A majority of Tory candidates in Sussex would seek to overturn the ban on fox hunting if elected to Parliament, it has emerged.

An analysis of public statements and voting records of the party's 16 would-be MPs suggests all but four would vote to scrap the ban if given the chance under a Conservative government.

Leader David Cameron, launching the party's manifesto in London this week, pledged that a Conservative administration would give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the 2004 Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time.

The manifesto stated: "The Hunting Act has proved unworkable."

Leading the battle to scrap the ban on hunting with dogs, which came into force across England and Wales in 2005, is Nick Herbert, who is standing for re-election in Arundel and South Downs and would be expected to steer any repeal through the Commons as environment secretary in a Tory government.

Campaign group the Countryside Alliance, which has long campaigned against the ban, counts as supporters of repeal any politician who voted for an alternative to the ban in the Commons in 2004. They include Greg Barker (Tory candidate for Bexhill and Battle), Peter Bottomley (West Worthing), Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis), Charles Hendry (Wealden), Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham), Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex), Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) and Nigel Waterson (Eastbourne).

Other Conservative candidates who oppose the ban, and who have vowed to vote for repeal if elected to Parliament next month, include Crawley's Henry Smith, Horsham's Francis Maude and Hastings' Amber Rudd.

Just three Sussex Conservatives have said they would vote against repeal and in favour of keeping the ban - Simon Kirby in Brighton Kemptown, Charlotte Vere in Brighton Pavilion and Mike Weatherley in Hove. Jason Sugarman, who is standing in Lewes, said: "I haven't made up my mind."

Based on the pattern of Commons voting in 2004, almost all Labour MPs and a significant majority of Liberal Democrats would be expected to oppose any attempt to repeal the ban. A survey last year by the League Against Cruel Sports found 76% of public respondents believed hunting with dogs was cruel.