Hunting with dogs could be permanently illegal by 2005, says Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael after MPs voted for an outright ban on hunting with dogs.
The government had hoped to license hunts under tougher rules but the compromise was swept aside and that amendment withdrawn.
The bill now has to return to the House of Lords, where it will face stiff opposition, before it becomes law.
Should fox hunting be banned?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
We have a vocal minority wanting to ban hunting, and another vocal minority wanting to keep hunting, while most people don't seem to care either way. Personally I do not enjoy hunting or the sight of hunting, but it isn't really an issue. To me it just seems yet another stage on the road to a society where everything is banned.
Keith Walker, UK
To Kay, England: If you don't think that running down and tearing apart a living thing is a "real issue" then it really is time for it to be banned.
Gerry Noble, UK
Along with 67% of the population I do not support a ban on hunting with dogs. The common perception that it is an elite sport for toffs is totally incorrect and is blurring the real issue - that it is the best and least cruel way to control foxes and deer. No-one who lives in the countryside wants to see animals in distress - which is what would happen should hunting be banned and other, less humane controls be introduced. If you want to have an opinion on something, make the effort to understand both sides of the argument - don't let class prejudices get in the way.
The proposed ban on hunting will be another step on the road to destroying our cultural heritage, beside making thousands unemployed and devastating certain sensitive rural areas. But all this aside: wouldn't police resources be better directed to cutting crime rates and prosecuting real criminals? Why target a law-abiding sector of the population by a motion brought about through ignorance, prejudice, bigotry and jealousy? But what an effective way to screen debate on "real" issues!
According to the Country Alliance, the banning of fox hunting will be hugely detrimental to the way of life of people living in the country. Well, where were the marches when the Buses were being privatised, resulting in the closure of less-profitable rural services? Where were the marches of protest during the foot and mouth crisis which was so badly mis-managed by the government? Where are the marches against the widespread closures of local shops, banks and post offices? Where exactly are the priorities of the Countryside Alliance?
The vocal minority who support this cruel and vicious "sport" should not be allowed to subvert the debate into a town versus country argument. It is actually a matter of dispute between those who care about the welfare of animals and those who prioritise their "sport". The MPs who voted for the ban in the House of Commons reflect the opinion of the majority of their electorate. Thank goodness I live in a county in which most people abhor this barbaric activity.
Margaret Sutherland, England
I was amazed this morning to hear a Chief Constable suggest on the news that a ban on hunting would be impossible to enforce. Excuse me but a dozen or so of the social elite in bright red coats on several hundred weight of horse and lots of dogs seems pretty conspicuous to me. If the police can't spot them what hope is there for us and a crime free society?
Why do people believe hunting is only done for sport, for fun? The hunt is an essential part of countryside management and is a more accurate method of controlling vermin than shooting, trapping or poisoning, the alternatives the anti's would see happen in it's place. The hunt also contributes hugely to conservation of the land, and the government itself directs farmers to use the hunt for the disposal of fallen stock. A ban is a disgrace to democracy. More people are against a ban than for it, so why don't the politicians listen?
Juliet, Cheshire, UK
There are more badgers, foxes, pheasants and rabbits killed by cars each day and every year in the UK. So what's the answer here - "ban the car"? Bleeding heart liberals got this country into the mess it's in today, there are more important issues to be debated in the UK. This is just another smoke screen to take the heat off T Blair and co.
P J Washington, England
I was brought up in the country and live in the country and am tired of hunting folk claiming to represent the rural community. Even many farmers oppose hunting but are often afraid to say so publicly. Foxes rarely take lambs or properly-kept poultry - they actually keep down numbers of rabbits and other rodents. Foxes do not need to be controlled as they control their own numbers according to the availability of prey and territory. I have witnessed loose domestic dogs, not foxes, attacking livestock. Hunting is barbaric and must be banned if we are to call ourselves a civilised nation.
Vivien Pomfrey, United Kingdom
If you enjoy eating meat then the animal it came from was killed for your pleasure so why shouldn't people hunt foxes for pleasure? Meat-eaters who oppose fox hunting but don't personally kill the cow/sheep/pig/chicken whose body parts they regularly eat are the true hypocrites.
Hunting with dogs should most definitely not be banned. This is not an animal welfare issue, because no-one has yet offered an acceptable alternative. To waste government time when 59% of the public is against a ban is scandalous. There are far more important issues which are being sidelined due to lack of parliamentary time. This is unacceptable to the British public.
