One issue which has appeared frequently in my postbag over the past year has been the use of wild animals in circuses. We are nation of animal lovers and many residents in Croydon find it abhorrent that wild animals are still allowed to be used in this way.
A couple of weeks ago the Government announced it would not be banning this practice but instead proposed additional welfare safeguards. The reason given for this decision was that the Austrian Government had been taken to court when they attempted to intoduce a ban.
On Thursday, the Agriculture Minister, Jim Paice, answered an urgent question on the issue. He clarified that the Austrian Government had not in fact been taken to court but that papers for a potential case were currently being prepared and that the Government had received very strong legal advice that a ban might be seen as disproportionate action under the EU Services Directive and the Human Rights Act.
The whole situation is preposterous: the Minister said he wants a ban, MPs on both sides of the House want a ban and the public want a ban yet once again we have a Minister saying the Government can't do what it wants to do - and what the British public want it to do - because of human rights legislation. It is high time the Government did something about that legislation. In the meantime, they should introduce a ban and dare circus owners to take the Government to court.