Hunting vote is setting the hares running

Master and huntsman Charles Carter arrives at Raynham Hall before the start of the Boxing Day West N

Master and huntsman Charles Carter arrives at Raynham Hall before the start of the Boxing Day West Norfolk hunt. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A step too far, or not far enough? The issue of hunting continues to provoke huge emotions ahead of a free vote on Wednesday about whether the number of dogs that can be used to seek out foxes will be changed.

Next week's proposals are a far cry from the Conservative manifesto pledge to repeal the Hunting Act.

But will be seen as a chance to flush out exactly how many MPs might back a repeal.

While the majority of Labour MPs have opposed hunting with dogs, with a number of the new Tory intake also opposed to a repeal, there is a core which are also set to vote down the plans.

The Labour Party has criticised next Wednesday's debate and subsequent vote as an 'underhand' attempt to wreck the Hunting Act.

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But Charles Carter, master of the West Norfolk Hunt, said it was an amendment to the law passed in 2004 and would help the ability of hunts to control foxes for farmers as they would be able to flush a fox to a gun using a full pack of hounds.

He said he was hopeful that supportive MPs would vote on the 'logical option' which recognised the bad law and that the hunting act has failed.

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'Repeal is still the ultimate end goal. It is difficult to enforce and is an absolute waste of police and court time, taxpayers money,' he said. 'The threat of prosecution which masters and staff have had to undergo for the last 10 years isn't acceptable.'

But Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: 'This is nothing but sneaking hunting in through the back door. By amending the Hunting Act like this, the government are deliberately and cynically making it easier for hunts to chase and kill foxes, and harder for them to be convicted when they break the law. This is not about hunting foxes for pest control. It's about hunting foxes for fun.'

What do you think? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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