Zac Goldsmith attacks refusal to outlaw wild animals in circuses

The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith today attacked his own party’s “extraordinary” refusal to outlaw wild animals in circuses.







In a Commons debate, Mr Goldsmith said he had received “a huge number of letters” supporting a ban on lions, tigers and elephants performing in the big top and described the Government’s decision not to introduce one as “totally illogical”.

As reported in the Independent, the Department for the Environment last month reversed its support for a ban after pressure from the Prime Minister David Cameron and said that one could be challenged legally. Instead it has proposed a licensing system in which conditions for the approximately 20 wild animals would be inspected.

Criticising that position, Mr Goldsmith said: “I am confused by the Government’s position. I do not see any real arguments against the ban, other than abstract ones. It seems to come down to an argument about the vague threat of a possible challenge by the European Union at some point in the future.”

He added: “I will not rehearse the arguments for a ban, partly because they have already been laid out clearly but also because they are blindingly obvious. I encourage the Government to rethink their position, which does not make any sense to MPs, our constituents or those involved in the campaign for a ban. It seems totally illogical.”

During the 90 minute adjournment debate in Westminster Hall, 10 MPs including the Green leader Caroline Lucas attacked the Government’s position, which is opposed by 26,000 people who have signed the Independent’s online petition calling for a ban.

Labour MP Rob Flello, who secured the debate, said: “I realise that after the forestry U-turn, Defra cannot see the wood for the trees, but are ministers really saying that the thousands of people who have signed the Independent’s online petition are wrong, that the 94.5 per cent who responded to the consultation are wrong, or... that the vast majority of the British public are wrong?”

MPs referred to independent legal advice, obtained by the animal welfare group Animal Defenders’ International, which states that circuses would be unlikely to overturn a ban under two laws cited by ministers, the Human Rights Act or the EU Services Directive.

Animal Welfare Minister Jim Paice said the Government was considering ADI’s legal advice.

But he stuck to his position that the Government’s own legal advice militated against a ban, which he said did not satisfy a legal requirement for “necessity” and “proportionality”.

He told the chamber: “I fully understand that the subject is highly emotive and that the public are seriously concerned about the welfare of animals, as well as about the ethics and morals.

“As I have tried to explain, however, that alone cannot provide a basis for legislation because we and Governments of all persuasions must accept the legal conditions in which we operate, whether under legislation previously passed by the house or to which we have become signatories as part of international law.

“We therefore remain of the view that the quickest, best and most effective way of dramatically improving the welfare of animals in travelling circuses is by the system of regulation.”

After the debate, Jan Creamer, ADI’s chief executive, described the minister’s defence as “underwhelming.”

She said: “He failed to once again address the key issues. He made specific reference to ADI legal advice and stated that Defra was currently considering it, but then attempted to suggest that our advice does not fully address the issue of proportionality. He is incorrect, and our lawyers have been very specific on this point.”

David Bowles, the RSPCA’s director of communications, said the RSPCA was “furious”. He said: “Hiding behind a challenge to the Austrian government ban and human rights laws is a complete red herring as the European commission have said they are happy with bans on use of wild animals in member states.”

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible