Coments by a Labour back-bencher have heightened concerns among the shooting community that shooting would follow hunting on the anti-fieldsports activists’ agenda.

In an interview on the BBC’s Today programme on Radio 4, David Winnick MP was asked whether shooting should be banned on the principle of cruelty.

Mr Winnick replied: ‘There is a saying: if you can’t do more, there’s no reason to do less.’ When asked to clarify his position, he said: ‘We’ll have to wait and see.’ Nigel Davenport, Director of the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Shooting said the comments were worrying but did not come as a shock.

‘We have sensed for a long time the subtle threats to shooting, growing behind the scenes,’ he said. ‘The hunting question will soon be resolved one way or another and we are in no doubt that we will be the next target.’

‘It is up to us now to continue the encouraging growth in interest and support for shooting – and not just game shooting – and make sure our house is in order when the time comes.’

A spokesperson for Shooting Times agreed that ‘Mr Winnick’s comments come as no surprise to the pro-shooting movement. ‘In spite of consistent Labour assurances that they will defend shooting and fishing, we are bracing ourselves for restrictive legislation in the near future. ‘We, and all members of the pro-shooting community, will do everything in our power to make sure this does not happen.’