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banner Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Call to ban animal circuses
Demands for a total ban on animal circuses has come from a fringe meeting organised by the National Anti-Vivisection Society.

Colchester's Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell said the government had made numerous promises about animal welfare at the last two elections but, so far, had failed to fulfil them.

"We have just been told what a wonderful, animal-loving manifesto the Labour party has put forward at two elections," he said.

But there had been precious little action on that front, he declared.

"The true way of describing how civilised a society we are is how we treat animals.

"We are members of the animal kingdom but we have the vote and they don't," he said.

Tide of opinion

There was now a tide of public opinion that was running in favour of banning circuses with animals.

"Liberal Democrat controlled councils have banned animal circuses on land under their control.

"In Colchester we even banned goldfish being given as prizes in funfairs," he said.

It was "nonsense" to suggest animal circuses had any educational value for youngsters, he added.

And he attacked a government plan to produce a code of conduct on behalf of the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain.

"The government code of practice will mean people will say that the government says this circus is OK.

"What we want is for the government to issue a total ban on animal circuses."

More openness

Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, Norman Baker, also attacked the government's refusal to include animal experiments in its recent freedom of information legislation.

He disowned those who attacked workers at centres such as Huntingdon Life Sciences and said the issue was about ensuring there was openness and transparency about what experiments were being carried out.

Many, such as for the development of cosmetics, were virtually ended and many others - such as for military and purely commercial use - would soon be outlawed if their existence was made public.

Only the issue of animal experiments in the search for medical cures would become a real issue, he claimed.

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