Labour backbenchers accuse minister of botching Bill to curb blood sports

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More than 100 MPs, including former ministers and their parliamentary aides, have publicly voiced opposition to government proposals to curb hunting.

More than 100 MPs, including former ministers and their parliamentary aides, have publicly voiced opposition to government proposals to curb hunting.

They have put down a motion calling for a "total ban" on hunting, rather than the registration scheme proposed by ministers.

The motion, signed by MPs such as Glenda Jackson, a former transport minister, and Peter Kilfoyle, a former defence minister, said that "only a total ban on hunting will be acceptable to this house and the public at large".

Yesterday Government sources said members of the Cabinet opposed to hunting would not be pressured into backing the new "compromise" Bill and were likely to stay away during next year's crucial vote.

Whips are understood to be trying to calm furious Labour backbench MPs who have accused the Government of reneging on a pledge to ban hunting with dogs.

The MPs claim the Bill leaves the door open for hunts to continue if they can prove they are not cruel to foxes and must control their numbers.

Senior MPs believe Alun Michael, the Rural Affairs minister, has tried too hard to please both anti-hunters and the field sports lobby.

"There is no way that ministers who have voted against hunting consistently are going to vote for this," said one source close to ministers.

Mr Michael is keen to avoid another damaging split with the House of Lords, but David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall North and a member of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, dismissed the Bill as inadequate. "There can be no compromise on this issue. Either one believes this is the effective way to control foxes or you don't," he said on BBC Radio 4.

Douglas Batchelor, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said yesterday: "My guess is that MPs will see no choice but to amend the Bill to ban killing by a dog."

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