Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

Yn ôl i Chwilio

Y Pwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd, Amgylchedd a Materion Gwledig

Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee

18/07/2019

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Andrew RT Davies AC
Joyce Watson AC
Llyr Gruffydd AC
Mike Hedges AC

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Jackie Price Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government
Lesley Griffiths AC Gweinidog yr Amgylchedd, Ynni a Materion Gwledig
Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs
Richard Lewis Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government
Tom Henderson Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government

Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a oedd yn bresennol

National Assembly for Wales Officials in Attendance

Andrea Storer Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Annette Millett Ysgrifenyddiaeth
Secretariat
Elizabeth Wilkinson Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Katie Wyatt Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Katy Orford Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Marc Wyn Jones Clerc
Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 13:16. 

The meeting began at 13:16.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Can I welcome Members to this meeting? Do Members have any interests to declare? I take that to be 'no'. We've had apologies from Neil Hamilton and Jenny Rathbone.

Can I also say, today marks Annette Millett's last committee meeting before her retirement? She's supported this committee—now she's come in to be talked about—very well over the last several years. She's been a decade working in Assembly committees as a committee support officer. She has worked with us for the last three years, and she has been incredibly supportive of me. We would like to congratulate her on her retirement, thank her for her service and offer her our best wishes for the future. And, of course, I'll miss her, because she belongs to the early-morning club—a very small group here. If you want to see any people before 8 o'clock, there are not many of them. [Laughter.] All the best to you, Annette, from the committee. [Applause.]

2. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(vi) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod heddiw ar gyfer eitemau 3, 4 a 7
2. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 (vi) to resolve to exclude the public from items 3, 4, and 7 of today's meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod heddiw ar gyfer eitemau 3, 4 a 7 yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from from items 3, 4, and 7 of today's meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Can I move the motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from items 3, 4 and 7? [Interruption.] Thank you. We'd be in trouble if you didn't. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 13:18.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 13:18.

13:30

Ailymgynullodd y pwyllgor yn gyhoeddus am 13:30.

The committee reconvened in public at 13:30.

5. Bil Anifeiliaid Gwyllt a Syrcasau (Cymru) - sesiwn dystiolaeth gyda Gweinidog yr Amgylchedd, Ynni a Materion Gwledig
5. Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill - evidence session with Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs

Good afternoon, everybody. Today, we take evidence from the Member in charge of the Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill, which has been referred to this committee for Stage 1 scrutiny, and we'll be reporting on 6 December. We've issued a call for written evidence on the Bill, and we're taking oral evidence from external stakeholders in the autumn term. Today, we take evidence from the Member in charge of the Bill, Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. Would you like to introduce your colleagues?  

I'll let them introduce themselves. 

Richard Lewis, Welsh Government legal services. 

Jackie Price, senior responsible officer for the Bill. 

Tom Henderson, Bill manager. 

Okay, thank you very much. I had to do that because I can't see that far to be able to read them myself. [Laughter.] Are you ready to move straight to questions? 

You believe that there is a need for a ban in the Bill. Why do you consider the introduction of primary legislation a proportionate response, given the scale of the issue? 

I thought it was really important that we had this Bill. Colleagues will be aware that Scotland have already introduced a ban on wild animals in travelling circuses. UK Government are going through the process now. There are only two travelling circuses that use wild animals licensed in Britain. I didn't want Wales to become a sanctuary if the other countries had banned them, and I just think the consultation I did last year showed that there's overwhelming support for a ban. So, I think whilst you could say, because there's obviously a declining number in circuses that use wild animals, maybe it would have petered out, I didn't want to take that risk and, as I said, I didn't want Wales to become a sanctuary for the two circuses that are currently licensed.  

The UK Bill is, I understand, going through at Westminster. Did you consider using the legislative consent procedure to introduce the ban in Wales?

The former First Minister announced that we would be bringing forward this legislation, I think, in the 2018 legislative programme. At that time, I don't think we realised how quickly the UK Government would introduce their Bill and take it through. Scotland had already done it in 2018, as I said. UK Government introduced it in April this year and, as I say, it's proceeding very quickly. They did come back to us and ask if we would want to, but by that time we'd done a huge amount of work preparing. And both the former First Minister and the current First Minister believe that if we can do it in Wales with primary legislation, that's the best way. 

Would it have been possible to do it using the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to introduce a ban on animal welfare grounds? 

