All 4 Lord Gardiner of Kimble contributions to the Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019

Read Bill Ministerial Extracts

Wed 19th Jun 2019
Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 3rd Jul 2019
Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill
Grand Committee

Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 17th Jul 2019
Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 23rd Jul 2019
Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill
Lords Chamber

3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords

Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 19th June 2019

(5 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 4 June 2019 - (4 Jun 2019)
Moved by
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con)
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My Lords, this is a straightforward Bill. It seeks to prohibit the use of wild animals, whether in performances or displays, in travelling circuses. There is strong public opinion in support of this and government consultations in England, Wales and Scotland show that well over 90% of respondents are in favour. This reflects the Government’s view that seeing wild animals in circuses does nothing to further our understanding or conservation of wild animals.

In 1990, there were 20 travelling circuses using over 250 wild animals between them. Now, there are two travelling circuses with 19 wild animals in total—specifically, six reindeer, four camels, four zebras, two racoons, one fox, one macaw and one zebu.

Consideration of this issue arose during debates on the Animal Welfare Bill in 2006. The Government at the time agreed to consider whether it would be possible to bring forward a ban on the use wild animals in travelling circuses under powers in that Bill, now the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Matters moved on and, in 2012, the Government announced their intention to introduce primary legislation on ethical grounds, but as an interim measure they introduced a seven-year circus licensing regime to ensure that a high standard of welfare was secured for any travelling circuses still using wild animals while parliamentary time was found to enact a ban. The regulations were recently reviewed and found to have been successful in safeguarding the welfare of the animals. In their review of the regulations, the Government confirmed that they would not be renewed.

The regulations are due to expire on 20 January 2020, which is why it is critical that we now deliver the commitment in my party’s manifesto. The Bill is essentially a tidying-up exercise following the long-term planning on the part of the Government to prohibit the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.

Clause 1 makes it an offence for a circus operator to use a wild animal in a travelling circus in England. The offence applies only to the operator of a travelling circus; that is, the person with overall responsibility for it. The “use” of a wild animal is defined as both performance and exhibition as part of the circus. This should cover those circumstances where wild animals are put on display by the circus, usually just adjacent to the big top, as well as where the animal performs in the ring.

The penalty for a circus operator found guilty of using a wild animal in a travelling circus is an unlimited fine. Where any evidence is found of a wild animal being mistreated, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 will of course apply, as is currently the case. The Act provides powers to seize animals should there be welfare grounds to do so.

Subsection (5) contains definitions for some of the terms used in Clause 1. “Wild animal” is defined as,

“an animal of a kind which is not commonly domesticated in Great Britain”.

This is based on the definitions used in the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012. The guidance to the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 sets out clearly which animals should be regarded as wild or domesticated, and we intend to take a similar approach in guidance.

To clarify, a wild animal is still “wild” if it has been born in captivity. While most of the wild animals currently in English circuses were bred in captivity, usually from several generations of circus animals, they are still wild animals. Although the animals will have been tamed and trained to respond to humans, this does not mean that they have become domesticated. Domestication refers to a genetic selection process that occurs over multiple generations, often over hundreds if not thousands of years, effecting changes in traits across a population of animals. Individual or groups of “tame” wild circus animals are still wild animals for the purposes of the Bill.

The Bill does not include a definition of “travelling circus”. The Government’s view is that it is better for the term to take its common meaning and that prescribing a definition of “circus” is problematic on two counts: either it would be defined too broadly and thus reach further than intended, capturing other activities involving animals that move from place to place, or it would allow circuses to avoid the legislation by avoiding any features that captured them in the definition.

Clause 2 provides for the powers of inspection in the schedule to the Bill. Inspectors under the Bill would be appointed on a case-by-case basis by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, drawing on our existing list of approximately 50 zoo licensing inspectors. Given the expertise of these inspectors and their experience in working with captive wild animals, we can draw from this existing list of inspectors if there is ever a need to gather evidence to prove the offence in the Bill. If it were necessary for a police constable to be present during an inspection, the powers in the Bill allow for two people to accompany the inspector and use the powers of search and entry under the inspector’s supervision.

Clause 3 makes a minor amendment to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. The 1976 Act requires persons who wish to keep dangerous wild animals as listed in the Act to be licensed; however, the Act currently exempts any dangerous wild animal kept in a circus from that requirement. This amendment would remove that exemption and mean that any dangerous wild animal, as listed in that Act, kept by a circus would need to be licensed by the circus’s local authority, with an annual inspection. For example, the zebras and camels would need a licence under that Act. The Scottish Government, who have already introduced a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland, have asked to extend our amendment to the 1976 Act to Scotland.

