ANIMAL welfare groups have welcomed the absence of plans to repeal the ban on hunting with dogs in the Queen's Speech.

However the hunting community itself was quick to point out that they didn’t expect it to be mentioned – and that the Government must still go-ahead with their pre-election promise.

The Tories had pledged to give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time, in its manifesto.

“We do expect something to happen. It was a manifesto commitment and it was pledged again today on the radio,” said a spokesman for the Countryside Alliance.

At a grass roots level optimism is also riding high that something could happen within the next 12 months.

A member of the Bilsdale Hunt on the North York Moors said: “We are all lobbying our MPs to get them on our side and show the strength of countryside opinion.

“The election has made repeal more likely but it is by no means a dead certainty.

“However the Hunting Act does not reflect how people feel in the country.”

The League Against Cruel Sports' campaigns director Tom Quin said: "The potential repeal of the Hunting Act may not be in the Queen's speech, but we don't think for a second that the issue has gone away.

"David Cameron no doubt realises that bringing back hunting is political poison so is trying to keep it low profile.”