9 May 2001
Blair pledge to revive Hunt Bill

By FWi staff

PRIME Minister Tony Blair will resurrect the controversial bill to ban hunting with hounds if he is re-elected to Downing Street, it is reported.

The bill to outlaw hunting with hounds was effectively scrapped for this term when Mr Blair finally named 7 June as election day on Tuesday (8 May).

Parliament will be formally dissolved on Monday (14 May).

The hunting bill is one of seven bills which will be dropped because opposition MPs have refused to co-operate to speed up their passage.

But Mr Blair will promise in Labours manifesto to give MPs another free vote on banning hunting with hounds, claims The Daily Telegraph.

The manifesto will commit the party to re-introducing the bill to ban hunting and letting it run its full course through the next Parliament.

But Mr Blair has rejected calls from his backbenchers to pledge to force through a ban, because he fears a countryside backlash, the paper says.

Senior Downing Street sources are reported as saying the foot-and-mouth epidemic has made it harder for Labour to abolish hunting.

The paper predicts, however, that Mr Blair may still use the Parliament Act to force it through if the House of Lords continues to obstruct it.

The bill failed to become legislation in this Parliament because the Lords overturned the House of Commons vote in favour of a ban.

This is likely to happen again, the Telegraph predicts.

Ministers have been told by Commons authorities that they would be able to use the Parliament Act to ensure the MPs vote is enough to enforce the ban.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown is quoted as saying that he favours using the Parliament Act to overturn the Lords vote.

This would, however, be highly controversial, the Telegraph concludes.