Clause 4 provides that the Act comes into force on 20 January 2020, the day after the interim circus licensing regulations expire. I confirm that we will be producing guidance in good time for 20 January, which will clarify the terms used and the enforcement powers, and will give more detail to aid understanding of the content of the Act.

The Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill has come at a time when we increasingly appreciate that the use of wild animals in circuses does nothing to advance either our understanding of animal behaviour or the conservation of wild animals. I believe that people wish to perceive wild animals in their natural state, expressing all the natural attributes of being wild, not performing tricks in the circus ring for our amusement. The promise of this legislation was contained in my party’s 2015 manifesto and I know that there is strong support for the Bill across the parties. The timing of the Bill is critical, with the sunset clause on the regulations approaching. It is time to make progress on this legislation and I beg to move.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, this has been an extremely thought-provoking debate from the outset. This is a measure which is designed, at this stage, to manage 19 wild animals, but we have gone into a wider debate as well. It is very important from the Government’s point of view to acknowledge the contributions from the noble Baronesses, Lady Mallalieu and Lady Bakewell, the noble Lord, Lord Trees, and my noble friend Lady Byford, with all her farming experience.

There was concern about whether this could in any way be considered the first phase or step towards addressing what were described by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, as “legitimate” activities. As she said that, I thought about “One Man and His Dog”, falconry displays and, as a farmer, the grand parades at county shows, as well as the respect, love and responsibility we have for our animals. As a country person, the distinction I place is that this measure relates to the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. I want to place it on record that I utterly reject the extreme actions of those who believe that intimidation is how to get their way. I am absolutely certain that all noble Lords who spoke in this debate would not for one minute think that intimidation was the right way forward.

We have thought of this as being the right way forward over time. Indeed, it was in my party’s manifesto and I rather think it was in the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos. We have reached a time when we have an expression or a feeling that the use of wild animals in travelling circuses for our entertainment is not appropriate for those animals. I have no doubt about what the two circus operators have said, on record, about their regard and love for those animals. As I said, the animals were found to have been well cared for in welfare inspections.

This is about whether we should be thinking much more about wild animals having what I would describe as their natural behaviour and expression. I support this Bill for those reasons. I agree with my noble friend Lady Byford that this is about seeing wild animals in their proper environments. I put on record, in response to the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, that we do not see this Bill as having unintended consequences. This is a measure that we thought should be introduced. We have thought that for some while; indeed, my noble friend Lady Byford referred to her endeavours in the 2006 parliamentary skirmishes. I should say to my noble friend Lady Anelay that this measure relates to England. The Welsh Government are bringing forward their own proposals and the Scottish Government have already gone forward.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Mallalieu and Lady Jones of Whitchurch, referred to the tigers and elephants of yesteryear. Indeed, there are circuses on the continent that still use these types of animals. The point is that without this legislation they could be reintroduced even under the current licensing regime. The Bill does not just stop the use of the 19 wild animals in question, it prevents others being added in the future—that is the point I should make.

The noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, asked why the use of wild animals in travelling circuses is to be banned. Again, I ask whether these performances add anything to our understanding of conservation of wild animals. I go back to their natural behaviour. I think that wild animals in circuses, whether they are trained well or not, are trained for our entertainment and amusement. I am interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Trees, said about this and I am conscious of his veterinary expertise and the points made about the BVA, but that is my distinction.

A number of points were made about other legislation in the pipeline and the desire for it. I say to the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Whitchurch and Lady Mallalieu, that I am fully seized of our commitment to increase sentences. This is something we wish to attend to and to introduce as soon as possible. I will say, because many of us are engaged, that Finn’s law, which has achieved Royal Assent, has very much strengthened the protection of animals. We are going to have a statutory instrument next week. In truth, we can have a bit of a political knockabout, but the noble Lord, Lord Trees, is right: actually, this Government have brought forward many modernising measures to ensure that animals are better cared for. On the point of sentience raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, we have been clear that we will introduce our animal sentience proposals after we leave the EU.

