Hunt supporters have begun a three-day vigil outside the Houses of Parliament as one of a series of planned demonstrations ahead of Wednesday’s committee stage of the Hunting Bill.

The small group of supporters are from marginal constituencies with MPs who support a ban. However, it is expected that thousands more will join them.

Demonstrations will also be held all over the country, including in Maidstone, the seat of Ann Widdecombe shadow home secretary and the most prominent Tory opponent on hunting.

Other activities planned for this week include a mass meet of hounds in Cornwall, gatherings of hunting, shooting , coursing racing and farming communities in Wales and East Anglia.

Sam Butler, chairman of the Countryside Alliance Campaign for Hunting told the Daily Telegraph:”Theses events illustrate quite clearly that you cannot take on a minority and expect to get away with it, there are very few votes to be gained from banning hunting but a lot to be lost from depriving people of their way of life.”For more on the reaction from countryside campaigners on the government’s support of the hunt ban, see Horse & Hound issue dated 18 January.