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UK pro-hunting groups challenge Parliament Act

[JURIST] Pro-foxhunting groups are challenging the Hunting Bill 2004 which received Royal Assent Friday one day after the British government invoked the authority of the Parliament Act 1949 and passed it without the approval of the House of Lords. The groups have filed papers with the High Court in London requesting a judicial review on the grounds that the 1949 statute (Parliament FAQ here) is itself unconstitutional since it never received Lords ratification. Since 1949 the Act has been only used to pass the War Crimes Act 1991, the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, and the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 2000. The bid for judicial review will be studied by a single judge of the High Court, who will decide if there is sufficient merit to warrant a review by the full High Court. If the Court were to overturn the Parliament Act, the legitimacy of previous acts passed using its authority would be called into question.

Pro-hunting groups also plan to lodge a protest with the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that the ban violates the rights of the many service industries that provide materials for the sport of foxhunting. Anti-hunting advocates argue that the ban pulls Britain into modern conformity with anti-cruelty laws aimed at protecting animals. Pro-hunting groups have threatened widespread acts of civil disobedience "with full knowledge that these would result in arrest." Such actions may include deny access to land for military training, which would have a disproportionately large affect, as most pro-hunting individuals are also large land holders. Other options include denying British Waterways access to rivers and streams on private land, a move which British Waterways admits could create "considerable difficulties", and denying electrical companies the right to erect pylons (support poles) on private land, which has been tradtionally done through voluntary consent of landowners. BBC News has more.

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