Clause 3 makes a minor amendment to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. The Act requires persons who wish to keep dangerous wild animals as listed by the Act to be licensed by the local authority. However, the Act currently exempts any dangerous wild animal kept in a circus from that requirement. Once the ban set out in this Bill comes into force, no dangerous vertebrate wild animals should be used in performances or exhibited as part of a travelling circus. The clause takes a belt-and-braces approach, making it clear that using dangerous wild vertebrate animals in a travelling circus is not allowed.
The 1976 Act applies to England, Wales and Scotland. The effect of the amendment to it will be that the exemption will no longer apply in England and Scotland. The Scottish Government, who have already introduced a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland—which we are grateful for and which sets out important lessons for us to learn here in England—have asked us to extend the amendment in the 1976 Act to Scotland. We are pleased to facilitate that request; the Scottish Government have agreed in principle to lodge a legislative consent motion.
The Act’s exemption for circuses will remain in place in Wales, where the Welsh Government are currently considering introducing their own legislation on travelling circuses. If they wish to remove the exemption, the Welsh Government can do so when they introduce their own circus legislation.
For completeness, I should add that we have also discussed the Bill with officials in the Northern Ireland Government, but they are not in a position to consider a ban at this point.