23 May 2000
Hunt row threatens to split Labour

MINISTERS are heading for a showdown with Labour MPs if they decide against a free vote on a fox-hunting ban, reports The DailY Telegraph.

It reports the government is furious that 60 Labour MPs have defied whips and backed an amendment banning hunting in the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill.

Whips fear the amendment, tabled by Gordon Prentice, could sink the entire Bill, which contains legislation for wildlife protection and measures enshrining the right to roam.

This comes ahead of the conclusion of the Burns Inquiry into hunting.

Mr Prentice says the government has been seen to delay on the issue, and tried to appease both pro and anti-hunt lobbies.

In its editorial The Telegraph says the countryside feels “neglected and ill-used” and that a ban would be “an additional twist of the knife and bitterly resented”.