Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Plenty of time available for Government to pass popular circus ban blocked by Conservative MPs

Posted: 28 November 2014

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has urged the Government to introduce a ban on wild animals in circuses ahead of the next General Election. In a letter to Defra Minister Lord De Mauley, the animal protection organisation highlights the Government has the Parliamentary time needed to pass the popular measure. Without action from Government, the proposed implementation date is unlikely to be met, as the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill introduced by Jim Fitzpatrick MP continues to be blocked by Conservative MPs. The circus Bill was today blocked for a sixth time and will be put forward again for a second reading on December 5th.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “The Government has promised to outlaw the use of wild animals in circuses “when Parliamentary time allows” – there is clearly time to pass a ban and the Government needs to act now. There is no reason why wild animals should be made to suffer in circuses any longer.”

The ban on wild animals in circuses is long overdue. The Government first committed to ban the use of wild animals in circuses more than two years ago, and draft legislation was published and scrutinised by an EFRA committee over a year ago. It has also been four years since Defra’s public consultation found 94.5% of respondents backed a ban, and three years since the House of Commons voted unanimously in favour of the measure.

The Government had stated that a ban would be introduced “when Parliamentary time allows”. Since the Queen’s Speech in June, the House of Commons has sat for 66 days, of which just 36 were taken up by Government business. The Queen’s Speech itself contained only 11 Bills, the lowest number for at least 20 years and fewer than the Queen’s Speech prior to the last election, when the session was five months shorter. The Government has even been allocated un-allotted opposition days for debate, with the Chief Whip also reported as having told MPs there will be no significant votes on a Thursday to enable them to campaign in the General Election.

With around 60 sitting days left until Parliament is dissolved for the General Election, and the majority of Bills set out in the Queen’s Speech having received a Second Reading, there is ample time for legislation to ban the use of wild animals in circuses to pass through both Houses and maintain the December 2015 implementation date set out in the Government’s draft legislation. In light of this, ADI trusts that the Government will work to ensure that the will of the public and parliament is met.

The latest setback for animals in circuses was dealt by Christopher Chope MP who has previously blocked the Bill. When challenged today in Parliament as to why he is blocking the Bill, Chope stated “I believe his Bill should be a Government Bill, because it was promised by the Government.”

Christopher Chope MP stated that he blocked the bill on its last reading because he believes that it should be “debated properly”. However, the issue has been debated at length and were the Bill allowed to pass, it would be scrutinised line by line. Before objecting to the circus Bill last week, Chope allowed an undebated Bill to pass. Conservative MPs Andrew Rosindell and Phillip Davies have also blocked the circus Bill on previous occasions.

The Government reiterated last month its support for a ban, with William Hague stating “we want to legislate on this matter” and the Prime Minister previously pledged to ban what he calls an “outdated practice”. Despite repeated promises, little progress has been made.

Whilst Britain stalls on this issue, other nations are introducing similar legislation in a more timely fashion, with Malta for example recently bringing in a ban within a year of launching its public consultation and subsequently draft legislation. Britain is lagging behind 28 countries worldwide that have introduced prohibitions on animal circus acts. Over 200 local authorities in the UK also have bans on the use of animals in circuses on public land. Public attitudes have changed and the appetite for wild animal circus acts has plummeted, with only two circuses performing with wild animals in Britain today.

As a result of Government inaction, and as feared by ADI, there has been an increase in the number of wild animals in circuses and a big cat act has returned to Britain. Recent footage revealed by ADI shows one of the three tigers used in the act pacing back and forth inside their ‘beastwagon’. This abnormal, repetitive ‘stereotypic’ behaviour is not seen in the wild, but is commonly observed in circuses, and indicates that the animals are not coping with their unnatural lives.

The campaign by ADI to Stop Circus Suffering is supported by a number of high profile celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Sir Roger Moore, Brian May, Moby, Imelda Staunton, Eddie Izzard, Twiggy, Annette Crosbie, Sir Paul McCartney and Dame Judi Dench, whose joint letter with ADI’s President was published in The Times last month.

ADI is currently working with authorities in Peru to enforce a circus ban and rehome the wild animals, as it has done before in Bolivia which is charted in the award-winning documentary Lion Ark. The critically acclaimed film is currently being screened at cinemas across the UK with an upcoming London West End Gala Screening on December 6, attended by celebrity guests including Alexei Sayle, Bill Oddie, Bruce Kent, Meg Mathews, Celia Hammond, Sofia Hayat and Gillian McKeith.

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Contact: Fleur Dawes 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

Parliamentary time: Guardian data blog

Bournemouth Daily Echo “Anger after bill to ban wild animals in circuses is blocked by MP Chris Chope”

The Wild Animals in Circuses Bill was introduced on Wednesday 3rd September by Jim Fitzpatrick MP. Co-sponsors of the bill are Jim Dowd, Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge; Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet; Philip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering; Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge; Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton, Pavilion; Naomi Long, Alliance MP for Belfast East; Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West; Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East; Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon; Hugh Bailey, Labour MP for York Central, Russell Brown, Labour MP for Dumfries and Galloway; Thomas Docherty, Labour MP for Dunfermline and West Fife.

The text of the Bill is the same as the draft version published by the Government and scrutinised by a Committee of MPs last year.

Daily Mirror: “Prodded with sticks and caged in misery: The lions and tigers at “circus high school””

Circus bans worldwide

Link text Lion Ark

Twitter #circusban

Animal Defenders International
With offices in London, Los Angeles and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, and educates the public on animals and environmental issues.

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