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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 February, 2005, 18:30 GMT
Should the hunting ban be upheld?
Master of the hunt calls his hounds
Pro-hunt campaigners have lost their High Court challenge to the law banning hunting with dogs in England and Wales.

Supporters of hunting had hoped the High Court would overturn Parliament's decision to outlaw hunting with hounds, which is due to come into force on 18 February.

The Countryside Alliance told judges the law was invalid because it was passed using the Parliament Act.

What do you think of the High Court decision? Should the ban come into effect in February? Send us your views using the form.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

This topic was suggested by Paul, Essex UK
After the High Court ruling upholding the ban on hunting with hounds, should the Alliance continue to fight the ban or concentrate instead on other issues affecting rural communities?

The ban should not be upheld. It makes no sense to ban hunting while permitting real cruelties: the life-long suffering of battery hens, songbirds in cages, rabbits in hutches, large dogs in small flats exercised on leads, calves that never run in a field... and then the export of live animals in brutal conditions. Compare these examples of man's cruelty to animals with the lives of the horses and hounds, fulfilled and cared for, and the fox that either runs free or is swiftly killed, in a natural way, and realise where real cruelty lies.
A. Renton, Lewes, Sussex

The MPs have banned hunting due to class prejudice its nothing to do with animal welfare - if it was the law would never have been passed. This week the news has been all about tolerance towards other people - their views and traditions - so why does this tolerance not apply to those of us who hunt. They only want to be tolerant when it suits them
Amanda Bishop, Herts

Why do people still think this is a class issue? Surely it's because it's a "toff's sport" that fox hunting wasn't made illegal at the same time as those noble and "traditional" working class sports of dog fighting and cock fighting.
Katherine, London, UK

If all the hunters say the best part is when you do the chasing and not the killing, then a totally viable substitute would be drag-hunting, where no actual killing is involved. thus sustaining the hunting industry.
Russell Jacques, Manchester England

The law to ban hunting is a vindictive law introduced by a vindictive government and as such should be opposed and fought at every opportunity. I don't hunt and have no interest in doing so but that doesn't mean I'd like to see it banned. The measure of a fair and decent society is surely one which tolerates minority interests, not one that persecutes minorities.
Ian Jerram, Chesterfield, England

The use of the Parliament Act in support of a bill which was a manifesto commitment i.e. part of the legislative programme the government was elected on seems logical. If a little excessive. The bill was thoroughly scrutinised, went through the parliamentary process and when returned to the Commons without Lords approval, a further time was adopted under the parliament act. Remember this bill had massive support in the elected house
Martyn Howie, Aberdeen

A ban on hunting with dogs is what the majority of voters want
Nicky Flatt, Pinner, UK
There are many laws in this country which I think are unfair, but that doesn't mean that I see myself as being exempt from them - and neither should the Countryside Alliance/pro-hunt supporters. The people of this country have the right to vote against such an abhorrent activity and a ban on hunting with dogs is what the majority of voters want. Pro-hunters and hunters - grow up and accept this law and find something better to do with your time - what is wrong with drag hunting?
Nicky Flatt, Pinner, UK

The argument was flawed on legal grounds and the High Court could not rule otherwise. However, the human rights argument remains to be tested. As much as I hate hunting and unwarranted cruelty to animals (I am a vegetarian because I think our farming processes are inhumane), I feel very uncomfortable with the new law. It looks too much like a bit of nasty one-upmanship - the Labour equivalent of a Tory attack on immigration. The intention is get a cheap thrill from clouting the adversary below the belt and picking up votes in the process, however irrational. Surely we could rise above this?
Darien Bernstein, Oxford

Unenforceable? In what sense? The same way as speeding, in that thousands do it all the time and only a small percentage is punished? Should we abandon all hope of ever controlling people's bad driving and scrap the law? Until we ourselves can demonstrably control our irresponsible urges, laws like this are needed, and should be enforced as best we can.
JC, Hampshire, UK

Get off the backs of those of us that live in the countryside Blair. This is an idiotic and unenforceable law. The police and the judicial system are going to be made to look like fools that they clear are. This legislation has nothing at all to do with animal welfare; it is as one Labour MP's admitted, 'pay back for what the Tories did to the miners'. I have one message to the Countryside Alliance: ' Carry on hunting and let this bigoted socialist rabble in Westminster try stopping you - Good Luck!'
Anthony, Devon, UK

