Sunday, 30 October 2016

Monday's debate in Westminster Hall for and against grouse shooting

Monday there is a 3 hour consideration and debate on grouse shooting in the second chamber in parliament, which is called Westminster hall.
Full details about the debate and the effect of backbench debates are here:
There are 2 grouse petitions to be debated - one in favour of grouse shooting, one against. The debate will not change law but will inform the debate, just like many of the dozens of back bench business debates we hold in parliament. We debate around 3 of these a week normally. The link above goes to the evidence session which was held previously. For reasons that I explain below I am strongly supportive of all field sports, whether it is fishing, or in this case shooting.

The background to the debate on grouse is here:
As is usual with 95% of all parliamentary debates there are constituents on both side of the argument, whether on the petitions themselves or in correspondence to me or representations made by lobby groups and wider local groups.
There are many environmental and other arguments, which you can see addressed on both sides of the argument, but the moorlands association has commissioned a number of reports like the one here:

There is no doubt that the work that goes into the support of the moorlands helps sustain lapwings, plovers and curlews. The moors need the support and maintenance that the shoots provide with their team of keepers.
The benefit to the pubs, like the Elks Head in Whitfield and the Lord Crewe in Blanchland, and the many local b and bs, and the incoming tourism that comes from the shooting, the visiting guests and their local spend is massive.

But the overwhelming issue for me is the massive number of jobs and economic impact the many shoots in Northumberland have. In particular, the areas of south Tynedale, notably Knarsdale, Blanchland, Allenheads, Muggleswick, Whitfield, and further afield like Kirkwhelpington, Otterburn, and many places in between, would be lost without the number of direct and indirect jobs that the shoots provide. Those communities have been very vocal in their support for shooting to continue. The direct and indirect jobs the shoots provide is well in excess of a 1000. Without fishing, shooting and other field sports Northumberland's economy would really struggle. I am not speaking in the debate as it is a backbench debate and therefore confined to backbenchers, but will watch it, and send a copy to all constituents in the usual way.


  1. This might help you with your 'selective' choice of evidence:

    We shouldn't have to do your job for you.

  2. Mr Opperman,

    You have selected two links from the pro-shooting argument. What about the large body of peer-reviewed literature showing that many native birds of prey are limited by illegal killing associated with driven grouse moors?

    You have also failed to recognise that the main petition was about DRIVEN grouse shooting, not other types.

    And your point about job losses is meaningless when we consider that many more jobs could be created from alternative land uses (that don't degrade the natural environment).

  3. You wrote that you would watch the debate. I signed the petition supporting a ban and was there in person in Westminster Hall. It was a truly awful advertisement for democracy, it wasn't even a debate.
    Your colleagues addressed none of the concerns raised in the petition. They waffled on about the wonderful gamekeepers, lapwings and Curlew. There is serious damage happening as a result of recent intensification of driven grouse shooting and illegal killing of raptors but this was hardly recognised and it will continue. I hope you felt ashamed watching the debate. I and many others left feeling very angry. We never expected to win the day but we did expect to have a balanced debate of the issues. It was obvious from the introduction by Steven Double that the government had decided to kick the petition into the long grass, and it was downhill from there on. A shameful day for parliament.