1. ITV Report

Tories renew vow to hold vote on repealing the hunting ban

A free vote on repealing the ban on hunting with dogs will be held during the next five years, as the Conservatives renewed their manifesto commitment on the controversial issue.

More than 350,000 people have so far signed a petition calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to abandon his plans for a vote on repealing the Hunting Act 2004, which outlawed the hunting of wild animals - including foxes, deer and hares - with dogs.

More than 350,000 people have signed a petition calling for the ban to be kept Credit: PA

But during Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) questions in the Commons today, Environment Secretary Liz Truss confirmed the plans were still on the table.

As we have said in our manifesto, we will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote with a government bill in government time.

I do confirm that is what we are committed to. You will be aware it is part of our manifesto. It was voted on at the general election and we are committed to fulfilling that pledge.

– Liz Truss, Environment Secretary

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Labour's shadow environment minister Angela Smith told the Commons that 80 per cent of the public supported the existing ban, and urged Ms Truss to drop plans for a vote and "get on with the job of making sure the legislation is enforced".

She said she was "confident" the opposition would win any vote on repealing the ban.

But Ms Truss said the vote would be "up to the individual conscience of individual members", adding that she was "surprised" by the suggestion Labour would vote under whip.

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People signing the petition have described hunting as "sick" and "disgraceful".

Adding her voice, Karina Wakefield from Salford said repealing the ban would "send the country back to the Dark Ages".

It is the will of the people, the majority of the UK would keep the ban. The Conservatives have waited for an opportune moment to hold a parliamentary vote - when they're in the majority.

It would be unfair and undemocratic. If anything, give the vote to the people!

This is not a "sport", it disgraces the word and should have never been associated with it.

– Karina Wakefield

Chris Naylor, from Buckhurst Hill, added:

Hunting and killing animals for sport is the amusement of savages, not of civilised people. Does David Cameron really want to be remembered as the Prime Minister who brought back savagery?

– Chris Naylor

Stella Skelton from Cardiff described hunting as "barbaric, inhumane and pointless", while Nicola Brightman, from Widnes, said:

The wildlife belongs to everyone in Britain, NOT just the elite few. Have you heard a fox being ripped to pieces Mr Cameron?

Have you heard a deer cry for minutes while the dogs try to rip it to pieces? It sounds like a baby that is distraught and needs help.

How can you justify this in a supposedly civilised country?

– Nicola Brightman