Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames is on course for angry clashes with anti-hunt MPs after being picked to play a key role in shaping the Government's Hunting Bill.

The Conservative MP has been chosen by party whips to sit on the 32-person committee which will decide the future of proposals to severely restrict hunting with dogs.

He will come face-to-face with outspoken critic Tony Banks and Mike Foster, the MP who reopened the hunting debate with a Private Member's Bill in the last Parliament.

Mr Soames is certain to have a fight on his hands as pro-hunt Tory MPs are heavily outnumbered on the committee, which reflects the number of seats held by each party.

At present, the Bill would ban hare coursing and stag hunting, with hunting with dogs only allowed with special licences. But Labour members of the committee are planning to amend the legislation to an outright ban.

Mr Soames, who is joined in the Tory ranks by Bexhill and Battle's Gregory Barker, will resist the move and fight for the pursuit to be allowed to continue.

He said: "I accept some of our fellow citizens genuinely disapprove of hunting with hounds and that some of them feel so strongly that they would support a ban criminalising the activity.

"My response, however, is that those reasons do not even begin to justify depriving the individual citizen of the right to take part in a lawful activity and that it would be a deeply damaging day for all our freedoms if ever they were held to do so."

The Bill received its second reading earlier this week, amid angry protests and scuffles outside Parliament by pro-hunt supporters.

Eight people were arrested after clashing with police during a noisy demonstration attended by about 2,300 people.