There’s Real Time, Greenwich Mean Time – and then there’s the dreaded ‘Parliamentary Time’!

Will the long-awaited ban on the use of wild animals circuses in England fall victim, once more, to “lack of Parliamentary time”? In this guest blog, my friend and colleague, Liz Tyson, explains.

Back in 2012, the then Defra Minister announced that the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England would be banned “as soon as parliamentary time allows”. The news was met with delight. Surely this popular measure, with massive, cross-party political support, would breeze through the parliamentary process.

Indeed, some senior parliamentarians predicted that it could pass through both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in a matter of days.

It is now July 2015 and wild animals still perform in the big top. Not only has the process stalled but history appears to be repeating itself. Like a scene from Groundhog Day, the current Minister repeats the mantra of his predecessor: that the ban will be introduced “as soon as parliamentary time allows”.

The current delay is certainly not for lack of trying! Since the intention to ban was announced, there have been at least 29 Parliamentary Questions on the subject; we have been told in our regular meetings with MPs that this issue continues to feature heavily in their mailbag; and we know the ongoing plight of wild animals in circuses remains of grave concern to both the public and MPs alike. Yet the ban still remains elusive and the exploitation endures.

Two years ago, trying to remain positive, Born Free, the RSPCA and our partners accepted the Government’s reassurances that their controversial licensing regime, introduced in January 2013, was ‘temporary’, designed to simply ‘fill the gap’ until it would be replaced by the ban “just as soon as parliamentary time allows”.

However, it all depends what you mean by temporary. Ominously, in a recent answer to a question posed by Louise Haigh MP, the Minister suggested that the temporary licensing regime may still be in place for years to come. He went on to say that: “a full evaluation of the licensing scheme will be carried out, if required, as part of the statutory five year review”. The regime’s five year review will be due in 2018. The government has promised that the ban would be in place long before then, no later than the end of 2015. What is going on?

After 20 years campaigning on this issue, can it really be the case that the last three years have not offered even the smallest parliamentary opportunity to do the right thing for wild animals still being used in travelling circuses?

The government may be slow to act – but our response can be immediate.

Please contact the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, and ask him to deliver on his personal commitment to ‘get it done’, to honour the the Government’s election manifesto pledge, and to keep faith with the great majority of people across the nation. It is time to finally bring the curtain down.

The time to ban is now.”

I could not have put it better myself!

Blogging off


42 Responses to “There’s Real Time, Greenwich Mean Time – and then there’s the dreaded ‘Parliamentary Time’!”

  1. Gill Gilbey Says:

    Dear Will,
    I have written to the PM regarding above,we must keep up the pressure.
    Something else I have just seen on TV a headline saying “South African Airways lifts Ban on carrying Hunting Carcasses ” sounds appalling to me!

  2. Anna Giladi Says:

    Dear Prime Minister,

    please deliver on your commitment to end the captivity and abuse of wild animals in circuses. We have involved from easily amused, club-swinging apes to human beings who should find less barbaric ways to color our spare time. These animals cannot be adequately contained in circuses, they cannot be handled respectfully when they need to perform. Unlike dogs, they have no will to please and will only resond to force- and starvation-free methods to a modest extent. Please end this.

    Thank you

  3. Wayne Says:


  4. Amanda Jones Says:

    Please stop this as you have promised, it’s embarrassing for the animals and decent animal loving human being!! Why is this taking so long, it’s wrong and cruel and the animals are clearly suffering, no excuses….STOP IT NOW!!!! No reason to keep it going, as no one wants to see it!!!!!

  5. polly barnes Says:

    We are one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to fighting the injustices of this world especially when they concern the livelihood of animals. This is your chance, David Cameron, to show the world that you share the same values as the rest of us.

  6. Louise Cara Says:

    I thought the UK was better than this. We ended SeaWorld back in 1992. Anything like Circus’s or Marine Parks with Performing Wild Animals is Cruel, its Slavery, its Exploitation and its just wrong. I am ashamed that this had been put to one side like its not important. Everyday these animals are suffering, its unacceptable. Please Act Now, I like the think the UK are Animal Lovers & we set an example to the rest of the World.

  7. Janey read Says:

    Prove me wrong show me you care

  8. Wayne Taylor Says:

    Dear PM

    Enough of “parliamentary time”. It’s time you stood up for animals (for once) and finally banned wild animals in circuses.

  9. Marg Broome Says:

    You made the commitment to end this cruelty 3 years ago and it is still not done. Please ACT now!
    There is no place in a so-called civilised society in the 21st century to hold wild animals in captivity to ‘entertain’ humans. This is a vitally important issue and you as our elected government have a responsibility to ban the use of animals in circuses and to do it now.

