In my statement to the House of 13 May 2011, Official Report, column 48WS, on the question of the protection of the welfare of performing wild animals in circuses, I indicated that the Austrian Government had recently been taken to court for introducing a ban on wild animals in circuses, as a European Circus Association press release stated. However, I now understand that the initiation of court proceedings has been delayed, although a case is in preparation. My understanding is that such proceedings are likely to be issued in the near future. I would like to avoid any misunderstanding.
This does not impact on the policy I announced to the House about this matter. Having taken advice on the legal implications and on the proportionality of all the possible courses of action, I remain convinced that a tough licensing regime which introduces additional safeguards to protect wild animals in circuses is the most effective and legally sound route for the estimated 39 animals concerned.