The fate of the 19 was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu. She used the term “get rid of them”. Actually, that is absolutely not what I understand from the operators of both circuses, who have placed it on record that the animals would either be rehomed, retired to their winter quarters or used in other work—for instance, there is television and film work. That will certainly not be banned by this legislation, which is about the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. It is right to acknowledge, as I do, that circus operators have placed on record their care for these animals: they have even referred to them as part of the family. So their future has been assured and that is important, because some are quite young. I was looking at the ages at some of the animals. Given the length of their captivity, some of them have a very long lifespan left.

I disagree, if I have it right, with the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, on the use of animals such as dogs and horses in circuses and racing, provided that it is respectful and that animal welfare measures are there. We have, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, said, some of the most impressive animal welfare legislation in the world. If there is no use for animals, they will no longer be bred. As we have unfortunately a much more mechanised world, many of the animals that we used for very heavy-duty work are no longer required—and thank goodness. We need to be thinking about the manner in which we use and respect them.

On the definition of “wild”, I would say to my noble friend Lady Fookes and the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, that we have sought to use an approach that is consistent with other legislation and the definition of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, as I said in my opening remarks. It is important to be consistent. The noble Lord, Lord Trees, and other noble Lords asked about the definition of “travelling circuses”. We have given this a lot of thought; indeed, the Scottish Government have also chosen not to define “circus” in their Act. We think that prescribing a definition of “circus” would open up the possible risk of future circus operators seeking to avoid prohibition.

Indeed, a contrary but wider view is that we also do not wish to prohibit wider ranges of activity than are strictly intended by the travelling circus. So the common-sense approach is to draw up clear guidance. The noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Whitchurch and Lady Bakewell, quite rightly said from the Opposition Benches, “Come on, we want a timescale on this”. I can confirm that we will publish guidance to the Bill by 20 November, two months before the ban comes into effect. We are working on that and it is obviously important. My noble friend Lady Fookes, who is experienced in this, raised the point about guidance; as in Scotland, we do not intend the guidance to be statutory, but it must and will provide clarity on the terms used in the Bill and aid enforcement. Obviously, as with all these things, ultimately this will be determined by the courts—but the common-sense approach of our guidance will help.

My noble friend Lady Anelay also raised the question of Northern Ireland. As we all know, this is a devolved matter, and in the absence of a Government in Northern Ireland Defra officials spoke to officials in the Northern Ireland Administration. Those officials believed that,

“practical, administrative and policy considerations”,

meant that they did not feel that they wanted to participate in the Bill. However, I should say that at this time there are no travelling circuses touring Northern Ireland with wild animals, and the Republic of Ireland banned travelling circuses with wild animals last year. So officials felt that these considerations should wait until Ministers were back in place in Northern Ireland—and, of course, we all very much want the return of devolved arrangements in Northern Ireland.

My noble friend Lady Anelay also queried in a sense whether the two licensed travelling circuses could move to Northern Ireland. For these few months it is obviously a possible suggestion. That said, neither has travelled to Northern Ireland; that may well be to do with the costs involved and the distance from their winter quarters. Of course, animal welfare legislation in Northern Ireland would cover the welfare of any wild mammals there until such time as the Administration took a decision on whether to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. However, we have devolution and must respect that settlement, although the message is clear; the Republic has banned them, Wales is about to and Scotland already has. This is our legislative measure.

There are a number of other points. My noble friend Lady Anelay asked about seizure. The powers of seizure in the Bill are reserved for those powers necessary to prove the offence. We would never need to seize a wild animal to prove the offence, so we think that such a power would be disproportionate. If it were necessary to seize an animal in distress, Sections 18 and 19 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 already provide the appropriate powers. Indeed, Section 4 of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 would also allow an unlicensed dangerous animal, as listed in that legislation, to be seized.

My noble friend Lady Anelay and the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, referred to international matters. I wish to record that my noble friend did so much during her term at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to protect the planet’s most iconic species. Last year we hosted the largest ever illegal wildlife trade conference, bring together more than 70 countries. We are spending £26 million to protect and support wildlife across the globe.

The noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, asked about enforcement powers. Interestingly, it is a small Bill with a big schedule on enforcement. The Bill provides inspectors with powers to search for and gather evidence of an offence. Defra has approximately 50 inspectors appointed for zoo inspections, as I said. Several of them inspect the two circuses currently licensed by Defra to use wild animals. All inspectors are either qualified veterinarians or have extensive experience of working with captive animals. They will be experienced in identifying and, if need be, handling species of wild animal. We can draw on the existing list of inspectors if there is ever any need to gather evidence to prove the offence in the Bill. The offence will apply only to the operator of the circus—that is, the person with overall responsibility for the circus.

On the question of police constables, again, if an animal is in distress, the Animal Welfare Act already provides powers for the police to respond quickly. The schedule provides powers to search for evidence of the offence contained in Clause 1. This includes taking up to two persons with them on an inspection. Of course, one or both of those persons could be a police constable. Enforcement of Bills such as this often requires a specialism in wild animals—but, as I said, there is every opportunity, if need be, for a police constable to be part of that.

The noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, queried what might happen in these last months. Again, we believe that it is very unlikely that such tours could happen. I shall expand a bit on why. Travelling circuses tour during the summer months and typically return to their winter quarters at the end of October each year. Acquiring new animals and training them to perform a specific routine, which takes time, would normally occur at the winter quarters. It is therefore very unlikely that circuses would change their routine and add new animals to their performances mid-term and mid-tour. Given that a ban will be in place before the next touring season, it would make very little economic sense for circus owners to invest in new animals, enclosures and equipment now. Indeed, if they were to do so, there would have been nothing to stop them doing so before this touring season commenced.

The Government made clear when they published the review of interim licensing regulations that no more licences would be issued after January 2020. I assure the noble Baroness and your Lordships that, since the Bill was introduced on 1 May, we have had no queries from circuses about introducing further wild animals before the end of this touring season.

This debate has been thought provoking. In many cases it has gone beyond what might happen to the 19 animals. It has included issues about the use of animals both wild and domesticated. I again say emphatically that the Government’s intent in this legislation is not to embark on further approaches to what we have all said on record are legitimate activities that respect animals. I beg to move.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 3rd July 2019

(5 years ago)

Grand Committee
Read Full debate Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 180-I Marshalled list for Grand Committee (PDF) - (2 Jul 2019)
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Portrait Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab)
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My Lords, as other noble Lords said, it is a shame that the noble Lords concerned were not there at Second Reading, where Members from different Benches raised a number of these issues. I must say, we were very satisfied with the Minister’s answer. We were persuaded that the definition of “circus” would be better dealt with in guidance, and were pleased at his assurance that the guidance will be available before the Bill comes into effect so that circus owners’ responsibilities are absolutely clear in advance. That precisely addressed the issue raised by several noble Lords this afternoon: that if we broaden the definition too much, it includes falconry and county shows, but if we make it too narrow, it imposes a burden on circus owners when managing their circuses. We were persuaded that the definition that has been spelled out here would not be helpful to circus owners in the longer term, so we agreed on this way forward.

The noble Lord mentioned wild animals, which we will come on to when we consider the other amendments. The Bill’s purpose is to deal with wild, not domesticated, animals; we should recognise the difference. On that basis, and with the assurance that I hope the Minister can give us once again, I hope that we can move forward.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con)
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My Lords, my noble friend’s amendment seeks to introduce a definition of “travelling circus” into the Bill. As has been said, these matters were discussed at Second Reading. My remarks may therefore repeat what I have already said to your Lordships.

We chose not to provide a definition of “circus” in the Bill because we believe that it is better to use its common meaning. We believe that the same principle applies to “travelling circus”. Let me expand on that. We do not believe that a definition is necessary. “Travelling circus” is a commonly used and well-understood term; we do not think that enforcers or the courts will have problems spotting one. In fact, my noble friend Lady Anelay went to the heart of the matter. I think that my noble friend Lord Mancroft may not have envisaged the problem with providing a definition: that it could result in a definition that is too wide and takes in other activities that we do not wish to see banned. Alternatively, it could be drawn too narrowly and provide operators with parameters by which to circumnavigate the ban. A common-understanding approach means that it will always be relevant.

Also, in its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, the EFRA Committee agreed that we do not need to define “circus”. To assist in clarifying what the legislation will cover, we will draw up guidance; the noble Baronesses, Lady Parminter and Lady Jones of Whitchurch, and my noble friend Lady Anelay referred to this. The Scottish Government, who also chose not to define “circus” in their Act, have taken this approach, and we will take a similar one. I can confirm that we will publish guidance to the Bill by 20 November, two months before the ban comes into effect, as I said at Second Reading.

