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Animal Welfare

Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals for measures to regulate the activities of the trainers and exhibitors of performing animals; and if he will make a statement. (159673)

There are two sets of measures currently in development which will have an impact on the regulation of performing animals.

Last year my hon. Friend, the then Minister for Animal Welfare (Mr. Bradshaw), announced that he was minded to introduce Regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to ban the use of certain non-domesticated species from travelling circuses, whose welfare needs cannot be met in that environment.

A Circus Working Group was formed to provide and consider evidence relating to the transportation and housing needs of these animals. The Group will shortly provide a report setting out the findings to my DEFRA ministerial colleagues and I. The report will help inform us how we take forward the introduction of regulations.

The Government are also committed to repealing the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925 which is ineffectual in setting and maintaining standards in the wider performing animal industry. I want to see in its place an open and auditable regulatory system that clearly addresses issues such as training, trainer competences and the way that animals across the whole spectrum of performance are looked after. Discussions are taking place between industry and welfare groups to see how this can be achieved.