The hon. Gentleman’s intervention is very helpful in pointing out that that argument is a smokescreen that the Government are hiding behind. Indeed, the Head of Representation of the European Commission here in London recently wrote a letter to the Captive Animals Protection Society stating plainly, yet again, that the EU considered that
“the welfare of animals…is a matter best left to the judgement of Member States”.
It is not acceptable to have a policy which leaves us just hoping that regulations will have the same effect as a ban, particularly given that the secretary of the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain stated on the day after our last debate that he did not believe the new costs of regulation would discourage circuses from having performing animals. Instead, he stated that
“once we have robust regulation which reassures the public we may see some circuses return to using animals”.
How perverse would that be as an outcome of having licences?