We believe the best way is to do it on ethical grounds. The way our powers are, that's the most appropriate way forward. And certainly, the consultation we had—the first one I did was on mobile animal exhibits, but we also took the opportunity to ask the question: did people think we should ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses? And, as I say, the response was overwhelmingly 'yes'. We then went out to consultation specifically on this Bill last year and, again, the responses were overwhelmingly 'yes'. I think people just think it's a very outdated practice, and that we should be doing it.  

Minister, thank you for your evidence so far. As the Chair indicated, there was a possibility of looking at the LCM route on this, and I appreciate that you weren't at a certain point where you thought that the Westminster Government would have proceeded as quickly as they did. But there have been some observations this week, from myself included, about the lack of a clean air Act, for example, in the Government's legislative programme, and time is very often pointed to as the reason why some legislation doesn't come forward. If this could have been dealt with in another way, it could have opened up another opportunity for you to deal with another piece of legislation, couldn't it, or wouldn't that have been the case?   

Hindsight is a wonderful a thing and, as I said, I think we've been surprised at how quickly the UK Government Bill has gone through, or is going through. This was announced in the 2018 legislative programme. Maybe if we'd have known how quickly the UK Government Bill had gone through, maybe we would have done, but the former First Minister took the view that this was absolutely right to do in relation to primary legislation.

Your specific question around the clean air Act I think, I hope, I answered yesterday in questions. But, of course, there wasn't a slot. This is quite a short Bill. To speculate whether that Bill would go in if this Bill wasn't there is probably unhelpful.  

But this was in the 2018 legislative programme. It's a commitment of the current—

13:35

I think you have pressed on it. I think that we are actually scrutinising this Bill. I think that you've had two shots at it now, in pressing it, and I think you're going to get exactly the same answer for the next half a dozen you ask. 

I'm happy to answer it. Obviously, it was the previous First Minister who announced this in his legislative programme. The clean air Act, or the clean air Bill, is a commitment with the current First Minister. 

Thank you. And, finally, if I've got this wrong, please correct me, but my understanding is that you're looking to ban animals from performing. 

Wild animals. That's a matter of debate whether a wild animal is—[Inaudible.]—later. But it's banning wild animals from performing, wild animals from being exhibited, but you're not banning them from travelling with the circus. So, they can be with the circus, as long as they're not exhibited or performing. I don't quite understand that anomaly. 

Okay. So, we are banning wild animals from being used or performing. They could still be owned by the owners of a circus. That takes you into a whole different legislation, I think I'm right in saying, because they could have them as pets. What we are banning is use and performance. 

Sorry, you've confused me now, and I know I'm easily confused. How can a wild animal be a pet? The definition of a wild animal is different to that definition of a pet. 

Yes, perhaps I didn't explain that very well. That is my understanding from a legal point of view, but I'll ask Richard to expand on that. 

Effectively, an animal that's been—. In this Bill, the ethical basis for stopping them being used is because they're being performed or used in front of people. Many of these animals have been owned for years by the circuses. There's no welfare issue, as far as we're aware, with them looking after them. So, we're not seeking to take them away from the owners. 

I was. All I was going to say was, and, again, correct me if I'm wrong: you've got this wild animal of some description, you've got it in a cage that you've travelled with, you've got the cage outside, and as long as you're not exhibiting it, the fact it's outside in the cage—and I assume you're going to keep it outside in the cage; I assume you're not going to make sure it's in darkness at all times so that people can't see it—so you've got it in the cage, but it can't be exhibited, but it will be able to be seen by people going past unless it's your intention to make sure those are covered at all times, which would mean you've got these animals that would see no light. 

Yes. If an animal travels with the circus and is not used, then the owner of that animal still has a responsibility to the welfare of that animal. It's very unlikely a circus is going to look to continue to travel with their wild animals for no purpose. There's nothing in it for them to do that. And also, wild animals are currently—well, circus animals are currently exempt from the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and licensing regimes. We're looking to remove those exemptions in both those Acts, and by doing so, a circus that still keeps a dangerous wild animal under the definition of 'dangerous wild animal' in the Act, or another wild animal, will fall under a different licensing regime. And it's extremely unlikely that that licensing regime would allow the circus to travel with that wild animal, because both those licensing regimes do consider the welfare of those animals. So, it's very unlikely that that scenario would ever be allowed to happen, or would happen in reality. 

