Parliament has voted to ban hunting with dogs in England and Wales.
The MPs voted for a ban by 356 votes to 166 in the second reading of the Hunting Bill.
Parliament was suspended for a short time after five protesters got into the Commons chamber while MPs debated whether to vote for a ban.
HUNTING BAN DEBATE
Baroness Golding, All Party Parliamentary Middle Way Group answered your questions in a live interactive forum
Thousands of pro-hunters protested outside Parliament as MPs debated the Bill. There were some scuffles but it was mostly peaceful rally.
Seven people were arrested and 17 people including one police officer injured. The Countryside Alliance condemned any illegal acts, but have warned of the frustration and anger amongst many in the hunting community.
Should hunting with dogs be banned? Can a compromise be reached? Will it affect rural attitudes to Tony Blair and the Labour party?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
This 'townie' thinks that hunting should not be banned. While it is true that we would not dream of inventing it now if it did not exist it is not worth banning it - better to ban alchohol or tobacco or fishing (but too many votes lost there!). It kills few foxes, most of them infirm anyway. it provides some work. Gradually hunting will die out ayway - let it happen naturally over a few years.
Michael Jowett, England
I know enough farmers, and if a fox is troubling their livestock, they wait up at night and shoot it dead. Foxes are creatures of habit, they're easy enough to control with a torch, a gun, and a little patience. Yes, vital cash is injected into those rural communities that allow hunting (certainly not mine), but this debate is not about that. It is about gaining pleasure from the blood drawn of a tortured animal.
Denver Fowler, UK
The issue is freedom to choose. I choose not to hunt. But I will defend the right of others who choose to hunt.
David P, UK
The issue is obviously divisive and there is a very vocal minority who will do whatever they can to keep their blood sports legal. They will make a lot of noise and a lot of fuss, but it is time for the UK to stand firm and to set an example to the rest of the world. There is enough suffering and misery inflicted by humankind as it is on other living beings, and this cruel activity has no place in our culture,nor in a civilised world.
The country is falling apart at the seams, nothing works. Surely it is ludicrous to spend so much time on such an unimportant issue when there are real issues to address, i.e. transport, schools, NHS, crime, housing, unjustified wars etc. It seems it must be a "class issue" otherwise I can't see why this drags on. I personally think fox hunting is a stupid pastime, but an individual choice. Come on Blair let's debate the real issues.
Having been a prison officer for 16 years, l know for sure that the protesters who might end up inside will not be received very well by their fellow inmates who generally despise the hunters and their arrogant attitudes. So be warned, prison is not the place you would wish to end up in.
When miners protested about the loss of jobs and the destruction of communities, the Tories as the elected government turned the police on them! This alliance is protesting about the loss of an elitist hobby. Sorry folks, that's democracy.
Vince Godber, UK
People should be left to get on with their own lives without interference from the government. Let the hunters be - they're not bothering anyone.
It's nothing to do with a class war. It's about behaving in a civilised way. So hunting isn't barbaric then? Great! Let's bring back bear baiting and cock fighting! The pro-hunt lobby make me sick.
Martin, Cumbria, UK
All of the arguments about people losing their jobs and hound being put down are just so much propaganda. In Germany hunting was banned years ago and the hunting community carried on using 'drag hunts' and does so to this day. The only difference being that they do not need to rip an animal to shreds at the end of it. Many things were 'traditional ways of life' and have now passed into the annals of history. Shall we bring back bear-baiting, dog-fighting, cock-fighting ? Yes it is time to end this and I would include shooting live birds reared for the purpose and recreational fishing too.
Roy Wood, UK
The pro-hunting lobby repeatedly says that this Bill is "undemocratic". On the contrary, what is undemocratic is the fact that for years now, the House of Lords has been blocking our elected house, and it has been blocking the will of the electorate simply because many of its members have personal reasons for keeping hunting. Invoking the Parliament Act is not undemocratic at all because it is the only way to ensure the will of our elected representatives is carried out.
Peter Jones, Wales
Why do the media insist on calling it "a ban on fox hunting" it's nothing of the kind. Foxes will continue to be shot, trapped, gassed and poisoned. In my opinion far more foxes will die when hunting is banned. Well done the anti-hunt lobby! Oh, I don't like hunting but I do believe in freedom of choice.
Although many in the anti-hunt lobby may be sincere, the level of cruelty inflicted by hunting is so small that their efforts should best be directed at repeat offenders of cruelty to pets or the fishing fraternity. This obsession with hunting with hounds seems misplaced and politically motivated. Those that argue about the rule of the majority ought to beware the consequences of the tyranny of the majority over minority groups.
Why should people who are not involved with countryside sports and invariably not involved with the countryside full stop have any say on something that affects their life in no way whatsoever.
