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MPs unanimously back a ban on wild animals in circuses
Posted 24 June 2011
Following the debate in Parliament last night (June 24), MPs have defied the government and voted unanimously in support of a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. This sends an unmistakable message to ministers that they must introduce a complete ban in place of the proposed regulation and licensing system.
The government has still to commit itself. A Defra spokeswoman said after the Commons vote: 'The government will listen to the view of the House and is sympathetic to the motion for a ban. We will continue to look carefully at how this could be introduced, but there are unavoidable legal difficulties that we cannot ignore.'
Conservative MP Mark Pritchard, who brought forward the motion for a ban, made a principled and passionate stand on this issue. He revealed that, prior to the debate, he had been contacted by David Cameron's office and offered incentives if he didn't call for a ban. When he refused, he was told that, unless he withdrew the motion, the Prime Minister would look upon it 'very dimly indeed'. Despite these threats, he stuck by his principles and secured an important victory for animal welfare.
The public has already indicated its opposition to wild animals being used in circuses, with 94 per cent of those who responded to the public consultation calling for a ban.
Much credit for the advances to date must go to Animal Defenders International, whose series of undercover exposés - notably, showing Anne the elephant being brutalised - shocked the public, media and politicians. Critical support for a ban has also come from the Independent newspaper, which has run a hard-hitting campaign in recent weeks, supported by nine animal protection groups, Animal Aid amongst them.
Please contact David Cameron and urge him to respect the will of the public and of Parliament, and introduce a complete ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.