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Baroness Anelay of St Johns Portrait Baroness Anelay of St Johns
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My Lords, may I apologise to the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, who I have misnamed? It is obviously the shock of agreeing with a Liberal Democrat on the record twice in an afternoon. I apologise to her.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, it is wonderful to be able to thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, for his very kind remarks. I cannot promise it will be the beginning of a new order, but it is rather good to celebrate those moments. I say to my noble friend Lord Swinfen that this legislation is to make provision to prohibit use of wild animals in travelling circuses. I do not see a connection with my noble friend’s mother’s kindness in looking after an orphaned bird. I do not think we can extrapolate that from this legislation, which is specifically about travelling circuses. I imagine that my noble friend’s mother did not have a travelling circus.

Returning to my noble friend Lord Mancroft’s amendments to alter the meaning of “wild animal” proposed in the Bill, rather than an animal that,

“is not commonly domesticated in Great Britain”,

the Bill would only prohibit the use of animals, including birds, which had been living wild before being used in a travelling circus. The term “wild animal” is already well established in English legislation and the Government are content that it will cover those wild animals that we believe should no longer be used in a travelling circus.

The noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, and my noble friend Lady Anelay were right in saying that the definition of “wild animal” used in the Bill is based on the definitions in the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, which has served us well, and the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012. Both pieces of legislation require wild animals to be licensed. I should also say that zebras and camels will be subject to an annual licensing inspection under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. It is worth reminding the Committee that thinking these animals, wherever they have been bred, are somehow like domesticated pets is erroneous.

Consistency between the Bill and the circus licensing regulations is particularly important. We have been clear that the licensing regulations were an interim measure to monitor the welfare of wild animals in travelling circuses while a Bill prohibiting their use was introduced. I think the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, might have said “about time”, but we are now attending to the matter. The licensing regulations are due to expire on 19 January 2020. It is therefore vital that the prohibition in the Bill is enacted by then to ensure those same animals that currently require a licence from Defra can no longer be used in travelling circuses.

These amendments would mean that only animals that had been living in the wild could no longer be used in travelling circuses. Of the 19 wild animals currently under licence to be used in travelling circuses, only one has ever lived in the wild—the fox, which was rescued as a cub. These amendments would therefore allow the other 18 wild animals to continue to be used in travelling circuses, following the expiration of Defra’s current licensing regime, meaning that the monitoring of their welfare alone would be significantly reduced.

Further, these amendments could well see many other wild animals reintroduced into travelling circuses. The majority of wild animals used in circuses around the world are not born in the wild. Many have been bred by circuses themselves over many generations. Training a wild animal needs to begin early in that animal’s life.

These amendments could—again, I do not think that this is my noble friend’s intention—see tigers, lions and elephants return to English circuses, without needing a licence from Defra. We cannot accept that. They would also ensure that animal species we regard as domesticated could be caught by the prohibition. I am not being facetious but I will use a stray dog as an example; where one had been living wild, it would be caught by the definition of “wild animal” in these amendments. It is not the Government’s intention to prohibit the use of dogs in travelling circuses.

It may be helpful if I use this opportunity to clarify what is understood by the term “wild” or “non-domesticated” animal. Even wild animals that have been bred and reared in captivity are still wild animals. When providing evidence to the Scottish Parliament during the passage of the Scottish wild animals in circuses Bill, Dr Dorothy McKeegan, a senior lecturer in animal welfare and ethics at the University of Glasgow, was clear that wild animals in circuses are still wild animals. She said:

“The domestication of animals is not just about captive breeding and sometimes hand rearing but about the behavioural and genetic modification of the animal away from its wild progenitor. That is not going to happen with rearing generation after generation of animals in captivity. These are still wild animals”.


Again, my noble friend Lady Anelay went to the heart of that.

I hope this makes it clear that even when wild animals, including birds, are bred in captivity over several generations they should still be considered “wild”. On that basis, I am not in a position to accept my noble friend’s amendments and I very much hope that he will not press them.

Lord Mancroft Portrait Lord Mancroft
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My Lords, I have listened carefully to what my noble friend has had to say. The idea that the world outside is waiting for the Bill to fail so that it can reintroduce lions, tigers and elephants to travelling circuses is stretching things a little far. It is perfectly clear that whatever the Committee does today, the world of travelling circuses is fading away at its own rate and will be encouraged to fade a bit faster with the Bill.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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For the sake of the record, I understand that among the considerable number of travelling circuses there are only two which use wild animals. This is not the end of travelling circuses and it is important that I should clarify that, so that no other circus operator should see this as an attack on them and their use of other animals, beyond wild animals.

