Wild Animals in Circuses February 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the use of wild animals in circuses.

I agree that there should be a clear and unambiguous ban on the use of wild animals in circuses and I know that there has been concerted campaigning from inside and outside of Parliament on this issue for a number of years. An outright ban has been backed by Parliament, endorsed by the public and is supported by all the major animal welfare groups.

The previous Labour Government had plans back in 2010 to ban wild animals in circuses and I share your frustration that the Coalition Government failed to legislate on this during the last Parliament. This is despite the House of Commons backing a ban and the Prime Minister stating that a ban would be introduced.

As you know, the Coalition Government published a draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill in 2013 but failed to find parliamentary time for this Bill, or for a Private Members' Bill that was introduced by my parliamentary colleague Jim Fitzpatrick MP to finally ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

The current Government also failed to include legislation on this in the recent Queen's Speech.

I know this will disappoint many constituents who have written to me on this issue and animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA. I agree that an outright ban is long overdue and I fought the General Election on a manifesto that included a commitment to ban wild animals in circuses.

I also believe that the Coalition Government's alternative approach of a licensing system is ineffective and outdated.

I hope there will be an opportunity to press the current Government on this and I can assure you that I will continue to bear in mind the points you raise if and when this issue is debated further in Parliament.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.