Marilyn Chubb, UK
Hunting does not pose a threat to the nation. There are no safety or health issues for non- participants. Parliamentary time is at a premium. So what possible justification can there be for the using the expensive state machinery involved in legislating for and policing a ban?
Ron Dyett, Biggleswade, England
I am amazed that so many people and politicians can get so hot under the collar about this subject. Are there no larger or more important issues in the world which are in need of this sort of intense debate? Even the ongoing saga of Iraq does not seem to inflame the press and public to the same degree as the debate as to whether or not a small group of people should be allowed to hunt or pursue an animal which is considered vermin.
Yes hunting with dogs should be banned. It is an outdated barbaric pastime and should be relegated to the history books along with cock fighting etc.
Ruth Ockendon, Laycock, UK
It is obviously an emotional subject as the posted comments show. Perhaps the only question to ask is this: is it right for man able to discern wrong from right, to kill an animal purely for sport? We kill other animals (not always humanely) for food but the fox we kill for fun.
Far too many people seem to feel that because 'most people want it banned' is a good enough reason to outlaw something. Governments exist to protect individual freedoms, not pander to the mob. And, no, I don't support fox hunting, but this ban is about class and politics, not animal welfare.
Police spokesman says a ban would be unenforceable. Perhaps, by the same token, we should make burglary legal too, given the woeful clear up rate.
If "townies" are to be excluded from the debate over what happens in the countryside, I see no reason why they should persist in subsidising it through the CAP. No taxation without representation. No representation, no taxation.
I have lived in the country all my life. Fox hunting as pest control? Pretty ineffective I'd say. All those lovely hounds to be shot? They only have a two or three year working life anyway before being destroyed as they are "unsuitable as pets". Rural job losses? No one seems to worry about farm workers; why are those involved in hunting any more deserving of our sympathy? Can't hunt supporters bring themselves to admit that they enjoy chasing and killing something that can't fight back?
I grew up in the country where I had to stand guard over my livestock (poultry) when marauding stray hounds came through our property. Fox hunting is just anti-social behaviour.
"I don't recall one million people marching to ban the practice." And there was me just beginning to believe that the Countryside Alliance (as the march's promoters told us) was not just about fox hunting. Obviously, I was wrong.
Pip, Yorks, UK
Of course not! Many would lose their jobs in the countryside and 'townies' should not interfere with our lives.
Neville Crack, UK
Where does it end? Should we ban slaughtering of sheep, cows, pigs and the abhorrent conditions in which we keep chickens?
Florence Donovan, United Kingdom
This is a bit similar to the row over halal meat. Halal is a practise that is deeply engrained in Muslim religion. This is going to be tolerated and rightly so. Let's stop the nanny state interfering with minorities and let them do what they have been doing for years. I suspect hunting will be banned, however, which will be a gross infringement of our civil liberties.
I think that the proposed ban will add to the urban-rural divide but Labour are obviously more interested in urban voters. What's next? An end to horse racing - where will it stop?
Whilst we're about it, why don't we ban cats at the same time? Unnecessary killing of thousands of birds and small animals every day, not to mention the mess in neighbours gardens. I totally support the Countryside Alliance and I was interested to read that the police don't think a ban would be enforceable.
Brian H, UK
To Brian H, UK: It is natural for cats to kill birds and mice. They do not use an army of dogs to do this. My grandfather was a farmer and yes I agree that for many people foxes are a pest. However, they are also a wildlife and have been on the earth as long as us. What gives us the right to decide who lives and dies? Of course hunting is wrong and instead of complaining about people losing their jobs, maybe they should get jobs which are not connected to barbaric activities!
Towering head and shoulders above the argument surrounding the hunting debate is the incontrovertible principle that it is plain wrong to abuse a dumb creature for sporting pleasure. This is why it will eventually be banned. Other arguments of utility, economics, cruelty or class warfare are, quite simply, irrelevant.
Ian Marlow, UK
Leave foxes alone. Stop abusing 'human authority'. And yes, I am a townie. And yes I put forward my view because this is repulsive Middle Age entertainment.
Like a lot of the people in the UK I live in a small town completely encircled by farmland. Many family friends are livestock farmers. Thankfully the nearest hunt is at least 40 miles away. Farmers around here deal with the foxes as and when they have to, humanely - as their families have done for generations. Hunting with dogs is barbaric, done for bloodlust not pest control.
Absolutely not. This is pure class warfare, and I think the animal welfare argument is nonsensical. The thought of a government passing this type of law makes me want to emigrate. Pests need to be controlled, hunts have been doing this for centuries, leave them alone. And no, I don't hunt.
