» Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Asked if the Parliament Act would be used with regard to the Hunting Bill going through the House, the PMOS replied that it was a free vote, and the Parliamentary process would go as it was meant to. The Prime Minister would vote for a compromise amendment, because he believed that it was genuinely in the interests of the country as a whole. He recognised that whilst there were very strong feelings in both Houses, both pro and anti hunting, he did not share those strong emotional views, as he thought it was more important to make a compromise in the best interests of the country. Equally the Prime Minister recognised that it was a free vote, which would determine what would happen.

Asked why the Prime Minister did not block the more extreme form of the Bill, the PMOS replied that we lived in a democracy, not a dictatorship, and that it was an issue that was a matter for a free vote. The Prime Minister was an MP, and like all MPs, was able to vote according to his conscience.

Asked why the Prime Minister had changed his mind from 2002, when he voted for an outright ban, the PMOS replied that since then, there had been the time to work out a compromise, including Alun Michael’s proposals about how it might work. The Prime Minister believed the new system would strike the right balance between the pro and anti hunt lobbies. The PMOS repeated that the Prime Minister recognised that it was a free vote and there were strong emotions attached to it.

Asked again why the Prime Minister did not vote the first time, the PMOS repeated that the Prime Minister had indicated his strong support for the compromise, as we had recently said at lobby.

Asked why Lord Whitty had appeared to say something different yesterday, the PMOS replied that Lord Whitty would speak for himself and that he reflected the Prime Minister’s view only. The Prime Minister recognised that this was not a matter for the Government, but instead, for the people, who had a free vote.

Asked why this matter was not a Government matter, as it was a manifesto commitment, the PMOS answered that it was a matter of conscience, like other social issues, and therefore, was one for individual conscience.

When asked again how it was a matter of conscience when several commissioned reports had been made on the matter, the PMOS said again that it was a matter for individual conscience, and this was the view that the Prime Minister held.

Asked why Government time had been spent on the Bill, the PMOS replied that the Government had in its manifesto a commitment to resolve the matter in this Parliament.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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