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McCartney wades in to hunting row

Sir Paul McCartney has warned the Government it will lose the support of the people of Britain if fox hunting is reintroduced.

His comments come after ministers put forward changes to the Hunting Act to bring England and Wales in to line with Scotland on using dogs to flush out foxes to be shot.

Traditional fox hunting with dogs is illegal across Britain, but i n England and Wales, only two dogs can be used to flush out a fox so that a farmer or landowner can shoot it, while in Scotland an unlimited number of dogs can be used.

The bid to change the law in England and Wales, which will be voted on next week, has prompted accusations that the Government is resorting to "desperate measures" to sneak fox hunting in through the back door.

But hunting supporters backed the proposed changes, saying traditional hunting would remain illegal and it would make it easier to manage fox populations.

Sir Paul has now waded in to the row, saying: "The people of Britain are behind this Tory government on many things but the vast majority of us will be against them if hunting is reintroduced.

"It is cruel and unnecessary and will lose them support from ordinary people and animal lovers like myself."

Queen guitarist Brian May has already voiced his opposition to the move, warning that the rule changes will only benefit those who wish to take part in "a sadistic blood sport for fun".

The Environment Department said the amendments would allow for effective and humane shooting as part of the existing exemption in the Act that allows for pest control, and that the ban on hunting with dogs would remain in place.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: "We are making these technical amendments to the pest control measures within the Hunting Act to more closely align the legislation with Scotland."

But shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle has accused David Cameron of resorting to desperate measures to bring back fox hunting because he did not have the numbers to repeal the Act in a free vote in Parliament.

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