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Fox Hunting

Volume 955: debated on Thursday 3 August 1978

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he is satisfied with the law on the protection of churchyards or the grounds of crematoria against foxhunters pursuing their hunt there, without the prior approval of ecclesiastical or civil authorities; and what redress can he obtained against hunts who do not seek such approval, especially in cases where funeral services are in progress;(2) if he is satisfied with the law affording protection against the hunting of foxes over private property when the owner of the property objects to entry of the hunt on to his property.

, pursuant to his replies [Official Report, 25th May 1978; Vol. 950, c. 672], gave the following information:Unauthorised entry into the land referred to is trespass for which the usual legal remedies in civil law, including, where appropriate, an injunction and damages, are available. In the ordinary way trespass on land is not of itself a criminal offence, although in a particular case the trespasser may be prosecuted because he intended, or actually committed, some other criminal act. It is also an offence under section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 for a person without lawful authority to use or threaten violence for the purpose of securing entry into premises where, to his knowledge, there is someone present on the premises opposed to that entry.In addition, there are various provisions penalising nuisances and disturbances in churchyards and cemeteries. These are sections 7 and 8 of the Burial Laws Amendment Act 1880 prohibiting riotous, violent, indecent and disorderly behaviour at any burial; section 59 of the Cemeteries Clauses Act 1847 prohibiting the playing of games or sport, or the wilful and unlawful disturbance of any persons assembled in a cemetery for the purposes of burying a body; section 2 of the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860 which, among other things, penalises molesting or disturbing a clergyman conducting services, including services in churchyards or burial grounds; and article 14 of the Local Authorities' Cemeteries Order 1974 which creates a number of offences and in particular makes it a punishable offence wilfully to create any disturbance, or to commit any nuisance, or wilfully to interfere with any burial taking place in a cemetery, or to play at any game or sport in a cemetery.The Government do not consider that the law applicable in these circumstances is defective. It is considered that trespass per se should not be brought within the amendment of the criminal law.