ANTI fox-hunting groups were furious this morning after the news leaked yesterday that a Bill to ban hunting with dogs has been dropped from next year's parliamentary programme.
It will not be mentioned in the Queen's Speech when she re-opens Parliament later in the week. Labour party officials are saying that it has been postponed until the House of Lords has been reformed and all hereditary peers - who may have fought the Bill - removed.
However, more cynical observers believe that the government, and Tony Blair is particular, have been horrified at the hostility that the proposed ban has aroused in rural areas, including threats by thousands of hunters to carry on and force the police into making massive arrests.
Such demos would have come in the run up to the next general election, where Labour are defending some 60 rural and semi-rural seats.