The House of Lords is debating the future of hunting with dogs in England and Wales.
The government originally proposed a licensing system to allow some forms of hunting to continue but MPs voted to turn the Hunting Bill into a complete ban.
Now a cross-party group of peers is trying to reverse the MPs' plans and replace it with a licensing regime for fox and stag hunting, as well as hare coursing.
If the complete ban proposals are defeated, the bill will go back to the Commons, where MPs are likely to overturn the Lords amendments.
Should hunting with dogs be banned? Can a compromise be reached?
The comments below reflect a balance of views received:
I don't support any form of hunting, but, I strongly support the right of others to do so if they wish. We have become a very intolerant society, supporting bans on anything we don't like, but demanding the right to carry on with the things we enjoy. Either this is a free country of it isn't - you simply can't have it both ways. Those politicians who support a ban on cruelty grounds are never brave enough to try and outlaw religious slaughter are they? That is every bit as cruel with no chance of the terrified animal escaping. Leave hunters alone, if this ban goes through (and why do Scottish MP's have any say in this?) anglers will be next!
The hunter is partially to blame for the probable demise of his sport for being shame faced about it. He fell into a trap of his own making when he tried to pass it off as pest control. He should not have denied feeding them, constructing dens, and planting copses in the path of the hunt. The moment he failed in the courage of his convictions he was lost. What he should have done was to concentrate his efforts on exploding his critics' moral arguments about cruelty.
All cruelty is relative, the pursuit and killing of foxes by dogs no worse a fate than what nature has waiting for all wild animals without a predator - a slow and distressing death by disease and starvation. Add in the hunter's interest in conserving a healthy fox population to satisfy his sporting interest and the case is easily made that he is a net benefactor to the species.
Whatever your views on hunting, the worrying part of this is a bunch of unelected "Lords" presuming to counter the stated will of the people, as expressed in the democratically elected Commons. I am all for a bi-cameral system, but let's not pretend that this is anything other than the privileged classes putting a spoke in the wheel yet again.
Whatever the merits of hunting with hounds, the Commons have given no thought as to how the proposed legislation will be enforced. Rural areas have low policing levels. Legislation that is not enforced uniformly brings the law into disrepute. As drafted, anyone who walks a number of dogs could be liable if the dogs chase a fox, hare, mink etc. But who will arrest them?
Mark Wright, UK
If you take the view that fox hunting should be banned because it is cruel and in humane then how can a partial ban be any morally superior?
Simon Pickles, UK
Oh, for goodness' sake - are our legislators really that hard up for matters to debate? Aren't we fortunate that terrorism, the economy, pensions, transport and the health system are in such great shape?
David S, UK
It's actually quite a simple argument. There must be a presumption in favour of people keeping their freedom to pursue any activity that harms no one, and it is up to those who would deprive them of a liberty to provide a damned good reason why (and people being "shocked and appalled" isn't such a reason). Banning foxhunting will benefit no one in any tangible way, but it will most certainly harm people, even if they are few and unpopular with many. Governments have a duty to defend minorities from widespread prejudice. This applies as much to hunters as it does to gays and those who insist on Halal or Kosher slaughter.
Lawrence Gould, UK
Speaking as a life long vegetarian I find the meat industry is far crueller and kills millions more animals in an equally barbaric way to fox hunting and yet we hear nothing of this, so the only reason for the ban must be put down to being class based. I would like a ban on blood sports, but for the right reasons and not to cause more division in our society.
There is a perfectly humane alternative to fox-hunting: drag-hunting, in which a trail is laid in advance for the hunt to follow and no foxes are required. Those fearful that a ban on fox hunting will throw people out of work and end a tradition need only to look to the drag hunt for a solution. It has all the fun of the hunt without any of the cruelty.
There can be no compromise on cruelty. Time for a ban has long passed. Many people who hunt are from the city and many who want a ban are from the country. It is not about town v country it is about cruelty.
Nathan Brown, UK
In the same class as bear-baiting, dog-fighting, and cock-fighting, it should be banned. It is a hopelessly inefficient form of "pest control", and far too barbaric to be considered a "sport". The toffs banned the working classes bloodsports, now it's their turn.
This country is, in my view, in a complete shambles. Our hospitals are a disgrace, our elderly are neglected, our children's education is 'hit or miss', our under-funded transport system is quiet literally killing people - I could easily go on. Surely fox hunting is a little too high on this government's list of priorities?
I think the anti-fox hunting brigade are a bit confused about country life. They think banning fox hunting will save the fox - Wrong. The fox will be killed regardless, whether it is shot or trapped. Banning fox hunting will cause hundreds of dogs to be put down, so banning it will cause more animal deaths than keeping it.
Banning hunting will lead to all the hounds being put down, Simon says. The truth is they are shot in the head once they reach a certain age (which is still young) or show signs of disinterest or fatigue. Hunting should be banned even if to save all the, as yet, unborn hounds from a cruel fate.
Yes, I support a total ban though I doubt if there will ever be one. It would have happened by now but the government is just too scared to do it.
Gerry Noble, UK
I think the liberal do-gooder city folk should concentrate on addressing their own problems rather than whinging about legitimate and wholesome countryside sports and activities. We don't demand bans on certain city pursuits (heavy drinking, loutish behaviour etc), so why should city slickers have a say in the running of the countryside?
If Victor, UK, thinks that heavy drinking and loutish behaviour are exclusively city ills then he clearly hasn't left his house in an awfully long time. This "city v countryside" argument is so outdated it's a joke. As is the jobs argument - how many farmers protested about the invention of the combine harvester? Presumably not many, and that cost thousands more rural jobs than a ban on hunting will do. It's a fact of life - things change and societies change. The fact is that drag hunting is exactly the same thing but without having to tear a fox apart at the end - why the pro-hunt lobby seems to be so set against this is beyond me - and so as far as I can see they deserve no sympathy. Ban it immediately. Might as well reintroduce badger baiting or cock fighting otherwise - I don't see much of a difference.
Fox Hunting and all other blood sports should be banned immediately, and although I am a country person myself, I cannot see any reason for it at all. It's a barbaric sport, and the people involved should find themselves more suitable past-times.
If people still want to carry on the 'sport' of racing across fields on horseback with a pack of dogs, why can't they just leave scent trails for the dogs to follow? Is there any reason for having to chase down a fox to have it torn to shreds?
Let's not pretend that it's a fair chase - it's not unheard of for a fox to escape only to get dug up.
And before anyone starts putting forward the country versus town argument, I've lived in the country my whole life.
Fox hunting is more about community than it is ever about blood sport. The campaign is a soft target for people intent on fighting a class war, that should be over and has nothing to do with saving cuddly furry foxes.
John Tester, England
I once witnessed a hunt when I was about 9 years old. I was playing with friends near a stream when we heard all this commotion, so we went to investigate. A fox had gone to earth (retreated to the safety of its hole). The hunt masters sent terriers down the hole to drag the terrified fox out. When it was within reach one person grabbed it with their hands while somebody else poked a shotgun down the hole and blasted the fox. They dragged the dead fox out and threw it to the pack of hounds to the delight of the rest of the onlookers. They call this sport. I call it sick and disgusting. How can it not be banned, and how can there possibly be a compromise?
Jake Perks, Shropshire, UK
It's none of my concern what rich people get up to. I live and work in a city, and rarely see a field, let alone a hunt. As for animal cruelty? There are a lot more important injustices in this world.
Can't they just ban fox hunting full stop and let it rest. It's a cruel, barbaric and outdated form of "pest control". Foxes are not pests and they do not need controlling. When a fox-hunting ban was introduced during the foot-and-mouth outbreak was there an explosion in the fox population? No.
In reply to Mark: I don't know whether foxes in the country need controlling or not, but they certainly are in the cities. Perhaps fox hunting should merely be displaced from rural to urban areas - I would certainly be happy to see a massive culling of these urban pests. Overall, foxes are a pest and DO need controlling, but that is not the question at the heart of this debate.
Anatole Pang, UK