Mark Pritchard: This flawed decision must be reversed

Share
Related Topics

Last week the Government reiterated its plans not to introduce a ban on wild animals in circuses. Its flawed decision flies in the face of expert evidence which reveals the circus industry’s daily detention, transportation, and housing of wild animals, is cruel, debilitating, and stressful.

It also ignores the consultation exercise by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which revealed that 94 per cent of the public want to see an outright ban. Discarding public opinion so readily is surprising for a government which has made much in recent weeks about its willingness to “listen” to voters.

The decision to reject the advice of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), who called its decision “disappointing” and has repeated its call for ministers to introduce an outright ban, also questions the Government’s claim to listen to experts. The BVA agrees, like all the leading animal welfare charities, that the proposed licensing system will not tackle the welfare needs of circus animals.

Similarly, MPs’ postbags, Early Day Motions, debates, parliamentary questions, and even the ministerial statement last Thursday, show that the call for a wild animals ban has sizeable cross party support. A recent survey of MPs by a leading animal welfare charity disclosed that 63 per want a complete ban.

It is also surprising that at a time of financial restraint that Defra is proposing a costly and complex licensing system, which will be difficult to regulate, monitor, and enforce and will cost taxpayers up to one million pounds annually. “Tough” licensing may save a handful of highly paid jobs in Defra, but it will do nothing to stop those circus owners who abuse their animals continuing their cruelty once inspectors have departed the big tent.

,The Government says it will consult with “welfare experts” on how licensing will work. But having so blatantly and previously ignored the advice of the same experts, who still want to see an outright ban, what guarantee is there that their recommendations will be listened to?

Today, thanks to the tireless work of animal welfare campaigners, there are no more elephants in British circuses. However, this is likely to reversed as the licensing scheme does nothing to prohibit circuses from importing a new generation of wild animals. Future imports will invariably include tigers, lions, camels, zebras, and even crocodiles. So much for progress.

In last week’s statement, the Government claimed it wanted to “protect animals” as soon as possible and that licensing was better than waiting for the outcome of a “developing” court case between the circus industry and the Austrian Government. But what if the court case is never brought? What if Austria’s decision to ban wild animals in circuses is upheld? And even if the Austrian Government lose, which most legal experts agree is unlikely, should not the British Government make its own decisions, and test its decisions in British courts, rather than be advised by judgements in Vienna? For Defra to hide behind Brussels and Strasbourg courts is no nothing new, but obscuring itself behind a court in Vienna is an innovation.

There is one easy way ministers can settle this long running debate once and for all: to allow Parliament a vote on the issue. From Bolivia to Singapore, and now on mainland Europe, governments are banning the use of wild animals in circuses. It is now time for the British Government to do the right thing by ending this antiquated, cruel, and barbaric practice, and listen to the voice of the British people.

Mark Pritchard is Conservative MP for The Wrekin - and Secretary of the Parliamentary Group on Conservation and Wildlife.





React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tea and sympathy for the idea of religion as a force for peace

Andrew Buncombe
The BBC headquarters at New Broadcasting House is illuminated at night in London, England.  

We can no longer justify paying the license fee when the BBC wastes so much money on expenses

Mira Bar Hillel
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits