The battle over the future of hunting continues as the House of Lords reject an outright ban on the sport

The House of Lords has rejected a complete ban on hunting with dogs, with the vast majority of peers backing the “Middle Way”, which allows hunting to continue under a licencing scheme.

Last night, the Lords voted by 366 to 59, a majority of 307, in favour of hunting continuing under strict regulation. An outright ban was rejected by 331 votes to 74, while the option of hunting continuing in its present state was also rejected by 119 votes to 97.

The Countryside Alliance’s chief executive Richard Burge said: “The Lords’ vote gives a clear and responsible lead to MPs. It shows that MPs are trying to bully through a measure which has neither overall parliamentary nor public majority support – it is clearer than ever that there is no mandate for a ban.

“The Alliance will consider favourably any proposed solution which sincerely aims to reconcile the priorities of animal welfare and civil liberties.”

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Rural Affairs minister, Alun Michael, has announced a six-month period of consultation with “interested parties” before to introducing a new bill on hunting with dogs in the autumn. The present bill will not be pursued.

No details of thenew bill have been announced, although it is expected to be constructed around “cruelty and utility”, indicating that hunting with hounds may continue where it is proven to be the most effective and humane method of controlling fox numbers.

The Countryside Alliance responded by saying: “We look forward to playing a full part in the consultations that will help form of new legislation, and are pleased that the findings of the Burns report will be taken into consideration with regards to cruelty and utility.”

Read more about the hunting bill: