Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames has labelled the Government's hunting Bill a "shabby compromise" in an outspoken attack on rural affairs minister Alun Michael.

The Tory MP is furious Mr Michael's Bill will not allow hunting to continue for "wildlife management".

Instead, hunting with dogs will only be allowed for pest control - and where there is no less cruel method of killing available.

Lowland hunting, the traditional pursuit in Sussex, would be effectively banned.

Mr Soames, on the committee considering the Bill, insists wildlife management must also be allowed.

Hunt supporters argue this keeps the animal population healthy, by killing wounded or unfit foxes or stags.

Mr Soames, a keen huntsman, said: "The minister's Bill shows no concern for real animal welfare.

"His refusal to admit wildlife management into his criteria of "utility" reveals his Bill as a shabby political exercise to allow the minister and his government to wriggle free from a hook of their own making.

"Hunting will be assessed only for its efficiency in killing wild animals, while sports such as stag hunting, which cherish the species they pursue, are consigned to the bin of political convenience."

Mr Soames has passionately defended hunting with hounds during the committee stage of the Bill, which got under way three weeks ago.

MPs are meeting as many as five or six times a week to discuss the legislation.

Earlier this month, The Argus revealed Mr Soames had been involved in exchanges with anti-hunt Labour MP Candy Atherton.

Mr Soames turned on Ms Atherton after she interrupted him.

He urged Labour members trying to ban the pursuit to listen to him as he believed they had never "been hunting or seen a hunt."

Ms Atherton intervened to say she had watched hunts on "several occasions."