You've partly answered my question, because if we're talking about what was commonly known as exotic wild animals, I was going to ask: isn't there already a licensing regime in place where people can't acquire some animals anyway and bring them into the country? And I know we're talking about animals that are already in the country. So, that was the sort of question that I was posing, because there might not be able to exhibit them, but you've got to try to marry up bits of legislation while you're at it, so to speak, and we probably don't have the powers. But what about animals that are already prohibited from being brought into the country? Are there any possible loopholes, is what I'm trying to get at, that exist there, or any powers we could acquire to stop some of those coming in if there are loopholes?

13:40

I suppose we're talking about private ownership now, as opposed to being used in a circus, and there will already be controls in place to prevent certain species coming in. They'll have to have the necessary paperwork, the necessary licences. In terms of owning a wild animal, as is defined in our Bill, anyone can, provided they can meet the welfare needs of that animal, and are licensed appropriately—if indeed it is a dangerous wild animal under the Act. Lots of wild animals aren't considered dangerous wild animals. For example, snakes; people will keep pythons, for example, and there are no controls over people keeping pythons as pets.

I think most primates are dangerous wild animals under the definition of 'dangerous wild animal'—not all, but most are.

Yes, provided you have a licence.

But anyway, that's—. So, I suppose my next question is: whilst we're trying to look after animals, and it's ethically right to do that—and I'm really pleased to see this piece of legislation—could we have widened it? I suppose that's question. And we've assumed, or asserted, that it's ethically unacceptable to make wild animals perform for entertainment, particularly for circuses that are travelling around. So, therefore, if I've understood the legislation correctly, it doesn't cover any static circuses.

So, at the moment, there are no static circuses in Wales. Are there any in Great Britain? I think there was one in England, wasn't there? I'm not sure that one is even still there. So, currently, there are none. That's not to say that, obviously, there couldn't be static circuses in the future, but they're not included in the ethical argument in the way that—. Obviously, with travelling circuses, it's a much weaker argument. So, an environment that's permanent could, arguably, be better adapted for an animal's needs than an environment that's constantly on the move, which obviously is the purpose of this Bill. So, that's the reason why.

So, I just want to be clear in my mind about this, and for those people who ask me questions, so I can answer them. So, if somebody took it in their mind to set up a static circus in Wales tomorrow to circumnavigate our legislation, would they then be allowed to use those animals in the way that we're preventing their use in a travelling circus?

So, I mentioned that we'll be bringing forward an animal exhibit licensing scheme and we'll be going out to consultation before the end of the summer. So, that would capture if there were to be a licence or a—what's the word—application for a static circus in the future. That would come under that piece of regulation.

No. If a static circus did want to set up, if they did want to apply, they would come under the animal exhibit regulations scheme that we'll be bringing in, following consultation this summer. So, I went out to consultation on that, and the circuses, two years ago, and then we're taking forward that, and that would be captured—if there were an application for a static circus—in that scheme. I'm right, aren't I?

Yes. If I can add to that, Minister, one of the reasons we're taking out the exemptions from the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 is to close the loopholes. So, a business branding themselves as a static circus, keeping enough wild animals to warrant them having a zoo licence, under the zoo licensing Act, would have to be licensed under that Act. And there are a whole host of pretty stringent requirements you'd have to adhere to, which probably—actually, almost certainly—wouldn't allow them to use animals in the same way they're currently being used in circuses. And also, the animals exhibits licensing scheme would capture anybody using wild animals that didn't qualify for a zoo licence.

So, is the licensing based on animal welfare considerations, not ethical considerations?

Because I'm struggling a little bit with how you can single out wild animals in travelling circuses on an ethical basis, whereas you don't apply the same ethical basis to other situations. Surely, the ethic that's being compromised here is the same and you could probably levy it against zoos and a large number of other circumstances and situations. So, what's your rationale in just cherry-picking, effectively, travelling circuses?

13:45

So, static circuses or animal exhibits are not included, as the ethical argument around the use of wild animals in those situations is much weaker.

Well, an ethic is an ethic, surely. It seems to me that the same rule or the same sort of principle isn’t applied across the board. I find it very difficult that you can single out one particular context and situation based on an ethical argument, and not apply the same ethics to other situations.

But as I say, we’re going out to consultation on animal exhibits before the end of this summer recess now.

But the underpinning reason for doing that is animal welfare concerns and not the ethical argument. So, you’re starting from a very different place on that, and I’m just struggling to see how this is consistent, really.

Again, it comes down to the ethical argument. A lot of people don’t like the use of wild animals in travelling circuses and there isn't that same argument, that same protest and that same mailbag that we accept from members of the public in terms of animals used in other situations.

