Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in:  Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 15:01 GMT
Hunting with dogs: Is delaying the decision the answer?
The government has promised six months of consultation before bringing a bill to resolve the dispute over whether to ban hunting with hounds.

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael told MPs the government wanted to find "common ground" but would use the Parliament Act to force through the new plans if they met obstruction in the House of Lords.

Earlier this week a huge majority of MPs backed an outright ban, but deadlock continues with the House of Lords, which voted in favour of allowing hunting to continue under new licences.

There has been speculation that the government wants to ban hunting in most areas but allow it to continue in upland areas.

Is delaying the decision the answer? What is your reaction to this week's developments?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

The Scottish Parliament has banned fox hunting and hare coursing in just 2 years. Tony Blair has had 5 years, and now we learn that it is going to be at least another 2 years before a ban is in place. In the meantime, many thousands of our wild mammals are going to endure a cruel and barbaric death. Let's get a move on, ban these anachronistic bloodsports, and then get rid of the equally anachronistic House of Lords!
Lynne, Scotland

Only if no hunting takes place during the consultation period. Why should foxes be ripped apart by dogs just because humans can't get their act together?
Derek Blyth, UK

If fox control is to be painful no matter what, I vote we choose the method that takes the fun out of it

Lorna Grainge, UK
If fox control is to be painful no matter what, I vote we choose the method that takes the fun out of it. This sickening practice of hunting is a symptom of a sick society with no respect for life. So hunting could be controlled! Are dogs to be allowed the customary, legal one bite - and is that per pack or per dog. As to myself, I'm not one to appreciate the finer points of a flushing out versus a disembowelling, but, in this refined age, it's nice to know there are connoisseurs who can spot the difference.
Lorna Grainge, UK

I've asked this question a few times and yet to hear a sensible answer: who exactly would be made unemployed by a hunting ban?
Matthew, Scotland

Class war. Satisfied?
Simon Moore, UK

I care not a jot one way or the other about hunting. Could the government please make up its mind and get back to the important issues.
Steve Harrison, UK

If the Lords agree with the Commons they are irrelevant and if the disagree they are obscene - ban the House of Lords!
Trevor H, UK

Stop hunting altogether. It's a sick sport.
derek oakland, uk

Fox hunting with dogs/horses should be banned. After all it's just a sport for people with nothing better to do. It's hogwash for fox hunting supporters to claim that a ban would affect their livelihoods. Farmers are heavily subsidised with our taxes - so we could start hunting farmers because they are draining our taxes so that they can go fox hunting.
Arthur, UK

Yes, let's delay the decision and hope that it goes away

Michael, Cornwall
Yes, let's delay the decision and hope that it goes away. Good grief. As for people who point out that there are far more important things to tackle in this country, well, they're right... But, tackling most issues in our constitution (NHS, Crime, Railways etc) is such a Herculean task that, even if solutions can be found, it will take years to formulate them and years to apply them. Fox hunting is a moral, not an economic issue; and it is a simple matter to ban it. I simply do not believe the Countryside Alliances claims concerning 'loss of thousands of jobs' etc... Come on England, it's time to evolve.
Michael, Cornwall

Will somebody please tell me why foxhunting deserves to be banned while Tony Blair says not one word about the massive cruelty of ritual slaughter - where food animals destined for the tables of middle-eastern minority communities have their throats cut and are left to bleed to death while fully conscious - a process taking minutes rather than seconds. Unless Tony Blair has a very good answer to this question, he will stand accused of massive hypocrisy - no doubt driven by the fact that urban minority communities are traditional Labour-supporters.
Tom Lewis, UK

I do not really believe that the majority of the population wishes to end hunting. I think that the majority is indifferent, but if pushed into acting will support a ban. Not out of any personal convictions, but out of fear of the vociferous (and often vicious) antics of the politically motivated 'ban hunting' lobby. I think that we are well served by the House of Lords for bringing some sanity to this issue. They realise that once fox-hunting is made illegal the same lobbyists will proceed to agitate for a ban on fishing and shooting.
Peter Goff, UK

Delay will be worthwhile only if the debate addresses the implications of a ban for the fox. It will be gassed, poisoned and snared, all of which are less attractive options. Make no mistake, the fox is vermin and must be controlled.
Alasdair Ogilvy, UK

Every now and then it should be allowed to go dog hunting using foxes. I think that would wake some people up.
Volker, England (ex Germany)

If we do have to control foxes, shooting is much more humane method than chasing after them for an hour or two only for them to die of either a heart attack or the body being ripped to shreds by a pack of hounds which have been starved before the hunt

B Turner, UK
So the main point of fox hunting is pest control. If we do have to control foxes, shooting is much more humane method than chasing after them for an hour or two only for them to die of either a heart attack or the body being ripped to shreds by a pack of hounds which have been starved before the hunt. Over 75% of the population of the UK wants fox hunting banned, so why at such a majority hasn't it been banned? Don't patronise me with the lines "oh we only kill the sick and old foxes" and "the foxes don't feel a thing". They are both complete lies, I lived on a farm for a number of years and I have watched my dad shoot rabbits before when they have had miximatosis, an injured fox and on one occasion a Mink who had entangled itself on a piece of farming equipment and was strangling itself. I see these as acts of kindness, But¿ Hunting foxes is blood sport and I oppose it totally. I have seen a lot of foxes and pheasants when bullets have just injured them or the hounds have had a bite but the fox has managed to get away, when they lie on the floor in obvious distress and agony and not "die swiftly". Myself or my dad have had to shoot the fox or break the pheasant's neck to end its suffering which is a very unpleasant experience. Apart from "pest control" which can be done by more humane methods what other possible reason can there be to hunt foxes in this way? The reason why I get so passionate about this subject and about cruelty in general whether it be to an animal or person is that life is short and precious, not just for us but for animals also, I just cant understand why people could take another living things life for fun.
B Turner, UK

