Home » Committee queries WG priorities

Committee queries WG priorities

A SENEDD Committee has questioned the legislative priorities of the Welsh Government on animal welfare.
The majority of members of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee support
A proposal from the Welsh Government to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Wales. However, the Committee has questioned why a ban on the practice should be prioritised over a range of pressing animal welfare issues, such as ‘puppy farming’.
Despite a series of scandals regarding the activities of licensed and unlicensed dog-breeders over many years, the Welsh Government has failed to take any action to curb puppy-farming and cut the amount of funding available to local authorities to enforce the existing law on dog breeding. By comparison, circuses are ‘a soft target’ for legislation, as so few perform in Wales.
Currently there no Welsh circuses with wild animals in operation but circuses from other countries do visit and can legally use wild animals in their acts.
The ban will affect only two UK travelling circuses which own a total of 19 wild animals.
The Bill applies only to wild, not domesticated, animals; it applies to travelling, but not static, circuses. Animals exhibited for entertainment purposes in settings other than travelling circuses will not be banned but will be regulated.
The Committee says it is unanimous in its continued support for the welfare of all animals but had not been able to come to a unanimous view on whether this Bill should proceed. As the majority of Committee members supported the Bill, it would recommend that the Assembly agrees the general principles of the Bill.
In its scrutiny of the proposed legislation, the Committee held a public consultation as well as hearing evidence from circuses, animal welfare organisations and the Welsh Government.
Chair of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee, Mike Hedges AM said: “The use of wild animals in travelling circuses is an emotive issue. The Committee heard compelling arguments from both sides of the debate about the rights and wrongs of this practice.
“The fact that the Welsh Government has introduced the Bill on ethical grounds has raised some challenging questions, such as why is it ethically acceptable for wild animals to perform in other settings but not in circuses? Why is it ethically acceptable for domesticated animals to perform in circuses? Should any animal be expected to perform purely for entertainment?
“The Welsh Government has yet to answer some of these questions. We expect it to do so if the Bill progresses. While the Committee’s view on whether the Bill should proceed is not unanimous, a majority of Members support the Bill.”