Blair at odds with Christian Socialists over fox hunting
The prime minister is tonight expected to vote against an amendment which would outlaw fox hunting in all circumstances.
In so doing Tony Blair will set himself at odds with the Christian Socialist Movement of which he is a member.
The Christian Socialist Movement recently published a report on fox hunting by Andrew Linzey, professor of theology at Oxford University and a recognised authority on morality and its effects on people's relations with animals.
The report called on church leaders and representatives to consider the ethical dimension of the debate with a sense of urgency.
Linzey argued that there is no moral defence for hunting as sport and that it should be completely banned.
"Causing suffering for sport is intrinsically evil," he said.
"All acts of cruelty to animals are of a kind. They diminish our humanity and offend" he said.
Linzey was also critical of the fact that there had been so little serious focus on the ethical aspect of hunting with dogs.
However as the Commons debates the remaining stages of the hunting bill, Tony Blair will seek to secure support for the government's policy of allowing hunting to continue in a regulated way in a small number of upland areas.
But many MPs are expected to support the latest push for a total ban on hunting with hounds in England and Wales.
The government's business managers have warned that a victory for the anti-hunt MPs could jeopardise the legislation.
Commons leader Peter Hain has signalled that the bill may have to return to committee stage if the amendment is carried.
That delay could result in the legislation becoming embroiled in a potentially fatal game of parliamentary ping-pong as the session draws to a close later this year.
Ministers believe the middle-way option may be enough to ensure the legislation is passed by the House of Lords.
Amended to include a total ban, the bill would face fierce resistance in the upper house.
The government could then be forced to used the Parliament Act to force the legislation to Royal Assent.