But this isn’t weathervane legislation, is it? It’s not a populist approach to what we legislate around and what we don’t. It isn’t the size of the mailbag. If you’re telling us that there’s an ethical case to be made for banning wild animals in a travelling circus, then what I’m asking is why are you not applying the same ethics to other contexts. It’s a simple question. Either you’re not or you are. And I don't think you are, are you? Because you say that the regulation or licensing is going to be based on animal welfare, so how do you justify one approach for one situation and another for another? Surely the basic principle needs to be consistent.

Well, it is a grey area. I absolutely accept that. Both Scotland and England are doing it on the same basis as we are. I'm not saying that that's a reason for doing it, but we have obviously looked at what they've done when we've been bringing forward our legislation, but—

But we're not doing this because Scotland and England are doing it.

And we're not doing this because a lot people are writing to us telling us we should do it. You're bringing this legislation forward, you say, on the basis of ethics and not on the basis of animal welfare. What I'm struggling with—and this is the third time that I'm trying to make this point—is that you're not applying the same ethical argument to these other contexts, and I just want to understand why you've made that decision.

So, the advice I've been given and everything we've looked at in bringing this legislation forward is that the ethical argument is weaker in relation to static or animal exhibits, and that's the basis on which we've come forward with this.

I think we can take that up with further witnesses, because I don't think we're going to get any further on this. Back to Joyce Watson.

Well, I'm just going to widen it a bit again, because you've answered the animal exhibits bit, and I'm afraid I'm going back to ethics, and I'm going to move it and widen it to domesticated animals. Because if it's ethically unacceptable to—and I share that—exhibit animals and make them travel around all of the time, then it's ethically unacceptable for all animals, in my view, to be exhibited. So, that would be horses, for example, as well as a lion. I can't see the difference. I'm failing to see the difference, so I'm looking for an explanation.

Okay. So, there are not the same fundamental ethical objections to the use of domesticated animals in travelling circuses as there are to wild animals. You use the example of a horse, which I think is the example that I use. The example that I was given as we were bringing this Bill forward was in relation to showjumping. So, you could say that it's comparable—what horses do in showjumping to what they would do in a circus. So, therefore, that is the basis of why we're not looking to ban the use of domestic animals in travelling circuses. I think it appears that showjumping is acceptable to society in a way that the use of wild animals in circuses isn't.

Well, it used to be acceptable for horses to jump over very high fences at Aintree too, but suddenly when they started dying, and jockeys started getting seriously injured, it wasn't any longer acceptable. So, you won't be surprised about my views on these things; they are pretty well known. So, I think it's a weak argument. I'm really sorry to have to say this, because I support this Bill wholeheartedly, but I don’t share the view, and I think we could have tested the ground. But I accept at the same time what you’re saying. If I can—. I think I’m moving on—

13:50

If I can just say, I think a discussion around domestic animals is completely different when you look at the scope of this Bill. I hear what you’re saying, and I hear what you're saying about Aintree, but the grand national is still run every year, as far as I know, anyway.

Yes, they've reduced the height of some of the fences, but it's still acceptable, in a way that it wasn't to the respondents to the consultation on this Bill in relation to wild animals.

Camel racing is not unusual in large parts of the world; it's as popular as horse racing is here.

I just think it's more appropriate to regulate domestic animals in travelling circuses rather than to ban the activity. That's my view.

Well, I'm sure we'll take further views on this. Over to you, Llyr.

Okay. Thank you. The Bill introduces a ban on wild animals performing or being exhibited in travelling circuses. As far as I can see, it doesn't prevent wild animals from being trained to perform. I'm just interested in understanding your rationale for not being quite explicit around that.

Again, we had some respondents to the consultation around training who were opposed to it, and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear it was around the film and tv industry, because, obviously, they sometimes look to circuses in relation to training animals. I think, again, because we’ve only got the two circuses, and I think there are 19 animals where we'd class those 19 animals as wild animals, we’re not seeing that done so much. I think, again—I go back the licensing scheme—I think, again, training could come under the licensing scheme that we have before the end of the summer recess. I’m very hopeful to bring forward the licensing scheme next year as well, and I think this aspect of training would fall in there.

Is there not a danger that we end up with wild animals being trained in Wales and then exported to perform in other countries?

Well, I would certainly not want that to happen, so I think that's something that we'll be needing to look at very closely.

