MPs are suggesting that the government has decided to hold a debate in the Commons on the futureof hunting before Christmas.

The new plans for legislation were due to be published in a draft bill that was being circulated this week, and although no firm date has been set for a debate, a possibility is Thursday, 12 December, a day already set aside for DEFRA business.

The new Bill is believed to outlaw staghunting and hare coursing, but may propose that a limited amount of foxhunting could continue under licence where it could be demonstrated to be less cruel than poisoning or shooting.

There are likely to be exemptions for foot packs in the uplands of Wales and Cumbria on pest control grounds. Nearly 200 lowland hunts would face extinction.

Opponents of foxhunting are likely to seek to amend the draft Bill to make sure that it goes to the Lords including a complete ban, and there is concern that the government may use the Parliament Act to force the bill through.

Read more hunting news in this week’s Horse & Hound (5 December), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.