After a slimline Queen’s Speech of just 11 bills, attention has moved to those that were left out. The most notable absentee was a proposed law banning the use of wild animals in circuses. Earlier this year, David Cameron promised campaigners including Stanley Johnson, Peter Tatchell and Caroline Lucas: “We’re going to do it”. But the measure didn’t receive a mention in the address. I’m told that the Lib Dems were pushing for a bill to be included, but that Cameron’s caution prevailed. The bill would have been exactly the kind of “barnacle” that Lynton Crosby has sought to scrape off the coalition boat.
Among those who will be most angered is Conservative MP Mark Pritchard, who has campaigned for years on the issue and who revealed in 2011 that he was “threatened” by Downing Street and offered a “pretty trivial job” in return for dropping his motion on the subject (which was subsequently passed by MPs).
After reports that a ban on circus animals would be included in the Queen’s Speech, he told his local paper: “I am delighted that my Bill on ending the use of wild animals in circuses will be included in the Queen’s Speech.
“It’s a real result for everyone in Shropshire and throughout the country who have supported my endeavours.”
The more cynical types in Westminster are noting that Cameron’s constituency of Witney is home to Amazing Animals, a company which trains wild animals for use in circuses.