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Circus Animals

Volume 547: debated on Thursday 5 July 2012

My written statement to Parliament on 1 March 2012 confirmed our intent to ban wild animals in travelling circuses on ethical grounds. There are a number of issues to consider in developing the ethical case and the exact nature of the ban. We therefore hope to publish a draft Bill and full legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows. In the meantime, we aim to lay regulations shortly to introduce a new licensing scheme that will protect the welfare of such animals in the interval.

In June 2011, the House of Commons unanimously passed a Back-Bench motion calling for all bans to be in place. We do not need to discuss it; we need to get on with a ban. DEFRA Ministers have failed to show any political leadership. They are just messing about, fiddling about. When will the Minister bow to the will of both the House and the public and bring forward the legislation?

I can only repeat what I have just said. We have said we will introduce a ban on ethical grounds. We have also made it clear that we cannot introduce a ban on welfare grounds, because we believe that is legally flawed—

I have explained several times why not. We believe that such a ban would be wide open to judicial challenge, which we might well lose, hence we are using ethical grounds. That will be done as soon as parliamentary time allows.