Today Iraq votes for its democracy and yet in a few days time we lose some of ours. Let the people vote on hunting and decide if they really care enough to ban it not just a political agenda
Louise, Milford, Surrey

Our heritage is being stifled by the government legislation
Martina Beale, South Norwood, England
More foxes are killed on the road by motorists in suburban areas. Hounds can be used for drag hunts if they don't want to use a fox as bait but I personally think the ban should be lifted as our heritage is being stifled by the government legislation and soon we will have no freedom of choice in anything.
Martina Beale, South Norwood, England

This is another case of this government wasting taxpayer's money trying to look good in the public eye. Why did they bother with this law anyway? They have a 'catch all' law now which will allow them to lock up anyone they like on the pretence of them being a terrorist. And, given this government's intelligence record, we can rest assured that they can be trusted to correctly determine the true terrorists... can't we?
Jane Higgins, Reading, UK

The foxhunters would be allowed to continue their sport if they simply ran the hunt the same way we do in the US: do not kill the fox. Let him live to run another day. How hard is that?
Sharon, USA

What's the point in democracy if votes in between the elected MPs are simply overturned? This is the right decision and reflects the will of the people.
Dave, Slough, UK

If we uphold the ban it will mean that foxes will be killed using shooting or poisoning. Shooting a fox risks hitting it in its hind-quarters whereby it won't die for several days. Poisoning it means it dies from massive internal bleeding and liver failure over a prolonged, agonising, period. What exactly do the anti-hunt lobby suggest is a humane way to deal with a recognised pest?
John, Sheffield, UK

Oh get a grip for heaven sake! The law should be upheld and the ban should stand. Lots of comments on this site say it's a class war. What utter rubbish! It is a right and just decision, voted for by the majority. Get use to it and move on and give us all a break.
Lynne Westrop, Herts

It used to be a tradition to burn witches
Sheila, Essex, UK
It used to be a tradition to burn witches. This tradition was widespread and continued for many centuries. It wasn't right though was it? We are more enlightened now and know better. Those who take part in cruel "sports" should know better and it is up to the rest of us to re-educate them.
Sheila, Essex, UK

Seven hundred hours of Parliamentary time and counting, millions of tax pounds and counting. That is what foxhunting has cost the UK public in Parliament time and taxes. Personally, I would have preferred them to spend that 700 hours on human issues - poverty in the UK for one - the integrated transport structure for another, the "ethical foreign policy" is another. This continuing debacle confirms to me that the animal rights lobby are more interested in their furry friends than in humanity. I don't care if hunting is banned or not - I just don't like the idea of a minority lobby group turning the floor and Chamber of the House into an occupied zone. (By the way - the foxes will still have to be dealt with).
Roger, Whitwick England

Using the Parliament Act to impose a ban on hunting makes a mockery of the reason for the Act. This is a law which is seriously flawed.
Penny Thomas, Bexhill, East Sussex

Yes and we should re-introduce the poll tax which got overturned by a far smaller number of law breaking protestors.
Mark K, London, UK

I don't see smokers campaigning to overturn the ban on smoking in pubs. Sure, they are unhappy about it, but they aren't challenging it. Foxhunters should have the same acceptance of the ban on their barbaric sport.
James Hadfield, Mansfield, UK

The High Court's decision was the right one. Any so called civilised country that allows blood sports for fun is barbaric. There is now a proven connection to abusive people and murders, with animal cruelty.
Lucille Jane Mason, Lowestoft, Suffolk, England

If we could all select which laws to obey that would be anarchy
David, Cheltenham, UK
I didn't agree with the ban but now it is going ahead the hunters must obey it. If you don't like a law passed by Parliament you vote for a different Parliament at the next General Election, you don't ignore the law on a selective basis. If we could all select which laws to obey that would be anarchy.
David, Cheltenham, UK

The Hunting Act will make no difference to the vast majority of people who hunt. To even begin to enforce it the police force would need to be doubled and police resources taken away from real crime such as murderers, rapists, thefts etc. I feel very sorry for the police who have made it clear they cannot enforce it even if they wanted to and that they will not be able to make it a priority when allocating resources.
Henry Bankes, Saffron, Walden

I hate the idea of hunting animals for fun or sport. However, I don't feel strongly enough to stop others doing it and I would most likely not want a hunter as a friend. There are more important issues in UK such as using tax payers' money to drop bombs on innocent people in an illegal war. Banning hunting won't win my vote. Lift the ban? Sure, if it stops these people from turning their attention to something even more barbaric or against good taste.
Michael Sharpe, Killarney, Ireland

