David Cameron has signalled that coalition divides look likely to prevent the Government bringing forward proposals to change laws on fox hunting.
The Prime Minister was urged to quash rumours that the Hunting Act would be amended to remove a limit of using two dogs to flush out foxes so they could be shot and to confirm his commitment to the Coalition Agreement, which allows a free vote only to repeal the legislation.
Mr Cameron told MPs proposals were being considered, adding he regretted to say he did not believe there would be Government agreement on the issue.
Farmers have argued a change is needed to control fox numbers after an increase in attacks on lambs.
Facing questioning from Labour’s Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, Mr Cameron said: “There are always lots of rumours going round Westminster and it’s a good moment to talk about them.
“As you know, as I’ve said before at this Despatch Box, proposals were made on a cross-party basis to (Environment Secretary Owen Paterson) about an amendment to the Hunting Act that would help in particular upland farmers deal with the problem of fox predation of their lands.
“That letter has been received and is being considered but I regret to say I don’t think there’ll be Government agreement to go forward.”