Simon Moore, UK
The pro hunters say by enforcing the ban they will lose money - where does the money come from now? Surely the poor farmer doesn't pay them to hunt on his land? So in theory they could carry on with their jolly little rides, without the dogs. And before people start shouting for a ban on fishing, 99% of those who fish take great care in unhooking and releasing fish. Shame the hunt clan couldn't do the same with the fox!
I am amazed every time I hear the "pest control" argument for fox hunting. Are the supporters seriously suggesting this is an efficient way of containing fox numbers? It takes so many people and so many dogs - how brilliantly clever! And before I am dismissed as a townie, I grew up in the countryside including.
Kevin, Birmingham, UK
The abhorrent practice of hunting down foxes with dogs must be banned. It is cruel, and it reflects the mentality of the past. There is an ever-growing, world-wide awareness of issues involving animal cruelty. In the 21st century, people must break away from the cruel practices of the past. There is simply no place for animal abuse in a civilized society.
Pamela Davis, USA
Fox Hunting is something I have always felt strongly about. Some people say it is exciting and fun to watch. I see nothing fun about watching a bunch of dogs chase down a fox and rip it to shreds. It is barbaric and cruel. It should be permanently banned.
Alexandrea Adams, United States
This illiberal legislation makes me want to take up hunting. It is typical of this government that it wants to turn this country into a boring homogeny where everyone is levelled down to the same degree of mediocrity.
Pest control is it? Why the artificial earths and pens to breed foxes? Face it - it's barbaric and belongs to the Middle Ages. Wiping blood over kids to "blood" them on their first hunt? Try living in the 21st century. Losing your job because of it? Didn't see you marching for the miners or steelworkers.
What's all this about "urbanites not understanding the countryside"? Is it a mystery? I doubt it. A tip for those who work in the hunting 'industry': You've got fair warning of a future ban. Therefore it's time to "get on your bikes" like most other people have had to do.
Gerry Noble, UK
I live in the country, I have chickens (properly fenced in and shut up at night) I also went to a public school, and I loathe and detest the hunting of our wildlife with dogs. Loss of jobs? Let them drag hunt - no job losses. But, and here's the rub, there would be no excitement from watching a terrified animal running for its life. It is the obscenity of that pleasure that revolts decent people and has brought about bans on other "traditions" - bear bating, dog fighting and cockfighting.
Elizabeth Lewis-Cracknell, England
God, what a horlicks. MPs representing council estates, pretending to have informed opinions about country life, but really just wanting to re-invent and perpetuate dead class divisions. Persecution of minorities is not the business of government, and it's pretty dismal to see that the rank and file Labour MPs don't realise this
Alastair Blakey, UK
I'm tired of pro-hunt groups telling urbanites to keep out of country issues, and that they don't understand the ways of the countryside.
I live in the countryside, and have witnessed first-hand the most appalling savagery by the hunt, and things that would leave most people aghast in horror, it's utterly disgraceful.
It's one thing to debate whether or not foxes should be culled, but there should never be the "entertainment value" attached to it, in the form of fox hunting.
Martin Hellier, UK
There is another viable method of controlling fox numbers: do nothing. Researchers at Bristol University noted a slight drop in fox numbers during the foot-and-mouth hunting ban.
For those who have forgotten or never knew, Scotland grew tired of the braying theatrics of the horsey set and banned hunting with dogs nearly 18 months ago. I would like to welcome our southern neighbours to the civilised nations' club. Better late than never.
Colin MacDonald, Scotland
"... the braying theatrics of the horsey set" - "people with posh accents do it wearing smart uniforms" - comments like these show that many of the anti-hunt lobby base their arguments on an outdated class consciousness and a completely misguided idea of the wide variety of people who hunt.
I am fed up of being told that the majority of the population wants hunting banned. Nobody has asked me for my views. I don't recall one million people marching to ban the practice. Shooting foxes will lead to a growth in high velocity rifles in the country ready to fall into criminal hands.
The Government should get its priorities right - Fox hunting is a legitimate countryside pursuit and should be left alone. Too few 'anti' MP's know anything about the countryside - This is a countryside issue and as such should be dealt with by people who know what actually happens in the country- I could go on but suspect it would land on deaf ears.
We are now in the 21st century, these animals should be culled humanely. If these people need their "sport" surely they can find other alternatives than tearing a fox to pieces.
Kenneth Grayson, England
I agree entirely with a total ban on hunting with dogs. I live in the countryside and the number of times I have had to keep my cats in so that they don't get in the way of the hunt, is unbelievable.