Lord Mancroft Portrait Lord Mancroft
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I hear what my noble friend says and would not contradict him for a moment. He knows much more about this than me but I suspect that what has happened with wild animals today will undoubtedly move on to domestic animals in future, because that is the way the world is moving. I suspect, too, that my noble friend Lord Swinfen’s jackdaw can presume that it will not have a circus career when it gets old—it is probably past it by now anyway.

One noble Lord, I forget who, talked about the welfare issues. My noble friend made it perfectly clear at Second Reading was that there were no welfare issues with the 19 wild animals mentioned. Of course, if we take away the fox there are not 19 wild animals but 18 because one of them has not become wild over generations; it is in fact a domestic animal. Zebus are domesticated animals everywhere in the world. I do not know whether they are commonly domesticated in Britain. I suspect that it is a lonely and sole zebu; nevertheless, it is a domestic animal and not a wild animal.

My father used to say that one thing you should always do is to sniff the mood of the House. My sniffing today tells me that my arguments have not attracted overwhelming support in your Lordships’ Committee, so it is probably time that I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 17th July 2019

(4 years, 12 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 180-R-I Amendment for Report (PDF) - (15 Jul 2019)
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Portrait Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab)
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My Lords, I have great respect for the positions of the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, and the noble Lord, Lord Trees, and I agree that decision-making in this House should be based on sound evidence. That is always how we operate.

The issue of guidance was raised at Second Reading and debated again in Committee. It is important that we have detailed guidance to support the core objectives of this Bill, which has widespread support. At Second Reading, we were pleased that the Minister placed on record that the guidance will be published by 20 November, two months before the Bill comes into effect. We were also persuaded that the common-sense approach to spelling out the details of many of the issues that noble Lords were raising—such as the definition of “travelling circus”—would be to include them in the guidance, rather than on face of the Bill.

Let me make our position clear. Our priority is to finish all stages of this Bill before the coming recess, so that it can be put on the statute book. It is a good Bill, which delivers on my party’s long-standing commitment to ban wild animals in circuses. Any amendments passed today would jeopardise it. I therefore urge the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, to consider that and to withdraw her amendment.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con)
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My Lords, this new clause would require the Secretary of State to produce guidance on the provisions of the Act by no later than 20 November 2019. It would also require guidance to be approved by resolution of both Houses, including if and when guidance is revised. I say particularly to my noble friend Lady Fookes and to the noble Lord, Lord Trees, that I have already stated on the official record during debates on this Bill at Second Reading and in Committee that the Government will be producing guidance. As the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, has said, that guidance will be issued by 20 November 2019, two months before the commencement of the Act.

As I confirmed at Second Reading, we do not consider it appropriate for the guidance to be statutory. The aim of the guidance is not to set out additional requirements or obligations but to provide clarity on the Government’s interpretation of certain terms used in the Bill and the approach that will be taken to enforcement. If a challenge is brought, ultimately it will be for the courts to interpret the Act. This is the position taken by the Scottish Government, who have produced well-considered non-statutory guidance to accompany their Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Act 2018, which is a good example of the type of guidance Defra will be looking to produce.

The Government’s commitment to issue guidance is on the record; I put it on the record again. I should also add that the Government have committed, during debates on the Bill in the other place, to consult with welfare groups, the police and other stakeholders on the guidance. Defra officials have already begun the process of drafting the guidance. If my noble friend Lady Fookes, the noble Lord, Lord Trees, or indeed any other noble Lords wish to see the guidance in draft before it is issued, I would of course be pleased to share it with them.

There is also a timing and practical point, which a number of your Lordships have already raised, with regards to my noble friend’s amendment. I recognise that my noble friend is speaking to the principle of having statutory guidance, but I have made it very clear as to the work that we will undertake on the contents of the guidance and the timings for publication. I am concerned that my noble friend’s amendment does not allow sufficient time for both Houses to consider the guidance between the Bill gaining Royal Assent and the deadline for the guidance to be published on 20 November.

As I have said, it will, and it should, be for the courts to provide the ultimate interpretation of this Act. The guidance that we will produce will aid circuses and enforcers in understanding the requirements of the Act by providing an explanation of some of the key terms used. This is a particular point that the noble Lord, Lord Trees, is getting at—I understand it. The Government have no further intention beyond this measure in terms of wild animals in circuses and travelling circuses. The guidance will set out examples of the types of activities that the Government consider would and would not constitute a “travelling circus”. So, for example, the guidance will make clear that we do not consider that the Bill affects activities such as travelling bird of prey displays, festive reindeer displays, educational visits to schools involving small zoo animals or wild animals used in television or film work, for example.

