Wild animals in circuses

Circuses are no place for wild animals. This is a view shared not only by many animal welfare organisations but also the vast majority of people in our area and across the country. At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto which outlined support for a ban on wild animals in circuses.

The Coalition Government published a draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill in 2013 but did not make time for it to become law. Despite a 2015 manifesto commitment to implement a ban, the government also failed to introduce the necessary law during the last Parliament.

Instead, it introduced regulation for the welfare of wild animals in travelling circuses. The government now says it will introduce a legislative ban before the interim regulations expire in January 2020.

The Wild Animals in Circuses Bill is a Private Members’ Bill which seeks to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England. It would mean that circus operators that use wild animals would have until December 1 2019 to remove them before it becomes an offence.

The Bill was scheduled to have its second reading debate on June 15. However, this was objected to and the Bill is now scheduled for October 26.

I support the aims of this Bill but unfortunately it is currently number 107 on the order paper for that day. This means it will not be debated or make any further progress.

I believe the current approach of licensing is ineffective and outdated and that an outright ban is long overdue. The Opposition has been currently consulting on a new Animal Welfare Plan, which includes a proposal to ban wild animals in circuses.

The current government should stop delaying and act now to bring forward its own legislative proposals to ban the use of all wild animals in circuses.