Sorry Tania - but how many birds does your beloved cat maul every week? Bet you still feed it Whiskers though. Fox-hunting is necessary - city people butt out of country affairs which you are clearly ignorant about!
I am a country boy of fifty years and more, and have always considered hunting with dogs of foxes and stags as an unnecessary and cruel activity. Control can be achieved in other ways. Anyone who gains pleasure from the death of an animal needs their head testing. Just because it is "tradition" does not mean it is right.
I had an open mind to the hunting debate
leaving it to those involved.
However sometime ago one of my cats was attacked and killed by two dogs used for hunting. The attitude of the dog owner who showed no regret and only said "I will buy you another" leads me to the view that those involved in hunting have no feelings for any animals other than their own.
Although I, myself, am ambivalent about fox hunting, I do not think it should be banned. If people disapprove, they need not participate. Indeed, they can discourage others from doing so. But to impose a ban on such a minor issue smacks of moral totalitarianism. There are many things people do which I disapprove of, but I would not want them banned merely because I say so.
Francois Gould, UK
Francois Gould uses a concern about moral totalitarianism as a basis for retaining the status quo. For decades, however, opinion polls have indicated that the majority of people are against hunting with dogs. In the same way that democratically elected governments have a duty to legislate against other activities that the majority find abhorrent, the current government has a clear duty to respond to the public's wishes in this instance.
Like many of your correspondents, I am also a country boy - now in my late forties - and I am saddened by how the reactionary views of some in the rural community continue to project an image of rustic barbarity that is completely at odds with the current needs of the farming community.
John C, England
Just leave the countryside alone and it will look after itsself just fine as it has done for decades.
I would like a complete ban on hunting with dogs. As a child I went to several hunts and later belonged to the Pony Club where we supported the hunt by blocking up all the foxes' escape routes on the night before a hunt. Even then I knew it was a wrong, cruel thing to do. If foxes are too many and they need to be culled - they must be shot by properly appointed people who are good shots so that the animal does not suffer.
Foxes are a pest and a danger to the livelihood of farmers. The most common method of killing foxes is to shoot them with a shotgun, a method that often leaves them alive with hideous wounds and likely to die slowly over a relatively long period. While hunting with dogs may be unnecessary I would contend that death comes far quicker. Under the new bill shooting foxes is still legal. This is therefore no longer a matter of animal cruelty but one of pure party politics and does not make good policy.
This is yet another example of our government abusing its powers to force through legislation that will detrimentally affect thousands of people. The government seems hell bent on pushing its agendas through (e.g. Iraq, the EU) without consulting the people it is supposed to represent, or listening to their views. While hospital waiting lists grow longer, MPs spend their time debating this issue to look politically 'correct'. Get on with serving this country, not nagging it!
Tom Preston, UK
How many times do MP's have to vote on this subject? They have cast their votes at least three times recently to ban hunting. It is about time this barbaric activity was consigned to history where it belongs.
The point most people seem to miss when they shout for a ban on hunting with dogs is that this method has the advantage of controlling "problem" foxes better than any other method. On a whole fit healthy foxes are not a great problem to farmers, these animals are too busy foraging in the countryside for naturally available food. The problems arise around farms when old, sickly and unfit foxes start to look for easy pickings and can very quickly become a huge problem. A successful hunt is very likely to kill the very same old, weak, sickly foxes that cause the trouble. It is, in my opinion, the best option. Remember there is only two possible outcomes to a hunt, a kill or a fox escaping unhurt!
Michael Quayle, England
Several of the anti-hunting views refer to the majority of people that want hunting banned. However, if our country's policies are to be decided by the majority why don't the urban population dictate to the rest, and why don't the English dictate to the Welsh, Scots and Irish. A democracy does not mean majority rule. People from rural areas should be allowed to decide this issue on their own without the interference of other people. Licensing laws could be introduced similar to those used by individual areas to decide whether or not to allow bars to open.
Niall , N. Irish in England
Living in a somewhere between the country side and the city I suffer not only from countryside foxes but urban foxes... They are a menace. Ask my chickens. The question is - if my dog kills a fox when it attacks my chickens, will I be breaking the law? Easy enough to ban hunting with dogs, but would those in parliament like to come down and explain to my three dogs they can no longer attack the foxes that harass my hen house and rummage my bins.
Ben Shepherd, UK
No I do not support a fox hunting ban. Why should a minority be dictated to by a majority who do not have a full understanding of the Countryside way of life? Whether people believe fox hunting to be right or wrong it has been a way of life in rural communities for generations and an effective way of fox control. Many people stand to lose their jobs and homes and rural communities will suffer. We appear to be no longer a democratic society but one which is being dictated to and the sooner this present Government and Prime Minister are gone, so much the better.
