December 26, 2009 12:01 AM

A senior Liberal Democrat will oppose any attempt to repeal the Hunting Act if he is elected to the House of Commons after the General Election.

Ron Beadle is the favourite to succeed retiring Doug Henderson and become the new Member of Parliament for Newcastle North.

Conservative leader David Cameron has said that if he becomes Prime Minister he will allow MPs a 'free vote' on repealing the ban - meaning MPs can vote with their conscience and not follow party lines.

"I am absolutely 100% opposed to chasing foxes, hares and deer with a pack of hounds for what can loosely be described as 'sport' and 'pleasure'," said Ron Beadle.

"Hunting is cruel and has no place in today's society.

"If I am elected to the House of Commons I will oppose any attempt to repeal the Hunting Act and I will hope that as many MPs as possible will join me in the fight to maintain the ban."

The ban was introduced in 2004 by the Labour Government in a free vote and received cross-party support.

"I fully appreciate that farmers need the ability to control certain wild species but there are a number of more efficient and humane methods to control pests," said Ron Beadle.

He was speaking out following a ruling made in the European Court of Human Rights.

The Court dismissed the case on all counts and ruled the Hunting Act did not negatively affect the hunters' right to private and family life.

An Ipsos-MORI poll in September found 75% in favour of the ban on foxhunting, with 84% and 85% against stag and hare hunts.