Okay. One of the potential areas of uncertainty around this legislation, of course, is around definitions, isn't it—the meaning of 'wild animals' and the meaning of 'travelling circuses'. And you highlight that, actually, in the explanatory notes to the Bill. So, why are you not including more detailed definitions on the face of the Bill? Because that would give us complete clarity then around what you mean. 

So, the definition of 'wild animal' is consistent with the definition of 'wild animal' in the zoo licencing Act. So, that would avoid a situation where you would have the same species being considered wild in a zoo, but domesticated in a circus. So, that’s the reason for that. So, that’s the definition.

Travelling circuses—again, we believe the definition is sufficient. Again, I’ve looked at what Scotland and England have done. They recognise a circus as a travelling circus despite there being periods when it doesn’t travel—so, if they have a break during a closed season, for instance. So, a travelling circus wouldn’t include a static circus, as Joyce Watson pointed out before. So, again, we will produce detailed guidance to accompany the introduction of the Act. That will then help both inspectors and circuses, and set out clearly the types of activity. But I don’t think there’s any query about travelling circuses.

Well, I think the House of Lords have insisted that there’s greater clarity around the definition of 'circus' in the UK legislation, haven’t they?

Well, 'circus', I think, actually, not just 'travelling'. I mean, there is a concern or danger, isn't there, that people will try and rebrand themselves as something different or call themselves something different. What I'm looking for, really, is clarity. And I suppose I might be arguing against myself, because at least if you can then define and amend the definition in regulation, then I suppose you can be a bit more agile and respond to emerging misuse of these kinds of approaches.

13:55

We do have regulation-making power within the Bill to cover scenarios that we haven't foreseen at this stage.

Scotland have, the UK haven't—

Okay. Thank you. We've touched on the amendments that you proposed to the dangerous wild animals Act and the zoo licensing Act. Is there anything that you want to add on that? I'm not sure that there is, really, unless there's anything that you haven't told us. 

Yes, I think you've explained the rationale for that. So, despite the suggestion that it's ethically unacceptable to make wild animals travel and live in temporary accommodation, traveling circuses will still be permitted to keep wild animals. I was just wondering why you think you can allow them to keep them but then not use them in the ways that you've suggested.

I don't think I've got anything further to add to what I said and Richard said before. As I say, the objective of this Bill is to prevent the use of wild animals in circuses on ethical grounds. I think circus owners have had some of these animals for many, many years. They are often regarded as part of the family. But depending on what type of animal it is, they may need to still seek to have a licence for that animal if they choose to keep it. 

Okay. Could there be a situation under which static circuses or the like that use animals that aren't covered by the dangerous wild animals Act and the zoo licensing Act—could there be a situation where they don't require a licence?

I can't think of any. As I say, we haven't got any static circuses at the moment, but that doesn't mean to say we—

That is the purpose of the amendments that we're making to other legislation in the Bill, and hopefully anything that will turn up from the consultation on animal exhibits to address any gaps that we haven't identified.

I said we're going to have an early bath at this rate. Enforcement and powers of inspection in Schedule 1 to the Bill—do you think they're proportionate and they don't infringe on the rights of the persons or animals likely to be affected by their use?

I do think they're proportionate. I think if you think about it, if a local authority who obviously would be enforcing—if one of the inspectors went along, it would be very obvious if a wild animal was being used or exhibited in a way—. It'd be publicly very obvious to the inspectors. I think any breach of the proposed ban would be easy to detect because I don't think you can hide them away. The powers of enforcement are set out in Schedule 1, as you said, and 'premises' extends to vehicles, tents and moveable structures. Again, we've learnt from what the Scottish Government have done and what the UK Government propose to do. We're going to be adding detailed guidance in relation to this to accompany the introduction of the Act.

On the powers of inspection, it talks about appointing an inspector to examine measures and test the animal, take a sample from the animal and mark the animal. It doesn't state that this person would be a veterinary professional. Why is that? Because I would have thought to undertake such actions it would have to have some—? So, why not name it in the Bill as a veterinary surgeon?

It could be a veterinary surgeon. It could be another type of animal specialist or it could even be the police. I think we use the word 'specialist'. 

What other animal specialists would be able to undertake that type of sampling?

Yes. There's a list of the zoo inspectors in the UK as well, who tend to do inspections of zoos. So, they're considered experts in wild animals and zoo animals. 

In fairness, I get the point about the inspection side of it, but actually taking samples, I would suggest you'd have to be a veterinary surgeon to do that, wouldn't you?

