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Westminster correspondent David Porter reports
"Hunt supporters argue it's wrong that Scottish MPs can help alter a situatuon which will not affect their own consituents"
 real 56k

Westminster correspondent David Porter
"It is the West Lothian question wrapped in a hunting coat"
 real 28k

Labour MP Ernie Ross
"From time to time there are anomalies in our constitution"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 23:44 GMT
Fox vote fuels Scots MPs row
A hunt
The ban would only apply in England and Wales
The row has erupted over voting rights for Scottish MPs as the House of Commons gave the green light to a bill designed to ban fox hunting.

Scottish MPs had been urged not to vote on the measure, which would only affect England and Wales.

A separate bill is currently going through the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The Labour government gave MPs a free vote on the issue and many Scottish Labour MPs took part.

A fox hunt
Scotland is considering its own ban
Liberal Democrats and Conservative MPs also took part, although the Scottish National Party said its MPs would not.

Proposals designed to alter the laws governing hunting have proved contentious.

The Countryside Alliance and other pressure groups have organised a vociferous campaign against the plans.

The House of Commons voted by 387 to 174 for a total ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales.

The issue is unlikely to receive the same support in the House of Lords.

'Cruel bloodsport'

It is expected that the Lords will reject it, preventing it becoming law before the next general election.

Jim Murphy, Eastwood Labour MP, said: "This is an issue which is of interest to many of Scots and I have received thousands of letters about this one issue alone.

"There is an opportunity, here at Westminster today, to abolish a cruel bloodsport and I am going to take that opportunity."

West Lothian question

Supporters of hunting said it is wrong that Scottish MPs can help alter a situation which will not affect their own constituents.

James Gray, Conservative MP for Wiltshire North, said: "Here we are in the English Parliament, and I call it the English Parliament properly, deciding whether or not fox hunting should continue in England and 50-something Labour MPs from Scotland come down here and poke their noses in.

"Wiltshire is being bossed about by the Scots, but Wigtonshire cannot be bossed about by the English."

The row has fanned the flames of the so-called West Lothian question, concerning the respective voting rights of English and Scottish MPs.

The issue was first raised by West Lothian MP Tam Dalyell in the 1970s.

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See also:

17 Jan 01 | UK Politics
MPs vote for total ban on hunting
17 Jan 01 | UK Politics
MPs set 'to ban' fox hunting
26 Dec 00 | UK
Fox hunters out in force
16 Sep 99 | UK
Fox hunting: The issues
12 Jun 00 | Scotland
Pledge to rethink cut in MSPs
18 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Call to examine 'English question'
21 Mar 00 | Scotland
MSPs consider anti-hunt bill
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