Politics: Hezza to lead pro-hunt MPs

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The Independent Online
Michael Heseltine will lead the Commons assault on the Bill to ban fox hunting. The former deputy prime minister and dedicated bird watcher has told country sports supporters that he will be taking a leading role in speaking against the Bill on its second reading on 28 November. John Gummer, the former agriculture minister, is also ready to wade into the debate on the side of country sports.

"Hezza has said he will lead the debate with Gummer falling in behind. They are the grandees," said one pro-foxhunting Tory MP. Mr Heseltine's intervention is certain to raise the pitch of the debate, which is already stirring up passions ahead of the second reading.

Mr Heseltine has been keeping a low profile since his intervention to defend the euro from the Euro-sceptics in the Tory party. He joined the pro-hunt rally in Hyde Park in July, attended by an estimated 100,000 hunt supporters.

Downing Street has refused to give the Bill time to reach the statute book if it is ambushed, as expected, in the Lords, and the Bill's sponsor, Labour MP Mike Foster, has not been told whether or not Tony Blair will be in the Commons to vote