Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hunt Supporters' Warning to MPs

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hunt Supporters' Warning to MPs

Article excerpt

Byline: By Zoe Hughes Political Editor

Complete ban would `set countryside alight'

Pro-hunt supporters in the North have warned MPs they will "set the countryside alight" if they back legislation implementing an immediate and full ban on hunting with dogs.

As MPs and peers prepare for a bitter end to the row over the Hunting Bill this week, the Countryside Alliance has warned anger will boil over in the countryside if a complete ban is voted for.

The group's North-East regional director, Richard Dodd, said a full ban on hunting with dogs would "set the countryside alight" and predicted Britain's rural areas could become a very "nasty place to be".

MPs are expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of a total ban on hunting when it comes back to the Commons tonight, overturning attempts by peers to introduce a liberal licensing system that could have seen a return to hare coursing and deer hunting.

The Prime Minister is also hoping MPs will compromise on the issue later today, with his official spokesman saying Tony Blair would back any amendment that reflected the Government's original middle-way proposals.

A compromise solution is unlikely however, with both sides last night refusing to give ground and MPs admitting they were in a fighting mood. One Tyneside MP told The Journal: "Let them bring it on."

With the Queen's Speech just days away, the Government only has until Thursday to find any middle ground on the issue, after which time the Parliament Act will be used to force legislation through the House of Lords.

One of the main issues for Mr Blair was to at least secure agreement over delaying the implementation of a ban until summer 2006 ( after the general election.

Peers though yesterday threatened a "kamikaze" vote against such a move, leaving the way open for MPs to introduce a ban within three months of the Hunting Bill receiving Royal Assent, possibly by February 2005.

Alan Campbell, MP for Tynemouth and a long-standing supporter of a full ban, said the issue had moved from being a ban on hunting to a "battle of wills between the elected House of Commons and the unelected House of Lords. …

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