I welcome the Executive's intention to consult on the banning of wild animals in circuses, which was proposed in response to the genuine concerns that were voiced in the chamber at stage 1 and, indeed, in response to the amendment in my name at stage 2.
I do not believe that there is a place for wild animals in circuses and I do not believe that the majority of the public believes that either. It is impossible to cater for the needs of animals that have evolved on the plains of Africa—lions, tigers and elephants—in the cramped and unnatural conditions of a travelling circus. I recognise that the bill has a heavy subordinate legislation agenda attached to it, but at this stage I seek further assurances from the minister that a ban on wild animals in circuses will be in place for the next circus season. We do not want to get into a situation in which there is no ban in Scotland but there is one in England, with the result that disreputable circuses decide to come up to Scotland to hold their summer season here. I plead with the minister to offer us assurances on the progress of the subordinate legislation.
I move amendment 5.
During the stage 2 discussion of a similar amendment from Elaine Smith, I stated that although the issue of the private keeping of primates in Scotland is a concern, we estimate the scale of the problem to be small. Further general consultation is required to consider the issue of the keeping of primates in a wider context. That is why I made the commitment at stage 2 to have a general consultation on the keeping of unusual pets, which I hope will provoke debate and help to inform future policy in this area.
Consultation on the matter is essential and although it is clear from what Mark Ruskell said that there are strong voices in favour of a ban, other voices should be heard. We also need to look at detailed issues such as differences between species and whether any exceptions should be allowed. All that must be done before setting policy in stone on the issue. I appreciate that there are strongly held views on the matter, but I believe that setting an arbitrary time limit for the introduction of regulations under section 25 could lead to bad or unworkable legislation. Indeed, I do not think that I should give a commitment today to act on the issue of circuses by a particular time. Suffice it to say that we will do that as soon as possible. I ask Parliament to reject amendment 5.
Division number 15
For: Adam, Brian, Ballance, Chris, Ballard, Mark, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Rob, Grahame, Christine, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Patrick, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Kane, Rosie, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, MacDonald, Margo, Maclean, Kate, Martin, Campbell, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, McFee, Mr Bruce, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Robison, Shona, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Scott, Eleanor, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinburne, John, Swinney, Mr John, Turner, Dr Jean, Watt, Ms Maureen, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra
Against: Aitken, Bill, Arbuckle, Mr Andrew, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Richard, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Brown, Robert, Brownlee, Derek, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fraser, Murdo, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gordon, Mr Charlie, Gorrie, Donald, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McConnell, Mr Jack, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McMahon, Michael, McNulty, Des, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Monteith, Mr Brian, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Petrie, Dave, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Tosh, Murray, Wallace, Mr Jim, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan