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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 15:28 GMT
Hunting issue 'will be resolved'
Hounds
Peers have consistently resisted a ban on hunting
Tony Blair has repeated his pledge to "resolve" the issue of a hunting ban before the next general election.

A bill to ban fox hunting was absent in last week's Queen's Speech prompting speculation it would be dropped.

Responding to a question at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Blair said: "As I said before ... we will resolve it this parliament."

A majority of MPs have backed a complete ban on hunting with dogs but the move has been rejected by peers.

Leader of the Commons Peter Hain has accused the House of Lords of a "flagrant abuse" of their power because they stood in the way of the will of the Commons in the parliamentary year just ended.

Labour's last manifesto promised a free vote to enable Parliament to reach a conclusion on the long-running issue.

Mr Hain said: "Can we continue to allow the House of Lords to defy the House of Commons and the will of the people who voted this Labour government in with a mandate to ban cruelty to animals?

"We will have to find a way of ensuring that a ban on cruelty to animals, which was what the House of Commons voted for overwhelmingly and what the people supported in two general elections, is implemented.

"The House of Lords cannot continue to stand in the way of that because otherwise it is an abuse of democracy."

'Lawful society'

Opponents of a ban have been warned not to breach the law by continuing to hunt if the practice is eventually outlawed.

Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said: "Whatever conclusion Parliament reaches the law has got to be obeyed. That's the way our society has always operated."

The government's hunting bill proposed a new licensed system that would have allowed some fox hunting but outlawed hare coursing and stag hunting, but MPs backed an outright ban - prompting the stand-off with peers.

The pro-hunting lobby has been vociferous in its opposition to what it sees as an attempt to end a traditional British way of life.

In September 2002 more than 400,000 marchers converged on London for a Countryside Alliance organised march to highlight the needs of rural communities.

The main focus of the protest was opposition to a ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales, although a wide range of other grievances from rural communities were also being linked with the demonstration.




SEE ALSO:
Peers 'abused power on hunting'
02 Nov 03  |  Politics


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