  10. Alistair Mitchell Says:

    Finger out Mr Cameron get it done now not later

  11. Tina Smythe Says:

    For a change do what you said you would the vast majority of the British public want this so also for a change do what the people want and stop faffing around

  12. Suzanne Kerr Says:

    I am SO ashamed that 20 countries have banned Wild Animals in Circuses before us.. A ‘so called’ nation of Animal Lovers !!!??? You promised us this Ban, Now Deliver .. You work for the people of this country, this is what we want.. Please, just do your job !!!??? Did you see #TykeTheElephant on BBC4 last night.. there are many like her.. Nosey, Mali .. lots.. I hope there are attacks, then maybe you’ll act ???

  13. Karen Thomsit Says:

    In this day and age surely we have evolved beyond deriving pleasure and demanding entertainment from the suffering of magnificent lions, tigers, elephants, camels, etc. A circus is no place for wild animals. Parliamentary time must be found in order to debate and finally put a stop to this dreadful exploitation. A promise is a promise. We are waiting as are the animals.

  14. Alison Watson Says:

    Stop this cruelty NOW

  15. Mary-Anne Halsall Says:

    How come UK, is behind times? when it comes to Animal Welfare! When many countries in The EU like, Belgium,Cyprus,Crotia,Austria, to name just a few, Have Banned kept animals in circuses…Scotland is considering a ban also Wales has pledged to support a ban on wild kept animals- I do expect that you are aware of that Thomas Chipperfield and his family have presented Tiger and Lion Acts with the Irish Duffys for the past 25yrs..Surely exotic species like this should not be kept in a travelling circus, and kept in these beast wagons, whilst this circus, travels to and fro to various towns, then make them perform in front of these people who really don’t have no respect for these poor animals—-I urge you to take the step to place a ban, in UK, please do the right thing, we are in the 21st century not in the Victorian times!!

    Yours Sincerely,

    Mary-Anne Halsall.

  16. Margaret Chinn Says:

    In order to help stop poaching, the first thing is to respect all animals. No animal belongs in a circus. Now is the time for Britain to play its part, once and for all. Now is the time to pass a law stating this. Now is the time to act decisively.

  17. German Libardo Olguin Jr Says:

    Mr Prime Minister, i ask you to please start seeing animals as they were human beings, why is that?, well they are a few steps behind us in evolution, but never the less they are creatures that feel pain, anxiety, angst an other emotions that we think that are exclusive to human kind, i lived surrounded by animals from a very early age until i was an adult, i had chickens pets who followed me everywhere i go and when they felt scared they would seek protection behind my legs or climbed on me, and dogs, hamsters and lizards,cows all of them are different but they always show these kind of behaviour, they share so much with us, they get attached and miss the people that take care of them, they basically have personalities.Please look at them as your little brothers from different mothers, i feel we are in charge of this boat called Earth, but we don’t own it, we are part of it, and we don’t see the major responsibility we have in hands, on this planet we have it all, and we should have it all for more centuries, but in less than 2 centuries we have managed to tortured earth and the living creatures inside it and shortened the spectative for life of the planet and the creatures that are in it; we are not the only creations of God, he created us all and i think he would have wanted us to have a near paradise experience on this earth, for all of us animals and human animals. Have a pleasant life and please, please think of them differently as if they were also part of your dear family.

  18. Noelle Robinson Says:

    do the right thing please – no animals belong in any circus !

  19. julie titcombe Says:

    Dear Prime Minister, it is with regret that many people are disappointed, to say the least, to know that wild animals are still used and abused in circuses. These poor animals, who should be respected, and allowed to live thier lives as nature intended, are not living but existing in horrible conditions and only cruel methods can make the iconic animals perform unnatural acts for the sake of so called human entertainment. When will the government act on a matter that has been dicuss ed for years and promises made. The banning of animals in circus environments is still awaited. I ask that you introduce these bans immediately. Each day more wild animals suffer because it is not thought important enough. Well, it is important to millions of people worldwide, who are fighting and speaking out for these imprisoned animals. Enough is enough. We have to act responsibly and let these creatures of our planet live thier lives as nature intended. No one has the right to take their freedom away. I hope that you do the right thing, as a caring Prime Minister. Thank you.

  20. susan neale Says:

    this is a thing (circus animals) that should be left in the past…..these beautiful creatures are indangered… do the right thing…..NO MORE….we are “believed to be educated” and yet having to petition against such abhorrent behaviour by man

  21. Cherry Largue-Halligan Says:

    STOP NOW!!!