Susanna Reynolds, UK
As a country boy I feel miss-represented. I am not against a hunting ban but I am against this form of hunting. After all, cock fighting is illegal and we don't hear of that being a civil liberty issue. What about protecting trees & buildings, don't I have a civil liberty to change my own property? or to drive my car over 100mph. I should have the liberty. In line with those we can see that there are times when it is correct that certain things should be banned.
I'm heartily sick of hearing spokesmen for the pro-hunting lobby claiming that banning hunting with dogs is a travesty of democracy. It clearly isn't - a majority of elected MPs voted for a ban - that is democracy in action. So get over it.
I am sick of everything being banned I lost my pistols to a stupid ban now people my loose their livelihoods.
John Owen, UK
Firstly - this is not a waste of parliamentary time. The debate over blood sports has been raging for at least 20 years, so it is about time a vote was taken. Secondly - this is not pest control, it is a bunch of people (from whatever backgrounds) deriving pleasure from dressing up and chasing British wildlife until it is caught and ripped to shreds by a pack of hounds.
Thirdly - the government isn't bowing to a militant minority of despicable people who go around vandalising property and assaulting hunt-related people, the government is bowing to the wishes of the vast majority of the British public. Finally - there is no way that anyone could suggest that the rural way of life is threatened by banning hunting. Shooting is a more humane and successful method of pest control, and I am sure our rural cousins can find a pastime that doesn't involve the slaughter of an animal.
Matt, Birmingham, England
A complete waste of time - the money and time that has been wasted on debating this issue is outrageous; there really are far more important things for the government, the police and the people demonstrating. This is the mindless persecution of a minority that made for an easy target for old school labour. The ban is unenforceable, so stop wasting time on it. It's a shame the vote went through, and a shame the issue got this far, and a shame the police were so heavy handed with the crowd.
Hunting with dogs should be banned - no doubt about it.
As a Poultry keeper I loose Hens regularly to the Fox and blame my self for not shutting the Pen in Time. I also lost Turkey's to uncontrolled dogs, but I do not however, hunt dog's. Where is the Justification for hunting foxes? Do we still hunt deer with Deerhound, same thing, different animal!
T, West Sussex
While I don't personally agree with hunting I don't think it should be banned, the way things are being "banned" because the govt thinks it is not good for us for one reason or another at this rate there will be nothing left for anyone to do. Most people are intelligent enough to be able to make there own minds up and should be left to live their lives as they want and not be continually dictated to by the govt.
What next? Fishing that could be construed as equally cruel? Rugby which could be considered extremely dangerous? What a damn stupid waste of taxpayers' money even debating this bill. And what an absolute disgrace when there are many far more important issues facing us as a country, and as individuals, and it does not surprise me that the labour 'government' is spinning over this one. Our so-called representatives have a lot to answer for now!
Rory Macgregor, Scotland
As King Canute demonstrated, legislating against nature does not work. This ban won't work - it won't save one fox, it will unleash a wave of intolerance across our country, it will create criminals and it will negatively impact fox welfare by removing hunt infrastructure.
Why is society debating this issue? Hunting is cruel. If the foxes are vermin and/or harmful in any other way we must humanely deal with them. Debating this cruel issue is legitimising the cruelty. Stop hunting now, not in 2 years
John Barclay, England
The hunt ban typifies the authoritarian but petty nature of this sanctimonious government.
For everything there is Ying and there is Yang, the key is trying to find the balance between the two. Hunting is neither good nor bad, we are destined to argue, but must be mature enough to compromise. I really don't think that hunting should be banned.
Nicky, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Both sides of this argument seem very petty. Yes - hunting is cruel. But so are many things that we do every day that are never going to be banned and should not be. We have far too much "banning". Let them get on with it if that's what they want. But the argument about jobs and loss of a way of life rings very hollow when it comes from the hunting/farming community. I don't remember hearing quite so loudly from them when the miners, dockers, steel workers and many others were being laid off in their hundreds of thousands.
Swithun, London, UK
Once they have banned hunting, it will be fishing next.
The Hunting Bill is unjust and unfair and oppresses a minority. The Government has ignored the evidence of the Burns Report that hunting is not cruel and has decided to take this action based on prejudice and spite rather than rational decision making. Thousands of people will be put out of work and Mr Blair needs to understand that we will not let him do it. A ban is not an option that we will tolerate. Hunting will continue.
Catherine Fleming, UK
Democracy.... most people want a ban, so it should be banned. It was, in fact, part of the Labour Party's manifesto, so by voting Labour in, people were voting for a ban.
Nathan Hobbs, Luton, UK
You can tell the pro-hunting lobby are getting desperate when they claim it will be against democracy to ban hunting. The democratic chamber of parliament has voted time and again for a ban. Let's see the will of parliament upheld for once!
James Mack, London
I do wish that certain people would stop tarring rural people with the same brush. I grew up in the rural areas of Norfolk, and my whole family think this is a barbaric sport that should be banned.
Hunting is part of our heritage. It is not cruel, it is an effective way of keeping down vermin. When the 'urban fox' starts to become aggressive to people's pets and children, perhaps they'll think again about the 'pretty, furry fox'!
No way should hunting be banned. Foxes although beautiful creatures are vermin. Hunting is no more cruel than fishing and look how many fish are killed every year. I have hunted with hounds and frankly the number of foxes actually caught is very few. How can anyone justify killing 20,000+ hounds for the sake of a few hundred foxes?
Teresa Ashby, England
Yes, I live in the countryside and not only is hunting cruel and disgraceful the hunters dangerously block roads with horse boxes, 4X4's and of course horses and prevent me from getting to my house. Their hounds run all over the place - some of which have tried to attack my own dog whilst out on walks on more than one occasion!
Luke, Leicester, UK
Hunting is an inefficient and barbaric way of dealing with a pest problem. Also, if we refrained from legislating against activities simply because they have a 'history' attached to them, then no progress in human or animal rights law would ever be made. This argument simply has no merit at all.
Paul Gareth Hanlon, UK
The defence by pro-hunters that the dogs will have to be put-down should a ban go ahead is a fallacy. The dogs are put-down anyway after reaching their 2nd birthdays. There's no certainly retirement home for the hounds. It's another aspect of this cruel, uncivilised blood sport and that's the crucial part of the argument in that it is just an unnecessary sport.
Steve Crosher, Devon
Born in the city and now living in the countryside. My partner was born on a farm. Keep hunting! It is good for the local community, one of the few English things left and helps the farmers.
No, no, no - I know what I am talking about because I was hunt saboteur for a number of years when I was a student, sabotaging fox hunts in the south of England. If foxes are not controlled by hunting they will be shot (perhaps maimed and die in great agony later) or foxes may be poisoned which will affect other wildlife. Let hunting continue as it plays an important role in controlling foxes and a role in the rural economy. If the hunting ban goes through it will be fishing next!
Hands off the countryside. We have hunted since our conception either foxes, dinosaurs, people. Why stop now?
John Grant, UK
I grew up with hunting and saw how wrong and unnecessary it was. I would urge everyone to vote for the ban. If fox hunting is necessary then why do the hunt followers breed foxes to release for a hunt?
Julie Curl, England
What next for the anti-lobby - a ban on halal meat production?
Peter, Leicester, UK
Our natural instinct is to hunt. In a society that is becoming ever more controlled, legislation at this level really scares me...Beatrix Potter has a lot to answer for!
Let us not forget that foxes are vermin, how is the fox population going to be controlled should this ban be implemented? Farmers rely on hunts in order to protect the livestock and the surrounding country from this pest. A farmer does not have time to shoot the foxes. I am currently living in London and find myself increasingly having to re-bag my rubbish, thanks to urban foxes and I'm fed up with it. Tony and your pathetic government get on with something like the NHS or even the disastrous economy without wasting my tax money on such a minor issue.
I'm fed up with hunt supporters assuming that all 'antis' are city dwellers who know nothing about country life. I grew up in the countryside, among many people who choose to hunt, and I have still always believed that it is cruel and wrong. I fail to understand how hunt supporters can claim that shooting a fox in a controlled manner is more cruel than chasing it for miles to the point of exhaustion before setting a pack of dogs on it. Yes, fox numbers need to be controlled, but blood sports masquerading as culling methods are not the way to do it.
Allie, England: states that she is from the country and agrees with the ban, she says that foxes can be "shot in a controlled manner" unfortunately Allie foxes don't stand against the wall with their hands up waiting for a clean shot, shooting usually causes foxes injury that causes them to die from gangrene days later, hunting is the best method of managing fox populations
Unpopular as it is to say, the thing being killed is only a fox. We live in an age where our clothing comes from sweat shops and we are quite happy to see humans exploited for our own gain. To see so much time and energy being spent over the welfare of foxes is not just pathetic, but causes me to worry about where we place our values.
Hunting foxes, or any other animal with hounds is a cruel and barbaric happening (it is NOT sport). In New Zealand, where foxes have never been introduced, there is still a very active hunting fraternity, who use 'drag' hunting for their sport, which is very successful. To say the hounds would need to be destroyed is absolute rubbish. Of course they can be retrained to follow a scent drag, the hounds are probably more intelligent than their so-called hunt masters!!
Chris Mayers, UK
This is all about class warfare and very little to do with animal welfare. If people cared that much about animal welfare, then there would be proper pressure on the meat industry to reform. This is an urban majority persecuting a minority and is a poor reflection on our democratic institutions! Shame on you Messrs Blair and Banks!!!
