Defra at odds with Parliament on wild animal circus ban
Defra must comply with the will of Parliament and ban the use of wild animals in circuses
Following ADI’s intensive lobby campaign led in the House of Commons, on 23 July cross-party MPs called for a Backbenchers debate on the issue of wild animals in circuses. The debate included a debate on a motion urging Defra to ban animals in circuses by July 2012 which was agreed unanimously. Although the motion is not legally binding on Defra, it gives a clear indication of the will of the House on public policy that cannot be ignored.
However, Defra Minister Jim Paice recently stated that currently it is not possible to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in the UK due to legal obstacles and that a strict licensing system regulating their use is being developed. Further, ADI recently attended the meeting of the Associate Parliamentary Group on animal Welfare (APGAW) were Defra’s Lord Henley explained that Defra had 3 options available to implement a possible ban: primary legislation, secondary legislation (using Section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006) and the proposed licensing system.
Lord Henley then went on to explain that primary legislation would take too long and would be disproportionate for only 39 animals. He continued to say that secondary legislation would not be possible under Section 12 as it would almost certainly face judicial review and the powers for the government to use this section need to be specifically laid out.
Therefore, in his view it only left the licensing system as a viable option.
ADI has sent several letters to Defra enclosing our legal opinions on the conformity of a ban with EU legislation, the conformity of a ban with the Human Rights Act 1998 and the possibility of banning animals in circuses through regulations using Se3ction 12 of the Animal Welfare Act that show once more that there are no legal obstacles.
Defra’s insistence on setting up a licensing system is completely at odds with the will of Parliament and we will continue to press for an outright ban.
Please keep the pressure and write to Defra to urge the Minister to implement a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses without further delay.