Dismay as proposed ban on circus animals is left out of Queen's Speech


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Indy Politics

Ministers faced anger after a promised ban on wild animals in travelling circuses was a surprise omission from the Queen’s Speech.

A draft Bill to outlaw their use had been drawn up by the Government to build on a new licensing system to monitor animals’ well-being.

But there was no pledge to turn it into law and there were suspicions it had fallen victim to the edict from Tory strategist Lynton Crosby that the Government’s legislative programme should be stripped of peripheral measures.

Mark Pritchard, the Tory MP who has campaigned for the ban, said: “There will be many in and outside Parliament who will be surprised and disappointed. But I’m determined, resolute and will not give up.”

Jan Creamer, the president of Animal Defenders International, said: “This is an issue which the Government has committed to take action on and has overwhelming support from the public and politicians.”

Also missing was any reference to the Government’s long-standing commitment to enshrine a rise in foreign aid to 0.7 per cent of national income into law.

Although the increase is supported by the three main parties, it is opposed by many Tory right-wingers who want spending frozen or cut.

A previous commitment to force tobacco manufacturers to sell cigarettes in plain packages was absent, but Downing Street said the Department of Health would go ahead with draft regulations which did not require primary legislation.

Apart from a pledge to “work to promote reform in the European Union”, there was no reference to David Cameron’s plans to hold a referendum on EU membership in 2017 if he remains Prime Minister after the general election. A backbench Tory MP is expected to champion a Bill to turn the referendum plan into law.

Conservative ministers had been pushing for legislation under which people caught twice with a knife would be automatically jailed, but were blocked by the Liberal Democrats.

There was not a separate Immigration Bill as ministers believe they already have the power to tweak rules on visas and benefit entitlements