Long-promised ban on wild animal acts blocked again by solitary MP
The saga of misdirection and broken promises over the British Government’s commitment to end the use of wild animals in circuses continued today as Conservative MP Chris Chope blocked the second reading of the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill for the fourth time.
It is now over two years since the Government announced its own Bill to considerable media fanfare and wide public support. But the Bill has been allowed to gather dust, despite repeated assurances and a personal pledge to act from the Prime Minister. To break the deadlock, former Defra minister Jim Fitzpatrick tabled a Private Members’ Bill using the same language as the Government’s own Bill, launched with support from ADI and a cross party group of MPs – only to see it blocked for the seventh time today.
Claims that a ban would be introduced “when Parliamentary time allows” have been shown to be disingenuous. Since the Queen’s Speech in June, only 40 of the 75 sitting days at the House of Commons have been taken up by Government business. The Queen’s Speech itself contained only 11 Bills, the lowest number for at least 20 years. With around 60 sitting days left until Parliament is dissolved for the General Election, and the majority of Bills set out in the Queen’s Speech having received a Second Reading already, there is ample time for the circus ban legislation to pass through both Commons and the House of Lords.
The Welsh Government is keen to bring in a ban but due to the time it would take to bring regulations through the Assembly the preference is to see the English legislation extended to cover Wales. Deputy Minister for Farming and Food MP Rebecca Evans stated, in response to a question from Welsh Assembly Member Christine Chapman last week that “The Welsh Government believes that there is no place for wild animals in circuses” and wrote to Defra Minister Lord De Mauley three months ago to reiterate the Welsh Government’s intent to extend the English circus ban to Wales. De Mauley’s reply, received only the day before the question was put to the Assembly, promised a meeting on the issue.
Welsh Assembly Member Antoinette Sandbach has called for more Welsh councils to prohibit circuses with wild animals from performing on council owned land, a measure which has been backed by Minister Rebecca Evans. In the UK, over 200 councils have such plans in place – but this does not prevent them using private land.
The lack of progress in securing the ban is bitterly disappointing and an embarrassment for Britain. It is time for the Government to join the 28 other nations who have already taken action.
PLEASE HELP CIRCUS ANIMALS IN BRITAIN!
- Ask your MP today to exert pressure on Government to introduce the ban before the General Election
- Sign our petition urging the Prime Minister to back the bill (you can also do so via Care2)
- Watch lions being saved by ADI from circuses in Bolivia in the action-packed documentary Lion Ark, which will be screened in London tomorrow, 6th December – there are still a few tickets left, book yours now