling the Secretary of State to amend Schedule 1 to the bill so as to vary a class of exempt hunting. The power is subject to affirmative procedure. We take the view that the delegation and the level of Parliamentary scrutiny are appropriate. In particular we note that:

the power cannot be used to add entirely new classes or abolish existing ones; and

the scope of the exemptions is, as the Department suggests, likely to require amendment from time to time, especially as this is a new scheme.

Paragraph 2 of Schedule 1

20.  Paragraph 2 sets out the conditions which must be met if use of a dog below ground in the course of stalking or flushing out is to be lawful. Three specific conditions are in paragraph 2(2) to (4). The more general conditions in paragraph 1 relating to stalking and flushing out also apply, but one of those conditions (in paragraph 1(7)) is replaced by the condition set out in paragraph 2(5)(a) to (e). Paragraph 2(5)(e) provides that the manner in which the dog is used must comply with a code of practice issued or approved by the Secretary of State.

21.  Although the code of practice will have the force of law backed by a criminal sanction and is, in our view, a form of delegated legislation, there is no requirement that it be published, or that it be laid before Parliament or subject to any Parliamentary procedure. We recognise that often matters of such detail do not call for a Parliamentary procedure. IN THIS CASE, HOWEVER, BEARING IN MIND THE SENSITIVITY OF THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE BILL, WE BELIEVE THAT THE CODE SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO PARLIAMENTARY SCRUTINY, PREFERABLY BY BEING BROUGHT INTO FORCE BY ORDER SUBJECT TO NEGATIVE PROCEDURE.

Conclusion

22.  WE DRAW THE ATTENTION OF THE HOUSE TO THE RECOMMENDATION IN PARAGRAPH 21 ABOVE. THERE ARE NO FURTHER MATTERS IN RELATION TO THE DELEGATED POWERS IN THIS BILL ON WHICH WE WISH TO REPORT TO THE HOUSE.


 
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