I agree that circuses are no place for wild animals and that this is a view shared not only by many animal welfare organisations, but also the vast majority of people in our constituency.
The Scottish Government introduced the Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill last year in response to ongoing welfare concerns. The Bill was passed unanimously through the Scottish Parliament, and received Royal Assent in January of this year. The Act prohibits the performance, display and exhibition of wild animals in travelling circuses. I welcome this Act, and look forward to further action on animal welfare issues in Scotland.
Whilst there has been progress on this issue in Scotland, I believe an outright ban is long overdue in England. The UK Government has said it will introduce a legislative ban before the current regulations, introduced as an interim measure, expire in 2020.
The Wild Animals in Circuses Private Members’ Bill was scheduled to have its second reading debate on Friday 16 March 2018, but time ran out before the Bill was debated. It was unable to have its second reading without debate because one or more MPs objected, and second reading is now scheduled for Friday 27 April 2018, however it is very far down the list of the Bills due to be discussed that day.
At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto which included a commitment to support a ban on wild animals in circuses. I believe the practice is cruel, and I will work with colleagues in Parliament to press for the ban to be extended across the whole of the United Kingdom.