I think that the ban should not come into effect. What's wrong with all these people going out hunting? It's a sport. My partner goes out every week and if this ban goes ahead think of all the dogs which will have to be killed. On the 18 February my partner will still hunt no matter what.
Tina Connell, Liverpool

The law should take its normal course
Ogundogba Sam, Nigeria

The campaigners who have gone as far as the High Court should rest their case and obey the law of the land. Britain has an age-old tradition of obeying the rule of law. So this case cannot be exceptional - whatever the sentiments from members of the Countryside Alliance. The law should take its normal course.
Ogundogba Sam, Nigeria

This ban should not be upheld, it is yet another example of over emotional law making, it is unenforceable, thus making the law an even bigger ass than it already is. If the government wish to retain our respect they should repeal the ban and apologise for wasting everyone's' time. Not one fox, stag or hare will benefit from this idiocy.
Fiona Cameron, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

The Parliament Act was brought in by the Liberal Party to prevent hereditary privilege from frustrating the repeatedly stated will of the elected part of Parliament. The case here was between democracy and hereditary privilege. This judgement was therefore perfectly correct.
Charles Moore, Edinburgh, Scotland

The hunting ban should be challenged in every court in the land.
John R Smith, UK
According to the government's own research (Burns report) no foxes will be saved. In fact they are more likely to be left injured after being shot or die slowly after being poisoned. So this is not about wildlife or the environment. It's pure class warfare and socialist spite. As such the Parliament Act should never have been used. The hunting ban should be challenged in every court in the land (and Europe) and overturned. I don't hunt, never have and never will, but democracies exist to protect minorities not to persecute them.
John R Smith, UK

What a complete irrelevance. Tony Blair was elected to improve health and education not to stir up a countryside battle that cannot be won and will only result in suffering on all sides - foxes that are shot not hunted and horses and hounds that are put down. The RSPCA have lost the plot.
Jack Hamilton, Leicester

Of course the ban should be upheld. Who do these foxhunters think they are? I didn't vote for them. I voted for my MP, who upheld my belief that blood sports are barbaric.
Jason Smith, Sidmouth, UK

Just waiting for the first big court case where hunters are being prosecuted. It will make a nice change for the hunt saboteurs to sit back with the law on their side.
Edward Broad, Swansea

The hunting law is redundant. Charles Clarke will soon be able to lock up any potential hunters in their home without any evidence whatsoever. Presumably the dogs will be placed under kennel arrest.
Chris Klein, Chandlers Ford, UK

The ruling was incorrect and must be overturned. The Parliament Act, even if legal, was never intended for trivial legislation and especially not for petty class warfare.
Graham Shelton, Oxford, England

This case should never have come to court
Jo Gummer, Cambridge
I thought we were living in a democracy? This case should never have come to court. Hunting with dogs has been proved in the Burns report not to be cruel, so this must be a class issue. I'm sure there are more important animal welfare issues that need attention.
Jo Gummer, Cambridge

This is the power of the true people of Britain in action. MPs are representatives of the people and, through them, the people have said no to this cruel 'sport'. It would be illegal to take your pet dog and set another dog on it, so why should it be legal to set 20 dogs on a fox? It seems very few people at all remember there is such a thing as drag hunting. It allows all the enjoyment and business of hunting, just without the necessity of murdering a fox at the end. If this is not acceptable to the hunters, it simply proves that their enjoyment is in the slaughter, not the chase.
Chris F, Derby, UK

I live in one of the most rural areas of England. The police, it is said, intend to police possible illegal hunting "according to the resources available┐. If this is true then the Countryside Alliance can save their money litigating the ban. Policing resources in rural areas are almost non existent so valid or not hunts can and, I hope, will continue, to provide a valuable service to the rural community and to livestock producers like myself.
Kevin, Walford, Herefordshire

The only thing worse than people imposing their will upon others is people imposing their values upon others. I dislike fox hunting, and deem it cruel in that something has to die - yet democracy MUST have its limits. Imposing one set of values is not what democracy is about - whether the majority agree or not!
Martina, London

This challenge to the Parliament Act had serious constitutional implications, as the Act is one of the few things that protects British democracy from the whims of the unelected, unrepresentative Lords. I'm relieved the court has ruled in favour of democracy and against the cruel and anachronistic pursuit that is fox hunting..
Neil Gall, Edinburgh, Scotland

