Written answers in Parliament about Wildlife in Circuses

Wildlife: Circuses

Justin Tomlinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she plans to take in response to the Resolution of the House of 23 June 2011 on wild animals in circuses. [70894]

Mr Paice: The Government have listened to the view of the House and are sympathetic to the motion for a ban. We will continue to look carefully at how this could be introduced, but there are unavoidable legal difficulties that cannot be ignored.

The Government have received legal advice that if the Government were to introduce a ban now, it could be challenged in both British and European courts. While we are working towards overcoming these legal obstacles, Ministers will proceed with a very tough licensing regime which will stop circuses from using these wild animals if they do not provide very high welfare standards.

As it would ultimately be taxpayers who would foot the bill for defending a legal challenge, the Government have to verify the legal status of any policy before going ahead as well as listening to the views expressed in the House of Commons debate. Accordingly, work is under way to resolve the legal uncertainties which currently make it difficult to impose a ban as expressed in the Commons resolution.

Nic Dakin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 20 July 2011, Official Report, column 1085W, on wildlife: circuses, what legal difficulties are present in relation to the implementation of a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses; and whether she plans to introduce a licensing scheme for the use of wild animals in circuses as an interim measure prior to implementing a ban. [71962]

Mr Paice: As I have previously said in the House, on the legal difficulties, we consider that a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses may well conflict with:

(i) article 16 of the European Services Directive 2006; and

(ii) article 1 protocol 1 of the European convention on human rights, which was given further effect by the Human Rights Act 1998 and sets out the conditions which must be met by a state which seeks to restrict or control the use a person may make of his own property.

We are continuing to explore ways of overcoming such legal obstacles. However, given that a ban is not an immediate possibility, work is under way to develop a licensing regime that will stop circuses from using wild animals unless they provide appropriate welfare standards.

© Parliamentary material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO on behalf of Parliament. Licence No: P2011000006

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1 Comment

  1. There are no appropriate standards to keep wild animals in circuses. It just isn’t right and no matter what rules & regulations are implemented the situation will not change the fact that they are captive in disgraceful conditions i.e. continually traveling, couped up in small cages, abusively trained and chained. This is not an acceptable answer to parliament or the people of UK who want so much to see a ban. Many countries around the world have banned the use of wild animals in their circuses so it just shows that their is no valid reason why the UK government and Mr Paice cannot grow enough balls to enforce it. They just pussy foot around it. FOR GOD’S SAKE BRITAIN, DO THE RIGHT THING BY THESE ANIMALS.

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