We have already heard many comments from many colleagues, so I will not repeat what has been said. I rise in support of the motion, which
“directs the Government to use its powers under section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to introduce a regulation banning the use of all wild animals in circuses”.
I had the privilege of serving on the Animal Welfare Bill Committee back in 2006. The Bill became an excellent Act with many good measures asking people to think carefully. It was good in terms of introducing codes and saying that animal welfare really matters. During that Committee’s proceedings, however, I raised the issue of banning the use of wild animals in circuses, and I would have liked to have seen a much slicker process in the Bill to progress the matter at that time.
Matters have progressed, however. The consultation that the Labour Government instigated in 2009 showed that public opinion is even more clearly behind a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses than it was back in 2006, with 94.5% of people saying that they would support it. It is therefore a great shame that we did not have the time to introduce that ban before the election, after which the coalition Government chose to disregard public opinion by not proceeding with introducing it.
It is extraordinary that the smokescreen of the European Union has been put up as an excuse for not introducing the ban, because as was explained earlier, the Commissioner has clarified the position and there is absolutely no obstacle whatsoever in the way of our doing so. The European Union does not prevent us from doing this.