The RAINE Committee have now compiled and submitted the first draft of the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill stage one report. Although the report has not yet been published, it should take into consideration the evidence presented from the six sessions held in Holyrood, as well as the evidence submitted by organisations and individuals by way of consultation responses and supplementary evidence. The committee will now be agreeing the second report, and this should be presented to the Scottish Government in the coming week or so.
Given the unexpected delay in business, owing to the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, it is expected that the stage one debate will take place sometime during the last week of September. When a vote is held as to whether to support the Bill into stage two, it is expected that every party will vote in favour. We have to remember that this vote is in support of the general principles of the Bill and not in support of every aspect. Without this support, progression through the amendment stages will be difficult. Stage two is vital when it comes to amendments as this is where the real difference can be made. The Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) has submitted a range of suggested amendments and explanatory notes for consideration by the Scottish Government.
In early September, the SCA hosted two meetings at The Lauderdale Kennels. The first was for members of the RAINE Committee so that representations could be made surrounding the viability and necessity of the Bill, and the lack of evidence to support the proposal of a licensing scheme. The second visit involved members from NatureScot Licensing Team and also the Scottish Government Bill Team. Discussions here questioned, if there is to be a licence, how best it could be created and administered without severely restricting the necessary practices required to work a pack of dogs effectively. Both parties were equally interested and engaging, and some very constructive conversations were had. We would like to thank Claire Bellamy and her team for being superb hosts and Louisa Cheape (VAWM vets) for her input on welfare issues.
The SCA will now be ramping up a lobbying campaign as the Bill progresses through stages two and three. It is important that we get as much engagement as is possible during this specifically timed campaign, and we will offer assistance and guidance on lobbying where it is required. Our campaign will be well-publicised so please ensure that you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and that all of your contacts are signed up to our monthly newsletter, the 'Heather Routes'. The hunt updates will now also resume and will contain lobbying details.