The bottom line is that hunting is a cruel, merciless and unequivocally brutal activity: people who obtain pleasure through ruthless killing of wholly innocent animals are in my view totally depraved. Hunting in any shape or form can have no place in a civilized society.
Sam Ambrose, England
The hypocrisy of this bill is abhorrent - it has nothing to do with animal welfare, and everything to do with class spite. There may be more support for a ban if it included fishing and shooting, and indeed, the keeping of caged animals - but of course, these are not considered to be the exclusive domain of the rich.
Fiona Delevingne, England
I've never hunted with dogs and I doubt that I ever will, but I don't have the immature attitude of wanting to ban something just because I don't like the look of it. They target this simply to annoy the 'toffs'. A ban will destroy the livelihoods of people who rely on hunting. Also, far greater cruelty happens every day in abattoirs but you don't see people complaining as long as they get their cheap meat!
Yes, I'm fed up with the pathetic excuse for this distasteful sport that they hunt for the benefit of the farmers. Let there be no mistake about this, they hunt for sport. This ban is long overdue.
T Anderson, UK
No. I wish we had more legislators who understood that a hunting ban will not create a picture book world where all the animals are nice to each other and live happily ever after. Foxes are carnivorous predators and need to be controlled, and hunting is no worse than any other way of killing them.
As a townie, now living in the country, I feel it is not for me to say whether or not hunting should be banned. When you see the large numbers of people following the hunt, how can I impose my dislike of hunting on them? I just stay away and let them get on with their pursuit. The government should not bother with this as there is far too much else they should be doing. And once hunting is banned, what next - fishing?
Why don't the hunts set up professional drag hunts instead? We would still have the spectacle of hounds and horses galloping across the countryside, they would still make their living , livery stables would remain open etc. It is more exciting when well run, and no fox is ripped to shreds.
Just a small point about the anti's insistence that hunts should convert to drag hunting. You cannot retrain a fox hound, hundreds of years of breeding and training have produced a hound which is only really interested in one thing. They do not make good pets and would follow a drag trail only if it was a dead fox you were dragging and would certainly revert to their normal behaviour if they came across a fresh scent which you don't have to go far to find! There is no easy compromise here and if the law is pushed through there will be a lot of livelihoods ruined.
Kieron Williams, UK
No and if this slips through without House of Lords approval it will make a mockery of our democracy. There are far more important issues that this government should be worrying about - law and order and immigration.
Tony Hamnett, England
This endless debate about hunting is becoming like talking about the weather - something you do when there's nothing else to talk about.
Douglas, Watford, UK
No. This is a waste of Parliament's time and an attempt by the urban majority to dictate to the rural community. It is driven by spite, ignorance and a misguided desire to help animals.
Jeremy Hartley, UK
After seeing the result of a fox visit to a hen coop I do not care how they are got rid of.
Hugh Cross, England
How about letting these people carry on hunting, only without their dogs and horses? Let's see them pelting across a muddy field hot on the trail of Mr Fox. I think that would be a compromise most anti-hunt supporters would gladly sign up to, and, bonus we'd create an entertaining new spectator sport.
Neal, Toronto, Canada
No. Although I'm no great fan of hunting, one glimpse of John Prescott's contorted face at the 2001 Labour conference was enough to convince me that this was nothing to do with concern for the fox. It's about Labour's class war - their visceral hatred of 'toffs on horses'. It's about time these ex student-union agitators grew up.
Andy, Manchester, England
Why ban it? Dogs love to hunt, it's instinctive behaviour for them. Many people enjoy hunting as well, and it's a good partnership, one that goes back thousands of years.
Truly barbaric. Would you hunt a dog in this way? Then why hunt a fox? It should have been banned years ago.
Honest John, UK
It's the most inefficient way of catching and controlling foxes, it's a blood sport, the word to look out for is sport! If the Countryside Alliance had been honest from the start and admitted they enjoyed it rather than going down the road that the countryside will fall apart without fox hinting, they may have had more sympathy.
Peter Grey, UK
Hunting with dogs amounts to cruelty to animals, so yes it should be banned. People can only do what they like so long as their actions don't cause harm to others or animals.
Hunting terrifies rural communities, destroys the countryside and kills hundreds of thousands of animals, including wild, domestic and working animals, every year. There is no debate to have. It is time to end this outrage
Kevin Leftman, UK
In one word no. What a waste of time and taxpayers' money. There are a plethora of issues that Whitehall should be spending their time on.
Clive, Woking, UK
This ban should NOT be implemented as hunting is not only a traditional country sport and a very effective way of controlling foxes but provides employment as well. It is high time we told these "anti's" to mind their own business and stay out of thing they do not understand.
Bob Matthews, Scotland