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Country News - 2003

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Legal chaos after fox hunting vote

Tuesday 01 July 2003

A MASSIVE constitutional row seems to be looming after last night's vote in the House of Commons in which rebel Labour MPs voted against Government wishes for a total ban on fox hunting.

As we predicted yesterday (June 30), Labour and Liberal backbenchers threw out a Government-proposed compromise to allow some hunting to continue by a massive 208 votes.

In angry and confused scenes, insults like "blackmail" were thrown at the Government by their own MPs in a revolt which has added yet another body blow to an administration which has already taken a major battering in recent months.

However, the Bill still has to get through the House of Lords, where pro-hunt members are already planning a series of legal and procedural ambushes to stop it becoming law.

The Lords is, of course, already in the middle of a muddled reform programme. The Government now seems caught between its own supporters on one side and members of the Lords who fear that the institution is already doomed and are fighting to save it.

A head-on battle over hunting - which many observers see as a trivial smoke screen obscuring much more important issues - could lead to one of the most bitter constitutional clashes for decades.


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