Wild Animals in Circuses Bill

Explanatory Notes

Policy background

3 The Bill takes forward the UK Government's policy in relation to the use of wild animals in travelling circuses as set out in the Written Ministerial Statements on 1 March 1 and 12 July 2012 2 . The Government stated that it intended to pursue a ban on ethical grounds on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England. In the absence of any compelling scientific evidence that a ban could be justified on welfare grounds, such a ban would require primary legislation. Because primary legislation would take time, as an interim measure, the Government would introduce a licensing scheme using powers available under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012 came into force on 20 January 2013. Only two travelling circuses have been licensed under the 2012 Regulations to use wild animal acts.

4 In April 2013, the Government published a draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny. The draft Bill was considered by the House of Commons' Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee who published their report in July 2013. The Government responded in October 2013. The Government did not accept the main select committee recommendation that the ban should only apply to some wild animals, rather than all wild animals. Since the Government response, no parliamentary time has been found to introduce the Bill. Several attempts to introduce the Bill by backbench means have also been unsuccessful.

1 Hansard 1 March 2012 Column 41 WS

2 Hansard 12 July 2012 Column 43 WS


Prepared 8th March 2018