Dominic Levy, England
They say we don't understand the Country life, but it seems a primitive solution in these days. These 'hunters' are pathetic - they way they get satisfaction out of killing a tiny animal which hardly has any chance of escape. Hardly sporting is it? Seems funny to call it a hunt when it isn't even difficult or clever. Even if these animals need culling I hardly think it needs to be a 'sport'.
Matt Seymour, UK
I cannot believe the sea change in public opinion on this subject. If you were to have held this debate 10 years ago there would have been very little vocal support for hunting. It now seems to have wide spread support (if you look at this forum as an indicator). As Britain changed its opinion on hunting or are the pro-hunting lobby becoming more vocal? Whatever, it was my understanding that we live in a democracy. I still think the majority of Britons are opposed blood sports and if they are the ban should be enforced. I don't think we should allow a small but vocal and powerful lobby to affect our law making for their own interests.
Why should the Fox population be controlled in the first place? Because they procreate, and populate the country? Because they "harm" the land? Because they disturb farm livestock or wildlife? That doesn't sound too dissimilar to a so-called "civilised" species I know of. Why do we consistently attempt to control Nature? Just let it be.
Paul H, UK
NO - It should be restricted. There is a way of life and peoples livings at threat. The dogs and horses used would also end up being redundant. If it is banned then it will carry on in an unmanaged, illegal way as per dog fighting
Peter Tomkins, UK
I personally think that traditional fox hunting should not be banned. I am not arguing that it is not barbaric (obviously there a far more humane ways of culling a fox population), more that the bill has been drawn up and will be voted on by people who have little or no understanding of life in the country side. The majority of the population obviously lives in urban areas and is not affected in the least by the tiny number of foxes which are killed each year by hunting. To have an opinion that it should be banned is therefore akin to the population of rural areas passing a bill that nannies should be banned in Notting Hill. The point is that should the sport be banned it should be done in consultation with the people who’s opinions are valid.
It's shocking to think that such a cruel act towards animal can be justified by arguing fox as 'destructive creature', 'not part of our wildlife', etc. I think one human city population cause more harm than all the foxes in the world combined. Should we start hunting polluters with dogs for a change?
C Y Lim, UK
Firstly, fox hunting is the most humane way of killing foxes. The hound throttles the fox - dead in a flash. Why not shoot or use poison? What if the shot goes off target and the fox dies from gradual blood loss, and how can the slow death caused by poison be considered humane?
"Why hunt foxes at all?" asks PB from England (below). Because they are classed as vermin - ie a pest that eats livestock like chickens - and believe me, the chickens don't have the mercy of the quick death the foxes have. As for the hunters who breed foxes for hunting - they are the exception.
With all the problems the country has at the moment (Iraq, trains, unmotivated murders on the rise) surely there are other problems to deal with first? Get real.
Tom Glover (15), England
It is unbelievable this issue generates so much debate. IF we could get the general public as passionate about some issues that really impact the world we may be more effective at improving our education and health problems.
We have to use our political time for something more constructive.
All these people moaning about fox hunting, at least the fox has a chance to get away, what about the slaughterhouses killing the animals which have no choice in the matter. All the people moaning about fox hunting quite happily pop into their local supermarket to buy their meat. Double standards I think.
I am sick of the "country folk" going on about double standards when it comes to us "townies" eating meat that comes from a slaughterhouse. Yes, I eat meat from various animals, but I don't get a pack of wolves to tear it to pieces beforehand. To compare the two is just stupid, as is putting fox hunting in the same bracket as boxing & football. How desperate must they be to make a case? An outright ban is the only option for this Blood "sport".
Darren Brodie, Scotland
Most definitely it should be banned. It's not a sport, just an archaic game for the rich. I was born and raised in Wales, and always thought it was barbaric. The dress is unnecessary for riding. I am not a Hunter, even though I live in N.Ont. where deer & moose abound.
John F. Stonehewer, Canada
This is a disgusting blood sport and should be banned. I am vegetarian and despise animal cruelty. Foxes are not vermin - they are our natural wildlife. If farmers don't want them, they should fence off the areas around their farms.
Joseph Sanderson (age 12), England
What does Joseph think farmers have been doing for the last 20 years? Some farmers cannot fence off their fields if they are surrounded by hedges, because they are not allowed to take down hedges, also due to government intervention, which was influenced by people who agree with Joseph. Foxes are very destructive creatures. Hunting is far more humane than the measures farmers will resort to if the anti-hunting league has its way.
As a chicken farmer I lose stock to foxes. Generally it's my own fault for poor husbandry. A fox will kill every bird it can, chickens are like £10 notes to a fox. Are the fox hunting lobby who accuse foxes of being cruel vermin saying that if they saw a number of £10 notes in the road they would only take one? Get real. Foxes behave in the same way as we do, the difference being that we should know better.
Gareth Phillips, Wales
The fox is not 'our natural wildlife'. It was introduced from France for the sport of the Normans and to help keep down the rabbits they had previously introduced here (another non-native species) and which had got out of control. In turn the fox got out of hand as it had, and has, no natural predators. Except for humans, till the arrival of this government which loathes everything native to England.
Julia Taylor, England
Interesting! There's talk here in Oz about the introduced fox causing great damage to native wildlife - perhaps the hunts would care to come over here, I'm sure they'd be welcomed.
I have a degree in environmental management and I'd say fox hunting is a great example of sustainable management that has worked for centuries.
Ban it! The hunting lobby are incapable of putting forward a single reasoned argument to support this barbaric pastime. Why don't they just admit that they hunt foxes for sport and that they enjoy killing them?
This is not a centuries old tradition, foxes are hunted simply because there's no other sizeable mammals in the UK worth chasing.
The government are panicking because they are losing the support of their own party and have now given way on a matter which is judged by the ignorant motivated by outmoded ideas and class warfare. Suburban man at his worst.
Austin Reeves, UK
Hunting should be regulated but not banned!
With all of the other problems that the government faces what with the NHS, the lack of a police force and everything else, why waste parliamentary time in debating this? All the government wanted was a quick victory to appease its beleaguered ranks. Thousands of people will become unemployed and unemployable through this badly thought out legislation. I support anyone and everyone who opposes this legislation.
Matt Skinner, England
Foxing hunting should not be banned. I live in London and am regularly kept awake at night by foxes screaming sometimes for two hours at a time and have even considered laying traps of my own just to get a decent night's sleep. Maybe the hunters can come to my neighbourhood to control the number of foxes!
Trudi Roach, UK
My concern is what control method will replace hunting? Poison, traps and guns can all caused lingering death if things don't go to plan. At least hounds either catch the fox or lose it. For the record, I don't hunt.
The vote on hunting with dogs should be left to MPs who represent country folk. City dwellers have little or no understanding about countryside issues. Many in the city think the beef on their table always lived in blue sanitised trays and are merely transported to a supermarket. It's easy for city folk to forget that the beef on their table was once a living animal which queued up smelling blood awaiting its turn to receive a bolt in the head. Barbarity is defined by one's sensibilities of government necessity.
City folk, hands off the countryside or get educated about it!
No, it shouldn't be banned. There are far more violent and offensive sports than this. For example, boxing and football (hooligans). What about the work it provides to rural areas in desperate need of regeneration? Stop pandering to woolly minded suburban liberals whose idea of the countryside ends at driving 20mph on a Sunday and blocking the lanes. Unfortunately, these are the vocal majority.
Roz Glick, UK
Pro-hunters claim that a ban on hunting would mean the loss of many rural jobs. There does not, however, appear to be anywhere near the same outcry over the loss of work in the public sector, where village schools have been closed down - along with railways, small shops, or over the damage done to the fishing or farming industry. There seems to be a bit of displacement activity going on here.
Besides, I cannot help but feel that hunting is simply the sport of cowards. I'm sorry, but the sight of 50 grown men and women thundering after a small fox with a posse of dogs looks somewhat comical, if not a bit grotesque.
Nobody has mentioned other ways of controlling the fox population other than shooting. This is not the only option as contraception can be left in bait boxes rendering the animals infertile and unable to breed. This can be done humanely enabling the population to be controlled without barbaric human intervention of any kind. Prince Charles, I believe, said he would not like to stay here if we ban hunting. I'd be happy to pack his suitcase and anyone else who believes this is part of a heritage that should be retained. Shame on you!
Foxhunting should be banned. Jobs will be lost and rural society will have to re-adjust, just as the dockers, miners, shipbuilders, and other manufacturing industries were expected to. It was a way of life, but a civilised society should evolve beyond the barbarity of a so-called sport. I've ridden for 26 years, since childhood, have never hunted, or wanted to. There are no viable arguments to justify it.
Have MPs really looked into the alternative methods of controlling fox population? They should watch a video of a typical fox shoot with so called marksmen, and the use of poison or gas when they go to ground. To hear a fox scream when shot is an unforgettable experience, To watch them run away and hide, only to die a long and painful death from gunshot wounds is very cruel. Ban hunting with dogs and they will move to France or Southern Ireland. Are MPs banning fox hunting for the welfare of the fox or for extra electoral votes?
Hunting should not be banned as it is the kindest way of controlling the fox population. Hunting gives foxes a 50-50 chance of survival where as shooting often is not done cleanly and just maims the animal and gassing which is the other alternative give a fox and its cubs no chance of survival. Hunting allows the weak and sick to be culled leaving the fitter fox to live another day. The destruction of horses and hounds that will happen should the ban go ahead is far worse than killing and culling a flea ridden predator that kills for fun most of the time and not for survival.
Storm Grayson, England
Bear-baiting, dog and cock fights were rightly banned many years ago but of course these were working class activities. To my mind fox hunting is every bit as cruel as these but it has carried on because people with posh accents do it wearing smart uniforms. I also think these people are terrified of losing the outdated feudal system which still persists in some rural areas and the feeling of social superiority hunting promotes.
They will just become ordinary people in the community instead of Master of the Hunt or suchlike and they are obviously reluctant to let this go. But the biggest hurdle we have is that the Royal Family participate and while this continues I doubt if hunting will ever be banned outright.
The British amaze me, we must set the world record for double standards - what about the rabbits used to test the paint on your kitchen wall for skin irritation, or the barbaric conditions in which we breed chickens? How about the fish in tanks being used to see what happens if chemicals get into the rivers, not to mention vivisection and virus testing on primates, or chemical weapons research on dogs and cats, licensed by the same government that is giving us the fox hunting ban? This is politics and has nothing to do with animal cruelty. If we truly cared about animals, there would be a million changes.
Its about time MPs found something better to occupy their time. People are starving in the world, unnecessary wars are being fought, with money and lives being wasted. Instead of wasting time debating whether to hunt with hounds or not. Why not debate harder punishments for those that break the law, beat up the elderly and kill just for kicks or for funding their drug habit? Its time for them to open their eyes and do what they're paid for!
Fox hunting is a barbaric aberration and the national shame of the UK. We cannot continue to disregard animal rights on the pretext that government has other, more urgent priorities. Compassion and a love for all living beings, rather than the sadistic "pleasure" of blood sports should be the hallmarks of humanity in the 21st century.
Mario Mallia, Malta
For all those who are all moralistic and say that fox hunting is cruel to animals, why not think of all those chickens, geese and other small animals who get their throats ripped out by foxes? It's another knee jerk reaction by the UK Government to a small but vocal minority of people who don't really know or understand the impact of the issue
H Robins, NZer in England
The argument that jobs will be lost if hunting is banned just doesn't hold water. Presumably the same applied when bear baiting and other barbaric "sports" were banned. Hunting with hounds belongs in the past.
Sally Andersen, Hong Kong
Fifty years ago, as a 10-year-old back in my home town of Hull, East Yorkshire, I collected hundreds of signatures in the hope of helping to put a stop to the "sport" (?) of foxhunting. Half a century has passed and still the hunting goes on. Just because something is a tradition, it does not make it right. It is not just my love of all living things that makes my blood boil but the arrogance of a certain class of people who believe that they have some kind of God-given right to slaughter a creature who has as much right as any human being to live upon this earth. A true hunter only takes an animal's life for his own survival, and, in the case of the 'First Nations' (North American Indians) they also give thanks to the animal's spirit. They are civilised hunters. To hunt any animal to death in the name of "sport" is sacrilege and an abomination to civilised human beings.
Valerie Ledger, Canada
Although I'm not a hunt supporter, it concerns me that a government is dictating what pastimes a person can partake in. What is next on the hit list? Fishing, shooting, rugby?
Shaun Price, England
Our elderly are left in hospital corridors for hours on trolleys. The railways are a disgrace and many of our cities are 'no go areas' for the police. Oh! And we may also have taken part in an illegal war. Yet what excites our Labour MPs? Fox hunting. Roll on the general election!
Mike Harvey, England
I have lived in a village all my life and at the end of the day how can anybody have a right to slay a wild animal? Surely the argument ends there.
S. Brown, UK
Ban MPs who presume to ban anything else.
About time too! Hopefully we can at last see the end of this barbaric activity which has no place in the countryside of today... a countryside which I am now happy to say, I live in!!
It's about time the government did something right. A 'middle way' just wasn't an option, and would have been impossible to police. This way is clearer, morally right, and far more realistic. Once through, the argument can finally rest. This moral war has been won, by what is morally right. Who said democracy was dead?
