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Britain set to force through hunting ban

LONDON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The British House of Commons is set to push through a ban on fox hunting to take effect in 2006 after a parliamentary battle with the House of Lords.

The Commons voted Thursday to delay the ban until July 2006, saying this would give hunts time to adjust.

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The lords, who voted Monday against outlawing the practice, are opposed to a delay. They believe such a move would be political, aimed at preventing protests before the general elections next spring.

Rural Affairs Minister Alum Michael said before the vote that the lords were behaving "like turkeys voting for Christmas."

The lords will now be given the choice of accepting the delay or continuing to oppose the ban. Should they choose the latter, the Commons will invoke the Parliament Act to overrule them and push through a ban from February onwards.

The battle over fox-hunting has raged for many years. Animal rights campaigners denounce the bloodsport as causing unnecessary suffering to the fox, while the pro-hunt lobby says it is a traditional rural activity necessary to control the fox population. Of late however, the debate has taken on aspects of a struggle between the British classes.

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Hunt supporters have already announced a planned campaign of civil disobedience should the ban go ahead.

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