I am a sheep farmer. Yesterday I had a fox shot on my farm as a fox was killing some of my lambs. We shot one fox, and it was reported to me that two more were hit but not killed. I now have a choice: I can leave those two foxes to a slow and painful death or I can ask the local fox hounds hunt to come here and find them so they do not suffer a slow death from gun shot wounds. What would you do? I would add that if the foxhounds are banned I will not have this option

Hunting actually benefits the balance of nature and helps prevent cruelty by keeping pest in check. Many species are on the decline because of pest predation and loss of habitat. Habitat is controlled by man and can help diversification but if we don't maintain balance species lose out. A good example of imbalance is the irresponsible release of mink into the wild. Animals like the water vole, coots, shrew and otter plus fish are all being pressured and predated to very low numbers by these vicious animals and the only way to prevent this imbalance is hunting in all its formats.
Gordon Thorpe, England

Attacking foxhunting, as was "reforming" the Lords is like an immature youth hitting his grandmother because he cant cope with adult life. The government cannot deal with the really difficult break down in social order in Britain: so they get really angry and break up the furniture in the home. Soon we will have nothing but broken bits of history in a rubbish tip.
Polly Loxton, UK

Delay it by all means. Why change the habits of a governmental lifetime? Procrastination is the lifeblood of this administration - it's the only thing they do with any conviction or expertise. It's also quite difficult to do the characteristic u-turn on decisions which haven't been made, but Mr. Blair will probably contrive to manage it somehow.
Chris B, England

Bigotry and class hatred has taken over from a genuine concern for animal welfare

R. Eynard, England
The RSPCA asks us to sign its letter to Mr Blair (advertisement in the national press 20th March 2002) telling him we would like to see fox hunting banned and asking him to reintroduce the (previous) Hunting Bill as soon as possible. As the RSPCA well knows that Bill would permit the hunting of some mammals with dogs but not others. It even permits the hunting of foxes with dogs in some circumstances. In view of this perhaps the RSPCA could explain why for example rabbits, who may continue to be hunted with dogs, do not feel the same pain that hares are alleged to feel, why rats, who again may continue to be hunted with dogs, do not feel the same pain that mink are alleged to feel ? The absence of a full explanation in a future nation press advertisement will confirm our belief that bigotry and class hatred has taken over from a genuine concern for animal welfare in the RSPCA.
R. Eynard, England

I agree in that people put too much respect on animal life rather than human. I blame Walt Disney and the fairy-like stories that are told. If foxes etc were such quaint and not vermin-like animals, why is there problems with urban foxes in places such as Bristol and London? The BBC itself in its nature programs have shown us this.
Anne, England

This savage sport should be confined to the history books, and it should have happened a long time ago.
Matt, UK

The real issue about banning dogs in chases is that a small minority in society hates the red coat class. They want to interfere in their lives anyway they can. Banning of dog chases does nothing to make life better for foxes. It is not a cruelty issue.
Edwina TS, UK

The animal world is itself full of cruelty

A.Tuckett, England
The campaign against hunting seems to bear little relation to animal cruelty. The animal world is itself full of so called cruelty. You only have to look at the domestic cat. Are we planning to have a ban on cats? The bird population would certainly benefit if we did. I think the sentimentality of some of the British Public is hugely misplaced. Animals do not think in the same manner as human beings and we are imposing our thoughts and values on them. A hunted fox is a clever creature and I have come face to face with hunted foxes which are completely unperturbed and are usually able to escape if they are fit and well. A fox that is shot does not have the same chances. Hunting results in the death of ill, old of injured foxes which would suffer a far more unpleasant death from starvation. However that appears to be acceptable to many people because it is not emotive and does not involve people enjoying a day out with the hunt. It also tends to happen away from the public gaze. I wish that the same degree of passion could be directed against the cruelty to children experienced in this country. We seem to care more about dogs and cats than our own offspring.
A.Tuckett, England

I do not see why we have to have the argument at all about fox hunting. This sport has been part of British history for hundreds of years. Is this yet another tradition which is going to die out? Foxes breed in great numbers so I don't see the problem in them being hunted - after all they are vermin just like squirrels. Can the protestors not see that the dogs are doing no more than the fox does to the chickens? A fox will go after a chicken and naw at it and bring it to its death in a most unkindly manner and these protestors are talking about dogs going after foxes. It beggars belief that they have no better attitude to what is a sport that many people have no problem with whatsoever. Why is this sport causing such an outcry? Do people want vermin overrunning our country? I should like a reply.
Chris Hawkins, Great Britain

Personally I don't approve of hunting. I am a 9-year-old girl and I think it is absolutely horrifying to think of the lives of innocent animals being swept away by horrible hunters.
Sorrel Jarman, Wales

Too much of the debate is about the rights and wrongs of hunting. More important are the rights and wrongs of banning it. Two points: (1) Things shouldn't be banned just because they are immoral (should lying be made criminal?) (2) Things shouldn't be banned just because a majority think they should be (was it right to ban homosexual activity when a majority thought it should be?)
Hugh Boileau, England

We in Spain laugh at you guys - you seek to ban hunting while we enjoy bull fighting! Also how many members of Parliament who voted for a ban would be the same ones wanting to make abortion even easier? Strange morality or what?
Tomas, Spain

Isn't it amazing that the issue of foxhunting can raise so much emotion when there are so many much more important things going on in this country?

Hattie Cripps, UK
Isn't it amazing that the issue of foxhunting can raise so much emotion when there are so many much more important things going on in this country and others connected to it? Surely the government has more immediate problems that it should be concentrating on. Leave hunting with dogs to the rural minority - I am sure the killing of a few hundred foxes every winter has less effect on the urban majority that the crises in the NHS, transport, crime, post office, drugs, losing production lines to other countries etc. etc. etc.
Hattie Cripps, UK

There is a high correlation between species welfare and numbers and hunting (both with hounds and guns). Hunting benefits foxes.
John Royden, UK

Foxes are nearly extinct in Germany because people shoot them as vermin. The same will happen in this country if you ban hunting.
J Colvile, UK

Only foxhunters respect a close season for Foxes, between April and August, shooters do not. I shoot foxes with a rifle and hunt them with hounds. Hunting is more humane, shots often wound for the fox never to be seen again, often to die a slow lingering death. I have actual experience and know what I am talking about, unlike the Labour backbenches and those who have an Enid Blyton outlook on all creatures cuddly.
Richard, England

How the anti-hunting lobby can claim that there are other alternatives to hunting is beyond me

Louise Hitchcock, England
How the anti-hunting lobby can claim that there are other alternatives to hunting is beyond me. Some have suggested that they could be shot by 'expert' marksmen, but this is more barbaric and more inhumane than hunting. After the fiasco of shooting farm animals during FMD and the 'missed shoots' that wounded but did not kill, shot by so called experts, how can they hope to get a clean shot on a fox in open country! We have destroyed all of the fox's natural enemies and to redress the balance we have replaced them with the hunt, killing off the weakest, the oldest and the sickest. Thus, we have one of the healthiest fox populations in the world, so in fact hunting is helping foxes become stronger and healthier, it is survival of the fittest.
Louise Hitchcock, England

The pro Hunting people go on about providing 'A Service', 'at one with nature etc' blah, blah... why can't they just admit it and be honest and just say that it's just a 'good jolly' which gets them high as a kite.
Mark, England

I grew up in the country and, as a teenager, I thought foxhunting was vile and should be banned. My father disagreed. Now, as an adult (and living in London for the past 10 years) I've come around to my father's way of thinking. Hunting is much the same as golf - tedious but if that's the way people want to waste their weekends.... Grow up and get away from your childish view of animals as cuddly toys. Aeroplanes kill lots of birds each year but banning planes would spoil all your summer fun in Ibiza. If the animal lovers out there really want a cause, try battery hen farming - much more unpleasant for both the chicken and the person who ends up eating the thing.
Simon, England

To Richard H from England, I would reply that hunting costs absolutely nothing to taxpayers as private individuals pay it all for. I suppose the next group of people which these lefties will take on is fishermen. There again perhaps is just too many anglers for the one issue pressure groups and labour backbenchers to take on. After all it might lose more votes than it gains. The hypocrisy of the anti-hunt lobby beggars belief. Enjoy your Islington based dinner parties guys. May you choke on the beef.
Edwin, Britain

Richard H England asks for a cost comparison of shooting and hunting and misses the point spectacularly. It costs close to £6,000 for every fox killed by mounted hunting. But that is £6,000 spent in the rural economy by followers who finance the huntsman and his hounds in exchange for an incomparable riding experience. The cost to the landowner is zero. Marksmen, on the other hand, would have to be paid by somebody.
Peter Presland, UK

Give me a comparison of hiring one trained Marksman with 50 bullets and a telescopic sight

Richard H, England
So - it isn't a sport pro hunt lobby? It's a cull. Ok one of you please tell us how much one hunt costs at the end of the day? How long that hunt takes, and lastly how many foxes are culled? Then give me a comparison of hiring one trained Marksman with 50 bullets and a telescopic sight. Then let us make this cost comparison together shall we?
Richard H, England

The killing of animals for pleasure purposes is wrong - end of story. Let's have a referendum on the issue - it will take less than 6 months to sort and it will be nice to see a 90% turnout with a 80% victory for my side!
Carlos, England

So ... The UK is going to become the next 'Euro-Disney'. Ban hunting. What's next?
Ronald Atherton, USA

Once a caveman, always a caveman?

Justin B., NZ/UK
There should be no compromise, if we give in to this minority of backward savages, then one suspects they will soon try to get bear baiting, and dog fighting etc. legalised. (Once a caveman, always a caveman?) If certain living creatures need to be controlled it's only because we, in our arrogance, have messed the balance of nature up. Therefore it's only right that it is done 100% humanely. If you have some sort of prehistoric bloodlust thing going on then don't be a coward, fight things that fight back and join the army or something useful.
Justin B., NZ/UK

I find it seriously disturbing that Scottish MPs should have a right to vote on what is now a totally English and Welsh issue. Fox hunting has been banned in Scotland without any say by English or Welsh MPs, so why should Scottish MPs have a say in England. Without the Scottish MP's voting, the vote would have been much closer, and may have changed without the guaranteed support from north of the border. If the government wants a ban on fox hunting to be accepted, why do they not ask all the (mostly Labour) Scottish MPs to abstain from this vote? If the vote is to be fair and representative, why not restrict it to English & Welsh MPs, whose vote should represent their constituents, rather than the Scottish MPs who have already seen a ban put in place where their constituencies lie?
Chris Strong, English Countryside

Labour were partly elected in 1997 on a commitment to introduce an outright ban on the sadistic practices of hunting. If it fails on all other counts then let it go down in favourable in history as the party that introduced political correctness in the field and quite correctly too.
Paul Lowther, England

Ban it now, no more delays

Terry Sessford, UK
Yet more procrastination and delay on this issue. I despair of this government. There should be a total hunt ban now, and the Parliament Act should be used to overcome the dinosaurs in the Lords. From childhood I have known and spoken to many hunt supporters and I know that Tony Blair is whistling in the wind if he believes that a consensus is possible. Most hunt supporters are totally ignorant of fox ecology and base their opinions on myth and deep-seated prejudice. Hunting is unnecessary and cruel - ban it now, no more delays.
Terry Sessford, UK

I believe that a compromise should be possible but the entrenched behaviour of the largely urban labour MPs suggests that their position is not based on facts or practicalities but on prejudice. I also think it is iniquitous that the Scottish MPs should be allowed to vote on an issue that is completely irrelevant to their constituents.
Bridget Guerin, UK

The will of the majority of MPs and their constituents has been made clear on countless occasions, so I think it's about time the government stopped prevaricating and trying to carry all parties with them and just got on with banning legislation. Far from being a distraction to the other issues that the Prime Minister wants to address, I think hunting will continue to overshadow anything else that he wants to do unless he finally bites the bullet now and concludes this matter once and for all.
Robert Crosby, Nottingham, UK

It is ridiculous that the ban is not a total ban. All it means is that special licenses will be given to those that can afford them or have the political clout to secure one. It is a nasty, nasty death for any animal and should be banned completely!
Ray Bray, UK

This is not a barbaric practice - what would be barbaric is finding some other method of killing off all the foxes

Stephanie Jackman, UK
I can't believe after the crisis of last year with foot and mouth and the hundreds of other things MPs should be sorting out that they are wasting time and good tax payers' money even debating this. Do people really appreciate what a ban on hunting with dogs would do to the countryside? This is not a barbaric practice - what would be barbaric is finding some other method of killing off all the foxes etc. when we are overrun with them - at least you are letting them fight in a natural way and what do you think would happen to all the hundreds and thousands of dogs that are breed just for this - yes they would be killed now that is what I call barbaric. Let's look at how we treat other animals - domestic animals, factory farming, testing on animals - and let's leave something that is natural for nature to take care of. People who do not hunt, shoot, fish or go coarsing should put their energies and efforts into stopping terrible cruelty to unsuspecting animals world wide and leave what has been going on for centuries well alone.
Stephanie Jackman, UK

The current tack adopted by the pro-hunt lobby appears to be "There are more important things to worry about". If that is the best argument that they can put forward to retain the status quo then they are showing how bankrupt they are of justifications for this abhorrent practice. A ban must continue to be pursued mercilessly. The compromise would do nothing more than licence barbarism.
James Crosby, Telford, UK

New Labour is becoming the most anti-libertarian government since Cromwell

George, UK
New Labour is becoming the most anti-libertarian government since Cromwell. If people want to kill vermin this way - why not? Most of Labour's inner city MPs do not even want to understand the economic corollaries of a ban- they are just happy to gloat about the misery they are causing, and the irony? -Well that is that foxes will be hunted down even more cruelly with poison, traps and rifles where wounding ensures a very slow painful death. Will New Labour mind? Of course not- it's all about Toff bashing isn't it? And this was a government elected to represent us all. What a mess.
George, UK

This is persecution of the minority, an infringement of civil liberties. I would have been more impressed if there had been a full House to debate and listen. There were less than 20 MP's in the House when I was watching. I don't call this democracy
Liz Brown,

Hunting exists in the UK purely because the farmers allow the hunt across their land. They do this not only because they see hunting as a pest control but also because the hunt provides important services, like fallen livestock removal for the community. It is unfortunately that some of the high profile hunts attract all the media attention but try telling the hunts in the Welsh hills or the Fells in the Lake District or many other similar areas, that they are the upper classes. They are working people doing a job in often very difficult conditions. Often being called in by a farmer who has a problem with foxes. Let's use the very small amount of time Parliament actually works for to address the important issues! DW, Monmouthshire
Derek Watson, UK

I haven't yet heard a convincing argument from the anti-hunt lobby that persuades me that foxhunting is wrong. There's nothing wrong in deriving 'pleasure' from hunting with dogs - no more than the 'pleasure' derived from boxing, or fishing, or even Rugby Football: all are pursuits that have significant 'uncivilised' elements. Moreover, if foxes are going to have to be hunted anyway, why on earth not make it fun? I'm sure the fox doesn't know the difference. By their own (confused) logic, the anti-hunt lobby must also disapprove of native Americans who 'enjoy' their brand of hunting, which is just as functional as ours.

I believe that this country has far more worrying issues to take care of

Mike Griffiths, Wales
In my humble opinion I believe that this country has far more worrying issues to take care of. I also wonder how city folk, who have never seen a field let alone what a fox looks like can dictate to people who know all of the facts and could quite easily run parliament as you obviously need no special training or qualifications and to be fair just simple minded and jumping on every band wagon that comes along in the off chance they may become famous or even the prime minister.
Mike Griffiths, Wales

One has to question the depravity of a mind that takes pleasure in the horrific and barbaric killing of an animal. Enough said.
Christine, Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Ban it. We banned slavery, child labour and bear baiting. All of those were socially acceptable for centuries, part of the social fabric and economically justifiable. However, all of them are clearly morally offensive.
A Somerville, UK

A total ban is the only way to go. Chasing foxes for miles, to then rip them apart by a pack of dogs when they're too tired to run any further is disgusting and barbaric. Fox hunting is not a sport, in sport either team could win, not so for the fox. Yes I do admit they're a problem to farmers and are considered to be vermin by some, but come on - this is the 21st century!! We're supposed to be a nation of animal lovers, let's act like we are and ban hunting. There are far more efficient and humane ways to keep the fox population under control. Personally, if it's not banned, I hope all hunters come back in their next life as a fox...
Tracey Smith, UK

As a lifelong vegetarian I think we should ban the killing of ANY animal no matter how it is done. What gives YOU the right to determine an animal must die for your pleasure - either as an immoral 'hobby' or for eating? The destruction of our water with animal waste, the near annihilation of fish species and the exploitation has to stop. We don't live in the dark ages any more. The world could produce enough food for everyone to have their fill if we stopped breeding animals as one of the most inefficient food production methods there is. It takes acres of land and years of production to send one beef to market, yet the same acreage and effort can feed a large number of people far longer, far better and more nutritiously. As to why anyone in their right mind would want to chase a fox, which is inedible anyway, with a pack of almost wild dogs is beyond the comprehension of any sane person.
Arthur, UK

The killing of the animal is only a tiny part of what 'blood sports' are about

Derek Ferguson, UK
I do not hunt, but I both fish and shoot. Yes I kill animals but don't enjoy the killing per se. The killing of the animal is only a tiny part of what 'blood sports' are about. Although I don't eat everything I kill (e.g. cannibalistic trout, carrion crows, magpies etc) I have the utmost respect for all animals. I know people who hunt and they generally feel the same. I am neither a member of the upper class or a snob (Gorbals Glasgow now Yorkshire) but I respect the wishes of both the people who wish to hunt and the farmers who wish to allow it on their land. My worry is that if hunting with hounds is banned then the next in line will either be fishing or shooting. This piecemeal destruction will continue until so called exploitation of animals is allowed. This will include intensive farming. For this reason many other and myself fishers/shooters are against a ban on hunting.
Derek Ferguson, UK

This fox hunting debate is succeeding in taking the heat away from Stephen Byers
John Snmyth, England

Jon Booth needs education it what democracy is. It's not declaring a government illegal because the voters couldn't be bothered to go and vote. Not going to vote means accepting whoever wins!
Volker, England

A curious time to have a vote on whether or not to keep pest control. Especially when there is real work to be done like getting the national transport system sorted or cracking down on crime. I'm sure there must be a reason behind this little distraction.
Phil, UK

These people are only law abiding until the law gets changed. Hunting is cruel. That is quite obvious to the simplest mind.
Graham, UK

If I was a fox I would rather be coursed by a dog than poisoned or caught in a trap

Gillian Beckett, Norfolk England
If I was a fox I would rather be coursed by a dog than poisoned or caught in a trap. The same with the hare, it has more chance to get away from a dog than these people with bolt guns. The government should come and live in the country for a while to see to see how us country people live, than sitting on his bum in London thinking he knows the lot when he knows nothing.
Gillian Beckett, Norfolk England

To those who think it's a waste of Parliamentary time. Since 1997, Parliament has voted 4 times to ban hunting. On all previous occasions, the government has been too frightened (why, I don't know) to push it through. So taking 4 attempts to get something that parliament and the people overwhelming want to law - now that's what I call a waste of time. Let's ban and get it over with!
Rik Black, England

Seems like the first step in a route to a different society in the UK, which a minority want us to live in. Fox hunting is an easy start for a so-called group of animal lovers. Banning foxhunting today, what's tomorrows gripe? If they succeed with this I doubt whether they'd be satisfied. Next step? My guess is National Hunt Racing, so enjoy the Grand National in a couple of weeks as once fox hunting's out of the way then that'll be next on the list. This is, as has always been said, not just about fox hunting but a way of life which a very small section of society want to change.
Kevin W, UK

I utterly reject the attempt to brand those in the countryside and those in the towns

Mr Elliott, England
I am truly saddened to see people divided like this. I utterly reject the attempt to brand those in the countryside and those in the towns. I respect the views of those whose employment could be affected by any possible ban on hunting whilst I see the possible immorality in hunting foxes in this way. However, surely we shouldn't lambast people on this issue when we ignore more serious problems in our society. Such as issues of morality, the care for the elderly, respectable education & health, fair-trade, food production, commitment to peace efforts, transport, pollution, minority exclusion, etc. Please, everyone calm. We should care about animal welfare and human welfare.
Mr Elliott, England

The House of Lords have proved that they are obsolete and do not represent the people. Probably too many of them are upper class twits.
Richard Bagnall, UK

This is a complete waste of time and money when the government has far more important issues to discuss. Lots of people will lose their jobs if the ban is enforced resulting in further weakening of the economy.
Nic Sevenoaks, UK

Hunting foxes may be cruel but no more so than nature itself

Dave Edwards, UK
Utter dismay. I don't hunt or wish to hunt. But I'm very concerned that vocal minority has managed to convince politicians to restrict the right of law-abiding citizens to do as they wish on their own property. Hunting foxes may be cruel but no more so than nature itself.
Andy D, UK

I suspect that Tony Banks had best enjoy his chosen sport, coarse fishing, while he can because it's almost certain that anglers are a future target of the animal rights lobby.
Dave Edwards, UK

Foxhunting is cruel - there's no two ways about that. But no-one has ever answered the question for me as to why they can't do drag hunting instead. Take the scent from an animal and the dogs and horses follow that. Nothing gets killed and the dogs and horses have a great day out.
Jean, England

To all of the hunters - come to Texas if it gets too crazy over there - you are more than welcome to bring your dogs and foxes over and hunt anytime

Chris, Texas USA
This is just a typical piece of ridiculous legislation authored by the crazy animal-rights left that has permeated England. Wake up folks and learn to appreciate your country's traditions. If you don't like them, live in the city and forget about it. And to all of the hunters - come to Texas if it gets too crazy over there - you are more than welcome to bring your dogs and foxes over and hunt anytime.
Chris, Texas USA

I despair. Animals kill other animals, it is a fact of nature. If some people get kicks out of following a pack of hounds around the Country whilst they hunt for prey, well fine. After all plenty of people go on Safari in Africa to watch lions who kill cute antelope, so what's the difference? What message does this send the poverty stricken of the World; the people of Afghanistan; the people of the Middle East? Truly, the anti-hunt lobby wish to fiddle whilst the World burns.
Adrian, UK

It is time to end this brutal sadistic and uncivilised practice once and for all. Licensing will never be accepted by the opponents of this barbarity and a total hunt ban now is the will of the people and parliament. The government must realise this and act.
Mark Oliver, UK

Would you like to see more guns being fired around the countryside?

Sally, UK
Nothing else kills a fox..... so what will happen if you ban hunting with dogs? Would you like to see more guns being fired around the countryside? Poisons that could get into the food chain (birds, sheep, cows etc.) and also carried around on walker's boots from place to place? Traps - a slow horrific death, with the fox having to chew off it's own leg to escape? Any better suggestions? Let's also not forget that the ban would be 'hunting with dogs'. Not just foxhunting. Using dogs to hunt is the best way, they are natural born hunters, and they're not just the cute cuddly things you see in the Andrex adverts! Maybe, if foxes weren't as cute as they are portrayed and were as ugly as other vermin, no one would complain? Hmmmm.
Sally, UK

The pro-hunt lobby haven't got a leg to stand on. Hunting with dogs is immoral because people are pursuing an animal to its death for pleasure. They are not doing it for any notions of conservation! If we are to consider ourselves to be civilised then culling or pest control (whenever it arises) must be carried out in the most efficient manner and for that alone! I have no time for all those hypocrites who try to disguise their lust for blood as being an act of legitimate pursuit!!
Philip S Hall, UK

I have lived in the country most of my life, and have seen first hand the horrific cruelty of the fox hunt. These people who foxhunt will not consider drag hunting because there's nothing to kill. Why can it not be banned if the people want it, the House of Commons want it - what right have the House of Lords to hold up the will of the Commons and the people?
Joyce Taylor, England

A ban on fox hunting will not only have a serious economic effect upon many rural communities, such as my own in the Lake District, it will also not solve concerns about animal cruelty. The hounds used in hunting cannot be easily rehoused, so most will be put down. Furthermore, farmers will still need to control the fox population, the only option open to them is to resort to shooting, which does not discriminate between the age and health of a fox, as hunting with hounds does. Furthermore, shooting can cause as much suffering as hunting. A ban on fox hunting will also destroy a very important part of the cultural heritage and way of life of many people in rural areas. Fox hunting is not just the pursuit of the upper classes as is often assumed. A potential ban on fox hunting is the last thing rural Britain needs at this time, as we count the financial consequences of foot and mouth disease.
Simon Bickersteth, England, Bowness on Windermere

Quite simply fox, deer and hare hunting /coursing with hounds is unnecessary, cruel and barbaric

George, Scotland
Quite simply fox, deer and hare hunting /coursing with hounds is unnecessary, cruel and barbaric, a very inefficient method of pest control. However what is also sad about this affair is both the weakness of the Labour party to follow through an election promise (if they cannot do this we cannot expect any underlying truth from them again) and how the Lords (and Conservatives) are primarily at the end of the day concerned with their own personal interests and that of their like minded friends. Banning hunting by hounds will not affect the vast majority of people working or living (such as myself) in the countryside. Ban it now or soon (a phased ban) and lets get on with other matters.
George, Scotland

One anachronism votes to retain another. It just highlights the fact that we need to get rid of both of them!
Chazza, Scotland

18,000 foxes killed on the roads, 800 odd killed by hunts, mostly in sheep country. Ban cars? Why not.
V Green, England

Fox hunting is the killing of an animal for pleasure, and it always has been. The people of this country want it to stop, and stop it had better. The minority who live away from towns and who like to call themselves "country folk" should understand what the even tinier minority could end up doing. It is quite likely that there will be some sort of fudge, but the "victory" is likely to be pyhrric. Don't pick a fight with the vastly more numerous urban population on whom you rely for so much. Fox hunting just isn't worth it.
Mark, UK

The present government was only voted for by 25% of the total electorate. Only 50% of the electorate bothered to vote in the last election. Please stop invoking democracy in this argument. The Commons is NOT a democratically elected body in its present form.
Jon Booth,

How would the hunters like it if we set the dog on them and they had to run for their lives?

Sheralyn Byrom , UK
I think that all animals have a right to live. How would the hunters like it if we set the dog on them and they had to run for their lives? As for the votes - do they really think that anyone is going to give up the fight for saving these poor animals from being torn to shreds by these bloodhounds for minutes on end I think all hunting should be banned. lets us chase the hunters and tear them limb from limb and see how they like it
Sheralyn Byrom , UK

Can't people see that this is only a first step in abolishing this sport? Instead of banning it outright, they regulate it and license it to death. If you believe this noble sport, stand up and say so!
Daniel B. Rego, USA

How many of those MPs who voted for a total ban on hunting will be prepared to destroy the 20,000 odd hounds/terriers/beagles/lurchers/minkhounds many with hundreds of years of history behind them, which will be made redundant by a ban? Draghunting is not an option for dogs that have hunted live quarry. Who of those who voted for a ban will be man enough to face this mass destruction in return for the life of not a single fox?
Sally Baker, UK

Why is so much attention being given to foxhunting when the UK is sending humans to die in Afghanistan?

Ralph Maddams, United Kingdom
This is not a debate about hunting with dogs. It is a debate about the inbuilt so-called democracy within the UK.One upon a time, the Houses of Parliament were the ultimate providers of laws within the U.K. This is no longer the case. Why is so much attention being given to foxhunting when the UK is sending humans to die in Afghanistan? It all boils down to Party Politics. Dear old Tony thinks that he can regard the life of a fox above that of a human being.
Ralph Maddams, United Kingdom

In years to come, our ancestors will look back at the time we hunted with hounds with the same incredulity that we look back at bear and bull baiting. There will always be a minority who regard blood letting, in all its forms, as "sport" and of course they need dissuading of their aberrant view; that what mature democracy is all about.
Mark Dylan Stevens, England

Halal and Kosher butchery practices are unnecessarily cruel and are practised by a small minority of the population. Surely they should be banned too. Banning hunting with dogs is the thin end of an insidious wedge. Which minority will be next to get the bad news that their age old tradition is now deemed to be out of step with modern society?
Frank, England

If the purpose of going hunting 'to see a fox torn to pieces' was the object of the exercise then the wait could be a long one

Alan, UK
If the purpose of going hunting 'to see a fox torn to pieces' was the object of the exercise then the wait could be a long one. When the hounds catch the fox the followers are usually a long way out of sight. I do not hunt and have no wish to do so but has anyone found a better way of destroying the old and the sick animal. If you have seen the suffering of a poor mange infected fox you would choose to see it destroyed. But of course neither weak or strong are a match for the man with the gun. Still he probably will not have it very long once hunting is put to bed and attention turns to the shooter who is of course attacking a poor defenceless bird which is crying out for our support.
Alan, UK

All the people from the US, Ireland and Scotland leave English issues alone. The English should decide and all foreign MPs should not have been allowed to vote upon the issue. Fox hunting is less painful than being shot and dying in a bush of starvation up to three days later. Also it is a country issue that people in the cities do not understand, I think it is a case of watching the Fox and the Hound to many times. We hunt rabbits with ferrets, we catch fish with hook and we kill animals with a bolt to the head to eat. Humane ways of killing are a contradiction, thus a ban is to.
Christian, England

In a country that is inhumane to its own citizens (Diane Pretty) how can we expect any feelings for animal suffering?
Gladys Baker-Bainbridge, UK

Why should city dwellers wish to take away a core of myself?

Barry Hake, Netherlands
I was born and brought up in the West Country in a poor family but following the hunt on my bike was always part of the way of life in the countryside. It is still a part of my personal identity. Why should city dwellers wish to take away a core of myself?
Barry Hake, Netherlands

Supposing we never knew that foxhunting existed, and we were asked in turn suggestions for controlling an animal in a humane way. Would we really suggest chasing said animal across the countryside, petrified out of its' wits, and then having it brutally ripped apart? I don't think so. It's a great shame to see these out-of-touch Lords in powerful positions because of their money and landed status, making decisions that affect the lives of those they have no concept about. It's clearly dangerous ground.
Claire, UK

I am 14. This, however, doesn't make me stupid. In English at school, we were asked to write a speech about something we feel strongly about, so I am doing fox hunting. The way I see it, all these people are trying to get fox hunting banned because of the poor foxes. What about all my poor chickens, or my poor ducks, or my poor CAT! Don't they count for anything? And what about all the poor dogs that will have to be put down because they can't be rehomed? Is the suffering of all these animals really worth it? I mean, lets ban cars! They probably do just as much damage to the fox population! Besides, the hunts do a lot more than actually hunt. I hope you will read this, and take some of my arguments into consideration before jumping to conclusions about something you evidently don't fully understand.
Sarah , Wales

If Tony Blair can't decide what he wants to do about this, then why not let the people decide in a referendum?