It depends whether the sampling is considered to be a practice of veterinary surgery as defined by the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. So, it would depend on what kind of sample you were taking and for what purpose as well.

When it comes to the impact and cost of the Bill, I think the Bill talks about—or the notes with the Bill talk about—£3,500 saved over five years, basically. So, it's neither here nor there. Are there any other costs that you can envisage that maybe will come about by the legislation? What sort of impact assessment work has been done to try and understand this?

I think it will be a very low cost. The costs that are presented in the RIA, I think, are accurate. There could be a small implementation cost for us as a Government in developing the guidance on the Bill, and then, obviously, communicating the ban. I don't think there'll be any cost savings of significance, as you just pointed out.

14:00

So, on the cost side of things, it looks minimal to say the best. What engagement have you had with circus operators and people affected by this legislation to understand their concerns and observations in the formulation of this legislation?

Because I think that this hasn't been a secret that we've been bringing this Bill forward—obviously, Scotland have done it and the UK Government have done it, so I think circuses are very aware of what we were going to propose—the only engagement we've had, and I'm looking at Tom for this, I think was via the Circus Guild of Great Britain. I don't think we've had dialogue with the owners of the two circuses.

No, not directly for a couple of years now. But the dialogue—

Is that because you haven't sought them out or have they requested meetings and you haven't had those meetings? I'm just trying to understand—.

They haven't requested meetings.

I don't think I've been asked in my three years in portfolio—I don't think I've ever been asked to have meetings. Officials?

Officials met with and actually attended Circus Mondao a couple of years ago—I don't know exactly when, but they have attended Circus Mondao at some point when they visited two or three years—

So we're talking—from the operators, there hasn't been any engagement with Welsh Government for a number of years, I think you said.

Circus Mondao responded to the public consultation, as did the Circus Guild of Great Britain and other circuses that aren't actually located in Wales, let alone the UK. The other circus that comes to Wales, which is Peter Jolly's circus, didn't, as far as we are aware, respond to the consultation—not in an official capacity anyway. Individuals from the circus may have.

The reason why the legislation is, obviously, before us is because there are circuses—two, as we know—that do have wild animals within them, and the legislation seeks to ban that. What thought has been given to the consequences for the animals, obviously, that will fall under this legislation? Because it's not a case of just shutting the door; there are going to be some living animals that are going to have to find some new homes or some alternative arrangements need to be put in place. What consideration in the timing of the Bill and the provisions of the Bill have been given to the animals that will be affected by it?

So, the two England-based travelling circuses that Tom's just referred to—they wouldn't be required to give up the ownership of their animals, if that's what they choose to do. I would imagine, because Scotland brought in this legislation last year and England are bringing it through at the current time, that they will have been giving thought to that before we brought forward our legislation. If they do choose to give up ownership, any reduction in costs that they incur as a travelling circus would be broadly matched, I think, by an equivalent increase in costs to the new owners, if they decide to rehome their wild animals. Would they be able to do that with ease? I'm very concerned, obviously, about the welfare of the animals. I don't want to see any animals destroyed, and that's certainly not the intention. But, as I say, they would still be able to keep their animals; they may have to seek other relevant licences, but they would be able to keep them.

Thank you very much. It falls to me to thank the Minister and her officials for coming along this afternoon. And we've probably come to the conclusion that meeting in the afternoon is preferable as the meetings tend to go a little quicker.

Thank you. I wonder, Chair, if you'd mind if I just address something that Llyr raised with me during the oral statement last week. Llyr asked me whether I'd be able to publish where respondents to the Bill—. So, we've done a little bit of work, which I thought you might ask me about, so, if you don't mind, if I could just say: respondents to our consultation weren't asked to provide their home addresses, so it's not possible to know exactly where most of them responded from. Of the 6,546 responses, 571 did provide their address, and 535 were from Wales and 36 were from outside Wales.

Thank you. I think that's helpful. Can I go back to thanking you and your officials for coming along this afternoon? Is there anything else you'd like to say before you go?

6. Papurau i’w nodi
6. Paper(s) to note

Can we go to papers to note? There's correspondence from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs to the Chair on the Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill, and correspondence from the Chair of the Finance Committee on the Welsh Government's draft budget. Nothing you want to add to it? No. Thank you. Noted. Thank you very much.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 14:04.

The public part of the meeting ended at 14:04.

Archwilio Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru