Hunting with hounds will be illegal in England and Wales from February 2005.
The Speaker of the Commons, Michael Martin, invoked the Parliament Act to force through a ban. It over-rides the objections from the House of Lords, which has fought the legislation for seven years.
As well as fox hunting, deer-hunting and hare-coursing with dogs will now be outlawed.
Peers had rejected a last-ditch offer by the Commons to delay the ban until 31 July 2006.
Should hunting with dogs be banned? Will it affect rural attitudes to Tony Blair and the Labour party? Send us your comments using the postform.
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:
So the Conservatives reckon they will repeal this law if elected, do they? Literally tens of thousands of fair minded people wanted a ban on this form of barbarity. Tories beware, go against the majority of the electorate and you will never gain office. Good riddance to fox hunting. It should have gone years ago.
Donald Gall, Ascot, UK
The hunting group will have to accept the law just as the handgun sports people who lost their sport not so long ago. Alternatives will have to be found so my advice is to stop complaining and start thinking.
Jim Coles, Truro, Cornwall, UK
Let the country ways continue as they have done for many years. The government has gone too far this time by following the feelings of a disruptive minority of the population, and I believe they will be hit by a major backlash of protest from town and country folks alike. What is the next thing to go? Angling, shooting, keeping pets, cruelty to vegetables? The world's going mad.
Dave Moore, Bradford, England
What is it about people who hunt that make them think that this form or cruelty to animals is ok? It's a sick and deprived way of people getting a kick. I hope that the government has seen sense in at least this issue and prompts for a full ban before the next election.
Ban it. I've lived my entire life in the country, had many friends who are farmers, known many people who agree with fox hunting. That doesn't change what fox hunting is... a grossly inefficient method of pest control. People who should hunt are those people who need to eat the food they catch. The rational behind fox hunting is not to eat the fox, but to have a jolly good tally-ho. It's this that makes it cruel. Anyway, the government hasn't intentionally spent all this time banning fox hunting. If it wasn't for the House of Lords it would have illegal ages ago.
The pro-hunt brigade cannot win. I doubt that Blair really cares either way, but you simply cannot have entire communities flouting the law, especially after all of the publicity. This ban is the will of the people in action. The law will be enforced and if all of the huntsman have to go to prison, so be it!
I think it is totally undemocratic that the majority force change on a large significant minority. A compromise solution should be found. We criticise the French for banning headscarves. Tell me what the difference is?
Powell, Jodoigne, Belgium
If most of the enjoyment is for people to ride on horses racing across the countryside.. jumping fences, ditches etc¿ then is not regular organised point-to point racing a suitable alternative? Is there not a similar adrenalin rush achieved by racing across the fields, competing against fellow man to achieve the best time? I am not a horse rider and neither do I belong to any faction either for or against fox hunting.
Brian Rees, Portsmouth
I am disgusted at this decision by the government, to once again infringe on the rights of the people of the countryside! It is a sad and sadistic government that puts the rights of an animal, before the rights of a human being! How long will it be before I am forbidden from walking on the carpet in my workplace, for fear of killing dust mites and other organisms, whose life now appears more important that my own personal well-being?
The animal rights brigade has got a strangle-hold on this country, and the government are too scared to oppose them. I hope that once the ban comes into place, a campaign of civil disobedience, interference, protest, and non-compliance develops from the countryside alliance, which will ultimately make life as difficult as possible for those in Number 10! Shame on you!
Andy, Leeds, UK
Thank God for a government with the guts to finally deliver one of it's original election promises - unlike the spineless Tories. I had serious doubts about voting for Tony Blair again, but Labour have just changed my mind. It's a shame that the pro-hunting peers couldn't have been a little more grown up about it. Contrary to pro-hunt propaganda this isn't a town versus country issue - I speak as someone who now lives in the suburbs but was born and raised a country dweller.
I don't like fox hunting - I think it's cruel. However, many people think that eating meat is cruel, and I eat meat. It worries me that the government is making laws about things that seem to be a matter of personal morality. And before anyone points it out - I realise that this argument can be applied to almost any activity, but in the case of fox hunting it seems that enough people believe it to be okay that it should be left as an individual choice in the same way as eating meat, fishing and many other activities are.
Fox hunting is one tradition that this country can do without. I feel that the potential effects on communities are being overstated, and that the whole issue has taken up too much media coverage. Yes, I would be upset if someone banned my sport, but if my sport involved the mutilation of poor defenceless animals, then it's probably something I would expect sooner or later.
Peter, Wokingham, Berks
No, hunting most certainly should not be banned by the Labour government which is seeking to totally destroy Britain for the British.
Brigitte, London, UK
As a farmer and conservationist I, along with thousands of others are appalled that this most prejudiced of legislation has been passed. The Hunting Bill will cause more cruelty in the countryside, not less. I accept that people who do not understand the situation may consider that banning hunting is to ban something that is cruel. The reality is that many other methods of control are crueller than hunting. The Bill has nothing to do with animal welfare, and everything to do with prejudice and political 'payback'. We in rural areas shall fight for justice. And we shall win.
