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Wild Animals (Circuses)

Volume 525: debated on Thursday 17 March 2011

Following further discussions with welfare groups, the circus industry and other parties involved with performing animals, I am pleased to tell the hon. Gentleman that the Government’s policy is now close to completion.

I am pleased to hear that the policy is close to completion, but I am sure that the Minister will realise that his answer is somewhat disappointing—not just to me, but to Members of all parties, to organisations such as the Born Free Foundation, Animal Defenders and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and, not least, to the 94.5% of the 13,000 respondents who said last March that they wanted this practice stopped. We have now reached the anniversary, so how much longer is it going to take?

No one will be more pleased than I will be when the issue is closed and the hon. Gentleman stops asking me the question. I can assure him that, although I cannot give a precise time, the policy is very close to completion. However, as he knows, because he used to be the responsible Minister, other issues are relevant, such as the impact on the film and theatre industry and other areas where animals are involved in performances, and we have to clarify them and get them right before we announce anything.