Wild Animals (Circuses)

Part of Backbench Business — [29th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:38 pm on 23rd June 2011.

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Photo of James Paice James Paice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 5:38 pm, 23rd June 2011

That may well be the judgment that the hon. Gentleman and many others—and probably even I—would come to, but as we have clearly stated, we would go out to consultation in order to form a view of what those standards should be.

Let me conclude my comments on the introductory speech of my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin. He never made any attempt to justify using section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. I shall refer to that in a little more detail. The hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse also referred to that. I respect him immensely. We shared a mutual respect when I shadowed him, and I think that remains the case, but I must correct his memory on the previous European case, without going through all the detail. He remarked earlier that the circus lost against the ombudsman, but that is not the case; the ombudsman made a damning criticism of maladministration against the Commission, based on the view that it had abdicated its responsibility to maintain the treaties by not interfering in the rights of member states, so there is a distinction.

The hon. Gentleman reminded us of the 2006 Act. I served on the Bill Committee, as did Nia Griffith—I remember her efforts at that time to introduce a ban, which she described today. It was resisted by the Minister at the time, Mr Bradshaw, and by Lord Rooker in the other place. While the Bill was on Report on 8 March 2006, the right hon. Member for Exeter stated:

“I intend to use a regulation under clause 10 of the Animal Welfare Bill to ban the use in travelling circuses of certain non-domesticated species”.—[Hansard, 8 March 2006; Vol. 443, c. 61WS.]

That was in March 2006, over four years before the general election. Whatever the good intent of the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse, the fact is that his Government did nothing, despite that declared intent.