I am glad to associate myself with those sentiments. There are serious questions to be asked about the process—we will certainly ask them at a later date—but the most important thing about tonight’s vote is that we follow the Members who raised the issue in the first place through the Division Lobby and ensure that a ban is enacted.
One of my major concerns if we do not pass the motion is that circuses are saying that the Government’s licensing scheme could produce an increase in the number of performing animals in British circuses. Surely, that alone must give us pause for thought. The issue is straightforward, and the solution is pretty clear. The Government should introduce a ban under the previous Government’s Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Events have moved on in the House since we started the debate. It now seems clear that there will be a free vote. I am glad to hear that because I believe that, on such issues of conscience, we are strongest as a House when we stand together against practices that have no place in a modern society. Perhaps more importantly, I believe that the DEFRA ministerial team had the right position in the first place. They instinctively felt that a ban was the right way go on the issue. For that reason, I should like to encourage them to go through the Lobby with us tonight to make a clear and definite case about the kind of society that we seek to create, and in doing so, we will be much stronger as a House together.