It's a sad day for rural England
Ted Howard-Jones, UK

It's the end of an era. Hunting with hounds is about much more than the controlling of a pest, it's a way of life and a whole community for thousands of people from all walks of life. My father has built his retirement around hunting and the friends, community, social life and exercise it affords. His whole social network will disappear. It's a sad day for rural England, but some of us will fight on to defend a sport that in our opinion is no more cruel than fishing, shooting, or keeping goldfish in bowls or hamsters in cages.
Ted Howard-Jones, High Wycombe, UK

Why is the government bothering to ban hunting? Because foxes are cute. If the debate were about rats then it would have never started. I remain amazed that the government has had the time available to debate and legislate when it should be dealing with more important matters. I feel that the Alliance should fight even harder and not surrender to bigotry, if this were ritualised slaughter the debate would have never started.
Patrick, London

Two words - tradition and heritage.
David Mck, Middlesbrough

In America there are two states that still legally allow cock fighting. I'm sure they defend the 'tradition' of their 'sport'. But that certainly doesn't make it a moral activity. I see no difference with fox hunting. Please ban it.
Jon, Winchester, UK

The Countryside Alliance should just accept the will of the people
David Hazel, Fareham, UK
I'm not surprised it failed. If the Parliament Act really was legally flawed, one would have to ask why it has not been challenged earlier in more than 90 years of its existence. These whole legal shenanigans by the Countryside Alliance are basically just the continuation of their filibustering of a few years ago by other means. The Countryside Alliance should just accept the will of the people, like everyone else has to.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK

I notice the police authorities do not seem to be showing any interest in enforcing this law. Laws are a complete waste of time if they are not enforced. I have never seen a cyclist stopped by the police, even though they pose a direct threat to many pedestrians.
Kosh, Reading

Yes, uphold the Ban and lets get this massive time-wasting issue out of the way once and for all so we can get on with discussing things that actually matter.
Jeff , Amersham UK

Can someone tell me what the problem is? Many years ago there was a serious debate within hunting circles to start drag hunting, because that would stop the damage to horses through jumping barbed wire. So really there is no need to lose jobs and threaten livelihoods. Just revert to drag hunting, people, horses and dogs will have there day out and the people who do not like foxes being killed will be satisfied as well.
Patrick Borst, Kenmare Co Kerry

I am against killing for sport and would prefer a ban on hunting, shooting and fishing but the labour government used the hunting with dogs ban as a sop to their animal welfare supporters. They wanted this to work both ways. They wanted a ban to keep anti hunting voters but they didn't want it yet so that they would not lose the pro-hunting voters. Hopefully this has put a spanner in their cynical works.
Roger, Stockport, Cheshire

Fox hunting is probably the best way to control foxes in that it actually kills very few
Ed, Aberdeen, Scotland
Fox hunters are easy to dislike, sadly that has become the battle ground. Fox hunting is probably the best way to control foxes in that it actually kills very few. Instead it keeps foxes fearful of humans and so at a distance. Once they become fearless, as in towns, then we'll have to turn to higher mortality rate controls.
Ed, Aberdeen, Scotland

If hunts were to use dogs which aren't fast enough to catch a fox would that still qualify as hunting? What constitutes hunting? The ability to catch? I ask because my Spaniel forlornly chases gulls and crows every day and I am guilty of encouragement. Will I fall foul of the law?
Lee, Cheshire

To "Lee, Cheshire" Yes, you will fall foul of the law if your dog chases and catches an animal. You may even be committing a crime if you allow your dog to chase a wild animal in the first place. I'm no lover of blood sports, but this is a bad law and bad laws should always be fought, no matter how good the intentions.
Daniel, Wilts, UK

Why have Labour even bothered to impose this ban? Class Warfare. Labour has absolutely no interest in the animal welfare side of this. They are simply trying to outlaw a rural and what is considered upper-class practice. If they had been looking at animal welfare, they wouldn't have banned hunting because 50,000 hounds will now have to be put down. Could we please worry about people killing other people (which happens far more often) than people killing foxes.
Ben Wood, Bourne, Lincs

Yes, of course the ban should come into effect in February. What is all the fuss about? The hunt for the vast majority of British people is a sad anachronism, a sport for a dying breed who insist upon remaining out of step with modern life and values, presumably based on a belief that they are more important than anyone else and therefore beyond any law. If they had any sense at all, they'd modernise with a new sport providing the spectacle and chase but without the cruelty.
Simon, UK

