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Circuses

Volume 464: debated on Monday 15 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what legislation regulates the use of wild animals in travelling circuses; and if he will make a statement. (157343)

The Protection of Animals Act 1911 long made it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a domestic or captive animal. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA), which became law on 6 April 2007 in England (on 27 March in Wales), repealed and replaced the 1911 Act. Importantly, it introduced a duty of care which allows a prosecution to be brought where an animal, although not currently suffering, is being treated in a way that fails to meet its welfare needs.

In March 2006, my hon. Friend the then Minister for Animal Welfare (Ben Bradshaw) announced that he was minded to introduce regulations under section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to ban the use, in travelling circuses, of certain non-domesticated species whose welfare needs could not be satisfactorily met in that environment. A Circus Working Group was formed to inform our decisions as to what form regulations should take. The Working Group will, shortly, provide a report setting out its findings.