THE Heythrop Hunt could soon be able to hunt foxes with dogs if a House of Commons vote goes through next week.

On Wednesday, it emerged a free vote on whether to relax the ban on hunting brought in by the Labour government in 2004 will take place.

The change to the Hunting Act would overturn the complete ban on fox hunting and allow hunters to use a pack of hounds to flush out a fox before they shoot it.

If agreed, the vote would affect the Heythrop Hunt, which hunts on the Oxfordshire-Gloucestershire border as well as all other hunts in England and Wales.

Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron has ridden with the Heythrop Hunt in the past.

Yesterday, Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “This is nothing but sneaking hunting in through the back door. By amending the Hunting Act like this, the Government is deliberately and cynically making it easier for hunts to chase and kill foxes, and harder for them to be convicted when they break the law.”

One of Mr Cameron’s election promises was to hold a free Commons vote to repeal the Hunting Act completely.

Racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks, who is a supporter of the Heythrop Hunt, said any change to the hunting ban would be welcome.

He said: “Any change to what is currently the law on hunting would be good.

“Anything which encourages that sort of humanitarian wildlife control would be a good thing.”

He said a full overturn of the ban would be unlikely to happen for political reasons.