Daniel Ludlow, England
Let's hope the Lords know how to deal with this piece of ill-informed emotional legislation before they too are banned.
Thank goodness the rabid anti-hunt lobby in the Commons has shown itself in its true colours and amended this bill. The result is totally unenforceable and will either need to return to committee stage and be redrafted as a bill that will have some chance of being enforceable or will be rejected out of hand by the House of Lords.
Everyone I speak to has no strong feelings one way or the other. It seems that once again a minority opinion is getting heard and bogging down government when there are more serious issues to debate. I can't believe an issue such as this will win a huge amount of votes one way or the other so am at a loss why it is such a big issue. Maybe it's a class thing?
As a born and bred Londoner who has moved to the country I feel that city people and those who live in the major towns within the countryside should get a better understanding of hunts. There is more to the hunts relating to animal welfare than most people understand. I am very afraid that if there was a hunt ban that the welfare of a number of animals would decline significantly and it would be the very people who did not want a ban in the first place who would have to pick up the pieces.
Only a full ban on all hunting with dogs will be "workable". My grandfather was master of the hounds in to hunts and I can well remember people complaining that the hunt had been a waste of time if there had not been a "kill".
Drag hunting can continue without preventing any loss of jobs.
Chris Walford, England
I would like to see fox hunting permitted in its existing form. It is part of our national heritage. Fox hunting gives work to rural people and pleasure to many. Hunted foxes have a reasonable chance of survival and their end is quick. The alternatives, shooting, poisoning, or trapping are not quick and are certainly painful and loveable foxy-loxy does not have a chance.
W D Toulman,
I think W D Toulman would benefit from seeing some of the videos that are available on various websites showing how barbaric this practice really is. The claim by some that they are promoting "animal welfare" by ripping foxes and their cubs to shreds is perverse. It has been shown that some "keen" hunters breed foxes just for sake of killing them. They are in no way helping to keep numbers of vermin down. Where it is necessary to cull in the interests of maintaining a balance this should be left to experts, rather than cowboys.
I couldn't care less about fox hunting, while we have serious problems such as health, immigration and the EU.
What bad news is the government trying bury this time?
Maybe a deal could be struck that satisfies both sides of the debate - hunt politicians rather than foxes!
Munzar Sharif, UK
A better way to proceed would be to ban all horsemen and dog packs from all public classified roads and private land. Any landowner who wishes to allow hunting on his land must specifically register his property with the local authority and pay annual licence fees per hectare registered, so that the hunt can be monitored by an appropriate official appointed by the council. Any hunting outside of registered land would be a civil offence.
There is no real justification for a ban on hunting any more than there is on fishing. However, the proposed ban is not based on grounds of ideological cruelty, but rather on class prejudice.
If they want to ban hunting on grounds of cruelty then they should take on the anglers as well. The problem is that they would then be alienating millions of people rather than a few thousand. Surely this fact shows how cowardly this legislation really is.
Edwin Thornber, UK/Romania
Hear hear, Edwin Thornber. Can't the huntsmen make the best of today's modern technology and "virtually hunt"? Same goes for all that is done in the name of "sport" which proves harmful/painful to our wildlife, including fishing.
This government is all about destroying British history and rural life in general - leave these people doing what they have done for thousands of years. Down with the nanny state.
Fox hunting is barbaric and cruel. It should be banned asap!
Laura Taylor, UK
Hunting can continue if hunt followers switch to the civilised practise of drag hunting. The proposed change in the law does not threaten any traditional practises if the hunters are prepared to enjoy all the other elements of hunting but desist from killing wild mammals with packs of dogs.
I support the government doing something useful like repealing anti-union laws, rather than messing around with fox hunting yet again!
Labour voter, UK
How many debates do we have to have? MPs have already voted for a complete ban, many times! Why can't parliament have its way? Blair needs to stop pandering to the Countryside Alliance, they will never support him. An outright ban would be democratic and popular with the country at large.
Simon Watkins, Wales
No I don't support any ban on hunting with hounds. I believe that the anti-hunt platform is based, not on concern for animal welfare, but just on one of social prejudice. This is unjustifiable.
Julia Harvey, England
The people of the UK overwhelmingly want fox hunting banned. The vast majority of their elected representatives agree and have already voted to ban it. Yet the discussion goes on. It is typical of this government's total inability to get anything done, or keep their promises. I am expecting a last minute fudge, which satisfies no-one. Mainly because Blair would not dare to offend the old money that funds his ambition.