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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Labour MPs back hunting ban move
Hunting with hounds
MPs have already voted to ban hunting with dogs
The government's decision to use the Parliament Act, if necessary, to force into law a ban on hunting with dogs, has won the backing of Labour MPs.

The support was signalled at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, attended by Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael.

A motion was carried at the meeting applauding the government's decision to use the Parliament Act if need be.

Gordon Prentice, anti-hunting Labour MP for Pendle, said he was relieved the government had finally made up its mind "after years of faffing around".

Rare move

MPs have already voted to outlaw hunting with dogs, although their colleagues in the Lords back the option of licensed hunting.

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael
Alun Michael MP: Pledged to make "good law"
The government has said it will consult for six months before going ahead with new legislation on the issue.

Mr Prentice said he doubted that the new round of consultation on hunting would "tell us anything we didn't know already".

Use of the Parliament Act is rare and allows the government to force Bills into law despite opposition from the House of Lords.

The government used the procedure recently to push through a Bill lowering the gay age of consent to 16 after peers rejected the measure.

Mr Michael said in Parliament last month he wanted to "engage with everyone who has an interest in this issue (hunting) to make the legislation practical and robust".

He pledged to introduce a Bill which would deal with hunting "effectively once and for all and make good law".

The pro-hunting Countryside Alliance announced this week it is to hold a massive protest march through London on Sunday 22 September - a week prior to the start of the Labour Party annual conference.

See also:

12 Apr 02 | UK Politics
'Summer of discontent' launched
21 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Hunting decision put on hold
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