Matt Hayward, Bath, England
This issue has been debated on and voted too many times recently. If Tony Blair can't decide what he wants to do about this, then why not let the people decide in a referendum? A sensible, open debate can occur, and the will of the majority can be translated into legislation. That way, Blair cannot be blamed for the outcome of the referendum - it is the deciding will of the people. Simple, if he ever thought about it. Personally, I am against fox hunting, but it feels as if we will never get anywhere with the present legislative process on the issue. If the sovereignty of the democratically elected House of Commons has to be invoked to get a future bill through the House of Lords, then so be it. If this cannot be done, lets have a referendum, for God's sake. If this is done, then we can put our priorities back to normal, and concentrate on the public services, world poverty and international conflicts. This is where parliamentary time must be put to good use, not on retracing the debate on a barbaric sport.
Matt Hayward, Bath, England

No doubt the same Lords who voted against a ban will be out with the Wellington boots and green coat brigade on the next Sunday club foxhunt. I'm from the country and I can tell you this so called "sport" is just a rich mans game, its got nothing to do with countryside ways of life.
Jordan S, Lincolnshire, England

The vast majority of people in this country want an end to fox hunting. They are not loud, organized or vocal. They look on, quietly and expect their government to do as they have promised. If the government fails to act, these people will quietly take their vote elsewhere
d bush, UK

I cannot believe that people are using the "jobs will be lost argument"

Neil JG Partridge, USA
I cannot believe that people are using the "jobs will be lost argument". The "jobs lost" argument doesn't wash through. Every day, we lock up drug dealers, murderers and we oust governments that we don't consider fit to govern. I'm sure that there would have been a few in the SS or in South Africa who would have also lost their jobs. Greedy, selfish economic reasoning does not justify brutality. There is no excuse for this in a so-called 'civilised' society
Neil JG Partridge, USA

The Anti-Hunting fiasco is prompted originally and primarily by class hatred. It is a stupid waste of Government time.
Barney, UK

No compromise. Ban hunting outright. As for your "saboteur turned hunter", I suspect she is merely an adrenaline junkie, and would benefit from addiction treatment. When hunting, coursing etc. are abolished, the anti-cruelty lobby can turn, if they wish, to battery farming, but - one bite at a time, as the mouse ate the cheese!
Peter H. Wood, Canada

No creature should ever be killed for sport; neither foxes nor fish. The culling of foxes can surely be done much more efficiently than with a pack of horses and hounds. Killing for food is another matter. If people want to catch fish or even rabbits to eat then that surely is within their civil rights, but killing for sport is just sick. The people who do this are worse than most animals.
DB, England

The majority of this country through our representatives in the elected House of Commons want to see a stop put to this barbaric practice

Andrew Law, UK
I am fed up with hearing the Country Side Alliance defending hunting with hounds. The majority of this country through our representatives in the elected House of Commons want to see a stop put to this barbaric practice. The government should use the parliament act to force legislation through(and while they're at it replace the House of Lords with an elected body.) They're quick enough to want the majority of the population to support the countryside when they're struggling to make ends meet. Instead of take, take, take (farming subsidies, compensation for slaughtered livestock "Buy British" etc...)why not give something by agreeing to a ban. Society is forever changing, hunters claim it infringes on their rights to choice. But minority's wishes have to be overruled when the majority sees it as wrong. You ask any child molester if they see anything wrong in what they do.
Andrew Law, UK

If this so-called sport is not banned after such an overwhelming vote by the elected house, will we be allowed to pick and chose which other votes that we wish to take notice of?
Edward Pugh, UK

Personally I think that hunting of foxes should be banned totally. It is just an excuse for a bunch of people with nothing better to do than running around the countryside tooting on their horns chasing foxes. If foxes are such a nuisance, shoot them out right, a much more humane way than chasing them to death. If the people want something to do then a Playstation 2 is cheaper and much more humane than a blood sport.
Thomas Martins, United Kingdom

Absolutely disgraceful! This is not the first time that anti-democratic Tory weighted House of Lords have scuppered a perfectly reasonable and popular bill. When are the British electorate going to wake up to the stupidity of our present constitution!
Philip Hall, UK

It simply incredulous that in a so called "democracy" your elected representatives can reach a policy decision, only for it to be held up or watered down by the unelected

Neil Pearce, London, England
So the Lords reject the ban. Personally, I couldn't care less one way or the other, but it simply incredulous that in a so called "democracy" your elected representatives can reach a policy decision, only for it to be held up or watered down by the unelected. It this sort of thing that completely disinterests people from politics, what is the point of voting? And we criticise Mugabe!
Neil Pearce, London, England

Martin, do you really consider foxes to be criminals? When do you think they last drove while under the influence or mugged an old lady? And to Christian: I resent you saying that because I'm Irish I should have no say in this debate, I still have to abide by British rules and hold a British passport. I want to be able to vote on this issue and let my views as a British citizen be registered but as usual if a referendum is held those of us in Northern Ireland will not be able to take part.

P.S. I am totally against fox hunting it is disgusting and people who claim that because I'm a townie and therefore don't understand obviously haven't taken the time to explore both sides.
Ruth Mitchell, Northern Ireland

Within the last few days there have been Talking Points on banning fox hunting and on whether the death penalty is legitimate. Are we heading towards a society where you can kill criminals, but foxes can't be touched? Personally, I prefer the status quo, on both counts.
Martin, England, UK

Is this the will of the people or the will of those who shout the loudest?

Caron, England
Is this the will of the people or the will of those who shout the loudest? I have seen the damage done by foxes and, where there is a problem, I believe they should be killed in the most natural method possible. In my mind this is hunting, the other options are poison (a slow lingering death), gas or shooting (often this does not kill first time, hence a painful death).
Caron, England

Thank God the MPs have had the guts to put an end to this perversion.
John, Scotland



Hunting with dogs?



Status quo

519 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

17 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Blunkett backs hunting compromise
16 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Downing Street denies hunting deal
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories