WORCESTER'S former MP has branded any plans to repeal the ban on fox hunting with dogs as 'bizarre'.

The Conservatives pledged to have a vote on repealing the ban if they were re-elected earlier this month following the general election which they achieved with a slender 12 seat majority.

The ban on fox hunting with dogs was introduced in England and Wales under the Labour Government more than a decade ago (the Hunting Act 2004) with Worcester's then MP Mike Foster backing the ban which has been branded 'pointless' by the Countryside Alliance.

However, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has made no secret of the fact he wants fox hunting with dogs legalised, that he is a keen supporter of 'country sports' and the freedom to hunt and has said the Hunting Act had 'done nothing for animal welfare'.

The vote would be a free vote which means MPs would be able to vote according to their own conscience without pressure from their party Whip.

Mr Foster, who was the city's Labour MP between 1997 and 2010, responded to calls from constituents and Worcester News readers to pave the way for a ban fox hunting through a Private Members' Bill in 1997.

Mr Foster said of the possibility of repeal: "It's just a bizarre step to take. The only conclusion people can come to is that what people miss is the kill. If that were to be the case - if that is what David Cameron's Conservative Party is all about - it just struck me as being out of kilter with what public opinion is.

"It is the only conclusion that we can come to if hunting has never been more popular than it is now and we don't have a kill.

"No-one cared about horses meeting the countryside and people meeting in the countryside and following a pack of hounds. What people objected to was the fact that a live quarry was chased to the point of exhaustion and torn apart. For someone to suggest this is good for animal welfare just beggars belief."

Worcester's MP Robin Walker said although he would vote for a repeal of the ban as he did not believe the legislation worked he had more important issues on his agenda, particularly improvements to the Carrington Bridge, the train service between Worcester and London, upgrades to trains, upgrading Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester, investment in the local health service and jobs and apprenticeships.

He said: "There are a lot of other things which are of more urgent importance to Worcester than this matter. I don't thing it ever came up at the hustings."

Mr Walker also said that gassing, snaring and shooting of foxes, methods now employed to control the fox population, was 'not particularly kind or fair'.

The Countryside Alliance's Director of Campaigns, Tim Bonner said: "The Countryside Alliance would like to see the Hunting Act repealed.

"This is a pointless law that has achieved nothing for animal welfare; just as many foxes are being killed by other methods and it continues to waste thousands of hours of police and court time as animal rights activists make malicious complaints about hunts. "In reality this law was all about Labour MPs fighting a misplaced class war and even the Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair, has admitted it was one of his biggest mistakes.

"There has been a Conservative Manifesto commitment to a vote on scrapping the Act since 2005 but this is the first time since then that there has been a Conservative Government able to deliver it.

"The vast majority of Conservative MPs have indicated that they support repeal and, when the issues are debated, we hope they and supportive MPs of other parties will be in the majority.

"This law has failed completely and one way or another repeal is inevitable."