BASINGSTOKE MP Maria Miller said she would vote to get rid of the ban on fox hunting.

She told The Gazette that the current Hunting Act has made things worse for animal welfare, because of the methods now used to control the rural fox population.

Fox hunting has returned to the political agenda, some ten years after it was banned by the Hunting Act, passed by the Labour government.

The Conservative Party pledged to hold a free vote on repealing the law in its manifesto before it won the general election in May.

Health minster Jeremy Hunt confirmed on the evening after the election that the vote would go ahead.

A 19-year-old student from Basingstoke, who did not want to be named, said she wrote to Mrs Miller to ask for her views on the vote.

The former Hatch Warren Primary School pupil, who is now a member of an animal welfare society at her university, said she was concerned that Mrs Miller would vote to repeal the law, because she thinks the practice is cruel.

She said: “It’s not a matter that’s affecting much of Basingstoke because it’s a town, but it’s something we should care about because it shouldn’t be allowed in a modern society.

“It’s something that seems to benefit the few.

“When you look back through history there are many traditions that have been disgusting, and this is disgusting.”

In her reply to the student Mrs Miller wrote: “In the event of such a vote, I would vote to repeal it. In my judgement, and the judgement of others, the Act does nothing to protect wild animals and, in many cases, is actually detrimental to animal welfare when other methods of control are deployed, several of which can be indiscriminate.”

She told The Gazette that while she shared the concerns of her constituents on animal welfare, she said there was “clear evidence” that the fox population needs to be controlled and that current methods were more harmful than fox hunting.

The ban came into force ten years ago, after 700 hours of Parliamentary debate, making it illegal to hunt down and kill a fox with a pack of hounds.

Animal rights activists, including comedian Ricky Gervais, have expressed concern over the possible repeal of the ban.

The Gazette approached the offices of Ranil Jayawardena, MP for North East Hampshire, and Kit Malthouse, MP for North West Hampshire, to ask for their views.

Mr Jayawardena said that he did not have “particularly strenuous views” about hunting and will listen carefully to all the arguments before deciding which way to vote.

He added: “I should tell you, though, that I am in general against legislation on matters such as this and my view is that the original legislation was poorly drafted and it did not result in measures for which it was intended.”

The office for Mr Malthouse's office said he would vote to repeal the act, but did not provide a reason.