§ Baroness Golding
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What research has been carried out into alternative methods of culling wild mammals in order to enable the registrar proposed tinder the Hunting Bill to reach an objective and scientifc judgment as to the method of least suffering; and [HL888]
What proposals are being considered to ensure that where hunting is prohibited alternative methods of species management are conducted in such a way that animal suffering is not increased and that best practice is always observed; and [HL889]
What further research recommended by the report of the Burns Committee of Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs in England and Wales of 2000 has been carried out; when it will be published; and whether copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses; and [HL890]
When any further research recommended by the report of the Burns Committee into Hunting with Dogs in England and Wales of 2000 not yet carried out will be carried out. [HL891]
§ Lord Whitty
The proposal in the Hunting Bill is to establish a system for a registrar to make a case-by-case decision in regard to hunting activities to ensure that cruelty is prevented. It will be for the applicant to demonstrate to the registrar that no other available method of control causes significantly less pain, suffering or distress than the proposed hunting. The standard for the cruelty test is set out in the Bill. The definition of cruelty is well established in law: it is the causing of unnecessary or avoidable suffering.
The registrar must be satisfied that the proposed hunting would be for one of the purposes set out in Clause 8(1) of the Bill and that that purpose cannot reasonably be achieved by a method that would cause less suffering. He would do this by an objective assessment of the evidence provided by both the applicant and any evidence provided by a designated animal welfare body; and be guided by any relevant directions given by the tribunal in previous cases. If appropriate, on questions of bio-diversity the registrar may seek advice from English nature or the Countryside Council for Wales.227WA
Evidence relating to some of the issues mentioned in the Burns report was presented to the hearing in September 2002, including detailed studies of the humaneness and effectiveness, injuries, wounding and non-target captures associated with different methods. This information would be available to the registrar.
The Bill is concerned about hunting with dogs and not directly the issue of improving alternative methods of pest control. However, an automatic condition of all registrations is that reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that any wild mammal which is shot during the course of registered hunting must be shot by a competent marksman. Competence is a matter to be determined on the facts of each individual case and will reflect the appropriateness of the experience, skill and qualifications of the marksman to the difficulty of the shooting being carried out. As that difficulty will vary depending on which species is being hunted and as a result of local factors, the Bill does not prescribe a single standard of what is competent.