Wild Animals (Circuses)

Part of Backbench Business — [29th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 23rd June 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon 4:27 pm, 23rd June 2011

I am happy to stand corrected by the Minister. That allows me to move my argument on.

Another argument is that a ban on animals in circuses would interfere with a person’s right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions because it would amount to a control on how those possessions may be used, but such an interference with that right would not violate the right if it were done in the public interest. I therefore urge the Minister to consider a ban in that public interest.

The European Courts have decided that, whether or not the control on possessions imposed by a ban is in the public interest, they will have regard to whether a ban represents a fair balance between the needs of the public interest and the rights of the individual. In other words, I tell the Minister that the European Courts will consider whether a total ban is a proportionate measure to achieve the public interest aim in question.

Accordingly, it is important to consider why exactly a ban is required in the public interest. If a total ban is proposed to ensure that animals are kept in appropriate conditions and cared for by appropriately qualified persons, there is an argument that, unlike the proposed licensing and inspection regime, a ban is not proportionate to the public interest aim being pursued. If a total ban is proposed because it is considered cruel or ethically wrong to make wild animals perform in circuses in the UK, however, a total ban is the only measure that will achieve that public aim.

Accordingly, if Parliament determines that wild animals performing in circuses is no longer acceptable to the public, it will therefore be in the public interest to have a ban on the use of such animals. The European Courts would be very unlikely to question the judgment of this House as to what is in the public interest of the United Kingdom.