The guidance will give examples of what the Government intend to be meant and not meant by performance and exhibition, as used in the Bill. So, for example, “exhibition” would include positioning a wild animal in a manner calculated to promote the circus, whether or not a payment is required, whereas a wild animal spotted in a field by a passing member of the public grazing unadorned—where that viewing is not being encouraged by the circus—would not count as being “exhibited”.

My noble friend Lady Fookes also spoke at Second Reading about the definition of “wild animal”. The guidance will provide examples of animals considered not to be commonly domesticated in Great Britain from the definition of “wild animal”. The guide to the provisions of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 provides advice on what animals may fall into either the normally domesticated or not normally domesticated categories, and we plan to draw from that approach. So, for example, the guidance will explain that cats, dogs and horses would not be deemed “wild animals” under the Bill, but tigers, wolves and zebras would be.

That brings me to the final reason as to why we do not believe this amendment is necessary or desirable. The purpose of our guidance will be to aid interpretation and provide clarity on the approach that the Government will take in relation to enforcement; it will go no further. It will not introduce any additional requirements or obligations with which circus operators would have to comply. Accordingly, it will be quite different from the type of guidance which would usually be statutory, such as the codes of practice that Defra issues under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. These codes of practice set out what animal owners should do to meet the welfare needs of their animals, as required under that Act. They can be used in courts as evidence in cases brought before them relating to poor welfare of animals, and as such are rightly subject to parliamentary scrutiny. The Defra guidance on this Bill will merely explain in more detail the Government’s view of how the Bill will work in practice.

The Government feel that, given the circumstances, and the fact that the guidance will explain only what is already covered by the Bill, non-statutory guidance is not only desirable but appropriate. As I have said—I think the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, was seeking this confirmation—the guidance will be considered with welfare groups, the police, stakeholders and, in particular, circuses, and will be published no later than 20 November this year.

As I have said, if any noble Lords would like to see a draft copy of the guidance, given that officials are aiming to have a first draft ready for wider circulation by the time the House returns in September, then I would be very pleased to hear from them. I will ensure that there is an opportunity to comment on the draft.

I understand the intention of my noble friend’s amendment, but we should now be making speedy process on this legislation. I very much hope that, with the reassurances I have given today to my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Trees, she will feel in a position to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Fookes Portrait Baroness Fookes
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My Lords, as I explained at the outset, this was a point of principle about always challenging Governments when they introduce legislation to ensure that they do not go beyond the bounds of what I would call propriety—just taking off into the sunset with whatever they fancied. I am entirely with the noble Baroness: I have no wish to see this Bill deferred or put at danger in any way whatever, but I felt it important to put the point of view that I have expressed on the record.

My noble friend the Minister has also done a very good job in reassuring me. He has been kind enough to make a number of detailed points. As for inviting anybody who would like to see the draft guidance to do so, I shall take him up on that at once. Please will he let me know when it is available? That may well be the case for other Members of the House, though I dare not speak for them.

I am grateful to my noble friend for the care he has taken in putting the case for the Government and, in those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 23rd July 2019

(4 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 180-R-I Amendment for Report (PDF) - (15 Jul 2019)
Moved by
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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That the Bill do now pass.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con)
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My Lords, in moving that the Bill do now pass I wish to express my gratitude to all noble Lords for their interest in the Bill and for their thoughtful—and sometimes challenging—contributions. I am grateful for the positive engagement and support from the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, Lady Parminter and Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb on the Opposition Benches.

This Bill was a manifesto commitment of my party. While support from across the House has been notable, I have been struck by the level of scrutiny which your Lordships have devoted to the Bill—and rightly so. I also place on record my appreciation of Defra officials and all those who have assisted this Bill to, I hope, its successful conclusion.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Portrait Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister and his civil servants for the considerable support and help they have given us during the conduct of this Bill. Indeed, the Minister showed considerable patience and skill in addressing our concerns and steering the Bill through to what we all felt was a speedy conclusion. Banning wild animals in circuses has been a policy of our party for some time, and I am very pleased that we were able to play a part in guiding the Bill towards the statute book before the Recess. So I very much echo the thanks of the Minister and will just add that, whatever happens in the coming days, I hope that he will be in his place in the autumn. From our side, we certainly feel that he deserves it.