Parliament: Fox-hunting: Livingstone has rival for anti-bloodsports Bill

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KEN LIVINGSTONE was racing against another Labour MP last night to introduce a private member's Bill banning fox-hunting.

Mr Livingstone said he was ready to take up a Bill to ban hunting with dogs after he came eighth in the ballot of MPs for the right to introduce private member's legislation.

But Tom Pendry, a former Sports spokesman and a lifelong member of the RSPCA, also announced he was considering taking up the Bill to ban fox- hunting. Mr Pendry came second in the ballot, so will take precedence over Mr Livingstone. There will be pressure on Mr Pendry from the campaign against blood sports to go ahead with the ban on fox-hunting, which has been promised government time by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw.

Tony Blair has said he wants to see fox-hunting banned before the next election, but it is unlikely that he would wish to see Mr Livingstone become the hero of the Labour Party by personally fulfilling Mr Blair's pledge to outlaw bloodsports.

The Brent East MP said: "I don't think it's right that people tear apart and terrorise and hunt to death a fox, an intelligent and beautiful animal. I have no objection to hunters hunting each other."

He revealed that if someone else introduced a hunting Bill, he would seek to improve carers' rights with a carers Bill.

Michael Foster, the Labour MP whose own Bill to ban fox-hunting fell through because of lack of parliamentary time, was in committee room 10 to see the names pulled out of a black dispatch box by the Deputy Speaker, Sir Alan Haselhurst.

Within minutes of the 20 names being chosen, letters were sent to the MPs by the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals, urging them take up a Bill to ban hunting.

Top of the ballot was the Tory Ann Winterton, a committed campaigner against abortion.