Hunting is an outdated sport where cruelty is the only reason left to do it. The pest argument is no longer true, and even if it was, death by dogs is not the most humane method! It should have been banned years ago.
Tracy McCoy, Birmingham, West Midlands
I live and work in the countryside but have no strong opinions on fox hunting. I believe however that in a democracy there should be tolerance and acceptance, just because some people object to something they don't like is not reason to go out and ban it. There are far more important issues that this government needs to focus on.
Jon Morley, Ivybridge, Devon
I honestly don't care much whether hunting is banned or not. I do care that the government is wasting huge amounts of time and abusing the Parliament Act on such a petty crusade. Foxes and hunters should be at the bottom of the priority list, well below stuff like Iraq, Transport, Health, Education etc.
Jon King, Cambs, UK
I don't hunt or fish, but I respect the natural rights of those who wish to do so. This Act which has been pushed through against the wishes of the House of Lords is about Labour MP's fighting an old class war. If animal welfare was an issue then they would ban fishing. However they would never be elected. Enabling laws should not be used against minorities in our country.
Andy Mackiewicz, Solihull
I don't understand the fuss. Is the pro-hunt community really saying that the only enjoyment they get from their activity is ripping a defenceless fox to pieces? Nobody is stopping the spectacle of riding across the countryside, and therefore the 'jobs' of their supposedly beloved horses and dogs are safe. Ride, enjoy...just don't kill. Is that really so bad?
Cate Warde, London, UK
I assume fishing as a sport, and shooting are next? These are just as cruel to animals are they not? I fail to understand why so much time and money has been spent debating a totally pointless issue, when we have endless problems in our education system, our healthcare system, our prison system - the list goes on.
It's taken seven years but the fight has been worth it, Although I live in the countryside its still a barbaric sport, Actually its not a sport its just cruel and blood thirsty I commend the government and the opposition.
Ryan Cleminson, Newbury, UK
So now the pro-hunters want to challenge the parliament act - how silly. If anything about the process of making the ban law needs to be challenged it's to role of the Lords. They have behaved appallingly - they had their say on countless occasions but the Commons simply disagreed with them. They should have been more honourable and conceded to the affirmed will of those elected to represent us. The Lord's are not representative of the majority of the population and should be abolished along with hunting !
Kevin, West Midlands
People who support this practice call it a "way of life", but it's a way of death for the poor old foxes! I'm sure cock fighting and badger baiting used to be a "way of life" for some people too! The difference seems to be that the people in control of this barbaric practice are richer and more influential.
Carol Brady, Chester, Cheshire
Most definitely this barbaric activity should be banned, the sooner the better. Tony Blair promised us this in 1996..!
Sue Stephenson, Loughborough, Leicestershire
I'd love to know the MP's ideas on how to run the countryside without hunting. I can't see it causing anything but trouble. Please let us have the choice.
Nicky Allen, Helston, Cornwall
I very much doubt the claims that most people in the UK want hunting banned. I personally have not heard anyone declaring their support for the ban and most people in the UK couldn't care less. Surely there are more important things to take up the time and efforts of MPs!
Ian, Norfolk UK
I live in a small rural community in East Devon where there is strong opposition to the proposed ban on fox hunting. I find hunting to be divisive, according to both class and ethical principles. It is by no means a source of unity in the village, and this cruel sport should be banned immediately.
Barnaby Walker, Gittisham, Devon
I have no strongly held views on the principles, but this seems to be an unworkable law. If following the ban, hunts move to drag hunting, when the hounds get scent of a fox the hounds may well switch to chasing the fox in preference to the trail. It will be interesting to see how this will be policed and how the courts will view the culpability of the hunters in these circumstances.
Trevor, Shrewsbury UK
It's obvious that fox hunting should be banned. We are now in the 21st century, and if we consider ourselves a civilised people then a sport that involves the ripping to pieces of an animal should be banned. People say that fox hunting is a tradition so therefore it should be kept. Then again, putting people into stocks and throwing waste at them used to be a tradition. Some people say fox hunting is a way of life. Then again, working in heavy industry used to be a way of life for many people but unfortunately the world moves on. Perhaps it is time for the Countryside Alliance to realise that.
Ian Kerr, Cambridge
This ban will do nothing to protect foxes. I for one will now shoot them. I only hope that I get a clean shot and not let the fox die a slow death.
S Halls, Braintree England
I watched a hunt at the age of 8, as the fox came down the hillside towards me, I had a clear view through binoculars of the fear its eyes, 36 now and to this day, thank god , I have never seen another animal in such terror, its cruel on the fox, its even crueller on the hounds, and its got to be stopped. Its not townies against the countryside, it's the decent people in this country trying to put a stop to a barbaric sport.
David Chilcott, Cornwall