Parliament: Fox-hunting ban

PLANS TO ban fox-hunting are to be announced within days by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, in a written Commons answer. He will be accused of ducking questioning at the dispatch box but Downing Street said last night he would not make a statement on the floor of the House.

Amid signs of retreat on a ban in the face of mass rallies by the Countryside Alliance, Mr Straw is expected to announce government backing for a Bill if it is introduced by a backbench MP. A ballot of MPs is due to be held later this month for the right to introduce private members' Bills.

Labour has been warned that it will not get the Bill through the House of Lords, even after hereditary peers have been stripped of voting rights.