"Imposing one set of values is not what democracy is about - whether the majority agree or not!" [Martina, London]: Surely this is the essence of Democracy? We vote, the group with the most votes wins. That is true Democracy. In this country, the most votes go to... the people who think hunting a creature until it dies of fear or being ripped to shreds by wild dogs is barbaric!
Jai Gomer, UK

What parliament decides should be upheld by all otherwise we have anarchy
A Wright, Nottingham
The law is the law. What parliament decides should be upheld by all otherwise we have anarchy. People should not behave as they like just because some laws do not suit them. Hunting people seem to think they are above the law
A Wright, Nottingham

I am increasingly concerned about the amount of my had earned tax that this government is wasting on non essential parliamentary business, so they can be seen to be 'politically correct'. The ruling must eventually overturned as a matter of principle - the Parliament Act was never intended to be used in such circumstances, and the Government censured for allowing it to be used on this occasion.
Peter, Cambs

After 700 hours and ignoring the Burns Report, the Government has pushed through a bad law. It will be impossible to enforce and it should never have been enacted in the first place. Who can tell if hounds are hunting a drag 30 minutes old (legal) or the scent of a fox that has just run out of sight (illegal)? If my dogs hunt a rabbit with the landowner's permission I'm legal. If they put up a hare, whether the landowner agrees or not, I'm a criminal. Explain the logic of that. It's class warfare, not animal welfare.
Andy A, Sedgeford, UK

The Hunting Act 2004 was based on prejudice, as has been made clear by numbers of Labour MPs. Legislation should be based on reasoned judgement. All of the enquiries into hunting found that it is a humane method of managing wild animals. The ban should, therefore, be overturned.
Peter Thomas, Saffron Walden, Essex

Yes, uphold the ban. I personally think the ban is misguided but believe the government must accept the political fall-out from this extremely badly drafted legislation as they fight an election battle, rather than simply putting it to one side and dealing with it when they don't have to persuade the people to re-elect them.
Jonny, UK

The ban should definitely become law and those who flaunt it receive severe punishment
Anne Wynn, Banbury
The ban should definitely become law and those who flaunt it receive severe punishment. Torturing and murdering defenceless creatures is both barbaric and degrading to the human species, it must be stopped
Anne Wynn, Banbury

I voted for Labour to improve health and education, not to ban hunting. They have succeeded in the ban, but not improved the services. Until they can get their priorities right I will be voting for a different party.
V Caroline, England

February 18th will be long remembered as a great day for civilised society and democracy. Don't delay the ban.
Steve, Cheltenham, England

How such a trivial issue as fox hunting can capture the undivided attention of an entire country in the face of the horrific national and world issues facing it, seems to me ludicrous. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would almost believe all this noise to be generated by politicians to take the public focus off the terrible mess they have made of our country. The remarkable thing is that it has apparently worked. How silly we are.
Victor, Oxford UK

This is an issue that should never have come up. The fox is not an endangered species, and hunting harms no one. If you don't like hunting, don't hunt! The number of things we are not allowed to do should be kept at an absolute minimum.
Max Sommers, Athens, Greece

It is an intolerant and illiberal piece of legislation based on mistaken prejudice
Philip Naylor-Leyland, UK
Whether or not the High Court should have overturned the ban, it is an intolerant and illiberal piece of legislation based on mistaken prejudice. Will 100,000 highly motivated anti-government helpers in the key marginals make a difference at election time, Tony?
Philip Naylor-Leyland, Peterborough, UK

This is bad law and bad politics. It seeks to criminalise a law abiding minority. It attacks liberty and freedom. Just because we don't like something, we shouldn't seek to ban it. Why not ban fishing or ritual slaughter. This is about class war and Blair's lack of leadership.
Keith Marsden, Worcestershire

Of course the High Court decision was correct. I completely agree with Chris F. The Countryside Alliance's comments about loss of livelihood etc. are nonsense, when we all know that the 'hunting industry' can continue virtually unchanged by using their resources for drag-hunting - the only difference in the 'sport' will be that they don't actually kill anything. Members of my family who object to killing animals have happily drag-hunted for years - you get the thrill of riding cross-country with hounds and have a clear conscience at the end of the day.
Teresa S., St. Albans, Herts.

Yes - the rule of law, and will of Parliament, must prevail. No-one should be allowed to choose which laws they are willing to obey.
Bill, Lanarkshire, Scotland


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