Ministers try to delay Livingstone hunt Bill

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Indy Politics

Ken Livingstone will seek support of Labour backbenchers today over his bill to ban foxhunting. But Government business managers have privately made clear they will encourage loyalist MPs to string out an earlier Private member's Bill to avoid giving Mr Livingstone free publicity.

Mr Livingstone, expelled from the Labour Party on Monday over his decision to stand as an independent for London Mayor, has the support of animal rights protesters for his backbench bill.

"We have urged MPs to support Mr Livingstone's Bill," said a spokesman for the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals (CPHA).

Mr Livingstone came only eighth in the Private Member's Bill ballot and first there will be a debate on a measure to limit Government powers to be introduced by Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory MP for Chingford and Woodford Green.

Conservatives could try to force an early finish to Mr Duncan Smith's Bill in a bid to maximise embarrassment for the Government. Sources say the Government may include a foxhunting ban in the next Labour manifesto because there is not enough time to bring legislation.

The Burns inquiry on hunting with dogs is to report to Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, by the end of May. The inquiry yesterday started taking evidence from campaigners on both sides.