Jim Paice, Agriculture Minister, Claims Hunting Act Has 'Failed'

The Hunting Act has "failed", according to a government minister.

As thousands of people prepare to head out to Boxing Day meets Agriculture minister Jim Paice claimed the current "simply doesn't work",

"I personally am in favour of hunting with dogs - and the coalition agreement clearly states that we will have a free vote on whether to repeal the act when there is time in the parliamentary calendar to do so." he said.

Paice's comments come as the Countryside Alliance estimated a quarter of a million people would turn out to 300 hunts across Britain.

Countryside Alliance chief executive Alice Barnard said her group were in a "strong position" to push for the repeal of the "failed" act: "It is a point of pride for rural communities across Britain that, despite the prejudice and ignorance of some, hunting remains as strong as ever."

Boxing Day is traditionally a hunting day but hunting with dogs was banned in 2004 under the Labour government.

The coalition plans to give MPs a free vote on whether they want to repeal the law.

Responding to Paice's comments Mary Creagh, Labour’s Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, said: “There is no place for animal cruelty in a civilised society and most people back Labour's ban on hunting wild animals with dogs. People are worried about their incomes falling, prices rising and losing their jobs, yet this out of touch Tory-led Government want to bring hunting back. The reason they haven't held a vote is because they know they do not have enough votes in Parliament to get it through. I hope that hunts will continue to respect the law this year.”