HUNT supporters have called for fox hunting with hounds to be reinstated branding the current ban “a farce”.

A group of MPs co-chaired by West-Worcestershire Conservative MP Peter Luff have called for the 2004 Hunting Act to be repealed for “failing at every level.”

Worcester’s Labour MP Mike Foster, who tabled a private member’s bill to ban fox hunting with hounds in the 1990s, said raising the issue during the economic downturn showed poor timing.

But Mr Luff said: “We should never have allowed a small minority of people to dictate on the issue. It’s bad law.”

He added since the law had come in farmers and land-owners had turned to less humane forms of controlling the fox population through shooting, snaring or trapping.

“Death is never pleasant but a fox which dies in that way dies quickly as opposed to the snare or being shot,” he said.

However, Mr Foster said: “Farmers have always shot more foxes than were hunted by hounds. For me this is the wrong issue to be raising in the current economic climate.”

The Conservatives have pledged a free vote on the issue if they take power in Parliament following the next election.

In a joint announcement Mr Luff and Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik – co-chairs of the cross party parliamentary Middle Way Group – have called for the act to be scrapped on animal welfare grounds.

Mr Opik added: “The act cost £30 million pounds of animal welfare money and consumed 700 hours of parliamentary time to reach the statute book and despite this enormous effort neither the Government nor the anti-hunting groups have bothered to examine the effects of this law on the very animals they claim they wish to protect.”

Their thoughts were echoed by Robin Palmer, joint huntmaster for Croome and West Warwickshire Foxhounds, who said foxes faced a lingering death if shot or trapped.

“In the past when we’ve had hunts we’ve tracked foxes which have been injured or made lame by snares or traps,” he explained.

“It’s a farce. Hunting is the most humane way of dealing with foxes.”

He believes the perception of hunt supporters as “upper class” had also been a factor in the act reaching the statute book.

Since the ban the hunt has continued with alternatives to fox hunting like drag or trail hunting.