BATTLE lines are being drawn at the suggestion that a Bill to outlaw foxhunting will go before Parliament some time in September.

Are you for or against the Bill? What do you think about fox hunting? Put your comments at the end the story.

Opponents of the proposal say the Government will lose face if it introduces the Bill - and anti-hunt groups say it will lose face if it does not.

National media reports that an anti-foxhunting Bill will be rushed through Parliament in a single day during September were not denied by the Department of the Environment, but neither would it confirm them. A spokesman said: "The Government has made a commitment to resolve the hunting issue during this session of Parliament. But the September suggestion is complete speculation."

However, the reports brought strong reactions from both sides of the fox hunting debate.

Wanda Wyporska, from the League Against Cruel Sports, said: "This is something we have been campaigning for for a long time. It is an issue that unites politicians and the public. The polls show that 70 per cent of people want hunting banned. The Prime Minister has got to keep his promise that hunting will be banned."

Harold Taylor, an anti-fox hunting campaigner, is also hopeful the bill will be passed. As a country man he has seen both sides of the argument and said what the pro-fox hunting groups came out with was just propaganda: "I spoke to a farmer only last week and he hadn't lost any lambs to a fox for a few years so there is no argument to say hunts are needed to control foxes.

"I would love to have a public debate face to face with these people, telling the truth, and I would rip them to pieces!"

But hunt supporters say the Government faces strong legal challenges if a Bill is put before Parliament.

Alison Bolt is a committee member of North Lonsdale Foxhounds. Her husband, Alan, is Master of the Hunt. She said that more than 50 per cent of the population thought hunting should continue, perhaps under licence, which the hunting fraternity would accept.

Mrs Bolt warned that the Bill would be challenged on two fronts.

The first bone of contention was the Government's use of the Parliament Act which enables the Commons to ignore decisions taken in the House of Lords. This, she said, would be challenged in the courts. "The present Act never received assent, but this has never been properly challenged," she said. "But this issue is so contentious that there will definitely be a challenge and an appeal to say the present Parliament Act is not viable.

"Secondly, the Bill currently on the table is contrary to the Human Rights Act in that it does not offer compensation. This is not legal, so the Bill itself is illegal. And if they amend it, they will have to pay compensation to farmers because it removes a legitimate means of pest control and that means the compensation will cost millions."

Mrs Bolt said the Lords themselves had indicated that they would want "sufficient time" to properly debate the issue, which could jeopardise more important Parliamentary business. She blamed back bench MPs for "pressuring" the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to introduce the Bill. "We believe that Mr Blair and the Cabinet feel this is too contentious an issue and they don't want to go through with it. They are being brow-beaten into it."

Miss Wyporska, of the League Against Cruel Sports, countered with the comment: "We will be devastated if the Bill does not go through. It will be a betrayal, as the ban has been promised both to the (Labour) Party and the public."