Memorandum submitted by the League Against
Cruel Sports (G12)
1. The League Against Cruel Sports campaigns
for legislation to end cruel sports and in particular for a resolution
to the hunting issue. This response is submitted by the League
Against Cruel Sports.
2. The League welcomed the formation of
DEFRA as signalling a new approach to managing the full spectrum
of countryside issues.
3. Executive Summary:
(i) the League welcomed the formation of
DEFRA and the transfer of some responsibilities from DETR to DEFRA;
(ii) the League feels that the hunting issue
needs to be speedily resolved, to best establish a new vision
for countryside policy and to promote new attitudes to conservation,
preservation and prevention of cruelty and care for the environment;
(iii) the League is concerned that institutionally
DEFRA is still dominated by Agricultural, Forestry and Fishing
interests. Recommendations for change to address these concerns
(iv) the League believes that DEFRA has missed
a major opportunity to kick start the new Countryside Agenda,
by failing to resolve the hunting issue by facilitating the passage
of the existing hunting Bill in the current session of Parliament;
(v) the League recommends that the hunting
Bill be returned to Parliament in time for it to complete its
passage in the current session, with the assistance of the Parliament
Act should that prove to be necessary;
(vi) the League commends the new start made
by DEFRA and in particular commends the work done by the Countryside
Agency to provide factual information on Countryside issues; and
(vii) the League commends the commitment
made to bring forward a new Bill in the next session of Parliament
which Mps will be able to amend and see through to the Statute
Book with the use of the Parliament Act should that be necessary.
4. The League supports the Vision set out
for DEFRA but feels that the real problem faced by Government
is one of an institutionalised mindset with regard to the Countryside,
dominated by Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing interests.
5. Approximately 24 per cent of the population
live and work in the Countryside. Less than 7 per cent of that
rural population is engaged in fishing, agriculture, forestry,
or any related industry.
6. Over 40 per cent of the population have
expressed a desire to live in the Countryside and over 300 million
day visits are made to the Countryside every year.
7. The Countryside is of concern to the
vast majority of the population, who see it as an asset under
threat from pollution, and from intensive production. The public
are concerned that all too often the so-called guardians of the
land and waters are intent on minimising public access and enjoyment
while maximising public subsidy. The balance of activities on
the DEFRA regulatory reform activities action plan confirm the
institutionalised concentration of focus on the 7 per cent of
the Countryside as opposed to the 93 per cent not engaged in Agriculture,
Forestry and Fishing.
8. The flaws inherent in the institutional
bias towards the 7 per cent of the Countryside issues were made
clear for all to see when the Countryside was "shut down"
because of the Foot and Mouth outbreak. It was weeks before the
scale of the damage to the non-agricultural rural economy was
realised and by then it was too late for many of the businesses
The League recommends that:
9. Further changes are made within DEFRA
to facilitate a more holistic approach to Countryside management:
(viii) to establish a public access and Countryside
recreation directorate; and
(ix) to move the work currently done on rural
businesses from the DETR to DEFRA, thereby ensuring that all Countryside
business issues are dealt with in the one Department.
10. The League is concerned that because
of its institutional history. DEFRA is still too heavily focused
on the minority of rural businesses and of those people who live
in, work in, or visit the Countryside.
11. The League appreciates that it takes
time to make changes of the magnitude needed and that the Government
has already made a good start by forming DEFRA and establishing
a new vision for it.
12. The Government has also made a good
start by making it clear that Agricultural and fisheries subsidies
should be drastically reduced. A phased move to relating payments
to environmental/conservation objectives, which address public
concerns, should be made sooner rather than later.
The League recommends that
14. Policy and funding priorities within
DEFRA are changed to facilitate a speedy move to more environmentally
(i) the recommendations of the Curry Report
should be phased in over the next five years, with the funding
(ii) DEFRA Divisions should be tasked with
matching all grants and subsidies to Agriculture, Forestry and
Fishing, to conservation and environmental management objectives.
Extensification should be rewarded and intensification actively
(iii) there should be provisions within all
environmental/conservation grant schemes for grants to be made
for conservation activities that are not, agriculture or silvicultural,
such as provision for sanctuaries and reserves;
(iv) DEFRA should make it a condition of
all grant aid, that public access is facilitated and that any
refusal may lead to the withdrawing of grants.
15. The League welcomes the moving of the
two divisions to DEFRA because it facilitates a more integrated
approach to Countryside policy making.
16. The League is however concerned that
DEFRA's work in wildlife protection is currently limited to endangered
species and dangerous animals.
17. The recent Government decisions to bring
forward new legislation with regard to hunting, suggest that further
changes to this area of DEFRA will be required.
The League recommends
18. A further strengthening of the Wildlife
Directorate to address the work and issues arising from the implementation
of the new Hunting Bill.
19. The League recognises that the work
done by the Countryside Agency has made a significant contribution
to the rural affairs debate.
20. The League welcomes the fact that the
Government, through DEFRA is at long last facilitating a resolution
of the hunting issue.
21. The League believes that a resolution
of the hunting issue is an essential part of and a precursor to
redefining public opinion with regard to land management policy
and economic support for rural businesses of all types.
22. The work done on "Rural Proofing"
policies and on developing indicators to research areas of rural
concerns has been very important and provides a sound basis for
The League recommends that:
23. The Hunting Bill is fast tracked to
ensure its passage at the earliest opportunity.
24. The Countryside Agency is asked to include
within its remit, publication of reports on visitor and resident
attitudes to environmental and Countryside issues, such as access,
environmental concerns, social inclusion/exclusion and recreational
25. The League welcomed the formation of
DEFRA and the introduction of the Hunting Bill as clear moves
by Government to redefine attitudes to and the management of the
26. The League is concerned that having
started the process of change with a clear vision, the Government
is in danger of getting stuck in the mire, by a combination of
the institutional inability to change and the political resistance
27. In revolutionising public attitudes
to the Countryside, the League urges the Government to have the
courage of its convictions and to enable Parliament to speedily
resolve the hunting issue.
28. The League believes that the decision
to drop the existing Bill was a serious mistake. It has led to
a two-year delay in resolving the hunting issue, which will only
serve to delay attitudinal change. The delay will lead to two
years of unnecessary cruelty to wildlife for sport, and to increased
levels of violence, havoc and intimidation in the run up to the
inevitable ban on hunting and coursing with dogs for sport.
29. The League believes that the Government
should, even now, bring back the Hunting Bill. The Bill could
be passed by the end of the current session of Parliament and
thereafter DEFRA could move on with the rest of the rural agenda,
confident in the knowledge of massive public support for a new
era of cruelty free, environmentally friendly Countryside policies.