Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Battle of Parliament

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Battle of Parliament

Article excerpt

Byline: By Zoe Hughes

MPs saw it as an historic day to finally ban hunting with dogs ( but just hours into the debate angry protesters exposed an appalling security lapse at the heart of British democracy.

Just days after a Fathers4Justice protester climbed on to the walls of Buckingham Palace, five demonstrators stormed into the House of Commons chamber in protest at a total ban on fox hunting.

MPs stared in shock and although it took just seconds to bring the men under control it left palace officials red-faced at the ease at which they gained entry.

A full-scale investigation was underway last night but experts were already acknowledging it as one of the worst security lapses ever recorded in Parliament.

Commons Leader Peter Hain immediately ordered armed police to protect the rest of the day's proceedings, which saw MPs vote by a majority of 190 in favour of a complete ban on hunting. 356 MPs voted for a total ban with 166 against.

The ban will come into effect on July 31, 2006, after Labour MPs persuaded ministers to cut plans to delay implementation from two years to 18 months.

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael had urged backbenchers to give the industry more time to find alternative activities for dogs and horses, but pressure from veteran anti-hunt MPs ensured a last-minute change of heart ( with MPs finally voting 329 to eight in support of the measure.

It will mean hunts across England are prevented from taking part in cubbing or stag hunting and will have to wind up their operations after the 2005/06 season.

MPs began the day in high spirits with North-East Labour politicians declaring September 15 the day their 1997 manifesto promise was finally fulfilled.

However at around 3.25pm, five men broke into the Commons from behind the Speaker's chair to protest at the debate. …

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