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EDITIONS
Monday, 18 March, 2002, 13:05 GMT
The difficulties of a compromise
Fox hunting
Anti-hunt protesters want a total ban
There can be no compromise over a complete ban on hunting with dogs, say campaigners.

MPs are due to be given a free vote on hunting with hounds in England and Wales on Monday.


How can you license cruelty

Lena Cracknell
League Against Cruel Sports

Ahead of the vote the League Against Cruel Sports told the BBC that there had to be a total ban.

But hunt supporters say there is no mandate for a complete ban.

Total ban

Lena Cracknell, spokeswoman for the anti-hunt League Against Cruel Sports, rejected the notion that a middle way could be found that would see hunting licensed and regulated.

Speaking from the kennels of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds, she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it had to be a "total ban or nothing".

"How can you licence cruelty?

"You can't have a ban on hunting north of the border in Scotland and not in this country.

MPs and peers will choose between three options - an outright ban, no change or legally-binding regulation of hunting.

Ms Cracknell continued: "How can you say it is cruel to hunt a hare and not cruel to hunt a fox.

"They are both mammals and will suffer a similar demise. It is either cruel or it isn't."

She said anti-hunt protesters knew that they would again get the support of backbenchers and Labour.

"Why not reintroduce the Bill as it stands and have done with it."

No mandate

James Buckle, Master of the Hunt, told Today that pro-hunt supporters were prepared to accept some middle ground.

Tony Banks, former Sports Minister
Tony Banks: Middle way is 'licensed killing'
However he said the idea that some sports like hare coursing might be banned while fox hunting remained was unacceptable.

"There is no way that we can sacrifice one sport against another."

He said he would march in protest against any such suggestion.

And he refused to accept that there was any mandate for a total ban.

Speaking on the same programme, former Sports Minister and anti-hunt Labour MP Tony Banks predicted that MPs would reject the option of licensed hunts.

"The so-called middle way is licensed killing".

Tighter controls

But Labour peer and Countryside Alliance campaigner Baroness Mallalieu said she would opt for the middle way when peers vote on the issue on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Tony Blair will vote for a ban on hunting according to a Downing Street spokesman.

But his government is thought to favour a "middle way" system of tighter controls to try and get round the impasse caused in the past by MPs voting for a ban and Lords voting against.

The votes this week are not binding and are intended to provide ministers with evidence to help them draft the legislative bill before Easter - one which the government hopes will be a compromise between the two sides.

Background and analysis of one of the most contentious issues in British politics

Latest stories

The Scottish ban

Analysis

Background

TALKING POINT
See also:

28 Feb 02 | Scotland
26 Feb 02 | England
14 Feb 02 | Scotland
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