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

No doubt we could lay every lawyer in the House end to end and not reach a definite conclusion. I note my hon. and learned Friend’s comments, and obviously I respect them.

May I turn to the nub of the issue? When hon. Members decide in a few minutes’ time how to react to the motion before us, I hope that they will pay heed to what I have said about the risks attached to it. It is of course a matter for the House to decide, but I hope that hon. Members will not focus on whether we ban or, indeed, wish to end cruelty, because I hope that there is no doubt about our desire on the latter point, but focus on how we go about achieving the end to cruelty in circuses, on which we are I believe united.

Although a complete ban, as advocated in the motion, might well achieve that end in time, there are, as I have tried to describe, significant risks in taking it forward with the deadline and using the legal mechanism to which my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin has referred. That is why the Government have come forward with a proposal that might achieve the same end with more certainty. Nevertheless, as I say, the House has a right to decide otherwise.

I understand and fully respect the very high emotions involved, including on the issue of the ethics of animals performing for human entertainment.