Inspections

Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 22nd May 2019.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip 9:45 am, 22nd May 2019

The clause gives effect to the Bill’s schedule, which makes provision for the appointment of inspectors and sets out their powers and duties under the Bill, including powers of entry, inspection, search and seizure. The Committee may wish to debate the inspection provisions when we consider the schedule.

Photo of Sandy Martin Sandy Martin Shadow Minister (Waste and Recycling)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Moon. The inspection regime, which is crucial—there is no point in passing legislation unless we can enforce it—does not enable police officers to take part in enforcement of the Bill. Members of the public would be a bit surprised to find out about there being areas of the law in which the police are not allowed to be involved, so I urge the Minister to reconsider whether the police should be involved and allowed to take part in inspections and enforcement of the Bill.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

I will be brief—if I had been a bit quicker off the mark, I would have intervened on the Minister. My concern is that, as with so many other aspects of the Minister’s Department, although there will be powers for inspection, unless there is proper resourcing and people in place doing the job with the power to carry it through from start to finish, it all becomes pretty meaningless. We see that, for example, in the work of the Environment Agency. Will he reassure us that the power for action will mean something in practice?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

I know that the hon. Lady has strong concerns about resourcing in other areas. In this case, we have inspectors with relevant experience based on what we do with zoos, and we will draw on those individuals for help. Given the small number of circuses we are talking about, we do not envisage that a huge amount of resource will be required for inspections. I respect her concerns on other issues, and no doubt we will debate those.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

There have been reports that Anne the elephant, the subject of the Daily Mail campaign some eight years ago that led to the Bill, is not being kept in ideal conditions and is isolated. I had a conversation with the Minister about that after Second Reading and he undertook to check on her wellbeing. Has that been done?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

It is an honour to be reminded in Committee of the commitments I have made. I will follow up that point, but I confess that I do not have that information to hand. I look to my trusted officials, who will get back to us on that later today.

The hon. Member for Ipswich raised the use of police. Paragraph 6 of the schedule allows inspectors to “use reasonable force” when necessary and also to take “up to two…persons” with them, which could include a police constable, when exercising the power of entry.

Photo of Sandy Martin Sandy Martin Shadow Minister (Waste and Recycling)

Paragraph 4 of the schedule repeatedly says “an inspector” and defines an inspector as someone appointed for the purpose of inspections. It does not mention police officers at all. I am not sure why the Minister thinks the police are being given any powers at all.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

To reiterate, based on the work done by the Department, an inspector, or the persons whom the inspector takes with them, could be a police constable.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Paragraph 8 to the schedule says:

“A person taken on to the premises”— as one of the two other persons—

“may exercise any power conferred on an inspector…if the person is in the company of and under the supervision of an inspector”.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

That is right. Just to confirm, one of those people could be a police constable.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.