Author Archive for Bradley


Why I think the hunting ban was democratic

Having read Foxy02’s article – Cameron fails to understand democracy – I got thinking about the argument sometimes put forward by fox hunting supporters. They sometimes say that the process of passing the bill that banned hunting was undemocratic. Clearly, I disagree with this, and have two key reasons:

  1. The Commons (rightly) holds power over the Lords
  2. Most people are in favour of a ban.

Before I go into more detail with these points, I’ll give a quick bit of background about why it is that some people believe the process was undemocratic. There had been attempts in the past to ban fox hunting, but they all fell through, either due to lack of support from the MPs at the time, or simply running out debating time. The bill that was successful in passing into legislation was originally put before Parliament by Jack Straw following the Burns inquiry, which concluded that some fox hunting “seriously compromise the welfare of the fox”.  Straw’s original bill offered a number of different options for dealing with fox hunting – ranging from a total ban to taking no action. After much too-ing and  fro-ing and going through all the usual processes of Parliament, the Hunting Bill was eventually passed by the Commons in 2004, but the Lords tried to block it, and refused to budge on the issue.

1. The argument often put forward by hunting supporters is that the ban bypassed the House of Lords by invoking a Parliament Act. This Act, which uses the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, asserts the supremacy of the Commons by stating that the elected Chamber can override the Lords by  preventing them from blocking legislation for more than two sessions in one year. I believe that this is the right thing to do: the Commons, who are elected by and accountable to the public, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the ban, would have been prevented from passing such an important bit of legislation had the Act not been invoked. It is my opinion that the Lords, the majority of whom are appointed internally and are not accountable to the public, should not attempt to block legislation that was clearly so popular. In addition, if people hunting proponents still disagree that it was wrong to use the Parliament Act, it was only resorted to after a lengthy period of ping-pong between the Commons and Lords, with latter refusing to accept that their demands would not be given into.

2. Secondly, the majority of the public are in favour of the ban, so when the Lords tried to block the legislation, not only were they going against the majority opinion of the Commons, but also that of the general public: “Among the general public as a whole, three quarters (75 per cent) support the ban on fox hunting remaining, while 21 per cent want it repealed.” [ and] Whilst I do not agree that Parliament must do everything the public asks for, we should remember that one of the functions of our legislature is to represent the people, surely it should be the duty of Parliamentarians, including the Lords, to recognise that a huge chunk of the public support the ban, and concede to agreeing to it. It is, however, shocking that Cameron would seek to repeal the ban and allow hunting once again, despite the fact that the vast majority of people are in favour of keeping

It should also be noted that members of the governing party were not firmly bound by their leader’s stance, who apparently favoured licensing of hunts rather than a full ban. Labour MPs, most of whom preferred the option of a full ban, voted for one. []

 In addition, I think it should also be noted that the actions of pro-hunt protestors were not always democratic: such as when a small group distrupted a parliamentary debate by storming into the Commons. []


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