TONY BLAIR has been faced with the vexing prospect of fighting a general election campaign shadowed by pro-hunting protests, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The original proposal by the government included an amendment that would delay the introduction of the ban until after the election expected to happen early in 2005.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that he would prefer to see a compromise reached between the Commons and the Lords, but this is looking increasingly unlikely.

The Lords will give a third and final reading to an amended bill, which allows hunting to continue until 2007 when licensing system will be introduced, on Mon (Nov 15).

The Lords‘ amended Bill will then return to the Commons where it will be debated, probably on Wed Nov 17.

The paper reports that should Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House, invoke the Parliament Act to see the original Hunting Bill become law then the Countryside Alliance will begin a legal challenge straight away.

“If they try to use the Parliament Act then we go straight into court,” said Baroness Mallalieu, a Labour peer and president of the CA, told the paper.

“As soon as Royal Assent is given there will be a letter to the Attorney General and action will begin,” she added.