  22. Lilian dahlin Says:

    No animals belong in any cirkus only in their freedom ban all cirkus around the word immiedetly it is so cruel to this poor animals they are so beautifull and should be in their freedom

  23. Lilian dahlin Says:

    Ban all animals at cirkus they only belong in their freedom. It is very cruel for the animals this cirkuslife

  24. Lilian dahlin Says:

    The animals should be free immiedetly ban all cirkus

  25. Brenda doyle Says:

    Please stop animals in circuses .Let the UK show other countries we care

  26. Simone Gosden Says:

    Get it done! We see you Cameron – parading as a family, socially conscious man – but you are neglecting the most vulnerable in our society as a flippant matter of course. We see you trying to overturn the fox hunting ban, cutting the welfare state and not honouring promises to end animal cruelty in circuses amongst so many other things! Get it done because we are taking note and you do not appear to be an honourable man x much love xx

  27. marlenethompson Says:

    Mr Cameron, Wild animals were born to be free. Animals in circuses are trained through fear to perform unnatural tricks to entertain. It is disgraceful the Government have not yet banned this atrocious acitvity. Leave them in the wild where God and Nature intended them to be. End this animal torture a.s.a.p

  28. Sarah Says:

    Come on David !
    For goodness sake ! Some things are just so obvious!!! Why won’t you do something???

  29. ta vandercook Says:


    thank you,

  30. joii resnick Says:


  31. Saffron Dafnias Says:

    This has been on the political agenda for too long. Recent demonstrations at circus’s in the uk have represented the view of the majority. I know that animal welfare is not particularly high on the Tory list at present but it is something that UK citizens feel strongly about. Get it sorted please!

  32. Mary Britton Says:

    Dear Prime Minister I do not think wild animals should be kept in captivity and be used in circus. This life for them is not natural and can be very cruel.

    I hope you will help to stop this please.

  33. CAROL PEARCE Says:

    ANIMALS belong in the wild – they were not born for the so-called ‘entertainment’ of
    humans. BOYCOTTE all circuses with ANIMAL CONTENT until this stops

  34. AITCH Says:

    Come on Mr. C … your procrastination time is up.

  35. Leslie Vicas Says:


  36. Christine Harle Says:

    In the 21st century no society can believe it is civilised if it allows wild animals to be enslaved in circuses.

  37. Steve Harper Says:

    Dave,….. get it done!!!!!

  38. Jocelyn Tomkins Says:

    The huge majority of people in the United Kingdom do not want to see animals performing in circuses – people do not see it as entertainment and those who think it’s ok don’t know what really goes on to get animals to act out of character. Please put an urgent end to the use of all animals in circuses.

  39. marion price Says:

    Please help stop the suffering of animals…while we deliberately abuse all the other creatures that share this earth…we cannot call ourselves civilised.

  40. Demitrice L. Venters Says:

    No animal should be treated like this. Circus should be banned.

  41. Deb Sewards Says:

    Animals should not be used for entertainment and instead be allowed to be free and live their lives in their own natural environment.

  42. Annette Harvill Maxwell Says:

    Dear Prime Minister Cameron:

    I have been researching, and writing a book on circus animals for the last three years. It has taken so long, since there is much abuse in the circuses to document. The elephants are abused with bullhooks, pitchforks, clubs, and electric-prods, and that is just a start. These are used to “train” the elephants, and leave terrible cuts on the elephants. The elephants remember this abuse, since they are extremely smart with wonderful memories.

    The trainers take the young elephants, put them on their backs, placing their legs in chains to start the training. This can have catastrophic results at later ages, with elephants reacting in rage to their trainers, and others around them, resulting in death for the trainer, those around him or her, and eventually the elephant, who is shot for killing the people in response to countless years of abuse.

    Animals, especially elephants and giraffes, have to stand for long hours as they travel in trains cross-country, and through different countries. This is also how the illegal buying of animals happens when trains cross international lines. The trains pose many dangers to the animals since many of them are kept in chains for up to twenty-four (24) hours, or more, at a time, with little or no room to move, standing in their own feces. They are given very little to eat or drink on these long trips. They are then expected to perform right after the trip. The animals fall while getting on and off the ramps, causing them to have injuries. Still, they must perform, unless they die.

    Many animals run away as they are getting on and off trains, and are very difficult to catch, if they are caught at all. Many are hit by automobiles, injuring the animals and people.

    There is the danger of using fire with the animals, while in the circus. Many are burned, especially the lions and the tigers. All of the cuts and burns on animals are covered with circus make-up, during the show, since the show must go on.

    The elephants, and other animals fall off balls, stumps, and other objects, injuring themselves, yet the circuses try very hard to keep all of this out of the news. One need not wonder why.

    I plead with you to keep your promise, and take the animals out of the circuses, setting an example for other countries. This may all be verified on sources like Born Free.

    Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.