The Hunting Bill completed its committee stage on July 3rd following its recommittal after MPs voted to ban fox hunting and mink hunting on June 30.
The bill had its Report Stage and Third Reading on Wednesday of this week (9 July). It will now go to the House of Lords for further consideration in September. It is likely that the Lords will reject the Bill and vote instead for the Middle Way option as preferred and originally proposed by the Government.
Anti-hunting MPs will then expect the Government to use the Parliament Act to force the Bill onto the Statute books, although the Government have not given a commitment to do so, being obviously uncomfortable with the Bill in its present form. What is clear is that a total ban on hunting will cause tremendous unrest in rural communities and may lead to Labour losing many of its rural seats at the next General Election.
Rural Affairs minister Alun Michael has also refused to give a straight answer on whether he or the Government actually back the Bill as amended by the Commons.
Interviewed on The Daily Politics Mr Michael appeared extremely uncomfortable and consistently refused to make any other backing statement, other than that he would "bring the Bill forward as it has been amended." Later that same day, the Prime Ministers own press office also refused to comment on whether or not Mr Blair supports the amended Bill.